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03-09-2014, 01:27 PM   #1
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All frames very soft

Hello everyone

After just having restarted shooting film (mostly Ektar 100, but also two old Ektachrome 100) with my 645N, I have noticed when scanning that none of the shots were crisp. The negatives looked in focus when looking at them with a cheap 8x loupe, but when scanning (Epson 750) I notice that they were not. After extensive tests I can rule out the scanner. As I have been using the same lenses (5 of them) as before, there is no lens issue. This really only leaves the 645N, on the assumption that films cannot be badly developed when it comes to focus. Some of the photos were taken on a tripod, most of them with times between 1/60 and 1/180. Not ideal times, but okay in the past for handheld shots.

I am a bit puzzled by these findings as I cannot imagine what could cause persistant blurring. I have used the self-timer or a cable release when using the tripod. Have I overlooked anything?

Thank you for your thoughts.

Bye for now
Rainer

03-09-2014, 02:06 PM   #2
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Film is banding while you scan. Common problem
03-09-2014, 02:44 PM   #3
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Kodak has nasty reputation in bending. Flatten then with loads of books for days before scanning. Be patient
03-09-2014, 02:53 PM   #4
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Possibly the focusing screen has been removed and changed over but not calibrated for the correct infinity range to indicate sharp focus; that is to say, when you have the lens set to near infinity, the image is slighly unsharp and not improved by deeper aperture values. Applying USM (unsharp mask) post-scanning can improve things a little, but not much. Curling film does not cause soft images at the scanner if it is correctly held in the film guide. My first line of enquiry would be the 645N and possibly a professional bench test for focusing accuracy.

03-09-2014, 04:33 PM   #5
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Thanks for your swift replies.
The softness does not come from bending. When I put an older film (taken with the same camera) into the scanner, together with a more recent film, I get crips scans with the old film, blurred with the new film. I also have some glasses to stop any curling, no effect. The negatives are simply not in focus, alas.

Not sure I understand the focusing screen: the image should be crisp if I set the focus to infinity, or at least the focus should be somewhere in the photo, but there isn't. You can see where the focus should have been, but only through the gentle blur.

Please keep your suggestions/explanations coming,
Rainer
03-09-2014, 05:50 PM   #6
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I believe all models of the 645 had a mirror braking system. If that failed, mirror vib could soften your shots.
03-09-2014, 06:00 PM   #7
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Do you mean the whole negative is blurry or wrong parts of the image are blurry? Have you adjusted the height of your film holders? On my V700 I had to put them in highest position, otherwise everything was blurry.
03-09-2014, 06:29 PM   #8
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It's not a simple case of just taking out the focusing screen and putting in another; at some stage the screen will need to be calibrated (set screws adjusted to provide crisp infinity focus confirmation). Betterscan makes wet and dry scan holders that may improve the scan result in flattening the film, but a slight amount of curl or bulking should not have a noticeable effect on scanning; in everyday use, newton rings, fingerprints, crimps and chemical residue cause a great deal more problems and hold-ups than film flatness. A cut-to-size piece of AN glass from a framing shop placed into the stock standard Epson holder can work in keeping the film very flat, and it's a cheaper option than a Betterscan outfit.

03-10-2014, 01:54 AM   #9
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Hello again, everyone

And thank you once more for your thoughts.

I have no problem with getting a crisp scan of a crips negative, my problem is that I no longer have the ability to enlarge negatives myself, so I can only check the focus via the scanning process.
And yes, I have used those distancers on the Epson's film holders (what I referred to as extensive testing) and ruled this out as a reason by simply having a filmstrip of an older film as well as a recent film in the MF holder (old film crips, recent film blurred).
Thank you Silent Street for the explanation on the focusing screen, I will keep this in mind (I had changed it at some stage). However, this could mess up the focusing process, but not the focus of the system. If i focus on say 1 metre and the focus then is at 95cm de facto, my focus is in the wrong place of the photo, but there is focus. With my negatives, there is no focus.
I think the explanation that the dampening of the mirror when releasing is fault could be a possible cause. I do not notice any difference in the release sound, but something must give minimal shake. Tripod apparently has no influence on this, so it must be internal camera shake. I had thought of the shutter vibration, but this would have to be some vibration alright.
I will call Pentax for technical help.

Bye for now
Rainer
03-10-2014, 03:33 PM   #10
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Have you also checked that the film is being held firm and flat against the film gate of the camera and there is no slack? I would think this to be highly unusual but no stone should be left unturned.
03-10-2014, 04:01 PM   #11
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Hello

Just an update. I called Pentax/Ricoh. They agreed that it is either the dampening mechanism of the mirror or a malfunctioning of one of the shutter curtain dampeners.
Any major repair will surpass the street value of the camera, so this is a no-go.
Apparently, the 645NII is the sturdier camera, with the 645N having some issues.
Anybody selling a 645NII in Europe? Just an aside..

I also thought of the film inserts, especially as I have been using only one all this time. I have now run a few rolls in the other two inserts, just to make sure. I should have the results on Wednesday.

Tomorrow Tuesday I will go to a local camera repair shop to hear what they have to say. At any rate, wish me luck it is just a stupid film insert. But I have checked if the alignment 'appears' in order (can't do more than look) and it seems the same with all 3 inserts. Good thinking, Silent Street.

More soon.
03-12-2014, 01:08 AM   #12
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Update

Hello

The reason is a stuck mirror mechanism. The devilish thing has been that the mirror seems to move correctly, but when the repair shop checked the times, they could see that these were all much too slow. So they checked the mirror movement and could see that this was slowed down.
The camera is in repair and hopefully I will have it back on Friday evening.
Of course we have glorious spring weather outside here in France/Germany, let's hope it won't disappear on Saturday morning.
03-12-2014, 02:43 PM   #13
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Oh...France...! <*sigh*>
Well, down here in the south-east of Australia, we're having glorious sunny autumn weather.

Good the glitch has been identified and they're on to it in repair. Many happy [mirror] returns...
04-01-2014, 11:46 AM   #14
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Hello

Just to close this: the repair cost me 100€ (some 125 dollars), so I got off lightly. Still waiting for the first films to come back but a testfilm was without shake (even if it was horribly processed). Good to go again and more light now.

Rainer
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