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Need help with manual focus accuracy on Leica S


aksclix
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1 hour ago, aksclix said:

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) 

 

You need a doctor than advise on how to manual focus LOL 

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7 hours 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.

After seeing some specific subjects turning up sharp from the combo, I think it may just be my lack of experience with manual focusing and my nearsighted vision too perhaps.. 

so, the microprism screen might be a very good idea.. I'll shop around for it.. does it need professional installation or could I do it myself? 

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17 minutes ago, aksclix said:

After seeing some specific subjects turning up sharp from the combo, I think it may just be my lack of experience with manual focusing and my nearsighted vision too perhaps.. 

so, the microprism screen might be a very good idea.. I'll shop around for it.. does it need professional installation or could I do it myself? 

You can do it easily for yourself however I don't like it at all. It is pretty dim with slow glass and make it difficult to use. the focus patch alignment to indicate focus don't offer enough precision so you still get mis-focus shots even you think you aligned them right.   The most important part is it takes away the joy of shooting with S which is big selling point to me. (very distracting in the middle and you need keep aware of it to focus for shooting)

Edited by ZHNL
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1 hour ago, ZHNL said:

You can do it easily for yourself however I don't like it at all. It is pretty dim with slow glass and make it difficult to use. the focus patch alignment to indicate focus don't offer enough precision so you still get mis-focus shots even you think you aligned them right.   The most important part is it takes away the joy of shooting with S which is big selling point to me. (very distracting in the middle and you need keep aware of it to focus for shooting)

Oh ok.. for the brief time I had an S2, I thought it was a cool thing to have.. the screen did appear a bit dark as you say.. thanks for that info.. I’ll reconsider 😌 now that I know I can focus manually given the subject is right.. I feel more comfortable now.. I am also going to try guessing the actual distance and use the distance markings on the lens :) 

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53 minutes ago, aksclix said:

 I am also going to try guessing the actual distance and use the distance markings on the lens :) 

This most likely won’t work especially for AF glass. Remember infinity mark is a different story and can be handy to double check focus is correct during travel. 

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9 minutes ago, ZHNL said:

This most likely won’t work especially for AF glass. Remember infinity mark is a different story and can be handy to double check focus is correct during travel. 

I am referring to the Hasselblad V lenses.. manual only.. 

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4 hours ago, ZHNL said:

You can do it easily for yourself however I don't like it at all. It is pretty dim with slow glass and make it difficult to use. the focus patch alignment to indicate focus don't offer enough precision so you still get mis-focus shots even you think you aligned them right.   The most important part is it takes away the joy of shooting with S which is big selling point to me. (very distracting in the middle and you need keep aware of it to focus for shooting)

+1. I did purchase the split screen for S006, but I actually prefer - and now only uses - the default screen on S-bodies. 

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8 hours ago, helged said:

+1. I did purchase the split screen for S006, but I actually prefer - and now only uses - the default screen on S-bodies. 

Same here. The default screen is just as sharp, and it doesn't have a distracting patch in the middle. Many AF cameras have screens that favour brightness over sharpness, but The S's screen is quite good for assessing focus.

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I once had  S body where the mirror/sensor/AF was not calibrated 100% right. Lwica fixed that.

What I dont understand - if you turn 10 degrees and do not see a change I can only imagine some reasons:

  • lens not sharp 
  • something misscalibrated
  • your eyes are not up to it
  • anything else in the whole system which is wrong

I think that manual focus is not allways 100% (I found S AF in most cases more precise) but it should work ok.

 

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8 hours ago, tom0511 said:

I once had  S body where the mirror/sensor/AF was not calibrated 100% right. Lwica fixed that.

What I dont understand - if you turn 10 degrees and do not see a change I can only imagine some reasons:

  • lens not sharp 
  • something misscalibrated
  • your eyes are not up to it
  • anything else in the whole system which is wrong

I think that manual focus is not allways 100% (I found S AF in most cases more precise) but it should work ok.

 

It’s gotta be my eyes.. and I saw that it got better with bigger subjects.. I think I judged too soon by focusing on something too small 

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10 hours ago, aksclix said:

It’s gotta be my eyes.. and I saw that it got better with bigger subjects.. I think I judged too soon by focusing on something too small 

Do you use the focus assist arrows in the viewfinder? You need to keep the shutter release half-pressed, but they let you know what the camera thinks is in focus.

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I am not suggesting you to go out and buy all new lenses, but focus is typically determined by contrast, and the lower contrast of the older V mount lenses (and their slowness) is certainly not going to make it any easier on yourself. I imagine you will have a much easier time with a lens like the 120mm f2.5 APO Macro or 70mm Summarit, as compared to the 60-120 4.8. In the meantime you may want to stop down a bit more to help cover your bases. I agree with Bernard as well. The focus confirmation dot should be pretty accurate, but again, it needs light and contrast to work its best.

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3 hours ago, jankap said:

Do you use specs for the distance? And if do you use them with the camera? There are eye correcting lenses for the eyepiece, I think. 

Haven't used specs for distance as such.. have been just relying on eye sight pretty much. Mine isn't terrible but it's definitely aging! :)

3 hours ago, BernardC said:

Do you use the focus assist arrows in the viewfinder? You need to keep the shutter release half-pressed, but they let you know what the camera thinks is in focus.

Oh! I should really know more about this camera.. I didn't even know about the arrows and dot in the viewfinder until you said! I think it may offer help.. will try it!
 

 

1 hour ago, Stuart Richardson said:

I am not suggesting you to go out and buy all new lenses, but focus is typically determined by contrast, and the lower contrast of the older V mount lenses (and their slowness) is certainly not going to make it any easier on yourself. I imagine you will have a much easier time with a lens like the 120mm f2.5 APO Macro or 70mm Summarit, as compared to the 60-120 4.8. In the meantime you may want to stop down a bit more to help cover your bases. I agree with Bernard as well. The focus confirmation dot should be pretty accurate, but again, it needs light and contrast to work its best.

I got a Mamiya 200 f2.8 as well and attaining perfect focus wasn't super easy with that either.. I think I will probably just get rid of the 60-120 V lens because it's quite heavy too..  

 

I don't know if anybody can get a 70% hit rate of moving subjects with manual focusing? I tend to get under 5 or at best 5/10! Don't know if there is a need to improve that skill with tech advancements and smart AF today.. I will still work on it so long as I hold on to some of these manual focus lenses.. :)

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48 minutes ago, aksclix said:

I don't know if anybody can get a 70% hit rate of moving subjects with manual focusing?

It takes practice. You also have to instinctively know which way to turn the focus ring, which is why I can't get along with lenses that focus the "wrong way". Leica, Canon, Hasselblad, and Mamiya focus in the same direction. Nikon and Pentax go in the other direction.

I go to local parks to film ducks and other animals in the summer. They are masters of unrehearsed movement, and they are usually in groups, so you can practice changing the focus from one animal to another even when they aren't moving.

It also helps if use a small number of lenses. You'll learn each one eventually.

One trick is to look around your subject for elements that are at the same distance. Especially with a walking subject, the ground at their feet will be sharp, and ground ahead and behind will be blurry. You can use that to follow them. You need to rack the focus ring so that the ground stays sharp beneath them. It's a lot easier than trying to keep faces sharp.

You will get to a point where you can focus without thinking.

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1 hour ago, aksclix said:

Haven't used specs for distance as such.. have been just relying on eye sight pretty much. Mine isn't terrible but it's definitely aging! :)

Oh! I should really know more about this camera.. I didn't even know about the arrows and dot in the viewfinder until you said! I think it may offer help.. will try it!
 

 

I got a Mamiya 200 f2.8 as well and attaining perfect focus wasn't super easy with that either.. I think I will probably just get rid of the 60-120 V lens because it's quite heavy too..  

 

I don't know if anybody can get a 70% hit rate of moving subjects with manual focusing? I tend to get under 5 or at best 5/10! Don't know if there is a need to improve that skill with tech advancements and smart AF today.. I will still work on it so long as I hold on to some of these manual focus lenses.. :)

Regarding manual focus of S-lenses - for moving subjects - S70 is a fine lens to play with. A good, but much more challenging candidate is S120 (certainly wide open, but also stopped down a little). And if you really want to go enter into (very) difficult territory, try the S180... So when you mention Mamiya 200mm f2.8, things get even harder.

An additional factor is unsharpness because of the operator's hands/body, mirror-slap, shutter mechanism, etc. Camera shake also depends on the shutter speed and possibly the lens used (since different weights - and likely the position of centre of mass of the system) influence the 'vibration', or resonance, of the system. If the S-body had image and/or lens stabilisation like SL2x or the Panasonic Lumix Sx (or GFX for that sake), camera shake would be much more controllable. 

Manual focus of moving subjects with S is fun, but easy it is not. At least not for me...

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