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Thread: Shooting with fixed optical cold shoe viewfinder on Horseman FA

  1. #1

    Question Shooting with fixed optical cold shoe viewfinder on Horseman FA

    Hello all,

    The majority of my LF work is composed in the traditional manner on the ground glass. However, it would be useful to have an external viewfinder for an upcoming project in which I will be using my Horseman FA with a wide-angle lens.

    While I would love to be able to invest in a Linhof Universal Finder or Horseman Zoom Finder, both are prohibitively expensive and unlikely to be useful outside of this particular project.

    With that in mind, I am looking at more affordable options.

    A sports finder is probably the best option, but I'm curious to hear about people's experience shooting with fixed optical viewfinders.

    For the sake of example, something like these very affordable generic Voightlander-style viewfinders that are often found for sale on The Big Auction Website: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/373703435841


    Ignoring the fact the viewfinder will be masked for 3:2 and that there will be a bit of parallax error mounting this on the cold shoe of the FA, is there any reason why I couldn't, for example, use the 28mm viewfinder if I was shooting with a 90mm lens? Likewise, a 35mm finder with a 115mm lens. The angle of view between the two will be broadly similar, correct?

    I should stress that absolute framing accuracy is not essential for this particular project the low-quality optics of the finder and the parallax error will be of little consequence to the overall outcome.

    Many thanks, Jack

  2. #2
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting with fixed optical cold shoe viewfinder on Horseman FA

    I use several wire 'sports' finders

    Linhof made some that folded, had 3 adjustable distance gizmos

    Fun to use with loose framing

    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...e-frame-finder

  3. #3

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    Re: Shooting with fixed optical cold shoe viewfinder on Horseman FA

    For many years, I used a Soviet-era 2cm finder that had parallax correction on 8X10 with 120mm lens and 4X5 with a 65mm. I sold it with a TRF Crown I had set up cam-coupled to the 65mm f8 Fujinon SW. I missed it and just recently bought a Fuji finder (around $100 on ebay) with frame lines for (35mm format) 21 and 28. It gives me a good idea of the coverage of my 120mm and 159mm lenses on 8X10 and the 65mm and 90mm on 4X5. As to the 6X9 view as compared to the 4X5 or 8X10 format, I find I usually crop these wide views a bit off the top or bottom any way.

  4. #4
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    Re: Shooting with fixed optical cold shoe viewfinder on Horseman FA

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack_Luke View Post
    Ignoring the fact the viewfinder will be masked for 3:2 and that there will be a bit of parallax error mounting this on the cold shoe of the FA, is there any reason why I couldn't, for example, use the 28mm viewfinder if I was shooting with a 90mm lens? Likewise, a 35mm finder with a 115mm lens. The angle of view between the two will be broadly similar, correct?
    You just have to try it for yourself to see whether you're comfortable working that way - some people are, some aren't. Get started by doing some comparisons between the field of view that the finder gives you at different subject distances and what you see on the ground glass, to give you a general sense of what to expect, and then just use it for a while.

    I have a modest collection of separate finders marketed for use with smaller formats, some with a 3:2 aspect ratio and some with 4:3. I find the 4:3 ones a bit easier to use with 4x5 or 8x10, but YMMV.

  5. #5
    Small town, South Carolina, US
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    Re: Shooting with fixed optical cold shoe viewfinder on Horseman FA

    I use 28mm Voigtlander finders with my Busch Pressman and several other P&S cameras from 5x7 to 6x9 format with 28mm equivalent lenses. Works fine.
    Also, with a lot of work, I modified the removable viewfinder of a Graflex by adding a cold "foot" to the bottom which fits into any cold shoe.
    The advantage if this viewfinder is that it can be used with different slide in masks to match different lenses and formats.

  6. #6

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    Re: Shooting with fixed optical cold shoe viewfinder on Horseman FA

    If you use iOS, I think that you could use Artist's Viewfinder to do this. There's a good chance that there's an Android equivalent.

    There's discussion about Artist's Viewfinder in this thread: https://www.largeformatphotography.i...-Using-in-2021

  7. #7

    Re: Shooting with fixed optical cold shoe viewfinder on Horseman FA

    Thank you to all that have replied, this has been very helpful.

    In summary, yes, the viewfinder pictured will give me a broadly equivalent FOV to a 90/115mm lens, which was my primary concern.

    In addition to these generic fixed finders, I may also see if I can pick up an external Mamiya Universal finder. These are often quite affordable and are maskable to the correct ratio for shooting 5x4.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    You just have to try it for yourself to see whether you're comfortable working that way - some people are, some aren't. Get started by doing some comparisons between the field of view that the finder gives you at different subject distances and what you see on the ground glass, to give you a general sense of what to expect, and then just use it for a while
    Agreed. I may well discover I'm not a modern-day Weegee and hate shooting in this fashion, but that's part of the fun of learning, eh?

    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    If you use iOS, I think that you could use Artist's Viewfinder to do this...[/url]
    Having looked at the Dora Goodman equivalent app, I had considered this as an option, but the particular circumstance in which I will be using the camera (on a boat in the middle of the sea – don't ask!) means it's not the best option for me.

    One amusing thought – all of this assumes I will shoot exclusively landscape-oriented photos. Given the expansive horizons I'm going to find myself surrounded by, that very well may be the case.

    Thanks again!

  8. #8
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting with fixed optical cold shoe viewfinder on Horseman FA

    I gave up zone focus with my Horseman FA 4x5 and will use the Horseman VH-R 6x9cm with it's rangefinder instead.
    Sure, the format is smaller, requiring higher magnification enlargement, but the subject is in focus

    Click image for larger version. 

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