Olympus VF-1 Viewfinder

So this one finally arrived today and I was really excited. I wasted no time opening the package right at the counter of the post office. Like a kid on Christmas morning.

In case you missed my post regarding this one… I bought a Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 ZM lens for my Epson R-D1x. With the crop factor, it gives me an equivalent 32mm focal, which far exceeds the 42mm widest frame lines from the R-D1x. Framing became a guessing game.

Therefore, I decided to buy the Olympus VF-1 optical viewfinder with 34mm frame lines. This is how it looks mounted to the camera.

I was not totally happy with the silver finish which stood out too much for my liking. The R-D1x is nicely finished in black, so I felt better integration was needed. A can of flat black spray paint and some masking tape solved the problem.

This is the result.

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And I think it’s looking really cool now. In my teenage years I built many Tamiya scale models as a hobby, so I’m quite good at spray painting. Just take a look at the sand blast texture I made to match the camera’s finishing. I achieved this with specific technique, basically several layers of paint and spraying at a distance with short bursts at different angles.

So how good is the Olympus VF-1 in this combo?

Took it out for a test drive today and all I can say is that it’s a joy to use and it’s perfect for this camera – lens combination.

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I found the frame lines to be pretty accurate. Top and bottom limits are spot on for my Zeiss 21mm, which is impressive. On both sides of the frame things get a bit different though: I found my lens to be a bit wider. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the Olympus VF-1 is made for Micro 4/3, which has a different frame proportion. Anyway, not really an issue. Bottom line is, I can frame accurately with the Zeiss 21mm now.

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You can actually feel how bright the viewfinder is. The frame lines are visible as well.
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Frame lines not visible here, but trust me, they are there. And are bright.

The viewfinder itself is solidly built, even though its body is made of plastic. The optics are excellent and very bright indeed. The frame lines are clearly visible and there is much empty space surrounding them – typical rangefinder style. The eyecup is adequate as well: I wear glasses and had absolutely no issues looking inside the viewfinder.

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The viewfinder is slightly angled to the bottom.

Mounted to the R-D1x, it protrudes quite a bit to the back, which means you don’t need to hard press your nose to the screen when you use it.

Zone focusing

Naturally, the rangefinder focusing patch does not show up in the external viewfinder. So depending on the situation, you may need to focus first using the camera’s viewfinder, and then frame your shot through the external viewfinder.

The other obvious way forward is to use zone focusing. And frankly for me this is a no-brainer. Well, depending on the situation and what you are shooting. In any case, I’ve been taking advantage of the RD1x being an APS sized sensor camera which actually plays in favor due to the increased depth of field from the Zeiss 21mm.

In short, I just stop down to f/8 and set the focus ring from 1 meter to infinity. And voilĂ , I’m happily shooting with the external viewfinder only, not concerned with focusing and ready to capture the decisive moment.

The perfect street camera? Maybe. Whatever the case, I’m really loving this camera and this love will last forever.

 

 

 

 

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