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Common settings for 35mm film camera zone-focusing for street photography?
Old 01-01-2016   #1
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Common settings for 35mm film camera zone-focusing for street photography?

I am new to street photography with 35mm film camera.

When I was using X100, I normally use prefocus 10.9 ft with f/8, that give me the range from 5.48 ft to INF.

When I use the DOF calculator for a 35mm film camera, for 11 ft prefocus, I can only have the range of 6.67 ft to 31.4 ft, that is narrower, so for the fellow street photographer here, what are your common settings?
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Old 01-01-2016   #2
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I assume that with the X100 you are setting the focus distance using a camera setting . This makes it difficult to change focus on the fly as it requires pushing buttons on the menu. With most 35mm film camera you can use the focus ring which is a lot faster and flexible. You can just nudge the ring in one direction as you move around and as the situation requires. Tabs such as those found on some Leica lenses make this even easier. If you are shooting 35mm focal length and lower you have plenty enough of dof to work with. I personally keep my lens on 3m and quickly nudge up to 5m or down to 2m or less as needed. I rarely go below f4. I rarely miss shots because of focusing .

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Old 01-01-2016   #3
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I try to 'learn' the positions for 5 ft and 10 ft, keeping it at 5 ft most of the time. You can quickly go to minimum distance if you need to.

Helps if your lens has a focussing tab.

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Old 01-01-2016   #4
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I set the infinity mark on the aperture I'm using, which, on my 35mm lens, gives me about 16 feet. The DOF is about 8 feet to inf. I can then fudge it in closer or just quickly focus on the subject. I use (on RF) an acc. finder, so the fudge method usually works better for me.
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Old 01-01-2016   #5
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Winogrand told students it is OK with 1/250 f8. He and like him also used 1/1000 to freeze the action on the street with film pushed @1000 ISO.

It all depends how fast shutter speed you want, how wide lens and how quick you want it to be to operate.
I took SLR with 28mm lens on the street few times, it was too slow to focus for images I'm after. I have to look at lens scale, I have to wait for image to become visible only after it was focused. Meh... It is like to be visually impaired for most of the time.

My film street camera is RF with lens which has tab and short focus. With tab I bring camera to my eye, my finger sets right distance without looking at scale, frame-click and go.
I don't really care for DOF with this method. It will be in focus anywhere between f2.8 and f8. I don't use RF patch most of the time. Just position of the tab.
I'm pushing film @1600 and from sunrise to sunset I could keep it at f2.8-f8 with #3 orange and #2 yellow filters under day light and clear filter under low light with shutter speed between 1/125 - 1/1000.
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Old 01-01-2016   #6
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When shooting street with a 35 mm lens, I usually set the focus to 3 meters, or approx. 10 feet. That tends to be the distance I use for most street photography. Using f5.6 or f.8, I can shoot quickly and the subject will be in focus at those f-stops. I usually shoot street with a film rated at iso 200 or 400, which allows an acceptably fast shutter speed. After that, it's just practice. I sometimes use the method Vics describes in post 4 above.

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Old 01-06-2016   #7
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I take one shot quick, based on my pre-focus. Then, if I have time, I focus one manually and take another. Kind of like "bracketing" for focus guestimates.

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Old 01-06-2016   #8
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I often just zone focus based on visual guesstimation and DOF scale on manual lens but here is another way, especially when you have time but don't want your human subject to react to you holding the camera up and/or you wan to use wider aperture and more accurate focusing is ideal:

I'd focus using RF on my film M on something that looks to be about the same distance as the actual subject, but totally away from the actual direction I want to shoot. Then I'd shoot from hip at the actual subject, or bring the camera up for framing for a split second. On X100, I believe you can set it to manual focus but use an assigned button to AF once, right? If so, you can use this technique using MF + one-time AF without bringing the camera to eye-level even once.

For example, I want to shoot someone on street. I'd pretend I'm shooting a tree or bicycle nearby or something that's about the same distance as the person(s) I want to actually shoot, then quickly re-frame or just blind-shoot from hip or chest level pretending like I'm just fiddling with the camera. Trust me it works, especially with super quiet shutter of X100.

If I remember correctly, I shot these using that technique with film M

A little bird told him... by Suguru Nishioka, on Flickr

Man of Thirty Eight by Suguru Nishioka, on Flickr

Dripping awesomeness by Suguru Nishioka, on Flickr
(this was Mamiya 7)

This example is, if I remember correctly, a combination of pre-focusing at something nearby then pretending to be fiddling with the camera.

Reader by
Suguru Nishioka, on Flickr
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b/w guy.

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Old 01-07-2016   #9
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It really depends on light, lens, time of day etc.

Usually I'm shooting with either an M-4p or an M9 and a 28 or a 35. In daylight I generally set the shutter at 1/250 and adjust the aperture according to the light (I often do this as I'm walking and crossing from light to shadow) somewhat subconsciously from about 5.6 to 11.

For focus my hand knows what distance the tabbed 35 Summicaron is at and I make micro adjutments from the tab being straight down which is about 3 meters.

As it gets dark I'll drop the shutter speed down and eventually adjust the ISO on the M9 if it's getting really dark and basically set the lens wide open and work from there being more careful of distance.

Been working like this for many years and it's why I'm sort of locked in to the Leicas because it really is the easiest camera to do this type of shooting with by feel at least for me.

Shot this last night with this technique (cropped for Instagram):

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Old 01-07-2016   #10
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F8 and be there.
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Old 01-07-2016   #11
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I have been gone from RFF for a good while and apparently this 'tabbing' thing happened while I was gone. I had to go look it up.

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Old 01-07-2016   #12
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Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
I have been gone from RFF for a good while and apparently this 'tabbing' thing happened while I was gone. I had to go look it up.

No, I think it's just language. I know roughly the focus corresponding to the position of the finger tab on my Summilux or the bump on my C-Sonnar, and can adjust it in a fraction of a second.


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