A Quick Way to Make Focusing a Rangefinder Easier By Brad Husick

A Quick Way to Make Focusing a Rangefinder Easier

By Brad Husick

The other day I thought I had invented something new but it turns out that’s pretty hard in the photographic world. After doing some research it turns out that way back in the pre-war days of the Leica II and III series cameras Leica offered a small accessory (ORAKO) that matched the function of my “new” idea. Essentially it was a small round colored filter (yellow, orange or red) that you screwed into the front of the rangefinder patch window. It made the patch a different color from the rest of the viewfinder and improved contrast in many situations. You can still buy them on Ebay for about $100 but they only fit the II, III and IIIa cameras.

Since modern Leica rangefinder cameras have 1) a rectangular patch and 2) no threads there, I decided to try a DIY solution. I purchased a set of lighting gels from Amazon

(link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002GW000/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1)

for $4 and cut a small rectangle from the yellow gel. If you cut it just smaller than the rangefinder patch you can add a drop of lens cleaner and it will stick there. If you cut it too large the flange around the patch will cause it to sit just a little to proud and it won’t stick. I cut mine to be 9mm x 5mm.

I have found that this really makes focusing a lot easier in almost any situation. I am including a photo taken with my iPhone through the rangefinder on my Monochorm. You can see in the center of the frame there is a brass striker plate on the edge of my office door that clearly shows up in yellow in the rangefinder patch.

This package of gels includes yellow, green, red and blue gels in 7″ x 7″ size – enough for 50 people’s lifetimes of this use, so share with your friends who live close by.

I hope you enjoy this DIY.

-Brad Husick


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  1. Fantastic knowledge transfer Brad! I much prefer this than having the entire viewfinder yellow. After all, if the point is to increase contrast, it makes much more sense for not everything to have the same tone.

    Best regards

  2. I’ve just quickly tried it on my M6 and haven’t noticed much improvement with yellow or orange gel. However red gel seems to be working quite well for me 🙂

  3. A couple of small corrections: Brad’s correct in saying the ORAKO only fits the early screwmount cameras – II, III, IIIa – but IIc, IIf, IIIc and IIIf users can use the later OKARO. Both are press-fit, not screw in, and are placed over the window for the rangefinder, not the rangefinder patch. Putting it over the patch’s window makes focusing more difficult, not easier. The aim was to artificially darken the area around the patch and change its colour to make the (now brighter) patch much easier to see. To replicate the effect on an M or any other camera with a combined viewfinder and rangefinder, you need to put the coloured gel on the front of the viewfinder window, not the rangefinder patch.

    Some people have even taken to obscuring the center of their viewfinder with a black sharpie if the patch is fading, but I’d never recommend that!

    • Thanks for the comments. I’d prefer not to have the whole viewfinder appear yellow. The patch works better for me.

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