What DLSR has the best optical viewfinder?

Started 10 months ago | Discussions thread
Wildbegonia Contributing Member • Posts: 562
Re: What DLSR has the best optical viewfinder?

Tom_N wrote:

macnab wrote:

I'm old enough to remember the superb viewfinder in the Leicaflex SL from the 60's. Unusually bright, clear and colorful. Does any current DSLR approach this?

There are several reasons for the sad state of today's viewfinder and manual focusing experience:

  • Autofocus. Diverts some light from the viewfinder. Encourages designers to gear lenses for motorized autofocus rather than for precise focusing by hand.

I do not think the hand does precise focusing. Rather the eye does it, but unfortunately many of us do not have perfect eye sight 🙁, so an almost perfect autofocus system is of great aid.  I have keratoconus which means literally I should quit photography since my human eyes are not able to adjust or readjust to achieve focus never mind a precise one.

  • Crop sensors. Reduce total light available to the viewfinder (since the area of light that goes to the viewfinder is the same as the area that would go to the sensor).
  • Substitution of slow kit zooms for fast kit primes.
  • Use of cheap pentamirror-based viewfinders on entry-level cameras.
  • Removal of useful focusing aids like ground-glass screens, microprism rings, and a split-circle focusing point.

It's unlikely that manufacturers will ever reverse all of these changes. Autofocus, zoom lenses, and crop sensor cameras are too popular. There are some things you can do:

  • Get a DSLR with a pentaprism-based viewfinder. This means avoiding entry-level Canon ("Digital Rebel") and Nikon ("D3xxx", "D5xxx") bodies.
  • Consider using prime lenses or "fast" zoom lenses.

It used to be possible to get focusing screens from a company called KatzEye Optics – but they "move[d] on to different ventures".

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