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  1. #1

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    Ridiculously silly newbie question: Rangefinder focus

    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 -kk-; 05-30-2007 at 09:12 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2

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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. #3
    Whiteymorange's Avatar
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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. #4
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -kk- View Post
    In a rangefinder system, the superimposed box is in the centre. do you have to point the box at the intended subject, and then reframe the picture?
    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. #5
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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!

    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
    Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand

  6. #6
    Curt's Avatar
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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
    Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand

  7. #7
    DBP
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt View Post
    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
    Don't do that to the Kalart. The tip is for combined RF/VF setups where the patch is a bit dim.

  8. #8
    DBP
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt View Post
    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
    I don't have a light for mine, but have used a laser pointer when calibrating the short distance scale.

  9. #9
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    Thanks everyone for the info.

    Curt
    Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand

  10. #10
    Curt's Avatar
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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
    Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand

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