Home Accessories Come back Visoflex 2, (almost) all is forgiven…

Come back Visoflex 2, (almost) all is forgiven…

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When I first saw a picture of Leica’s new box-car Visolfex 2 I was less than enthusiastic. Ugly duckling was my first reaction. Now, having attached the new viewfinder to my (black) M11, I have almost changed my mind. Sure, it ain’t pretty. But Leica’s designers have done a good job in addressing the shortcomings of its predecessor.

The immediate impression on handling the Visoflex 2 is that this is a quality piece of work. It is solid and thoroughly functional. The all-metal body is superbly crafted and the tilting operation is precise. Not only does it click firmly into place at 45 and 90-deg angles, but it also stays put on its base when closed, thanks to two magnets.

The boxy metal housing definitely grows on you. When mounted, the Visoflex 2 becomes a solid part of the camera rather than a flimsy and easily dislodged accessory. It closes firmly, thanks to the two magnets, and clicks datisfyingly into 45 and 90-degree angles.
The boxy metal housing definitely grows on you. When mounted, the Visoflex 2 becomes a solid part of the camera rather than a flimsy and easily dislodged accessory. It closes firmly, thanks to the two magnets, and clicks satisfyingly into 45 and 90-degree angles.

But for me, the greatest attraction is the way the unit locks into place on the hot-shoe. There is absolutely no chance of it sliding off (and getting lost) as was the danger with previous designs. It clicks home and required a very strong push to dislodge the slider when you decide to remove the unit. The large diopter adjustment wheel is firm in operation and is unlikely to be moved inadvertently.

The 3.7MP display is very similar to that of the Q2 but inferior to the finder in the SL2 which is one of the best on the market. Note the large, firm diopter adjuster.
The 3.7MP display is very similar to that of the Q2 but inferior to the finder in the SL2 which is one of the best on the market. Note the large, firm diopter adjuster.

The ergonomics of the viewfinder, therefore, are excellent. When mounted on the camera, the Visoflex 2 looks and feels like it is a permanent fixture rather than an accessory. And the boxy design is growing on me. I now think it complements the M body.

So far I can make no judgements on the operation, however. It has the same 3.7MP resolution as the viewfinder of the Q2 and I would expect similar performance. Strangely, the characters of the data display, when selected, are larger than those in the Q2 finder. In this respect, the Q2 finder is closer in layout and appearance to the finder of the SL2. However, the SL2 viewfinder with its 5.76 million dots is clearly in a different class.

All images, Leica Camera AG

All in all, the Visoflex 2 is a step in the right direction and, for the moment, I am keeping it on the M11 for experimental purposes. I still prefer rangefinder focusing on the M lenses, but the larger image of the Visoflex and the ability to monitor exposure add another dimension.

What’s your view? Do you think the Visoflex 2 is pretty, or just functional? Do you welcome this improved EVF or are you a died-in-the-wool rangefinder focuser?


33 COMMENTS

  1. I like the Visoflex 2. In fact I like it a lot more than it’s predecessor. I prefer the shape and I much prefer the image quality. Most important of all, I hated using the old Visoflex because, like you Mike, I was sure it would either break or fall off. Not much chance of either with the new one.

    I can see myself using the Visoflex much more in its latest iteration, especially for longer lenses. And I’m really looking forward to the firmware update that will let me use it on my M10M as well as the M11.

  2. Being a M10 Mono user and having already bought the Visoflex 2, I do look forward to the firmware upgrade (promised in March) hopefully enabling my use of the Visoflex 2.

  3. The more I look at this Visoflex 2, and the images of it on a camera, the more I am convinced an EVF version of this camera (or better, this sized camera) will be produced. It may have an M mount, but would probably be better served by having an L mount.
    And this Visoflex 2 could be a nice accessory for it, allowing shooting from interesting angles without Leica having to resort to a tilt-able LCD screen.

    Starting to save my pennies now…

    • Leica should be able to do a nice flush tilt-able LCD screen. I just received the Fujifilm X100V after 2 years of pondering. Should have pulled trigger 2 years ago. The tilt-able LCD is flush with the rear of the camera and very thin – brilliant. It now provides compact tilt-able services for my M and SL system.

      Life is good.

  4. I think back to all the beautifully designed pentaprism housings of the slr era and wonder if Leica could have done better. It’s similar to buying a car that has great handling and sub par styling, once you get into it the styling isn’t as important.

  5. This looks like a great option. I am thinking about it for my truly lovely M10 M for special occasions.

  6. By the way, I have read a review where the M11 goes into deep freezer mode if you attach an uncoded lens and do not pick a lens in the menu. Have you tried this “feature” out. If true, what is Leica doing?

  7. Even in the versatile hybrid Fuji system, I got fed up of the duality ending using just ovf nearly always. You loose concentration, distracting in the superfluous.

    • M system was developed for acting accurate and fast. For say studio portraits, landscape or astrophotography there were always better cameras

  8. I don’t think I would but an M11 and THEN buy a viewfinder. I need some money for fish’n’chips with scraps and mushy peas. Even a Leica man has got to eat.

    • Absolutely. Also if saving the money of the visoflex you can buy self help books and then know much about how to become say an Olympus guy

  9. Hi, does anyone know how well the evf works on an m camera for a 90mm lens. Is it hard to use due to no image due to shake of image>

    • I hate auto correct it is my worst enema. My prior post got muddled somehow. I was wondering if trying to manual focus with the evf with a 90mm on a m10 high resolution camera was easy or is it unpleasant due to camera movements?

      • I haven’t used the new Visoflex 2 (for the M11) on an M10, but I do use my (previous) Visoflex 020 (for the M10) on an M10, and it IS “..unpleasant due to camera movements..” with a 90mm lens ..especially when zoomed in all the way for maximum accuracy, but not bad when zoomed out, at zero magnification.

        The M11, though, has some built-in stabilisation for the rear screen and Visoflex 2 (..that’s the camera, not the Visoflex itself..) so the zoomed-in results with a 90mm lens are far less jerky than on an M10. The EVF is stable during small movements, and then gives a bit of a jerk if you move rather more ..like the early electronic stabilisation in video cameras. Well worth having the V2 for the M11 for longer lenses like an 90mm!

        • I understand that the Visoflex 2 does not operate at full resolution on the M10. I read that somewhere and it is worth checking.

          • ..ah, but it’s not called the VF1 ..it is, confusingly, and looking at mine, called the Visoflex 020.

          • Yes, I know, I used that for convenience. They should have thought ahead. Look at the M240 — that was supposed to be the M in the hope that no one would notice upgrades in the future. So now we call it the M240 which was never intended!

          • Thanks all the same, but I did once look at the M240, but chose to not look at one ever again!

    • Hi David,
      I received one of the first M240 cameras in Canada. It was the worst camera purchase I have ever done. Luckily, they were in extremely short supply at the time and there were significant price increases after so I did not lose any significant $ for my mistake.

      Cheers, Brian

  10. Just noticed this. The last two electronic viewfinders for the M series were woeful. The one for the M10 kept swivelling upwards of its own accord, so I added Blu Tack to keep it down. I see that this new one has a magnet to make it behave itself. I rarely use the EVFs anyway as the whole point behind an M rangefinder is to use the OVF and the framelines in order to make framing decisions. I have put back my order for an M11 until after I have an operation on my right (focussing) eye. I still haven’t decided whether to order the new EVF. I don’t even have a Leica dealer here in Dublin now to try one out. Maybe when I am in Wetzlar in June I might take a look at it.

    William

  11. I’ve had an interesting journey with the Visoflex 2. Lucky enough to pick up my M11 on launch day, I also grabbed a Visoflex 2 which lasted precisely 10 minutes before plunging into darkness. It just stopped working plain and simple. Being a new camera in very short supply, I couldn’t get a replacement quickly, it took about 6 weeks. I like shooting the WATE lens, so I was a little bit miffed about it. After being utterly spoiled with the EVF on the SL platform, I was really looking forward to this.

    Long story short, I received my replacement as soon as it came into the UK and was back up and running. I like to shoot with the rangefinder mostly, but the VF2 is a huge improvement over the M10 version and essential for framing super-wide shots at 16-21mm.

    Most notable for me, is that it no longer covers the shutter speed dial, which is hard enough to see in low-light on a silver M. I shoot manually and by use of the meter, but occasionally I want o set the camera up, ahead of firing it so this was annoying with the 020. Black ones are easier to read, but also made of aluminium 🙂

    Continuing some work on one of my personal projects, I spend a very windy few days on a couple of beaches during storm Eunice, capturing moving sands and weather behaving badly. At the end of the day, there was this black mark in the display about the size and shape of a fruit fly. I actually thought a bit of sand had got into the VF. I couldn’t see any way in at all, not any means to hit it with an air-blower. Shaking, tapping etc, did nothing to dislodge the offending item which turned out to be a small piece of plastic scarf, from inside the unit.

    Whilst not affecting operation of the VF, it was highly distracting and very disappointing. I have an severe intolerance to kit failure, sort of two strikes and you’re out. My Leica dealer was nothing but apologetic, sympathetic and supporting, clearly not to blame either but also unable to get a 3rd replacement quickly due to global supply chain issues, so rather than continue using it, I dumped it in a camera bag and went back to just using the rangefinder.

    I spent a long time perfecting rangefinder use, and I find it therapeutic and rewarding, so the VF2 kind of did me a favour and sent me back to my roots. I had a call 2 days ago, to let me know that my 3rd replacement VF2 has arrived.

    Not sure where these things are made, but I wondered if anyone else has had such issues with quality control as I? Thankfully the camera is performing flawlessly which is a relief.

    I kind of feel that when the new one arrives, I should either leave it in the box and not use it, or take it out and soak test it before the warranty runs out.

  12. I have one on order for a few weeks. I asked my camera store why is there a wait as you would think these would be made in a significant large batch. The camera store person told me they have had a number of buyers return them due to dust being in the viewfinder. They are going to inspect mine before shipping it. She laughed when I asked if I would be getting an open box discount. She told me they had dust in the viewfinder without being used.

  13. Can you view the EVF from your waist, like a Hasselblad, or is it only a tiltable eyepiece? And I’ll echo the other posters in asking, ‘what exactly is so difficult about putting on a high quality tiltable rear screen?’ I’ve gotten pretty good at shooting from the hip without looking at the back of the camera, but it would be that much easier, Leica, if I could.

    • To answer your question DrDave, it’s only a tiltable eyepiece with notched detents at 45 & 90 degrees, so, not visible when shooting from the waist. It’s also got a sensor for when the eye is in front of it.

  14. Reading its technical specification, there is no mention of the GPS sensor that was incorporated on the previous “Visioflex (020)” so it’s not just ugly it also has dropped a very useful feature.

  15. You’ll want the Visoflex 2 for its metal housing. I just trashed the plastic housing of a Visoflex Typ 020 by dropping it today. Still functions, but flat front plastic broke off and the rest cracked.

  16. I hate when things do not survive fairly normal use. I haven’t shot with a Leica since my M3 days (in the ’70s), where I used the classic Visoflex and a 400mm …

    Anyway, eventually, I ended up with some Nikon 1 gear, and while the lenses have mechanical faults built-in (three lenses have no issues, the rest have severe ones due to a bad design choice).

    Enough of that! The cameras are amazing, not least the first and the last, the V1 and the J5 (the V stands for a viewfinder, the J for ‘basic’, so it lacks a viewfinder, sadly there was never a V5).

    The V1 was intended as a small mirrorless camera for pros, so it shares the battery with most of Nikon’s pro (and semi-pro) cameras. The J5 was a basic model without a viewfinder using a sensor very much like the one you’ll find used by the Sony RX series.

    A lovely little camera the V1 is, built like a Leica, and optically the lenses vary from really good to outstanding, like the 32/1.2 and the 70-300 CX, both being better than almost anything similar on the market.

    Due to various problems, Nikon hastily closed down its operations in China and with that buried the Nikon 1 line, while the designers were moved to the group that later designed the Z line of cameras and lenses, borrowing a lot of techniques from the Nikon 1 line, from the focusing system to their looks.

    Anyway, the three lenses that are mechanically faultless are the 6.7-13, the 10-30 PD, and the 70-300 CX.

    I just use my V1 for my own pleasure and as yet I have snapped soon 30,000 shots with it! Unique, compared to the rest of the Nikon 1 bodies, it had a mechanical and an electronic shutter, so you can choose which one you prefer.

    Like some Leicas, it is fantastic when shooting in B&W, its ‘grain’ looks very much like the Tri-X’s grain. I used that so much in the ’70s, not least with the Leica, but also with my Minox 35s!

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