Point of view from waist level finders


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Dec 6, 2006
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Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada
When I was reviewing some early photos I had taken with Mamiya and Rolleiflex cameras I was struck by the different view angle that resulted from composing by looking down into a waist level finder. The difference is particularly noticeable when comparing photos of standing persons taken from a waist level camera to a photo taken from a standing position with an SLR. Somehow the perspective from the waist level camera renders a more pleasant photograph in the eyes of some people, but not all. A quick survey of friends and relatives was split about 50/50. Interestingly, the older folks preferred the waist level photos while the younger set preferred the typical SLR photos. A matter of what you grew up with maybe?
My very first wedding camera was a rollie back in the mid sixties. As far as im concerned, the very best looking group shots I ever made were with that camera. That said it is a pain in the butt to frame things that aren't parallel to the lens. I think that more than anything is why they fell out of favor.

Later the advent of the information in the view finder put the nail in the coffin. However i still have a few laying about and enjoy shooting them now and then when I'm in a semi slow mood. I shoot old pieced together views when I really want to shoot slowly.
I still use my Rolleiflex TLRs quite often. I like the detached nature of the screen - I use them with my eye right against the viewing hood so all I can see is the screen, and the subject(s) cannot see my face. I like the uncluttered screen. The lightmeter readout LEDs in the viewfinder of the current models only come on after you press the shutter release, so they are invisible most of the time. They also have true TTL flash control.

They are still being made in all three angles, the last I heard. The TLR has survived longer than the folding medium format camera - that is a form that went out of production with the last Plaubel Makina, and isn't likely to ever come back into production I suspect.

There are quite a few recent Rolleiflex pictures in my galleries. The whole of the Sidewalk Snow series was taken with a 2.8GX, on Scala.


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