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02-13-2016, 09:53 PM   #1
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How's that viewfinder?

Hey everyone,

So I was talking to my professor about learning to shoot and develop film for my intermediate photography class. A TA found an old K-mount Chinon with a f2.8/28mm lens on it. The camera was clearly cheap: it didn't even have a diopter on it and it has one of those weird split-screens. I...hated it. Everything was blurry. I felt so much relief getting back behind my K-30. The TA looked behind it and said that the screen looked fine to him, that's just how film SLRs look.

My K-30's diopter is set to the far right (as negative as possible). Are there things I should look for before going and buying a film SLR online now? This has left me nervous.

02-13-2016, 10:29 PM   #2
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Film camera with Diopter? PZ1P, ZX5n, Olympus OM4? These are the ones I have but there are probably others. Pentax ME Super and Minolta X700 don't have them but their viewfinders are big, bright and clear.
02-13-2016, 10:35 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by jimmm18 Quote
Film camera with Diopter? PZ1P, ZX5n, Olympus OM4? These are the ones I have but there are probably others. Pentax ME Super and Minolta X700 don't have them but their viewfinders are big, bright and clear.
I was thinking the MZ-S would be a good choice, it has a diopter too. I'm just a little anxious since the TA mentioned "all films cameras look like that", but it might just be the diopter.
02-13-2016, 10:43 PM   #4
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been to an eye doctor lately?

02-13-2016, 10:59 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by maltfalc Quote
been to an eye doctor lately?
Ha! Not lately. I wear glasses to watch movies or read sheet music, but I use my camera and most everything else without glasses just fine.
02-14-2016, 02:11 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by lithedreamer Quote
Ha! Not lately. I wear glasses to watch movies or read sheet music, but I use my camera and most everything else without glasses just fine.
If you need to use a manual focus SLR in poor light you probably need a clip on or screw in Diopter.

An optician will help though more difficult if you are astigmatic.
02-14-2016, 02:17 AM   #7
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Yes, not all film SLRs had built-in diopter correction. Even my Nikon F3HP requires purchasing the needed diopter and to replace the original viewfinder glass with the screw-in diopter.

For Pentax, I love the LX as the pro-level manual focus king of that era. Like my F3HP it has interchangeable viewfinders and focusing screens and the diopter can be adjusted with a turn of a screw. But if you can afford it, you may want to consider stepping up to medium format with the Pentax 645, 645N, or 645NII. If you don't need AF, then the 645 is a bargain and the diopter adjustment is built-in. Many complain about the Keplerian viewfinder system as being dark, but I have no problem with my 75mm f/2.8 and 35mm f/3.5 primes (roughly 50mm and 21mm FOV with FF or 35mm film). With wide angle, the viewfinder does vignette a lot, but this does not affect the exposure on the film.
02-14-2016, 02:44 AM   #8
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the old split screen, with or without microprism ring was actually very useful for precise focusing of longer focal lengths (for shorter focal lengths the ground glass was fine) - but it was difficult if not impossible to use with slower or poor quality lenses - half the screen would black out permanently! f2.8 is not slow and there's no indication that the lensis poor quality (poor quality lenses tended not to go below f/4 anyway) so, as has been suggested, the problem is probably with your eye-sight unfortunately, and dioptre corrections are probably needed - I believe I'm right in saying that some Pentax film cameras also had changeable eye-piece lenses too, but there would be hard to find now.

02-14-2016, 11:12 AM   #9
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Thanks for the insight everyone (pun mostly not intended). I'm trying to decide if film is right for me, and if it is, which body to get.

MZ-S: exposure imprinting, quiet shutter, metal construction, compact, P-TTL

LX: weathersealing, metal construction, manual

PZ-1p: cheapest, extra control dials, compatible with DA lenses, flash sync and shutter speed

I like the MZ-S, but I'm still hesitant. I want to see if I can borrow a film camera locally and develop a roll or two before I commit.
02-14-2016, 11:20 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by lithedreamer Quote
Thanks for the insight everyone (pun mostly not intended). I'm trying to decide if film is right for me, and if it is, which body to get.

MZ-S: exposure imprinting, quiet shutter, metal construction, compact, P-TTL

LX: weathersealing, metal construction, manual

PZ-1p: cheapest, extra control dials, compatible with DA lenses, flash sync and shutter speed

I like the MZ-S, but I'm still hesitant. I want to see if I can borrow a film camera locally and develop a roll or two before I commit.
i'll lend you a working but user-grade cosmetics MZ-S if you want.
02-14-2016, 11:38 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by lithedreamer Quote
A TA found an old K-mount Chinon with a f2.8/28mm lens on it. The camera was clearly cheap: it didn't even have a diopter on it and it has one of those weird split-screens. I...hated it. Everything was blurry. I felt so much relief getting back behind my K-30. The TA looked behind it and said that the screen looked fine to him, that's just how film SLRs look.

My K-30's diopter is set to the far right (as negative as possible). Are there things I should look for before going and buying a film SLR online now? This has left me nervous.
Perhaps the old Chinon needed a good cleaning?

Do you really hate the weird split screen - where everything was blurry, after just one look and you don't know how to use it?

The TA made a very general statement that does not apply to all film SLRs. For instance the MZS has diopter adjustment as well as changeable screens like your K30. I am not familiar with either but since they are autofocus SLRs, likely similar in view. However, there is one substantial difference and that is the K30 uses a sensor that is smaller than the 35mm film area in the MZS and therefore the scene presented in the viewfinder will be much larger when using equivalent field of view lenses. Viewfinder display is calculated by film/sensor size X magnification. For the K30 it is 0.92 X 23.7mm = 21.8 while the MZS magnification of 0.75 X 36 = 27.

In general, manual film camera viewfinders are much better than autofocus cameras since they don't have an autofocus system. For the same reason, manual focus lenses are also much better for manual focus use then autofocus lenses. The Pentax LX was the pinnacle of viewfinder development and has the most extensive selection of viewfinders and screens then any other camera regardless of brand or model - film or digital. Some of it's viewfinders have built-in diopter adjustment too. I included magnification and diopter ranges with each of the LX viewfinders.



With most manual focus cameras, you will have to select one based on having more eye-relief (smaller magnification) or less eye-relief (larger magnification). Generally, people who wear glasses prefer more eye-relief then magnification. With the LX, you have the option of having more eye-relief or a selection of magnifications from 1.35 down to 0.55. The smallest LX magnification (speedfinder FB1+ FC1) is closer to the view of the K30 at 0.55 X 36 = 19.8 as opposed to the FA-1 of 0.90 X 36 = 32.4. Since I don't wear glasses (yet!) I can see the huge difference between my LX and my K20D.

For fixed viewfinders, the MX has the largest viewfinder magnification of 0.97 X 36 = 34.9.
02-14-2016, 12:10 PM   #12
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Monochrome is lending me his MZ-S, so we'll see how well I fair with it!
02-14-2016, 12:13 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by lithedreamer Quote
Monochrome is lending me his MZ-S, so we'll see how well I fair with it!
A very generous offer!
02-14-2016, 12:19 PM   #14
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Generous indeed! I found my MZ-S to be no different than using a modern DLSR except I can't see the picture immediately. Great camera.
02-14-2016, 12:26 PM   #15
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Happy to help a student get started in film.
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