Received a Canon F-1 New Sports Finder FN in the mail yesterday, and it is a strange thing. Basically, it’s two pentaprisms serially connected with a high eyepoint of at least 6 cm. There’s a rotating collar between the two,
so that two (or every intermediate, if you really want it to look weird) positions are possible:
In both positions, one can see the viewfinder image and the f-stop scale with needle and indicator from quite far away. Of course, the magnification is less than with the direct viewfinders, but suffices for focussing, metering and framing. The frame is perceived as a whole in the manner of a big, decorative postage stamp. I imagine it helps in composition.
The inline position allows one to leave both eyes open in the time-honored rangefinder way, the left eye looking over the camera at the surroundings. That’d be a sports or street application, sure.
The waist level viewfinder position immediately facilitates a meticulous way of composing. In contrast to waist level finders on medium format cameras, the image is laterally correct. One other application of this position of the Sports Finder FN would again be in street photography. Having the camera hang around one’s neck and looking down into the viewfinder would be a non-obvious way to take photos of one’s fellow human beings. If you want smiles, draw a smiley on top of your bald head …
By the way, you can put the shutter speed dial on “A” even with this finder and the camera will choose the shutter speed for your f-stop fine and dandy, though you won’t be able to see it in the viewfinder.
There are disadvantages to this finder, too. It is heavy and thereby makes the already not-so-light Canon F-1 New top- and back-heavy, unbalanced if you have a small prime mounted.
Not yet there, though 😉