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Focus adjustment Odyssey


jpk
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I got a M type 240 (mint but used) which already was 2 times at Leica Germany (along with lenses and my version 1 Monochrom) for focus adjustment. Altogether I could not use the M type 240 during 119 days of the 8 months I owned it. So it was only 50% of the owning time in use of which half of the time the focus was mis-adjusted. The other half the focus was right but the RF-patch was off. So basically 100% of the time I owned the 240 it was not working to specification.

I bought the M type 240 because I could not rely on my version 1 Monochrom which was 9 times at Leica Germany since I bought it brand new end of 2012. Because of this I had it 485 days not in use, thats about 16 months of the 34 months I owned it, in other words: only 53% of the owning time I used the camera. In 2015 I could not use the Monochrom at all.

Leica did not manage to get my kit properly adjusted, always something was off: the RF-patch in the finder, one body was not matching the other, certain lenses were not matching the rest of the kit, and when I added a new lens I was recommended to send in the whole kit for adjustment. Always the whole kit came back mis-adjusted in another way than it was. Only one time the Monochrom was perfectly calibrated to all of the lenses, but when I asked to not change the calibration and instead adjust the M type 240 to match the rest of the kit everything came back totally unusable. And in this case it was not about centimeters, in the middle-far distant some combinations of lens and body were literally dozens of meters front focusing.

My Summilux 75 they never got right, although they assured me it’s possible to calibrate it so that the focus plane always stays in the DOF area (a tiny little bit to the front at F1.4 and towards the back at F4.0 but still sharper at F4.0 than at F1.4 AND not soft at F1.4 and F2.0). I sent in 3 different copys of the Summilux 75 before I gave up and went for the Apo-Summicron 75.

They fixed the focus helical of my Apo-Summicron 75 and also the focusing unit of my Apo-Summicron 90 which focused differently depending on the direction I turned the focus ring. My Summicron 28 ASPH had oily aperture blades which they cleaned, inside my Summarit lens something was rattling, and my brand new Apo-Summicron 50 had the flare issue. My X1 hat light leaks, my X-Vario had the AF problem, and once they returned my Monochrom with a colored battery. They fixed all this under warranty (except for the Summilux 75s and they did not find anything wrong with the X-Vario) and gave me a new battery. All the people at the Leica dealer and at Leica Germany were very friendly and responsive. Leica Germany offered me a Leica S (with lens) as a substitute for the time I would be without camera, I agreed and waited but I never got the S. Also in many cases I was promised that my kit would be back at a specific date, but only once when I payed express service everything came back in time.

It seems Leica is not able to keep their own standards: precise mechanics and compatibility with all M lenses since the 50s. What’s the point of a high resolution sensor if calibration allows only soft images which translate to a 4MP equivalent resolution at best? Why should I buy into superb lenses if the rangefinder is not up to the tight tolerances these lenses require? About a dozen lenses were sent in with the cameras, I kept 6 of them and sold the rest. Every single lens needed focus calibration, regardless if it was brand new or second hand.

I even don’t know if this story has a happy end - tomorrow I will spend some time to make test shots. I will report back if everything is calibrated spot on! Please let me know what you think.

Edited by jpk
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jpk!

 

Sad story. I try to mentally adjust my different lenses on the fly when taking a picture. It is no problem for wider angles. With the Summilux 75mm it is a hit or miss affair. With the Noctilux you need the unsighty EVF, also after a Wetzlar visit. It is the way it is.

 

The Leica Meßsucher is a fantastic optico-mechanical construction for its time. But after sixty years many are waiting for the Leica Sucher that will amaze us. A Sucher that will work in the digital world and still be a joy to work with. 

 

Leica, pull out the Mandeler or Karbe of Sucher design! 

 

Eric

Edited by ericborgstrom
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A demoralizing story, I agree. I cannot understand how that can happen either. Yes, I have dropped a camera from time to time, and one or two older lenses were off, and a Summilux  50 was away for a while for not being within focusing spec, but over more than a dozen bodies over the years and 17 lenses in my cupboard I had nothing like the problems you describe, even with "difficult" lenses like the Summilux 75 and Apo-Telyt 135. Always spot-on, easily and consistently focused, and with the improved mechanism on the 240 it is even easier. I wonder what went wrong in your case.

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Wow! Similar story for me. I kept sending my M8 in and it was not right. After last trip it is perfect and I never miss a shot. The root cause was the sensor position. After the last visit my visoflex is perfect. Previously my viso would front focus and so did my rangefinder despite numerous adjustments by Leica. Since the viso is independent of the rangefinder and focus changed I can only conclude that the sensor plane must have moved. With it - the rangefinder fell into place

 

Your story and my experience keep me hesitant about buying a new Leica. Why - when mine finally works! If I do - I will check it in person with the viso before buying. No mail order for me unless they have a good return policy

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Nothing personal to the OP but i sometimes wonder if some Leica users don't spend more time shooting rulers than taking photographs. Checking focus accuracy on 3D subject matters at usual shooting distances should be enough with a rangefinder. Also there is nothing faulty in a rattling lens unless it makes more noise than castanets of course.

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If you were to start missing focus on multiple photo shoots with normal subjects at normal shooting distances you might be motivated to find out why. Shooting rulers helps one understand his/her tools. Maybe your tools are already perfect?

 

 

Nothing personal wto the OP but i sometimes wonder if some Leica users don't spend more time shooting rulers than taking photographs. Checking focus accuracy on 3D subject matters at usual shooting distances should be enough with a rangefinder. Also there is nothing faulty in a rattling lens unless it makes more noise than castanets of course.

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[...] Shooting rulers helps one understand his/her tools. Maybe your tools are already perfect?

 

Shooting rulers helps inexperienced RF users to catch paranoia in the first place if you ask me. As for my tools, they are not perfect because they are rangefinders. Suffice it to accept that and you will be a happy camper as i have been since my first Leica M in 1971.

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Agreed. Perfection cannot be achieved. Focus shift happens. Mid-calibration happens. I try to know my tools and adjust my technique accordingly. With a particular front focusing lens I focus on the ear and the eyes fall into place.... As you noted - experience with a particular subject and distance can be more valuable than a ruler.

 

The viso experience was interesting. I was doing macro work and focus bracketing after doing my best on the ground glass. In previous work the bracketing was necessary. After the last adjustment my first shot was always the best. Thus my conclusion that the sensor was moved.

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An astonishing level of perseverance. Whatever made you think it was worth all the hassle?

 

If I had the choice to return the Monochrom and the Apo-Summicron 50 I would probably had asked myself this question...

 

Nothing personal to the OP but i sometimes wonder if some Leica users don't spend more time shooting rulers than taking photographs. Checking focus accuracy on 3D subject matters at usual shooting distances should be enough with a rangefinder. Also there is nothing faulty in a rattling lens unless it makes more noise than castanets of course.

 

With this lens it was possible to play the castanet part in Carmen nicely

 

Shooting rulers helps inexperienced RF users to catch paranoia in the first place if you ask me. As for my tools, they are not perfect because they are rangefinders. Suffice it to accept that and you will be a happy camper as i have been since my first Leica M in 1971.

 

Thank you for reminding me, you are absolutely right: I try not to become paranoid (not easy in my case), but I also try to get technically the best pictaures I am capable of. I am not that great of a photographer that I can expect to feel myself limited by the equipment especially if it's Leica.

 

I was happy with my M7 until 2012, especially that it had the improved MP finder fitted with .85x magnification: easy to focus and very clear. Focus was never an issue. But focus accuracy is a different thing on film than on a digital camera.

 

I attach an example of my ruler-shots

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With a particular front focusing lens I focus on the ear and the eyes fall into place...

 

I don't believe you agree to buy into that kind of expensive equipment just to focus on the ear to get sharp eyes!! Well, it might be fine for you but definately not for everybody...

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Better forget rangefinders then or use the EVF of the M240. Best of both worlds but the current EVF is far from perfect. The next one should be better expectedly.

 

From the current Leica M type 240 website:

"Sharp images guaranteed. The classic rangefinder system offers fast, precise, crystal-clear focusing with superior accuracy."

I bought this product, and the question is if the product fullfills the promises. I have experience since my childhood with manual focusing (slides!), and I know how much blur is acceptable for medium size prints (also many years of darkroom experience). Did you check my attached test image? Do you really think this is about "paranoia" of an "inexperienced RF user"...?

Edited by jpk
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You still have to accept focus shift ( at least my lenses do ). Focusing precisely at 2 meters and all apertures is not going to happen. Maybe the FLE lenses are better? I never tried one. My Summicrons all exhibit focus shift

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You still have to accept focus shift ( at least my lenses do ). Focusing precisely at 2 meters and all apertures is not going to happen. Maybe the FLE lenses are better? I never tried one. My Summicrons all exhibit focus shift

 

The problem is not about focus shift, it's about focus adjustment. Please check my attached test picture: this will never ever happen because of even the largest focus shift!

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Agreed. This does not look like focus shift at those distances.

Does your rangefinder patch converges at infinity? (focus on a star).


 



The problem is not about focus shift, it's about focus adjustment. Please check my attached test picture: this will never ever happen because of even the largest focus shift!
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[...]Did you check my attached test image? Do you really think this is about "paranoia" of an "inexperienced RF user"...?

 

I did but i don't know you and your gear sorry... A couple of questions could help me if you don't mind :

- Did your 90/2 apo have 6-bit coding when you purchased it? Just to know it it has been calibrated for digital.

- Were you using spectacles and/or a magnifier with your 90/2 apo? You know that the rangefinder is at its accuracy limit when 90mm lenses are open at f/2. My copy is spot on under my own criteria (no rulers shots

) but the least little move of the focus ring will cause more or less significant inaccuracy.
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