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Thread: Phase One IQ 'live view' for precise tilt focus - does it work?

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    Phase One IQ 'live view' for precise tilt focus - does it work?

    I have a question about using the Phase One IQ backs with live view for precise focus with tilts (using HTS 1.5 adapter on H1 body). I'm coming from a large format 4x5 background so am used to focusing with a loupe on the ground glass, particularly when using front or rear tilt. I want to know if live view plus screen magnification works as a good substitute for ground glass focusing (not post shutter, but pre-shutter).

    I read a few comments that live view soaks up the battery - any indications as to the impact on battery life?

    ..and also that live view enables only about 5 minutes of viewing of the image before the sensor 'overloads' - is this correct?

    My primary use is out in the field for landscape photography.

    Thanks
    Paul

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    Re: Phase One IQ 'live view' for precise tilt focus - does it work?

    As a user of the IQ line, I will pass on to you my thoughts. The official line from by dealers and Phase One is yes.

    I agree that in very certain conditions, low ambient lighting, and with a ND 0.6 to 0.8 you may be able to wait through all the screen blooming to see if your tilt adjustment has made any effect.

    Even in these conditions, with Live View on, you are talking about a pretty long wait from normal view to 100% view as the screen adjusts and blooms in and out, then if you move around the screen each time you move the screen will bloom for a few seconds then attempt to settle down.

    All this time you are running down the battery pretty fast. The amount of time it takes IMO to check on average would be between 5x to 8x longer than trying to do the same thing with a DSLR CMOS liveview setup.

    As a tech camera user, who uses tilt a lot, my solution is to make a setting, then check the back after the shot. You can get a lot more done this way and don't have to worry about waiting on the screen to settle down each time. This takes full advantage of the IQ screen's amazing resolution where as Live view does not.

    One note, the latest firmware to the older IQ's allows you to have a B&W view as the new IQ's do and the old P65+ did. This may help a bit in the Live View viewing as the blooming will possibly be easier to work through.

    One other note, in my experience you will spend a lot more time futzing with the ND filter, forgetting to set the shutter to wide open or back, and trying to shade the screen to see it (all working with Live View). Where as by taking the shot and previewing it you can get a lot more done. Live View on the IQ in any amount of normal outdoor lighting is pretty much a no go for me. Even with a 1.2ND on the screen still has a huge amount of blooming and each time you get this, it takes several seconds to settle back down.

    Dealer demo, would be a great idea as this is something that everyone has a different opinion on. Also there are some write ups on this site about the new Cambo ground glass offering, written by Don Libby. From his reviews it seems like a great alternative to the Live View option. Cambo has a magnification setup that allows you to see the details enough to judge focus even with wide angles.

    Paul Caldwell
    Last edited by Paul2660; 5th January 2014 at 07:59. Reason: more info
    Paul Caldwell
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    Re: Phase One IQ 'live view' for precise tilt focus - does it work?

    I find that an Iterative Focus Mask approach followed by confirmation at 100% is better than live view. The problems with live view on any system for tilt/swing are:
    1) You can only finely evaluate one area of the image at a time, leading to a lot of zooming in and out. Every time you adjust tilt you need to check the effect on at least two points in the image - doing so via live view is cumbersome IMO. This is especially annoying on digital backs because of the "settling time" required on all CCD live view.
    2) It lacks any absolute reference or ability to do a/b comparisons. This is not problematic when you're in a situation where movements+aperture can cover the entire subject range. But in situations where you have to compromise in some part of the scene, it can be difficult to evaluate and keep track of how good the sharpness was before and after an adjustment.
    3) Depending on which system you're talking about the ability to judge while stopped down to shooting aperture can be problematic. With the IQ only a narrow range of light is ideal for live view – outdoor daylite may require an ND filter. With some Nikons at dusk the image because problematically noisy when you try to preview stopped down. Without stopping down you're only seeing the shape/angle of the focus plane and not the absolute range, leading to overly conservative placement of focus.

    In contrast the Iterative Focus Mask technique allows you to evaluate all parts of the image, against a reference image you know/accept as excellent for the primary subject, quickly, and WITH a fully stopped down aperture.

    Don't get me wrong, it's not a panacea. Focus Mask is sensitive to lighting, and treats different subjects differently, and is NOT an absolute indication of focus. But once you learn to use it as a relative/comparative/iterative tool it's incredibly valuable for evaluating Scheimpflug movements.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183
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    Re: Phase One IQ 'live view' for precise tilt focus - does it work?

    Separately, I have to inquire, have you checked out the tech cameras which feature native tilt without introduction of additional optical elements? The Arca R series for instance has it built into the body itself without need for adapters, additional glass, or special mounts. It also lets you use the absolute best lenses you can buy for landscape applications.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183
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    Re: Phase One IQ 'live view' for precise tilt focus - does it work?

    The Cambo and Alpa, for example, also have tilt function without the introduction of additional optical elements.

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    Re: Phase One IQ 'live view' for precise tilt focus - does it work?

    To answer the OP regarding tilts with 4x5 vs live view or even focus masks post iterative capture, there is simply NO comparison at all. The ease of setting up a 4x5, adjusting starting focus on foreground/background element and then iteratively adjusting a rear base tilt or even front axis tilt and then stopping down for the image wedge DOF is much much much easier IMHO.

    These days I've resorted to using my ground glass on the Alpa with T/S adapter on the rear. That has axis tilt but I can nail focus optically with the appropriate tilt techniques. However, the smaller GG (even the bright fresnel Alpa one) is a lot tougher to use than a full sized 4x5 ground glass, even a std glass vs fresnel or optically brightened one.

    As Doug mentioned, you absolutely can do this well iteratively using focus masks with the IQ, particularly if starting from a level set up and known good starting tilt that you can calculate or lookup easily. The ability to set the focus sensitivity and visualize the acceptable focus area (you may have to tune your setup exposure to get good contrast for the focus mask) works pretty well.

    If the lighting conditions work for you and you're adept at working in a fuzzy noisy digital image fog you can also do it using live view but be aware that it is NOTHING AT ALL like using a full sized ground glass.

    I would agree with Paul's comments about the relative amount of time to get a tilt set up accurately vs a ground glass or better live view. 5-10x longer seems about right to me too if you want it to be right, especially in low light. The iterative mask technique is a lot faster.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Re: Phase One IQ 'live view' for precise tilt focus - does it work?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    Separately, I have to inquire, have you checked out the tech cameras which feature native tilt without introduction of additional optical elements? The Arca R series for instance has it built into the body itself without need for adapters, additional glass, or special mounts. It also lets you use the absolute best lenses you can buy for landscape applications.
    Hi Doug - I have not, but will take a look.
    Thanks

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    Re: Phase One IQ 'live view' for precise tilt focus - does it work?

    Hi Paul - thanks for your reply - very helpful to hear about your experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post
    As a user of the IQ line, I will pass on to you my thoughts. The official line from by dealers and Phase One is yes.

    I agree that in very certain conditions, low ambient lighting, and with a ND 0.6 to 0.8 you may be able to wait through all the screen blooming to see if your tilt adjustment has made any effect.

    Even in these conditions, with Live View on, you are talking about a pretty long wait from normal view to 100% view as the screen adjusts and blooms in and out, then if you move around the screen each time you move the screen will bloom for a few seconds then attempt to settle down.

    All this time you are running down the battery pretty fast. The amount of time it takes IMO to check on average would be between 5x to 8x longer than trying to do the same thing with a DSLR CMOS liveview setup.

    As a tech camera user, who uses tilt a lot, my solution is to make a setting, then check the back after the shot. You can get a lot more done this way and don't have to worry about waiting on the screen to settle down each time. This takes full advantage of the IQ screen's amazing resolution where as Live view does not.

    One note, the latest firmware to the older IQ's allows you to have a B&W view as the new IQ's do and the old P65+ did. This may help a bit in the Live View viewing as the blooming will possibly be easier to work through.

    One other note, in my experience you will spend a lot more time futzing with the ND filter, forgetting to set the shutter to wide open or back, and trying to shade the screen to see it (all working with Live View). Where as by taking the shot and previewing it you can get a lot more done. Live View on the IQ in any amount of normal outdoor lighting is pretty much a no go for me. Even with a 1.2ND on the screen still has a huge amount of blooming and each time you get this, it takes several seconds to settle back down.

    Dealer demo, would be a great idea as this is something that everyone has a different opinion on. Also there are some write ups on this site about the new Cambo ground glass offering, written by Don Libby. From his reviews it seems like a great alternative to the Live View option. Cambo has a magnification setup that allows you to see the details enough to judge focus even with wide angles.

    Paul Caldwell

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    Re: Phase One IQ 'live view' for precise tilt focus - does it work?

    Graham - that's useful feedback, thanks. Paul


    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    To answer the OP regarding tilts with 4x5 vs live view or even focus masks post iterative capture, there is simply NO comparison at all. The ease of setting up a 4x5, adjusting starting focus on foreground/background element and then iteratively adjusting a rear base tilt or even front axis tilt and then stopping down for the image wedge DOF is much much much easier IMHO.

    These days I've resorted to using my ground glass on the Alpa with T/S adapter on the rear. That has axis tilt but I can nail focus optically with the appropriate tilt techniques. However, the smaller GG (even the bright fresnel Alpa one) is a lot tougher to use than a full sized 4x5 ground glass, even a std glass vs fresnel or optically brightened one.

    As Doug mentioned, you absolutely can do this well iteratively using focus masks with the IQ, particularly if starting from a level set up and known good starting tilt that you can calculate or lookup easily. The ability to set the focus sensitivity and visualize the acceptable focus area (you may have to tune your setup exposure to get good contrast for the focus mask) works pretty well.

    If the lighting conditions work for you and you're adept at working in a fuzzy noisy digital image fog you can also do it using live view but be aware that it is NOTHING AT ALL like using a full sized ground glass.

    I would agree with Paul's comments about the relative amount of time to get a tilt set up accurately vs a ground glass or better live view. 5-10x longer seems about right to me too if you want it to be right, especially in low light. The iterative mask technique is a lot faster.

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