How to focus RFs?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Markok765, Jun 18, 2006.

What focusing do you use mostly.

Poll closed Jun 22, 2006.
  1. RF

    37.9%
  2. SLR

    51.7%
  3. GroundGlass(LF)

    17.2%
  4. Guess focus (old folders and broken RF's)

    6.9%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
    Location:
    Ontario, Can
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I am having a hard time(Really hard) focusing my rollei rf. i am used to slrs and everything is a fous indicator. but in rfs you have to find an edge and focus in that. its hard! can you give me some tips on how to focus faster, of should i stick with my slrs? I think slrs
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2006
  2. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

    Messages:
    331
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Location:
    bay area, ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That's pretty much how you focus an RF. Of course, it's possible that the VF and RF mirror aren't as clean as possible, but you do need a line or some other demarcation of contrast that will help you get it lined up. Over time, if the patch is bright enough, you will learn to do it quickly even with just the slightest bit of contrast.

    allan
     
  3. ZorkiKat

    ZorkiKat Member

    Messages:
    346
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2006
    Location:
    Manila PHILI
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You don't need to find a straight contour. You simply turn the lens, watch the "floating" secondary image as it moves towards the patch and once they coincide, you're set.
     
  4. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
    Location:
    Ontario, Can
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Yea, but isnt it easier when the whole frame goes in and out of foucs, the you make fine ajustments with the groundglass?
     
  5. DBP

    DBP Member

    Messages:
    1,896
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    Location:
    Alexandria,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As I get older and my sight continues to decay, I appreciate rangefinders more and more. With any ground glass focusing system, I am always a little concerned that it is the camera that I can't focus on, and not the image. But then I first started wering glasses when I was younger than Marko, so focus has been an issue for a lon time.
     
  6. elekm

    elekm Member

    Messages:
    2,059
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2004
    Location:
    New Jersey (
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Marko, getting used to a rangefinder will take some time, especially if you're coming from a modern-day SLR that does it all: focus, autoexpose, advance and rewind.

    One thing that is often forgotten in the rangefinder discussion is that not everyone adapts quickly to working with these style of cameras.

    You make a good point about RFs -- that everything is in focus all of the time except for the little RF patch, while an SLR will show you more definitively what is in and out of focus. Plus, some SLRs have a depth-of-field preview (although it can be difficult to discern what is in and out of focus on a very dark screen).

    The first thing to check is to make sure the Rollei 35 RF (aka Bessa-R2) rangefinder is accurate. Do that by putting the lens on infinity and focusing at a distant object. The object should be in perfect alignment horizontally and vertically.

    Once you're sure the RF is good, then do as the others have said.

    Take your time. Practice means a lot with rangefinders, and soon you'll have it down as second nature.

    You just have to think about this as a different style of photography.

    If you're using the 40mm Sonnar and fast film, you can use hyperfocal settings and then just use the viewfinder to compose your shot. In this case, the RF has an advantage over an SLR, because everything is in focus, while with an SLR, you'll be tempted to focus and refocus.
     
  7. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
    Location:
    Ontario, Can
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    A 30 Year old slr with nothing automatic(not even a hot shoe)and only a ttl light meter. i dont like auto modes(no creative controls) I dont even need AF for a soccer game with my 200mm
     
  8. DBP

    DBP Member

    Messages:
    1,896
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    Location:
    Alexandria,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    One of the other advantages of rangefinders is low light photography. With a decent rangefinder, if there is enough light to see there is enough to focus. SLRs, TLRs, and Vview cameras fade out much earlier.
     
  9. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
    Location:
    Ontario, Can
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Its actually quite easy for me
     
  10. DBP

    DBP Member

    Messages:
    1,896
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    Location:
    Alexandria,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Give it 30 years. Or try picking out faces in a nightclub when you are shooting EI 2000, at f/2 and 1/30th.
     
  11. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,281
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Marko, that poll is irrelevant to the question and doesn't belong in this category.

    Take it easy on the polls, please.
     
  12. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,598
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Location:
    U.K.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm been driven so crazy by these needless polls, I forget !
     
  13. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

    Messages:
    861
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2006
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think the poll should be revised a bit. First thing is that unless you have a Nikon SLR with a waist level finder (or an old Exacta), then ground glass focus would not belong in a 35mm question. There is also an issue of scale focusing, which is not really guess focusing. A little bit of practice, and lenses mark with distance scales, can get quite accurate in focus images.

    Other things would be the ability to change screens on some SLRs. The split circle screen on manual focus SLRs is sometimes called a rangefinder. There are also smooth screens for some SLRs, so perhaps those could be termed ground glass, though different from a waist level finder or large format.

    As to your question on how to focus a rangefinder. I find there are two good approaches that work quickly. One is to have your lens at infinity, then turn it one direction until your viewfinder image comes into focus. The variation on that is to have the lens always at closest focus. This idea tries to get you to mostly move the lens in one direction, rather than hunting back and forth.

    A little aside on this is that many old folder cameras can allow mounting of an external rangefinder. You focus with that device, read the distance, then transfer that to the distance scale marked on the lens. In a way that is guess focusing, since the rangefinder is not coupled to the lens, but in practice can be very accurate.

    Your troubles with the old Rollei could be a result of somewhat dirty or fogged optics. When the rangefinder optics are clean, then the contrast is good enough to easily focus. Another technique issue is keeping your eye centred in the viewfinder, which can take some practice. Just keep using it more, and i think you will figure it out.

    Ciao!

    Gordon
     
  14. elekm

    elekm Member

    Messages:
    2,059
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2004
    Location:
    New Jersey (
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I read your original post incorrectly. I thought you had the Rollei 35 RF. I see you mention only a Rollei RF. That could only refer to the Rollei XF 35. However, the same suggestions that others have offered still apply.
     
  15. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Hear! Hear!

    Marko, you are FAR too keen on meaningless polls.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  16. dmr

    dmr Member

    Messages:
    494
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Just look for a patch of detail of almost any kind in your subject and focus on that. Sometimes turning your camera 90 degrees to focus helps.
     
  17. bjorke

    bjorke Member

    Messages:
    2,032
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2003
    Location:
    SF & Surroun
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I aim the AF patch to where I like to focus and press "lock" with my thumb
     
  18. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

    Messages:
    807
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    1. I cannot cast a vote because the focusing method I use depends on which camera I am using.

    2. The SLR voting choice is meaningless because how I focus with an SLR depends on which focusing screen (split-image, microprism, ground matte, etc.) is installed in the SLR.

    3. How will the results from this poll help you with your focusing problem?
     
  19. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
    Location:
    Ontario, Can
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Far toofar!:smile:
     
  20. Max Power

    Max Power Member

    Messages:
    598
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2004
    Location:
    Aylmer, QC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If the RF patch is no longer bright enough, one method, cited by Rick Oleson, is to put a small piece of electrical tape over the VF window. I've found that with older FSU RFs the method works well.

    Kent
     
  21. matti

    matti Member

    Messages:
    652
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    Location:
    Stockholm, S
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A good idea might be to scale focus first and only make minor adjustments in the viewfinder. Because the patch moves so much compared to the split thing (forgot what to call it) of a 35 mm slr you might have to hunt for it otherwise. It took me about 6 months of taking photos of my fast moving children to get good at it. But with a 50 mm or 35 mm lens, close up wide open, nothing will beat RF-focusing. It is very exact and fast.

    /matti
     
  22. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

    Messages:
    726
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Although I use SLRs most of the time, I must say that I find rangefinders quicker and easier to focus once you get used to them. You do, though have to put in a bit of time to get used to them.

    David.
     
  23. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,363
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2006
    Location:
    Merimbula NSW Australia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Agree with David on this, you have to do the miles. Rangefinders come into there own in low light conditions especially with wide angle lenses.
    Stick with your rangefinder and get out at night and enjoy.
     
  24. cdholden

    cdholden Member

    Messages:
    750
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2005
    Location:
    Nashville, T
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    #3 looks like an opportunity for a new poll!
    Chris