KMZ Turret Finder

Field of view for ... 28, 35, 50, 85, 135 mm.
Dimensions 38/44/58 mm.

[German version]

If's often said that this viewfinder is the Soviet-Russian camera industry's best offering, quality-wise. I can't verify that since I only own it and a FED-2, but I can testify that it's first class.

The Russian turret viewfinder is a copy (by KMZ Krasnogorsk) of the Zeiss universal viewfinder for the Contax. However, the Russians copied it both in its original shape and in a horizontally mirrored version, because the original impaired the operation of the shutter speed dial on screw mount Leicas (and Russian Leica copies). Shown here is the "Leica" version.

There are, in principle, three possibilities for constructing a viewfinder for multiple focals:

Optics: the 28 and 35mm focals suffer from barrel distortion. Given their size that's forgivable, and not so serious, because it's enough to determine the frame by, and the distortions don't show up on film anyway. The other focals virtually don't distort at all.

Viewfinder image: really large and bright. The enlargement is close to 1:1 at 85mm. The area outside the cadre is backed with grey which is actually much better than a mirrored cadre, because on one hand you can see what's "outside the frame" if you want to (unlike an SLR), and on the other there's a definite difference at first glance between inside and outside, so your eye doesn't have to search for a (perhaps segmented) frame line.

Handling: the focal length adjustment is smooth as silk, with click stops for every focal. A - non-clicking - parallax compensation is achieved by slightly rotating the optics. That's maybe not theoretically correct, but does the job reasonably good. The whole thing consists of glass and milled and machined metal, and makes the heart of every fine-mechanical afficionado skip a beat.

The viewfinder always seems to look bigger on pictures than in reality. It's really compact and pleasant to use.

Available at good flea markets. Try it. It's worth it.

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Last modified March 16, 2010