Which CMC SLRs are good with glasses?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by craigd, Aug 13, 2012.

  1. As noted in an earlier post in the MFC forum, I now have a Nikon F3HP, and the high-eyepoint finder is really remarkable to me. For years I've been trying to see as much as possible in SLR viewfinders while wearing glasses, and finally I pick up the one camera that makes it really easy!
    This inspired me to go through a number of CMC SLRs in my collection and rate them on how friendly they are to those of us who wear glasses full-time. This isn't really a scientific survey, and others may for whatever reason find that their experiences differ from mine; but this is what I see when I look through these cameras.
    Cream of the crop: Nikon F3HP. (You knew that already, right?) I can easily see everything, including the far corners of the image and the ADR and LCD displays, even if my eye is not perfectly centered. A wonderful viewfinder.
    The next group are good but not quite that good. With these, I can see the full image but not the separate shutter speed or aperture displays (Canon A-1, Minolta XK with "battleship" AE finder), or I can see everything but only if my eye is perfectly centered and I stare directly at the center of the image (Minolta XE-7, Nikon F with standard prism, Nikon F2 with DP-1 finder, Nikon FE, Nikon FM).
    Next come the "almost but not quite" cameras, where I can see everything except the extreme corners (Minolta SR-T 201, Minolta X-700, Nikon F2 with DP-2 finder), or where I can't quite get all four edges in view at once (Olympus OM-2N, Pentax Spotmatic F, Pentax SV).
    Lastly, those cameras that don't even come close: Canon FT QL, Minolta SR-1, Minolta X-370, Minolta X-570, Minolta XD-11, and Nikon FG. The SR-1 and FG might have rated better, but they have sharp edges around the viewfinder which conceivably could scratch glass, so I didn't want to get too close to them. If these could be covered with a screw-in diopter, it would presumably reduce their field of view even more.
    Not too surprisingly, we see here that higher-end cameras tend to provide better views than low-end cameras. Beyond that generalization, I think the sample size (both of camera models and people) is too small to reach any conclusions.
  2. I like the F3HP long eye relief finder not so much for the view with glasses - so far I don't need glasses for anything but reading - but because it aids my peripheral vision in crowds. Same reason like the equally bright and crisp D2H finder.
    I'm left eye dominant which means my right eye is normally blocked by most eye level camera bodies. With long eye relief finders I can continue to compose and focus comfortably using my left eye, without needing to mash the camera against my face, completely blocking my peripheral vision. I can still sense motion and proximity around me, a big help when taking candid snaps in crowded areas.
    The FM2N finder is also remarkably bright and crisp for low light or nighttime use, but I tend to compose loosely and crop later when I use the same technique as with the F3HP and D2H.
  3. SCL


    The Leicaflex SL2 finder was wonderful with my glasses, bright, full field coverage, great magnification. As mentioned the F3HP is great for people with glasses, as is the Yashica FX-2.
  4. I used an F3HP but had problems focusing, transitioned to the OM-1n and then to my current Leicaflex SL. I am far-sighted and use progressive lenses. Subjectively speaking the SL is easier for me to deal with.
  5. I only use glasses for reading but I use diopters for most cameras now. I generally don't like high eyepoint cameras/finders because they give lower image magnification. My favorites for ease of viewing and focusing include the canon F-1/F-1n/F-1N, Minolta SRTs, Canon FT Q/ FTb/FTbN/FX/TLb, Canon EF. If I really need more eye relief I can use a Canon Speed Finder. The Nikon 8008S and N90S models have high eyepoint finders. With diopters they are OK for me. The Minolta X-700 has a very bright and nice viewfinder and works well for me with a diopter but the diopters are not easy to find. When I needed one for my Konica Autoreflex T/A series cameras I had one made by using the glass from a Nikon diopter. I have occasionally tried to use an SLR with non-prescription sunglasses and did not like the experience. I would try diopters before using a camera with prescription glasses.
  6. There's an inexorable trade-off between SLR viewfinder magnification and eye relief. For instance, the F3 DE-2 finder has 0.8X magnification, where the F3 DE-3 "HP" finder has 0.75X magnification.
    This, of course, leads to a trade-off between eye relief and accuracy of focusing, given the lower magnification.
    For instance, the Pentax MX has a beautiful high-magnification finder (0.97X, 95%), but the eye relief stinks. I don't use glasses for distance, but like Lex I'm left-eye dominant, so I'm really crushed into the camera to use the MX.
    On the Pentax LX, the FA-1 finder has 0.9X magnification, so it has more eye relief than the MX. But the "poor vision" FA-1W finder has 0.8X to 0.88X magnification (depending on the diopter adjustment), so it may offer slightly better eye relief. Of course, the Pentax LX has an amazingly bright finder system and great focusing screens, which gives you back some focusing accuracy.
    Of course, then there's the sports finders, which have huge eye relief, but low magnification. Pentax LX's FB-1/FC-1 is 0.55X. Nikon F2's DA-1 is 0.6X.
  7. Oddly enough, the only time I shoot without my glasses is when I'm using an angle finder or I'm shooting my digital Olympus E-P2 with its EVF -- the common denominator being rubber eyecups, which I don't use on my cameras normally.
    Eyepoint and magnification go together to an extent, but the manufacturer can make the window whatever size they want. The F3HP would have even less magnification if they had tried to give it the high eyepoint without making the window larger. I suppose the flip side of that is that the larger the rear window, the more light gets in through it.
  8. I'm also left-eye dominant, and wear bifocals. The F3HP works well for me, and the FM2N isn't bad, either. The OM-1 viewfinder was pretty good, too. The really old RFs such as the Retinas, Argii, and their ilk with tiny viewfinders are harder to use, and of course, scratch the hell out of glasses. On the other hand, a 4x5 is pretty easy to focus, but not necessarily the right tool. My Hasselblad 500C with a waist-level isn't too bad, either.

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