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Need help with manual focus accuracy on Leica S


aksclix
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Hello folks - I am new to Leica S and to be honest, I haven’t done a whole lot of manual focusing in the “pre-focus-peaking” era.. I recently got an S 006 and also got an adapter to use some Hasselblad V lenses on the S body.. I have the 60-120 f4.8 and the 150mm f4.. I shot a dozen photos with both lenses and not one of those are in focus.. I am trying to shoot wide open, not shooting landscape.. the subject looks sharp in the viewfinder for a fair distance as I keep twisting the focus ring.. how do I know when it’s actually in focus if it seems to stay sharp for about 10 degrees of the twist in the viewfinder? do I just learn how to do this by trial and error or is there a trick? 

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1 hour ago, dritz said:

I had the Leica adapter and found it very accurate to use. Are you using an off-brand adapter? Perhaps you can visit a shop that has an adapter in stock to try?

Dean

I have a metabones adapter. No stores close by to try.. Although, how does having a Leica adapter help? Is there some focus confirmation beep? 

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Focus on S006 depends on a calibrated body (since what you see in the optical viewfinder comes via the mirror, not the sensor), a sufficiently accurate adapter (ensuring that the lens' axis is perpendicular on the sensor), and ok eyes. For the latter, remember that you can adjust the diopter on the optical viewfinder quite a bit (turn the diopter ring until the symbols in the optical viewfinder are tick sharp). 

I would put the camera+lens on a tripod, focus on something 10-ish m away with the lens wide open, bring the memory card to the computer to check focus, and repeat the procedure a few times.

Do the same with all lenses you have.If this test fails, it will be very hard to expect images to be in focus in the field...

If failure, are the results consistent (so that the focus is consistently in front of/behind the intended focus point)? If yes, your body needs calibration.

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42 minutes ago, helged said:

Focus on S006 depends on a calibrated body (since what you see in the optical viewfinder comes via the mirror, not the sensor), a sufficiently accurate adapter (ensuring that the lens' axis is perpendicular on the sensor), and ok eyes. For the latter, remember that you can adjust the diopter on the optical viewfinder quite a bit (turn the diopter ring until the symbols in the optical viewfinder are tick sharp). 

I would put the camera+lens on a tripod, focus on something 10-ish m away with the lens wide open, bring the memory card to the computer to check focus, and repeat the procedure a few times.

Do the same with all lenses you have.If this test fails, it will be very hard to expect images to be in focus in the field...

If failure, are the results consistent (so that the focus is consistently in front of/behind the intended focus point)? If yes, your body needs calibration.

Thanks for the tips.. will try and do this tomorrow and see the results.. having just purchased the camera, I would’ve thought they had done all the testing and calibration prior to listing it on their site.. would suck to send it back for recalibration few days after buying it.. 😏

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+1 for what helged’s say and lots of practice. 
I mainly use manual focus, AF of S actually is more frustrating as it is not reliable, highly depend on subject, light, pattern and distance. And you need double check if it is a important one.  Your lens is a little slow so not as good as native S glasses. Focus confirmation is available to S or native smart adapters, but again, it is ultra sensitive and not reliable. 
 

manual focus mostly ok for me but I do struggle once light get low or distance get longer. However, it is a skill you need time to develop and you should have a good eye sight. Again, S is the most enjoyable system I ever used and also maybe the most difficult one for certain condition. When there is good light, with right distance, it is also the easiest camera to manual focus. And your 006 has the most beautiful files compare anything out there. Don’t give up. 

Edited by ZHNL
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I've just moved to the 007 from the 006 and I'm keen to make the most of the DOF readout, however, I'm having a little bit of difficulty understanding how to properly utilise it. On David Farkas's excellent THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO LEICA S LENSES internet page (https://www.reddotforum.com/content/2020/04/the-definitive-guide-to-leica-s-lenses/) He says the following (when speaking of the Super-Elmar-S 24mm):-

Paired with the live DOF readout on the top display of the S007 and S3, I can set my aperture to f/11 and dial in a perfect hyperfocal distance in seconds. Everything from 2.5m to infinity is tack sharp for every single shot, freeing me to concentrate on composition, framing and exposure.

And, on his equally excellent review of the 007 (Leica S (Typ 007) Review | Red Dot Forum), he states the following:-

 

DOF readout 

Perhaps one of the most useful additions, especially for landscape photography, is the live DOF readout on the top LCD. When you half press the shutter release, three distances are displayed: near, focus and far. Between the near and far is your effective depth of field. The range is dynamic and based on distance to subject, aperture and focal length. Obviously, this is most useful when using wide lenses at smaller apertures, rather than longer lenses at wide apertures. To determine hyperfocal distance, just adjust the focus on the lens as far forward as you can, while still keeping the back reading at infinity.

Before digesting the above is there any other advice or Tips & Tricks that I can try?

Thanks

 

 

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7 hours ago, ZHNL said:

+1 for what helged’s say and lots of practice. 
I mainly use manual focus, AF of S actually is more frustrating as it is not reliable, highly depend on subject, light, pattern and distance. And you need double check if it is a important one.  Your lens is a little slow so not as good as native S glasses. Focus confirmation is available to S or native smart adapters, but again, it is ultra sensitive and not reliable. 
 

manual focus mostly ok for me but I do struggle once light get low or distance get longer. However, it is a skill you need time to develop and you should have a good eye sight. Again, S is the most enjoyable system I ever used and also maybe the most difficult one for certain condition. When there is good light, with right distance, it is also the easiest camera to manual focus. And your 006 has the most beautiful files compare anything out there. Don’t give up. 

Haha, there’s no giving up..
yes, as you said “with the right distance” it’s definitely easy to manual focus.. My subject was a bird house and I was shooting from around 10ft far.. it definitely would’ve been easier if I were shooting a human face or upper body perhaps.. my eye sight isn’t great.. I am a little nearsighted. Will play around with more subjects and see the results 

 

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Setting-up the diopter can be tricky. The focus screen, display, and focus screen markings are all at slightly different distances. The way I was taught to do it is to remove the lens, and then adjust the diopter until the texture of the focus screen is sharp. Put the camera down, exercise your eyes by looking at something close and then far away, and check again. Do this until you consistently put the diopter mark in the same spot. It's easy to set it wrong so that it's focused on the top of the screen (fresnel), rather than the bottom (lens-facing side). In that case, nothing will ever seem very sharp.

Focusing technique is also something to work on, although it will become instinctive. Try focusing back and forth gently to get a feel for centering on the sharpest point. Start with large adjustments until you know what to look for.

The focus assist on my S-006 is very accurate. It tells you which direction to move the lens. This works for Hasselblad lenses, but Pentax and (maybe) others focus in the opposite direction. I find that it closely matches best visual focus on my camera. I rarely focus right in the middle of the image, but it's a good guide when you are practising.

You should know that your zoom will be harder to focus because of its maximum aperture (4.8). There's more depth of field at that aperture, so it's harder to find optimal focus. The camera's focus assist is also less accurate at that aperture, it's optimized for the 2.5/2.8 lenses in the S lineup.

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Are the lenses sharp elsewhere? My experience of the V lenses wide open on the S was that they were not sharp. They were designed for film and not digital. My 110mm FE was softer at 5.6 than the 120mm APO Macro Summarit was at 2.5. It is still a nice lens, but it is not that sharp on digital...it is even harder if your lenses are f4 and f4.8, which will be much darker.

Have you considered the microprism focusing screen? Your best bet is to have both the screen and body calibrated at Leica...the OVF is kind of at is limit at 37mp on this sensor size. I think the AF is generally more reliable. I know ZHNL may have the opposite opinion, but I always had more luck with the AF system than I did trying to focus manually, and in general my vision is very good and I still use MF a lot on view cameras and rangefinders.

Edited by Stuart Richardson
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31 minutes ago, Stuart Richardson said:

Are the lenses sharp elsewhere? My experience of the V lenses wide open on the S was that they were not sharp. They were designed for film and not digital. My 110mm FE was softer at 5.6 than the 120mm APO Macro Summarit was at 2.5. It is still a nice lens, but it is not that sharp on digital...it is even harder if your lenses are f4 and f4.8, which will be much darker.

Have you considered the microprism focusing screen? Your best bet is to have both the screen and body calibrated at Leica...the OVF is kind of at is limit at 37mp on this sensor size. I think the AF is generally more reliable. I know ZHNL may have the opposite opinion, but I always had more luck with the AF system than I did trying to focus manually, and in general my vision is very good and I still use MF a lot on view cameras and rangefinders.

I do have:) If I rely on S's AF, I will throw the system away long time ago. Maybe because I use WO most of time for daily using. I thought it was my camera initially but after handle more than 10 S body and deal with Leica USA&Germany over the year (I still have 3) I know when it will struggle and most likely it won't disappoint me :D (MISSING AF)

General speaking, its AF behave similar to my manual focus (just slower than me most of time) that the longer the distance, the worse the results. For infinity shooting with deep DOF, remember the barrel location will do the trick. 

Don't trust 007 DOF scale reading unless you qualify your lens this way before the trip. (means check every one) only a few lens have correct DOF reading out of the ones I have, later on, I just don't use this feature at all. For landscape (mean f8~f16, occasionally f5.6) in field, focus wide open helps a lot to choose hyper focus point by yourself and using small aperture to cover deep DOF.   (I don't use AF at all in this case, manual focus is enough for small aperture shooting, the minor error doesn't matter) OVer the year, I still think this is the best way to shooting in field. Don't let camera do this for you. (Leica S glasses have negligible focus shift certainly helps in this shooting way )

I havn't seen a S body with wrong OVF path yet.(menas in focus in viewfinder but not on sensor or vise versa) I personally think Leica paid S a lot attention on this spec which make sense IMHO.   

Edited by ZHNL
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I have not had an S body with accurate manual focus yet, but the AF confirmation has always been right. But, everyone's experience is different! MF would get me close, but it would always be slightly off. Close enough to get accurate, except in the S3 where it is truly off and needs to go back to Leica. Anyway, it is what it is.

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I think it's just my imperfect vision and I can see I am able to focus better with subjects that are easy to spot details thru the OVF.. 

for eg, the birdhouse in the first is not sharp, but when I focused on the patterns in the hula hoop, it seems better

the clip on the rope was small but has text on it which made it a lot easier to focus.. and it IS SHARP! (notice the bokeh or should I call it "brokeh" - the bottom part of the circle is missing)
the 4th one is of a bike tire and they don't look sharp.. maybe I needed to recompose that.. ;) So, for someone spoiled with AF over a decade and a half, I think manual focusing especially with heavy beasts like the Hasselblad 60-120 will take some effort.. this setup is definitely for a relaxed shooting when you have the time.. needless to say I won't be able to shoot anything in motion with this :D precisely why I got rid of some of the telephoto R lenses I got for my SL2

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44 minutes ago, Stuart Richardson said:

I have not had an S body with accurate manual focus yet, but the AF confirmation has always been right. But, everyone's experience is different! MF would get me close, but it would always be slightly off. Close enough to get accurate, except in the S3 where it is truly off and needs to go back to Leica. Anyway, it is what it is.

this is reassuring.. I mean to say that my camera seems fine and probably doesn't need a re-calibration.. 

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Hi, Aksclix, for the images you show here, manual focus is totally doable. (I would say a piece of cake:)) Just practice the skill as we human are adaptive for tool using. However, I think it is important you feel you enjoy the process. Don't let frustration burn you out.

It is widely different than other modern system. I would say make life easier may not be a plus or priority for me in this case, especially for me, I have different system for different application. 

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1 hour ago, ZHNL said:

Hi, Aksclix, for the images you show here, manual focus is totally doable. (I would say a piece of cake:)) Just practice the skill as we human are adaptive for tool using. However, I think it is important you feel you enjoy the process. Don't let frustration burn you out.

It is widely different than other modern system. I would say make life easier may not be a plus or priority for me in this case, especially for me, I have different system for different application. 

These were just sample tests shots from my messy backyard.. typically, I'd be using it to shoot some candid shots of people wide open.. I got the used S 006 purely for pleasure shooting, I don't mind practicing the skill as long as my wrists don't start to hurt again.. I have weak wrists from a fall many years ago.. they never heal! so, me getting frustrated totally depends on whether or not my wrists give up ;) There is no tripod mount on the 60-120.. so my shooting with this lens is going to be very limited.. BUT, even at 4.8/5.6 the background separation is very pleasing I felt.. mostly cuz it's medium format.. I got these initially for my GFX 50r body.. it's sold and while I wait for my 100s, I am trying these lenses out on S006.. 

I also use multiple camera setups for different needs.. since there is not one camera that gives me everything ;)

Fuji GFX for all work needing fine details and larger wall mural size prints (lenses: 23, 32-64, 50, 110, 250+1.4xTC, pentax 120 macro with gfx adapter)

Hasselblad X1D (didn't quite need this but grabbed a good deal with 45mm and ended up adding a 90mm XCD lens..)

Leica S 006 (again didn't quite need this but another one to satisfy the lust for Leica + found a good deal) 

Leica SL2 for all purposes.. this and GFX are going to be 2 go-to cameras for most of my work (lenses: 24-90, 90-280)

Pana S1R for in camera focus stacking, a backup L mount with 50m f1.4 and Sigma 105 f1.4, 20-60 for some close focus shots and general landscape

Canon R6 for events, especially indoors (lenses: 28-70 f2, 100-500mm)

Sony a9 for BIF (lenses: 70-200 f4, 200-600mm)

Sony a7s2 for video (lenses: 28-135mm power zoom)

THAT's not all.. 

I got some smaller bodies for hiking and walk around :D 

Sony a6600 + 70-350

Nikon Z50 + 24-200

Leica CL Paul Smith with 11-23, 23, 60 macro and voigtlander 40m f1.2

if that's not enough.. I've got a miniature Pentax Q7 with 3 lenses.. :D 

 

ALMOST FORGOT.. 

Nikon D600 - super color IR converted

Nikon D5500 - H-alpha converted 

Canon SL2 - Hyper color IR converted (yet to get this back from lifepixel)

I admit that I don't need half of my gear for my work but I live while I can.. I don't want to regret not having used what I wanted on my death bed ;)

Most of my gear are used and I should be able to get back a major chunk of what I put in.. (if I sell it on time like I did with my gfx 50r) 

 

Edited by aksclix
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2020 was a bad year for my GAS.. it was a much simpler time before that.. except the gfx, I’ve had for 2 years.. with only a D810 and lenses to cover all the ranges.. D810 and D600 before IR conversion gave me some exceptional images around the world.. I’ll put a link to it when I finish my site.. I’ve brought down everything I had online 

I realize I completely forgot about the a7III I had prior to upgrading to the a9..  sold my D810 and most Nikon lenses when I moved to Sony mirrorless

Edited by aksclix
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