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  1. #1
    AltheaGarden's Avatar
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    Parallax Error: Kodak Retina IIc

    Hello all,

    I just purchased a Retina IIc (made between 1954-1957 I believe) a couple of weeks ago. I never used a rangefinder before so I am both excited and anxious. For anyone familiar with this camera or rangefinders similar to it, do you have any tips for correcting the parallax error? I plan to use a tripod when I shot with it, so should I adjust my tripod according to make for this error? If anyone can provide any tips, I would really appreciate it.

  2. #2
    Pioneer's Avatar
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    The viewfinder on a rangefinder is really not the most accurate way to frame a picture. An SLR sees through the lens itself, so there is no difference. With a rangefinder you are looking through a window in the camera that is (usually) above and to the left of the lens itself. So your view is slightly different than the lens's. This is "parallax error." At infinity your view, and the view the lens sees, converge together so there is no parallax error. However, as you focus on things that are closer your view begins to diverge from what the lens sees. Usually you will notice that your pictures seem to show more on one side, and less on the other, than you had in your viewfinder (or framelines) when you took your picture.

    All things being equal the way to eliminate that is to move your camera slightly up and to the left after you have framed your picture. In other word, try to put your lens in the same spot your eye was when you were framing your picture. However, to make things more complicated, things are not always equal. Most viewfinders on a rangefinder camera don't always show exactly what you are going to see, even without parallax error. So your attempt to shift the camera to allow for parallax error may not help all that much.

    What I tend to do is to include more inside my frame than I want. I don't try to frame to tightly. That way I can always crop a little bit out later on if I need. But, you can learn how to get better framing by working with one rangefinder and one lens until you understand how the framing errors occur, and then begin to play with your adjustments.

    A bi lengthy, but maybe it helps.

  3. #3
    AltheaGarden's Avatar
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    1. This makes sense.
    2. Yikes!
    3. Great advice.
    4. I will spend more time playing around with my camera until I am confident and knowledgeable of its framing errors and quirks.

    Thank you for the tips!

    Quote Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
    The viewfinder on a rangefinder is really not the most accurate way to frame a picture. An SLR sees through the lens itself, so there is no difference. With a rangefinder you are looking through a window in the camera that is (usually) above and to the left of the lens itself. So your view is slightly different than the lens's. This is "parallax error." At infinity your view, and the view the lens sees, converge together so there is no parallax error. However, as you focus on things that are closer your view begins to diverge from what the lens sees. Usually you will notice that your pictures seem to show more on one side, and less on the other, than you had in your viewfinder (or framelines) when you took your picture.

    All things being equal the way to eliminate that is to 1. move your camera slightly up and to the left after you have framed your picture. In other word, try to put your lens in the same spot your eye was when you were framing your picture. However, to make things more complicated, things are not always equal. Most viewfinders on a rangefinder camera don't always show exactly what you are going to see, even without parallax error. So 2. your attempt to shift the camera to allow for parallax error may not help all that much.

    What I tend to do is to include more inside my frame than I want. 3. I don't try to frame to tightly. That way I can always crop a little bit out later on if I need. 4. But, you can learn how to get better framing by working with one rangefinder and one lens until you understand how the framing errors occur, and then begin to play with your adjustments.

    A bi lengthy, but maybe it helps.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by AltheaGarden View Post


    4. I will spend more time playing around with my camera until I am confident and knowledgeable of its framing errors and quirks.
    This is what you need to do. Also read the manual since it addresses this issue and the markings in the viewfinder.

  5. #5
    AltheaGarden's Avatar
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    For sure.
    I did happen to stumble upon a pdf version of the manual and it has com in handy so far.

  6. #6

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    Just don't frame things to the extreme edges, and you'll be fine. Ideally, shoot a test roll to get a feel for what the viewfinder shows vs what shows up on the film. I've not paid much attention to it on my Retinas but the viewfinder should be a bit tighter than what actually is recorded.

  7. #7
    AltheaGarden's Avatar
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    Thank you for the tips bdial. Hopefully shooting a test roll or two and studying the manual will be enough for me to understand my camera's framing issues.

  8. #8
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    In the left column towards the bottom you will find the IIc instruction manual. Remember to send in the $3 donation to keep this free service alive. [It is nonprofit]

    http://www.butkus.org/chinon/kodak.htm
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

    Nothing beats a great piece of glass!

    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  9. #9

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    The Retina II viewfinder does not have projected framelines, so the actual framing of the picture you take is a bit imprecise. To get a feeling, place your camera on a tripod, look through the viewfinder, and move your eye. You will notice that the "framed" part of the scene changes. In my experience, if you move your eye close enough to the v/f that the round lens lets you see 100% of the (blurred) rectangular frame, and you keep your eye centered (do not try to "peek into corners") the framing is pretty accurate. The good news is that a portrait (what I understand you want to do) does not depend critically on framing (versus, e.g.: architecture, abstract graphics).

    1. move your camera slightly up and to the left after you have framed your picture.
    Comment on quoted advice. Don't try to actually shift the position of your camera; rather, make a mental note of where on the subject you want the center of your picture, and tilt-aim "slightly up and to the left", as reckoned on the subject.
    Shifting the camera is in principle preferable and provides a complete correction of parallax, but requires a mechanical device that moves the camera in a strictly parallel fashion. I have such a device called Paramender for my Mamiya two lens reflex. Needless to say, that is not for candid shots!

    Another piece of advice: make a test film, taking notes about the extent of the framing for each shot. Then compare with what was recorded on film. From my experience, it's not that bad.

  10. #10

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    If I keep my subject within the framelines on my IIc I have no problem getting the shot, as long as my eye is centered like bernard_L mentions above. Actually past 8-10ft the framelines on mine are pretty accurate to the point I don't do any shifting of anything. Once I get about 6-8ft from the subject I use the little parallax markings on the framelines. They work quite well on my camera.

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