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Author Topic: Much Anguish About Focus  (Read 13921 times)
tesfoto
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« Reply #40 on: April 21, 2010, 09:09:10 AM »
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Quote from: TMARK
I do use the WLF.  It has that flip up magnafier which is great and covers most of the digital crop.  I also use the ae finder as as an eye level.  Its dim, but works OK with longer lenses or when you have lots of light.  

MAC group in Elmsford NY will sell you the tool to adjust the screen.  It was about $50 when I bought it back in the day.  With digital you shoot tethered, on a tripod, locked down, focus on something (I use a ruler at 45 degrees), shoot, adjust, shoot, adjust.  I did this with Polaroids 12 years ago, and again when I started mounting my Leaf back on my RZ's.

I think the P65 in Contax mount would be the best bet.  No wakeup cable, dead, rotating plate, big sensor to fill that big viewfinder, then you keep your Contax and use have the RZ.  

T


TMARK, thanks a lot for this info, really appreciated.

Cheers

TES

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tesfoto
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« Reply #41 on: April 21, 2010, 09:25:21 AM »
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Quote from: gwhitf
How bizarre, and what a statement on the state of the market, that you'd come up with that as your best bet, (and that I'd almost agree with you). It's funny: I have this little mental exercise that I do when I'm thinking of the ideal camera -- most of the time, it's me standing there by a window, shooting a portrait of someone, handheld, and I'm pushed for light, and I need asa 800, and I'm shooting vertical, so I need a vertical grip, and I don't have enough light to feel good about manual focus, so I need autofocus. Almost aways, it comes down to a decision of a separate back and body, and usually, the back is always a P65+. (Remember, this is just a mental exercise, so I only have to write a mental check, so it's no big deal). So if the back is a P65+, because I want the largest physical chip, then that leaves only the body, which is either H NASA Slap, or MamiyaPlastic, or Hassie V CantFocus, or ContaxDarkViewfinder. But of those, for me, the two top choices would be Contax, due to NoSlapNoLunge, or Hassie V, just because it feels like RealPhotographer.

I know there's some code wording in there, but I think you'll get what I'm talking about. The only others that leaves is the wild card of the new Pentax, or maybe a Nikon D3x, but those are way down the list.

In the end, the ideal camera would be the feeling of a Mamiya 6 body and grip, the way it fits into your hand, but with SLR, no rangefinder focus issues, but with P65+ glued to the back of it.

I am calling this camera: Walkaround, LowLight, WindowLight, HighASA, Handhold, FastLenses, GreatViewfinder. I see it so clearly in my mind.


I play these mindgames myself.

My dilemma is that I love everything about the Contax system (have most of their lenses), but I love doing portraits on a tripod looking down a WLF and focusing the Mamiya RB with film in portrait mode.

I want to convey this feeling to digital capture.

I have a WLF on the Contax but this cant be used in portrait mode.

Ok I could crop to square format, but the loosing chip real estate.

OK then a Contax to Mamiya RZ adapter plate but then the problem with wakeup cable release.

OK then swift moutn to Hasselblad V and use the classic 500CM, but I always hated focus the 500CM in the film days and after reading this thread it seem even more difficult with digital.

OK then swift mount to Mamiya, but the I have to let go of the Contax (no Mamiya to Contax adapter).

OK then upgrade to the P65+ in Contax mount, larger chip size (ver good), it can fit the RZ and work without wake up cable - this might be the best option.

Then I suddenly remember that I have an ongoing project where I need very long exposures - back to the P45+

I am stuck....... Need two backs........ F#&




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baudolino
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« Reply #42 on: April 21, 2010, 09:54:48 AM »
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Quote from: gwhitf
How bizarre, and what a statement on the state of the market, that you'd come up with that as your best bet, (and that I'd almost agree with you). It's funny: I have this little mental exercise that I do when I'm thinking of the ideal camera -- most of the time, it's me standing there by a window, shooting a portrait of someone, handheld, and I'm pushed for light, and I need asa 800, and I'm shooting vertical, so I need a vertical grip, and I don't have enough light to feel good about manual focus, so I need autofocus. Almost aways, it comes down to a decision of a separate back and body, and usually, the back is always a P65+. (Remember, this is just a mental exercise, so I only have to write a mental check, so it's no big deal). So if the back is a P65+, because I want the largest physical chip, then that leaves only the body, which is either H NASA Slap, or MamiyaPlastic, or Hassie V CantFocus, or ContaxDarkViewfinder. But of those, for me, the two top choices would be Contax, due to NoSlapNoLunge, or Hassie V, just because it feels like RealPhotographer.

I know there's some code wording in there, but I think you'll get what I'm talking about. The only others that leaves is the wild card of the new Pentax, or maybe a Nikon D3x, but those are way down the list.

In the end, the ideal camera would be the feeling of a Mamiya 6 body and grip, the way it fits into your hand, but with SLR, no rangefinder focus issues, but with P65+ glued to the back of it.

I am calling this camera: Walkaround, LowLight, WindowLight, HighASA, Handhold, FastLenses, GreatViewfinder. I see it so clearly in my mind.


The Contax is actually a good choice because of (i) the autofocus system which is very accurate (if not blazing fast) and (ii) because of the comparatively soft mirror slap - which both help in achieving maximum sharpness.

I share the experience of many other people here with the difficulty of focusing an MFDB equipped camera manually and with the very shallow depth of field. I am now using a Sinar Hy6 body with my digital back and have had the focusing accuracy of all my lenses measured by a Sinar technician in Zurich - he printed a little certificate for me, showing the recommended offsets (focus micro-adjustments) for each lens. Every time I switch lenses I dial in these offsets in the camera body menu (the latest version of the firmware allows this). This really helps, especially at shorter distances (as proved by my own tests using the Lens Align tool). Interestingly, when I had checked some of my Contax  lenses on the 645 body (with the same Sinar e75 back and the Lens Align tool) there was no micro-adjustment needed, the autofocus was impressively spot on. So if you can live with the relatively dim viewfinder on the Contax (and the lack of a 45 degree prism which I missed with that system), the Contax in my view addressed the focus accuracy problem very well - and at a very reasonable price. The Sinar Hy6/Leaf AFi is another good and more modern (and more expensive) alternative (and yes I know all the potential concerns here in connection with the demise of F&H - my point is that the system does address the focus accuracy issue through the possibility of micro-adjustment - and as a benefit, there is no need for a vertical grip since it has the rotating back adapter which I find hugely helpful).

Regards,

Martin
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Rob C
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« Reply #43 on: April 21, 2010, 10:58:45 AM »
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I sympathise with the writer who yearned for the old 500C/CM experience because it felt 'real photography'. How bloody true.

I no longer haver either 'blad, but wish that I did; I still have an F3 and also a D200 and D700, neither of which gives the feeling of the old Nikons. There is a suspicion that younger photographers will not suffer this feeling since they probably never knew the bliss of the simple, easy ways, where the big deal was seeing the right image before you and the mechanical feel was just so right it actually helped inspire you in your work.

But I suppose those days have passed for ever. Long live the synthetic mode... yeah.

Rob C
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« Reply #44 on: April 22, 2010, 02:29:54 AM »
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Hello,

Well Rob all I can say is that I never what to work with film cameras again. I've be shoot professionally for 25 years and I just love the creative freedom that digital has to offer. I do miss the smell of the 669 Polaroid's thou.

Cheers

Simon
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Simon Harper
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John R Smith
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« Reply #45 on: April 22, 2010, 02:41:26 AM »
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Quote from: HarperPhotos
Well Rob all I can say is that I never what to work with film cameras again. I've be shoot professionally for 25 years and I just love the creative freedom that digital has to offer.

Simon

It all depends what your definition of a "photographic experience" is. Quite a lot of people still ride horses, sail wooden boats, or drive classic cars, although they are all outmoded forms of transport. For some of us quaint eccentrics, the slam of a 'Blad mirror or the focusing knob of a Rollei TLR are an enjoyable and intrinsic part of the making of a photograph. If I just want to get quickly from A to B I would probably hire a 2010 Ford, but if I want an interesting and challenging driving experience I would pick an old Alfa or MG any day.

John
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tesfoto
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« Reply #46 on: April 22, 2010, 03:02:27 AM »
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Quote from: John R Smith
Simon

It all depends what your definition of a "photographic experience" is. Quite a lot of people still ride horses, sail wooden boats, or drive classic cars, although they are all outmoded forms of transport. For some of us quaint eccentrics, the slam of a 'Blad mirror or the focusing knob of a Rollei TLR are an enjoyable and intrinsic part of the making of a photograph. If I just want to get quickly from A to B I would probably hire a 2010 Ford, but if I want an interesting and challenging driving experience I would pick an old Alfa or MG any day.

John


A few years back, I met one of the worlds top music photographers who still shoots with a Nikon F and his trusted Tri-X. He used to be a very good Jazz Musician before turning into photography.

I asked him why he still uses this old equiptment and his answer was that he liked the sound of the shutter.

No lightmeter, he calculate his exposure from experience. No camera lcd to look at to take away attention from photography, he knows when the shot is there. He delivers fast: 1 hour developing film and make 4 prints in the darkroom (no contact sheet).

My guess is digital would take longer when you calculate, computertime including storage.






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HarperPhotos
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« Reply #47 on: April 22, 2010, 03:19:28 AM »
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Hello,

I get what you are saying. I still use a Sinar P2 and a Mamiya RZ. The great bit is that lovely Leaf Aptus 75 clipped on the back of them and tethered to a Imac, just wonderful.

Cheers

Simon
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Simon Harper
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rogerxnz
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« Reply #48 on: April 22, 2010, 04:12:33 AM »
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I agree with all the foregoing about the difficulty of focusing with MFDB and the unreliability of the depth of field indicators on the lens barrels even though my experience is only from the low levels of an Aptus 17.

What I am surprised at is the lack of any rational explanation for these problems. Some talk about the flat plane of the sensor being the cause but all film backs try to keep film as flat as possible so the flatness of the sensor should be a plus for accurate focusing! Some talk about the thinness of the focal plane with digital but it is not as if film is of any substantial thickness itself.

It seems to me that the precision that an absolutely flat and rigid sensor offers should positively help achieve reliable focus.

So, why are we having focusing problems?

When someone sorts that out, I would like to know why some lenses do not focus at infinity with digital on the Flexbody. I noticed this with my 150mm Sonnar and found confirmation of the issue on the web. Focusing at infinity should be so easy to achieve but not with my 150mm lens on my Flexbody. The lens focuses fine on all my 500 series bodies. Other lenses focus at infinity on my Flexbody with no problem. I challenge someone to explain this situation.

Roger
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Roger Hayman
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« Reply #49 on: April 22, 2010, 11:29:16 AM »
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Quote from: rogerxnz
What I am surprised at is the lack of any rational explanation for these problems. Some talk about the flat plane of the sensor being the cause but all film backs try to keep film as flat as possible so the flatness of the sensor should be a plus for accurate focusing! Some talk about the thinness of the focal plane with digital but it is not as if film is of any substantial thickness itself.
Roger

Indeed. I have a 1928 quarter-plate camera of uncertain origin, which has a very crude 6x9 rollfilm back. You focus on the groundglass in the usual way, then fit the film back, remove the darkslide, and make the exposure. If you saw how badly this focus screen mount is worn, saw how much the film bulges and curls in the back (no pressure plate) and how sloppy the mount for that is, you would reckon that there would be no hope of any focus at all, let alone quality. Yet the little 3-element Schneider Radionar produces stunning, tack sharp shots. So compared with all that, a 'Blad 500 with a Phase or CFV back should be a total Rolls Royce. And yet we can't focus the damn thing.

John
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« Reply #50 on: April 22, 2010, 02:20:35 PM »
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It's something that puzzles me too, that idea that having a less flat surface on which to focus (film) will produce a greater number of sharp pics than a very flat sensor seems able to do on the same body. I've read the explanations offered, that the emulsion thickness allows the light to focus internally even at different depths (!) to the absolute surface... yes, but no. I just don't accept it as reasonable. There has to be something else going down - has anybody actually checked how flat all sensors really are? Are we assuming huge assumptions about manufacturing controls? Going by how they put out lenses today, I wouldn't be too convinced about QC of sensors either.

It's said that 'blad backs were sloppy: never felt mine sloppy in a front to back plane. Why would digi backs be any more well machined unless the idea is that 'blad and 'nica etc. were unwilling to go to the nth degree with their film backs? I'd imagine they were as well made as possible, in those days.

John R Smith has it right: 'feel' is about more than mechanics - it is also an emotion, and if photography isn't all wrapped up in emotions then it's nothing. Digi is certainly more convenient - even in my jaundiced opinion - but take time and the problems caused by the shrinking film industries out of it and I would have those 500s back in an instant. I liked heavy that way; I hate it for a walkaround number, which the 'blads seldom were (again, for me). Maybe the big problem I face is money: more of it, and a dedicated 120 scanner would be my passport to what I'd love to use today. I think. I told you it was an emotional matter.

Rob C
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Fritzer
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« Reply #51 on: April 22, 2010, 02:36:53 PM »
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Quote from: HarperPhotos
I still use a Sinar P2 and a Mamiya RZ. The great bit is that lovely Leaf Aptus 75 clipped on the back of them and tethered to a Imac, just wonderful.

I hear you , those are my main cameras too.
Have to admit, the RZ is still the only non-LF camera I can get the focus right with pretty much every time (A75 here as well) .
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« Reply #52 on: May 08, 2010, 08:23:02 AM »
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I have (hopefully) one final question about this focus issue -- specifically to people who are using Hasselblad V bodies with digital backs on them:

If you are having focus issues, can you tell me which scenario most applies to you?

1) "I'm shooting, and the subject is not moving, and I'm on a tripod, and I'm going slow, and everything is calm, and I focus and then refocus and then refocus again, and I just know in my heart that the focus is on the eyelashes, but many times, when the file opens up, it's either backfocused or frontfocused. I think it might be my focusing screen, but honestly, I don't have a clue".

2) "I'm shooting, and I'm not on a tripod, and I'm trying to follow focus on people that are in motion to some degree, and I'm walking around, and shooting from the hip, and I think when I shoot that it's sharp, but honestly, who knows? It sorta seemed sharp, on the ground glass, when I shot, but people were moving around. Maybe the V body is not the best body for that type of shooting".

Thanks.
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Gilles L
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« Reply #53 on: May 08, 2010, 09:30:17 AM »
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Quote from: gwhitf
I have (hopefully) one final question about this focus issue -- specifically to people who are using Hasselblad V bodies with digital backs on them:

If you are having focus issues, can you tell me which scenario most applies to you?

1) "I'm shooting, and the subject is not moving, and I'm on a tripod, and I'm going slow, and everything is calm, and I focus and then refocus and then refocus again, and I just know in my heart that the focus is on the eyelashes, but many times, when the file opens up, it's either backfocused or frontfocused. I think it might be my focusing screen, but honestly, I don't have a clue".

2) "I'm shooting, and I'm not on a tripod, and I'm trying to follow focus on people that are in motion to some degree, and I'm walking around, and shooting from the hip, and I think when I shoot that it's sharp, but honestly, who knows? It sorta seemed sharp, on the ground glass, when I shot, but people were moving around. Maybe the V body is not the best body for that type of shooting".

Thanks.

I've been shoot with the CFV-39 and a 503CW for a little over a month now. I primarily shoot your scenario #1: tabletop objects with controlled lighting and on a tripod. After getting used to the system, focusing is now a non-issue and I hit the mark just as much as when I was using a AF system. The focusing screen certainly plays a great role. I use a Acute Matte D with split image and microprism. The screen is very bright. I am still contemplating a Bill Maxwell's screen. I've tried waistlevel finder, chimney finder and PME45. I still prefer the waistlevel finder and systematically use the built-in magnifier for critical focusing.

Regarding scenario #2, I have not done any extensive shooting outside, but I've done a fair amount of testing handheld. Camera shake is a big concern, although I just bought a CW winder, and this may solve the problem. I was able to handhold some shots with a 180mm at 1/125th, so that's promising. I still need to do more shooting.

The system is definitely growing on me...

Best, Gilles
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bcooter
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« Reply #54 on: May 08, 2010, 11:42:53 AM »
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Since the photography world has turned upside down, I've begun to use the cameras I like more than just the cameras that will just easily do the job.  

I understand with looking for an edge and going back to our roots.  I like real cameras, with minimal menus and real knobs for fstop and shutter.  There is just something that feels natural with a film based camera vs. a all digital dslr with spinning wheels and menus that go on for ages.

I'm sure that's why I like the contax and the Leica.

In the film days I had two elms and always found focus to be a challenge.

I used them, loved the build quality but when time permitted, I can't count the number of times we shoot a 665 pn polaroid, washed off the neg and checked focus.

Once I moved away from them I found every camera I used to be easier to focus than the v series.

Actually had the Contax not come along I "might" have gone to the 200 series blad, because I like focal plane lenses, but once it became a 645 world it just made no sense to me to shoot a square camera.  Taking a back off and on was more effort than just moving the Contax on an L bracket from vertical to horizontal and the Contax has a right angle grip.

The last 2 1/2 projects I've gone away from the Canons and to the Contax and p30+ backs.  The previous project I shot over 900 frames all manual focus with the 120 macro.

Honestly since I've used the Canons for so long now, I was kind of concerned about focus, especially all manual focus but it's kind of like riding a bike, it all comes back quickly and since I processed and checked all 900 something frames there were only 2 that were soft.  Now I shot most of the shoot at high f stops so that helped, but still f 16 or f 5.6 out of focus is out of focus.

Not to go off topic, but the only issue I have with the Contax is the p30+.  It's a bullet proof back but I have and always find the color response very tricky with skin tones.  It just seems so sensitive when the curves are moved around.  Maybe the p40 dalsa chip fixes this, but I don't think I'd put 20 grand on another cropped chip digital back.  I've thought about looking for a used Leaf 54s, or maybe a 75, because the Leaf files seem less sensitive to moving the curves, but it's probably difficult to find a used Leaf with a Contax mount and I have this felling that the next and only expensive camera I'll even consider will be an EPIC.

Then again, I think it's all down to personal style and then again when it comes to color response, and sharpness I'm still blow away with the 5d2.  I think it's much better than my two 1ds3's, much better than anything else I've  tried (color response that is).

Once again, not to move off topic, but I think a lot of the debate we see about 35mm vs. 645 is between the two, there just isn't that much difference in real estate.  Granted 24x36 vs 36x48 seems almost twice size, but with a cropped chip, it's still not that much of a difference as say a 35mm vs. an RZ or a square 6x6, or a 6x7 camera.

Personally and I say this because I'd kind of like a leaf, I think Leaf would be smart if they offered very quick turnaround and change of camera mounts, without waiting.  

My only fear of Leaf is what direction they are going since Phase now owns them.  Are they now flush with money and R+D or they considered just to be a stepping stone to move current leaf customers to Phase?  Will LC 11 continue with the next apple os upgrade, or will it just be dropped in favor of C-1?

I don't know because medium format land seems to be limited in actual hard fact information.    

BC


P.S.  This post is not meant to start a 645 vs. 35mm debate.  Those go nowhere.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2010, 11:44:28 AM by bcooter » Logged
fredjeang
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« Reply #55 on: May 08, 2010, 11:54:09 AM »
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Why not a FF P65 ?
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gwhitf
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« Reply #56 on: May 08, 2010, 05:21:11 PM »
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Quote from: Gilles L
I am still contemplating a Bill Maxwell's screen.

Who is this mythical Bill Maxwell guy, and what is he doing that some large corporation like Hasselblad can't do? You read stuff about it him, and he seems like some Jimmy Durante or Yogi Berra type, sitting in a smoke filled basement somewhere, trying to get away from his wife, but he's able to grind something out that's truly unique. Can anyone describe what he makes, and why it's so good?

Is the market so small that Hasselblad just doesn't bother ripping him off?
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Rob C
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« Reply #57 on: May 09, 2010, 03:52:48 AM »
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Quote from: gwhitf
I have (hopefully) one final question about this focus issue -- specifically to people who are using Hasselblad V bodies with digital backs on them:

If you are having focus issues, can you tell me which scenario most applies to you?

1) "I'm shooting, and the subject is not moving, and I'm on a tripod, and I'm going slow, and everything is calm, and I focus and then refocus and then refocus again, and I just know in my heart that the focus is on the eyelashes, but many times, when the file opens up, it's either backfocused or frontfocused. I think it might be my focusing screen, but honestly, I don't have a clue".

2) "I'm shooting, and I'm not on a tripod, and I'm trying to follow focus on people that are in motion to some degree, and I'm walking around, and shooting from the hip, and I think when I shoot that it's sharp, but honestly, who knows? It sorta seemed sharp, on the ground glass, when I shot, but people were moving around. Maybe the V body is not the best body for that type of shooting".

Thanks.



Okay, you pose the questions in good enough faith, but I sort of imagine that scenario (2) is being proposed with a huge amount of tongue in your cheek? At least, I hope so!

I used 500 series for many years, and on the very first job I shot outdoors, hand-held, I had imagined I was dealing with a super Rollei TLR; imagine my expensive disappointment when I discovered how wrong I had been.  It isn't the focussing, it's the blasted mirror bouncing around like an enraged rat trap! But, connect it to electronic flash in the studio and you can walk around with it as long as your wrists hold out. But then, you obviously know all that from the sort of work you do so well.

In effect, I suggest that the 500 series should always be mounted on a tripod, which is more or less what Hasselblad themselves suggested when they put out that leaflet about mirror-up employment being a very, very good idea.

And why not? You can't reinvent physics - accept how great a tool it is for what it does so well. Nothing covers all needs.

Rob C
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« Reply #58 on: May 09, 2010, 04:00:26 AM »
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Quote from: bcooter
Actually had the Contax not come along I "might" have gone to the 200 series blad, because I like focal plane lenses, but once it became a 645 world it just made no sense to me to shoot a square camera.



I understand the temptation, but I could never get it out of my mind that Hass had started that way and gave up in favour of lenses with shutters. Apart from poor flash synch there was the problem of uneven curtain travel which was also present with many 35mm fp shutters until the F3 came along...

I expect they reinvented the 6x6 fp system for themselves in an effort to catch sport shooters and also widen the product line - how many cameras of one type will you sell when they last for ever?

Rob C



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« Reply #59 on: May 09, 2010, 03:34:55 PM »
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Quote from: gwhitf
Who is this mythical Bill Maxwell guy, and what is he doing that some large corporation like Hasselblad can't do? You read stuff about it him, and he seems like some Jimmy Durante or Yogi Berra type, sitting in a smoke filled basement somewhere, trying to get away from his wife, but he's able to grind something out that's truly unique. Can anyone describe what he makes, and why it's so good?

Is the market so small that Hasselblad just doesn't bother ripping him off?

You should give him a ring (770) 939-6644 -  he has an assistant but usually he'll answer the phone and loves to talk.  He'll tell you all about it.  He actually may be supplying screens to some of the manufacturers and/or will know who is making the stock screens for many cameras.   His Hi-Lux treatment definitely makes the view brighter but there are other tricks he can do to tailor the trade offs to your preference as well as add whatever focus aids and grid or crop lines as you like.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2010, 03:35:15 PM by EricWHiss » Logged

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