Leica M Viewfinder Frame Illuminator

Aug 29, 2018  By Richard Rejino

Every once in a while I come across something new, where I feel to slap my head saying, “Why haven’t I thought of that?”

Such was the case when I received an email from Don Goldberg of DAG fame.  Every Leica shooter short of the Leica M 240 and all the M cameras thereafter possibly has been in a situation where the lighting conditions were so low that the frame lines in the viewfinder where hard to see.  We just had to live with that, until now anyway.

Don has designed a small, compact illumination device that attaches to the accessory shoe of the camera.  A hinged flap in front allows it to be put in front of the illuminator window of the camera, where a battery-powered light will greatly brighten the frame lines.

Photos were taken through the camera viewfinder with a cell phone

Don Wrote: I had this idea for over 30 years but making it would have cost too much money. Now that the Chinese are making inexpensive electronics its economically feasible to make, however, machining the parts do take a while. The only way to really making this profitable is to have a plastic molding company make up the molds to produce molded parts so all I’d do is to screw everything together. The cost to have this done would be around $12,000.00.  Two photos attached are views inside the Frame-Lighter. The result of the Frame-Lighter is just like what you see in the Leica M240 and cameras made after that (including the M10) which all have LED illuminated framelines.  The Frame-Lighter is of course best to use in dim lighting, however its also good in normal lighting as well. The button on top triggers the LED light to go on. I have it set for about a minute, there’s a small hole in the back that leads to an adjustment screw for changing the time delay for the light to stay on, counter-clockwise gives you less time & clockwise gives you more time. Runs on 1  3volt  DR-1/3N battery which is very common.

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Richard Rejino
Richard is the Executive Director of LHSA - The International Leica Society and a part-time professional photographer. He is also a classically trained pianist, writer and published author. His book, "What Music Means to Me" is available from Hal Leonard Corporation.

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