All That Design Has Not Been Waisted

DSCF5198The first camera I ever used with a waist-level finder was a Rolleicord for a university  newspaper – prior to that all my experience had been with a 35mm SLR or 4 x 5 Speed Graphic. The optical trick of looking down, seeing forward, and moving the screen image counter to your intuition was somewhat startling at first. I was grateful that most assignments were of static subjects and I didn’t have to try to follow moving footballs or runners.

Then I took up the sport of dentistry for 40 years – a business that was as frequently played in a mirror image as it was with direct vision. Worse – sometimes the field of vision was upside down and back to front as well as reversed side to side. Add to that spit, blood, and a tongue…well, I coped with all that so by the time I was ready to peer into my next waist-level finder in the Hasselblad system, I had no problems.

The advent of digital put me back to the eyepiece or down on my knees in the studio looking in at the LCD screen on the back of the camera if there was some form of Live View available. In the earlier digital cameras there was no effective enlarging mechanism to show me the actual focus but steering the AF points about was easy enough. The chief disadvantage of the fixed LCD screen was that business of getting down on the knees. A full day up and down doing tabletop shots meant legs of fire the next day. Remember the 40 years I mentioned before…?

Imagine my joy when I succumbed to a bout of folly in last November and bought a new Fujifilm X-T10 camera. I have lots of Fujinon lenses and other X-series bodies but this is the first one with a tilting LCD screen at the back. I can now position it like the waist-level finders of the past and shoot with the camera at chest, if not waist level.

In the studio it means I can stand while doing table top shots. Score one for the knees. In the field at a car show I can shoot at a flattering position without having to kneel in the grass or on wet pavement. I can poke a camera under the edge of a car to see the undercarriage without having to belly down. I can hold the camera up over the engine bay and see the framing as I shoot.

I suppose it is not the be-all and end-all of camera design and would not constitute an absolute bar to purchase in another circumstance, but if all other factors were equal, it would certainly tip the balance.


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