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Manual focusing tips?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Nubest, Mar 21, 2012.

  1. Nubest

    Nubest Mu-43 Regular

    26
    Mar 21, 2012
    Hi all,

    I'm new to this forum, but as I've understood the people are friendly to newcomers here :)

    I would like us to share our focusing tips on legacy lenses. I've got a E-P3 and bought a Canon FD 50/1.4 to try an adapted lens. The pictures made with this lens are great, but sometimes I experience some problems with focusing it. Of course I use the magnification of the viewfinde, but although the object is clear, the picture is not always what I expect.

    So how do you do the manual focusing and if someone's got the VVF - does it really help?
     
  2. Minniesmum

    Minniesmum Mu-43 Veteran

    369
    Mar 2, 2012
    UK
    Hi and welcome ! I'm fairly new here too..I have an E-PL1 and atm all of my lenses are legacy and therefore manually focused. I have the OM 50mm f1.4. I resorted to buying the VF-2 as was having similar problems to yourself, particularly outdoors in bright light it was almost impossible to see anything on the LCD. I nearly always use the magnification assist button as well, otherwise I find the final images are not sharp. And practice of course !!
     
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  3. RichDesmond

    RichDesmond Mu-43 Veteran

    356
    Nov 18, 2011
    I find that the VF helps a little in normal situations, but in bright light it's essential.
    Always do your focusing with the lens aperture wide open, that narrows your depth of field and makes it easier to home in on the sharpest focus. Then stop down to your desired aperture for the shot.
    If your subject allows for it, focus bracket. Take extra shots with the focus set just slightly to either side of what you think is "in focus".
    And practice, practice, practice...:smile:
     
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  4. Nubest

    Nubest Mu-43 Regular

    26
    Mar 21, 2012
    Thanks for the feedback!

    I've already noticed, that it is easier to focus with wide open lens, but never thought of using this effect for shooting regardless of the desired aperture:) Great tip! Focus braceting is a great idea too :)

    Another question is - can I really make the lens focus in different spots? I mean, I can point anywhere on the touchscreen and focus to that particular point on AF lens. Does this work on adapted lens too? Or they just focus to the center of frame?
     
  5. applemint

    applemint Mu-43 Veteran

    345
    Jan 24, 2012
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  6. Nubest

    Nubest Mu-43 Regular

    26
    Mar 21, 2012
    Yes, that's right - practice! :)

    Now - any practicing tips? seriously, what are the easiest objects for you guys to focus on? the hardest? There must be something to begin with to improve the technique step-by-step
     
  7. applemint

    applemint Mu-43 Veteran

    345
    Jan 24, 2012
    Flowers are good to practice on - they don't move (unless it's windy) and the bit in the middle where the pollen is is easy to focus on when magnified (or the leaves or petals..). Anything with a sharp/defined edge or straight edge is easy - patterns, details on buildings, that kind of thing?

    The hardest are things that keep moving (animals, people) especially in low light.
     
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  8. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    989
    Aug 25, 2011
    Austin, TX
    No, that wouldn't work. The camera does not communicate with adapted lenses whatsoever. The adapted lens focuses to wherever you focus it. To get the hang of it, put your 50mm lens on your camera, turn it to the closest focus distance, and slowly focus towards your subject. You will see the plane of focus move further and further away from you. When you tap on the back of the screen with a native lens, the camera is basically doing the turning of the focusing ring for you.

    Practice on whatever you feel like. Small stationary objects are the best. Try things like lampposts, mailboxes, the top of a fence post, etc. Things that don't blow in the wind. Put a doll or an action figure on a table outdoors, and focus on it. Then, move the focus to whatever is in the background, and see how it works.
     
  9. Nubest

    Nubest Mu-43 Regular

    26
    Mar 21, 2012
    So you suggest focusing from the closest distance further on? Not vice versa? Is there any difference or it's a matter of taste?
     
  10. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    989
    Aug 25, 2011
    Austin, TX
    First off, my biggest advice would be to stop reading about it, asking about it, and worrying and fretting about it :tongue: You have enough advice, so go outside and JUST DO IT, as Nike says. There is no amount of reading that will help you as much as just practicing. Second, you always want to focus from closer to further, because the when you focus to a specific distance, the depth of field extends further behind the focus point than it extends in front of it.
     
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  11. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The best advice I can give is not to second guess yourself. Manual focus is a natural part of using a camera, and is not as difficult as people make it out to be. What makes it difficult is not trusting your instinct or your eyes. If you trust yourself to snap to focus where you feel you're in focus and not to go back and mess around with it endlessly, then you'll find that your results are normally better. Spending too much time "fine tuning" your focus is usually when it gets thrown off. Of course, this applies more to a full-coverage view from an OVF or EVF and doesn't really apply to using the Magnify button. Eventually though, you're gonna have to learn to focus without the Magnify aid, because you can't always afford that luxury when your subjects are moving.

    When you're using a digital camera, then frames are almost free. Don't be afraid to use 'em up as you practice. Doing it more often is important, because your body naturally gets attuned to how much the focus ring needs to move to reach focus.
     
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  12. robertro

    robertro Mu-43 Veteran

    223
    Apr 22, 2010
    Good advice above.

    I'd also suggest that every manual focus lens has its own unique physical characteristics, so working intensively with one lens seems to result in more focussed shots. When I start out with a lens, I pick the same 4-5 objects at different distances around my house, and photograph them in rapid succession, using only the LCD. I then take a look at my success rate by magnifying the images. If this results in a poor rate of in-focus images, I use a viewfinder or a magified view with that lens. Some lenses just seem to be easier to focus than others; I attribute this to contrast, sharpness, sensitivity of focus ring, and perhaps how much coffee I've had!
     
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  13. Minniesmum

    Minniesmum Mu-43 Veteran

    369
    Mar 2, 2012
    UK
    I know this may sound crazy but I switch to manual focus now even with AF lenses. I am definitly preferring to have complete control over focus rather than let the camera decide. Maybe I'm just a control freak ! lol. Once you get the hang of mf it felt to me like passing my driving test.... it's fab
     
  14. ill_dawg

    ill_dawg Mu-43 Veteran

    201
    Aug 26, 2010
    What he said. Pick a few things at different distances, and practice moving between them. Get familiar with what your lens looks like when it's in focus, and when it's almost in focus. Try at first using the magnification to lock, then just snapping from the overview and using magnification in review to confirm.

    On a related note to what was being asked earlier, can you use the touchscreen to choose where the magnification box is? It's kind of annoying to move it around with the dpad on the e-pl1, and I'd love it if the om-d could use the touchscreen instead. Any current touchscreen users have any experience with this?
     
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  15. chicks

    chicks Mu-43 Top Veteran

    876
    Feb 1, 2012
    The Big Valley, CA
    I'm brand new to the EP-2, so just learning. I noticed that focussing in bright sunlight was a PITA, so bought a VF-2 from another member. Just tried it at lunchtime, nice sunny day. Huge difference.

    I wear Transistions glasses, which darken in sunlight, so had to remove them to focus at all on the LCD. Was able to focus with the glasses on and darkened using the VF-2.

    Here's a shot I just took, 100% crop, hand-held, Pentax 50mm f1.7 (at f4, IIRC). The VF-2 is worth the extra cost, IMO.

    attachment.php?attachmentid=7998&stc=1&d=1332371287.
     

    Attached Files:

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  16. 0dBm

    0dBm Mu-43 Top Veteran

    859
    Jun 30, 2011
    Western United States
    I'll reiterate this. Decades ago, when manual focus was all we had, practice was all we did.

    Good luck. Keep honing your skills. When you become proficient., you will experience a real sense of accomplishment.

    Welcome aboard.
     
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  17. Nubest

    Nubest Mu-43 Regular

    26
    Mar 21, 2012
    Thank you for great pieces of advice!

    I was actually intending to soot something during the day and took the camera, but forgot the memory card :) The whole day was of course sunny :)

    Minniesmum, I tried to manual focus the AF lens too :) Although there is no opportunity to control the aperture there

    I'm still hesitating about VF. You've made a very good shot, chicks, it's impressive I must say. But there is a difference in E-P2 and E-P3 camera viewfinders, isn't it? I would be happy if I'd shoot something like your photo using only camera VF.

    And - I must admit - to practice is the universal advice from our senior and respected users. I'll definately follow it. Tomorrow.

    I'll post some of my future attempts here if you don't mind. It would be interesting to see yours too.
     
  18. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    As well as our young, hip, youthful, cool, happening, modern, cosmopolitan users too. :cool:
     
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  19. Nubest

    Nubest Mu-43 Regular

    26
    Mar 21, 2012
    You can touch the screen to tell the camera to focus on that specific spot, at least on E-P3 model. If you want to move the magnification box (eg. from one corner to the other), you can just touch the desired corner with your finger. The camera focuses on the new point VERY quickly.
     
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  20. Nubest

    Nubest Mu-43 Regular

    26
    Mar 21, 2012
    senior was meant as "experienced", of course :smile:
     
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