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01-18-2011, 04:26 PM   #1
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Help with manual focus

I posted this photo earlia, whilst I think it sort of works, I am not happy with the focus.

The intention was for the camera, and in particular the PENTAX logo to be crisp, and the leaves of the plant to be blurry.

As you can see the logo and camera is not really how I wanted it.

In the view finder it looked sharp to me, I tried the shot a few times but couldnt get the camera in perfect focus using the manual focus.

I used a KX with the DAL 50-200mm.

The shot is taken at 200mm, f5.6, 1/3s, 100 ISO

So where am I going wrong? any ideas?

is it my technique, settings, lens or just my eyes??

edit: also, would getting some kind of viewfinder magnifier help? if so which one is recommended?



01-18-2011, 04:51 PM   #2
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You didn't say whether this was handheld or on a tripod. 1/3s would be too slow for handheld unless you have hands of stone.

Turn off shake reduction when using a tripod.

Is the tripod truly steady? You might be introducing a bit of shake when you release the shutter. Try the self-timer or a remote.

Are you bouncing this off a mirror, or is that a 2nd camera? A mirror, even if very clean, might introduce distortion.

Take a few photos with autofocus. Does the picture come out sharper? If yes, then you've confirmed that the issue with the prior photos is truly manual focus.

Decrease the aperture to f16 for greater depth of field. Increase ISO to compensate. This will make manual focus more forgiving while you practice.

How far away is the focus distance?

Might you be getting some diffraction off of leaf edges? I've never tried a shot like this and don't know if that's a concern. Test removing the plant of at least shift leaves out of the way and see if focus improves.

Last edited by DeadJohn; 01-18-2011 at 04:56 PM. Reason: Added more questions
01-18-2011, 05:04 PM   #3
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
You didn't say whether this was handheld or on a tripod. 1/3s would be too slow for handheld unless you have hands of stone.

Turn off shake reduction when using a tripod.

Is the tripod truly steady? You might be introducing a bit of shake when you release the shutter. Try the self-timer or a remote.

Are you bouncing this off a mirror, or is that a 2nd camera? A mirror, even if very clean, might introduce distortion.

Take a few photos with autofocus. Does the picture come out sharper? If yes, then you've confirmed that the issue with the prior photos is truly manual focus.

Decrease the aperture to f16 for greater depth of field. Increase ISO to compensate. This will make manual focus more forgiving while you practice.

How far away is the focus distance?

Might you be getting some diffraction off of leaf edges? I've never tried a shot like this and don't know if that's a concern. Test removing the plant of at least shift leaves out of the way and see if focus improves.
The camera was on a tripod, shake reduction was off and i used the 2s timer. I was shooting a mirror so I see your point about distortion there, same goes for the plant leaves.

I'll try auto focus and a different aperture tomorrow to see if that helps.

Thanks for your suggestions.
01-18-2011, 05:08 PM   #4
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I found this thread useful for manual focus techniques:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-beginners-corner-q/128943-tips-sho...ocus-lens.html

I've seen lots of suggestions of using a jinfinance/Katzeye focusing screen, but I've never tried it.

01-18-2011, 06:03 PM   #5
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manual focus is hard, it's no joke with the type of OVF we have in the camera (try a FF OVF, it's like giant size compare to ours lol). nothing more you can do, someone suggested replacing the focusing screen, it might help... But serious, grab a camera with a huge OVF, you'll see the difference right away.
01-18-2011, 08:49 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by paul cliff Quote
I posted this photo earlia, whilst I think it sort of works, I am not happy with the focus.

The intention was for the camera, and in particular the PENTAX logo to be crisp, and the leaves of the plant to be blurry.

As you can see the logo and camera is not really how I wanted it.

In the view finder it looked sharp to me, I tried the shot a few times but couldnt get the camera in perfect focus using the manual focus.

I used a KX with the DAL 50-200mm.

The shot is taken at 200mm, f5.6, 1/3s, 100 ISO

So where am I going wrong? any ideas?

is it my technique, settings, lens or just my eyes??

edit: also, would getting some kind of viewfinder magnifier help? if so which one is recommended?
I've found it's usually a focusing error when one ends up with soft images... Manually focusing is almost an art form. Using the in "camera" indicators does not always insure a perfectly focused image.

It just takes a lot of practice, knowing your viewfinder and how it looks when something is in focus. But 200mm @ 1/3s is pretty difficult even on a tripod... I would try hand held with SR and brace yourself..

This might help: Pentax O-ME53 Magnifying Eyecup 30150 B&H Photo Video - Good luck, Rick
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