Viewfinder Size

KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 398Member
edited January 2013 in Nikon DSLR cameras
Something I've always wondered about.  Back in the day, my old OM-1 had a pretty awesome prism viewfinder.  Bright, large, beautiful.  But the camera itself was pretty small.  Same with the OM-2n that replaced it.  My parents recently found an FM2 at their church - no one has come to claim it yet.  I was playing with it and its 50mm 1.8 over the holidays.  Similarly small body, HUGE beautiful viewfinder.

Why is it modern DSLR's with huge beautiful prism viewfinders all cost so much and are so huge and heavy?  Does the sensor position compromise the internal layout and distance to the mirror so much compared to film?  We're seeing some impressive downsizing and simplification from Sony, Leica etc. in the mirrorless camp.  Is it possible to have a DSLR with full frame sensor in a small body and keep the big viewfinder?  How about DX format or smaller?  It seems like digital optical viewfinders are going bigger - but I've not fallen in love with the ones I've seen so far.  Have Canon and Nikon just decided that would be a pro feature, or are there optical/engineering issues forcing it up-market?
D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii
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Comments

  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,454Member
    Viewfinder size is relative to sensor size, when it comes to optical viewfinders. If you are using a DX camera, the viewfinder is smaller by nature.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    You have asked so many questions without a base understanding of the different viewfinders, prisms, Pentaprism and what they all offer I'm having a hard time understanding what you are in hopes for or what you suggest needs improving.  There is tons on the internet on pentaprisms, even Nikon has articles on their site for you to gain a base of information.  

    "Is it possible to have a DSLR with full frame sensor in a small body and keep the big viewfinder?"

    That would be like saying you wanted a corvette engine and a Tahoe windshield put into a 77' Volkswagen bug.  
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    edited January 2013
    I think it is purely a cost issue, and therefore only found on the higher end. Well, and the laws of physics...
    Post edited by Ironheart on
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,452Moderator
    "That would be like saying you wanted a corvette engine and a Tahoe windshield put into a 77' Volkswagen bug.  "

    Where do I place my order?
    Always learning.
  • KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 398Member
    Okay - a little more focused (:-P)

    35mm film SLRs had large viewfinders and small bodies.  Can full-frame DSLR's be made to have similarly small bodies?  And then, can crop-sensor cameras be made to have these large viewfinders?

    Yeah, it's true, I don't have the understanding, and I could Google to try to learn, but this seemed like a decent topic for forum banter/traffic.

    Thanks for any insights.
    D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii
  • Steven_BSteven_B Posts: 3Member
    I used to dream about the same idea. And the answer to your question is yes and no.
    They could make a large viewfinder digital camera in a smallish body but it would still be chunkier than the old 35mm film cameras. There are just so much electronics crammed into them. Even if miniaturization wasn't a problem, they would still have overheating problems most likely. The smaller the box, the more heat it traps. 
    The sensor is thicker than the film, the bracket holding the sensor is thicker than the sheet of metal that was holding the film, and then, you still have the motherboard and the LCD which all adds up little by little. 
    If the shrank everything, using their best technology to come half-way between today's FF DSLR and your FM2, the camera would be so expensive that Leica bodies would look like a bargain.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,452Moderator
    @ Steven:  There was a Youtube video (I think) on the forum a while back showing a recent Nikon digital camera being disassembled and - just as with your OM1 (which I owned and saw apart at the Olympus Service Centre in British Honduras St in London) there is no waste space inside.  The OM1 was a fully mechanical camera which was a masterpiece inside and of course the Nikon was electric/electronic/mechanical but they were both stuffed with 'gubbins'!

    Some of the modern cameras don't even have a pentaprism they have a pentamirror which I think is cheaper and less bright.


    Always learning.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    edited January 2013
    Okay - a little more focused (:-P)

    35mm film SLRs had large viewfinders and small bodies.  Can full-frame DSLR's be made to have similarly small bodies?  And then, can crop-sensor cameras be made to have these large viewfinders?

    Yeah, it's true, I don't have the understanding, and I could Google to try to learn, but this seemed like a decent topic for forum banter/traffic.

    Thanks for any insights.
    Steven covered why it's not the viewfinder that is dictating the size of the camera.  If I'm not mistaken the D300 had a 100% coverage (or really close) for a viewfinder.  All the pro bodies have an amazing viewfinder that is like the FM2 of the past.  

    Once thing to realize is that the viewfinder quality and size has always been part of the different levels of cameras.  The better the viewfinder, the higher level of camera, and the higher cost.  FM2 was a pro level camera.  The FG20 for instance, has a suck-y viewfinder.  Always love the size of that one though.  If you choose to spend less than $2,000 on a camera, you probably never will get the high-quality viewfinder.

    What do you shoot that you are basing your question against?
    Post edited by TaoTeJared on
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,454Member
    edited January 2013
    @Tao has it right, price has always been the issue. Some film cameras may have had large viewfinders, with high magnification as well, but they also tended to do so in order to make up for reduced frame coverage. Many of the largest viewfinders were found in cameras with only 89-92% frame coverage. The OM-1 had one of the better finders in that regard, but besides the Nikon F3, which has the highest coverage (100%) and magnification in one package for any 35mm frame film camera, that was rare.

    Camera makers could make a body similar to older film cameras, but you have to remember that those cameras didn't need space for all the electrics that modern cameras have.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 398Member
    edited January 2013
    What do you shoot that you are basing your question against?
    Hey Tao, D60.  I can't remember exactly but I think I spent $600+ on an OM-2 ~1983, so I guess with inflation, that's >$1300 today, so I'm buying the idea that it's a matter of premium~ness.

    Looking at a D7000, tempted by the D600 mostly for its viewfinder, so that's the of root my wishing.

    BTW - I'm trying to include the quote "what do you shoot that you are basing your question against?" but it isn't appearing.
    Post edited by KnockKnock on
    D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,452Moderator
    Click the arrow next to show previous quotes KnockKnock - it is there.
    Always learning.
  • adamzadamz Posts: 842Moderator
    my dream is to have a nikon dslr in a f3 body and it's functionality... wish they produce one like that. 
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    edited January 2013
    But most of the today cameras have an additional, built in flash swinging out when needed - none of the OMs or FMs/FEs had that. It's tiny but the arm and mechanics need space anyway.

    And when you open the flash you see how big the cover of pentaprism or mirrors really is.
    Post edited by JJ_SO on
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    As all the questions seemed to be answered, I will throw out my "dream"....D4 in my old "F" body...not the photomic but the "F" I have in silver.
    Msmoto, mod
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Maybe that digital adapter for old film cameras will be on par with the D4? Or maybe they'll have a range of backs. How fast can you crank the thumb lever 20-30 fps?
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,454Member
    In think the fastest recorded FPS on a thumb lever is 1FPS, it's simply a matter of physics.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,452Moderator
    5 or 6 expresso's and I could do 10fps no problem ;)
    Always learning.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Yeah, I see the screws jumping out of the body. And little steam clouds while the shutter curtains are burning down silently... <):)
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    There is no substitute for a 100% viewfinder. I would never buy a body that did not have it. In fact one of the reasons I went with the D7000 was because if offered that.

    @ spraynpray: LOL. If your finger are that fast, I wonder how many WPM can you type :P
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    @ PB_PM

    I think on my "F" from the 1960's I could get off better than one FPS. We shot about three frames in one pass of the race cars at 80 mph. The camera was very rugged, and the snap of the lever was very quick.

    With a hand held Hasselblad 500c, without the winding lever, the body was rotated in a reverse direction while the knob was snapped round forward. This allowed nearly one FPS. Of course, we had to also focus in some cases, but with the long lenses, the technique was almost a learned motion and as a car came by, the focus ring was rotated so as to follow focus without actually seeing precisely what we were doing. A lot of practice allowed us to shoot with actually no thinking about it.
    Msmoto, mod
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,452Moderator
    "A lot of practice allowed us to shoot with actually no thinking about it."

    Finally - something I can do well at :))
    Always learning.
  • soapsoap Posts: 28Member
    edited January 2013
    Camera makers could make a body similar to older film cameras, but you have to remember that those cameras didn't need space for all the electrics that modern cameras have.
    Correct. Compare and contrast a F80 to a D100 if you want an apples-to-apples comparison of the bulk digital adds. The D100 is a F80 body modified for digital.

    Unfortunately, and this would be doubly true for a conversion back, you end up adding significant thickness to the body. Film is thinner than a sensor, much less a sensor and screen, and on the old manual cameras the face of the film was often only a couple of mm from the back face of the camera.
    Post edited by soap on
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    This is about viewfinder size...and what really takes up space on the back of a digital body is the viewfinder on the back. Without this, I think the sensor is not much thicker than the dimensions of the film plus the film plate with its little springy things.
    Msmoto, mod
  • kyoshinikonkyoshinikon Posts: 411Member
    One reason they are less bright is simply because of the LCD used for the readouts and grid. We discussed this on another thread. Unlike a film SLR the viewfinder is brightened electronically (pull out the battery and you will see what I am referring to). I really don't think the space is a problem. If you look through a modern medium format body where the eyepiece is a mile back from the pentaprism (even with size taken into consideration) it is still very bright.
    “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.” - Bresson
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