In the last few years there seems to have been loads of innovation around the democratisation of manufacturing, with 3D printing being – at least to me – almost the poster-boy for the movement. It consistently impresses me what people are able to churn out of these machines. Unfortunately for me, as an individual, I don’t find myself having have compatible skills – I can dream up ideas, but to bring them to life I need other people around me with the right skills in the relevant software etc. Case in point, working with Steve Lloyd of Chroma Camera to help me bring pixl-latr to life.
Another idea I’ve had many times before is the rehousing of viewfinder optics from point & shoot cameras to be used as rangefinder accessory viewfinders. I’ve made my own before using Sugru, but it’s fair to say it wasn’t the final word in quality. The viewfinder I want to show you today of a much higher standard.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by a chap named Robert Jagitsch. He wanted to send me his 3D printed viewfinder to look at and possibly review. As I already have an interest in this sort of thing, I was of course really interested to see how well he’d succeeded.
It is in fact a 35mm viewfinder made from the optics of a Canon AF-7. This isn’t the first time a viewfinder made from one of these cameras has been featured on this website – a few years ago Frank Lehnen made one too; you can see his efforts here. This particular donor camera is known for its very large and very bright viewfinder. This does mean that adaptations of the viewfinder are also fairly large – but for all that might bring as a disadvantage, the brightness definitely makes up for it.
The quality of Robert’s viewfinder 3D printing is very high – though this is apparently what you get through Shapeways. But more than that, the design is spot on. It’s really well thought out, so it looks really smart. It also fits perfectly into the shoe on my M3, which is more than can be said for even some of the commercially produced viewfinders I’ve tried in the past.
The ridiculous thing is, if you wanted to buy yourself an off the shelf viewfinder made by the likes of Voigtlander, it would likely cost you a shit load more than this one would! Of course the Voigtlander would be higher quality, but the laws of diminishing returns apply, and if you just needed something for occasional use the quality of this finder would likely be more than adequate! Just watch the plastic optics, as they will scratch easier than glass.
Possibly the big downside here is that if you want to make this viewfinder, you have to unmake a perfectly good camera. As such, ideally, a broken one would be the best candidate.
Robert sent me a couple of snaps of the DIY build process:
You can see here the optics just slot in to Roberts design and the top clicks into place
It doesn’t look particularly difficult… though I’d warn anyone opening a compact camera with a flash to mind that flash capacitor – you only let one of those things shock you once!
Good work Robert! Hats off to you, a very fine job!
If you’d like to get your hands on one of these, you can do via Robert’s Shapeways page here