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Is there a way of acquiring a reliably sharp focus on an ‘unheroic’ landscape subject more than (say) 10 metres away with the SL2 + APO Summicron 50mm?

Basically, I’ve found that AFs doesn’t work as I think it should when my subject has a complex, broken-up surface - so winter trees, brambles, hedges and bushes, reeds … etc.

(I usually photograph across water/fields in the hour or two after sunrise; I might add that I rarely shoot when there is appreciable cloud cover - although I’m not averse to a certain amount of morning mist or haze).

On the odd occasion when I do get a green light (‘+’ Spot or ‘[ ]’ Field) the success seems inexplicable. There again, experience has taught me not to get too excited (front focusing problems anyone?), as - even within my ‘sweet’ 10 metre radius - 99% of the time the camera’s autofocus is way too soft.

Naturally I try to hone in with manual focus, but, beyond 10 metres, Magnification (that anyway I’ve discovered is quite awful beyond the first click of the thumb wheel!) delivers a sort of grainy mush. (I had a brainwave and tried Focus Peaking, but of course there’s no hope of sharpening anything by using that to guide the focus ring … doh).

Is the APO Summicron 75mm focus more reliable over 10 metres? I mean, is the only answer to get a telephoto?

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Never observed any of these issues you have described with Summicron 50SL or any other lens I own. Focus (AF-S) is always spot-on regardless of spot or field which I select based on the nature of the photo I am taking. And I am talking of a couple of thousands of landscape photos I have shot. Sounds either like an issue with the cam or lens itself or, sorry, a user error.

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I don't use AFc. most of the time AFs and sometime MF. the SL2 maybe lower in some situation but the contrast AF is very accurate.

Some people use MF in the menu, and use the joystick press to activate back AF.

I would run some tests if the equipment is set up correctly or functioning like it should. Otherwise like Steve Jobs said when iPhone 4 dropped signal, " you are holding it wrong".

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"Never observed any of these issues you have described with Summicron 50SL or any other lens I own. Focus (AF-S) is always spot-on regardless of spot or field which I select based on the nature of the photo I am taking. And I am talking of a couple of thousands of landscape photos I have shot. Sounds either like an issue with the cam or lens itself or, sorry, a user error".

Thanks hofo - a user error is not unlikely! If your lockdown Indian Summer gallery's anything to go by I must be doing something seriously wrong! I guess it's possible there's something amiss with the camera &/v lens because I've never found the autofocus to be spot-on. In my EVF the magnification always looks 'soggy', and only snaps into a clean, sharp focus when I adjust the focus ring (a little). Maybe I should speak to my suppliers.

Anyway, many thanks.

Nice work by the way

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2 hours ago, Photoworks said:

I don't use AFc. most of the time AFs and sometime MF. the SL2 maybe lower in some situation but the contrast AF is very accurate.

Some people use MF in the menu, and use the joystick press to activate back AF.

I would run some tests if the equipment is set up correctly or functioning like it should. Otherwise like Steve Jobs said when iPhone 4 dropped signal, " you are holding it wrong".

Thanks Photoworks (some terrific pictures BTW - I thought the yellow taxi half in shadow was really full of noir-cinematic atmosphere). Like you I use AFs most of the time, and in good visibility too, so the focus acquisition should be unproblematic. But that isn't what I'm finding. I could be 'holding it wrong', and I hope, sincerely hope,  that's right because the remaining option (there's a glitch in the camera/lens) looks much less easy to resolve.

One big positive that's already come out of this thread is that there seems to be no earthly reason why I shouldn't be able to photograph something more than 10 metres away with my current SL gear. That's a huge relief!

Thanks for your time. 

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On 4/30/2021 at 12:47 PM, reindeer said:

Is there a way of acquiring a reliably sharp focus on an ‘unheroic’ landscape subject more than (say) 10 metres away with the SL2 + APO Summicron 50mm?

Basically, I’ve found that AFs doesn’t work as I think it should when my subject has a complex, broken-up surface - so winter trees, brambles, hedges and bushes, reeds … etc.

(I usually photograph across water/fields in the hour or two after sunrise; I might add that I rarely shoot when there is appreciable cloud cover - although I’m not averse to a certain amount of morning mist or haze).

On the odd occasion when I do get a green light (‘+’ Spot or ‘[ ]’ Field) the success seems inexplicable. There again, experience has taught me not to get too excited (front focusing problems anyone?), as - even within my ‘sweet’ 10 metre radius - 99% of the time the camera’s autofocus is way too soft.

Naturally I try to hone in with manual focus, but, beyond 10 metres, Magnification (that anyway I’ve discovered is quite awful beyond the first click of the thumb wheel!) delivers a sort of grainy mush. (I had a brainwave and tried Focus Peaking, but of course there’s no hope of sharpening anything by using that to guide the focus ring … doh).

Is the APO Summicron 75mm focus more reliable over 10 metres? I mean, is the only answer to get a telephoto?

Are you new to photography?  Here’s a few tips to get a shaper image.  Pick your focus point. Stop down to get a greater depth of field f8-f22. Use a tripod for longer exposures.  

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The beauty of cameras with live view is that focus and focus technique can be tested.

Put the camera on a tripod. Take a photo with your typical settings (aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focus specifications, etc) and apply your typical (han-held) focussing procedure. 

Switch to live view, use either EVF or the back screen. Magnify the image, look at details (trees, brances, flowers, buildings, mountain tops, etc). The magnified image should be sharp where sharpness was intended.

Take some images based on manual focussing in live view. 

Repeat the procedure for a few scenes/focus points. 

Alsovrepeat the procedure with additional af lenses (if available). 

Import the images to your computer. 

Are there systematically differences between those being focussed by your standard field/on-site procedure and those being focussed in live view?

If systematic differences exist, I tend to believe that there is an issue with your body or lens. 

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7 hours ago, Jim B said:

Are you new to photography?  Here’s a few tips to get a shaper image.  Pick your focus point. Stop down to get a greater depth of field f8-f22. Use a tripod for longer exposures.  

Surely you don’t what to use anything above f16 as diffraction will ruin you photo and soften everything.

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5 hours ago, RM70 said:

Surely you don’t what to use anything above f16 as diffraction will ruin you photo and soften everything.

Diffraction is more of a mocking bird rumor than a noticeable fact. On high quality modern lenses the idea that your images are going to be ruined at f22 is ridiculous. I’ve also shot at f32 which also produced excellent results without having the need to focus stack.  Perhaps you are talking about some junk lenses from the 70’s but today’s high quality lenses have major technological advances that enable them to be sharp fully opened, or stopped down eliminating the old fashioned f8 sweet spot. It’s simply a thing of the past!

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25 minutes ago, Jim B said:

Diffraction is more of a mocking bird rumor than a noticeable fact. On high quality modern lenses the idea that your images are going to be ruined at f22 is ridiculous. I’ve also shot at f32 which also produced excellent results without having the need to focus stack.  Perhaps you are talking about some junk lenses from the 70’s but today’s high quality lenses have major technological advances that enable them to be sharp fully opened, or stopped down eliminating the old fashioned f8 sweet spot. It’s simply a thing of the past!

Not true in my experience.  I have used high quality modern lenses were the effects of diffraction at f22 are clearly visible.  Physical laws can’t be changed.  Anyways, i would say you should at least exercise caution with very small apertures were possible to maximise image sharpness for the main subject. 

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Posted (edited)

I use my SL2 with several lenses, including the big and heavy SL50 Summilux. I often shoot that lens at f1.4 with absolutely accurate focus, no matter what the distance. Same thing with my Summicrons SL35&75. I am in AFs all the time and use "Field" for AF pattern. When I think the camera is struggling, I change the size of the focus field (just press and hold on the red rectangle on the screen and use the thumbwheel to change the size when the little arrows appear in the corners). I bought into the SL system precisely for being able to use my lenses wide open and place my focus point reliably anywhere I want. Wide open is the key word here - these APO Summicrons can really be shot into the light, fully open, with no purple fringing whatsoever.  

https://www.martindrazsky.com   

Edited by albireo_double
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13 hours ago, Jim B said:

Are you new to photography?  Here’s a few tips to get a shaper image.  Pick your focus point. Stop down to get a greater depth of field f8-f22. Use a tripod for longer exposures.  

Jim B Hi - thanks for the tips! Actually I do most of my work from a coracle on the local river so a tripod is a definite no-no! Also I think I may have discovered a possible cause for the problems I flagged-up. I think the camera lens is a little loose in the camera mount. I went and tried a couple of Sigma lenses at the local store and they were rock solid - whereas my APO Summicron 50 has just a little play in it. This morning I noticed that I could achieve momentary focus on more distant subjects if I pressed the lens hard back into the mount. I'm wondering if there's a connection problem. Cheers mate - and thanks for your time 

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9 hours ago, helged said:

The beauty of cameras with live view is that focus and focus technique can be tested.

Hi helged - since I posted my question I have made what I hope may be a little progress towards identifying my problem. Basically I have identified some play or movement of my lens in the L-mount. The fit is not rock solid - so I tested a couple of Sigma lenses in the mount and they were perfect, and I asked at a couple of Leica stores and they confirmed that the fit should have no 'wobble'. 

This morning I noticed that I could achieve a momentary focus on more distant subjects if I pressed the lens hard back into the mount. (Holding the pressure resulted in a black-out). I'm fairly sure there's a connection problem.

 

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32 minutes ago, albireo_double said:

I use my SL2 with several lenses, including the big and heavy SL50 Summilux. I often shoot that lens at f1.4 with absolutely accurate focus, no matter what the distance. Same thing with my Summicrons SL35&75. I am in AFs all the time and use "Field" for AF pattern. When I think the camera is struggling, I change the size of the focus field …

Ok albireo_double, hi - I'm really pleased that you experience no problems with AF/Field whatever lens you mount, at whatever aperture you choose, and however distant you are from your chosen subject. This bodes well for me if only I can get my one and only lens working properly! In some of my replies to members' suggestions I've written that I think I've made some progress in diagnosing the problem. Basically I think I've found a connection problem between the camera and the lens. And I think that's what's been throwing the focus off. Courtesy of a local store I've tried a couple of Sigma lenses on the body and the focus worked like a dream. Just like to say thanks for your contribution

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7 hours ago, RM70 said:

Surely you don’t what to use anything above f16 as diffraction will ruin you photo and soften everything.

And here’s an example of what I mean. While this test images isn’t aren’t anything great, it does contain a foreground element with distant landscape.

shot at F32, iso400, 1/125 Diffraction is so negligible, that you are more apt to loose sharpness from atmospheric  haze.

 

But in effort to help the OP, it’s more relevant that you may be having issues with your photographic technique. If you post an example of an image along with your settings, people will be glad to give you their advice as to how you can achieve your desired results.

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1 hour ago, reindeer said:

Jim B Hi - thanks for the tips! Actually I do most of my work from a coracle on the local river so a tripod is a definite no-no! Also I think I may have discovered a possible cause for the problems I flagged-up. I think the camera lens is a little loose in the camera mount. I went and tried a couple of Sigma lenses at the local store and they were rock solid - whereas my APO Summicron 50 has just a little play in it. This morning I noticed that I could achieve momentary focus on more distant subjects if I pressed the lens hard back into the mount. I'm wondering if there's a connection problem. Cheers mate - and thanks for your time 

You’re welcome. Yes all your lenses should be a tight fit with no wiggle room.

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5 minutes ago, Jim B said:

And here’s an example of what I mean. While this test images isn’t aren’t anything great, it does contain a foreground element with distant landscape.

shot at F32, iso400, 1/125 Diffraction is so negligible, that you are more apt to loose sharpness from atmospheric  haze.

 

But in effort to help the OP, it’s more relevant that you may be having issues with your photographic technique. If you post an example of an image along with your settings, people will be glad to give you their advice as to how you can achieve your desired results.

I appreciate your concern for the lack of my photographic skills.  After all, 38 years of photography have thought me nothing.

I don’t have any examples to post as I don’t shoot above f11 anyways, based on my own testing and experience.  Anyways, if your experience is different then please continue to shoot at whatever aperture the situation demands but I would appreciate it that you don’t impose you findings on me and assert that I lack technique while not knowing anything about me.

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59 minutes ago, Jim B said:

And here’s an example of what I mean. While this test images isn’t aren’t anything great, it does contain a foreground element with distant landscape.

shot at F32, iso400, 1/125 Diffraction is so negligible, that you are more apt to loose sharpness from atmospheric  haze.

 

But in effort to help the OP, it’s more relevant that you may be having issues with your photographic technique. If you post an example of an image along with your settings, people will be glad to give you their advice as to how you can achieve your desired results.

You could attain far better quality using focus stacking. 

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1 hour ago, RM70 said:

I appreciate your concern for the lack of my photographic skills.  After all, 38 years of photography have thought me nothing.

I don’t have any examples to post as I don’t shoot above f11 anyways, based on my own testing and experience.  Anyways, if your experience is different then please continue to shoot at whatever aperture the situation demands but I would appreciate it that you don’t impose you findings on me and assert that I lack technique while not knowing anything about me.

No one mentioned your lack of skills, and you should do your own testing. But to tell people not to shoot higher than f16 is absurd.  Please show me where my image is ruined as you claim...

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, jaapv said:

You could attain far better quality using focus stacking. 

Perhaps, but people don’t always have the time for that. Also, even the Helicon program sometimes produces artifacts, and as I mentioned, atmospheric haze is usually more of an issue.

Also, the image has been resized twice to fit on the forum.

All I’m saying is that technology changes. It’s just like people that insist you must use a tripod. With the advent of IBIS, this is no longer true. Many lenses shoot just as sharp wide open as they do closed down. Sharp enough to make prints with. If your using some antiquated lens by all means shoot at f8, but other than that feel free to experiment with your aperture!

 

Edited by Jim B
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