Ridiculously silly newbie question: Rangefinder focus

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by -kk-, May 30, 2007.

  1. -kk-

    -kk- Member

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    Hi guys, bear with me here. Am totally new to rangefinder and have been wondering about this.

    How does one pick the subject of focus in a rangefinder? Sounds silly? let me explain.

    In an slr system (eg canon that i use), you can typically use one of the focus points to choose your subject, and cast everything else out of focus.

    In a rangfinder system, the superimposed box is in the centre. do you have to point the box at the intended subject, and then reframe the picture?

    I hope im making sense!


    kelvin
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2007
  2. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    Yes, you focus with the rangefinder spot and then reframe. You get used to doing it pretty quickly. It takes less time than choosing a non-centred focusing spot with an SLR.

    With rangefinders with seperate focusing and viewing windows -- older Leicas, some of the older Soviet 'copies', Bessa T, etc -- you have no choice but to do that.
     
  3. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    In an SLR system, you have the minimal depth of field evident when focusing, unless focusing stopped down. In the RF viewfinder, you don't have out-of-focus areas, you have superimposed images. Just pick the most important point of focus for the intended photo and line up the images so that they come together. I always pick a sharp edged bit where I can see a vertical line. When the two versions of that vertical line become one, the lens will be focused for the distance to that object.

    It has been widely suggested here (apologies to the original contributer, I can't place who said it first) that a small opaque circle made with a black marker in the middle of the primary viewer window -- or a small piece of tape applied in the same spot-- will help make the secondary image, from the mirror that shifts as you focus, much more clearly evident. It helps you see what to line up in focusing. I've tried it and it really does help in cameras where the viewfinder is unclear or dark. Other cameras don't need it.

    The rangefinder window is a wonderfully easy way to focus - once you get used to it. Time on task is your best friend here. Shoot lots of film!
     
  4. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    In a word, yes.

    Some rangefinder lenses have focusing levers/tabs on them, which allows you to "prefocus" by setting the lever to a "known" position before you raise it to your eye. With practice, you can become very good at this, and have only a slight adjustment to make once the camera is at your eye. With f:8 and a wider lens, you can be well within DOF coverage without needing to fine tune focus. By using the DOF scale, presetting focus, and appropriate choice of aperture, you can get grab shots that you couldn't otherwise get. You can, of course, do the latter with an SLR, but rangefinders are often quieter and have less shutter lag and no mirror slap.

    Lee
     
  5. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Thank you for that tip, I must be the last person on earth to hear it, you just put a small dot on the primary viewer window, the top one? I see, I have a Kalart so I'll give it a try.

    Curt
     
  6. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Adding to the question list is the Kalart which has a light in the spot. It is powered by the flash which is also hooked up to the solenoid on the shutter correct? The solenoid is an HR, I forgot what the company is but it fires with 3 to 8 volts according to the light bulb which is burned out.

    Has anyone connected a battery or proper supply voltage to use the spot with a light? And had anyone used a battery with a switch to fire the solenoid and trip the shutter. What I mean is not using the flash unit as a power supply but by putting the battery (power supply) in the camera or attached somehow without the flash unit which is obsolete?

    Thanks, Curt
     
  7. DBP

    DBP Member

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    Don't do that to the Kalart. The tip is for combined RF/VF setups where the patch is a bit dim.
     
  8. DBP

    DBP Member

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    I don't have a light for mine, but have used a laser pointer when calibrating the short distance scale.
     
  9. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Thanks everyone for the info.

    Curt
     
  10. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    I haven't done much with the finder but I have found out that the Busch doesn't have cams like some others for specific lenses. I am not sure that I could even make the Kalart work with another lens. The standard 101 is on it. The lens board is really small anyway. Interesting because there is a lot of bellows and extension. What did they have in mind, adding longer lenses but don't use the finder? The range of cam arm is specific to the lense right? There must be a limit to the use of that finder right? Some how I feel like I am asking too much of the camera.

    Thanks,
    Curt
     
  11. DBP

    DBP Member

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    The Kalart is adjustable to a specific lens, but it takes some work and cannot reasonably be done in the field. Instructions are available at www.graflex.org. Generally speaking, with an older press camera you use the rangefinder with one lens and the ground glass with any others.
     
  12. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    dark dot for dim RF

    I think the first person I heard of this from was Rick Oleson. I don't know if he was the origin source or just because his tech notes are so abundant, he passed it on.

    The Kodak Medallist, probably not typical of RF's, has its RF window just below the VF (composing) window. The manual claims some procedure like dropping your eye 15 degrees with out moving the camera to use the split-screen RF window, which has a magnified view.

    With bifocals I still find it awkward and the magnification is nice for focus but disorienting, for me anyway.

    All my other RF' cameras have seperate RF/VF windows.

    Some people really hate the Argus C3 RF windows but they are the easiest of my RF's to use (maybe it's the glasses?).
     
  13. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Some users and some camera designers also filter the two rangefinder images to increase the distinction, often along a blue/yellow or blue/orange gradient. You could do a partial version of this yourself with a colored filter over the rf window. I like to have two superimposed images rather than blocking one. You can also use the edge of the RF patch (with integrated vf/rf models) to align separate images more easily.

    Lee
     
  14. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    You had me worried. I thought you were going to be marking up a Kalart Press Camera. Whew....


    tim in san jose