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meakai

Matching lens to camera

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I have Inconsistent focusing with a 90 mm Elmarit I just bought. Can it be adjusted to match my camera? If so, will that throw my other lenses off?

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It is mostly the camera (if it's not you), but to be sure you must send the camera with all your lenses, Leica will advise you so if you call them about this.

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Otto, thank you. I hope it's me because that would be an easier fix. However, I seem to be able to focus my others lenses okay.

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If you do not look straight into the viewfinder you can already get deviations. If you always shoot 50mm or wider a flaw from you or the camera can come out now, using your 90. I always use a loop with the 90, 1.25 or 1.4 *, because then you can only look straight in the viewfinder

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mea, you say you have inconsistencies in focusing.

 

I don't see how that could be either the lens or the camera.

 

What do you mean by inconsistencies?

 

The lens and camera connect rather firmly, so any problem originating in either of them should be consistent.

Edited by ho_co

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Howard, it's probably just me and my failing eyes. However, I read another thread where they discussed the importance of matching your lens to the camera. I just thought maybe...

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Due to the crop factor and relatively low finder magnification, faster than 90/4 lenses are not that easy to focus at wide aperture on the M8 (even worst on the R-D1). I would use an eyepiece correction lens, if you need one, or a magnifier in the first place.

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mea, my eyes aren't as good as they used to be, either.

 

The camera and all lenses should be matched to a standard setting at the factory and shouldn't need later corrections. And generally speaking, a 90/2.8 isn't fast enough to need to be calibrated to the camera.

 

In the case of some fast lenses (f/1.4 and faster) there have been cases where a couple different things have happened:

  • Sometimes, a lens isn't quite matched to its mount, and the residual spherical aberration becomes a problem for some users.
  • Sometimes, a person prefers that such a lens should be set up differently than the way Leica intends.
  • There was at least one case where in trying to diagnose a problem with a specific lens, a forum member uncovered the fact that a number of samples of a particular lens had left the factory improperly adjusted.

There are also cases where a user has so much trouble with his lenses that Leica may want to get the body and all the lenses to be sure that they are all consistently adjusted.

 

The fact is that the digital sensor requires closer adjustment than was necessary for film.

 

But none of that should apply to a 90/2.8. I mention it only as background.

 

If a lens is "inconsistent," it's probably the user. A lens would always be off the same amount in the same situation, say, misfocusing by three inches at a distance of three feet.

 

My guess is that one of a couple things are at fault.

 

It could be sloppiness on your part in getting the focus right. That could come from not being able to see well enough, or it could come from not handling the camera and its focusing properly.

 

It could also be movement, either camera movement or subject movement. Because of a tremor, for example, I need to keep shutter speeds much higher than the rule of thumb says. A slower shutter speed that is adequate for wide-angles won't work as well with a 90mm because of its greater magnification. The same movement of the subject or of the camera might show as noticeable unsharpness on the 90, but look acceptably sharp with a wideangle.

 

Have you read the M9 FAQ (http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/leica-m9-forum/130720-m9-faqs-frequently-asked-questions.html)? There's a lot of basic knowledge collected there, that might trip something in your mind; it's a good place to start troubleshooting. The M9 is about the same as the M8 in regard to most of the questions there.

 

A general rule is that if nothing in a picture is sharp, it's because of motion. If something is sharp, but not what you wanted, then the camera was mis-focused.

 

The digital cameras are a bit harder to focus than the film cameras, because the M8 and M9 viewfinders have a smaller magnification than the film cameras had. That makes it harder to line things up accurately, just because the image is smaller; and it actually slightly reduces the focusing accuracy of the camera because of the slight reduction in "effective measuring base length" of the rangefinder. The M8/M9 are still accurate, but require a bit more care than the earlier cameras. Leica also offers finder magnifiers to increase the focusing accuracy by enlarging the image we're looking at.

 

However, none of that should come into play with a 90/2.8.

 

Check out the FAQ. And if you still have questions or problems, maybe the best thing would be to post an example image or two.

 

 

 

 

EDIT: See, while I was typing and chattering on, lct jumped in ahead of me, with good advice offered a lot more compactly than I've done.

 

lct feels that a lens faster than 90/4 can be a problem; I'd put the limit at faster than 90/2.8. But when we're talking about a 90mm lens, we're definitely at the place where technique is quite important.

Edited by ho_co

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Thanks to all for your help, and thank you, Howard, for the very comprehensive explanation. Since my go-to lens has been my 35mm and an occasional 21mm, I probably have been getting away with some pretty sloppy focusing. I didn't think to check if everything was out of focus (duh). I think in my case failing eyes is a contributor, but camera movement is probably the biggest cause. I do have a few photos that came out very sharpe, and that has been very satisfying. I think with a little work I'll be able to be more consistent. Thanks.

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Focusing longer-than-50mm lenses is a trial with RFs. There is a reason why most pros who shot Leica back in the 60s used their Ms for wide-angles and carried a Nikon for 85, 105, and longer.

 

The basic fact - A rangefinder has a fixed precison which (in the case of the Ms) is vast overkill for wides, but not always sufficient for teles (without an add-on magnifier). Whereas SLRs have a precison that varies directly with focal length, making them tricky to focus with wides, but easier to focus with the built-in magnification of a longer lens.

 

A corollary to that: Can your 90 be adjusted to your camera? Yes. Or - you can try a bunch of 90s until you find one that just naturally is "happy" with your camera body.

 

The late rock music and Leica photographer Jim Marshall used to say that when he found a telephoto that worked well on one of his cameras, he never took it off that body again (which explains the picture of him at Woodstock - carrying 6-7 Leicas, one for each focal length).

 

That's how I shop for Leica M teles - I try the exact individual lens (or several) on my camera and only buy it if it focuses correctly right off the bat.

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Thanks Andy. I doubt that I would have been able to recognize the "happy" marriage of camera and lens due to my limited experience with Leicas. I'd give anything to own a couple more Leicas because I hate changing lenses. I appreciate your advice very much and look forward to the time when I can approach my purchases with more knowledge based on real experience.

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I recently had a focus error with my 90/2.0. I tested it all out, because I felt very sure that it was not my fault. It turned out that nothing was wrong with my lens/camera. Later I realized that I shot the picture with the focus error at -5 degree C and that I did the test at + 20 degree C.

Now I wonder how can a rangefinder, given the nature of the system with different sorts of metal and glass acting together to determine the distance, ever be consistent with large differences in temperature?

R tele-lenses have built-in space left to focus past infinity, this is because the metal can expand in high temperatures and given the probable use of them in safari's etc., Leica did a smart job to build in this play. So why wouldn't an M-system not react to temperature?

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Otto, it's a good question and one that has been raised a couple times on the forum.

 

In fact, I would bet that if you repeated the experiment at a lower temperature, you'd find no deviation in the rangefinder accuracy. I don't know anything about materials science, but I seem to recall a rather complete explanation on the forum of how the M focusing mechanism has been designed not to deviate noticeably over any "normal" temperature range. -5° C is nowhere near an extreme temperature for the M.

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Oh thanks Howard I didn't notice this explanation on the forum. At least we can sleep better when we know it's our own fault

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