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Is my focus off, or am I doing something else wrong?
Old 06-17-2016   #1
sr1200
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Is my focus off, or am I doing something else wrong?

Hello all, I just today got by first real batch of film back from my developer and I can't help but wondering if I'm having focus problems with my Rolleiflex 3.5F (Xenotar).

When I put them in Lightroom to do post processing of the scans, they look fine at "fit" and "fill" levels of magnification, but at 1:1 they are really soft. I'm very used to my D750 with pro glass being incredible sharp, so I'm not quite sure what to judge my Rollei by. Please take a look at a few of these photos and tell me what you think (about the focus).

Thanks all. I'd very much like to print some of my images, but I can't decide if they're "blurry" or not, and whether it would be a waste of time... Should I send this Rollei off to get the lenses recalibrated? BTW it has a Maxwell screen and I do usually pop the magnifier down to fine tune the focus.








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Old 06-17-2016   #2
Range-rover
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the best test to do is shoot it wide open, then you could really tell. both my E and F
were off a bit and I adjusted them myself with some difficulty, I had to go on the roof
of my building (apartment) and set the camera on "B" and with a split image focusing
screen I had a extra one and check the focus at the film plane.
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Old 06-17-2016   #3
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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A few thoughts.
What are the films like? There are films and then there are scans. The latter should reflect the former but for various reasons, they may not. So, check the source.

Assuming they are also not optimally sharp (inclined to think it might be the case here), check your infinity focus through the viewfinder. Is it good and sharp on distant targets? Also check the taking lens focus. You will need to set the shutter to "Bulb" with the lens open and a locking cable release makes it easier (or use the shutter release lock itself to lock the shutter release down). If this is not tack sharp when checked with a loupe and ground glass you will need to have the focus system inspected, any faults corrected and the lenses calibrated.

If you see good results through both lenses on distant targets at infinity, I would then recommend loading another roll and making some exposures with the aid of a quality tripod and the self timer or a cable release to fire the shutter at various distances, particularly in the close to middle distance range. Take particular note of your precise point of focus in each image. Inspect the sharpness of the developed film and inspect the scans. If the results are better than your first film you may need to practice holding the camera and releasing it and, possibly, assess the shutter speeds used as there may be some things you could improve on. Any late model five or six element Rolleiflex should be capable of superlative sharpness when in sound adjustment and operated proficiently, and indeed, many opine that the 3.5 Xenotars and Planars are the sharpest of them all. Your images above do not look *bad* however they are not critically sharp, not necessarily a fault for Eg. a portrait but sharpness should still be available when it is desired so I appreciate your querying things.
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Old 06-17-2016   #4
sr1200
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A few more examples



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Old 06-17-2016   #5
Huss
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The last photo is easiest to judge where the focus point is meant to be. The face, right? But you can see it focussed on the suit between the face and the shoulder. You are asking the right questions so you know what you are doing, and from that I'd say the focus is off with your camera. Whoever installed the Maxwell screen may not have positioned it correctly - it looks like it needs an adjustment.
Once these Rolleiflexes focus correctly they are crazy sharp.
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Old 06-17-2016   #6
Dan Daniel
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Which Maxwell screen is it? Plain, or center split? I ask because TLRs can be tricky because it is so easy to move the camera when reframing after focusing. So, for example, you focus on the diver's face while it is centered in the screen, then reframe and end up moving either the camera or your whole body enough to throw off the focus.

A do it yourself test is a ruler at an angle at a close distance and wide open. This can even tell you how far to adjust the viewing lens.

By the way, which model camera?

EDIT: I see that it is a F series camera. As I understand the interchangeable screen hoods, the screen will always register to the lower surface. This is the focusing side of the screen. So changing screens shouldn't affect focus agreement between viewing and taking lens.

I would do a simple ruler or fence test with a tripod or other stationary surface. You know where you were trying to focus, but I think there's a good chance that you are losing focus in reframing or following a moving subject. It doesn't take much with a 75mm lens opened up. Still, do a focus test.

Also, slight sharpening of scans is pretty well required. Without it they will look soft. Still, I am with Huss that you do have in focus areas.
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Old 06-17-2016   #7
Ronald M
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Tripod and picket fence at 46 degree angle. Mark where you focus.

If you pass that test, then do a wall to see if even corner to corner.

A winter coat or dark cloth and frosted glass will allow you to see the image without wasting film.. A reversed 50 lens makes a half decent magnifying glass.

Are Rollie lenses sharp wide open. My limited experience is not.
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Old 06-17-2016   #8
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Your examples look to me like poor quality scans.
How are you scanning?
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Old 06-17-2016   #9
Brian Legge
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In addition, if you are scanning and are doing it at max scanner resolution, you are like hitting scanner limits long before you are limited by the content of the negative. What resolution is it at?
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Old 06-17-2016   #10
John Bragg
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Yes and no. Focussing seems to be too close so camera needs a cla/collimation. Do you still have the original screen ? If so try it for a roll and see if there is some adjustment needed for this after market accessory.
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Old 06-17-2016   #11
Merlijn53
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Flatbed scanner?
I'm sure that's the "problem"
Just don't go pixel peeping with a flatbed scanner.
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Old 06-17-2016   #12
Rangefinder 35
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I think that you have 2 issues. first of all even though 80mm is a normal focal length for 2x2 in. film, it's still has 80mm's depth of field. I remember when I started to shoot 6x7, while still used to 35's depth of field. Another problem is that focus seems to be shifted toward the front. Most likely the focusing screen is a culprit.
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Last edited by Rangefinder 35 : 06-18-2016 at 05:19. Reason: g
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Old 06-17-2016   #13
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It's not the scanner. You can see sharpness in the images, just not where the point of focus was meant to be.
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Old 06-17-2016   #14
Range-rover
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I think he should get his original screen and with a loupe take his camera back off
and check the focusing, this will take all the guess work out of it, like in my case
3.5F was back focusing.
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Old 06-17-2016   #15
sr1200
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The camera was purchased with the Maxwell split screen, I don't have the original.

I have a friend doing the scanning, no control there. I saw the Newton ring too, pretty obvious.

What's my most simple course of action right now, buy a loupe and check out the negatives first?
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Old 06-17-2016   #16
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you could do that, and get a all matte screen cheap and check the focus if you want.
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Old 06-17-2016   #17
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Your best course of action is a simple focus test using a roll of film. Put the camera at one end of table, a ruler at 45 degree angle at the other end. Add a target with text or strong graphics at the ruler to make focusing easier.

Shoot at a couple of f-stops, like 3.5 and 5.6. Just because...

Oh, be sure tomput the camera and ruler in locations that you can recreate. It's best if you use the same setup for the adjustments.

Use a good magnifying glass to look at the film.No scanning- keep that variable out of this test. Now you know if the taking lens and viewing lens are in alignment.

So if the focus in the negative is behind the spot you focused on, the viewing lens is out too far. If it is in front of the test spot, the viewing lens is too far back. You now know from the film where the camera actually focuses. Rebuild your setup, and focus on the test object at the original spot. Now DO NOT move the camera focus knob again. Move the text/graphic test object to the ruler mark where the camera is actually focusing based on the negative. Reset the viewing lens to focus on this point.

Well this is a hack to do all of this that reduces issues like focus screen grain and such. Not as accurate as a collimator but it works.

Short answer- you need to determne if the problem is the focus system needing adjustment. Until that is settled, not much more to say. Although in the meantime pay attention to changes in camera location between focusing and actually firing the shutter.
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Old 06-17-2016   #18
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Ok. I will do exactly this. I MAY send the camera in for a CLA.. can Fleenor do this work in his CLA?

In the meantime, are these shots (the women divers) going to look ok printed large? As in 20 x 30 or so? I'm thinking no...
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Old 06-17-2016   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sr1200 View Post
Ok. I will do exactly this. I MAY send the camera in for a CLA.. can Fleenor do this work in his CLA?(
Yep it's what he does. Just mention it when u send it.
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Old 06-17-2016   #20
Dan Daniel
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If you want 20x30 crisp as can be, then no, they won't print well.

If you relax on sharpness per se and consider the overall image, they might work well. A little local blurring, local sharpening, maybe apply a grain overlay? This is the art part, not the tech part, and that's for you to decide.

For example, this negative is sharp for about three inches on one sleeve. Well, other than the motion blurring from my camera movement-
http://dandaniel.zenfolio.com/p51802...3bb2#h6d893bb2
I blew it up to 48x48 and it worked fine. For my purposes.
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Old 06-18-2016   #21
sr1200
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Wow, I just showed my ingrained bias toward 35mm still, 20x30? How am I gonna do that with 6x6 LOL! 20 x 20 maybe.
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Old 06-18-2016   #22
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Get a long ruler, place it on an inclined plane, chose the point of focus wide open, mark it with a Sharpie. When you process the film check if indeed it's in focus. You'll be able to see the focus bias.
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Old 06-18-2016   #23
sr1200
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OK, here is what I have done and discovered thusfar.

I have done a cursory search on a poor man's loupe and discovered that I could use either a 50 or 85mm prime lens in reverse to view the negatives (why didn't I think of this?). While hardly scientific, I *think* the negatives look sharper. I can ALMOST see the screw threads in the face mask of one of the divers. If I had an older 150mm I think I could see them. The negs look really crisp.

I'll go ahead and sanity check the camera with the above info, but I am thinking that another scan is worthwhile.
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Old 06-18-2016   #24
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w re. to scanning I now see peoples' points about it not being flat. I briefly used an art school kid,off craigslist (!) who advertised he used a Nikon Coolscan. My first scans from him were great. The next set were very very soft so I asked him what had happened. His Coolscan broke - the whole basis of his business mktng campaign! - and he used some type of flat bed scanner. So much for that...
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Old 07-06-2016   #25
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Also check whether the rear lens element is fixed or sitting loose - I once had a Rollei from which I could't tell what was wrong with the lens, untill I found out - two films later - that the rear element was loose!
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