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Thread: Viewfinder for 4x5 Zone VI camera?

  1. #1

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    Viewfinder for 4x5 Zone VI camera?

    I'm relatively new to large format but enjoy it so much! One of my challenges though is an ability to compose the shot using ground glass. So I was wondering if it would be possible to make something like a wire frame for each of the focal lengths I use and mount it on a camera. Is there any recommended technique? Or perhaps there's a commercial solution available?

  2. #2
    MIke Sherck's Avatar
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    Re: Viewfinder for 4x5 Zone VI camera?

    The old press cameras (Graphics, press cameras, etc.) had something of the sort available; I can't see any reason why you couldn't make a set of your own. You'll have to invent a way to mount them on the camera interchangeably, but it shouldn't be difficult. Good luck!

    Mike
    Politically, aerodynamically, and fashionably incorrect.

  3. #3
    Louie Powell's Avatar
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    Re: Viewfinder for 4x5 Zone VI camera?

    Been there, done that. The main idea is to have a tool that allows you to previsualize a scene, help you select the optimum lens and then position the tripod and camera. After that, you frame and focus on the ground glass.

    Get a sheet of cardboard - 8x10 inches is fine, and black is best. Mark and cut an opening in the center of the sheet that is 4x5 inches. Then, if the cardboard is white, paint it black.

    Now, put a narrow strip on white paper on one side of the cardboard. Draw a scale on the paper - with distances corresponding to the focal lengths of the lenses in your kit. For example, I have a 210 and a 90 - so I have two lines on mine, one 210mm long, and the other 90mm long.

    To use the viewfinder, hold it in front of your face, with the distance between your eye and the cardboard equal to the focal length of the lens you are using. You can use your fingers to determine the proper spacing - use the scale to set the proper spacing of a couple of fingers.

    I have several of these - one in the camera bag, another in the pouch behind the front seat of my car, and another here in my office for home use.

  4. #4

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    Re: Viewfinder for 4x5 Zone VI camera?

    Thanks everyone, this probably will be my next weekend project.
    Louie, thank you for the idea but it is not exactly what I was looking for. let me explain this a bit better. Let's say, I shoot portrait in the studio. I framed and focused on the model using the ground glass, then inserted holder with film, but before I'm ready to release the shutter, my model has moved a little bit, so I would like to be able to quickly review the composition without removing the holder. That is, I envision something like set of wire or cardboard frames one for each of my lenses, mounted on the camera. Yes, pretty much like those finders on old press cameras.

  5. #5

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    Re: Viewfinder for 4x5 Zone VI camera?

    By the way, the old press camera frames did effectively "adjust" as you shifted to longer or shorter lenses. A Crown Graphic is still a pretty darn good camera for most uses.

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    Re: Viewfinder for 4x5 Zone VI camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by JavaDuke View Post
    Thanks everyone, this probably will be my next weekend project.
    Louie, thank you for the idea but it is not exactly what I was looking for. let me explain this a bit better. Let's say, I shoot portrait in the studio. I framed and focused on the model using the ground glass, then inserted holder with film, but before I'm ready to release the shutter, my model has moved a little bit, so I would like to be able to quickly review the composition without removing the holder. That is, I envision something like set of wire or cardboard frames one for each of my lenses, mounted on the camera. Yes, pretty much like those finders on old press cameras.
    If I understand you correctly, Linhof made several such systems. They consisted of a wire frame mounted on the front of the camera and an eyepiece you look through mounted in the camera's accessory shoe or something like that. Sorry to be so vague but this was one of the very few Linhof accessories on which I never spent my money and I forget exactly what they're called ("multifocus viewfinder" maybe?). I do remember that their main purpose was for use when hand-holding the camera but I assume they could also be used with the camera on a tripod. I'm sure someone else here can tell you much more about them and whether they'd be suitable for your purpose.
    Brian Ellis
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    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  7. #7

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    Re: Viewfinder for 4x5 Zone VI camera?


  8. #8

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    Re: Viewfinder for 4x5 Zone VI camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ellis View Post
    If I understand you correctly, Linhof made several such systems. They consisted of a wire frame mounted on the front of the camera and an eyepiece you look through mounted in the camera's accessory shoe or something like that.

    ...
    That kind of a viewfinder would not be of a great help for precise framing of a model though, even if it can be useful in other situations.
    Its precision depends very much on the precise eye position in the center of the first viewing frame (the one closer to your eye). If you use true telephoto lenses you would need to correct the position of the more distant view frame to emulate the real focal length of the lens in use. Otherwise you would get an incorrect view.

  9. #9

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    Re: Viewfinder for 4x5 Zone VI camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by CarstenW View Post
    Thanks Carsten, it was the sport finder I was thinking of. I can't believe I've forgotten so much of all my Linhof lore that I'd think it was the multi-focus finder. I even had one of those.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

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