Vintage Viewfinders

Note:  Excellent optical diagrams of the viewfinders described here are available on the Early Photography site and in Camerapedia.  See reference list. Ever since the invention of the camera, designers have grappled with the problem of accurately viewing the image before the film is exposed.  Early cameras, such as the  above 1886 Instanto tailboard camera, lacked any form of independent viewfinder, employing the rear ground glass focusing screen as the only means of composing the image.  This arrangement worked in the days when cameras were large, heavy, bulky, and largely restricted to studio work. Once dry plates and roll film became available, the camera moved out of the studio, and a quicker and more convenient method of previewing the image…Continue Reading