I heard the term “waist-level finder” (“WLF”) for the first time about 6 months ago when I started looking into medium format cameras. Heck, I heard the term “medium format camera” for the first time probably about a year ago; up until then, I naively believed that the only cameras out there were 35mm and “those large format boxes” that I thought that one would need years and years of photography education to understand how to use. But then I learned about medium format, and I started dreaming about medium format, first 6×4.5, but then 6×7. And I found out about Mamiya RB/RZ and then I finally had a chance to purchase my very own Mamiya RZ67 Pro II.
It’s odd how I afraid of the unknown I really was. When first I looked at 6×4.5 format cameras on Ebay, the only ones I added to my watchlist were the ones that came with a prism finder. I feared that WLF, of which I knew nothing. Prism finder, on the other hand, is like looking through the viewfinder on my digital camera – familiar and comfortable – so of course, if I ever were to invest in medium format, it had to be something that I’m at least a little bit familiar with, right? Then one day I read a blog post by somebody who owned a Mamiya RB67 and who, in his description about the WLF, talked about how he occasionally pulls out his camera just to look at the world through that thing, because it’s that wonderful. And I got curious. And the day arrived when I got to experience looking through a WLF myself, and I now fully understand where the blogger is coming from. And, no, this image does not do the WLF justice but it gives an idea of what it’s like.
(85mm, ISO 1600, f/2.5, 1/100 sec)