Aug 9, 2006
I am one of those people prepared to put his money where his mouth is.
I have made the jump and bought an Ikodot sight from Fritz Dumville (thanks for the tip Terry). It arrived yesterday and I have had barely a chance to test it yet. (I do work, as well
It is well made and first impressions are favourable. I was not expecting a precise framing instrument where the optical view matched the final framed image.
If you are looing for a finder that does all the work for the brain then this is not what you want. I wanted something that was quick and made it easy to get the general direction and frame lined up. The Ikodot does this. Technically - if the camera is placed at the correct position to the face then the framing is correct however I have found that when it is this close my eyes cannot focus on the frame itself which disappears into a blur (call this an eyesight problem of advancing age) but I can see well enough to work the fuzzy boundary out. Once the "frame" of the image is worked out the camera can be moved further away back into focus and the frame and dots used as a target sight rather than a framing sight.
With a bit of practice I am sure that this would bcome one quick smooth movement. I am working on it and will update my my thoughts as I learn. This is not a substitute for an ovf but more a quick and ready guide - perhaps you could call it a "sportsfinder"
.... now I will just have to persuade Fritz to make a workable folding version ....
Please keep us all posted on your progress. As I recollect using the IKODOT (like all good things) is non-trivial for sure.
Kind Regards. Terry.
Tom Caldwell wrote:
I am one of those people prepared to put his money where his mouth is.
I have made the jump and bought an Ikodot sight from Fritz Dumville
(thanks for the tip Terry). It arrived yesterday and I have had
barely a chance to test it yet. (I do work, as well
It is well made and first impressions are favourable. I was not
expecting a precise framing instrument where the optical view
matched the final framed image.
If you are looing for a finder that does all the work for the brain
then this is not what you want. I wanted something that was quick
and made it easy to get the general direction and frame lined up.
The Ikodot does this. Technically - if the camera is placed at the
correct position to the face then the framing is correct however I
have found that when it is this close my eyes cannot focus on the
frame itself which disappears into a blur (call this an eyesight
problem of advancing age) but I can see well enough to work the
fuzzy boundary out. Once the "frame" of the image is worked out
the camera can be moved further away back into focus and the frame
and dots used as a target sight rather than a framing sight.
With a bit of practice I am sure that this would bcome one quick
smooth movement. I am working on it and will update my my thoughts
as I learn. This is not a substitute for an ovf but more a quick
and ready guide - perhaps you could call it a "sportsfinder"
.... now I will just have to persuade Fritz to make a workable
folding version ....-- hide signature --
'A luminous object need not shine light upon itself'
The Ikodot is a modern version of the "Sportsfinder" and an aquired skill to use. It is a framing device and has nothing to do with the image that is actually captured. Consequently if the framing is successful you get an image if not then - "no image". In any case it is the camera that captures the image and it should technically be identical to that captured using an ovf or the lcd similarly framed.
So any image "with the Ikodot" should be a relfection of the user's skills or lack of them and the camera's ability to cope with the latter
I have only tried some "experimental" photographs so far but am happy to share them for what they are worth. The Ikodot use has coincided with some high-ISO b&w trial images.
Perhaps these images also have some bearing on the camera's abilities to work in lower light situations without flash assistance.
Longer term evaluation of the Ikodot sight:
To get the full frame enclosed with the Ikodot you have to pull the camera very close to your face and I don't know about those younger users but my eyes just don't focus that close The outline disappears into fuzz. Still can work it out though but it is not a sharp delineation and not particularly comfortable.
This was not my objective though - if I were to do this then I might as well use a regular optical sight and I have the oem sight anyway.
Pulling the camera to face is fine if you are taking regular images and using the GRD as a regular camera. What I wanted was a "quick fix" sighting that could be done from various distances from the eye - point, sight, click, finish in one quick movement. This is the style of shooting that the GRD design hints at with a big "wink".
So the Ikodot then becomes a target sight much like a gunsight. Line up the two dots and the perfectly in focus wire frame knowing that the true image size is roughly the size of the top of the camera then press the shutter - gottit!
So it is an acquired skill. I have used lcd-on to check/practice on what the Ikodot "sees" and how the dots must be interpreted for perspective over distance. At the "snap focus" focal length and greater the dots are pretty accurate. Closer than this the Ikodot quickly loses the plot but that close you can generally get pretty right by simply pointing the camera body at the subject.
I might get asked: "why use the Ikodot when you can use the lcd anyway?". I might reply: "why use an ovf when you can use the lcd?". The obvious answer is the same with all alternative finders: "because it provides another method of framing the subject - one I prefer and has the advantages of a more stable platform".
What we must understand is that the Ikodot sportfinder is yet another framing method. It can be used as an optical viewfinder full-framing substitute by being pulled back to the eye - but I can see little practical advantage in this and it doesn't do as good a job at this in my opinion. It can also be used as an lcd substitute when held away from the face but it doesn't show full frame and it only has directional feedback - nothing else, not even "full frame" outline.
The Ikodot also has a fixed wire frame and two dots on wire stalks. Just asking to be damaged it left on the camera exclusively. So we don't even have the advantage of a permanently attched quick flip-up top sight.
So what is the use of the Ikodot? Train yourself on the relationship of image to what the Ikodot shows by a few test shots with the lcd on. Then you shut everything off on the lcd, dial up a bit of ISO and put the camera in snap focus mode and go for a session. The street photogrpaher "greats" did not have the luxury of seeing what the camera had just taken real time on the back of their camera and it honed their skills. Just as my LC1 has taught me the benefits of manual controls on the camera rangefinder-style then the Ikodot/GRD combination is teaching me to fix my camera settings beforehand and grab the scene from outside the camera rather than peering through framing orifices.
The trouble is that it is now developing into a situation where I am tending not even to use the Ikodot but merely pointing the camera body and dispensing with detailed framing altogether. So I am usig combined Ikodot/instinct and acquired experience.
Opens up the GRD field of use just that crack wider and it is a whole new experience using sportsfinder rough-frame and having no feedback other than that winking green light. This means you need a lot more images as the failure rate is high, but a 2Gb SD card gives you a lot more room to play with than the roll of film from yore.
Now we will just have to get Fritz to work out a folding version that can be left permanently attached .... mmm real possibilities there.
The Ikodot in public
I am old enough just to remember the flip up alternative camera sight on my father's folding bellows type camera. However the sportsfider wire frame and the sight that I remember have been long discarded by history and are generally remembered as a discredited device.
I suppose the sportsfinder was so bad that reporters only had them on their cameras for show and street-photographers were just too lazy to use their regular finders (but many did of course).
Come focussing aids in rangefinders and dslr's and later, auto-focus, generations inlcuding myself have become lazy and are now trained on ovf and lcd framing. Precise framing has come with concentration on using a proper finding device and there is no doubt that this has improved photography immensely.
There is still room for "quick-framing" and skill in getitng a rapid capture. There are times when waiting the microseconds for auto-focus after the seconds of getting the camera placed and the image perfectly framed are not good enough. These situations can excuse a "roughly" framed image and wide angle and photoshop can work wonders afterwards. Time can be of the essence and acquired skills can help the initial quality of the capture.
The Ricoh GRD is a camera that positively encourages this style of photography, but I am only leading up to my point:
There are nearly two generations between the sportfinder and the Ikodot (smile). It looks quite neat and impressive and quite different on top of the camera. We have to laugh, the current generation bred on lcd's are utterly mystified - I have been asked if it is a flash, or some laser device ... I just tell them its a gunsight - line up - click, you are dead! ... smile. Gets them every time ...
Sounds like an interesting viewfinder idea. It brings up another idea.. and I'm not being fascitious. I've always been fascinated by the work of William Eggleston, in fact he's about my favorite photographer. For a while I understand he took the viewfinder off his leica and took pictures by pointing, like a shotgun..as he referred to it. There's actually no need for a viewfinder if one were to know the camera well enough. Particularly a single focal length camera would allow one to just "know" when they had it right. With enough practice anyway.
You read my mind Tom, I was just about to ask if you could show us that.
Looks bigger than I thought. So do you pretty much ignore the frame and just use the dots?
I have used cameras from time to time without using the viewfinder - just point and hope for the best. In reality with auto-exposure and auto-focus it can work surprisingly well.
My comment about the GRD and Ikodot is that I started using the camera targetting through the Ikodot - then for close subjects I merely pointed the camera at them and soon I found myself doing the same for more distant shots. Lining up the dots with in the frame is accurate, natural feeling and intuitive for finding the centrepoint of your subject. It is a different way of working and well worth a try as you are not wasting film.
I have used a Canon 5D with 85mm lens this way - the results vary but I get a reasonable number of good shots this way and it is a good way to get a shy subject
If you pull the camera back to your eye then the frame is roughly the same size as that captured and th dots line up direction. It is much the same idea as the ovf but you can keep both eyes open. But I can't see much benefit in having it as a replacement for an ovf as it can't sensibly be packed away with the finder in place. It is well made and not flimsy but it is still asking for trouble in my mind.
The further away from your eye the smaller the the areea framed is. Therefore the frame only outlines part of the subject. Nonetheless it the frame is still uselful to act as a general locator and by lining up the dots you know that what you have found the camera will centre on.
I also have noted that the width of the top of the camera body is about (very roughly) the same width as the 28mm standard lens captures. So the body width becomes the notional "big finder edge".
The whole thing becomes second nature pretty quickly. Bright optical finders might be something but they can never be as bright as this one
It is not meant to be super accurate - it is meant to be reasonably accurate and quick.
Thanks to Terry for the original lead & link.
Those that need to get their framing absolutely right and sweat about it might not warm to this method of framing, but if the Ikodot was designed for any digital then the GRD must have been it.
If we can work out a folding version that can be left in place then it would be perfect.
You can use the Ikodot sight by holding the sight close to the eye and it will frame more or less the same as an ovf. I htink that there is no particular advantage in this as it still requires the camera to be brought to eye and it does lack the precision of an ovf.
However it is probably a little quicker than an ovf when used in this manner and that might be enough for some.
I quickly realised that the finder could be used further from the face as a target sight and the frame edge more imaginary. It also soon became obvious that the width of the camera body was a reasonable approximation of the width of the frame (at least with the 28mm lens).
We have a target - line up the dots - rough centre frame from the wire and the bottom outside edge from the camera body - quick simple and efficient (and i works).
mmmm ... why not just use the lcd? Good question - in this mode the Ikodot is just giving a very poor rendition of what the lcd does.
Sometimes you want to be "silent" - in a theatre, or anywhere where the lcd is just too showy. Put the camera in snap focus, silent-sceeen mode and off you go Not for everyone - but is certainly has its uses - shooting "blind" with this sportfinder almost takes one back to the good old days of composition by instinct rather than real-view.
Combined image coustesy of GR-D and R4.
Fritz Dumville the creator of the unusual but quite effective Ikodot finder has asked me to clarify the designed use procedure of the Ikodot and I am happy to quote him here:
"Since you have done an evaluation to introduce the finder to your
group, and I certainly appreciate your enthusiasm, I only ask that
you make clear the intended method.
The main thing I am objecting to is your suggestion that the Ikodot
itself should be in focus for correct function. It is important NOT
to attempt to look directly at the Ikodot in use, all parts of it are
expected to be out of focus, while your eye does focus on your
subject. The Ikodot frame in use is visually similar to the frame of
ones eyeglasses. You know where it is, but you don't look at it. You
want just enough sense of where the frame boundary is to indicate the
full extent of the image you will see in your photo. The balls are
designed also to continue to indicate aim even when your eye is
focused at infinity. By correctly positioning your eye by the method
desribed on the Ikodot site or its instruction sheet, you will indeed
be able to have a very accurate idea of the total space included in
your desired shot, for whichever focal length you are working with.
The Ikodot is intended as an accurate compositional aid not just an
aiming device. You are correct that you can aim the camera with the
Ikodot at any distance from your face, but using just the aim
function, you will miss a huge part of the usefulness of the finder.
If you can use any of this message as an addendum to your posts on
the forum, you are most welcome and I would appreciate adding some
I appreciate Fritz' comment and I would like to say that what I was describing was only how the Ikodot works for my personal use.
Re-reading about this gizmo I feel that its use with the GRD would be considerably enhanced if it folded and could thus remain in situ when the camera is in a case.
Have you any idea whether the designer is thinking about such a modification?
Whilst posting I also see from your photos that your experience is that the frame shows far less than the camera sees and that you'd work on the principle that you will photograph everything to the edge of the camera. Yes?
Re-reading about this gizmo I feel that its use with the GRD would
be considerably enhanced if it folded and could thus remain in situ
when the camera is in a case.
I think it would be really good that way - you could leave it on the lcd switched off and just flip up the sight when needed - afterwards it could be folded away. That would also solve the two Ikodot problems -
1) that if is robust but still has bits pokiing out that could be bent or damaged with careless handling. The wire is tough spring steel and therefore quite strong but there would be a limit.
2) it is avery attractive looking bit of gear and draws comments from anyone that sees it. This is all well and flattering but it does make your photography activities rather conspicuous.
Have you any idea whether the designer is thinking about such a
I think Fritz is quite happy with his design - if enough demand was there he might but it is unlikely to be cheap. His product is well-made and pretty exclusive because he charges appropriately. I think it good value but others might disagree with me.
I think the flip up device I have suggested might be made in mass production by appropriate machinery for cents and sold for say US$20 and then everyone would have to have one. But to hand tool every individual one to high tolerances with quality materials might mean over US$100 for each one and sales would be minimal.
I wish Fritz well with the Ikodot it is an ingenious piece of engineering and I guess he will get a steady but small stream of orders hat will keep him busy enough.
Whilst posting I also see from your photos that your experience is
that the frame shows far less than the camera sees and that you'd
work on the principle that you will photograph everything to the
edge of the camera. Yes?
Well this is not what Fritz recommends - I posted up his email to me correcting what I was saying as the preferred mode of use. The Ikodot was designed to provide a sort of sportsfinder for rangefinder type film cameras. I obviously don't know Fritz' sales history but I am guessing that this is where he sells most of his product.
I don't know if I am the only person who has bought an Ikodot from him for use on a GR-D. All I can say is it works fine in this capacity.
On the Ikodot site http://www.ikodot.com a full tutorial in its use is provided. This means bringing the camera to eye and practising the distance form eye for different focal length lenses - the wide angle lenses fit fairly snug but you can use the frame to properly outline your image. A bit of practice makes the pull in to eye and click motion seamless and quick.
However the frame and dots are out of focus to my aging eyes and I am actually happy with aiming from a greater distance. This can be anything from eye to camera to arm's length - the dots still line up like a gunsight to the centre of the image but the framing changes are you have observed.
At a certain distance the top of the body is pretty close to the edge of the frame - those with the GR-D have an advantage over a film camera - you can leave the lcd on and compare what it is showing to that shown through the Ikodat. Experimantation will soon give a good idea of relationships.
"You are mad" said mother duck "why use the Ikodot as a very rough target sight and use the lcd as well?" (roll over and over laughing)
Well you don't - you just use the lcd to practice and once you are fairly confident you switch off the lcd and just use the Ikodot as a super quick but rough target sight. This is in keeping with the GR-D philosophy of being a great street photographer's camera. Then we complete the circle - what street photographer wants to be mobbed by fans all trying to get a look at the dinky little "laser-sight" on top of the dinky little GR-D. If you want to create an impression then this is one sure way to get it happening.
So I am happy with the gunsight approach and leaving the outside frame to my judgement and imagination. It is quick and effective but others might prefer Fritz' recommended approach to see full-frame outline by bringing Ikodot to eye.
When I was at school, more years ago than I'd like to count, I used a Rolleiflex to shoot shots of various sports.
It had a clever viewfinder. You could hold your camera at waist height and look down into the ground glass.
You could raise it to your eye and look at the ground glass through a mirror.
But, what made it like the device we are discussing, is the fact that you could flip the mirror out of the way and look directly (with no lenses) at your subject. So, like your viewfinder, you are seeing your subject totally naturally - indeed you can keep both eyes open.
This latter mode was what made the camera so appropriate for sports photography - and what draws me to the Ikodot for our GRD. Note I say our - as it is my wife's camera and not mine, and I am not sure that her street cred would let her use a camera with what looked like a bit of a coat hander strapped to the top!!
Tony - you can even just shoot without the viewfinder at all - switch the distracting lcd off - use it in theatres (but the wide angle will wimp out) - however the Ikodot allows you to aim for the centre of the image and the wire frame still gives a proportional outline. This is a big advantge in approximation over no sight at all.
Like all things there is a trade-off between speed and accuracy - how much of this is acceptable depends on the skills and needs of the user.