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panospylar

Focusing question from guy new to the sport..

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((First of all, let me say that I have not bought my m9 yet. The funds are there, and i am planning to go ahead with the purchase in a couple of weeks time..))

 

I have been a boy of the digital era, as I was born in it (i'm in my early twenties). Photography has always been my passion. I started off with a nikon dslr (d200 and continued to a d700), and i have been building my lens collection for about five years now.

 

A couple of years back I was introduced to an m8, only shortly (in a shop for 5 mins), and fell in love with it.. The "leica bug" has been in me ever since. I finally made the decision to switch over to rangefinders but although i did some research, i still have some questions..

 

Now after this introduction i'll cut directly to the chase. My question is focus-related:

 

The "image overlay" window in the viewfinder is the small square in the middle, where you can judge if you are in focus or not. Doesn't that mean that you can only focus accurately on your subject, if it's in the middle of the frame? i.e. How can you focus on an object that is for example in the lower left part of the frame, by the time that there is no image overlay for that area of the viewfinder?

 

I am sincerely sorry if i am wasting your time with a question that could be trivial to most of you, but i tried to get my head around it and could not find an answer from common sense.

 

Best,

Panos

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Focus, reframe quickly, shoot. In the break in period you will likely see some shots that suffered from a lapse in this brief routine... no reframing... oooops! After a while it is second nature.

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The "image overlay" window in the viewfinder is the small square in the middle, where you can judge if you are in focus or not. Doesn't that mean that you can only focus accurately on your subject, if it's in the middle of the frame? i.e. How can you focus on an object that is for example in the lower left part of the frame, by the time that there is no image overlay for that area of the viewfinder?

 

hey - welcome!

I am 'old' having used rangefinders (not Leicas, that't what dad had

) and SLR's, and then DSLR's - still have my 5D

 

as mentioned, you focus on whatever (earring, pendant, nose, eyes) and then frame.

you may also (if in A = aperture mode) do a detour to meter a medium lit part. Practice and patience - and in the beginning, hey I do a lot of cropping and framing later on the computer too!

Lots to learn (for me) but I enjoy the journey and prefer the shooting style, and not having to lug around a heavy DSLR and big zoom (or heavy primes).

 

enjoy!

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The rangefinder can be used in two ways:

 

• Coincidence: Two partial images are brought to overlap. The overlapping is usually seen as a sudden increase in the contrast in the rangefinder patch.

 

• Split image: Focus on a contour that is roughly parallel with the short side of the image format. When the line does not break where it passes the border between patch and larger finder image, you have focus.

 

Coincidence is quick and dirty, and I use it mainly with standard and wide angle lenses. Split image (or 'vernier') is more exact and I prefer it for my 90mm and 135mm lenses. The rest is a matter of self-training. With a digital M, feedback is instant and free. Use it.

 

A useful trick is to always return the focus setting to infinity when breaking off shooting. This way, when you start the focusing movement again, you always start in the same direction, which saves a lot of time and back-and-forthing.

 

Most pros always focus with the camera horizontal, then turn the camera for vertical pictures. Sometimes, of course, you must split-image focus on a horizontal line ... but that's the exception.

 

The old man from Leica III Days

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Hi

 

No autofocus button or similar options.

In '30 the lenses were only razor sharp on axis, and not very wide, the ISO slow...

So the style was interest on axis...

If you are going in close (say 1.5m) e.g. for a friendly peck (kiss) then you need to prefocus, and duck after wards, if either party unfriendly.

Different style of shooting, different picture.

Today fast wides, performance into corner, allow darker...

 

Noel

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As George says -- focus, reframe, shoot. BUt there are various ways that you can work with the limitations of the rangefinder technique and turn them to your advantage. You can pre-focus, for example, using any one of a number of approaches. Focus on something that is close to where the main subject is or is likely to be. Zone focus -- use an aperture and lens that will give you sufficient depth of field and focus accordingly -- the wider the lens and the smaller the aperture, the more forgiving the DOF will be as regards your focusing errors.

 

Any and all of these approaches will help you use a manual focus rangefinder camera more quickly and comfortably until the inherent limitations do become second nature and you work with them, even turning some of them (all the various pre-focusing tricks, for instance) to your advantage.

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The "image overlay" window in the viewfinder is the small square in the middle, where you can judge if you are in focus or not. Doesn't that mean that you can only focus accurately on your subject, if it's in the middle of the frame? i.e. How can you focus on an object that is for example in the lower left part of the frame, by the time that there is no image overlay for that area of the viewfinder?

 

 

Best,

Panos

 

You just need to point in the direction you want. Then you focus using either contrast method (for speed) and if you feel that everything ill be in focus or that DoF will help you, or use the other method of finding and coinciding vertical lines.

Don't forget to also "sample" the scene for exposure locking too, since these cameras meter in the center.

If you want to take a vertical shot, first focus horizontal then turn the camera and shoot

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I am sincerely sorry if i am wasting your time with a question that could be trivial to most of you, but i tried to get my head around it and could not find an answer from common sense.

 

 

When you waste our time, we are to blame ourselves

Questions are always good. Welcome too!

 

And, with all respect of course to those Forum members that have already answered, this Forum has a good FAQ section, and this answer seems almost as if immediately directed at you! : http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/leica-m9-forum/130720-m9-faqs-frequently-asked-questions-answers.html#post1378521

 

But indeed: once you have focused on your subject you can frame it as you wish: the lenses are not autofocus and their setting can only be changed by you!

Edited by vanhulsenbeek

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Guest #12
...

Most pros always focus with the camera horizontal, then turn the camera for vertical pictures. Sometimes, of course, you must split-image focus on a horizontal line ... but that's the exception.

...

 

This seems the opposite of professional to me--maybe I am missing something. There seems to be just as many horizontal lines as vertical in the world. There is not really time to focus in one orientation and shoot in another.

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As George says -- focus, reframe, shoot. Once you've got the hang of that, it's very fast and you control the focus point not the camera AF. Very soon, though, you'll be asking what to do about exposure metering under difficult conditions, say a your perfect model against a bright sky. The exposure priority mode setting gives you a good starting point, but after you check the image (it's digital) and find out she's silhouetted against the sky, you're going to have to change the exposure. The quickest way to do it was briefly mentioned above. Keep the same focus, rapidly expose on the forground which will open up the aperture slightly and produce the balanced exposure you need. Check the information about the image when you get the exposure set. Keep using that exposure. It shows inside the viewfinder of the camera. If necessary, do what I just did inside the dark blue mosque in Turkey. Go off of aperture priority to totally manual use. Keep the (in this case) wide open aperture (f1.4 Lux) and fix the shutter speed at 1/60 or 1/90. Relax and take the photos you want at the one of the two that looks the best and has the best histogram. If undecided and there's time, bracket manually: shoot it at 1/60 then quickly again at 1/90. Decide which one is better in photoshop when you get home. I suppose you could bracket automatically, the M9 has that capacity. But I thought the manual bracketing worked fine. Sometimes the first shutter speed looks great so you don't bother. This means you won't be piling up a bunch of unnecessary bracketed images on you memory card, a serious issue with the M9. By the way, I just taught myself how to do this on my last trip because it became necessary. When you do this, however, I learned the hard way that you cannot set the camera on auto ISO and do all of this manually. It will change your ISO and make all the manual settings you've established useless. So, pick the lowest ISO that works in a particular situation and then follow the steps above. Or buy a digital SLR camera, keep it on automatic, and autobracket like crazy. The Leica M9 is just as quick once you get used to it. The digital feature means it's extremely easy to practice and learn new things quickly. So, let's see, it's (initial frame) focus, reframe, shoot, adjust exposure, reshoot. Reshoot twice if you need to bracket the exposure by using two or more shutter speeds to give yourself a choice of images when you get home.

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Hey Panos,

 

Thanks for asking this question. I am in a similar position to you and this has been something I have also been wondering. Need to find some time to get to my dealer and try the M9 out

 

Simon

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This seems the opposite of professional to me--maybe I am missing something. There seems to be just as many horizontal lines as vertical in the world. There is not really time to focus in one orientation and shoot in another.

 

Ask the pros. That's an empirical fact. I can't help it.

 

The old man

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Guest #12
Ask the pros. That's an empirical fact. I can't help it.

 

The old man

 

what say you, pros?

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Guest #12
...

Most pros always focus with the camera horizontal, then turn the camera for vertical pictures. Sometimes, of course, you must split-image focus on a horizontal line ... but that's the exception.

...

 

 

 

Ask the pros. That's an empirical fact. I can't help it.

 

The old man

 

I did finally find a source for this: vernier acuity is different for vertical and horizontal edges

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I did finally find a source for this: vernier acuity is different for vertical and horizontal edges

 

By the way, a very helpful tip that I read from someones post about another topic in another thread is one that I have not heard or read anyone say before and that is to turn your camera on its axis at 45 degrees if you are faced with a horizontal line as your only focus point.

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