Demystifying the framelines in the Pixii viewfinder
Here is what you need to know about using the framelines of the Pixii viewfinder.
There is nothing complicated about it, it just works.
Let’s take an example:
you install a 28mm lens on the camera,
you select 28mm in the menu,
the viewfinder will display what the sensor will see with that 28mm lens.
That’s it: no math, no conversion, no nervous breakdown.
So why are there whole forums threads about the topic, be it on Pixii, Fuji, or the Leica M8 ?
In more details
So let’s talk about numbers. When we say: “you install a 28mm lens”, we mean, you install a lens with a focal length of 28mm.
The focal length very approximately corresponds to the length of the lens but more importantly it is used by photographers as an indication of the field of view it can cover. The lower the length, the wider the field of view.
Where it gets complicated is that the field of view depends on the sensor format. A 50mm lens is called “standard” on the traditional 24x36 film but you need a 80mm lens to cover the natural human field of view on a 6x6 TLR camera for example.
Specifically in the rangefinder world, specifically the world of rangefinder cameras using 24x36mm film or sensors, the standard is a 50mm focal length. A narrower portrait lens is a 75mm and a wide-angle lens has a 35mm focal length. Ultra-wide angles start at 28mm and then 24, 21, 18 or even 12mm lenses.
In practical terms
Pixii uses an APS-C sensor which is about 2/3rds of the diagonal of a 24x36 sensor, or as a conversion ratio of x1.5. What this means is that a lens of focal length N on Pixii will have a field of view equivalent to a lens of focal length N x 1.5 on a classic film rangefinder.
For example, a 35mm lens on Pixii will have the equivalent field of view of a 50mm lens on a film camera. Thus, the 35mm focal length can be considered the “standard” focal length on Pixii, or pretty much every other APS-C camera.
A a general rule of thumb you can use the following translation table, rounded to the closest well-known focal length:
a 50mm lens on Pixii is equivalent to a classic 75mm lens - a portrait lens
a 35mm lens on Pixii is equivalent to a classic 50mm - a standard lens
a 28mm lens on Pixii is equivalent to a classic 40mm - a small wide-angle
a 24mm lens on Pixii is equivalent to a classic 35mm - a wide-angle
a 18mm lens on Pixii is equivalent to a classic 28mm, an ultra wide-angle
Back to the framelines
The framelines on Pixii are already taking the sensor format into account.
Again: you install a 35mm lens, select 35mm in the menu and the right framelines will be displayed so you don’t need to use the above table.
The only time where this field of view equivalence matters is when you come from film or other cameras using a 24x36 format. If you are a “50mm” person, then you will be looking to acquire a lens with the same field of view on Pixii. If you prefer a wider field of view, you can use a 28mm or 24mm lens to get something equivalent to a 35mm lens on film.
If you don’t have an existing preference about the field of view, don’t worry: Pixii will let you learn that the same way.
On Pixii, the viewfinder framelines can be displayed simply by switching a menu option. You don’t need to put a specific lens on the camera for its framelines to be displayed, like on a mechanical rangefinder.
The Pixii framelines are independently lit, by that we mean that only a single set of framelines is displayed at a time: the framelines for the 50mm focal length for example. The Pixii viewfinder will not be cluttered with other framelines like on a mechanical rangefinder (which is even more confusing for beginners than this focal equivalence discussion).
Hopefully, this gives you a clearer picture of how framelines work on Pixii and how simple it is to set the camera with a new lens.
Remember : if it says X on the lens, put X in the menu and the camera will display what makes sense. While on the field, you should just focus on what you see in the viewfinder.