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Torpedoe Viewfinder

Drew Back , Mar 26, 2008; 05:57 p.m.

Hi All..Does anyone have experience useing the original long torpedoe viewfinder??I have seen them come up on ebay and they are usually hgh dollar are they similar to the VIDOO or even more of a pain to use.. Thank you for your help and input..


Drew Back , Mar 26, 2008; 06:01 p.m.

One more thing about what date did these come out???

John Shriver , Mar 26, 2008; 10:11 p.m.

They are from the 1930's.

Joel Aron , Mar 27, 2008; 03:11 a.m.

There's also the VIDOM and the VIOOH. Pretty much used for an artists view of what you want to shoot.

HCB almost always shot with a VIDOM. It's a brilliant finder, and having tried it out.. I can understand why he used it, and want one badly.

The VIOOH will swap the left and right, and the VIDOM flips the image upside down.

It does what we do in the movie industry when we sometimes run dailies with the film in backwards. It allows you to see the shapes, and balance of your composition without being able to draw your eye to the subject. You then set your mind into seeing shapes in the viewer. It helps to pull your eye back a bit, and look at the view, rather than into the viewer.

You will get a headache if you try to always use it... you're looking through about an 10mm hole.. about the size of a small straw.. but the image is beautiful... and backwards.

I would suggest trying one first.

Joel Aron , Mar 27, 2008; 03:14 a.m.

ohh, sorry! the VIOOH is right side up! I can't keep these straight!

I forget the what the left to rt swap one is.

either way.. try before you buy, and don't listen to me, unless you want to know about the VIDOM :) ...that I do know :)

L. David Tomei , Mar 27, 2008; 05:19 a.m.

Leitz sold the "torpedo" VISOR viewfinders from 1931 through to the late 1930's. These used a single prism to give an upright but reversed image which takes some getting used to. I have used mine in the past but for me it's really for the "vintage experience". They are expensive now but are very interesting and will likely hold their value after the "vintage experience" has worn thin.

Joel: Nice comment on tricks to disable some of the subconscious image processing that goes on in our brains. Another thread some time.


Bill Mitchell , Mar 27, 2008; 08:34 a.m.

They're pretty awful as far as actually using them is concerned. Nobody will "tell on you." Drew, if you use bright-line finders on your 1C for the other lenses.

John Shriver , Mar 27, 2008; 09:10 a.m.

The prisms allow the optical path to be much longer than the physical length of the finder. They are not simple reverse Galilean telescopes, they instead are designed so that both the "frame" and the image are in focus. This gives you much more accurate framing than the reverse Galilean finder in the body for the 50mm lens.

The VIDOM does this with the adjustable aperture for the focal length of the lens. This lets one finder handle all focal lengths. It's also very accurate. But it's prism is simple, and you wind up with a laterally reversed image. The VIOOH uses a more complicated set of prisms, and the image reads true.

The torpedo finders are a bit more like a bright line finder, in that you have frame lines floating in the field of view, and you can see outside the frame. But there are many variants of them, with different sets of framelines. Like the VIDOM, they are laterally reversed.

For deeper understanding, see Rick Oleson's page at:


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