Rollei SL66 sharpness problems

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Leon, Mar 4, 2005.

  1. Leon

    Leon Member

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    I am having some problems with sharpness from my sl66. None of my shots (all 5 rolls) from the UK APUG meetup at the lake district were sharp. This is not noticable at contact sheet level, and isnt obvious when I scan the negs. But when they are printed at enlargement it is clear that they just arent pin sharp. It isnt a case of the focus being out, as there is not sharp point at all - it appears to be a uniform unsharpness.

    Now - I have sent the camera away and the results are that it is mechanically fine so no problems diagnosed. The lens is clear and clean, and my filters are also ok. I always use mirror lock up when shooting and my manfrotto tripod is heavy and sturdy.

    I am now wondering if this might be a chemical problem??? The negs were all FP4 dev'd in (homebrew) pyrocat hd. Has anyone had any problems with bad brews causing unsharpness with this combination?
     
  2. roy

    roy Member

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    I had a similar problem on a trip to Wales a few years ago. I never did get to the reasons why and I eventually disposed of the camera. I know this is no help to you and you are probably very attached to the sl66. A lot of the time on my trip it was wet ( surprised ?) and I wondered whether condensation or misting of the lens played any part in it.
     
  3. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Hi Leon,

    Firstly, commiserations. You must be gutted, and I really do sympathise.

    As far as the problem itself, I'm afraid I'm a wimp who just uses off-the-shelf devs (and liquid ones at that!), so I'm not much use. Given the conditions we had up there, wind vibration might still be a factor on some of the shots (I saw more than one Manfrotto take a nose-dive at the stone circle!) but it's unlikely to be on all of them.

    Whilst this is probably obvious advice, why not try shooting a newly-bought roll of FP4+ at a test subject, cutting it up and processing half in pyro and half in Ilfosol S or Rodinal? It would let you know whether the problem is chemistry (including the possibility of a bad batch of film) or the camera.

    (If both halves come back sharp then put it down to a transient problem, swear, kick the cat and move on!)

    Just a thought.

    Frank
     
  4. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Just guessing, but a simple check is to place a piece of ground glass at the film plane and check that the image on this is sharp when the image on the focusing screen is also sharp. If the camera passes this test, I'd put the unsharpness down to dampness!
     
  5. JHannon

    JHannon Member

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    In his book "Edge of Darkness", Barry Thornton mentions a focusing problem with his SL66 during some tests (pgs 46-48).

    He was using a homemade target with equally spaced vertical lines, focussing at the exact center.

    His fix was that the interchangeable screen insert was not seated properly.

    This test might be something to try. I am also having problems with the SL66. At first I thought it was my poor vision (I am using the "default finder" not the prism finder). Even with magnifier glasses, I still can't get the sharpness that my Mamiya 645 can achieve.

    I hope this helps, I am going to try the test and see what happens.

    Regards,
    John
     
  6. Leon

    Leon Member

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    thanks guys ... the problem finder tells me he has tested the whole screen/ filmplane alignments with some laser tester thingy and that they are fine. I think if it was a fucosing screen alignment prob the point of focus would be there, jsut not where I put it?? anyway, I'll try some tests in other devs/ film combinations and report back.
     
  7. Andy Tymon

    Andy Tymon Member

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    Hey Leon .. I feel your pain... I have a simillar problem with my mamiya press, the contacts look great but the prints look really soft. I too checked the focussing plane and it looked fine. Here are a few ideas, If it's only when you enlarge your negs is it a problem with the neg carrier in the enlarger? if it's glassless maybe the neg is bowing somehow causing unshapness? I'm not familliar with the sl66 is it a 120 /220 thing, again just an idea. The only time I have had unsharpness(percieved) when processing is when I used HC110, all my pictures looked unsharp to me,though every other photographer who seems to use it, work looks fine?
    Hope you find a solution to your problem
    Andy
     
  8. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    My feeling is that the problem is with the enlarger. Have you checked it with a test negative recently? Having said that this advice is probably about as good as my snow exposure advice.
     
  9. JHannon

    JHannon Member

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    Leon... Sorry I did not read your original post very well. I missed the alignment test part... In my case I use the same film/developer/enlarger, etc. and get sharper results with my Mamiya M645. David's ground glass check sounds like something to try.

    Let us know how things work out.

    Regards,
    John
     
  10. argentic

    argentic Member

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    That's my guess too. I had a similar problem with my SL66, and finally the focusing screen wasn't completely seated properly.

    I really love my SL66. Just as good and better than Hasselblad, but with a lot more possibilities. It's simply the best MF camera I've ever had.
     
  11. mikewhi

    mikewhi Member

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    Why don't you put it up on eBay as a Special Edition Soft Focus SL66 that has been known to have the image of the Virgin Mary show up in negatives that include large amounts of blank sky.

    Other things to check....

    What aperture do you shoot at? Try taking the same picture at different f-stops and comparing to see if there isn't something revealed by that. Perhaps they will be sharp at some apertures but not others. Are you using a 220 or 120 back and does the film match the back (e.g. are you putting 120 film into a 220 back)? Was theu tester-guy's laster our of alignment<g>? Are you wearing galsses when you look at the prints?

    -Mike
     
  12. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    One more thought, Leon. You might also check the film path, rollers in particular. There might be something stuck to a roller that is causing the film to buckle behind the gate.
     
  13. Leon

    Leon Member

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    thanks for all the suggestions guys

    The enlarger is fine - good solid double glass carrier with spirit level checks of baseboard, carrier and lens plane before each session. Old negatives are giving me good sharp prints

    mikewhi ... sl66 backs are adaptable between 120 and 220 at the flick of a switch -i cant use 120 at the 220 setting, so I dont think thats it.

    Ralph - The film holders look fine ... I'm getting the problem using both of my two backs so unless they both have the same alignment issues ....?

    I'm reliably informed that both the focusing screen and film plane alignments have been checked with no faults showing ... so???


    what a nightmare!
     
  14. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Leon, could I ask you - with how many lenses is this problem happening? Have you previously had good results with these? If a fine-quality lens delivers duff performance but looks OK, this usually points to its having had a generous thumping, leading to misalignment.

    I once had an f3.5 50 mm Leitz Elmar, made just after the war, which looked totally mint. I even spent money having a small scratch polished out and looked forward to using a perfect specimen of a legendary lens. The results was very poor, I sent it to several expert repairmen for a collimation check, it turned out the lens had been a dog since the day it was made! Probably an inaccuracy in the basic grinding of the elements, which you really wouldn't expect of Leitz (or Zeiss!).
     
  15. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Could the Focusing screen be installed upside down?
     
  16. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I believe these questions may have been addressed previously, but:

    Do the images remain unsharp when you change lenses?

    Is there any indication of a loose element or de-bonded/separated element in your lens?

    Have you checked the image sharpness at the focal plane with a ground glass and magnifier? Then compared this with the image on your focusing screen?
     
  17. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    I had a similar problem which Oceanside Camera Repair (now out of business because of old age), traced to some bushing to do with the focusing track. He replaced it, and no futher problems. As I remember, he told me this is not uncommon, but can not be diagnosed without dismantling the camera.