Using glasses, what camera?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jerevan, Aug 20, 2004.

  1. Hello!

    I guess this may have come up as a question in the past, but I
    couldn't find any good discussion on it. If so, point me towards it.

    I have used a Spotmatic with a 50/1.4 for several years now, putting
    up with the non-relief finder and overexposured metering. I have
    finally hit the final stumbling block - can't focus it in low light.
    Maybe mostly because the microprism really doesn't "snap" into focus.
    If the Spot only had had a split-image...

    So, I need some advice. Been looking in the direction of some kind of
    rangefinder as they generally seem easier to focus. I guess the Leica
    /LTM russian copies are too squinty. Also thought about a Nikon SLR. I
    don't need 100% viewfinder, only an easy-focus manual camera. Maybe
    should get a Bessa L with a 21 mm or something :)

    Any good old-time lowpriced bargains for a glass wearer?

  2. The Bessa-R has a great viewfinder. Among the older cameras, many have a small reticle, which as you've noted makes it real tough on eyeglass wearers.

    Though it doesn't possess rangefinder focusing, the Rollei 35 camera have nice viewfinders. Also, the Retina IIC/IIIC (Big C models) and the Retina IIIS rangefinders have much better viewfinders.

    Most of my Zeiss-Ikon favorites don't.

    The 1970s rangefinders out of Japan have very decent viewfinders.
  3. If you're looking for manual focus, the Yashica Lynx 14E (sometimes listed on *bay as Yashica IC) cannot be beat. I wear glasses, and with glasses I can see full frame... I think the other Yashica rangefinder models (i.e. Electro, GSN) are similar in this respect.

    Besides, the Lynx has astounding 45/1.4 lens :))))

    Huge hunk of glass, but it delivers - and how!!!

    The camera isn't inconspicuous, though :)

  4. The bessa R has a nice finder but isn't really a classic if that is what you want. I wear glasses and like the Canon 7 and Canon P with 50mm or longer lenses. The P has a nice bright 1x finder that doesn't scratch. With wider lenses, I recommend an external finder.
  5. Or you can use one of these.... don't know if I can bear to peer through a tiny 35mm viewer after focusing on big ground glass.
  6. Well, thanks for the ideas, keep'em coming!

    As for TLRs - they're great (Got a Rolleicord IV). It's pretty easy to focus too, even in low light. Maybe I have too much of hang-up on small, carry-along cameras. Hmmm.

    Canon P - well, I have had one of these, and I sure wish I still had it! Mechanical failure (rewind crank came off several times with the film still not rewound inside) made me sell it off in a fit of mental ill-health. Last one I saw cost $860 with a 50 mm lens. About $500 too much...

    Yashicas - well... My totally dead YK seems a bit ehm... low-cost. And small it isn't. Maybe the later ones are better built? My opinion may change. I know the whereabouts of a Minister D. Might check that.
  7. $860 for a Canon P? I wouldn't pay more than a few hundred. I just bought a Canon P from Koh's for $225 with a near mint meter and 50mm f1.8 lens for $225. The curtains are butt ugly, but they seems to work fine.
  8. I also wear glasses and yeah, the classic LTM viewfinders are generally way too
    squinty to compose with. Canon VT, too. Contaxes aren't really nice enough in this
    regard, though better. You'll need an accessory viewfinder for composition, and the
    VC ones are pretty darned good for glass wearers.

    Focusing is easy enough with any of those cameras if it's clean and you have padding
    around the finder.

    With an LTM-to-M adapter, you can do the same approach with a Bessa T and get a
    meter and some other stuff as a bonus. I wouldn't get a Bessa

    I've tried a Bessa R and it was neat. But if one isn't beholden to built-in meters, easy
    and quick film loading, a great viewfinder, single non-rotating shutter dial, film
    advance lever, etc., I would recommend a classic LTM with accessory viewfinder,
    padding on the finder, a little patience and delicacy, and a handheld light meter,
    exposure chart/wheel, or all the practice with judging exposure you can get. And if
    you get a Leica II or IIIc, I can live vicariously through you. If you get another Canon P,
    I'll be jealous because I've never tried it out; none of the camera shops around here
    have one.

    As for SLRs, I have the same problem with "snap" on my Spotmatic. *sigh* Now I use a
    Canon F-1n instead, hehe.
  9. Have you considered just getting another m42 screwmount with a better focusing screen? My Fujica ST701 is pretty good, but there's a wealth of other choices. That way, you can keep that 50/1.4

    Another option, is to use a m42 adapter for _any_ other SLR except Nikon (imcompatible) that has a nicer focusing screen. My Minolta X-700, X-570 & XD-11's all have very nice focusing screens, and I can use screwmount lenses with them and modern batteries.
  10. Hello,
    oh yes, the TLR cameras have a wonderfull viewer with ground glasses,but the side left and right are changed and wrong.
    This TLR have the same problem like a SLR in not enough light= problems with dark viewer.
    The rangefinder cameras without this problem, but the earlier Leica and russian rangefinder cameras too, have a small or dark and separeted rangefinder and viewer.
    Best clear Rangefinder have the russian ZORKI 4 near by the LEICA M rangefinder series.The second clear are the FED 5.
    For easy work the KIEV rangefinder are the best. This cameras have the rangefinder on the left side on the back, you can also work with two open eyes include rangefinder, and ever made a very good sight in difficult light.But goe on with all cameras with rangefinder in left side and is a question from train coach.
    In other case your Ashai SLR have an attachment shoe. Put on the Voigtlaender "Kontursucher", this viewer work like the KIEV with two open eyes, and the frame standing virtuell absolutly clear in difficult light. But this Voigtlaender viewer are only made for 50mm or 35mm lenses.
    Godd success

  11. Chris; that's Canon P on offer in a camera store here in good Ol' Sweden. If I had the camera prices you got over there, well... I'd have to hire a barn to harbour all the cameras! ;)

    Aizan; maybe I could do with a Kiev II and an external viewfinder.

    Kin; m42 adapters for other cameras sounds good. I've thought about Pentax K, but with an adapter I could choose some other camera body. Minolta go cheap here.

    Peter; I kinda like the weird idea to use an external rangefinder on top of the Spot... :) I once held of these Kontur rangefinders in my hand. Didn't buy it and the next time it was all gone...

    I don't use anything else than a 50 mm lens. I have a 135/2.5 for the Spot, but I never use it. And sticking a 35mm camera on a tripod doesn't work at all for me.
  12. Try a Yashica Electro with a clean viewfinder. You'll find it very comfortable to see all the framelines and area beyond, even with glasses. Working examples go for very little, and a convenient battery adapter is availible from if you'd like to take advantage of the extremely accurate built-in meter. Sharp, fast Yashinon lens included.

  13. This suggestion may be counter intuitive as diaopters tend to
    reduce eye relief even further, however they make a world of
    difference for me. A +1.0 on a Spotmatic improves my ability to
    focus considerably. I am nearsighted and discovered this
    diaopter business when I bought a Pentax ES II which had the

    My Canon P has a cut down Canon Rebel diaopter glued to its
    eye piece and focussing is much easier with that camera also.
    The Rebel diaopters fit a host of cameras. Work well on a
    Mamiya M 645 with a little shove.

    Any camera store will have some of different powers you can try.
  14. Going to an RF isn't going to be a cheap cure for a squinty finder. You would need to go for something like a Leica M2/M4/M4-2 or a Minolta CLE. There are some bright screens for the Nikon F2 and F3, and prices on them have plummeted.

    Way back when, Honeywell changed my Spot Fs to split-image screens. The eyepiece used to scratch up my glasses like crazy.
    If you never use a slide-on accessory shoe or eyecup, you can have a tech improve the eyepiece by grinding it down so it isn't as deep. There's not much hope for the metering unless you use an eyecup or wear a hat all the time.
  15. I am really trying to think this through - what do I need/want? If I had the money, I would buy a good user M3 or M2 and a 50mm and be done with it. But that's not cheap. Now, I've tested most types of camera (RF, SLR, TLR, LF) in various guises. And as many times said, there's no perfect do-it-all camera. Unfortunately. All your suggestion have so far been very helpful. Right now I am for ditching the Spot, and keep my Rolleicord, while looking for a mechanical, battery-independent RF on the cheap to keep me afloat until I earn the big money. :)
  16. I have the same problem. I love my COntax IIIA, but I can't use it with glasses. I'm actually considering contact lenses just for photography!
  17. Jimi, I've been wearing glasses for years and had trouble with viewfinders of many excellent cameras that were otherwise easy to use and produced great results. Ones that work for me: Rollei E2 with split finder, Canon A series also has split finders. The rubber eyeshield that slips on accesory shoe of Canon viewfinders also work on Pentax. I had Spotmatics 500 and 1000 in 1970s and loved those M42 Takumas, but some unscrewed from body while focusing. Both Spots bought brand new, ditto lenses. Those eyecups helps to keep stray light out of finder that interfers with focusing and act as cushion to prevent scratching glasses. I've used same viewfinder clip for magnifying & right angle finders (both made by Pentax)and diopter lenses. My Zorki 4 and FED 2 (Leica copies)have an adjustable diopter lever that works very well. Levers tend to slip but a discrete piece of grey duct tape holds it in place and looks fine. For rangefinder ease my Kiev 4A and 4AM are heaven on earth; they even have a longer base rangefinder than its DNA parent: Contax II. There are meter versions of these cameras albeit a bit tricky to use . They are cheap on *Bay, but buy from reliable source. There have been threads with recommendations. Jupiter 8 and Helios-103 are excellent. Just got a Yashica Electro 35 GSN that has great finder with parallax correction and tack sharp Color Yashinon DX 1.7/45. Possible drawback coincidence rangefinder is small and orange. I've learned to tip my head slightly and Pow! it snaps into focus. Battery replacement adapter for Electro GSN's outlawed original mercury PX23 battery (in USA) can be made or bought-- I made mine with cardboard roll and aluminum foil for conductive spacer.Easily available batteries are thinner and shorter. And finally, my Canonet QL-17 IIIG has big finder and easy to use rangefinder. An aside, sold my small National SW receiver to the Radio Dokter in Malmo, Sweden in 1955 and bought new Leica IIF with Leitz factory rebuilt 2/50 Summitar in Copenhagen with money for the radio that cost $50 in USA. Sweet memories. If interested, my website has mostly pics taken with that combo, the majority shot in the 50s. Good luck, Jimi! Les P.S. Attachment "Eyes Left! is not on wesite but one of ten of my postcards of Florence published in 2001
  18. Jimi, A footnote about "Eyes left!" and connection with wearing glasses. The shot was taken in Florence in 1959 with Leica IIF and 2/50 Summitar with bright line external 50mm finder. I was still in my 20s (just barely)when I bought the Leica as a student and had 20/20 eyesight --then! But that squinty little viewfinder was for me the only feature, of that gem of a camera, that I disliked. I had external finders for 2/85 Nikkor with LTM and 3.5/35 Summaron. Detail re photo: I followed those two tall Scandanavian beauties, who had clown white makeup on waiting for a reaction from the Florentine men. The one I attached was the best of the bunch. BTW they were gorgeous; the makeup was a gag. People may argue about how pretty a woman has to be to get a Florentine to turn his head like a corkscrew, but trust me they were exceptionally lovely.
  19. The Spotmatic's an M42 mount, isn't it? If so, for about 300 US dollar equivalents you could consider a new Bessaflex; that way you can keep using your current lenses. I'm a glasses wearer and liked it well enough in my five minute try in a store, but YMMV.
  20. Les, loved the photo. Nice ones on your site, too, especially the Josef Lazlop portrait. It's obvious that the Rollei TLR stays, at least. It was the first real camera I had, a Rolleicord Vb, so I just feel very at home with them. Had a Hasselblad in my hands for the first time this week. As with any camera, you have to use it for a while, but first impressions weren't favourable. Instantly, I longed for my Rollei :) but I've had six of them, so I guess that's why! And the Bessaflex... I haven't seen it in real life, but it sure looks fine on the web. Ok, so I've got something like twenty good choices for a camera here - now where's my big-sized spending wallet? PS. Just have to do a test, posting a picture, to see how it turns out. Taken with the Spot, 50/1.4 on a back alley in Gothenburg.
  21. I think you've hit on why I take the F3HP when I need to "bring home the bacon". Any RF I can afford either has a fixed lens, or a crappy finder. I love my Retina IIIc, but the finder is terrible. The only good thing I can say about it is it's a vast improvement over the Signet 35! I love TLRs as well, but low light focusing isn't their strong point. Something I recently discovered is that, even though I'm not having obvious trouble focusing with my normal glasses, I can do a far better job with reading glasses. This is true even for the F3, where the apparent distance of the focusing screen is further away.
  22. gib


    nikon F801 or F801 s had a good eye relief viewfinder for eyeglasses. can be used with all
    the old manual AI and AIS Nikkor fact you get a green light focus confirmation
    in the viewfinder. These are also referred to as the Nikon N8008 and N8008s. the s
    designation refers to the added feature of spot metering.

    side story

    I had a rid of it, big mistake....bought a Canon Elan 7e based on reviews and
    could not believe how poor the viewfinder was for eyeglasses compared to the F801. For
    that and other shortcomings in my experience I got rid of the Elan 7e and got a used
    N8008s. Very comfortable to use, runs on AA batteries, excellent viewfinder.


  23. Normally I'd recommend the Nikon F3HP for its excellent finder. But since this is the "pre-1970" I'll take the challenge of sticking with that era of classics.

    A good TLR seems to be one obvious answer. Some of 'em need a brighter screen from Beattie or Maxwell to lighten up those dark edges and corners.
  24. Lex,

    There used to be supplementary screen with Fresnel concentric rings that you'd overlay on original screen that helped lighten the corners of TLR. I vaguely remember using one with either my Minolta Autocord or Mamiya C3 or C33. Don't know if they're still available or worth hunting for. That screen was helpful and inexpensive when I used it, but so were cameras and lenses that now are out of price range collector items.
  25. Jimi, don't know what kind of glasses wearer you are, but I wear trifocals. What I find interesting is that I can only see through viewfinders well (any of them -- RF or SLR) using the mid-range portion of my tri-focs. Most of the time I take my glasses off when shooting, but then I need to put them on again to see the shutter speed dial and aperture settings. Hmmm. Maybe a set of those half-moon frame reading glasses would do the trick ... air on the top and closeup viewing through the glass ...
  26. I know there something called Rolleigrid for the Rolleis, don't know if they fit the 'Cords, though. But I bet they'd be a bitch to track down and probably priced out of range too. Just now looking at the Beattie Intenscreens for the 'Cord but prices with S/H to Sweden are in the ballpark of buying a Vb instead (with a lot better screen and easier handling, too).

    I use normal glasses and am nearsighted, so taking glasses off isn't an option to me.
  27. If you are willing to change lens mounts then several opportunities are available.

    Within Pentax the litle MX, ME Super both have split image incorporated into finders that do well in poor light.

    Minolta has several within their line of older SLR's with split image screens. I picked up a fully functional, almost mint XG1 and lens for $20.00 at an antiques store.

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