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View Full Version : Rangefinder Myths I - I look outside the frame lines


Tuolumne
11-08-2007, 09:50
There are a number of benefits claimed for rangefinder cameras that I never find myself taking advatnage of. One of these is the ability to look outside the frame lines to see what may be coming into view or how a different framing may affect the picture. Here is an eloquent statement of this benefit by one of our RFF members from another thred:

"With the RF, you're in the moment. You are capturing a feeling, a moment, a more inclusive kind of photograph. This is partially due to the nature of the RF - you can see what's around the photograph you are taking, your view isn't ever blocked, so you can capture HCB's "decisive moment."

For myself, I never look outside the frame. Perhaps it is too many years of using SLRs or P&S cameras. I think the fact that I wear glasses also contrubutes, since I frequently can't see outside the frameline presented. Heck - on 35mm and wider I often can't even see the frame line.

Anyway, I wonder how many RF users are like me and never, or almost never, see outside the frame and how many do. I guess you'd call this seeing outside the box. :)


/T

P.S. I was going to make this a poll, but for some reason it posted before I could create one.

FrankS
11-08-2007, 09:59
I wear glasses like you, so with some (wider) lens/viewfinder combinations it is not possible. When it is however, I do look-see outside the framelines.

kmack
11-08-2007, 10:05
Composing is much faster when you can see outside the frame lines. You can see what is excluded as well as what you included. Decisions on how to frame a shot can be made quicker.

kevin sykes
11-08-2007, 10:29
I also have an SLR "background" - where frequently the viewfinder is only 90-95% - so looking outside the framelines doesn't come naturally.
But I don't see the big advantage claimed of seeing what is coming into the frame, after all how much more can you see? If for example it is a figure walking into the scene - how close do they need to be to the scene to be in the viewfinder but not within the framelines?
And, if it's just general composition - well compared to an SLR the framelines generaly only seem to be an aproximation so I tend to make sure I capture more than I want and crop later rather then be inch accurate and cut something off.

kevin

Dogman
11-08-2007, 10:41
I think we probably notice the area outside the frames more than we realize but we concentrate on the area of composition. Does looking outside the frames help much? For me, not really. The framelines are only approximations of the actual image on the film anyway so the lines aren't precise enough to determine for sure what is at the edge of the frame and what is outside it. I like rangefinders for the ability to shoot loose and open. Going back to an SLR always makes me feel a little claustrophobic at first but SLRs are better for precise framing.

oscroft
11-08-2007, 10:44
Anyway, I wonder how many RF users are like me and never, or almost never, see outside the frame and how many do
Interesting. I came to RF cameras from decades of SLR use, and the "outside the frames" thing struck me immediately as a benefit. Now, when I use an SLR, I catch myself trying to see round the edges of the viewfinder view.

wgerrard
11-08-2007, 10:50
Isn't the real difference that you need to move an SLR to see what you might include in the frame, while an RF gives you at least a little "window" outside the frame. How much you can see in that window, of course, depends. Still, if, for example, a guy chasing his dog is about to run into your beautifully composed shot, you will see the dog just a few milliseconds earlier in an RF. To me, that's an immaterial difference.

When the window around a particular set of framelines is large enough, I do find that it helps me compose a shot. But, I don't find this feature of RF's to be compelling, or the lack of it in SLR's to be offputting.

ferider
11-08-2007, 10:57
It's a technique. You can also use it on SLRs by keeping both eyes open.

Very useful for 35-50mm focal lengths and action shots.

If you don't use it, probably means you don't need it.

DougK
11-08-2007, 11:02
There are a number of benefits claimed for rangefinder cameras that I never find myself taking advatnage of. One of these is the ability to look outside the frame lines to see what may be coming into view or how a different framing may affect the picture. Here is an eloquent statement of this benefit by one of our RFF members from another thred:

"With the RF, you're in the moment. You are capturing a feeling, a moment, a more inclusive kind of photograph. This is partially due to the nature of the RF - you can see what's around the photograph you are taking, your view isn't ever blocked, so you can capture HCB's "decisive moment."

For myself, I never look outside the frame. Perhaps it is too many years of using SLRs or P&S cameras. I think the fact that I wear glasses also contrubutes, since I frequently can't see outside the frameline presented. Heck - on 35mm and wider I often can't even see the frame line.

Anyway, I wonder how many RF users are like me and never, or almost never, see outside the frame and how many do. I guess you'd call this seeing outside the box. :)


/T
I rarely see what's outside the frame line and for the same reason: I wear glasses. I do like the brighter view of things through an RF viewfinder, though, and find that to be a bigger advantage.

cmogi10
11-08-2007, 11:02
I do in conjunction with shooting with both eyes open. I like to see the big picture as well as my potential shot.

thomasw_
11-08-2007, 11:17
being a spectacled man, i find when i remember to wear contacts before i go out to shoot, that i enjoy my rf-experience just a bit more.....especially with my m3.

gns
11-08-2007, 11:20
I guess the longer the lens (and the smaller the framelines in you finder), the more one might do that. But I don't think I do it much. I'm not really looking through the finder that much at all. Mostly I'm looking with the camera away from my eye (maybe right next to my eye) and then moving it to my eye just to shoot. I mean, do people really sit there with the camera glued to their eye? I guess if they do, then this would be more important.

Cheers,
Gary

ibrando
11-08-2007, 11:22
I too wear glasses and cannot see the 35mm framelines. I do like to see what's out-of-frame so I usually use 50mm and that allows me, with glasses, to see outside the framelines.

Cheers,
B.

cmogi10
11-08-2007, 11:23
I guess the longer the lens (and the smaller the framelines in you finder), the more one might do that. But I don't think I do it much. I'm not really looking through the finder that much at all. Mostly I'm looking with the camera away from my eye (maybe right next to my eye) and then moving it to my eye just to shoot. I mean, do people really sit there with the camera glued to their eye? I guess if they do, then this would be more important.

Cheers,
Gary

I watched a video on James Nachtwey, and yes, that's exactly what he does.
He also shoots SLR's...but it doesn't matter what tool he uses to get his results.

Rafael
11-08-2007, 11:23
Maybe some will feel that the two amount to the same thing, but for me the difference is that SLR framing involves adjusting the placement of subjects within the frame and RF framing involves moving the frame to adjust to the subjects.

PlantedTao
11-08-2007, 11:42
I too wear glasses and cannot see the 35mm framelines. I do like to see what's out-of-frame so I usually use 50mm and that allows me, with glasses, to see outside the framelines.

Cheers,
B.

Same for me and is one of the reasons why I have been restricting myself to 50mm for street (although I prefer the 35, but that is as wide as I can go with glasses)...a 50mm lets me see the action before I have to shoot, allowing me a bit more time for composition.

Jason

JNewell
11-08-2007, 11:45
I really do that...pretty much perfectly fulfill the old Leica ad talk (and Leica School advice). Doesn't help a lot with static subjects but I find it very helpful when photographing people.

Feanor
11-08-2007, 11:54
...
For myself, I never look outside the frame. Perhaps it is too many years of using SLRs or P&S cameras. I think the fact that I wear glasses also contrubutes, since I frequently can't see outside the frameline presented. Heck - on 35mm and wider I often can't even see the frame line.

...

Like you, perhaps I've developed bad habits with SLRs and digital displays. Sometimes I "see" outside the frame and forget that I'm not going to get everything in the finder. :rolleyes:

Morca007
11-08-2007, 12:10
Using a 50, I look outside the framelines when I compose...

Anupam
11-08-2007, 12:22
I find seeing outside the frame a great way to compose, set exposure, focus and then let people walk into the frame and have them precisely where I want them in the pic.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/primelens/1820885706/

-Anupam

NB23
11-08-2007, 12:39
How can you even try to kill a myth with your personal opinion?

I look outside the frameline, therefore it is true.

gns
11-08-2007, 12:48
I'll add to clarify my first post...
Of course I want to see outside the framelines, but I want to see a lot more than the little bit I can get around the edges of the finder. Hence mostly just looking without the finder and a lot of moving the camera to and from my eye briefly. I just use one focal length so i have a pretty good feel for where the framing will be.

Cheers,
Gary

Tuolumne
11-08-2007, 12:49
How can you even try to kill a myth with your personal opinion?

I look outside the frameline, therefore it is true.

I'm not trying to kill anything. I'm just curious about what people do.

/T

NB23
11-08-2007, 12:52
I'm not trying to kill anything. I'm just curious about what people do.

/T

I'm sorry, I misread... But yes, people do look outside the frame and it's sometimes an invaluable tool...

Finder
11-08-2007, 15:57
I always look inside the frame, but I notice what is on the outside. I do find SLR, TLR, and view camera finders confining in comparison.

rogue_designer
11-08-2007, 16:00
whoo hoo! I'm eloquent!

I do use the "outside the frame" information in my shooting. Especially with the 50mm.

And since I use the P with a 1:1 finder - I guess I doubly use it when I do "both eyes open" shooting. There I find the 35mm frames are just in the edge of my right eye vision (with glasses) - and I use my left eye to provide the outside the frame information.

I do a lot of street shooting, and knowing what all is going on around - is that car moving into the frame, etc. Is a huge benefit in my shooting.

peter_n
11-08-2007, 17:01
Information about what is happening outside the frame can be very useful for helping to anticipate what might happen inside the frame.

JNewell
11-08-2007, 18:04
How can you even try to kill a myth with your personal opinion?

I look outside the frameline, therefore it is true.

In seventh grade math I learned: "it takes every case to prove the proposition true; only one to prove it false." :D I'm with you.

ernesto
11-08-2007, 18:41
I like to see through a 1:1 viewfinder to do so, I use an old special Zeiss Ikon Folding viewfinder (originally for contax II) that does the trick, but I wouldn´t be able to do so with the built in viewfinder of the camera.
Anyway my reason for using a rangefinder camera is just to be able to use the voightlander heliar 12mm.

E

Solinar
11-08-2007, 18:44
Try walking towards your subject while looking into the tunnel viewfinder of an SLR.

bean_counter
11-08-2007, 19:57
This summer, I took my IIIf w/ Canon 1.8 and SBOOI to an air show. I shot most of my film around the crowds & displays, but had half a roll left when the show started.

I figured it was a lost cause shooting a moving aircraft w/ a normal lens on an RF, but when the planes were close to the flightline, both eyes open w/ the SBOOI worked great. Just followed the plane in and shot when the framing and aspect were right. It's about the only instance where I really missed a motor drive on an RF.

pvdhaar
11-08-2007, 22:52
Being able to look outside the framelines is a godsend for timing and composition.

With an RF, you see the world with superimosed framelines. You can immediately make out the best composition without even moving the camera around. With an SLR you look through a tunnel that gives no environmental information. You can't tell whether moving the camera around improves or deteriorates composition without doing so.. it's a scanning device.

Having a view of the world outside the frames also helps tremendously in timing. With moving subjects, you can anticipate when and where it will enter the frame and when to snap..

wyk_penguin
11-09-2007, 05:43
I have to say I am addicted to the R3A, mostly because of the 1:1 finder.

My usual lens combinations are 50 & 15 (no puns intended as it is the truth) with the 15mm finder permanently on the hot shoe. I wear glasses but I can still see the whole 50mm frame and beyond and I usually shoot with both eyes open. It is quite magical to see the brightlines floating in space, not to mention it is very easy to evaluate framing options.

What I did not expect beforehand was that I am somehow mentally glued to the 50mm framelines and could sometimes frame before looking into the viewfinder, i.e. I know that from my position that, that and that will be in view. All I do is lift the camera up just to "align it with the mind's eye" so to speak.

To be fair, it is possible to learn to do such things on an SLR as well, as I have seen bird watchers line up their manual focus nikon primes with flying birds while I try to search for them amongst blurry bokeh when I use my 500mm reflex lens.

Having written on and around the question. My answer is that I do look outside the framelines, but then I also compose before looking into the viewfinder, no matter the system.

RML
11-09-2007, 06:11
I do look outside the framelines. Not always, true, but often enough. Especially when I'm waiting for a composition to fall in place, waiting for a pedestrian, cyclist, car, or such to come up as part of the shot I want to take.

victoriapio
11-09-2007, 06:51
My normal rig is the rd1s, 21mm biogon, with the 28mm Voitlander viewfinder. For most shots I focus though the rangefinder (1:1 on rd1s - it's a great rangefinder for using both eyes - which is REALLY looking outside the frame lines) checking composition with both eyes open, then switch up to the viewfinder for framing/composition tweaks. The 28mm Voitlander viewfinder (the new round one) is very small but allows you to see outside the framelines and I am looking at the entire viewfinder almost everyshot.

O.C.

Tuolumne
11-09-2007, 07:52
My normal rig is the rd1s, 21mm biogon, with the 28mm Voitlander viewfinder. For most shots I focus though the rangefinder (1:1 on rd1s - it's a great rangefinder for using both eyes - which is REALLY looking outside the frame lines) checking composition with both eyes open, then switch up to the viewfinder for framing/composition tweaks. The 28mm Voitlander viewfinder (the new round one) is very small but allows you to see outside the framelines and I am looking at the entire viewfinder almost everyshot.

O.C.

I guess I'm going to have to try one of these CV external finders. I use the Russian turret finders which don't let you see outside the frame line. In fact, there is no frame line. The expensive Leica external finder, 21-28mm, also has the same problem. And I thought I was avoiding buying extra viewfinders when I got them! :bang:

/T

ruben
11-09-2007, 09:08
There are a number of benefits claimed for rangefinder cameras that I never find myself taking advatnage of. One of these is the ability to look outside the frame lines to see what may be coming into view or how a different framing may affect the picture.................


"Myth I" is for me of more interest and doesn't affect the character of the photographer, but the technicalities of the viewfinder.

As we all know there are cameras with no bright lines at all.

There are other cameras with bright lines, in which the space between the bright lines and the "dark" frame is rather meager. I find this the case with most fixed lens RFs I own.

But recently I found an outstanding exception within this breed: The Konica Auto S3. Here the space in between is quite generous, relatively. It would be of interest for me to learn to exploit this margin. The camera was purchased a few days ago.

Now, as you may know I do not own any Leica, but I have played a bit with Mike's Leica and noticed the shrinking bright lines adapting to longer length lens. I suppose that in this case you can frame an interesting background with a tele and wait for the fish to enter.

In principle this is possible with any camera of any brand, but with a shrinking frame lines camera it must be easier to track the fish an catch it infraganti.


Cheers,
Ruben

jlw
11-09-2007, 09:42
Yes, I look outside the framelines whenever I can. Although I can get by without it, this feature helps me get better pictures.

I do a lot of stage photography, generally with a medium tele lens. With an RF camera, it's easy to see outside the medium tele's framelines even though I wear glasses. Being able to see outside the framelines is very valuable for this type of shooting: supposing the most interesting thing happening is outside the frame? With the RF camera, I can see it right away and re-aim.

When I use an SLR camera and a medium tele lens, I don't have this ability to monitor the rest of the scene. So, when using an SLR, I tend to hold the camera away from my eye and watch the scene, then bring it up to my eye to compose when I'm ready to shoot. That works, but the extra time delay means I'm too late for a lot of spontaneous shots.

As far as I'm concerned, though, the ultimate in viewing convenience is a medium tele on an RF camera that also has a 1:1 viewfinder -- such as the Canon P, Bessa R3a, or my Epson R-D 1.

With this type of camera, I can have both eyes open at all times, giving me the full panorama of the scene. The frameline for the medium-tele lens "hangs in space" within my visual field. It's very easy and natural to monitor everything that's happening, put the frameline over the part that's most interesting, and make the picture.

(Keeping both eyes open doesn't work for me with an SLR and a tele lens -- the difference in magnification between the camera eye and the non-camera eye is too distracting.)