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Rangefinder for moving people


LovingMonochrome

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Here's a good technique example. M10-R, 28 Summicron, Profoto A1 flash. First one I focused at the bar. As she fell, I racked the focus back, by feel, a very small but quick and precise movement, which the tab helps facilitate. I also wasn't looking through the viewfinder, holding the camera below me. The biggest mistake I see in children photography is what I call 'the hover.' You need to get down to their level to 'bring them alive' so to speak, otherwise it looks like awkward parent hovering and tops of heads. 

And oh yeah, going wide and using 5.6 never hurts. 

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Edited by charlesphoto99
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This was taken with the new 50mm Summilux at f/2.0 (or something like that). I have two dozen sharp photos from this performance and maybe a dozen slightly out of focus. It helped that the dance pattern repeated, so I knew where they'd be the next moment. 

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Chasing rarely works. Composing the scene, pre-focusing and letting things come to camera tends to be a superior strategy, at least for me.  My canonical example below from early days with the 240.  The photograph was made with a CV 75 1.8 shot at F2 or 2.8.  Didn't time it dead perfectly, got handle bars, not the eyes, but then the subject was doing ~20 MPH at the time.  Hopefully at least a demonstration that you can come away with something worthwhile, even with very shallow DoF, if you're willing to do a little work for it.  With an M in these sorts of situations, you're forced to think about the nature of the motion, how the background will compliment it, framing etc, etc and all of that long before you take the shot.  You might not get hundreds of keepers with an M in this sort of setting... I didn't on this day, maybe a dozen or less... but which would you rather have?  A ton of snapshots in perfect focus, or a few memorable ones? 

 

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22 hours ago, LovingMonochrome said:

Hi folks,

Can anyone give me an hint, if the M is the right choice for taking pics of my kids. I have some doubts if the rangefinder will be the right choice for fast moving objects. 
Does anyone have some experience with it ?

We have kids. And I photographed others. With rangefinders and else. Believe me, kids are not always the "fast moving objects". 

Even while they are, use prediction and pre-focus. 

Or just f11 :)

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M9M Not really a problem  Taken with active focusing, one shot .

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If you're new to manual focus and taking photos that way, you have to ask yourself if you're willing to miss out on potential moments of photos with the children as you learn, or if you're okay with that. I learned photography in the film era with manual focus and manual handheld metering, so I feel pretty comfortable using an M camera. But even at that, there's still times I'd miss a photo or two here and there because of whatever reason. If they're older children and willing to pose, etc then it's a different story, but if they're young ones and constantly on the move, you'd be better off with an SL2s or another camera with AF that will make sure you nail those moments. 

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set the distance to a reasonable value by either referring to a static object or guessing it, then use the burst and keep it coming until the subject leave the image area. I often use f1.4/f1 for a 7 yo running around and it is not impossible with the above method, of course out of 100 pictures you keep 5 or less, but what is the issue of that, digital for you: delete delete delete .... keep 😉

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Photos of fast moving children can be captured with an M, but it’s far far easier with a modern camera with AF. Especially the benefit of one handed shooting without having to retain larger dof from zone focusing. 
 

Edited by rich_
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10 minutes ago, rich_ said:

Photos of fast moving children can be captured with an M, but it’s far far easier with a modern camera with AF. Especially the benefit of one handed shooting without having to retain larger dof from zone focusing. 
 

I agree much more difficult than with modern AF but doable (and fun when you succeed). As one poster said, pref-focusing is critical. See attached at a horse show (indoors, M10, 50 summilux ASPH).

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On 6/7/2023 at 1:52 AM, Tailwagger said:

Composing the scene, pre-focusing and letting things come to camera tends to be a superior strategy, at least for me.

I photographed the first London Marathon in 1981 with my fellow students. We were given 2 x motordriven Canon cameras with 100mm lenses fitted which were taped up at a preset focus distance chalked on the road from our position. This worked just fine as all I had to do was frame each runner and hit the shutter button at the right time. I handed the camera with the finished film to my loader behind me and he gave me a loaded one. I'm pretty sure that I shot well over 100 rolls of colour print film. The images would have been like the one on this webpage: http://keswickac.org.uk/1981-london-marathon-results/ which is probably from the business we worked for. I remember Jimmy Saville running past!

My guess is that such photography relies on autofocus these days but that was not an option back then.

Edited by pgk
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On 6/6/2023 at 6:20 PM, Kim Dahl said:

Sometimes I wonder about like "once upon a time in sports photos you could use manual focus..." etc.

I remember talking to a newspaper, (football) sports photographer in the 1990s who had spent 20 years 'learning' follow focus with long lenses, only to find that AF had caught up and was as good as he was. He appreciated where the future was going and had bought AF lenses. I nearly bought one of his MF long lenses off him but it had spent too much time getting wet and not enough being dried out and had some fungus to show for it!

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Even the best Autofocus systems out there will miss, and that's kind of out of your control. I find that manual focus will yield better results if you can prefocus/zone focus more times than an autofocus system will lock on.

Here's what I would suggest:

1. If you're getting memory snapshots everyday, nothing is better and easier than an iPhone or mobile phone camera.
2. If you are on a trip and want really high quality family photos or some other memorable moments where you need some more "artistic" interest, then use your rangefinder

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1 hour ago, kinetic said:

Even the best Autofocus systems out there will miss .....

I haven't come across a situation where this has been true for snapping kids and believe me, I have shot youngsters in some pretty unusual conditions like underwater in swimming pools with ND filters on the windows to reduce the ability to look inside, and as a consequence reduce light underwater. Try shooting a swimming child underwater with no access to a focus gear, even if one was usable (it wouldn't be of any use). I don't understand the idea of shooting snaps of your children with a rangefinder. Possible, well yes. Likely to yield many keepers, ell, depends on your abilities and satisfaction with the photos, but you are making life thoroughly difficult for yourself. But what do I know, I just used to shoot underwater for customers and had to satisfy them not myself?

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If you primary goal is snapshots of young children there are a number of highly capable mirrorless cameras that can do this far better than any rangefinder for a fraction of the cost. While the M system can be fun and can be used to do this, those saying it's fine for this task have a lot of wishful thinking going on.

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18 hours ago, bcaslis said:

If you primary goal is snapshots of young children there are a number of highly capable mirrorless cameras that can do this far better than any rangefinder for a fraction of the cost. While the M system can be fun and can be used to do this, those saying it's fine for this task have a lot of wishful thinking going on.

No, not wishful thinking - unless that is what some now call skill. 

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18 hours ago, pgk said:

I haven't come across a situation where this has been true for snapping kids and believe me, I have shot youngsters in some pretty unusual conditions like underwater in swimming pools with ND filters on the windows to reduce the ability to look inside, and as a consequence reduce light underwater. Try shooting a swimming child underwater with no access to a focus gear, even if one was usable (it wouldn't be of any use). I don't understand the idea of shooting snaps of your children with a rangefinder. Possible, well yes. Likely to yield many keepers, ell, depends on your abilities and satisfaction with the photos, but you are making life thoroughly difficult for yourself. But what do I know, I just used to shoot underwater for customers and had to satisfy them not myself?

Umm, unless they now make underwater housings for M’s, yes, it will be impossible to take underwater images with it. Not a valid argument against using an rf for photographing children. imo. 

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2 hours ago, charlesphoto99 said:

Umm, unless they now make underwater housings for M’s, yes, it will be impossible to take underwater images with it. Not a valid argument against using an rf for photographing children. imo. 

They do (Subal did anyway and housings have been available for Ms and Barnacks) not that this is relevant. I was illustrating that AF works very well in difficult conditions contrary to what some might wish to believe.

You can use 5" x 4"(or 10" x 8" or larger) camera for photographing children if you want. Like using Ms you can persevere and get a few 'keepers' but like the Ms large format isn't an ideal solution especially when there are very good solutions also available. This is about horses for courses and not whether it is possible to eventually learn how to achieve something with less able equipment. The RF simply isn't the best option available, by far, and anyone who thinks that it is is living in a parallel world. After 40 years using Ms I know their limitations and I cannot use the rangefinder fast enough to ensure absolute accuracy on fast moving subjects ike children. I could of course zone focus but that rather defeats the point of having a rangefinder at all. Or I could use a camera which has fast and accuarte AF and that is what I have done. My experience is that this is a far better solution.

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Three shots in a row, two seconds between each. Shot with M10 and 50mm Noctilux at f/1. She was dancing right in front of me, for each shot I had to focus and recompose.

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With small children, you also have to think about the impact of the camera on their behaviour as well. Holding a large black object in front of your face is puzzling/disturbing to some. When I had a TLR it was noticeable how easy it was to photograph people unfamiliar with cameras (children, and some peoples in remote places). I preferred a TL2 and M240 to the SL for that reason. The Q3 with its tilt screen will be handy.

Familiarity with your kit is also vital. Spending minutes fiddling with settings is a turnoff for the subject.

Edited by LocalHero1953
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For me, using the M rangefinder is about joy of the manual camera experience. I'm not a fisherman, but maybe there is some parallel. When it comes to percentages, shooting kids is likely most productive with an iPhone. If you are fortunate to own a Leica M then maybe enjoy it for the unique shooting experience it provides. The suggestions above to maximize well focused results are helpful and practice will improve your shooting further. Find a parade and spend an hour or two shooting moving targets. With any photo shoot of kids there will be only a handful of interest and identifying the few from the many is as much a part of photography as the action of using the camera.

just my .02!

 

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