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Thread: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

  1. #1
    wgcho
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    Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Does anybody use GG/Fresnel with an Alpa 12 body? I've recently acquired one, but I find it extremely hard to focus. It's been quite a while, but I've used several large format view/field cameras with fresnel in the past and I remember it being much easier and sharper than this.

    I'm wondering if I am doing something wrong. I think I've tried all four combinations of sandwiching the GG and fresnel, and I am now using the matte side of GG facing the lens+rough part of the fresnel facing the GG. Is this the right way of using this? Would 3rd party glasses (like Maxwell) improve the situation?

    Thanks,

    -Ted
    Last edited by wgcho; 12th April 2012 at 19:31.

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    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Ted, I have the Pro Grid Screen (PGS) and use the Leather Focusing Bellows with it. My screen is all intact--I do not touch/sandwich the fresnel. You must have an older model. I do not have any difficulties. For more detail, at times I will use a Hasselblad Magnifying Hood. You might want to contact Thierry (Alpa rep) here on the board for Alpa advice.

    Best, Darr
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Ted,

    I had the focusing screen for awhile and found that with a 10X loupe I could get very accurate focus. It was kind of a pita but still workable. I have an IQ back now and for obvious reasons don't use a ground glass anymore.

    Victor

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    I found focussing the Alpa GG without a loupe to be next to impossible. With a loupe and either a dark cloth or the leather GG baggy I find that you do it but you do need a good loupe and 4x is barely sufficient IMHO. Without a loupe you don't have much real estate to work with and the experience is a lot different to the relative ease of using a 4x5 or larger GG.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    I feel the GG is a good tool for composing the frame. I love the disconnect from the subject and just compose. Wider angle lenses are very hard to focus compared to the 4x5 screens. It starts to show you good focus with a 70mm lens and up. With HPF rings on your lenses it gets pretty good in just guessing the distance and just set it on the ring. Best is to be able to tether if you don't have an IQ.

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    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    I do not use my GG much anymore. I compose via a Linhof viewfinder and set the lens. I tested my lenses enough to know where their sweet spots are and then do a little bit of focus bracketing. With wide lenses, I shoot via hyperfocal. I use a P45 so no instant viewing for me and I only shoot tethered in the studio with an M-Line 2.
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    Senior Member dchew's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Thing is, measuring distance and dialing in focus with a shimmed back and an HPF ring is just so darn efficient compared to anything else I've tried.

    Dave

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Quote Originally Posted by dchew View Post
    Thing is, measuring distance and dialing in focus with a shimmed back and an HPF ring is just so darn efficient compared to anything else I've tried.

    Dave
    Thats my view too. Easy enough to do basic framing via a viewfinder and then use a rangefinder or disto to get the distance where I need something better than hyperfocal or a focus stack.

    For composition I can also easily shoot and review on the LCD (especially an IQ but the normal P series too).
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

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    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Quote Originally Posted by dchew View Post
    Thing is, measuring distance and dialing in focus with a shimmed back and an HPF ring is just so darn efficient compared to anything else I've tried.

    Dave
    I thought about buying the rings, but so far I have been able to get what I want without them. Maybe if I saw someone shooting with them it might change my mind. It is good to hear they work so well.
    "Creativity takes courage." ~ Henri Matisse
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Thats my view too. Easy enough to do basic framing via a viewfinder and then use a rangefinder or disto to get the distance where I need something better than hyperfocal or a focus stack.

    For composition I can also easily shoot and review on the LCD (especially an IQ but the normal P series too).
    I actually compose on the IQ back. Its very fast and eliminates carrying the extra weight and bulk of the viewfinder. After that its a quick distance calculation from the Leica and shoot. On maybe one out of ten shots I have to use live view and a Schneider MF loupe.... All in all a very easy workflow.

    Victor

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    Senior Member dchew's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    I think most Alpa users move to this method because 1- It is quick and 2- We have no way to tilt wide angles so there are no adjustments to be made that vary from the HPF setting. I am interested to see what happens to my workflow once Alpa releases the WA tilt solution later this year. Will I use live view more or just focus bracket...? Either way I don't see a ground glass in my future.

    Dave
    Quote Originally Posted by darr View Post
    I thought about buying the rings, but so far I have been able to get what I want without them. Maybe if I saw someone shooting with them it might change my mind. It is good to hear they work so well.

  12. #12
    wgcho
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I was trying to focus with my 24mm, which I guess is the hardest. It seems like I would need to use dark cloth, too. I should also consider getting the HPF ring and a disto!

    -Ted

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    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Thanks for the info Dave. You have me thinking ... which usually means I might be spending some $. Paul (Optechs) was my dealer in the past, who would you recommend now?

    Darr

    Quote Originally Posted by dchew View Post
    I think most Alpa users move to this method because 1- It is quick and 2- We have no way to tilt wide angles so there are no adjustments to be made that vary from the HPF setting. I am interested to see what happens to my workflow once Alpa releases the WA tilt solution later this year. Will I use live view more or just focus bracket...? Either way I don't see a ground glass in my future.

    Dave
    "Creativity takes courage." ~ Henri Matisse
    Darlene Almeda, photoscapes.com

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    Senior Member dchew's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    My dealer is Dodd, which has locations in Cleveland and Chicago. They have been very accommodating and always get me the info I need.
    http://www.doddpro.com
    Dennis Semick is the primary contact regarding Alpa.

    Dave

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    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Thanks Dave--I will contact Dennis and tell him you gave his recommendation. Have a nice Sunday!! Darr

    Quote Originally Posted by dchew View Post
    My dealer is Dodd, which has locations in Cleveland and Chicago. They have been very accommodating and always get me the info I need.
    http://www.doddpro.com
    Dennis Semick is the primary contact regarding Alpa.

    Dave
    "Creativity takes courage." ~ Henri Matisse
    Darlene Almeda, photoscapes.com

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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    I'm sure folks are right about the speed/accuracy/convenience of rough framing with a viewfinder, measuring distance with a disto, and composing with the IQ screen ... but to be honest that workflow just leaves me feeling like I've been slapped in the face with a wet fish ... it's simply too disconnected, mechanical and 'by the numbers' for me.

    Personally, I love composing on the ground glass - it is, and always has been, one of the fundamental joys of photographing with a view camera (now tech camera). Seeing the image appear on the groundglass is still as magical today as it was the first time I ever witnessed it.

    Is it convenient? For focussing, no, in comparison to some of the methods described above - but I never really considered convenience to be that important (years of lugging around 5x7, and occasionally 8x10, camera gear I guess). On the other hand, it is when composing, or using a polariser and/or ND grads.

    Accurate? Absolutely (I use a 10x lupe to nail focus).

    Speed? Well, let's face it, I'm in no hurry. If I was, I'd use a DSLR.

    Just my 2c.

    Jim.

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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Jim

    I feel very much the same .
    Regards . Jürgen .
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Jim,

    I agree about the process and workflow. I'm just averse to taking the back on & off and dust bunny removal that ensues. (Not to mention heart attack when holding the back naked in the field).
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

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    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    I agree with Graham. I truly enjoy looking at a ground-glass (8x10" is real nice), but I use my Alpa primarily for landscape stuff and the landscape where I live is swamp and bugs. I walk around with my Linhof viewfinder searching for a shot and then setup the camera. So far I have been winging the focus after I ran a few tests on my lenses. The HPF rings sound quick, but I am contemplating if I want to carry another piece of gear (the Disto). I try so much to keep it all simple and light-weight.
    "Creativity takes courage." ~ Henri Matisse
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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Jim, I agree about the process and workflow. I'm just averse to taking the back on & off and dust bunny removal that ensues. (Not to mention heart attack when holding the back naked in the field).
    I hear you Graham - fortunately I use a sliding back ... another inconvenience

    Quote Originally Posted by darr View Post
    ... I walk around with my Linhof viewfinder searching for a shot and then setup the camera ...
    My 'viewfinder' is a Canon S100 - 4:3 ratio, nice screen, GPS, light and compact, and focal lengths (in 35mm terms) from 24mm - 120mm, about the same as I use with my Linhof.

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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    The ALPA iPhone app makes a great viewfinder, on or off the camera.

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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Quote Originally Posted by stephengilbert View Post
    The ALPA iPhone app makes a great viewfinder, on or off the camera.
    Steve

    I use the ALPA iPHONE holder plus eFINDER plus iPHONE (of course)
    A good solution but almost useless under very bright light . At least for me .
    Therefore sometimes I use the ALPA (optical) viewfinder .
    And for architecture I prefer the GG . Not for focusing but for composing and to control the converging lines . Horses for courses .
    But that does not make Jim's comment obsolete .
    Shooting with my ALPA gear takes me back to the rootes of photography and I do like that kind of shooting .
    Regards . Jürgen .
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Quote Originally Posted by darr View Post
    So far I have been winging the focus after I ran a few tests on my lenses. The HPF rings sound quick, but I am contemplating if I want to carry another piece of gear (the Disto). I try so much to keep it all simple and light-weight.
    The HPF rings are not only very quick but very accurate. This assumes that your lenses and back are all calibrated. As for carrying around something extra you would be getting rid of two pieces of gear (loupe + GG) in exchange for a Disto which is very light and even has its own belt case. And..... you won't have to remove your back. Once you try this you will never go back.
    Likes 1 Member(s) liked this post

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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Jim,

    (Not to mention heart attack when holding the back naked in the field).
    Dear Graham, why would you go out photographing in the nude?

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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    download this i-phne app: Viewfinder Pro; you can set it to display zoomable frame lines to match your lenses and your back. if nothing else, is is a great director's finder. the Iphone lens is about the max wide angle of view as a 43mm lens on an IQ160. if you want a wider field of view, there are some cute little adapter lenses you can pop on
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ystem_for.html
    thanks to Graham!

    VFP is why I developed my I-phone holder and now it will take the Ipro adapters as well

    as far as seeing what you get on the IQ screens, I use a square loupe, big enough to shade and view the entire IQ screen

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ric_Loupe.html
    Last edited by jlm; 15th April 2012 at 16:07.

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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    Quote Originally Posted by micek View Post
    Dear Graham, why would you go out photographing in the nude?
    Why wouldn't you? The fresh air feel at dawn in the buff is quite refreshing!


    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post

    as far as seeing what you get on the IQ screens, I use a square loupe, big enough to shade and view the entire IQ screen

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ric_Loupe.html
    I use this too now after seeing John's. It works extremely well.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    ALPA iPHONE holder , first version , with iPRO lens kit .
    The four little holder bits where modified by ALPA for free within a week .
    Thats what I call good service .

    Regards . Jürgen .
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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    Re: Alpa focusing on a Ground Glass/Fresnel

    First due to the focal length selection available for tech cameras, the lenses are short and the wides extremely short. The shorter the focal length, the more difficult to focus accurately on a ground glass. Film was so thick compared to digital, that you could, relatively speaking, be a bit sloppy focusing. 6X is the highest magnification recommended for GG focusing as above that you begin to magnify the ground surface and/or the fresnel rings of the focusing screen. Rodenstock 6X is excellent or 4x from them or Schneider.
    Just some info.
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