View Full Version : Viewfinder retrofit 4 view camera: feasible or fool's errand?

emo supremo
3-Feb-2011, 19:28
You are on vacation and you've run out of loaded filmholders, you can't set up a tripod, no one supplies the color emulsion in that speed, and bec weight is an issue you can't be packing 'n' cameras ...... Wouldn't it be grand to carry one system and still be able to slap a 6x9 or 6x12 roll film back and point and shoot your field camera? Have I blasphemed? Has anyone had success retrofitting a viewfinder?

Having never had experience with the Kalart rangefinder on press cameras it is unclear to this member whether it's a simple matter of guestimating distances (like the Fuji G617, setting the hyperfocal distance or some arcane fiddling with 'cams'. I've tried a Schneider and a Koni Omega viewfinder but neither were close to accurate at putting the image on the smaller 6x9 film area. I love my camera and don't want to buy another but it's pretty darn hard getting the image centered on my 6x9 roll film back without composing on the ground glass first. And because I love the camera it might be prudent to post this prior to drilling the holes for my homemade rubegoldberg rifle sight solution.

Anyone have any experience (or know what key words to search our forum for) for this kind of retrofit. Feasible or fool's errand?

Ivan J. Eberle
3-Feb-2011, 22:02
A Kalart can be extremely accurate-- but it's just a rangefinder, not a viewfinder. As you surmise correctly, estimating the image area for roll film can be a problem. One quick and dirty solution is to use a press camera's wire frame sports finder, with additional framing wires added.

Jim Jones
4-Feb-2011, 08:24
The tubular viewfinder on Speed Graphics has a slot for masks that adapt it to various focal lengths. One could improvise masks or perhaps mask down the viewfinder with tape. Using view camera tilts would throw off the view unless the finder is mounted on the body of the camera, not on the standards. Ivan's suggestion of a wire frame is better. Using a complete Graphic with its built-in versatility might suffice where weight and size are important. Almost all of my outdoors LF photography is done with Graphic or B&J press cameras.

Brian C. Miller
4-Feb-2011, 11:39
+1 on the wire sports finder. Use a permanent ink marker to mark where your 6x9 frame is, and then you're good to go.

As for adjusting focus, if you don't have any sort of distance cam, then put some tape on the camera bed and mark distances on it. A decent laser rangefinder goes for $100-$150, so you'll get a quick distance reading.

Gem Singer
5-Feb-2011, 13:06
Hey Emo,

Check your PM's.

Len Middleton
5-Feb-2011, 13:44

When you say Schneider viewfinder, are you talking about the Linhof Technika one?

I have one and with the 6x6 mask it works well with the standard rolex back.



emo supremo
6-Feb-2011, 18:31
Hello Folks and thankyou for your informed comments.
Yes Len, a store downtown had used ones and preliminary experiments with the Linhof-type viewer (physically holding the finder on and corroborating it with the ground glass) didn't work out well enough form me to keep it and so it was returned for credit.
Here's something interesting I'd like to share and I don't know what made me think about it but here goes: while I was outside pecking away at the ice we're all slipsliding on up here in the NE it occured to me that instead of boring away at my Canham traditional etc. that I could mount the view finder BENEATH the camera in the tripod screw threads! Radical? Well anyways a tube cut to different lengths could function as a way to compose a shot that has a nodding acquaintance to what's on the ground glass.
I'd also like to share with anyone interested in such things that another member previously posted using the ubiquitous digital point and shoot onto a hot shoe screwed into their camera. I think I prefer my idea though. You can take the shot, flip the camera, and bracket a digital backup shot (I'm half grinning on this side, I use my digital as a backup light meter...the idea has some merit).

emo supremo
17-Feb-2011, 13:01
Went to local shops to find a piece of threaded rod and although they have wood screws for this i.e., points on both sides with coarse threads for wood the type of threads for our cameras is not standard issue at my hardware store. Apart from something from Really Right Stuff or buying a long rod and cutting off a suitably long piece with a hacksaw (this is not the easiest thing to do ... correctly that is) has anyone any idea for mounting the digital for use as a 6x9 roll film viewfinder beneath the 4x5?

Revolucion Artistico
18-Feb-2011, 02:52
Any good hardware or car parts store should have what your talking about, it's called a stud, where its just threads not a bolt head on it or anything