Those Cool Medium Format Viewfinder Photos: Not as Simple as You’d Think

Everyone loves looking at all those really cool photos and videos showing off exactly what a medium format viewfinder of some sort shows off. For the most part though, they’re a lot harder than you’d think to pull off effectively. Many photographers simply tend to use Photoshop or Lightroom to brighten up that specific area that you see within the viewfinder. Part of this has to do with the lighting in the area and another part has to do with just what type of camera you’re using.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Mint Camera InstantFlex TL70 product images (14 of 16)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 4.0

Generally speaking, medium format cameras have significantly larger viewfinder areas and pentaboxes than standard DSLRs. But not all of them have bright viewfinders or focusing screens. The key to all this is to have a bright focusing screen. The brighter this screen is, the easier it will be able to take the photo. As it is, the screen in the image above is being illuminated by flash output. You don’t see the flash in the scene, but it’s being bounced at the window.

If you don’t want to work with a flash though, the key here is to just have very bright light. A torch or flash light illuminating your subject in a studio works very well. Think of it like a computer screen: you’re clearly able to see the details better if it’s brighter. That’s how we shot the lead image for this story.

For the best photos, put the magnifying screen down and just work with the ground glass. Shoot during the daytime with bright sunlight. The night will be nowhere as simple, but can make for a great black and white photo if you want.