Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1997/08/04

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Subject: Re: The Leica R8 and moving up from Canon
From: (David Morton)
Date: Tue, 5 Aug 1997 4:21 GMT0

ted writes:

> Why do you change the prism? I know the old Nikon f I had, I think
> was, so
> damn long ago now, you could take the prism off and I only did that
> when I
> wanted to put the camera right on the ground or the edge of the
> swimming pool at
> the Olympics or similar sports events.
> What do they do differently and where would you use the different
> versions?

OK, there is the standard finder, in my case these are the DE-2 'High
Eyepoint' types which let you see the whole screen with your eye an
inch or so away from the eyepiece. I don't wear glasses, but I prefer
that little bit of extra eye relief.

Then there's the waist level finder (DW-3). This is good for 'street'
stuff, since no-one expects you to be taking a photograph with the
camera down near your belt buckle. Also good for holding the camera
upside down over your head. You *can* do without this - just pop the
prism - but it's risky for overheads as the screen will fall out if
you get jostled (and of course it's often the case that you're doing
the overhead trick *because* there's a crowd).

Next is the DW-4 Magnifying finder, the one that's like a little
chimney on the top of the camera. This magnifies the whole screen by
6x and is *wonderful* for macro work with a plain screen. It's also
the finder of choice for astrophotography, which I'd take up again if
I didn't live in the centre of one of the most light-polluted cities
in the world (London). Actually this is a bit of an extravagance,
because the WLF has a pop out 5x magnifier, but the 6x is a lot
clearer and easier to use than the WLF in 5x mode.

Finally is my favourite, the DA-2 'Action finder'. Designed for
use in a *space suit*, totally over the top, with an exit port that
measures an inch by an inch and a half, you can see the whole screen
and readouts with your eye over 2.5 inches away. It's like looking at
a slide on a lightbox, or a TV screen. The *best* compositional aide
I've ever used on a 35mm camera bar none. Quite rare, *horribly*
expensive new, taking one into a repair shop will have the
technicians gibbering, they're so hard to dismantle and re-align, and
I love mine to bits. I even plan to buy one for each F3 body and use
them as standard finders. You have to be careful metering, because
there's no eyepiece shutter, and an exit port that big can let in a
lot of light to confuse the meter, but once you've used one you're

If you twisted my arm and made me choose one it would be the DA-2,
but it would be a brave manufacturer who put something like that on
as a fixed finder. Even so I'd like to see Leica move to something
more like that for the R9 if they must use a fixed finder.