Subal’s 45 degree viewfinder, WS-45, is based on Inon’s 45 degree viewfinder, but with a much more attractive finish and an optimised fit for Subal housings. The finish is also much higher quality than Subal’s GS viewfinder. The viewfinder is more expensive than the popular Inon viewfinder, but cheaper than others on the market such as the Seacam S45. One Seacam user on board, who shoots exclusively with the S45, commented that the Subal finder was “very nice indeed”.
The WS-45 was a new experience for me and unconvinced whether or not we would get along I brought a GS (enlarging, straight through) viewfinder with me too. As it turned out, I fully adapted to the WS-45 after about two diving days and was not tempted to replace it. I am not sure whether Subal recommends that users take their viewfinders on and off themselves, but it is very easy and I will always taken mine off for travel.
The viewfinder can be rotated through 180 degrees with bump stops every 90 degrees. It gives an excellent view of the whole image and also all the shooting data in the viewfinder. Compared with a straight viewfinder there are definitely positives and negatives, but I would stress that whichever you choose you will quickly adapt to its idiosyncrasies.
I found that the 45 degree angle caused me to slow down and to be more thoughtful in my compositions. The angle of view was excellent for shooting vertical and horizontal wide angle, and also for macro shots of creatures on the sand. This would be a great viewfinder in places such as Lembeh. I also suspect that this viewfinder will be particularly advantageous when diving in a drysuit, where your neck movements are restricted.
Compared with a straight viewfinder it makes switching between horizontal and vertical framing slower (because both the camera and then the viewfinder need to be rotated), which caused me to miss shots when subjects changed rapidly, such as a fish school morphing its shape. The other downside was in macro shooting with longer lenses, when photographing at high magnifications and/or with rapidly moving subjects. These subjects are definitely harder to initially locate with the viewfinder, as the angled view is always going to be less intuitive. Although once you have got them in the frame they are no more difficult to follow with the 45 degree finder.
Overall, the positives out weight the negatives and it got me shots that would have been tough without it. Whether the WS-45 is the viewfinder for you will depend on what you like to shoot, but once you have adapted to it I cannot imagine many people will regret the purchase.