View Full Version : Low angle viewing solution

Robert A. Zeichner
8-Dec-2016, 06:39
I was recently faced with the challenge of photographing from a low angle in very muddy, rocky and sometimes dusty conditions. I first tried this on my knees with a focusing cloth and quickly determined that it would be painful to continue this way. For this project, I was using my prized Anba Ikeda 4x5 for which there is no off the shelf right angle viewing device. I ended up buying a Toyo binocular viewer on a popular auction site. It was essentially new in the box and pretty affordable. Having access to a machine shop, I was able to modify some architectural aluminum pieces and create some "hangers" which I then attached to the viewer's frame by drilling and tapping some small holes to which they could be screwed in place. I applied some 3M 235 photo tape to the metal surfaces of the hangers so as to prevent damage to the cameras wooden and plated parts. An elastic headband was all that was needed to block out extraneous light from the entering between the viewer and the gg. I was able to get down to about 24" above ground which worked out very well for me.

8-Dec-2016, 09:08
Knee pads. Kneeling rubber pads used by gardners. Ensolite type foam pads used by backpackers.
All are low cost solutions for low work.

Drew Wiley
8-Dec-2016, 14:29
Chiropractor afterwards.

8-Dec-2016, 14:49
Chiropractor during.

Mark Sampson
8-Dec-2016, 15:26
Nice improv... "whatever it takes". I just hope the viewfinder doesn't weigh more than that featherweight camera!

neil poulsen
8-Dec-2016, 16:51
Looks like an excellent solution.

I anticipate having similar problems with some photos that I want to take with my Wista SP. We'll see, but there's a Chinese version of a binocular viewer available for these cameras. A hanging question is, whether the quite long focal length of the SP's Fresnel makes this a viable option for my eyesight.

10-Dec-2016, 04:11
Well done !
From time to time I'm missing an angle viewer, too, but I choosed to come together with a female chiropractor.


10-Dec-2016, 06:52
Where there's a will, there's a way!

Here's a guy who sells a wide variety of large format camera parts and accessories -- including several focusing screen "sun blockers" and angle viewers. It's all through EBAY and I assume most, if not all, offer a BUY IT NOW option.


10-Dec-2016, 07:22
Is it really that difficult to kneel or lay down?
All the technical add on stuff seems to be a lot more trouble than getting a Digital Camera with the screen that moves. ;-)

Michael Rosenberg
10-Dec-2016, 11:08
It can be difficult for someone with arthritis to kneel and bend to compose and focus.

I was faced with a similar problem but in reverse. I was photographing English church and cathedral ceilings, finding it difficult to sustain bending my neck to focus and compose. I came up with some light weight alternatives. One is a large surplus 90 degree prism. It actually brightened the image. The second is a pair of prism glasses that are made for patients that have eye surgery and have to spend 7-10s lying on their back (similar to those on the Bucket List, but in the reverse direction). The latter worked quite well.

I have also had a Toyo rubber 90 degree angle viewer adapted to the graound glass protector of my Linhof 2000. Relatively light weight.


10-Dec-2016, 11:53
It can be difficult for someone with arthritis to kneel and bend to compose and focus.

Darn right! Getting up is very difficult. The only way up is to use a special cane (http://www.vitalitymedical.com/apallo-cane.html?gclid=Cj0KEQiA7K7CBRCrwt26v5uHs98BEiQA0JzsZwI9FXkgg9crX4MMnZjwC55XRKRVdYWCKRrz5St6InMaAqpb8P8HAQ).

Dan Fromm
10-Dec-2016, 12:25
Is it really that difficult to kneel or lay down?
All the technical add on stuff seems to be a lot more trouble than getting a Digital Camera with the screen that moves. ;-)

Willie, shooting flowers near ground level can be very difficult, especially with a Graphic. When the optical axis is a few inches above ground, the composing and focusing eyes have to be a few inches above ground. Not fun, often painful.

Jim Andrada
10-Dec-2016, 20:52
Just recovering from having my whole lower back rebuilt, and I'll second (or third) the comments about how hard it can be getting up and down. Good news is that it should be easier than before the surgery, at least after the 2 month "no bending" edict expires. Before the surgery it was easy enough getting down, but the "getting up" part was quite a challenge. We stayed with friends in Tokyo in April and they had just built a really nice new house. Bad news for yours truly was that it was built in traditional fashion - ie sleeping on futons on the floor. They're really comfortable, but getting up was a 20 minute ordeal. Actually, getting in and out of the guestroom wasn't so easy either - the doorway was maybe 5' 4" high - cool for my almost-five-feet-tall wife, not so cool for 6' 2" Sciatica-ridden me. Nice thing about the guestroom was that it also had an entrance directly off the entry hall. See below!


Maybe the opening was 28" high - you're supposed to sort of kneel down and scoot in on hands and knees. Nice!!! Not!!!!!

There are days I think I'm going to build a viewing back with a video cam and a remote display.

Drew Bedo
11-Dec-2016, 07:41
It might be easier to first adapt a a grafloc back to your camera and then adapt a right andlw finder from a Polaroid MP-4 to the Grafloc back. The Polaroid to Grafloc conversion is pretty easy to do. Removing little screws and swapping clips from the Polaroid GG to the Grafloc GG. It clips onto the existing Grafloc GG the same way the viewing hood clips on.

I have done thisconversion twice. The result is fully effective, but a bit heavy and not salon elegant.

RE: Kneeling/bending. I often bring the geasr into the field on luggage wheels or a golf bag pull cart. Along for the ride is a cvamp stool. Its squatting height. With this I use the camera on a short tripod extended one or two sections and move from the camwera bag to the camera without shifting position much.