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Author Topic: Speedy Manual Focusing?  (Read 4515 times)

JAlmodovar90

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Speedy Manual Focusing?
« on: April 17, 2013, 08:47:40 AM »
How were photographers able to manual focus quickly back in the days? Aside from a lot of practice, was there a technique involved in shooting fast manual?
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Speedy Manual Focusing?
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2013, 08:59:18 AM »
How were photographers able to manual focus quickly back in the days? Aside from a lot of practice, was there a technique involved in shooting fast manual?

Some technique, yes.  But of course, the focus screen wasn't the plain one on modern dSLRs - there was a split prism and microprism collar around it as focusing aids.  You can get such focus screens for current bodies, too, although only some bodies feature easy user replacement of the screen (e.g. the 6D and 1D X do, the 5DIII does not).
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Don Haines

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Re: Speedy Manual Focusing?
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2013, 09:11:09 AM »
How were photographers able to manual focus quickly back in the days? Aside from a lot of practice, was there a technique involved in shooting fast manual?

Some technique, yes.  But of course, the focus screen wasn't the plain one on modern dSLRs - there was a split prism and microprism collar around it as focusing aids.  You can get such focus screens for current bodies, too, although only some bodies feature easy user replacement of the screen (e.g. the 6D and 1D X do, the 5DIII does not).

I loved the focus screen on my OM-1.... split prism in the center..... makes me wish for the equivalent in the digital era.....

If you are manual focusing a DSLR you have to use live view. The viewfinder is just not good enough.... it gets you close, but not spot on. You really need live view and then to zoom in on your target to properly check focus. Easy to do on a tripod, but hand-held gets a lot trickier.

Also, and this might be my faulty memory speaking, but back in the good old days before auto-focus, when the lenses were designed for manual focus, there seemed to be a lot more twist to the focus mechanism than with today's auto-focus lenses. It used to be that you had around 180 degrees of twist to focus with, now it seems like less than 90, making it harder to precisely manual adjust a lens.
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Marsu42

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Re: Speedy Manual Focusing?
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2013, 10:20:51 AM »
If you are manual focusing a DSLR you have to use live view. The viewfinder is just not good enough.... it gets you close, but not spot on. You really need live view and then to zoom in on your target to properly check focus.

Or, much better, use Magic Lantern with focus peaking, esp. good with switching the display to b&w. You exactly see where the focus pane is w/o needing to zoom in (well, except if you're shooting f1.2 or macro with very thin dof). And with ml you also see what's under/overexposed (zebras) and even where the midrange tonal values are (false color).

Nowadays I mostly use live-view mf for macro shots, it's faster more precise than constantly af'ing and still missing, with the 60d's swivel screen it's a great tripod setup. I do miss the vf split screen from the ol' days though, it's a pity there's no option to switch this on/off quickly but it needs a vf screen replacement.

Rienzphotoz

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Re: Speedy Manual Focusing?
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2013, 11:31:41 AM »
Interesting
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Artifex

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Re: Speedy Manual Focusing?
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2013, 11:45:03 AM »
How were photographers able to manual focus quickly back in the days? Aside from a lot of practice, was there a technique involved in shooting fast manual?

Some technique, yes.  But of course, the focus screen wasn't the plain one on modern dSLRs - there was a split prism and microprism collar around it as focusing aids.  You can get such focus screens for current bodies, too, although only some bodies feature easy user replacement of the screen (e.g. the 6D and 1D X do, the 5DIII does not).

Very interesting! Although I really like my newer digital gear, I honestly miss the split prism focusing system of my good old Pentax K-1000 film camera.
How do focus screens work on newer body? Are they like the old split prism from the film-era? Any recommendation on which is the best for the 6D? Thanks a lot!
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Dantana

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Re: Speedy Manual Focusing?
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2013, 12:17:26 PM »
I miss the AE-1 split prism every time I try to focus manually.

Oh, and Don, I think you are right. Most MF lenses back in the day, even less expensive models, had a longer and more precise focus turn. Every once in a while I see it referenced on a high end AF lens in a review, but I know the lenses I own don't have that same precise feel.

I did look into a split prism finder for my XSi like this:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Split-Image-Focusing-Focus-Screen-for-Canon-450D-500D-/190590997928

But I read somewhere that installing this kind of screen somehow disables the focus confirmation points, though I'm not sure how that would work exactly. Since it's the only body I have at the moment, I don't want to mess it up.
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Re: Speedy Manual Focusing?
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2013, 12:26:14 PM »
How do focus screens work on newer body? Are they like the old split prism from the film-era? Any recommendation on which is the best for the 6D? Thanks a lot!

I'd also be interested in some experiences with these, there only seems to be one option left (no katzeyeoptics for ff, brightscreen seems to be out of business). As far as I understand it they screw up spot/partial metering, at least with fast lenses?

http://www.focusingscreen.com/index.php?cPath=21_135

jcollett

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Re: Speedy Manual Focusing?
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2013, 12:57:15 PM »
I believe innately knowing this concept and how it applied to their cameras helped a lot especially when street shooting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperfocal_distance

mrsfotografie

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Re: Speedy Manual Focusing?
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2013, 01:08:07 PM »
Oh, and Don, I think you are right. Most MF lenses back in the day, even less expensive models, had a longer and more precise focus turn. Every once in a while I see it referenced on a high end AF lens in a review, but I know the lenses I own don't have that same precise feel.

In fact, modern MF lenses also have a longer 'throw' in the focus ring as do my Samyang 14mm and Voightlander 40mm (both are EF mount).
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Re: Speedy Manual Focusing?
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2013, 01:12:32 PM »
I miss the AE-1 split prism every time I try to focus manually.

+1000
I really miss it. Oh! The other day I loaded film into my AE-1 and shot a few pictures. The funny thing is that I have got so used to seeing the image on the LCD screen, that after every image I took on the AE-1, I turned the camera and ended looking at the backplane! LOL! And that is where I keep the tab of the film roll paper box that identifies the ISO and the number of shots. It was hilarious.

Marsu42

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Re: Speedy Manual Focusing?
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2013, 01:25:29 PM »
I believe innately knowing this concept and how it applied to their cameras helped a lot especially when street shooting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperfocal_distance
As it happens, Magic Lantern calculates the hyperfocal distance for you :-) so this helped me a lot.

Sella174

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Re: Speedy Manual Focusing?
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2013, 02:03:59 PM »
And lenses had decent distance scales.
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Re: Speedy Manual Focusing?
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2013, 02:34:18 PM »
Oh, and Don, I think you are right. Most MF lenses back in the day, even less expensive models, had a longer and more precise focus turn. Every once in a while I see it referenced on a high end AF lens in a review, but I know the lenses I own don't have that same precise feel.

In fact, modern MF lenses also have a longer 'throw' in the focus ring as do my Samyang 14mm and Voightlander 40mm (both are EF mount).


To be fair the manual focus on the L lenses is pretty good as far as damping and gearing is concerned; another one of the reasons I moved from Nikon to Canon around eight years ago.

underjammer

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Re: Speedy Manual Focusing?
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2013, 03:29:26 PM »
How do focus screens work on newer body? Are they like the old split prism from the film-era? Any recommendation on which is the best for the 6D? Thanks a lot!

I'd also be interested in some experiences with these, there only seems to be one option left (no katzeyeoptics for ff, brightscreen seems to be out of business). As far as I understand it they screw up spot/partial metering, at least with fast lenses?

http://www.focusingscreen.com/index.php?cPath=21_135

The 6D has an official "user changeable" focus screen, so you can buy the precision screen from Canon..  However, it's not a split prism (or a microprism) focusing screen.  It's just a matte screen that shows focus significantly better.  But it's only like $35, so it's a good start..  It's called the Canon Eg-S precision focusing screen.  I've never used it, so I can't say how dark / hard it is to use if you are using slower lenses with it..  (ie, you're switching out lenses and not switching out the focusing screen..).  I surely wouldn't want to swap the screen out a lot..