Saturday, November 07, 2009

Viewer For Working The Scene

I'm off to Death Valley for the PODAS workshop and have made myself a new viewer, adjustable from square images to 2.5:1 ratio, which should nicely cover most images. It could be made of plastic or wood. I happened to use some 3/32 inch polystyrene I had lying around. You can get this at hobby stores - especially those catering to model railroaders. I imagine it wouldn't be difficult to make up a really beautiful one in wood.

Construction is simple. The size is 5X5 inches, the opening 2.5 inches, the top, bottom and sides obviously 1.25 inches wide by 5 inches or less. The slide is 2.5 inches by 3 inches.

Cut out the pieces for one layer 1.25X5Xtwo, 1.25X2.5Xtwo. Fit the next layer which is basically the same only rotated 90 degrees and with one of the small pieces missing (that's where the slider goes).Using appropriate glue (I was using styrene solvent glue) glue up the layers and either clamp or use weights to let things bond tightly.

Cut the slider so it fits snugly and lay it in place (it replaces the missing fourth piece from the second layer). Glue on another 1.25X5 inch piece to hold the slider in place.

Either trim some small pieces of styrene (or buy them) to finish both the top and bottome edges of the slider (thin piece on the bottom so it doesn't compromise the window, thick piece on top so you can grab the slider) and now the slider can't fall out. There should be enough friction so that the slider holds its place when the viewer is held upright.

File, sand or grind down the outside edges and round the corners and then drill one bottom corner of the viewer to fit in a shoe lace so you can hand the viewer around your neck.

If you really want to get fancy, you can put knots in the shoe string to represent the various focal lengths of lenses you are using - with an opening of 2.5 inches, you would need to divide the 2.5 by the width of your film or sensor and multiply that by the focal lengths of your lenses. The knot goes against your cheekbone, the viewer held out with the string tight. I haven't bothered, given that I use zoom lenses, but for fixed focal lengths (as when I shot 4X5, or next week with medium format digital) this can be very handy.

I'll let you know how the viewer actually worked in practice - perhaps it will need modifications but so far so good. Of course, the other viewer that can be used is a pocket sized point and shoot with a 3 inch LCD - I'm borrowing my wife's TZ5 for the event. Will see which is better.


Tommy Williams said...

How does this work for lenses that are wider than "normal" lenses--say, 40-50mm?

You actually need a lens in order to see compositions that are wider than your normal field of view, right?

George Barr said...

This is really high tech - to zoom wide you hold it close, for telephoto, you hold it further away - eg. if shooting 35 mm. size sensor and a 28 mm. lens, you'd hold it 28X2.5 inches / 1.5 inches (size of sensor) away from your eye or 46 mm.


chuck kimmerle said...

Did you make one for vertical shots as well?

George Barr said...

You turn it 90 degrees to activate the auto rotate feature.