I finally gave in and bought an angle viewfinder for my Canon setup, the question is whether I should have bought on brand (Canon Angle Finder C) or saved $100 on the Polaroid version. It’s not uncommon for me to crouch as low as possible and try to squint through the eyepiece to see if my focus points are hitting the mark. I actually often just hold the camera on the ground and hope the focus is catching what I want. It’s surprising how often that works, but you’re still guessing much like shooting from the hip.
Polaroid Right Angle Viewfinder mounted on the Canon 5DS with 24-70mm 2.8 and grip
Polaroid Right Angle Viewfinder Introduction
If you’ve owned a Twin-Lens Reflex camera you know what it’s like to hunch over your camera looking down into the viewfinder. Some people couldn’t imagine this shooting position as they feel it separates you from your subject. However for some thats an advantage, and it allows them the freedom to point their camera wherever they like without the same self conscious feeling of raising a camera to their face and pointing it directly at someone. More simply, the angle finder allows you to have a full view through the finder with the camera in a lower position. I used the canon one for a few years with this panoramic mirror contraption that mounted the camera very low and at a strange angle, it was the beginning of low-fi panoramic photography and honestly it was pretty useless. I couldn’t find the full frame adaptor for my Canon angle finder and can’t seem to find anyone who sells it independently, so I went with the less expensive “off brand” Polaroid Right Angle Viewfinder. It fits fairly tightly onto the eyepiece and does exactly what it claims.
Polaroid Right Angle Viewfinder Features
1.25 – 2.25 Magnification
I’m not sure why it can’t be a full 1.0 – 2.0 magnification, but there it is at 0.25 different. I don’t think I’ve ever used the 2.25 magnification, it seems totally irrelevant to me unless you shoot with manual focus lenses, and then it might be critical. Otherwise this thing is set to 1.25 and totally left alone
Includes 6 Eyepiece Adapters
I suppose if you owned all 6 cameras that this fits onto you’d be really happy that it came with all 6. Otherwise this is less of a feature and more of a necessity for Polaroid to sell one unit to many customers. The small plastic brackets that attach to the camera are not especially strong feeling and don’t come on or off as easily as I’d like. Maybe thats a good thing in the field though!
Using the Polaroid Right Angle Viewfinder
I have to admit that it’s a little “love/hate” with this piece of gear. Some days I’m really happy with the ability to hold my camera lower than normal and have more flexibility in shooting style, but other times I find it feels poorly made, the eyepiece doesn’t line up properly or feel comfortable and it just adds a lot of bulk to the back of the camera. It often gives you the impression of using a completely different camera as the shooting position is so different, and that sometimes is enough to change the way you shoot, or the way you feel shooting and for $60 that could be a great investment. I definitely feel that when I’m on the street and looking down at my camera it feels less direct and ‘aggressive’ of a shooting style. The slightly covert feeling can allow you to approach subjects or fit into a scene in a different way that holding the camera to your face.
Polaroid Right Angle Viewfinder Pros
- inexpensive compared to Nikon or Canon angle viewfinder
- changes shooting style or feel
- allows you to hold camera lower and still see through finder
- small and lightweght
Polaroid Right Angle Viewfinder Cons
- fairly cheap feeling
- separate camera mount not great fit
Polaroid Right Angle Viewfinder Conclusion
If you shoot from the hip a lot, like to shoot from the ground or very low angles then this is really your cheapest option to have a better chance of looking through the eyepiece without straining too much. I’d probably recommend buying the Canon or Nikon brand if you’ll be using it more than a few times a year. This is also one of the pieces of gear that is nearly made obsolete by live view, although it should be noted that live view does slow down the camera operations somewhat. I would highly recommend the Polaroid Right Angle Viewfinder for anyone on a budget who often shoots from a very low angle particularly using a tripod.