The Alpha 580 – a three-way view
Once I had a quarterplate hand-and-stand camera, vintage 1920s. Attached to the front standard was a small reflex viewfinder, giving a miniature composition you could use at waist or chest level. On the same standard was a folding wire frame, with a companion eye-sighting window flipping up from the side of the body. This gave a direct view from eye level. But for the most accurate framing and focusing, a groundglass screen at back could be used with the shutter open and a viewing hood folded out.
Those three ways of viewing have never been available in a modern SLR. Until now! The Alpha 580 (for which you can also read 560 throughout this review, give or take the sensor) is the first modern SLR to offer three entirely different viewfinder systems, all with their own unique focus and exposure methods. There have been cameras made by Alpa and Praktina which had optical finders tucked in alongside their pentaprism, and Rollei invented a finder which could switch from eye-level to waist level at the flick of a lever. But the Alpha 580 offers three through-the-lens systems and it’s unlikely any DSLR will do so again.
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