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jlw
12-10-2004, 20:26
Today I received the Tewe 35-200 zoom finder I bought on eBay to use with my R-D 1. This gave me a chance to try it with my 85mm and 100mm Canon lenses.

To see how it worked, visit this page. (http://homepage.mac.com/jlw/photo/R-D1_finder/) Basically, what I learned was that it DOES work... it's just a little cranky and fussy. Kinda makes you see why people got so excited about them thar newfangled SLRs...

Speaking of viewfinders, isn't it high time that someone (maybe someone named Cosina) introduced a modern zoom viewfinder for vintage RFs?

The Tewe finder, and the Nikon zoom finder I used to own, aren't bad, in terms of the image being bright and clear. But the eyepieces are a bit squinty for eyeglasses wearers, and the edges of the frame are defined only fuzzily, like a viewfinder camera without bright lines.

Yet, every cheapo zoom point-and-shoot nowadays has an excellent real-image finder that has a reasonable-size eyepiece and a sharply-defined edge mask (like the old Zeiss and Kiev turret finders, which also are of the real-image type.)

With modern acrylic optics it should be fairly easy to transplant a good point-and-shoot zoom finder design into an accessory finder. With different focal-length scales, it could handle both full-frame 35 and APS-size digital sensors, plus maybe more. (Movie directors use sophisticated zoom finders that can be set to cover a whole range of cine and video formats; see this page (http://www.directorsviewfinders.com/) for some interesting examples.)

Please, Mr. K... or somebody...?

David Kieltyka
12-11-2004, 21:43
jlw, your comments on using an 85mm lens with the R-D1 reflect my own experience. I have a Nikon Varifocal finder, which covers 35135mm in the 35mm format. I've used it with various RF cameras over the years and have always been happy with its accuracy. But trying out my 85mm lens (an old Zeiss f/2 Sonnar) with the finder set to 135mm I found the finder's view and the lens' view were different enough that I lost confidence in the combo. Not enough reach from the finder. So I put it back on its most recent home, my Bessa T. Since then I've been using the 85mm on the R-D1 with the built-in 50mm frame, imagining a half-size frame inside the 50mm. This works very well now that I've practiced a bit.

-Dave-

jlw
12-18-2004, 20:51
Today I was back at the ballet studio, so decided to try some real shooting (rather than just tests) with the R-D1 and a longer lens plus the Tewe finder.

I was pleased to find in practical use that the combo was pretty easy to use, and I got decently accurate framing now that I know to include the 85% viewfinder coverage factor when setting the focal length on the Tewe, as discussed in the link above.*

(One minor problem, when shooting horizontals while sighting through the Tewe, the tip of my nose wants to go right into the camera finder eyepiece! Nose grease is great for fixing scratched negatives, but it does NOT do anything good for viewfinder contrast!)

Now on to the embarassing but educational part of our essay today. The attached photo does NOT represent my favorite shots from the day by any means!... but I thought I'd post it to illustrate a problem that I should have known about but failed to anticipate.

I was using my Canon 100mm f/2.0 lens at full aperture. Since this effectively amounts to about a 155mm f/2.0 (!) on the R-D1, depth of field at fairly close distances is basically zilch!

In the example picture, made from a distance of about 8 feet, I had focused carefully on the left strap of the dancer's leotard, since it was a handy vertical line on which the RF lined up easily. Note in the detail view that it's nice and sharp -- you can even see the individual stitches.

But I forgot to allow for the fact that her face was a few inches forward of her shoulder, so it is pretty much completely out of focus (note lips in detail view.)

Moral of this story, I guess: don't forget to include the effect of "crop factor" when estimating depth of field for your R-D1 shots!




* Pedantic footnote about finder settings: I'm setting the finder to 150mm when using an 85mm lens, and 180mm when using the 100mm lens. Formula: (focal length x 1.53x crop factor) / 0.85. This gives the Tewe finder the same 85% safety factor incorporated into the Epson finder's frame lines.

A safety factor is needed because a lens' effective focal length increases as you focus it closer, so the actual field of view decreases. There's a good explanation on the viewfinder page of the CameraQuest (http://www.cameraquest.com) website.

jlw
12-18-2004, 21:11
Couldn't bear to represent myself today ONLY with a shot that didn't work out, so here's another I liked better -- also with the 100/2.0 Canon lens.

I was a greater distance away for this photo, so DOF was not nearly as much of an issue.

Incidentally, maybe I've just been lucky so far, but it seems to me that compared to my other digital cameras, the R-D1 does an unusually good job of producing pleasing colors under fluorescent light.

Designer
12-18-2004, 21:22
Hi jlw,

Did you keep using auto W.B. for these ballet photos?

Keven

jlw
12-18-2004, 21:34
No, I was using the 'fluorescent' setting, not auto.

In this situation, I was shooting in JPEG mode. But if you shoot in raw mode, you don't specify a white balance on the camera; instead, when you convert the image using the Epson plug-in, you can choose from about seven different standard types of fluorescent lamps (daylight, warm white, cool white, etc.) and see which one gives the best result. That's probably what I would do for critical work.

But I'm pretty happy with the skin tones in this shot, even just using the generic 'fluorescent' setting.

DaShiv
12-18-2004, 23:52
How's the AWB on the R-D1? I find that I can leave the 20D on AWB and expect the camera to nail everything except tungsten lighting, which seems to also be a problem for many other digital cameras. How does the R-D1's AWB compare, i.e. is the AWB good enough for you to just leave it set that way most of the time? Or do you find yourself need to set it manually (i.e. under flourscent, etc)?

sreidvt
12-19-2004, 05:20
Bob,

You probably know this but if you shoot in RAW mode, you can ignore WB settings all together and set them later in RAW conversion. That's what I do with all my cameras.

Cheers,

Sean

RML
12-19-2004, 06:34
JLW, your threads on your experiences with the RD-1 are a delight. These are the kind of user experience threads I'm looking for, and as you back them up with shoots taking under difficult (for digital cameras) circumstances your experiences are invaluable. Thanks.

Oh, and thank you for making me lust more and more for an RD-1! :p

DaShiv
12-19-2004, 07:52
Sean:

Good AWB makes the JPG+RAW option actually somewhat useful. :)

jlw
12-19-2004, 11:03
Originally posted by DaShiv
How's the AWB on the R-D1? I find that I can leave the 20D on AWB and expect the camera to nail everything except tungsten lighting, which seems to also be a problem for many other digital cameras. How does the R-D1's AWB compare, i.e. is the AWB good enough for you to just leave it set that way most of the time? Or do you find yourself need to set it manually (i.e. under flourscent, etc)?

I haven't really tried the AWB very much yet. So at this point, it's not so much a question of needing to set the white balance manually; more that I prefer to set it manually.

Compared to a menus-and-buttons digicam, it's so easy to change white-balance settings on the R-D1 that there's no reason not to do it.

In general, my take on automated systems on cameras is that the more automated they are, the harder they make it to apply your own experience. Evaluative exposure systems are a good example: for instance, if I look at the meter reading from a simple center-weighted or spot meter, I can use my experience to say, "Okay, in this situation I know I need to add +2/3 stop exposure compensation to allow for the white wall behind the subject."

But if I'm looking at a reading that an evaluative system has already "compensated," I don't really know how much additional compensation to add or not add, because I don't know how far the evaluative brain has moved the starting point.

It's kind of the same with auto white balance. I know in principle how it works. But take one the photos I shot the other day: we've got a fluorescent-lit white wall, and a bunch of girls in lavender dresses, and daylight coming in through windows in the background. Is the auto-white system going to figure out which of those areas to use for its determination? Or are all the "off-color" areas going to trick it into compensating in the wrong direction?

Once I have a lot more experience with the R-D1's AWB, I'll know what situations are likely to throw it and know when I can trust it. For now, though, it's just so much easier to thumb the little lever and turn the jog knob so the pointer points to the dominant light source.

Gordon Coale
12-19-2004, 11:18
Originally posted by jlw

In general, my take on automated systems on cameras is that the more automated they are, the harder they make it to apply your own experience.

This is one of the big reasons I've gone back to old manual film cameras. I *really* like the direction the Epson has taken. Unfortunately I don't like the direction the price of the Epson has taken. Hopefully, the price situation will change and we will see more affordable manual digital cameras. Thanks for the postings on this wonderful camera.

DaShiv
12-19-2004, 17:27
Originally posted by jlw
Once I have a lot more experience with the R-D1's AWB, I'll know what situations are likely to throw it and know when I can trust it. For now, though, it's just so much easier to thumb the little lever and turn the jog knob so the pointer points to the dominant light source.

I didn't realize that Epson made the WB settings that easy to change (i.e. without flipping out the main LCD and navigating the menu, since there's no status LCD). Kudos to them, and definitely food for thought. Thanks!