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11-01-2020, 12:54 AM   #1
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Prism viewfinder vs chimney loupe

On many medium format SLR (Bronica, Rolleiflex SL66) it is more common to have prism viewfinder attached, occasionally I would see some with a chimney loupe.
I have never used a chimney loupe myself, I wondered what is the difference besides viewing position, does one offer any advantage over the other?

11-01-2020, 01:51 AM   #2
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Prism viewfinder: viewpoint at eye level like a normal SLR; some prisms have exposure metering; left and right is the correct way around.
Chimney loupe: lower viewpoint more like a waist-level viewfinder, but no metering; sometimes more practical for tripod work; left and right is reversed; blocks out stray light better than a waist-level viewfinder; may have magnification; work in portait mode is almost impossible.
There is also the third option of waist-level viewfinder: lower point-of-view; not so obtrusive in street photography; left and right is reversed; no metering; work in portait mode is almost impossible

On the Pentax 6x7 and 67 II all three options are available. I think most people use a prism viewfinder most of the time, especially since that also give you metering.

On for example the Mamiya 6x6 and many other TLRs I think most people use a waist-level viewfinder, because the cameras are laid out to work that way. On TLRs prism viewfinders can be quite heavy and not very bright, but you might get metering. A chimney viewfinder can make critical focusing easier as there is no stray light to hit the focusing screen.
11-01-2020, 04:43 PM   #3
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I've got prism viewfinder and waist-level viewfinder with loupe* for Mamiya 67 RB, and I can tell you I have used prism one only once. There are two reasons: the prism itself weights almost 1 kilogram (2 pounds), and it has no metering. As per portrait mode, Mamiya has got rotating back, so it's not a problem. Left and right are reversed in waist-level viewfinder, what is problematic to some extent. For me prism viewfinder (with exception of the one from Mamiya is more convenient as I don't have to look at the camera from above, what is rather unnatural in most cases. The loupe, on the other hand, makes precise focusing easier.


* basically collapsible chimney loupe
11-02-2020, 12:19 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by LaHo Quote
Prism viewfinder: viewpoint at eye level like a normal SLR; some prisms have exposure metering; left and right is the correct way around.
Chimney loupe: lower viewpoint more like a waist-level viewfinder, but no metering; sometimes more practical for tripod work; left and right is reversed; blocks out stray light better than a waist-level viewfinder; may have magnification; work in portait mode is almost impossible.
There is also the third option of waist-level viewfinder: lower point-of-view; not so obtrusive in street photography; left and right is reversed; no metering; work in portait mode is almost impossible

On the Pentax 6x7 and 67 II all three options are available. I think most people use a prism viewfinder most of the time, especially since that also give you metering.

On for example the Mamiya 6x6 and many other TLRs I think most people use a waist-level viewfinder, because the cameras are laid out to work that way. On TLRs prism viewfinders can be quite heavy and not very bright, but you might get metering. A chimney viewfinder can make critical focusing easier as there is no stray light to hit the focusing screen.
Thanks, I can see that prism is more useful when needed other than the additional option of waist-level.

---------- Post added 02-11-20 at 03:19 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by pentageek Quote
I've got prism viewfinder and waist-level viewfinder with loupe* for Mamiya 67 RB, and I can tell you I have used prism one only once. There are two reasons: the prism itself weights almost 1 kilogram (2 pounds), and it has no metering. As per portrait mode, Mamiya has got rotating back, so it's not a problem. Left and right are reversed in waist-level viewfinder, what is problematic to some extent. For me prism viewfinder (with exception of the one from Mamiya is more convenient as I don't have to look at the camera from above, what is rather unnatural in most cases. The loupe, on the other hand, makes precise focusing easier.


* basically collapsible chimney loupe
Yeah, I see it can depend on the individual cameras as well.

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