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8 Classic Viewfinder Designs in Vintage Cameras

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viewfinderhead

What’s in a viewfinder? The view within a viewfinder has always been an opportunity to display additional information to the user. In this post, we’ll take a quick look at 8 film SLR and rangefinder camera viewfinders.

Canonet 19 (1961)

canonet_850

The Canonet’s viewfinder, which sported what Canon called a “data center”, indicates the aperture at which the selenium light meter decides the photo will be taken.

canonet-manual

Canonet GIII QL17 (1972)

gliii_850

This is a fairly popular rangefinder – similar to the Canonet, a black needle moves to indicate the aperture at which the photo will be taken.

canonet-giii-manual

Canon EF (1973)

ef_850

The EF featured a shutter priority mode which made it a nice feature that the viewfinder displayed both aperture and shutter settings.

canonet_ef-manual

Rolleiflex (1976)

rolleiflex_850

The aperture that the user set is visible at the top part of the viewfinder; if the exposure is set correctly, the needle sits in the middle of the red setting triangle.

rolleiflex-manual

Canon A-1 (1978)

a1_850

The Canon A-1 has both aperture and shutter priority mode, so the viewfinder displays both information. An additional consideration that Canon engineers put into the A-1 was the ability to turn off the display as well.

canon-a1-manual

Canon AV-1 (1979)

av1_850

The AV-1 is one of the few cameras to feature aperture-priority only. My hypothesis is that most photographers were more keen to ensure photos were not blurry, and camera companies were therefore incentivized to develop shutter-priority cameras first.

canon-av1-manual

Canon AE-1 PROGRAM (1981)

ae1program_850

The AE-1 had a fully automatic (program) mode, which lit up the “P” LED. Otherwise it also had a shutter-priority mode which would light up the aperture selected.

canon-ae1-program-manual

Canon NEW F-1 (1981)

f1_850

With the Eyefinder FN viewfinder on the Canon New F-1 you were given a view of the shutter-priority viewfinder, which indicated the automatically selected aperture.

canon-new-f1-manual


About the author: Rio Akasaka is a photographer born and raised in Switzerland. His focus right now is on collecting film Canon SLR and rangefinders from the 1960s to the 1980s. You can find more of his work on his website and Facebook page. This article originally appeared here.

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