It seems the biggest gripe about rangefinders (vs SLRs) is that your shots are not quite what you see, there is a parallax error due to not seeing through the lens.

Which makes me think, if you put the rangefinder viewport directly above the lens it would eliminate horizontal parallax. This would be nice.

Is it just the fact that the lens blocks some of the view and you want to have the viewport far enough away to avoid this, or is there a physical issue too with how the rangefinder functions?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If you use telefoto lens they will block a lot of view. So IMHO this is the reason. Moreover for those which include some focusing abilities you shrink the base and decrease the effectiveness of focus \$\endgroup\$ Mar 9, 2016 at 10:32

2 Answers 2


Rangefinders use two "viewports" in order to get the split image to aid in focusing.

If you look closely you will see the second little window usually near the lens itself.

It would be possible to reverse to the position of the two "viewports" but there would still be vertical parallax error.

Since there will always be some form of parallax error, it is better to keep the primary viewfinder away from the lens.

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One advantage of having the viewfinder on the top left corner of the camera is that you can get your right eye very close to the viewfinder without having your nose bump against the back of the camera as happens with most SLRs.

It also makes it easier to keep your left eye open to keep tabs on your surroundings while looking through the viewfinder, since it will not be blocked by the camera body.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I like it on the left as well for this reason. I'm guessing with SLRs and DSLRs the image quality would be reduced if you had to move the viewing hole to the left, because you would have to add mirrors and more tricky optics. One interesting thing is that with e.g. the Fuji X-T1, which only has an electronic viewfinder, they still decided to put it in the middle rather than to the left. \$\endgroup\$
    – Igor Nadj
    Mar 11, 2016 at 2:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Unless your left eye is the dominant eye. \$\endgroup\$
    – SibzTer
    Mar 15, 2016 at 17:58

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