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Re: Sony RX1 FF Mirrorless (fixed lens)

douglasf13 wrote:
I've been shooting a lot of 1:1 format these days, and, needless to say, it's frustrating that the RX1 only offers two viewing aspect ratios. I usually just use black electrical tape on top of my LCD protector, in order to mask off whichever aspect ratio I'm going for, but the OVF is a little more tricky.

Well, I realized recently that Voigtlander made a Kontur viewfinder in 6x6 for an 75-80mm'ish lens, and, as luck would have it, cropping the RX1 square gives me about that equivalent.

I just received the OVF, and it is awesome. Kontur OVFs are probably the best out there, because they have 1X magnification, and you use both eyes with it. Essentially, it's a black box with frame lines that projects the frame lines into your normal vision, so it is huge and bright. I'm talking nearly the same size as my Hasselblad's 45 degree finder, and brighter.

I had to cut a few millimeters off of the front of the hotshoe, since the Sony smart shoe doesn't let it seat all the way in, and the rear of the shoe still sticks out a bit, but I've locked it in there solid, so no worries. My Kontur was pretty scuffed up, so I added my Hasselblad camera leather to it, too. I can still get my neoprene case around it, and, although it looks a bit bulky, I really don't notice much difference in size. I think it's worth it, considering it is probably just about the best OVF possible.

I've been using the Kontur 1:1 OVF (mentioned above) off and on, but I realized something that should have been obvious to me. Since the Kontur is directly over the lens, but it requires two eyes to use it, there is some parallax that I have a hard time adjusting for. Even after removing the focusing screen and trying to move it over a bit, my framing is uneven horizontally, so I'm no longer of the opinion that this finder is great for shooting square on the RX1. It works ok, but isn't ideal.

I really prefer just about any more "squared" format than 3:2, so I started looking around for more OVF options. With all of the recent talk about the new CMOS MFDB sensor from Sony, I decided that even the 645 ratio (same as 4:3) might be a fun option, even though it is only a little more square than 3:2. That has led me to this silly little Olympus VF-1 OVF, which is designed for their 17mm m4/3 lens.

I made a couple of quick mods to the VF-1. Firstly, I sanded off a few millimeters off of the front of the VF-1's foot, so that it slides all the way into the RX1's hotshoe without hanging out the back. This was pretty easy, since everything is plastic, but it isn't really necessary. Then, as usual, I added a bit of Hasselblad leather on the top and sides to cover up most of the VF-1's silver paint.

First, the bad news. The VF-1, as the $90 price would suggest, isn't in the same universe as my Voigtlander 35mm brightline finder, in terms of build. It's basically all plastic vs. all metal. Secondly, the optics of the Voigtlander are noticeably better in terms of flare, distortion, and brightline visibility. The magnification on the Voigtlander is a little higher, too. That's not to say the VF-1 is terrible, but, rather, the Voigtlander 35 OVF is that good. Thirdly, unlike the Voigtlander finder, the RX1's lens does creep into the viewfinder. Essentially, the entire focus ring of the RX1's lens is noticeable in the finder.

That sounds like a lot of issues, but, the good news is, the VF-1 is a great match for the actual field of view of the RX1 (assuming you crop to 4:3 ratio in your raw converter, like I'm doing.) It looks to be calibrated to somewhere between 1.75m to 2m, similar to the Leica m240, so, while up close shots will crop a bit out of the picture, the frame lines are a little more accurate overall at "normal" shooting distances. Without the mod I made, I'm guessing that it would be calibrated to around 2m or so, so it might be even better.

That's a big hangup with the Voigtlander 35 OVF. Since the RX1's lens is a little wider than 35mm, the Voigtlander OVF is calibrated to around .5m on the RX1, so you get a ton of extra "air" around your photo. Not so with the Olympus VF-1. It happens to be just about right. Even if you want to keep shooting in 3:2 ratio, the VF-1 is more accurate vertically, and you can just imagine the frame being a little wider than the VF-1's brightlines. Good stuff, and, despite all of its shortcomings, it makes the VF-1 an option I'll be using a lot.

Cropping the output of the RX1 to 4:3 gives you almost exactly the same angle of view and DOF with the RX1's 35/2 lens as the Contax 645 with the 55/3.5 lens, so it's a pretty sweet little mini-medium format setup.

Jan 30, 2014 at 10:53 PM

  Previous versions of douglasf13's message #12101798 « Sony RX1 FF Mirrorless (fixed lens) »