Shoot on the sly with this sneaky 180-degree mirror finder; all you need is a camera with a 3-inch LCD
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, a company called Spiratone advertised a lens attachment that screwed into the filter ring of a moderate telephoto lens (135mm was ideal). It was a tube with a mirror in it, so when you were pointing the camera one way, you actually were photographing something (or someone) 90 degrees to the right or left. To the casual observer, it looked like a regular telephoto lens. It was called the “Girl Watcher Lens.” Both it and the company are long gone (although this lens attachment is very similar), and as a civilization has evolved since then, and…and…
…oh, heck. There are still those among us who like to photograph on the sly, and they'll flip over the FlipBac—an updated, digital analog to the legendary Spiratone Girl Watcher. The FlipBac Angle Viewfinder adheres to almost any 3-inch LCD monitor. You can shoot from the hip and get the entire image displayed on the LCD reflected towards you from up to a 180-degree viewing angle.
And there are many legitimate uses for the FlipBac (far be it from me to encourage voyeurism!). If you are trying to take a picture over the heads of a crowd, simply hold the camera upside down and shoot away. You can shoot around corners, or do macro photography of flowers while placing the camera in hard-to-get-to locations, for example. The mirror flips out both horizontally and vertically thanks to a dual-hinge design, which gives you many more shooting angles to choose from.
The FlipBac will work with most cameras that have 3-inch LCD monitors, although it might be a tight fit on some Panasonic models with 16:9 format screens, because the FlipBac is designed for 3:2 aspect ratio screens.
The one downside to the FlipBac is that once you have affixed it to your monitor, it is meant to stay there. You can take it off but it’s tricky because the adhering material is strong, and if you don’t do it right, you can damage the FlipBac and possibly (but much less likely) the LCD.
How to put the FlipBack on a camera: The Video (What’s up with that jazzed-up version of “Mack The Knife?”)
How to remove the FlipBack (Watch carefully; it’s tricky!)