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Thread: Manual focus without tripod

  1. #1
    turtleinsea
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    Manual focus without tripod

    A few days into using my new NEX 3 camera, I've got to say this is a fun camera. However I am struggling with manual focus lenses on the NEX. I have two main issues

    (1) the time required to get critical focus for fast manual focus lenses takes a long time! I'm still getting used to the zoom feature where you can check focus. It works great, but I find I am slow at the whole process. Hopefully this is something that I can get faster at. What are your experiences? Is this process always this slow or qdo you improve to SLR comparable speeds?

    (2) staying still while shooting is tough! The NEX and manual focus lens is so small and light that staying in a rigid pose is difficult. I imagine this gets easier with AF lenses, but manual focus lenses where you need a functioning hand to adjust aperture and focus makes the situation much more difficult. I've heard suggestions of shooting from the hip rather than eye level, but I'm still not comfortable with either. The hip feels more comfortable, but the LCD is too far from my eye to see critical focus for fast lenses. Shooting with the LCD in front of my face makes it easy to see the frame and focus points but keeping hands steady in front of you isn't easy.

    Now, I've only had this for a day, and I'm hoping I get better. Id love to hear how you coped at first and after getting used to it, whether you have any tips for a new NEX user.

    Thanks!

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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Turtleinsea, You have aptly summed up some of my experiences (frustrations) with the NEX. I feel that an EVF would be a great asset, particularly when it comes to using fast manual focus (AF and CDAF would not allow for really fast lenses for NEX) lenses with a NEX.

    Good luck! Have fun, if you can.

    All this said, fast lenses and fast snapping is a myth with any camera that I have used (SLR, RF, etc).

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    Senior Member douglasf13's Avatar
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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Turtleinsea, try using more "sternum" level shooting, rather than actual waist level. I tend to just zone focus when I need quick shots, myself.

    All of this being said, I got a Leitz 50mm VF for fun, and that makes zone focusing a joy, and it is a nice complement to the tilt LCD. It's 1:1, so I can keep both eyes open.

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    Senior Member simonclivehughes's Avatar
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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by douglasf13 View Post
    All of this being said, I got a Leitz 50mm VF for fun, and that makes zone focusing a joy, and it is a nice complement to the tilt LCD. It's 1:1, so I can keep both eyes open.
    Douglas,

    I can't quite see how you would use the Leitz VF with the NEX... explanations?

    Cheers,

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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    i agree with what douglas said, don't take shooting from the hip too literally - what ever part of your body provides the best distance from your eyes. the biggest problem with lcds is that they are highly dependent on your eyesight and near focus ability. being reasonably young and having much better than 20/20 vision i always forget this when talking up the NEX.

    when holding the camera away from the body, bracing the elbow of your lens holding/focusing hand against your body helps to stabilize pretty well. it does take a bit of time to get used to, but i think i'm as fast now as i was with a split prism slr. as vivek says no camera (even autofocus) focuses both super fast and accurately at f/1.2 - f/1.4. most slrs and rangefinders aren't calibrated well enough to ever say for certain that you actually hit focus dead on. if your priority is fast focusing on the NEX, stop the lens down to f/2 or f/2.8 turn on the lcd's sunny weather setting to boost contrast and don't use the focus assist magnification.

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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    I couldn't fit any of my Leica VF's to NEX-3. It would have been nice to have a flash connection.

    But I can use MF very nicely. Actually it doesn't take more time to focus with NEX, than it takes me with M8 for example. That's good enough. Manual focus takes time. BTW, welcome to turtleinsea. I'm sure you will get faster with experience.

    My next trial will be using a Canon TS-E 24mm lens manually. I hope I can MF that lens as well. It will be interesting to have a 35mm equivalent TS-E lens with a small camera attached to it.

    With my poor eyes, I can't focus well with SLR's manually in the recent years. So I'm tring to use the 5DII with live view for that reason. But NEX's LCD is excellent.

    If they can fit an EVF somehow in the future, it will be even better.
    Last edited by s.agar; 16th October 2010 at 07:41.
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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by simonclivehughes View Post
    Douglas,

    I can't quite see how you would use the Leitz VF with the NEX... explanations?

    Cheers,
    Incredibly, if you unscrew a few screws on the bottom of the base on the Sony 16mm OVF, you can remove the OVF from the base and you're left with a nice cold shoe that attaches to the top of the camera. So, I threw the Leitz 50mm OVF into the cold shoe and I have a great 1:1 OVF for using zone focusing with my 35/1.4 Nokton (and my soon to arrive MS Optical 35/3.5.) I can't believe that someone hasn't made a simple NEX cold shoe mount yet, but I'll use the makeshift one that I have until then. I'll post pics later.

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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by douglasf13 View Post
    I can't believe that someone hasn't made a simple NEX cold shoe mount yet,

    I suggested this to jinfinances on eBay. He did not understand the need for it at all.

    I am not going to fork out $200 (or whatever it lists for) for the OVF from Sony.

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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by douglasf13 View Post
    Turtleinsea, try using more "sternum" level shooting, rather than actual waist level.
    Agreed.

    One of the things about focusing with live view (on any camera) is the great degree of fine tuning that is available with focus assist. A rangefinder or split image focus is not as precise, without similar magnification. This extra precision requires more time. Also, some lenses have longer focus throws, adding to the time.

    I used a 50/1.2 Nikkor on a Nikon D300 with live view, and the situation was the same, except it was more cumbersome with the mirror, and without a movable LCD.

    Most of the time with adapted lenses I'm shooting wide open so the aperture is one less task...if I'm not shooting wide open, usually I don't use the magnify.




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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    I suggested this to jinfinances on eBay. He did not understand the need for it at all.

    I am not going to fork out $200 (or whatever it lists for) for the OVF from Sony.
    Agreed, it is way too expensive of an option. For me, I figured that I can either use the 16mm OVF as well, or sell it for a small loss when a cold shoe mount becomes available.

    I'm surprised no one is interested in making a cold shoe for NEX. I have some familial ties to manufacturing, and I'm wondering if I should just do it myself?! Granted, a hotshoe would be even better. Either way, it would be cool to make them out of lightweight metal, rather than plastic.

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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Here are a couple of quick and dirty (and distorted) iPhone pics that I took of the Leitz OVF and the makeshift mount mentioned above.

    The lenses in the second pic, starting clockwise from the left, are the Sony 16mm, 35/1.4 Nokton (on camera,) 85/3.5 APO Lanthar (Nikon S mount,) 50/1.5 Nokton (Nikon S mount,) 50/2.5 Skopar (Nikon S mount.)





    p.s. before anyone asks, that is just a stack of nickels under the mounted lens to prop it up.

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    Senior Member simonclivehughes's Avatar
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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    I knew of this "method" of mounting an EVF... I thought you might have had a different way. Thanks Douglas.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Hey Douglas....I like the case. How is it working out?

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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    douglas, how do like voigtlander 50/1.5?

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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    A nice mix of vintage and modern with that SBOOI viewfinder...which is a fabulous 1:1 viewfinder, BTW.

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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    Hey Douglas....I like the case. How is it working out?
    Hi, Terry. The case is ok. It's actually a cheapie "pleather" one that I found on ebay for only $20. I wanted to test it out before spending the money on a better, leather one. The fake leather is actually pretty decent, and the fit is ok, but not perfect. The grip side of the camera doesn't quite sink down enough into the grip (although I've seen this on more expensive ones, too.) I'm not convinced that I want to use a case like this, so I haven't decided if I'll order a more expensive one or not. For the money, this cheapie case was better than I expected, but, again, it was only $20!

    Sebboh, I like what I've seen from the Nokton 50/1.5 so far, but it is a very new lens to me. It's debatable whether the size advantage is worth losing the closer mfd of SLR lenses. The Nokton is a little bit smaller in diameter and around 14mm shorter than my SMC Tak 50/1.4 with the LA-EA1 adapter.

    If you like zone focusing with a 50mm (equivalent) on NEX, a Leitz (or Voigtlander) 50mm Brightline viewfinder is very cool. It's 1:1, so you can leave both eyes open, and it is great to have both waist level and OVF options.

    Now, I just need to go out and actually take some pics with this stuff! lol. I've been working too much.

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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by douglasf13 View Post

    I'm surprised no one is interested in making a cold shoe for NEX. I have some familial ties to manufacturing, and I'm wondering if I should just do it myself?! Granted, a hotshoe would be even better. Either way, it would be cool to make them out of lightweight metal, rather than plastic.

    If you are willing to sell them for $0.99 with free shipping, you will be alright otherwise you do not have a chance to sell more than 5 units tops!

    If you make a cable extension or a hotshoe for the NEX, I will pre-order.

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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by douglasf13 View Post
    Here are a couple of quick and dirty (and distorted) iPhone pics that I took of the Leitz OVF and the makeshift mount mentioned above.

    The lenses in the second pic, starting clockwise from the left, are the Sony 16mm, 35/1.4 Nokton (on camera,) 85/3.5 APO Lanthar (Nikon S mount,) 50/1.5 Nokton (Nikon S mount,) 50/2.5 Skopar (Nikon S mount.)



    p.s. before anyone asks, that is just a stack of nickels under the mounted lens to prop it up.

    I would like to see pics taken with this collection, in particular the rare 85/3.5 APO Lanthar. Let us see if the "sternum" position actually works.

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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    I would like to see pics taken with this collection, in particular the rare 85/3.5 APO Lanthar. Let us see if the "sternum" position actually works.
    i'd like to see some pics too, just because i'm curious about the lenses. i'm sure the 85mm won't be any problem - shooting from the hip/sternum has worked fine on my nikkor 105mm f/2.5.

    here's an example showing that shooting fast and fast with the NEX can work out. while i was testing out the bokeh on my new rokkor 50/1.4 (see shots on the going fast thread) a ruby-crowned kinglet came to the same tree i was shooting. these are some of the hardest birds (in my opinion) to photograph - they are only slightly larger than humming birds and just as hyper, but much more erratic. they never ever hold still and you can never predict which direction they will go. in any event i love to try and photograph these guys so i had to try even though i just had the NEX and a distinctly non birding lens. i only got five shots off (three in focus) before he went to high in the tree for my short lens(in my haste i apparently only bumped the aperture ring halfway up to f/2). sadly the shots are not really useable for anything, small distant bird in a poor composition, but i was surprised i was able to get focus right on so many. my hit rate with the canon 7D for these birds was five out of 300 or so shots. that was mostly because i was testing out the 7D's autofocus, i find manual focus is much better for any type of bird that you can't track in the viewfinder (i can get maybe 5% in focus with this bird manual focusing a dslr).

    anyway, here is the shot (he wouldn't even look at the camera, little punk):


    and the 100% crop (not that sharp cause the lens isn't that sharp at this aperture):

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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    I just got a couple of those lenses, and I actually have to send the 85/3.5 back to Steve Gandy to fix some play in the focus ring, so it'll be a bit on that one. I'll post some 50/1.5 shots, though.

    p.s. yeah, unfortunately there isn't much advantage to manufacturing that little piece. I'm wondering if it's available in the Sony parts catalogue?

  21. #21
    turtleinsea
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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Vivek: it's good to know that I'm not the only one with this problem. Have yiu found yourself getting better though?

    Doug: will try sternum rather than hip. Makes sense! The OVF sounds interesting. It may allow me to keep the frame perspective while zooming in the manual focus confirm... All up how much did your OVF setup cost?

    Monza: the live view focus is fantastic. My current full frame DSLR does not have this and for critical focus it's great.

    I suppose it's unfair for me to wrong for me to whinge so early. I'll try the sternum approach and possibly the OVF (although I dint like the idea of further increasing t his setup size!)

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    Senior Member douglasf13's Avatar
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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    I only use the OVF with zone focusing. I'm not sure it would be worth it otherwise. Really, it's probably not worth it either way, since both the Sony 16mm and the Leitz 50mm are in the neighborhood of $150- $200 a piece.

  23. #23
    turtleinsea
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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Doug - I went into a store to look at the OVF, and I have to say that it would not suit me. Size/price!

    Also, I tried the VG10 EVF and although it may be useful to some, I have to say my eyes got sore from looking through the EVF for a while. Even if NEX come with EVF, I'm not sure it will satisfy those people so used to TTL OVFs.... Based on the quality of the EVF on the VG10 (which is supposed to be very good), I'll try to adjust my shooting habit to a LCD only...

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    Senior Member douglasf13's Avatar
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    Re: Manual focus without tripod

    Yeah, the 16mm OVF is bigger than the Leitz 50mm, and it probably isn't worth the money to most. Heck, it probably isn't worth it for me, either! I really only justified buying it because I sold all of my A900 gear. Lol. I do love the Leitz VF on the camera, so far. 1:1 OVFs are fun.

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