I'm not suggesting that you are being lazy.
One thing I would suggest right off, and you probably are anyway, is to practice the movements when it's bright out to get the feel of things.
I do have a question or two:
With regard to the architecture photos, are you simply trying to get verticals vertical or do you want to manipulate horizontals as well, and, how much DOF are you needing?
Detents are a mixed blessing. If they are correct it can save you a little time. If they are off then
they'll obviously be deceptive. And if you need just a tiny bit of correction one way or the other from
"zero", there will be a temptation for the detent to kick in anyway, and it will be hard to hold the
adjustment. Detents also have a tendency to wear over time. So I never wholly trust them, even with the best of cameras. As already mentioned, it is far more important to check focus visually across the groundglass plane itself with a good loupe. And if you need to be fussy with verticals,
use a groundglass with lines on it.
My 45N-2 has no detents at all except for the sort of detent that consists of two pins that pull in to release the front tilt. I honestly think I am better for it, I always double check things anyway before putting a loupe on the ground glass and it makes tiny adjustments a breeze. I have used two other field cameras that had detents and I always found them to be somewhat of a disrupting while engaging in view camera movements..
perhaps something like this is better if you insist on perfect alignment?
Michael R 1974,
Maybe you always wanted a P2...
I always thought it would be cool to have micrometer controls, clear markings, and yaw-free design.
Seems like a fine set of features to me.
Once the back is square to the world, the purpose of swing and tilts on the front is to manage focus. My front standard is never square to the back..on a 4x5 with 58,72,80 and 110 XLs.
That's kinda what I'm trying to get across. The "important alignment" is between the scene and the film plane, the lens just kinda floats in the middle to control focus. Unless and until we define exactly what we want to focus on any old tilt or swing of the lens will do.
Originally Posted by eclarke
Edit: The other important thing the lens does is define the direction the camera "looks".
I'll try to address some of the comments/questions. By the way thanks to everyone for participating in a thread by an obsessive compulsive perfectionist complainer.
Regarding Drew's (and PKM's) comments on detents, I am more or less in agreement. My distrust of manufacturer alignment is one of the reasons I went for a camera without detents the second time around. Without detents, at least if the camera is misaligned when "zeroed" I can just play with it using spirit levels etc, align it properly and then mark my own zero/neutral settings (which is what I spent several hours doing yesterday actually). If the camera is out of alignment when zeroed into detents, it's quite a bit more difficult, especially if they are deep detents.
This is one of the reasons why I'm curious about how "good" the expensive Linhofs etc are. If a camera is aligned properly, personally I like zero/neutral detents.
Brian Shaw: I can't answer that. I don't really know from a degree or micron perspective what an acceptable tolerance is. Also, not having owned a dozen LF cameras, its hard to come up with a useful reference point. I would say, however, it should at least be plumb/square enough that I can't clearly and obviously see that it is wrong without even measuring things. Perhaps I'm wrong about that requirement.
Mark: My issue is not with image correction/manipulation with the back, or with front swings/tilts to alter the plane of sharp focus in say a landscape. That is all done by eye, imperfections and all. I'm more concerned with relatively basic setups in which the camera is for all intents and purposes simply a fixed geometry camera with big film. Perhaps an example will help clarify my concern. Suppose I'm photographing a fairly two dimensional subject such as a building facade head on, not requiring tilts/swings to alter the plane of sharp focus. I'm working at night and with a fairly wide angle lens. Using the ground glass, and perhaps some additional double-checks with the spirit levels, I get the back squared up to the subject with the tripod head (ie the back is in its detented neutral position). No problems there. Lets assume I don't even need any front rise to keep things simple. With the front in its "neutral" position I now move on to focusing. Here's where, perhaps unfairly, I am asking for some help from the camera. I focus, and in the center at least, it looks sharp. I move the loupe around the ground glass to confirm everything is sharp. It is not easy to know. It looks reasonably good, but suppose in its neutral position the front is actually tilted or swung 1 degree or more (arbitrary example) relative to the back? Hard to see that on the ground glass. Depth up field is unlikely to be too much of a problem, but depth of focus? Ideally under those circumstances I'd like to rely on the camera being aligned. Perhaps I am asking too much here from a camera designed for multiple applications, but in reality there are often situations in which movements are not required.
Bill: I hear you. This is kind of what dlin was getting at. But what worries me about those things is, the more scales, lines and detents you have on a camera, the more critical it is that it be precisely aligned in its neutral position. Otherwise all those scales measure things relative to an incorrect zero position, in which case they might be more trouble than they are worth. Are you sensing my lack of confidence in manufacturing quality? :)
I think that is the heart of the problem and why I asked that question. I know my camera has both detents and bubbles, and they are slightly out of agreement... but the lensboard and GG are in very close alignment. I could not measure the difference without employing specialized tools, and the difference (if any) doesn't show on the GG. But when setting up the camera I level by "averaging" the bubbles on the front and back standards. So there is nothing to worry about, right? Why worry about the theoretical when it has little-to-no impact on the practical. If I ever had a camera where the standards were visually out of whack... I'd get rid of it. I've never used a "modern" view camera that hasn't been abused that has ever had an apparent alignment problem. The factory detents may not be absolutely perfect but they always seem good enough" to me.
Originally Posted by Michael R 1974
p.s. about your comment regarding lines, scales, and detents... I actually have avoided cameras with too many. I think they are distractions and, except for some scientific purposes, undermines photography by giving too much data to worry about. I don't see it as a manufacturing issue, but more of a natural human tendency to worry about what we know (specifically, worry too much when we get too much data) and not worry so much about what we know less details about. :)