Desperately seeking optics to augment a camera viewfinder.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Peter Jason, May 11, 2007.

  1. Peter Jason

    Peter Jason Guest

    I have a digital SLR and the viewfinder with
    the manual focusing is pretty poor;
    especially in dim light.

    I need some form of optical system to hang
    off the viewfinder to enlarge the viewfinder
    field and so make the manual focusing easier.

    I already have one of the propriety
    right-angle magnifiers which improve the
    situation, but this is not enough.

    I need more magnification, and so can someone
    help me with some advice about adapting a
    small monocular or microscope or small
    telescope to do the job.

    I don't have to see the whole field, just
    the part I want to focus.

    Please help.
     
    Peter Jason, May 11, 2007
    #1
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  2. Peter Jason

    Shawn Hirn Guest

    In article <f209i4$2lc6$>,
    "Peter Jason" <> wrote:

    > I have a digital SLR and the viewfinder with
    > the manual focusing is pretty poor;
    > especially in dim light.
    >
    > I need some form of optical system to hang
    > off the viewfinder to enlarge the viewfinder
    > field and so make the manual focusing easier.
    >
    > I already have one of the propriety
    > right-angle magnifiers which improve the
    > situation, but this is not enough.
    >
    > I need more magnification, and so can someone
    > help me with some advice about adapting a
    > small monocular or microscope or small
    > telescope to do the job.
    >
    > I don't have to see the whole field, just
    > the part I want to focus.
    >
    > Please help.


    Which camera are you using?
     
    Shawn Hirn, May 11, 2007
    #2
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  3. Peter Jason

    dj_nme Guest

    Peter Jason wrote:
    > I have a digital SLR and the viewfinder with
    > the manual focusing is pretty poor;
    > especially in dim light.
    >
    > I need some form of optical system to hang
    > off the viewfinder to enlarge the viewfinder
    > field and so make the manual focusing easier.
    >
    > I already have one of the propriety
    > right-angle magnifiers which improve the
    > situation, but this is not enough.


    Maybe a split prism focusing screen like a Katzeye would be the way to go?
    It replaces the frosted screen that is currently in your DSLR camera.
    The focusing aide only helps for the central portion of the image, though.
     
    dj_nme, May 11, 2007
    #3
  4. Peter Jason

    Peter Jason Guest

    "Shawn Hirn" <> wrote in
    message
    news:...
    > In article
    > <f209i4$2lc6$>,
    > "Peter Jason" <> wrote:
    >
    >> I have a digital SLR and the viewfinder
    >> with
    >> the manual focusing is pretty poor;
    >> especially in dim light.
    >>
    >> I need some form of optical system to hang
    >> off the viewfinder to enlarge the
    >> viewfinder
    >> field and so make the manual focusing
    >> easier.
    >>
    >> I already have one of the propriety
    >> right-angle magnifiers which improve the
    >> situation, but this is not enough.
    >>
    >> I need more magnification, and so can
    >> someone
    >> help me with some advice about adapting a
    >> small monocular or microscope or small
    >> telescope to do the job.
    >>
    >> I don't have to see the whole field, just
    >> the part I want to focus.
    >>
    >> Please help.

    >
    > Which camera are you using?


    I'm using an Olympus E500 with a
    "Varimagnifinder" right-angle viewfinder
    accessory.
    http://www.alanwood.net/photography/olympus/varimagni-finder.html
    This accessory helps a lot, but more
    magnification is needed, especially in dim
    light.
     
    Peter Jason, May 11, 2007
    #4
  5. Peter Jason

    Peter Jason Guest

    "dj_nme" <> wrote in
    message
    news:4643c95a$0$9075$...
    > Peter Jason wrote:
    >> I have a digital SLR and the viewfinder
    >> with the manual focusing is pretty poor;
    >> especially in dim light.
    >>
    >> I need some form of optical system to hang
    >> off the viewfinder to enlarge the
    >> viewfinder field and so make the manual
    >> focusing easier.
    >>
    >> I already have one of the propriety
    >> right-angle magnifiers which improve the
    >> situation, but this is not enough.

    >
    > Maybe a split prism focusing screen like a
    > Katzeye would be the way to go?
    > It replaces the frosted screen that is
    > currently in your DSLR camera.
    > The focusing aide only helps for the
    > central portion of the image, though.


    Thanx, I'll check this out.
     
    Peter Jason, May 11, 2007
    #5
  6. Peter Jason

    Salmon Egg Guest

    On 5/10/07 4:23 PM, in article f209i4$2lc6$, "Peter
    Jason" <> wrote:

    > I have a digital SLR and the viewfinder with
    > the manual focusing is pretty poor;
    > especially in dim light.
    >
    > I need some form of optical system to hang
    > off the viewfinder to enlarge the viewfinder
    > field and so make the manual focusing easier.
    >
    > I already have one of the propriety
    > right-angle magnifiers which improve the
    > situation, but this is not enough.
    >
    > I need more magnification, and so can someone
    > help me with some advice about adapting a
    > small monocular or microscope or small
    > telescope to do the job.
    >
    > I don't have to see the whole field, just
    > the part I want to focus.
    >
    > Please help.
    >
    >

    I don't understand how you can be helped much with a passive system.
    Conservation of brightness means that you will get a magnified image that is
    going to be as dim or dimmer than the unmagnified image. I can understand
    how a larger image might help a bit. What you really need, if you are
    serious, is an image intensifier. That could also have built-in
    magnification.

    Bill
    -- Fermez le Bush--about two years to go.
     
    Salmon Egg, May 11, 2007
    #6
  7. Peter Jason

    Peter Jason Guest

    "Salmon Egg" <> wrote
    in message
    news:C269284C.76D7B%...
    > On 5/10/07 4:23 PM, in article
    > f209i4$2lc6$, "Peter
    > Jason" <> wrote:
    >
    >> I have a digital SLR and the viewfinder
    >> with
    >> the manual focusing is pretty poor;
    >> especially in dim light.
    >>
    >> I need some form of optical system to hang
    >> off the viewfinder to enlarge the
    >> viewfinder
    >> field and so make the manual focusing
    >> easier.
    >>
    >> I already have one of the propriety
    >> right-angle magnifiers which improve the
    >> situation, but this is not enough.
    >>
    >> I need more magnification, and so can
    >> someone
    >> help me with some advice about adapting a
    >> small monocular or microscope or small
    >> telescope to do the job.
    >>
    >> I don't have to see the whole field, just
    >> the part I want to focus.
    >>
    >> Please help.
    >>
    >>

    > I don't understand how you can be helped
    > much with a passive system.
    > Conservation of brightness means that you
    > will get a magnified image that is
    > going to be as dim or dimmer than the
    > unmagnified image. I can understand
    > how a larger image might help a bit. What
    > you really need, if you are
    > serious, is an image intensifier. That
    > could also have built-in
    > magnification.
    >
    > Bill
    > -- Fermez le Bush--about two years to go.
    >
    >


    I agree but there's always a lighted
    cigarette end, or reflection from furniture
    etc to assist. The auto-focus system is
    difficult because the flash has to be
    actuated for it to work, and sometimes it
    hunts for about 10 seconds.
     
    Peter Jason, May 11, 2007
    #7
  8. Peter Jason writes:

    > I need some form of optical system to hang
    > off the viewfinder to enlarge the viewfinder
    > field and so make the manual focusing easier.


    I make an item like that:

    http://www.truetex.com/canon_viewfinder_magnifier.htm

    However I don't know if magnification is going to help as much as you hope
    with focusing in low light.

    The basic viewfinder problem in cameras like your Olympus E500 is the
    compounding of beam-splitting (for the autofocuser) and prismatic-screen
    focusing, which severely degrade brightness. That's one reason the the
    viewfinder views are minifying instead of magnifying, to maintain some
    brightness after all the losses.

    If you can take the focusing screen out of your SLR, try doing so, and see
    how much brighter the viewfinder view is.
     
    Richard J Kinch, May 11, 2007
    #8
  9. Peter Jason

    Mike Coon Guest

    Peter Jason wrote:
    > This accessory helps a lot, but more
    > magnification is needed, especially in dim
    > light.


    But more magnification is only going to make it look dimmer. Conservation of
    energy, and all that...

    Mike.
    --
    If reply address = connectfee, add an r because it is free not fee.
     
    Mike Coon, May 11, 2007
    #9
  10. Peter Jason

    Wilba Guest

    Peter Jason wrote:
    >
    >I have a digital SLR and the viewfinder with the manual focusing is pretty
    >poor; especially in dim light.
    >
    > I need some form of optical system to hang off the viewfinder to enlarge
    > the viewfinder field and so make the manual focusing easier.
    >
    > I already have one of the propriety right-angle magnifiers which improve
    > the situation, but this is not enough.
    >
    > I need more magnification, and so can someone help me with some advice
    > about adapting a small monocular or microscope or small telescope to do
    > the job.
    >
    > I don't have to see the whole field, just the part I want to focus.
    >
    > Please help.


    Shine a torch on the subject while you're focussing?
     
    Wilba, May 12, 2007
    #10
  11. Peter Jason

    Peter Jason Guest

    "Wilba" <> wrote
    in message
    news:f23ffj$c5m$...
    > Peter Jason wrote:
    >>
    >>I have a digital SLR and the viewfinder
    >>with the manual focusing is pretty poor;
    >>especially in dim light.
    >>
    >> I need some form of optical system to hang
    >> off the viewfinder to enlarge the
    >> viewfinder field and so make the manual
    >> focusing easier.
    >>
    >> I already have one of the propriety
    >> right-angle magnifiers which improve the
    >> situation, but this is not enough.
    >>
    >> I need more magnification, and so can
    >> someone help me with some advice about
    >> adapting a small monocular or microscope
    >> or small telescope to do the job.
    >>
    >> I don't have to see the whole field, just
    >> the part I want to focus.
    >>
    >> Please help.

    >
    > Shine a torch on the subject while you're
    > focussing?


    Hey, that's a good idea. I'll get one of
    those laser pointers the academic
    medieval-history professors use when
    lecturing to their students. I should of
    thought of it before. Many thanks.
     
    Peter Jason, May 12, 2007
    #11
  12. Peter Jason

    Joan Guest

    You might need something with a wider beam. I was using flash for these
    three photos
    http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=wombat&w=97009354@N00
    but the camera was hunting for focus until the person near me waved the
    flash light around.

    "Peter Jason" <> wrote in message
    news:f23h1p$p6k$...
    >
    >
    > Hey, that's a good idea. I'll get one of those laser pointers the
    > academic medieval-history professors use when lecturing to their students.
    > I should of thought of it before. Many thanks.
    >
     
    Joan, May 12, 2007
    #12
  13. In rec.photo.digital Peter Jason <> wrote:

    : "Wilba" <> wrote
    : in message
    : news:f23ffj$c5m$...
    : > Peter Jason wrote:
    : >>
    : >>I have a digital SLR and the viewfinder
    : >>with the manual focusing is pretty poor;
    : >>especially in dim light.
    : >>
    : >> I need some form of optical system to hang
    : >> off the viewfinder to enlarge the
    : >> viewfinder field and so make the manual
    : >> focusing easier.
    : >>
    : >> I already have one of the propriety
    : >> right-angle magnifiers which improve the
    : >> situation, but this is not enough.
    : >>
    : >> I need more magnification, and so can
    : >> someone help me with some advice about
    : >> adapting a small monocular or microscope
    : >> or small telescope to do the job.
    : >>
    : >> I don't have to see the whole field, just
    : >> the part I want to focus.
    : >>
    : >> Please help.
    : >
    : > Shine a torch on the subject while you're
    : > focussing?

    : Hey, that's a good idea. I'll get one of
    : those laser pointers the academic
    : medieval-history professors use when
    : lecturing to their students. I should of
    : thought of it before. Many thanks.

    A single spot may not be enough for the camera to easily focus on. But
    you might look into a good bright headband mounted light. One with a
    swivel mount would allow you to aim it at your subject, and leave you
    hands free for manipulating the camera. One thought, tho. You may want to
    turn it off before you meter the scene so that the camera will be set for
    the actual prevailing lighting conditions instead of the artificially
    bright spotlighted subject. You may have to try several brand and types
    of light as some are good for closeup work (within about 6') and others
    are good for distance work (up to 30' or so). More than that you are
    probably needing more of a big power hungry spotlight and that just isn't
    real practical. IMHO

    I use a head light using LEDs (great battery life and tiny batteries)
    which also has a red LED switch position. Using this red light to read
    the camera displays allows my eyes to remain adjusted to dark so I don't
    have to wait for my eyes to readjust after reading the LCD displays on my
    camera.

    Randy

    ==========
    Randy Berbaum
    Champaign, IL
     
    Randy Berbaum, May 12, 2007
    #13
  14. Peter Jason writes:

    > I'll get one of
    > those laser pointers the academic
    > medieval-history professors use when
    > lecturing to their students.


    Like Sony's DSC-F828 projects a red laser holographic pattern into the dark
    for autofocusing. Works great. Get a toy pointer with the beam spreader
    attachments and stick it on your camera.
     
    Richard J Kinch, May 12, 2007
    #14
  15. Peter Jason

    Peter Jason Guest

    "Richard J Kinch" <> wrote
    in message
    news:Xns992E1201BBD6someconundrum@216.196.97.131...
    > Peter Jason writes:
    >
    >> I'll get one of
    >> those laser pointers the academic
    >> medieval-history professors use when
    >> lecturing to their students.

    >
    > Like Sony's DSC-F828 projects a red laser
    > holographic pattern into the dark
    > for autofocusing. Works great. Get a toy
    > pointer with the beam spreader
    > attachments and stick it on your camera.


    Well, we live & learn; thanks.
     
    Peter Jason, May 12, 2007
    #15
  16. Peter Jason

    RichA Guest

    On May 12, 1:46 am, Richard J Kinch <> wrote:
    > Peter Jason writes:
    > > I'll get one of
    > > those laser pointers the academic
    > > medieval-history professors use when
    > > lecturing to their students.

    >
    > Like Sony's DSC-F828 projects a red laser holographic pattern into the dark
    > for autofocusing. Works great. Get a toy pointer with the beam spreader
    > attachments and stick it on your camera.


    But that was one of those high end P&S cameras they don't make
    anymore. Entry-level DSLRs are stripped to the bone and at most,
    offer one of those cheezy LED illuminators to assist in autofocusing.
    But the Olympus cameras (except the E-1) all suffer from dim
    viewfinder images owing to their diminutive optical systems supporting
    the small 4/3rds sensors. I think the new E-series (410 and 510) are
    a bit better, but the E-300, 330 and 500 viewfinder systems are truly
    awful.
    IMO, the user is better off getting a Nikon D40 or 50 to replace the
    E-500.
     
    RichA, May 12, 2007
    #16
  17. ["Followup-To:" header set to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems.
    Group list shortened.]
    Peter Jason <> wrote:

    > I agree but there's always a lighted cigarette end, or reflection from
    > furniture etc to assist.


    Not necessarily bright enough to let you focus by hand.

    > The auto-focus system is difficult because the flash has to be
    > actuated for it to work,


    Not necessarily. You can use an external flash unit, which may
    well project a grid pattern for your AF to latch on, and you are
    fine for quite a few meters.

    > and sometimes it
    > hunts for about 10 seconds.


    Using a faster lens helps. Sometimes a lot.

    -Wolfgang
     
    Wolfgang Weisselberg, May 12, 2007
    #17
  18. ["Followup-To:" header set to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems.]

    Richard J Kinch <> wrote:

    > If you can take the focusing screen out of your SLR, try doing so, and see
    > how much brighter the viewfinder view is.


    It'll also screw up the exposure metering completely, so be
    prepared to go to 100% manual and a light meter (or test shots
    and chimping at the histogram.

    Worse, you may not have any hint if your image is in focus or
    not, since the eye can compensate for a mis-focusseds (virtual)
    air image[1], but not for a (real) image from a matte screen.

    -Wolfgang

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_microscope#How_a_microscope_works
    See the small object image in the middle? That's the air
    image. If you put a matte screen there, it will be dimmer,
    but sharp, as long as it is in focus.
     
    Wolfgang Weisselberg, May 12, 2007
    #18
  19. Peter Jason

    Peter Jason Guest

    "RichA" <> wrote in
    message
    news:...
    > On May 12, 1:46 am, Richard J Kinch
    > <> wrote:
    >> Peter Jason writes:
    >> > I'll get one of
    >> > those laser pointers the academic
    >> > medieval-history professors use when
    >> > lecturing to their students.

    >>
    >> Like Sony's DSC-F828 projects a red laser
    >> holographic pattern into the dark
    >> for autofocusing. Works great. Get a toy
    >> pointer with the beam spreader
    >> attachments and stick it on your camera.

    >
    > But that was one of those high end P&S
    > cameras they don't make
    > anymore. Entry-level DSLRs are stripped to
    > the bone and at most,
    > offer one of those cheezy LED illuminators
    > to assist in autofocusing.
    > But the Olympus cameras (except the E-1)
    > all suffer from dim
    > viewfinder images owing to their diminutive
    > optical systems supporting
    > the small 4/3rds sensors. I think the new
    > E-series (410 and 510) are
    > a bit better, but the E-300, 330 and 500
    > viewfinder systems are truly
    > awful.
    > IMO, the user is better off getting a
    > Nikon D40 or 50 to replace the
    > E-500.



    I am waiting for the successor of the E1 to
    come out (P1?) before I make any decision
    about changing cameras.
     
    Peter Jason, May 13, 2007
    #19
  20. Peter Jason

    Guest

    On May 13, 2:07 am, RichA <> wrote:
    > On May 12, 1:46 am, Richard J Kinch <> wrote:
    >
    > > Peter Jason writes:
    > > > I'll get one of
    > > > those laser pointers the academic
    > > > medieval-history professors use when
    > > > lecturing to their students.

    >
    > > Like Sony's DSC-F828 projects a red laser holographic pattern into the dark
    > > for autofocusing. Works great. Get a toy pointer with the beam spreader
    > > attachments and stick it on your camera.

    >
    > But that was one of those high end P&S cameras they don't make
    > anymore.


    I thought Rich hung around camera stores? The Fuji S9100/9600 is a
    fairly "high end P&S"... uses the same system (only green), and just
    like the Sony 828 (which I used some years back) - it works rather
    well.. Far less obtrusive than those horrid pre-flash systems..
     
    , May 14, 2007
    #20
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