Waist-level finder

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by qalam, Mar 22, 2012.

  1. I have a Bronica SQ Ai with a metered prism finder but I would really like to also have a waist-level finder. They seem to be as scarce as hen's teeth. When I see one up for sale, the price is exorbitant, or the finder is on a camera body, and the price may be reasonable but not if you want only the finder.
    Since the waist-level finder was the "default" finder and identical for ALL the S series Bronicas, why have they become so scarce?
  2. Its hard to take a picture in portrait orientation with the waist level finder, so most people preferred to use a prism finder, most were probably sold with a prism finder over a waist level finder making them scarcer.
  3. It's hard to distinguish between portrait and landscape orientation in a square format camera :)
    Ben, I have a spare waist level finder for the SQ-Ai. Not the smoothest operator, but in very good cosmetic and flawless working condition. If interested e-mail me.
  4. oops was thinking of the etr
  5. Keh has one for $172.
  6. I think David is right. I have ETR, SQ and GS-1 series cameras. For hand held shooting with the crank (not the Speed Grip) I find my SQ-A cameras comfortable to use and not too heavy with a WL finder. On an ETR or GS-1 camera you would only use a WL finder for copy work because it's too awkward to use for vertical composition. It is sometimes possible to find a body with a waist level finder for less than what the finder would cost alone. This is especially true if the camera body is missing parts or not working. For eye level use with a prism finder the Speed Grip makes things much easier. With a WL finder I find the crank better.
  7. I've noted this phenomenon for some time. As an SQ-A owner, though I have 45 and 90 degree prisms, the WLF lives on mine 99.9% of the time. It's the lightest weight and most compact in addition to being a good working tool. (And as observed above, portrait mode is a non-issue in 6x6 format.) If I were to reduce my collection of SQ series goodies, the WLF would be the last finder to go.
    It also occurs to me that they are a fairly intricate and maybe somewhat delicate/fragile piece of mechanical gear, so perhaps they have a higher attrition rate.
  8. I have a Mamiya RB67 so I'm not sure if this applies. However, I bought it with the waist level finder. Because everything is opposite through the viewfinder, I kept moving the camera to the right when I should have gone left and vice versa. It drove me nuts so I got an eye level prism viewfinder so it works like any SLR. The only time I put up with the waist level is when I want to shoot really closer to the ground. Then I switch. Otherwise I use the eye level 95% of the time.
    If you do get one, you might want a guarantee return policy in case it doesn't work for you either.
  9. It takes a bit of geting used to, this left-right reversal. But you will.
  10. Quinten is correct - you do get used to veiwing a laterally reversed image with a WLF, and in fact after a while you won't even realise the image is reversed as your brain becomes used to viewing that way.
  11. Ah, the merits of WLFs...
    Sometimes I find that the lateral reversal of a WLF actually makes me compose better, because it alters the familiarity that I might have with the scene. When you see the familiar differently, you pause and scrutinize it more.
    I do a lot of astrophotography, so the vertical viewpoint of a WLF becomes closer to horizontal when the camera is pointed up - it's very comfortable. Getting your eye under the downward-pointing eyepiece of a 90-degree prism finder is a real pain in comparison.
    But the best thing of all about a WLF on a medium format camera is that with the magnifier flipped up, there's no bigger or brighter image in photography (except perhaps certain large format view-camera setups with enclosed magnifying hoods).
    All of this equally applies to chimney/rigid-hood finders.
    I mainly shoot with a Mamiya 645AFD these days, and my one gripe about it is that it has a fixed prism viewfinder!
  12. Try searching for a SQA winding crank if you think the WLF is hard to locate. It appears that too many bought the speed grip and then lost the winding crank.
  13. I too am looking for a WLF and have been even longer in search of a crank. The motor drive (now that I got it working again) is handy, but just doesn't quite feel the same.
    While the crank is virtually impossible to find (better luck looking at the dump than on the internet), I have seen WLFs occasionally and have lost a couple of eBay auctions to users with quicker fingers. If you know of a local repair store, they often have parts bins that sometimes have this stuff floating around inside from years past. I haven't had any luck with Bronica stuff using this method, but have with other gear.
  14. It's hard to distinguish between portrait and landscape orientation in a square format camera​
    That doesn't stop me occasionally turning my 6x6 folding cameras by ninety degrees!

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