Info: Left-eyed or right-eyed

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Are you left eyed or right eyed? The majority of people are right-eyed but a good minority are left-eyed. This is significant since many cameras are designed for right-eyed (and right-handed) people. For example, older manual Nikon SLR cameras required the wind lever to pulled slightly backward for the meter to turn on. If you were left-eyed, the extended wind lever would poke you in the (right) eye and turn off. Most other manual-wind cameras are difficult for left-eyed people to cock the shutter without taking their eye away from the finder although some rangefinders have rapidwinders (Leica M) or trigger-winders (Canonet 19; Zorki 10) that are useful for left-eyed people.

How can you tell if you are left or right-eyed? Most people know because one eye is more comfortable than the other in monocular vision. But some left-eyed people have been forced to use their subordinate right eye by recalcitrant photography teachers. Here's a simple test:

Point at something far away with your index finger. Then close your left eye, open it, then close your right eye.

With one of your eyes, your index finger will still be pointed at the object. With the other one, your index finger will "jump" and point slightly to the left or right.

The eye where your finger remains constantly pointing at the target is your dominant eye.

A lot of photographers are left-eyed. I'm not sure if there's any correlation with artistic sense (as with left-handed people), but then again I'm right-eyed and prejudiced anyway. ;-) <- winking with my right eye.

If you are left-eyed or know of cameras that are left-eye (or left-hand) friendly, post your comments below.


I'm left-eye with SLR, right eye with rangefinders unless I shoot in vertical framing. I find I am only relatively comfortable with Nikon HP finders and those cameras with grips with _both_ sides shutter buttons.

If people who can use both hands are ambidextrous, what are people who can use both eyes? Ambinocular?

Which cameras support shutter buttons on both sides? Some of the older cameras (Practicas?) had shutter releases on the left side, but I don't know which ones had ones on both sides?

If that fingerpointing test is right, I'm leftie, but M's are a pain for lefties so I used myself to use the right eye with them.

About the both sides shutter releases, once I saw a F4 with a large grip and two buttons, one in each side. Can't tell if it's a custom bulit one or anything else, but i tought : that's great! ;)

Hm. So which way do you turn your camera when you shoot vertically? I do a lot of vertical-format shooting, and that makes a rapidwinder sound like a good idea to me. I'm always whacking my forehead or cheek with the winding lever.

I guess I mostly tend to turn the camera counter-clockwise, to put the shutter button on the top. Then it sort of hangs off my right hand.

vertically, left eye, shutter button down.
Never tried the rapidwinder, but I dont find it useful enough in this position.

Thanks for the acknowledgement of the left-eye dominant problem. Alway a nuisance - I am one of the pariahs in question, although I am right handed (strongly). I had my eyes lasered a few years ago and thought that I'd be able to switch afterwards but, through sheer chance, my left eye ended up stronger than my right afterwards (+0.25 against +0.5). The opthalmologist claimed that was 20/20 equivalent but as a photographer, I thought that claim risible.
Anyway, I liked the old Leica M3 becuse you could do the both eyes open trick - right eye to the finder and left eye open gave the effect of a floating frame-line in your vision. Very nice. That finder was 0.92X magnification which made it possible. The new (Cosina) Voigtlander Bessa 3a has a true 1.0x finder which makes it even better for this trick and, coupled with the base mount trigger winder, you don't get eye-stick either way.
Digital cameras don't have a wind lever but they do have a zoom lever or button which is often in exactly the same position or failing that, a feature selection button of some type. If you are using the viewfinder on an EVF body, it's a possible problem. I've just written reviews on several superzooms and the Kodak P850 was impossible to operate without getting my thumb in my eye. Best in this regard by far was the Canon S2 IS which has a front mounted, two speed zoom lever, a far superior design (and a better quality image and build too). It has a four-way rocker switch on the top left of the back but this doesn't seem to get in the way much for me.
Also some of the the Panasonic FZ models or the new Samsung Pro815 have finder thrown way over to the left and the problem is nose prints on the screen. Ugly. With my Canon 10D, I bought an eyepiece extender to avoid this problem (EP-EX15). Much better.
Anyone trying a digital camera in a store who is left-eye dominant should nake sure that they will not have a problem when using the viewfinder (if it has one). There's nothing worse than going for the finder on a sunny day and discovering that it is a pain to use.

Oh, and on your test - I have trouble with it as I am either focussing on my finger and thetarget is doubled or on the target and my figeris doubled - doesn't work for me. I used to test other people by handing them a tube, like the one you get in the middle of a toilet or paper towel roll and asking them to look at something through it. It will go up to their preferred eye immediately. Doesn't work on yourself as you are self conscious, but surely any person who uses an optical device like a camera regularly will just know which eye they prefer, especially if, like me, they are strongly dominant to one side.

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This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on June 6, 2005 11:17 AM.

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