This post isn't sexy. It isn't overly informative. And it most certainly isn't technical. Probably the best that can be said about it is that it won't take too much of your precious time. So why bother?
What I hope is that in a simple yet significant way it helps a few like-minded photographers find what they're looking for from their gear bag: a bigger and better view of every... single... shot they take.
Let me start by saying that I am on – I'll resentfully acknowledge – a perpetual search. Unfortunately for me, I seek the resolution of a contradiction. An oxymoron. Technology did this to me, I say. But if I'm honest, it's probably a lack of simple contentment with what physics offers us. I want the biggest view in the smallest package. I want to look through my viewfinder and see IMAX. But in my hand, I want to carry a camera the size of a matchbox. James Bond has one of these, of course. But I, unfortunately, do not.
Having begun with a decent cropped sensor dslr, I ditched it as soon as I could for a full-frame unit with 24 whopping megapixels to play with. The view through the finder was stunning. Medium-format junkies, be damned. My 35 mill DSLR showed me the world on big-screen. Except... the other edge of the sword: I was carrying a bag of bricks around.
Ever unsatisfied, I looked to Pentax. In particular, it's limited prime pancakes promised to deliver my other desire: a small, well-made, fine functioning photography system. So I jumped ship. It was quite lovely and satisfying, offering a high-quality yet compact camera experience. Except... that viewfinder. It's great and all. But perhaps, couldn't it be a little larger? I didn't want full-frame for the lenses or depth of field or format of the images it took, apparently. I wanted full-frame because of the huge view of my subjects in the little window I held my eye up to.
What to do now? Read forums till way after bedtime!
After some extensive searching, and some messaging back and forth with other optical-compromise-because-of-physics-haters, I discovered a little device that came from across the world. Literally.
Enter the Seculine "U-13C" Magnifying Eyepiece.
What a name. Like some sort of underwater transportation vehicle. U-13C approaching harbour, sir. Request permission to dock. Pure poetry.
So, I logged on to eBay, the only purchasing option for the U-13C available to mankind, and bought one. Shipping almost doubled the price, but beggers can't be choosers. This was my hope and consolation. After what seemed like weeks – because it was – it arrived in my mailbox. With eagerness and anticipation, I ripped open the packaging, promptly ignored the installation instructions, and got directly to attaching this thing to my K5.
Would it fulfill my dreams? Change my picture taking forever? (Make me a better photographer?).
Not sure. But it would certainly magnify things by One-Point-Three. And that – it turns out – is a lot.
One-Point-Three meant that everything was closer. Significantly closer. One-Point-Three meant I felt like I had stepped into the middle of the room instead of sitting at the edge like some nervous wallflower at a junior high dance. It was just as bright, and just as clear as without, AND it enlarged my worldview through the finder very, very tangibly.
In my review of the U-13C on this very forum, I put it like this: I had found what I was looking for – a full-frame view in an apsc camera. The only small compromise is that I was forced to use neither of the eye cups that shipped with it. They obscured too much of the corners. But leave them off and you get a big view of everything you need, including the information display.
One-Point-Three. That's the ticket.
Compared to purchasing a large and expensive full-frame camera for its viewfinder experience, not to mention the premium in price and weight for the lenses, this little gadget with the uninspiring name, when connected to a Pentax K5, is a steal. Because what you see is what you get. So I don't think there is anything in my camera bag that influences every single shot I take as much as the U-13C.