Help with Mamiya 7 - how easy should this thing be to focus?
Hey guys. I just recently bought a Mamiya 7 online and the 80mm separately. When I first got the camera it was way out of calibration, so I sent it back to them to calibrate it. Got it back again, put my new lens on... still wrong. So I brought it to a local repair shop with a good rep to do it.
Finally it looks nearly right! But I can tell the infinity adjustment is slightly off, and I'm having some major trouble focusing this thing. I have never owned an RF before, but I have 20/20 vision and I do understand the concept. But practically any time I try to put something in focus, it takes me 20 seconds or so to figure out if it really is in focus. I have to keep going back and forth to make sure I'm in the right spot, and it never looks obviously very sharp to me.
Especially when I try to take a picture of something lying on a table from an angle, like a piece of paper. I'm relatively close so I know I've got to be more precise, but even if I concentrate on one part of the paper I want to put in focus, it sometimes seems like things never line up. Almost like what was wrong before, where the vertical adjustment was way off and the patch image would always be a lot lower.
So before I give it back to the repair shop to try again, do you guys have any suggestions as to why I'm having such trouble? The main reason for my concern is I had heard rangefinders were supposed to make for very accurate focusing, and I can't imagine being accurate at all if this is the way it's supposed to be. Thanks,
EDIT: By the way, I was just going to shoot a test roll and see how things came out, but I didn't think I was having any luck because certain things I could never get to look like they were in focus.
Joe, I'm worried that the reason you think something is wrong with your camera is because you're having problems focusing. You're admitting that you're having problems focusing and "seeing" when objects are in focus. So your camera is probably fine. Rangefinders do take some getting use to. I had some problems at first, but now that I only shoot MF rangefinders I can focus very quickly and accurately, and when I give the camera to a friend that has never used rangefinders to snap a shot of me I tell them how the camera works and like you, it takes them quite some time to make sure the image is in focus. I must also add to try changing your angle you look through the viewfinder. Sometimes you have to have your eye at the right spot in the viewfinder to see the patches clearly. That may be your problem.
I suggest practicing focusing on vertical objects such as telephone poles or fence posts, It's much easier to see the image come in and out of focus when focusing on vertical objects. As far as close up stuff, like the paper on the table, rangefinders aren't the best choice for close ups. If you're having trouble aligning objects very close you may be too close, in which case the images will never line up! Remember you're never going to be able to focus closer than 1 meter or about 3 ft from the film plane.
Shooting a test roll is a good idea. Like I said, try to focus on simple vertical line objects at different distances, then check the negs with a loupe. That will tell you if your rangefinder is accurate. After that it's just use it use it use it and you'll get quicker.
Originally Posted by brian steinberger
Thanks for the reply. I do hope it's just me and not the camera! Now, what I'm mainly worried about is things being off slightly as far as the up/down adjustment goes. I can get things like poles to look like they're in focus but on some things it's pretty difficult. That's what made me worry the vertical adjustment is off.
My Bronica RF645 doesn't aligned perfectly vertically, but it's not much. But it doesn't affect the focusing. If yours is way off you should definitely have it looked at, but just a little (and I mean a tiny bit) off is fine. Another trick is when you have horizontal lines you want to focus on turn the camera vertical and focus of the horizontal line then flip it back to take the photo. And also if you get the 50 or 43mm lens for this camera you'll use the scales on the lens frequently to focus, eliminating the need to focus critically with you eye.
Originally Posted by blankk
Also, forgot to mention, make sure your camera viewfinder and the other windows on the front are clean. Clean them regularly. I've noticed it's hard to focus sometimes when the windows are dirty. But once clean you can see a huge difference.
I sold my M7s last year to pursue ULF, but I can give you some perspective. Both of my cameras were off in the vertical axis, but the horizontal was dead on. It was disconcerting at times, but I learned to focus off the horizontal, and everything was perfectly sharp. I had sent both cameras directly to Mamiya in Tokyo to have them aligned for trip, they came back perfectly in alignment. But after two weeks on the road they both came out of vertical alignment again, but the horizontal stayed dead on.
I found all lenses, except the 150mm to be easy to focus. The results with the camera were spectacular, at times I am sorry I sold them.
Hope it helps
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It might simply be an issue of practice, but if you can find an experienced RF shooter nearby, that'd give you some confidence. It'd also help to try with another 7/7ii body and see if something is really amiss with yours.
A couple of tips...
(1) it's very important to be looking straight ahead into the VF when you focus; even with good vision, if you look in at an angle, you'll have a hard time aligning the patch. When I first started with RFs, this took me a while to appreciate.
(2) sometimes when using RFs you don't have the high contrast edges you wish you had, for fine focusing. Try tilting the camera a bit, sometimes that really helps me find the focus.
(3) with my mamiya 6es, I scale focus quite a bit and I recommend getting used to doing that before you do fine focusing via the VF. Scale focusing can give you a good idea of how critical the focus is. And with the rather slow Mamiya lenses and the near points at 1-2 meters, focus quite often isn't critical at all. Scale focusing can also teach you about DOF and how to get optimal sharpness.
And I definitely agree with Brian about keeping the VF and patch windows very clean!
Hey guys, I see my problem. I drew a line on a piece of paper from one side to the other, and tried to focus on it. What I noticed is that the image in the patch was always ever so slightly higher up. This made it difficult to tell when it was in focus, because things never looked totally aligned. I guess I'll bring it back to the repairman and see if he can fix it once and for all!
Good luck. The Mamiya 7 is a wonderful camera (for all of its flaws). Very nice to shoot.
Two pieces of advice: try to focus on vertical lines at first, and don't trust the meter unless you understand how it is working.
To double check alignment you can string some frosted tape over the film window with the back open (also open the Shutter with B or something). Using a dark cloth you should be able to see the actual lens image in the frosted tape.
I couldn't agree more. I own two Mamiya 6's and used to own the 7 and I find the metering in the 6 to tend to underexpose, yet I found the metering in the 7 tended to overexpose. Either way, I can't trust it and use a hand held spot meter with my 6's. However I do have a Bronica RF645 as well and the metering in that camera is wonderful. Right on almost everytime.
Originally Posted by degruyl