Looking for 35mm slr with great viewfinder for poor eyesight

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by sixby45, Nov 30, 2018.

  1. sixby45

    sixby45 Member
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    Good morning,

    I'm looking to get back into more 35mm film use, since I've been mostly on the medium format film shooting side. The issue I've been having in the past has been inability to nail good focus as I wear glasses, and diopters dont seem to help as I prefer wearing my glasses to keep the world in focus. :smile:

    I'm hoping some folks will weigh in on the brightest viewfinder manual slrs (non auto focus) by various brands. I'm thinking initially of the Nikon F3, or perhaps the olympus O series since I've read that these have very bright screens - however I'm interested in anyone has any additional models and brands to look into. Thanks!
     
  2. Pentode

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    I’ve found that, with an eye cup, most modern (mid 70s and later) SLRs have sufficiently bright finders for use with glasses. The trade off is that the eye cup moves your eye back from the finder a bit so the field of view is cut off a bit.

    The F3 does, in fact, have a nice finder but I can’t say I’ve really noticed a problem with brightness in any of the SLRs I’ve used that were made after the 1960s.
     
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    sixby45

    sixby45 Member
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    Thanks for the reply Pentode, much appreciated!
     
  4. macfred

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    The Olympus OM-1 and a Leicaflex SL2 were the 35mm SLR's with the most impressive and brightest finder I have used so far.
    A friend has a Contax RTSIII and the finder is also very nice to use. Pentax ME is supposed to have a huge finder too (I never had one).
     
  5. Marco Gilardetti

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    I've read on reviews (but not tested myself) that the last incarnation of Nikon FM line, that is the FM3a, has an extremely bright viewfinder that pales its predecessors. But as said I can't confirm myself.

    The F3 with the HP viewfinder was especially designed for photographers wearing glasses, so it also looks like an excellent choice. Should you decide to buy one, just make sure that the LCD display is 100% functional as I've learned the hard way that it's no longer repairable.
     
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    sixby45

    sixby45 Member
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    Thanks Marco! Appreciate the insight from everyone :smile:
     
  7. Cholentpot

    Cholentpot Member
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    I sort of gave up trying to get anything in focus below f/2 with any camera. If I want to shoot large apertures I use an autofocus. Myopia yay.
     
  8. cowanw

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    The Contax RX has a nice focus assist.
     
  9. Robin Guymer

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    The Leicaflex SL2 has an excellent screen and easy to read needle light meter. I have the same trouble with glasses and focus so you may want to consider the Nikon F4. It takes a large variety of lenses including non Ai and with manual focus it has a combination of two red arrows and a green light when focus is correct. This is excellent when using non Ai lenses or adapted Leitz lenses in stop down mode as the F4 does not use a split centre focus so you don't get that black half circle when on small apertures. The down side is the weight but these are an underrated camera and can be purchased at bargain prices.
     
  10. Vincent Peri

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    Hi,

    I really love the Nikon F3HP (I have 8), but since it has a relatively small LCD where some exposure data is shown, you might have a problem seeing it, what with your eyesight. I can recommend the Nikon FE-2, as it has both auto and manual exposure, and the finder info is mostly clearly visible (aperture indication is kind of hard to see if you wear glasses), and the shutter speed info is pretty large.
     
  11. AgX

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    Look for a camera that got an adjustable eye-piece. (That already make a lot of models fall off...). And good focusing aids. Best would be exchgangable screens.
     
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    sixby45

    sixby45 Member
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    Thanks everyone for the additional answers I'll look at the Nikon F4 as well - and see what our local central camera shop has on hand in Chicago.
     
  13. Huss

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    F3Hp is super easy to use with glasses. The F4 has an optional action finder which has crazy eye relief, as well as AF.
     
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  15. dynachrome

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    You might like a Nikon N90S. It has a bright high eyepoint finder, focus confirmation and easy to find diopter correction lenses. Its AF is not nearly as fast as what is available today and I use it mostly with manual focus lenses but it's a lot of camera for the money. Another camera with a nice finder is the Minolta 600si. It has a built-in diopter adjustment and also has focus confirmation.
     
  16. LeftCoastKid

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    Another vote - from an eyeglass-wearer - for the F3HP (I've been using one since 1983?). Alternatively, if you prefer something a bit more "modern," you may want to have a look at either the F4, as Robin has suggested above, or perhaps the F5. Both feature viewfinders that are big and bright, and have built in diopters which allow you to dial in with precision your required adjustment.
     
  17. abruzzi

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    The Pentax MX has a surprisingly large magnification when looking through the viewfinder, the largest of any 35mm SLR I’ve used (a very small pool admittedly). It also has a nice display for shutter speed and exposure. The window that looks out at the aperture setting sort of works, but it works better on some lenses that others.
     
  18. jim10219

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    My solution to this problem is contact lenses. I rarely wear them unless I'm shooting. Otherwise I'm wearing glasses. I've tried the big, bright viewfinders with eye cups, but as others have noted, with glasses on, you're not able to get all the way up there, so you wind up loosing a lot of the frame. It also doesn't help focusing much, because you're so far away from the viewfinder that you can't make much use of the focusing aids. Even a large viewfinder looks pretty small when your eye is an inch and a half back. That, and my glasses always get smudged to the point of being almost unusable after just a few shots, no matter how careful I am. So I spend more time cleaning my glasses than shooting. I'd also recommend getting glass lenses if you go this route. Even the scratch resistant coated plastic ones tend to get scratches from just about anything that touches them. I have no idea how a rubber cup can scratch a plastic lens (maybe fine grains of sand get imbedded into them?), but if you do it enough, you'll notice it too. The glass lenses are really heavy, but they handle scratches a lot better.

    I've tried diopters, but my eyesight is so poor, very few camera's come with one strong enough for me to use. So I've had to resort to making my own (or buying them) and adding them on as an eyecup attachment. The downside here is that you constantly have to remove and replace your glasses (which those eyeglass ropes grannies wear come in real handy for). It works, but it's a hassle.

    So in the end, I just wear contacts when I want to shoot a camera with a viewfinder. Contacts irritate my eyes because I rarely wear them (they didn't when I wore them all of the time), but that's the only solution I've found that doesn't compromise my photography. And I get the disposable kind. That way I don't have to worry about all of the other stuff that goes along with wearing contacts, and if they bug my eyes too much, I can dispose of them in the field and fall back on glasses.

    This is another reason why I've switched to large format. The ground glass is just so much easier to work with. I can even see it without my glasses on.
     
  19. OptiKen

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    +1
    I recently picked up a Nikon N90S due to my failing eyesight. Auto-focus is fast and extremely accurate. The view finder is very bright
     
  20. Theo Sulphate

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    I'll vote for an Olympus OM-1, -2, -3, or -4. I have two Leicaflex SL's and, while the screen is big and clear, it's no brighter than the OM's.

    A downside to these is that even the old 2-cam R lenses for the Leicaflex SL are somewhat expensive.

    Another thing to note is that, aside from the 50mm Zuiko lenses (50/1.8, 50/1.4, 55/1.2), OM lenses are f/2 or slower (f/2 is typically harder to find than f/2.8). When I got my OM-2n I was surprised that the OM lenses in the system were typically slower than that of other systems. That said, their optical quality is excellent. I typically use f/5.6 or f/8, but the maximum aperture is what determines viewfinder brightness.

    I have two F3/T's, where the high-eyepoint HP finder is standard, and it's reasonably bright, but not spectacular. One of them has an H2 screen which is an all-microprism screen. That really helps in focusing without recomposing an off-center subject. For some, such a viewfinder image would appear odd, but I really like it. For me, the flaw in the F3 is the small liquid crystal display in the top corner.

    I have F4s's as well. Again, the viewfinder is reasonably good, but you'll have to place the black autofocus brackets on your subject - which may be hard for you to see amid the scene since the autofocus brackets are not illuminated.
     
  21. Sirius Glass

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    Regardless of format, I wear contact lenses when I take photographs. For 35mm I can use my glasses with my Nikon N75 and F100 which are AF and have rubber eye cups available.
     
  22. Paul Howell

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    For the most part use AF, I put a split image focusing screen salvaged from an Miranda EE cut to size for an Pentax SF1 for use with my MF M42 and K mount lens, and found a split image screen for my Minolta A9000. Not sure why you want to stick with MF, the F100, any of the late model Canon, Pentax or Minolta AF are very good.
     
  23. RalphLambrecht

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    I find the Nikon N70 viewfinder very bright and easy to focus but also the FM and FE
     
  24. ic-racer

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    I'd say Nikon. The diopters for the cameras are either built-in and adjustable or add-ons or both. The Nikon add-on diopters are easily obtained. Also, the cameras have excellent autofocus!
     
  25. howardpan

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    I recently shot with a Bessaflex (m42 Mount) and was surprised by the bright, clear and beautiful viewfinder. You also have access to the world of m42 lenses to build out your kit.

    While you asked specifically for a manual SLR, I wonder if you’d consider a rangefinder with a 35mm or shorter focal length lens. I think you can have fairly good depth of field to keep everything in focus. This turns out to be the best solution for me.
     
  26. wiltw

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    The Olympus OM-1 and -2 both have larger viewfinder magnifications, as neither tries to present viewfinder display of shutter speed and ISO and a lot of other information. When all SLRs started to present so much information, the image of the focus screen SHRANK...from 90%+ down to 72-75% size! For folks with difficulty seeing the viewfinder clearly to focus, a smaller viewfinder is a liability to focusing.

    The viewfinder presents its information ordinarily at a perceived viewing distance of 30-36" (depending upon brand), while your eyeglasses are designed for 'infinity' distance (20+ feet). So if you are over 40, it is likely that your eyes cannot accommodate well enough for reading...they cannot focus well for close distances. You can select to use diopter leses so that your aging eyes work better with the 30-36" viewfinder, or use an SLR which has adjustable diopter strength .
     
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