PDA

View Full Version : Accessories VA-1 Anglefinder



OzRay
03-07-2006, 06:38 PM
For me, the anglefinder is an essential piece of kit and I got one as soon as it became available. It's not cheap (as all things Olympus), but in my opinion, it's one of the most functional accessories you can have.

http://shop.centre.net.au/webs/000004/prod/lo/olyva1.jpg

What's it used for?

Many think that it's only really an accessory for the macro photographer who likes to get close to the ground and, indeed, it works very well for this task. But many don't realise exactly what additional benefits you can get with an anglefinder, as opposed to peering through the normal viewfinder. Firstly, it offers you a completely different perspective/viewpoint as far as composition goes and it also allows you to magnify the image in the viewfinder (more on this in a moment).

One of the most common practices for many photographers is to simply raise the camera to one's eye and take a photo while standing, at most, one might kneel down or point the camera up or down for a slightly different viewpoint. However, if you have an anglefinder, you can instantly avail yourself of a nearly endless range of viewpoints/perspectives, whether the camera is handheld, or on a tripod.

If you do want to shoot close to the ground, the anglefinder allows you this without having to resort to contortions and resultant back/neck pains. It also allows you to perhaps be a little more discrete when taking photos, as you have your head looking down at the camera and most people will think that you're fiddling with a setting, rather than composing a photo. Trust me, even those who know my equipment and me, tend to forget this. Finally, and perhaps more importantly, the anglefinder allows you to look at the world from a position other than your own eye-level; this can dramatically change the way you look at the world and how you take photos.

About the anglefinder.

The VA-1 anglefinder is a well-crafted piece of optical equipment like most Olympus gear. It's a mixture of plastic and metal and has that typical Olympus feel of robustness. The viewfinder has an adjustable dioptre for individual settings, and it also comes with two adapters to allow use with the E1 or E-300 (I'm not sure if the E-500 is compatible). It also has a moveable lens that allows either 1x or 2x viewing and the optics appear to have lens coatings to provide clarity and avoid flare when viewing. One useful feature is that the anglefinder can rotate 360 degrees, so that you can take shots easily if the camera is turned on its side, or even upside-down for the really creative.

Generally, the anglefinder works as expected, however, I have two gripes, one major and one minor. The minor gripe is that the dioptre adjustment barrel has no markings by which you can set the eyepiece and while the barrel has a degree of resistance to turning, it's still easy for the adjustment to be moved. I engraved a marker on the barrel so that I could easily see if something was off.

The major gripe is that the 2x setting is far too strong for any effective viewing or focussing. For me, the 2x setting is completely useless, as all it really seems to do is magnify the grid patterns on the view screen. The 2x magnification also cuts off a substantial portion of the viewscreen, so that you can't see any settings (but that's to be expected). So I only use the anglefinder at 1x, which is really not bad anyway.

Setting the anglefinder dioptre is also a bit of a challenge. The usual way is to adjust the dioptre until the focus marks on the screen are crisp, but the best way I found was to take a series of shots of a high contrast subject and then find out which position provided the sharpest result. It takes a bit of time, but at least you know you've got it right. You can try also to use AF and then switch to MF (E1) and adjust the dioptre until things are sharply in focus. However, I found the former method more accurate.

Conclusion

The VA-1 anglefinder may not be the sexiest accessory available, but it is one of the most surprisingly useful tools you can get. I'm fairly convinced that once you've used one, it's always going to be in your pocket whenever you take out your camera, mine certainly is.

Support this site by ordering below:
<iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=fourthirdspho-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B000FLIW9U&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&lc1=0000ff&bc1=000000&bg1=ffffff&f=ifr" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe>

Chuckr53
03-08-2006, 07:11 PM
I agree and echo Ray's recommendation. I have one and I use it everytime my E-1 is on my tripod.

Ian MacDonald
03-08-2006, 09:59 PM
Thanks for the review Ray. This item has been on my wish list for some time. It never seems to make it to the top, but your review certainly helps move it up.

I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to add a link to another review of the VA-1 on Wrotniak's site for anyone interested:
http://www.wrotniak.net/photo/oly-e/va1.html

The reviewer over there confirms that the VA-1 works on all the E-systems (so far) with adapters that are included in the package.

Cheers,

-- Ian

AnnF
03-08-2006, 10:11 PM
Thank you for the post. Most of those reasons are why I wanted to get one:)

Ann

finemom
03-08-2006, 10:38 PM
Nice thorough review Ray, thanks. Question: Does that mean that at 1x the image on the vf is magnified or the same as it normally would be. This forum is turning out to be expensive!! I will put it on my wish list.
Sandie

OzRay
03-08-2006, 11:09 PM
Nice thorough review Ray, thanks. Question: Does that mean that at 1x the image on the vf is magnified or the same as it normally would be. This forum is turning out to be expensive!! I will put it on my wish list.
Sandie

The 1x doesn't maginify the image at all, it just gives you the same as what you'd see through the camera viewfinder.

I look at it from the point of view that I'm not into boats, horses or other such expensive pursuits, so I'm allowed at least some leeway.

Cheers

Ray

ameer
03-11-2006, 08:12 AM
Many owners of Olympus E-500 appreciate the value of the Anglefinder, but find it too expensive to buy one.

Recently I bought a Seagull Anglefinder and have been using it with my E-500. It can also be used with various models of Canon, Nikon and Pentax cameras. Adapters are included for all these cameras. Those having several brands of cameras can thus use the same anglefinder using different adapters.

Specifications are the same as those of Olympus anglefinder (Varimagni).
Price is less than half of Olympus.

The owners of E-500 can no longer complain of an Anglefinder being too expensive. Cheers.

ameer

Ombrafoto
03-13-2006, 12:33 PM
I am more interested in finding out more about this 45 degree anglefinder from
Foto-Pryzmaton.
http://www.wrotniak.net/photo/oly-e/va1.html

At 1.7, seems to be a better magnification, and the angle more comfortable.

Bonanno
03-17-2006, 01:24 PM
Thanks for the review OzRay,

From looking at the pictures, just having the VA-1 hanging off the camera gives the E-1 an entirely different look.

I've also looked at the seagull that Ameer has for the E500. Does anyone know if it will fit on an E-1. Gotta draw the line somewhere on these Olympus purchases, or I won't have anything when the FL-50 finally returns.

Derek Wright
11-27-2007, 10:46 AM
I have usefully used the VA-1 with my E1 and now I am very pleased to find that if I swap the adapter VA-A1 which connectors the angle viewer to the E1 with the adapter VA-A2 that came with the adapter originally (for connection to the E300) the Anglefinder can be used with the E3.

Yes I know about live view on the E3 and the pull out screen, but the angle finder offers an alternative and possibly a more stable and instant way of getting low angle shots.

A possible problem for you is finding out where you put the VA-A2 when you started using the angle finder on the E1.

Pete Wilcox
11-27-2007, 11:46 AM
A possible problem for you is finding out where you put the VA-A2 when you started using the angle finder on the E1.

The supplied case for the VA-1 has a little velcroed step in the bottom, makes a perfect storage space for the adapters and what-not. The VA-1 works with all of the E dslr's, at least since the E-1.

jebir
11-27-2007, 02:40 PM
Hi Derek,


Yes I know about live view on the E3 and the pull out screen, but the angle finder offers an alternative and possibly a more stable and instant way of getting low angle shots.

what's the eye-point of this angle finder? The angle finders I have used all had to be viewed into with the eye quite close to the eyepiece. I mean, is there any comparson between Live View and the angle finder in the way they are used?

Cheers, Jens.

Derek Wright
11-27-2007, 03:56 PM
Yes and no


Typically with live view one would be holding the viewing screen away from the eye - possible at arms length - with the angle finder the eye/head is very close to the camera - hence the camera is potentially held in a more stable grip.

The angle viewer is looking thru the standard viewfinder and so when the shutter is pressed the standard exposure process takes place. With live view the quite a few mechanical and electrical things happen that can take time and delay the exposure by a small amount.

Each process has it advantage and disadvantage. If one already has an Angle Viewer then I think one would continue to use it rather than the live view in some situations - however for over the head shots and pointing round buildings at arms length live view will be used.

For me it is good that I have a choice and can continue to use a device I bought for the E1 if I want to

3dpan
11-30-2007, 03:41 AM
I used the VA-1 on my E-500, and I found it clips straight onto the E-3 without any extra adapters.

I also have the Seagull version, and in my opinion, while the Seagull seems as sharp as the VA-1 in the centre of the view, it does seem softer toward the edges.
Also, the focus ring on the Seagull is easier to knock out of alignment.

Cheers,
Alec