Rangefinder or SLR-Style Body

There are lots of opinions on the pros and cons of each style of camera body:

  • SLR style with the viewfinder centered to the lens
  • Rangefinder style with the viewfinder to the left of the lens

For some of you considering a change in body style of camera, something to consider that I don’t see often in blogs is how often you shoot in portrait orientation (or should consider shooting in portrait orientation).

When you shoot for long periods of time, many of us often rely on the left arm to take the brunt of the weight. This is not much of a problem with SLR style viewfinders since the lens moves very little.

But if you want to maintain the viewfinder location on rangefinders, the rangefinders require the user to raise the right hand unusually high (like holding the camera to your forehead). This is harder to maintain on a rangefinder than on an SLR because you either have to raise the left arm much higher than on an SLR:

DSLR vs Rangefinder

20160229 233128 xe2 vs xt1 1000ms fixed

Here, you can see me slouching because raising the rangefinder any higher would be unnatural and hard to maintain. Believe me, I tried four times to get a non-slouching shot. This was the best that I could get. Plus, holding a camera with your wrist at your nose is just weird.

Or if you consider the lens not moving (your left arm staying in the same position), you could drop your head more to reach the viewfinder on the rangefinder.


Turning clockwise

Turning the camera bodies clockwise (so the shutter release is at the bottom) has its own pros and cons which you can work out for yourself. I prefer not to shoot this way since it takes away the major benefits from my left eye preference. Plus, instead of raising the lens so it jets out of your forehead like a cyclops, this moves the lens down so it is jetting out of your chin.

Effect on composition

The impact of both the loss of support and the awkwardness is that I tend to shoot portrait orientation less with my rangefinder-style camera than with my SLR-style camera. (Something to be aware of when you are thinking about your photography.)

This is especially important for me when I am shooting events requiring me to shoot two cameras at once. One will have a wide lens and the other will have a telephoto. Since most wide shots that I shoot will be landscape orientation, the wide lens usually goes to the rangefinder-style camera, and the telephoto goes on the SLR-style for closeups. (However, there are times when I will be shooting a lot of wide shots and favor it on the X-T1 since the larger viewfinder is much nicer to use. Plus the X-T1 has a tilting screen for above-the-crowd shots.)



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