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12-14-2011, 06:29 PM   #1
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Manual Focus-ers, magnification needed?

Manual Focus Lens Users,

What's your current set up? Do you use a focusing screen? Do you use a magnifier, like the O-ME53 (or something similiar?) Any tips?

In my photography endeavor, I really wanted to get a hand on the equipment -- to try different lenses, understand what settings and specs really mean -- so I started with manual film lenses. I lost the film camera, and now I have a K10D which I think is great. Picked it up used at a good price, love the ergonomics, dials, controls, etc. To get that manual focus feel, I picked up a KatzEye split focus with OptiBrite along with some m42 Taks.

I picked up the old Minolta again and realized that the focusing was MUCH MUCH easier on the Minolta. The microfocus collar on the K10 doesn't help with the fine focus as much as I expected and I tend to use the split focus 90% of the time.

Since the viewfinder magnifications on dSLRs aren't as good as manual focus bodies, do I need something like the O-ME53 or something similar to see the slight changes in the microfocus collar?

Thanks in advance!

12-14-2011, 07:00 PM   #2
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Sadly, manual focusing on aps-c cameras is harder than it was on film. There are some tricks that can help though.

A new focusing screen is a start which you have. Here is a thread discussing the Canon EE-S screen which the folks there are claiming is the best for manual focus.

I have the O-me53 magnifier and would not be without it, but some do not like magnifiers because it limits your vision of the viewfinder read-out displays.

Catch in Focus or CIF is another trick that can work with practice, though I am not sure if the K10D has that or not. Here is an article link on how to make that work.

The viewfinder on an aps-c camera is a handicap to manual focusing so you have to work a little harder to get right. Practice helps as well. Somewhere I read an article on manual focusing drills or exercises that help teach you to focus properly, I cannot find it right now but try a search for "manual focusing drills".
12-14-2011, 07:45 PM   #3
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Practice practice practice, plus everything Jatrax said. I find that with my Kr, as soon as it gives me the red square saying it is in focus, I turn it back a little. For some reason it wants to focus a little more on the long end than it should.
12-14-2011, 08:05 PM   #4
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Not just the vf magnification, but the overall vf quality of Pentax DSLRs is sub-par against good old manual focus camera. The clarity is just not there regardless of the focus screen being used. Even with 2x vf magnifier, precise mf can be a challenge. Magnified lv is probably the best for precision, especially with wide angles. The O-ME53 helps little to nothing really.

12-14-2011, 11:33 PM   #5
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I shot film with large- and small-VF cameras. I shoot digital with those too. My old eyeballs are delaminating. How I focus with the K20D:

1) A katzeye-type split-focus screen helps -- with lit contrasty subjects.
2) The green FC (Focus Confirmation) light signals when I'm nearly in focus.
3) CIF (Catch-In-Focus aka Trap-Focus) trips the shutter when focus is achieved.

So the split screen gets me into the neighborhood; the FC light gets me almost there; and CIF nails the focus. Otherwise I use the old tricks: zone focus / hyperfocus; pacing-off distances; spray-and-pray; etc. Whatever works, eh?
12-15-2011, 12:38 AM   #6
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I did pretty well with a stock *istDS (same basic viewfinder as K10D), but on my K200D - which has a smaller & dimmer viewfmder, I do fond the O-ME53 helps just enough to be worthwhile.
12-15-2011, 03:27 AM   #7
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I have a split image finder in my K10D and a dual split image finder in my *istD both are from jinfinance, and work well. The focus confirmation also helps

I can't comment on the smaller bodies however, and I do understand their screen is smaller as Marc notes
12-15-2011, 04:07 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by calculator01 Quote
Practice practice practice, plus everything Jatrax said. I find that with my Kr, as soon as it gives me the red square saying it is in focus, I turn it back a little. For some reason it wants to focus a little more on the long end than it should.
The red square is not the focus indicator; the green hexagon is the focus confirmation indicator. The red square shows which focus point is being used (and turning it off was the first thing I did to both my K20D and K-5 when I got them....can't stand that damned thing).

12-15-2011, 10:44 AM   #9
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On my K100D Super I have a KatzEye (without opti-bright), and the O-ME53, and get good results. However...

I know this is obvious, but make sure your diopter is adjusted for a clear view. Sometimes mine gets bumped out of optimum position and I have a terrible time focusing until I realize that it is off. I adjust my diopter by pointing the camera down (or to a dark area), then adjust the diopter to clarify the indicators in the viewfinder. With the diopter properly adjusted, I have no problem with manual focus. It's not as good as my MX, but certainly good enough.

-Joe-
12-15-2011, 01:25 PM   #10
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If I had one wish for Pentax DSLRS it would be a return to big, bright viewfinders with factory-installed split-screen focus like the old film cameras. Wouldn't that be nice?

I installed a split-screen on my K-10, but am wary to do so on the K-5. I have used the CIF on the K-5 which works pretty well, often it's perfect. You'll still need to consider DOF, though - and where that CIF point picks, which is an educated guess.
12-15-2011, 01:28 PM   #11
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O-ME53 definitely helps improve success rate. You can do without it, but you will do even better with it.
12-15-2011, 02:22 PM   #12
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Others upthread have pointed out that it's hard to see the entire viewfinder, including the info readout, without moving your eye around when a magnifier is in use. That's true.

I had good success with a magnifier on my K20D. But on my K-5, I find that while concentrating to focus, I'd often lose track of the straight edges of the viewfinder frame, and many of my shots would come out tilted. So I took the magnifier off, and I'm happier without it.
12-15-2011, 02:45 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
The red square is not the focus indicator; the green hexagon is the focus confirmation indicator. The red square shows which focus point is being used (and turning it off was the first thing I did to both my K20D and K-5 when I got them....can't stand that damned thing).
Hah, great reminder. I tend to ignore the green hexagon AND the red square. I remember reading on this forum, some people saying that they can achieve better spot on focusing with their split image screen than the camera can. Since then, I've ignored all of the camera's hints at being the right focus. Bad move I guess. That logic really counters using CIF too...

QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Sadly, manual focusing on aps-c cameras is harder than it was on film. There are some tricks that can help though.

A new focusing screen is a start which you have. Here is a thread discussing the Canon EE-S screen which the folks there are claiming is the best for manual focus.

I have the O-me53 magnifier and would not be without it, but some do not like magnifiers because it limits your vision of the viewfinder read-out displays.

Catch in Focus or CIF is another trick that can work with practice, though I am not sure if the K10D has that or not. Here is an article link on how to make that work.

The viewfinder on an aps-c camera is a handicap to manual focusing so you have to work a little harder to get right. Practice helps as well. Somewhere I read an article on manual focusing drills or exercises that help teach you to focus properly, I cannot find it right now but try a search for "manual focusing drills".
I've actually never heard of CIF until you mentioned it. Neat trick, but I'd think you need the A pin shorted, correct? Is there a semi-permanent method that people prefer? I've never been able to get the foil trick to work consistently. Maybe I can finally use a flash too.....

QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
I shot film with large- and small-VF cameras. I shoot digital with those too. My old eyeballs are delaminating. How I focus with the K20D:

1) A katzeye-type split-focus screen helps -- with lit contrasty subjects.
2) The green FC (Focus Confirmation) light signals when I'm nearly in focus.
3) CIF (Catch-In-Focus aka Trap-Focus) trips the shutter when focus is achieved.

So the split screen gets me into the neighborhood; the FC light gets me almost there; and CIF nails the focus. Otherwise I use the old tricks: zone focus / hyperfocus; pacing-off distances; spray-and-pray; etc. Whatever works, eh?
spray-and-pray First I need to need to spray and pray for the right exposure, then the focus. I need a camera that will do this as a matrix for me
12-15-2011, 02:50 PM   #14
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I have a Pentax Magnifier-M and a generic 2.5X Refconverter. I also have a double split-focus screen with mircoprism donut on my K-7. The split screen is perfect to get close to focus. Then if there is plenty of light and the lens is F4 or brighter, the microprism donut works quite well. For wide angle lenses where the objects are very small, a magnifier helps also along with increased DOF. For longer telephotos, once I got focus as close as possible with the above steps, then I look at the matte portion of the screen and slowly focus in and out over a very small range and stop on what I perceive as the sharpest. I take a few shots always re-focusing between shots.

But the best way for longer lenses (300mm to 600mm) is to use the Live View on the K-7 while using a monopod or tripod. That's the only way I can always get focus spot-on the first time.
12-15-2011, 03:54 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ptrenh Quote
Manual Focus Lens Users,

What's your current set up? Do you use a focusing screen?
After headaches with manual focus on my K-5, my setup has been to go back to film cameras. So much easier on an MX or LX. Then went back further to an H1a and found focus even easier on that.
Changed screen on my LX to plain groundglass, and found it helped a lot. I find a simple plain view easier to evaluate than one cluttered by "focus aids." So... plan to get a plain groundglass for my K-5, and give it a try again.
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