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Thread: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Post A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    Just wanted to share some quick observations after having used a few different rangfinding tools with the tech cam.

    First one I tried was an older ultrasonic measuring device I had bought for a home project a few years ago. It worked great for measuring interior walls, but needed a pretty flat reflective surface to measure accurately after 10 meters. Less than 10 m and it seemed to be accurate to around 1/8" or 3 mm. On the upside, it was cheap -- about $35 -- and would probably be fine for most studio or interior applications.

    I then went whole hog and bought a Leica Disto, top of the line D-8. It was extremely accurate, like to 1/32" or 1mm, and had a much longer range, easily measuring out to 30 or 40 meters in bright sun. But it got harder to point accurately as range got further, even using its built-in magnifying display and target. Plus it did not like to read off brush or gravel very well at longer distances, preferring more of a reflective surface.

    Enter my current favorite, a monocular laser rangefinder. I did a lot of research and have been using the one I chose for about three weeks now, and find it excellent. These are designed for shooters and hunters to measure longer target distances. Since they are designed for hunters, many of the newer generations are designed to read off less reflective objects like brush and dirt. You sight through a 4x to 6x optic with a reticle, press a button and the distance reads out directly in the viewfinder. The downside is most only read to the nearest yard or meter, and most can't read if an object is under 10 meters or so. Some also have inclinometers to measure your sighting angle and even ballistic trajectory compensation readouts -- of course not really needed for photographic purposes.

    The low end of these run in the $150 range and offer direct ranging only range to around 500 meters, and usually have a black LCD readout -- not the best for reading in dim light. The mid range options run $250 - $500 and usually have red LED readouts with some other ranging options like sight angle, and range from 500 to 1000 meters. The top end have several functions, range out to beyond 1000 meters. Some are made by companies like Leica or Swarovoski, and can cost upwards of $1000.

    However, there is one in the mid range worth mentioning... It is made by a company called Leupold, famous for excellent rifle optics, called a RX 1000i with DNA. This model was designed for both a bow hunter and rifle hunter, so it measures to 1/10th meters (or yards) at distances under 125 m, then full meters out to 1000, PLUS it ranges down to as close as 5m. This unit has a big red LED readout, and I have accurately ranged objects like rocks under bright sun to 700m, then turn around and measure a tree limb at 104.5 m and then the trunk at 105.2 m -- pretty cool for photographic purposes. This model does not have any other ballistic features, but it does have three selectable reticles for targeting, adjustable LED brightness, and reads in yards or meters. It costs about $350. They make a model that runs $50 more, the RX 1000i with DNA and TBR, the TBR means it includes a bunch of ballistic angular calculation features; but note that this version does NOT measure to 1/10ths, only full meters, and the display is pretty clogged up with data not necessary for a photographer.

    You can find retailers by clicking through the Amazon link at the top of our site and entering the model number.

    Here is a link to the manufacturer's website for more info: http://www.leupold.com/hunting-and-s...r-rangefinder/
    Jack
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    Senior Member stephengilbert's Avatar
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    Re: A note of rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    You can't just hand Guy one of those long tape measures, and have him walk to the plane of focus? I think that's what D.W. Griffith did.

    Edit: Well, not Guy himself, he wasn't born yet, but an assistant director.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    Stephen,

    Funny you should ask that -- but for whatever reason, Guy was very reluctant to accommodate me with those requests on our last shoot. Some barely understandable words floated my direction, something about something or other freezing over...
    Jack
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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...



    I have a understanding with my gear, it instinctively knows if it does not get in focus than it gets applied my blowtorch technique.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post


    I have a understanding with my gear, it instinctively knows if it does not get in focus than it gets applied my blowtorch technique.
    What we need is a scanning lazer range-finder, which builds up a 3D image of the subject, and then calculates and sets the camera movements... you would be able to specify (click on) three subject elements that need to be on the plane-of-sharpest focus, an you would get a reading of the CoC of any area by clicking on it.

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    Garcia
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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    I just bought a Disto D5 in advance for the arrival of my Rm3di outfit. I considered the possibility of a Bushnell rangefinder too ( easier to find in Spain than Leupold ) but in the end I made my mind up and went for the Disto. I may we wrong but I think the first hundred meters are the most critical for fine focussing. Far from then, you can easily estimate the distance up to 200-300 meters with enough accuracy to fall into deph of field region. From my calculations far from 300 meters, there is no real difference between exact focusing distance set ( even if you can manage with Arca's helicoid ) and infinity focus.

    Owning both, Disto and Leupold, is great of course. But if you have to choose just one, I think Disto is the way to go.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    I put heavy use on my focus mask and 100 percent view. But when I start getting longer lenses i will have to see. I'm also a very crazy person and use no rangefinder for viewing or anything else and I work fast. Lol

    I have a long rant about using this stuff that I'll save for another day but we do have a brain of our own and I am seeing people fall into this accessory trap. Enough said for NOW. Lol
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    I have the D8 although to be honest I rarely use it. I'm pretty good at estimating distance to a 'good enough' level and then I use the IQ focus masking to dial it in. I'm very often focus stacking which makes accurate estimation somewhat moot or the scene is 20ft onward which is typically in the realm of being covered by the hyper-focal DoF & IQ focus mask.

    That said, I'll take a look ...
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    Jack and I had different experiences with our refurb Disto D8s.
    Whereas had difficulty ranging to objects in full sunlight, I did not.
    The difficulty I had was more in holding the D8 steady while trying to see the lcd in bright sunlight. The wiggling washed-out image was difficult to steady but I did get useful readings. The Leupold on the other had provided a clear image and very visible cross-hair (different styles to your choice) but at the expense of a decent low range. I do not have a handy 15 foot tape measure and a lasering of a human subject is probably not advisable, so I am looking forward to the arca eModule with some interest although ultra-sonic rangers have their own well known problems.
    -bob
    Last edited by Bob; 1st October 2011 at 05:31.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    Quote Originally Posted by Garcia View Post
    Owning both, Disto and Leupold, is great of course. But if you have to choose just one, I think Disto is the way to go.
    To be clear, I have actually owned and used BOTH devices in the field, not just "assumed" how they will work in the field. One other point -- the Bushnell versions I looked at did not have bright red LED readouts, but rather black LCD readouts. Not sure how big of issue that really is, but want to point it out so folks understand the display difference.
    Jack
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    Member LonnaTucker's Avatar
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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    I use a Leica Disto and it is useful with the lenses I currently own. When I get into longer focal lengths, I'm sure it won't be. Rangefinders for golf might do the trick:

    http://reviews.golfsmith.com/8567/28...s/category.htm

    By the way, Rod received his first E-module yesterday.

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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    Quote Originally Posted by LonnaTucker View Post

    By the way, Rod received his first E-module yesterday.
    Yes I saw his tweet. The Arca users are eagerly awaiting the hands on report.....

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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Yes I saw his tweet. The Arca users are eagerly awaiting the hands on report.....
    When is his flight arriving?
    -bob

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    Garcia
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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    To be clear, I have actually owned and used BOTH devices in the field, not just "assumed" how they will work in the field. One other point -- the Bushnell versions I looked at did not have bright red LED readouts, but rather black LCD readouts. Not sure how big of issue that really is, but want to point it out so folks understand the display difference.
    I'm sure LED display is a big plus on dark targets. So you only carry RX 1000 now ?

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    The difficulty I had was more in holding the D8 steady while trying to see the lcd in bright sunlight. The wiggling washed-out image was difficult to steady but I did get useful readings. The Leupold on the other had provided a clear image and very visible cross-hair (different styles to your choice) but at the expense of a decent low range.
    I'd concur with that experience myself. At distance the laser point tends to want to dance somewhat plus the magnified image on the disto jumps around unless you have a steady grip on it. I can see how the optical/laser rangefinders would be easier to use under those circumstances. For close up though you can't really get anything like the same accuracy.

    So your models don't appreciate the red laser dot on the forehead/cheek? Funny that.
    Last edited by GrahamWelland; 1st October 2011 at 08:52. Reason: &%&#&$# Apple Lion/iPad 'Mancuso' spelling filter fix ...
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    Quote Originally Posted by Garcia View Post
    I'm sure LED display is a big plus on dark targets. So you only carry RX 1000 now ?
    Yes, that is correct, I only carry the RX 1000. Moreover, I no longer carry my compact binoculars either because the RX 1000's 6x monocular is an impressive optic on its own.
    Jack
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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    Jack, I have the RX 1000i with DNA and TBR version (the cluttered screen version), and while I like it better than the disto, it is easy to get lost in the menus. But I have two sons who are big on hunting, so maybe they will teach me how to use it. Charles

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    Yes, the extra menus on the TBR version were a bit daunting, and navigating them required the manual, and virtually all of the ballistic data unnecessary for a photographer. Coupled with reading to 1/10ths for under 125m is why I am reco-ing the non-TBR version.
    Jack
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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    I too am eagerly awaiting a review on the E-module. My main question is whether a distance can be manually dialed in, and then the E-module used to verify whether the Helical focussing system is at the right point with focus confirmation, i.e. I would use a laser RF or something similar to calculate the distance, but use the E-module to confirm focus setting. THis would avoid fiddling with look-up charts and numbers in the field.

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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    Quote Originally Posted by jagsiva View Post
    I too am eagerly awaiting a review on the E-module. My main question is whether a distance can be manually dialed in, and then the E-module used to verify whether the Helical focussing system is at the right point with focus confirmation, i.e. I would use a laser RF or something similar to calculate the distance, but use the E-module to confirm focus setting. THis would avoid fiddling with look-up charts and numbers in the field.
    The way it is supposed to work is that as the helical is turned, the focus point and DOF is displayed. That would be pretty good as it is a direct replacement for the cheat card with added features.
    -bob

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    Re: A note on rangefinding devices for tech cams...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    The way it is supposed to work is that as the helical is turned, the focus point and DOF is displayed. That would be pretty good as it is a direct replacement for the cheat card with added features.
    -bob
    Ah ha...thanks Bob. That makes a lot of sense and certainly would work with the way I'm hoping to use it.

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