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Thread: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

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    Senior Member simonclivehughes's Avatar
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    Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    I've just upgraded to the NEX 7 and finally have the EVF (that I had hoped the NEX 5 might get), and I'm trying to work on using this body with M-mount lenses. I shot today and have some issues and questions that I'd love to get some feedback on from those of you experienced with this combination of gear.

    Camera Setup:

    At this point, I have got the body set up with MF Assist assigned to the AF/MF button (it never physically worked for me on the bottom (B) button). I have the Right button set for Creative style (I shoot RAW only but like to see either in Vivid or B&W mode). Soft key B is set for Metering Mode and button C is set for Shoot Mode. The right Navi dial is Exposure Compensation. (The left Navi dial is Aperture, but doesn't do anything with manual lenses, of course.) The rear dial is ISO.

    So, what I found is that I had to lock the Navi buttons as I was inadvertently changing the Exposure Comp, and I found that the ISO also changed without me realizing it (I was shooting in A mode with Auto ISO).

    I'm thinking that maybe it would be better to assign ISO to the left Navi dial so I can lock it too. EDIT: Just realized that locking the Tri-Navi system includes the rear dial, so I can leave ISO there!

    Focusing Issues:

    I am using the EVF exclusively and I have Focus Peaking on, usually set to Mid, and Yellow. I was shooting mostly at f3.5 on a CV 90mm lens or at f5.6 on the CV 28mm f2 lens. I found that the yellow peaking, even set on Mid, seems to get more in the way than I'd hoped. I.e. it's difficult to determine the exact object that is focused upon for all the yellow emphasis.

    In looking at the files, few had the focus really nailed.

    So, I'm looking for feedback from you who are getting great focus results with even faster lenses. How are you doing it? Are you using peaking, or MF Assist? Obviously MF Assist, if you have the time for it, produces "guaranteed" results.

    Also, what is your evolved setup for the NEX 7 for use with MF lenses? What mode do you shoot in (I notice that with Auto ISO, the cam really likes to choose 1/60 sec shutter speed.) How do you have your control functions mapped?

    Any suggestions and tips would really be appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by simonclivehughes; 25th August 2012 at 10:17.

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    Simon, I have actually stopped using manual focus lenses on the 7. They are used (extensively) on the C3 and the 5N.

    Too many problems with white balancing and colors.

    Try the Sigma 30/2.8. Quite nice.

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    Senior Member simonclivehughes's Avatar
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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    Vivek,

    While I appreciate your input, my friend, it doesn't really address the issues I'm asking about. WB issues I can cope with after the fact if needed, and a good deal of what I shoot is B&W, so the colour cast from the RF lenses I can also deal with either by ignoring it, or using Cornerfix if I'm PP-ing for colour.

    What I'd like feedback on is best camera setup and manual focusing strategies.

    Ciao,

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    Simon, I use MF lenses only on my 7. Basically, I end up using the LCD about 80% of the time, shooting from the waist, and the EVF about 20%. I have the peaking set to yellow, and high. I shoot almost exclusively stationary stuff stopped down, so I end up with lots of DOF. Still, I have found that I get better results when I bother to open the lens wide or close to, get critical focus then, and stop down, rather than focus somewhere within the DOF which is what peaking shows you.
    Remember, 24Mp mean that viewing 100% crops is a lot more critical than any other camera with fewer pixels, so getting the same per-pixel sharpness takes more care. And then it looks significantly sharper by the time you view the full shot on a screen or in print.
    Regarding my settings, I shoot P mode, with ISO at 100. I only mapped the loupe on the right side of the wheel, saving myself one click from the default setting, and left the rest as is. I could've mapped ISO on the left navi, but, as I use it rarely, I feel I might mis-use it more often, as I do the exposure comp on the right navi than save time by not having to go into the menu to adjust. Besides, the camera is so critical that I hate pushing ISO, and never leave without a tripod.
    Hope this helps.
    Vivek, with due respect, I have not encoutered the WB and colour issues you mention. OTOH, I have found the camera to be so discriminating that it shows lens issues that other cameras don't. Great lenses give mind-boggling results, colour-wise, and less-than-great ones can be quite uninspiring. Could we be seeing the same thing?
    Two examples of what I consider not terribly easy colours and WB, without any adustment in that regard. Both with the superlative Leica M Elmar 24mm f:3.8. [IMG] _DSC8509-1_CF-1 par philippeberend, sur Flickr[/IMG]

    _DSC8506-1_CF-1 par philippeberend, sur Flickr
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    Senior Member simonclivehughes's Avatar
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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    Philippe,

    Thanks for your reply. I understand what you are saying about shooting wide open... the shots I did on the 90mm at f3.5 were all more in focus than those at f5.6 on the 28mm. I also see your point about the extra resolution requiring additional focus accuracy.

    I was shooting handheld and for that, I prefer the EVF for the extra stability I get from having the camera against my eye. I do try to use my tripod as often as I can, but for street photography, it usually gets left at home!

    I'll have to try opening up the 28mm while focusing and seeing if that helps with narrowing the peaking emphasis, but again, for street photography that's probably too slow a methodology.

    I'm curious what you mean by "the camera is so critical that I hate pushing ISO"? Can you explain more?

    BTW, lovely pictures in your Fin de journée de fin d'année à Paris collection. Ah, I miss Paris!

    Merci, mon ami,

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    As Philippe, I use mainly MF lenses on the NEX-7. Indeed this camera is not for fast street shooting. Writing speed is quiet slow, because of the big files. But if you have the time it is a good camera. With landscapes and objects with the same focus distance I always search for the right spot to get the light metering right and keep the shutter half pressed and shoot. I always shoot in A mode with yellow peaking on high. I also use magnification a lot for very critical focussing. And when it is to dark I open up the diafragm which you have to anyway with less light.

    For discretion I shoot people from the hip (till here it sounds like a Western ) with my glasses on and use the flipscreen. At that distance, funny enough, the focus peaking works quiet well. Or I use the hyperfocal distance, with the Minolta MD 24 for instance.
    I never use AWB but always make specific choice, although you can correct WB in PP.

    In any case, it is also a good idea to buy those 19 and 30mm Sigma lenses. They do perform well are cheap and it is nice to have autofocus now and then. Only then I use one of the top wheels for shutter speed with MF lenses for the rest they stay untouched, for some reason I did assign all I need on the back wheel. May be because I am used to it from other cameras. Rather silly, may be. And whatch out for the film knob, especially when holding the camera vertical.

    Michiel

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    Rather interesting responses.

    At the expense of the topic drifting- Philber, I used to think that way with the 5 and some lenses that were outstanding on different cameras but were down right terrible on the 5. Then a higher resolution C3 changed that perception. Those fabulous lenses are still fabulous. AFAIC, it is not the lens but it is the sensor/camera. I know volumes have been typed everywhere with vigorous debates.

    Let me just say that I look forward to the NEX-6 and the Fuji XE.

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    Senior Member pegelli's Avatar
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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    Quote Originally Posted by simonclivehughes View Post
    Focusing Issues:

    I am using the EVF exclusively and I have Focus Peaking on, usually set to Mid, and Yellow. I was shooting mostly at f3.5 on a CV 90mm lens or at f5.6 on the CV 28mm f2 lens. I found that the yellow peaking, even set on Mid, seems to get more in the way than I'd hoped. I.e. it's difficult to determine the exact object that is focused upon for all the yellow emphasis.

    In looking at the files, few had the focus really nailed.

    So, I'm looking for feedback from you who are getting great focus results with even faster lenses. How are you doing it? Are you using peaking, or MF Assist? Obviously MF Assist, if you have the time for it, produces "guaranteed" results.
    Simon, allthough I don't have a NEX 7 I think the issue you describe above is genereic for all focus peaking, and I ran into very similar issues with my NEX 5 (albeit using the LCD screen).

    Focus peaking really looks for contrast edges in the image on your screen and makes it yellow when exceeding a certain threshold. That by definition means (for me at least) that there is no universal peaking setting as it depends on both the light and the subject detail/contrast. Even some clearly out of focus background can show peaking if the contrast is high enough.

    There's really two ways which you can together use to get the best peaking level for MF, first (and most obvious) the peaking levels hi/mid/lo but secondly the contrast settings of your camera, if you shoot raw they do not impact the picture but since the image on the LCD (or viewfinder) does take these settings into account they also influence the peaking amount.

    Now with regard to using peaking to "nail" the focus my technique is to set the peaking level quite low and then really try to see where the plane of maximum peaking strenth is moving as you focus. If you have your peaking levels set too high this is much harder to determine as it gets overwhelming.

    I found it's still not perfect, but my number of shots where it was nailed correctly gets higher when using just enough peaking vs. too much.

    Hope this helps, and unfortunately I cannot help with any of your other questions, since I do not own or use a NEX 7.

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    Quote Originally Posted by Michiel Schierbeek View Post
    With landscapes and objects with the same focus distance I always search for the right spot to get the light metering right and keep the shutter half pressed and shoot. I always shoot in A mode with yellow peaking on high. I also use magnification a lot for very critical focussing. And when it is to dark I open up the diafragm which you have to anyway with less light.
    Michiel
    Michiel,

    Thanks for your reply. At this point, I'm trying to keep the peaking at a setting lower than high as it seems to be a bit much otherwise.

    I have the camera set up (shooting RAW) to B&W with contrast and sharpening set to +3 to emphasize contrast edges. This seems to help. I just need to work at it at this point, I guess.

    Best regards,

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    Quote Originally Posted by pegelli View Post
    I found it's still not perfect, but my number of shots where it was nailed correctly gets higher when using just enough peaking vs. too much.
    Pegalli,

    Thanks for replying, I seem to be doing much the same as you, but it's always nice to get confirmation.

    Ciao,

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    I mainly use MF lenses on my 7. To be honest I rarely rely on the peaking. I'm not sure why but I don't have much success in absolutely critical focus with it. So I have zoom set to the AEL button and use that 90% of the time.
    Ben
    Perth, Australia

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    Thanks, Ben, appreciate the feedback.

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    Quote Originally Posted by simonclivehughes View Post
    Philippe,

    I'm curious what you mean by "the camera is so critical that I hate pushing ISO"? Can you explain more?

    BTW, lovely pictures in your Fin de journée de fin d'année à Paris collection. Ah, I miss Paris!

    Merci, mon ami,
    Simon, what I mean is that the very high resolution on the camera makes it so that viewing at 100% magnification magnifies more than on othe cameras with less resolution. This extra magnification makes the per-pixel image look worse, and that includes noise. Simply put, noise is more visible than, say on a NEX 5N. Whereas when you look at a picture, and not a 100% crop be it on a screen or in print, this effect is absent, and noise not visible. But, as I check my pics at 100%, and don't like seeing noise, I end up trying whatever I can to avoid pushing ISO beyond 400. Not that the camera would be noisy at 800 under real-life conditions, but the 100% crop would show it overmuch for my taste.
    And that you for your kind comments, They are always warmly appreciated.

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    Philippe,

    OK, I understand what you mean. I've only shot a few images at higher ISOs but I did see more noise than I expected. A quick pass through Topaz Denoise does the trick nicely though.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    I've found that with really sharp lenses (eg 21 Super-Elmar), I can't rely on peaking. I can get it where the peaking generally surrounds the area I want in focus, but then zooming in there is a fairly substantial adjustment I need to make to get it in sharpest focus. I don't know if it's front- or back-focused, essentially though, I've never made a mental note of that.

    I still use peaking, it's on all the time (low, yellow), super valuable for moving subjects (eg where I don't have time to zoom in and fiddle).

    I pretty much only use MF on the nex-7.

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    When subjects are close, lenses are long and apertures are wide, the ability to magnify the peaking area and move it around the frame is invaluable - like putting an 8x loupe on the ground glass of a view camera...

    ...as long as the camera is mounted on a tripod. Otherwise, such precise manual focusing can be a waste of time.

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    While I do have a Sigma 30, I use mostly MF lenses with AF/MF button set to MF Assist. I use the EVF mostly at the first magnification.

    Early on, I had a problem with hand and finger placement on the NEX-7 and felt I had the best control when the camera was sitting high in my right hand. I developed the PalmGrip to help with a more secure hold of the camera while allowing better control of its buttons:

    Sorry, for the plug.

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    Quote Originally Posted by KenLee View Post
    ...as long as the camera is mounted on a tripod. Otherwise, such precise manual focusing can be a waste of time.
    Or at least give you a headache!

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    Quote Originally Posted by JimBuchanan View Post
    While I do have a Sigma 30, I use mostly MF lenses with AF/MF button set to MF Assist. I use the EVF mostly at the first magnification.

    Early on, I had a problem with hand and finger placement on the NEX-7 and felt I had the best control when the camera was sitting high in my right hand. I developed the PalmGrip to help with a more secure hold of the camera while allowing better control of its buttons:

    Sorry, for the plug.
    What if you tilt the LCD and want to shoot at different angles? Wouldn't that grip become a burden than a help?

    FWIW, I stopped using the wretched Gariz case for that reason. Wast of cash.

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    Re: Questions: MF lens methodology on the NEX 7

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    What if you tilt the LCD and want to shoot at different angles? Wouldn't that grip become a burden than a help?

    FWIW, I stopped using the wretched Gariz case for that reason. Wast of cash.
    While the LCD will tilt all the way out for over the head use, you are probably refering to waist level use, looking down at the LCD? If that is the practice 100% of the time, then maybe the grip will not help, but I don't think the grip will hender control of the camera.

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