Vintage and Classic Cameras
Backback button   
Camera Anatomy - Viewfinder Cameras

Viewfinder cameras are available in a wide variety of types and qualities. Some, like the Beirette at right, were very cheap whilst other were quite expensive precision instruments. The name is derived from their method of composing the image, ie. the viewfinder - or window you peer through when taking the picture. In it's simplest form the viewfinder is just a frame with fore and back sights - this arrangement is usually referred to as a sports finder because of the speedier operation compared to the (then) usual ground glass screen or waist level finder method of image composition. This enabled a significant advantage in terms of spontaneity, as the user was now able to point the camera directly at the subject. Some cameras are fitted with viewfinders as well as rangefinders, for the purpose of this discussion such cameras are considered to be the rangefinder type. The majority of viewfinder cameras have windows formed with lenses arranged to enlarge the image the photographer observes, known as Galilean viewfinders, these prevailed after the mid 1930s. The 1950s saw most types of Galilean viewfinder displaying composition and framing lines within the window. All viewfinder cameras lack any means of checking either the focus or depth of field of the image save for checking against any scales printed on it. There are literally thousands of different types. There is cross fertilization, for instance the first camera in the list below is a viewfinder camera with folding bellows.

Visit these examples to see some of the variations.

Kodak Retina, Kodak Retinette, Mercury II, Ilford, Advocate II, Voigtländer Vito B, Williamson F117A

Go to main navigation page
Of Out Own Demise Square Advert
Go to index of LICM cameras
Go to index by era



© Living Image Vintage Cameras 2000-2023