How do you focus your camera?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Michael R 1974, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,200
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This particular sub-forum doesn't get the most traffic but I'm posting this here because although this has primarily to do with view camera adjustments/depth of field, the questions and principles apply to fixed geometry cameras as well, so I'd like to hear from shooters of all formats.

    Note: I'm asking for feedback from people who want sharp negatives, and work with landscape/urban landscape, architecture...these kinds of subjects. This thread doesn't concern studio work, portraiture, table-top/still life and/or selective focus styles.

    Some context. After a break from large format, I'm going back into 4x5 again, and I'm admitting here and now that as much as I read and practiced, I never got good at focusing the view camera. When it comes to film, darkroom work and printing, I can do whatever I want with few limitations. But when it comes to setting the camera up for the shot, for me that has always been the "drudgery" part of photography. This is probably the opposite situation of that of most photographers.

    I have never been confident using tilts and swings. I understand what to do, but I'm never sure if it's right, and usually end up stopping down further than I should probably have to. Often don’t bother even trying tilts when I should. In the end I've usually settled for more diffraction rather than risk a totally screwed up picture. I'd also like to point out the uncertainty regarding depth of field made its way into my 35mm work.

    There are people like Adams etc who seem to have done everything by eye and by feel. None of that ever worked for me. Then there’s all the Merklinger stuff. I sort of get it, but it is only straight forward when you have a diagram of the scene viewed from the side. When you’re actually in the field, how are you actually supposed to determine the distances and angles involved in making the decisions about tilt and aperture? It’s not like you can draw lines all over the place.

    So here are some questions for people:

    1.Situations where there is a lot of depth and multiple planes, and tilts and swings cannot be used:
    ·How do you decide where to focus?
    ·Do you use “conventional” depth of field rules?
    ·Do you focus on the near objects?
    ·Do you focus at a hyperfocal distance (ie focus on nothing)?
    ·Do you use Merklinger’s “object plane” method (usually resulting in an infinity bias)?
    ·Do you focus at infinity?
    ·How do you determine depth of field?
    ·Do you simply use the near-far focus method?

    2.Situations where tilt can be used:
    ·How do you decide where to focus?
    ·Do you determine the tilt angle?
    ·If you use Merklinger’s methods and the hinge rule, how do you determine where the plane of sharp focus should be? How far below the lens should the hinge line be? How do you estimate all the distance measurements involved? How do you decide on the angle the plane of sharp focus should take from the foreground to the background? Etc etc (there are so many variables in this).
    ·How do you determine what lies within the depth of field? The math might work nicely on a diagram, but in the field how do you really figure out where things are in the space in front of you?

    Thanks
     
  2. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,537
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    If I had to think about any of that I would never get around to taking a picture.
     
  3. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,195
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You have a plane to work with, you can put it "out there" wherever you want. 8x10 is easy because you can actually see what you are doing. Smaller formats require some experience and use of empiric formulas because you can't always see what is going on.

    Personally, when using 8x10, I tend to avoid subjects where the important visual information does not all fit on a plane somewhere in the scene.
     
  4. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,200
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    IC, how do you know where to put the plane? What about depth of field?

    Cliveh, that's the point. Does anyone actually use any of this stuff? And if so, I'd really like to know how they do it with any kind of certainty in a reasonable amount of time when actually making a picture. I know I can't.
     
  5. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,614
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Hi Michael R 1974,

    Of course LF photographers use the stuff all the time. But I get where cliveh is coming from. I selected a rangefinder 4x5 because I like the "syntax" of 35mm photography. If there are converging verticals, people have grown accustomed to it and accept it as a photograph.

    I rarely used movements anyway when I dabbled in 4x5 before. So I don't have a lot of personal advice to offer here...

    But my technique was simple when I had movements at my disposal... Square everthing up at the start (set all the settings at their detent). Then while composing anything vertical, like a tree that needs more, I'd keep the camera level and just raise the front. I'd keep it simple.

    Something like that is not very hard to do at all.
     
  6. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

    Messages:
    3,941
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    ɹǝpunuʍop. F
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've noted your comments. If you do not employ tilt, shift, rise, fall and swing and whatnot in the larger format, then perhaps you should not be using that format. You said, "I understand what to do", but in the next breath, "but I'm never sure if it's right,". Well truth be told, there is no right or wrong. Nobody is creeping up behind you with a cat o' nine tails to whip you onto the straight and narrow of compliance to some obscure, unpublished rule that is right and that must be followed. You are participating in an experimental and quite variable branch of specialist photography. What there is to learn is done by actively using and employing the functions available to you in the larger format. There are very few published scientific texts to propel you along, and Merklinger's is one of the best, but you do not need to take all that on board to come away with a beautiful image. It does require refined skill and precision that you learn through experience, and much of the adjustment is by visually following the plane(s) as movement is introduced. That's the way it is. It is not relevant to dissect Merklinger's voluminous writing on the Scheimpflug Principles. Though informative, all that text has the capacity to dent the confidence of people who are not extrapolating writing into active practice, or feel intimidated. Depth of field, focus plane and subject alignment are all learnt behind the camera.

    What do you mean by "Situations where there is a lot of depth and multiple planes, and tilts and swings cannot be used"? Why can't the movement(s) be used? If you are using an ultra-wide angle lens you will generally not have to introduce tilt to extend depth of field. Shift/rise/swing can be employed for perspective correction and elevating/reducing the scene.

    When I photographed a waterfall in 2003, previous research of the subject alerted me that it was not facing the camera in an ideal plane, nor could I move the camera closer to it. Using tilt, I "turned around" the waterfall, in doing so, creating a 'peg' of near and far focus (extensible depth of field) while choosing to leave the periphery (of unsharp/out of focus) surroundings 'as is'. Depth of field and by association, focus, was completed visually.

    The depth of your enquiry is troubling because it introduces a huge and potentially complex layer into the photographic practice that is not only distracting, but unwarranted. Will you ever get the picture done if you are considering so many principles, functions, calculations, permutations, measurements, conversions etc? To learn all about the how, where and wherefore, load the film holders up and go out and shoot, applying movements as you desire (and keeping notes of what you are doing as a valuable learning aid). Then come back and show us the beautiful pictures you created. Stuff the mathematics and diagrams.
     
  7. walbergb

    walbergb Subscriber

    Messages:
    422
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Location:
    Brandon, Man
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  8. M. Lointain

    M. Lointain Member

    Messages:
    148
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2011
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I like simple processes, Occam's razor if you will. I simply pull the lens stage out to rough focus, work out the Shimmyflugey thingy (aim the lens stage at the ground in line with the back) then do fine focus. Simple! I think most people that use view cameras overcomplicate the hell out of it. I am happy for you if you can twist your camera into a pretzel but you never need to in the real world. Maybe in brochures....
     
  9. CPorter

    CPorter Member

    Messages:
    1,662
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    Location:
    West KY
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    My 2 cents on when tilt is used:

    I first estimate the tilt angle by estimating how far below the lens my desired plane of sharp focus will intersect the hinge, then I simply calculate it by Merklinger's equation for tilt angles less than 15 degrees---the largest angle I've ever used is about 8 or 10 degrees: (focal length in mm) / (5*J), where J is the distance in feet from the lens to the hinge. It's very simple. I always rack the film plane forward or backward when focusing, so, and this is key, once I understood that the plane of sharp focus rotates, at the hinge, away from the lens with forward movement of the film plane and toward the lens with backward movement, then placing the plane of sharp focus became easier for me to understand.

    Try it by applying some degree of tilt to the lens, then just focus at a vertical subject like a telephone pole until just the base of the pole is in focus, the rest out of focus. Then, while keeping the eye on the base of the pole, slowly rack the film plane backward, causing the plane of sharp focus to rotate up, toward the lens------now, successive portions of the pole, from the base and up, that lie in the plane of sharp focus will appear sharp as that plane rotates upward.

    It's a lot of words to describe it, but once grasped, is surprisingly easy.
     
  10. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Member

    Messages:
    1,844
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Location:
    Rome, Italy
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I don't use LF and don't practice the Scheimpflug laws. I can answer what I do regarding 135 as this is also what you seem to be interested in.

    First of all, I'm very wary of DoF marks for serious work. The reasons are:

    - The marks are generally set according to a circle of confusion a bit too tolerant for my taste: if using them, I tend to close 1 stop more, that is, close at f/11 while using DoF marks for f/8;

    - Focus is some "binary" concept to me. It's either there, or not. Something in "acceptable" focus is typically just "tolerably" out of focus.

    So what is the answer?

    My personal answer, and YMMV, is that even in a situation where there is the need of an ample depth in focus plane, there always is one element of the picture that must be perfectly in focus. If that one element is perfectly in focus, the focus error in the other elements are more acceptable to the viewer and the scene looks natural.

    To make an example: you have the landscape where you have the near field (let's say a stone 5 metre away), the middle field (let's say a tree 15 m away) and the background (let's say some mountains).

    The normal approach in this kind of photography is: which is the right focus point and f/aperture which will give me an acceptable DoF so that everything, from the stone to the mountain, is acceptably in focus? By having recourse to some DoF tables or marks, one chooses the "optimal" focus point. This approach I don't follow.

    This approach will lead to some focus point whereby none of the three elements is perfectly in focus. As I repeat, close is no cigar and acceptable is often a poor compromise.

    My answer would be: focus on the tree. Do some reasoning about what is the f/aperture for the rock and mountains to be reasonably in focus. Remember they will never be "perfectly" in focus. But whatever decently close f/stop you use, the tree must be perfectly in focus.

    The fact that there is an element perfectly in focus in the image makes the "acceptably in focus" elements, stone and mountains, much more acceptable to the eye (as acceptably in focus) than what would happen if no element were perfectly in focus (even if the rock or the mountains were a bit "more acceptably" in focus).

    Stated in alternative terms: if nothing is perfectly in focus there is something wrong in the image. If one element is perfectly in focus, the mind sees as acceptably in focus also elements which are not perfectly in focus.

    On the fallacy of DoF tables and marks I suggest reading this:

    http://www.trenholm.org/hmmerk/DOFR.html

    Fabrizio
     
  11. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

    Messages:
    771
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2012
    Location:
    County Durha
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Putting it quite simply, I don't know. After so many years of being involved with photography focussing either AF or manual whatever just come as a second nature. I assess a scene, subject or whatever el I intend to photograph and set the focussing accordingly. I don't thin about it a great deal. If in doubt I take 2-3 at different points of focus.
     
  12. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,135
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Location:
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    LF -- I focus about 1/3 of the way into the scene. I play with any movements that might be needed. Then I start closing the aperture. If both far and near parts of the scene start to come into focus at the same time, then I know I have placed the PoF properly. If the back comes into focus before the foreground, then I need to bring the PoF a little closer., etc.
     
  13. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    "I have never been confident using tilts and swings. I understand what to do, but I'm never sure if it's right, and usually end up stopping down further than I should probably have to. Often don’t bother even trying tilts when I should. In the end I've usually settled for more diffraction rather than risk a totally screwed up picture. I'd also like to point out the uncertainty regarding depth of field made its way into my 35mm work."

    Get a good loupe which can be focussed on the GG, a good (meaning dark) darkcloth so you can actually see the GG, then focus on the GG.
     
  14. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,195
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I focus on the important stuff that needs the most detail. Again, if the scene is complicated, with important stuff at many different distances from the camera that does not fall on a plane, including stuff very close, then 8x10 is a poor format to choose (for me).

    In terms of DOF, my personal style is to just about always use f45. If the focus spread predicts an aperture smaller I usually use f45 anyway, allowing the less important stuff to be out of focus a little and not compromise the stuff needing maximum detail.

    For example a scene with tree at 'infinity' and one at 6 feet. The tree at infinity needs maximum detail whereas the close tree can be out of focus and still be recognized as a tree. For me, when it is the other way around (the close three sharp and the infinity stuff out of focus) it looks odd. So I DO NOT use focal spread focusing when I want the stuff at infinity to be sharp. I focus at infinity. So, in the example above, focusing at 20 feet (the middle of the focus spread, but where there is no tree) is a little crazy in terms of making the images I like to make.
     
  15. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,200
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thank you everyone who responded so far. I’m essentially in agreement with all the comments. I’m just curious about how other people approach this. Even without tilt complications, depth of field is a judgement call. Depending on the picture, I’m not always able to decide between having some element definitely in focus at the expense of some sharpness elsewhere, or having everything “acceptably” sharp. Sometimes it also seems best in to focus at infinity since distant objects require more definition to appear sharp. Often I will simply expose multiple sheets/frames focused differently, and then make the decision in the darkroom. It might seem odd to bracket exposures for focus rather than exposure/development, but I guess in the end who cares how you get to the final print, as long as you get there.

    To clarify one thing, I’m referring tilt/swing movements in the context of the plane of sharp focus and depth of field. I have no issues with rise/fall/shift, and use those movements very often.

    Poisson du jour: I agree in principle with pretty much everything you wrote. The problem I run into with tilts is I find the results difficult to judge on the groundglass – even after doing this for years. If I’m focusing on say a wall, with the standards parallel, I can see when it is in proper focus. It is either in focus or not. Once tilts are applied however, if is difficult to know exactly where the plane of sharp focus “cuts” the various objects in front of the camera, and where the depth of field limits are. So the reference point for judging focus is ambiguous. Looking at any given part of the scene on the ground glass, as I move the rear standard back and forth, yes I can it get sharper and fuzzier, but even where it is sharpest, is it actually sharp or just sharper than when it is clearly out of focus? Has the tilt made anything better or worse? (I’m probably just not explaining this properly). So I looked to Merklinger and other sources for some tools that would hopefully eliminate some of the uncertainty. Some of these things looked promising, but only on paper where the distances etc are easy to assess. In the field they seemed very difficult to apply.

    CPorter: Regarding the hinge rule, how do you personally estimate the distance J?

    Diapositivo: I agree one must be careful with standard depth of field tables and assumptions regarding the acceptable size of the CoC.
     
  16. amac212

    amac212 Member

    Messages:
    95
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2008
    Location:
    East Coast,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm suddenly feeling quite inadequate, for all I do it pull it out to get a rough focus on the ground glass. Then I fine focus, introduce varying tilts and shifts and decide whether either (or both) look pleasing to my eye and ... <clicky... Voila! Art!>.
     
  17. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,200
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Nothing inadequate about that at all, amac212. Whatever works. That's the point. I'm trying to find out how people approach focusing, whether in a simple or complex way.
     
  18. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

    Messages:
    3,941
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    ɹǝpunuʍop. F
    Shooter:
    Multi Format


    Focusing on the ground glass and assessing tilt/swing etc is a challenge for everybody, as is estimting distance. I've watched as friends battled over a long period of time to correct focus, adjust tilt, refocus and readjust, all in the dim, wet surrounds of a cold rainforest. And here we've got people saying "it's easy!" Rubbish! I would not bother with LF now with so much fiddling necessary when I can do the same thing, faster and with better eyesight facilitation with 35mm. So really, the focusing it is certainly not something that lends itself to speed or for that matter, accuracy, with any doubt left to be covered by depth of field. Only the mathematical part is accurate (to a point). Everything else is done visually to the best of your perrsonal capacity. This deep technical and mathematical stuff is so totally unnecessary and anal that anybody concentrating just on those things will certainly get a picture (eventually!) but viewers are not going to be any more the wiser (or better informed) at picking up what was done. Of all my images made with applied tilt, not even my old uni Professor picked up the introduction of tilt and extensible DofF/focus peg until it was discussed what I found wrong with the scene and how it was corrected. That is to say that none of the effects will be visible and their merits will be open to judgement irrespective of what the photographer was trying to achieve.

    I will point out that depth of field "rules" (or standard placement marks) do not apply when tilt or swing is introduced. The other thing that I learnt in the early 1990s was that ultrawide angle LF lenses e.g. 65mm, will not benefit from any tilt or swing because of inherent great depth of field. Even if you wished to, following with accuracy the movement(s) would see the vast majority of people give it up. In a nutshell, just go out and play with the camera, introducing whatever movements you want to, record notes of what you are doing, shoot and inspect the prints or trannies (not negatives).
     
  19. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,200
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks ic-racer. This is generally the approach I follow. Interestingly it is essentially what Merklinger calls "object plane focusing" (but done visually) - ie basing the point of focus and depth of field on the different objects in the scene and how much resolution they need.
     
  20. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,117
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hi michael

    when i focus, if i am going to stop down or do p/c movements i don't sweat it.
    i focus like vaughn does ...
    otherwise i just focus wherever it seems right, and make the exposure ....
     
  21. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,758
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2003
    Location:
    NH - Live Fr
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    In this case you can't really use tilts or swings unless one plane is much more important than another. But in most cases like this I find movements make the image look weird. For example adding a swing to get a receding wall in focus works, but if the objects on other planes are out of focus at different distances it's odd to my eye. So in this case I either find the subject and focus on that and let the rest stay blurry, or I focus on the subject and stop down enough to bring the rest into focus. Sure diffraction will rob you of some sharpness, but you can still make a pretty decent 16x20 print from a 4x5 at f/32 or higher. Only if there are two subjects at different distances do I focus between them (about a 1/3 of the way, but I do this by feel of the focus knob, not direct measurement so it's rough).

    I don't usually bother with DOF charts since all the lookups distract me and ruin the experience. I usually can see well enough on the ground glass with a loupe to know if I'm close. I then close down one more stop from experience. If in doubt close down more and deal with the diffraction blur later. I've learned the hard way that you can still get a good print when diffraction has blurred it (just at a smaller print size), but you can salvage a shot where there is awkward out of focus areas.

    I almost never focus at infinity, as you are wasting a lot of DOF that could let you open up a bit. The one exception would be if the subject really is at infinity (and there is nothing closer), in which case you could shoot that at what ever aperture you want.

    I determine which plane I want to focus on when I'm not looking through the lens. This lets you see in three dimensions and spot things away from the plane that will look odd if they get blurry as you move away form the plane (think trees with blurry tops). I usually tilt the lens and determine it by eye making sure the plane is in focus both near and far. I then look at the camera from the side and check if it confirms to the Scheimpflug principle. If it doesn't I know something is wrong. I then stop down enough to make sure all the trees and other things are sharp to the tips. Remember to check the tallest/farthest objects from the plane (in reality picture a wedge going out along the plane). These will be where the problems are. And I stop down one stop to account for my eyes and the loupe, as above. When using movements I am almost always trying to get the whole scene in focus. If not I generally find things look odd.

    I never bother with the math, and hadn't heard of Merklinger’s methods until this post. A simple visualization of the Scheimpflug picture works well for me. It's easy enough to see if you step to the side of your camera.
     
  22. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

    Messages:
    1,118
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Location:
    Oregon and A
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I'm surprised these haven't already been mentioned:

    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/how-to-focus.html
    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/fstop.html

    I find the method described in the second article (How to Select the f-Stop) best for me. I have equipped my field cameras with millimeter scales and have taped a table of optimum f-stops to the camera body. Focus near-far, split the distance, set the f-stop based on the spread and shoot.

    This I modify a bit when the horizon is in the scene and things at infinity are important. In this case (as per Merklinger's advice), I cheat toward the infinity a bit, focusing about 20% farther back (shorter) than halfway. Sometimes I'll use a bit smaller f-stop in this case as well.

    For swings and tilts you use the same method with one caveat. When you reposition the plane of sharp focus with swings/tilts, the objects that are optically nearest and farthest in the scene are often counter-intuitive. For example, when using tilt to get a foreground object and a mountaintop in focus, the base of the mountain (even though it's physically closer) will become the farthest from the plane of focus. It takes a bit of practice to learn where the best positioning of the plane of sharp focus is for complex scenes. One way to tell if you have an optimum positioning is to measure the focus spread for various amounts of tilt/swing. The position with the least spread is the best and can use a larger aperture for the same amount of sharpness, which is usually more desirable.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus

    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  23. henk@apug

    henk@apug Member

    Messages:
    186
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Location:
    Belgium
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I can not get my head around this: when you position the plain of sharp focus with a tilt
    and use a near and far point to do so then these two points are in focus when the tilt is correct,
    so there is no difference in distance on the camera for these two points.

    With a "zero" camera setup I totally understand the technique of near and far points because
    there "is" always a distance on the camera between those two points, then devide by two
    to set camera and multiply by 5 for aperture setting (5 in case of a 4x5 camera).
    But with a tilt the near and the far point are both in focus for the same distance on the camera
    when the tilt is correctly setup for the plane of sharp focus one has in mind.

    Could you please explain some more this method when using tilts ?

    Thank you !
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2013
  24. henk@apug

    henk@apug Member

    Messages:
    186
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Location:
    Belgium
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    ok, I got it :smile:
    I read links Doremus provided, answers are in there
     
  25. CPorter

    CPorter Member

    Messages:
    1,662
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    Location:
    West KY
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I apologize for such a late response, I never saw this question, but I'll try to provide one here..........

    I step out from behind the camera and stand to the side and look at the far element and invision the plane of sharp focus to the near element, then continuing toward the camera past the near element, eventually the plane of sharp focus passes through the ground where it will intersect a vertical plane through the lens that is parallel to the film (or more simply just the height of the lens above the sharp plane of focus for the distance "j").

    It's a guess as to how many feet below the lens, through the ground, where the plane you want sharp is intersecting the "parallel to film lens plane", which also should be projected through the ground where the two meet at the "hinge". I've never nailed it the first time, but it has gotten me pretty close, then it has to be tweaked from there. One thing to remember is that when tilting the lens, the plane of sharp focus tilts more than the degree of tilt you actually gave the lens itself. So if your're only tilting the lens, say, 3 degrees, then you know that the plane of sharp focus is tilted more than 3 degrees. By how much is not important, just know that is the case.

    Howard Bond's "Focus-Check" procedure will get you there just the same, in fact, I have used the calculation to estimate tilt angle, then I have used Bond's procedure to do the tweaking. Sometimes I have just used Bond's focus-check to arrive at the plane I want in focus. It takes some practice, but when you understand it, it becomes second nature.....I would do a lot of practicing around the house/yard before I even put film in the camera.

    The last thing I think one should remember is that Merklinger states that DoF is maximized with an untilted lens, because an untilted lens does not present a "cone" shaped DoF region in front of and behind the plane that is sharply focused, narrow end of the cone is closest to the lens. When the lens is tilted, the subject should not have tall elements that are near the camera, they should be much closer to the "far" elements due to the cone shaped DoF. But of course, never using lens tilt in order to maximize DoF, means that you probably are not getting the most out of your LF camera system.