Leica AF system?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by globeplex, Dec 15, 2004.

  1. nowadays a lot of people switch to digital camera due to the
    convenience and Leica also produce a digital back to enter the
    digital SLR market. However, its non-AF system may be a disadvantage
    to compete with other DSLR brands such as Nikon and Canon etc.

    does anybody know the reason why leica(Leitz) doesnt make AF lenses
    so far?

    thanks you.
  2. They don't know how.
  3. Yes they do. Leica was one of the companies that pioneered A/F back in the early 70's, and for many years manufacturers of A/F cameras had to pay Leica a fee to use there technology. They decided (whether right or wrong) that the system was not accurate enough for their customers. More misinformation on the 'net, eh Saotome?!
  4. I am not sure about that. Minolta introduced the first active AF system in an SLR camera. (They stole the technology but NOT from Leica)
  5. Why would anybody want autofocus? How is the camera suposed to know where in the photo the most important center of interest lies?
  6. Honeywell was the company that Minolta 'stole' its AF technology from. But it was the first AF SLR, stolen technology or not.
  7. Al "what use is a wheel?" Kaplan, strikes again.
  8. Leitz demonstrated the Correfot (sp?) electronic focus system at Photokina in 1970. It was housed partly in a modified Leicaflex SL, tethered to a computer IIRC. Leitz doesn't make AF lenses because the camera maker is now called Leica, not Leitz.
  9. canon had (or still has?) a system where the camera follows your eye and focusses on what you're looking at. I thought that's cool, but apparently the consumers did not..
  10. Al, how does a non AF camera know where the focus should be?
  11. Cripes, Al. You can't be serious?
  12. I'm never serious ;-)
  13. Why would anybody want autofocus? How is the camera suposed to know where in the photo the most important center of interest lies?
    Wild guess but I'd imagine the same way a manual focus camera knows where the center of interest is.
  14. I thought Honeywell originated the autofocus sensors.
  15. AF was supposed to be a boon to wildlife photographers and for some action sequences it is... it was also supposed to be great for photos of birds in flight but in practice many bird photographers turn off or override the AF systems because they want the bird's head in focus, not the near wingtip:
    Black Skimmer - Everglades National Park, Florida
    Leicaflex SL, 400mm f/6.8 Telyt, Kodachrome 64
    At Marin County's Hawk Hill I spoke with a photographer who bought an AF camera to photograph birds in flight, who turns the AF system off because it isn't reliable and finds that his camera's viewfinder is optimized for AF so it's difficult to focus manually. I hand him the SL with 400mm f/6.8 Telyt - nominally a half-stop slower than his lens - and watch his eyes bug out when he first looks through the viewfinder and focusses the lens.
  16. I doubt Leica Camera could muster the capital expense to develop an autofocus camera. They pretty well have had to "bet the bank" to do development of the digital M. Quite leveraged financing to do that...

    They also have shown to have a better lens design team than they have electronics design team. Very different skill sets, to say the least...
  17. This was answered by Leica years ago and the answer was it is not accurate enough for fast lenses.

    How many photo did you miss because you did not have it? If a lot, sell and get a C or N. Personally I would rather have the better glass.

    My personal opinion is those little motors are not reliable enough.

    Please allow me a chance to get my armour on b/4 you slam me.
  18. "Why would anybody want autofocus?"

    Indeed! Why would anyone want auto-matic spark advance when the dashboard lever on my Stutz Bearcat works perfectly well!?
  19. I have autofocus with my 35mm Summicron - well near enough. Your dead right Al.
  20. My first AF camera was a Canon Powershot G1 in 2001, second a Contax G2 in June 2002 and a Canon D60 this march.

    And yes, I often screw up with AF because the camera focuses on whatever is in the center, often a wall three meters behind my subjects :)

    But that's not the cameras fault! With both systems I have to focus and recompose or switch to manual and zone focus with a small enough aperture to cover my error with DOF.
    On my Contax SLRs I know I have to focus and do it, with the AF cameras I get lazy and screw up from time to time.

    One oberservation with my D60 and Canon EF lenses, the focusing ring throw is to small and not smooth enough for acurate adjustment and the viewfinder is to small and dark to judge focus. So I realy don't mind that the Contax G lenses don't have a focusing ring.

    So I use focus lock a lot. With the G2 I use the thumb button on the rear to focus and on the D60 I set the * button to start AF.

    After 20 years with splitimage, it took some shots to get used to AF, but now I can live with both.

    If I realy need precise focus, I want at least a 6x6cm screen, 9x12 is better :)
  21. What is wrong with diversity within the 35mm DSLR camera market? Why is Leica
    deemed by some as an inferior manufacturer simply because they have differing
    design philosophies and make different products to Canon and Nikon? The world
    really does not need a Leica made EOS clone.

    Leicas cameras are optimised to be manually focused. Many of Leicas customers buy
    the products because they don't want or need an AF system. For most of my work I
    don't need AF. AF is great technology but as mentioned above not infallible. On the
    odd occasions where I think AF would bring some advantage use an AF camera.

    Some photographers with less than perfect eyesight find that AF systems allow them
    to enjoy their photography. One could argue that an electronic focus conformation
    would be an asset to Leica cameras. My eyes are still good so it is not an issue with
    me personally....yet.

  22. Some people seem to like the Contax G system. Even some "Leica photographers" such as Elliott Erwitt and William Eggleston have used Contax G cameras. There's bragging rights with the Zeiss lenses for snob appeal. An AF Leica? Why not? It has more appeal to me than a digital Leica.
  23. Why rationalize your shooting style based on brand loyalty? Sometimes the bright finder and quick manual focusing of an M are just the ticket. But for moving kids less than 3 feet from the lens, give me autofocus any day of the week. It misses far less often than I do...
  24. Jacky

    Apart from the technical reasons already given, it should be accepted that Leica are not in competion with N & C. They do their own thing,which is manual focus, and those who appreciate that, buy, and those that don't, buy other cameras. No one camera can be best at everything.


  25. If you have autofocus, you can turn it off. If you don't have it, you can't get it.
    Leica made a development decision, which, in hindsight was almost certainly
    wrong. Have a look at some tests of autofocus cameras. Try the canon 20D
    for a start. The focus accuracy was tested and it is, in actual practice, super
    accurate. I doubt that very many people could focus any manual focus
    camera any more accurately, and certainly not in a split second.

    There are good reasons why some people prefer or need manual focus
    (Doug Herr's example) and I agree that an autofocus Leica M camera is
    unnecessary. However, as a previous user of a number of autofocus Nikons, I
    can tell you that autofocus generally is just great. I can even get the camera
    to autofocus on the most important part before I frame the shot. Wow, just like
    a manual focus camera - only much faster.

    Developing autofocus lenses is not rocket science, it just costs lots of money.
    Leica does not have any money. Therefore autofocus Leica R lenses seem
    most unlikely. How long will customers put up with Leica SLR bodies that
    simply are inferior to almost everything else? Unfortunately, it looks like a
    downward spiral for leica SLRs unless Leica can somehow partner with
    Nikon/Canon for body and or lens development.
  26. You want Leica quality and auto focus? Get a Hexar AF.
  27. Leaving out all the discussions on whether Leica could / could not produce acceptable AF, the entering argument remains, viz., "Why would you want /need AF?"

    Well, as one person who loves his Leicas - - but who also has macular degeneration, let me offer the observation that those of us without 20/20 eyesight (evven with glasses!), ultimately find a need for AF under certain conditions.

    Degeneratiing visual acuity is a bitch! And, AF can be the salvation for those of us who still want to shoot.

    So, there's my two cents for what it's worth on this forum.
  28. Autofocus is an OPTION on every AF camera. You either use it or don't use it. In situations
    in which in can make photography more efficient, it's a great tool. In situations where it
    needs to be overridden or manual from the start, it does no harm.

    The 'issues' with having an AF camera versus manual-only:

    1. The lenses are usually larger, to incorporate the motors and related electronics.
    2. Lenses are usually intended to use AF as the primary means, so they're built with small,
    not very grippable focus rings.

    I think the Contax N1 was designed with the right priorities. The lenses are very
    comfortable to use manually, and manual focus is Full-Time - no switches are necessary
    to make adjustments to whatever range the AF sensors think is right. But, those lenses are
    very, very large. To me, it felt like a 'studio 35mm camera.' The AF was not nearly as fast
    as a Canon or Nikon, and the size of the camera and lenses made it unappealing for
    'casual' carrying around. If i had a specific purpose in mind for shooting away from home/
    studio, it was fine, but i wouldn't just wander around with it....

    I really wish Leica would make an AF SLR. I would expect, though, that the various
    components would not be built with the same level of solidity, as the extra size would
    make them impractical. We already see that Leica's R8/9 are relatively large bodies, and
    they don't even incorporate integral motorized film winding. If they added AF, how big
    would everything be?

    So, what does Leica do? Sure, they have a commitment (whether intentional or incidental)
    to making more 'traditional' equipment, and eschewing 'features.' But, they are forced to
    move into digital, and it doesn't make a lot of sense to embrace the outermost reaches of
    technology while pretending to ignore the earlier 'advancements.' It's a little like the Epson
    RD-1 - a contradiction. The M-series might bear that kind of dichotomy, but the R-series,
    at some point, will probably evolve to something else (if Leica can even sustain an SLR into
    the future).
  29. The supposition in your post ("why leics(Leitz) doesn't make AF lenses..") is wrong.

    Leica makes AF lenses....I know because my Digilux 2 has a
    Leica DC Vario-Summicron 7-22.5 mm ASPH autofocus lens attached to it!

    hmmm....you know the Leica universe extends beyond M mount lenses.....
  30. Peter A:
    That shot is simple for an advanced autofocus system. With my Pentax *ist D
    set to multipoint autofocus I can easily shift the focus point to any of nine
    segments. Or I can leave it on center spot focus, lock in and reframe. If it's set
    on auto multi segment It will lock in on the prominent feature even if it's not in
    the center of the frame. In other words, there are multiple ways of achieving
    that shot with a contemporary autofocus camera. And, of course, you can turn
    the autofocus off and focus manually. Try it, you'll like it.
    Paul Stenquist
  31. I'm not intending to start an argument, Peter A., but AF would have worked easily, accurately, and probably faster than MF on your posted shot. Why would you believe otherwise?
  32. There could be many companies who would work with Leica to bring about a range of Leica AF lenses (and body). They would enjoy the association with such a legendary name. (Like Minolta has and Panasonic have in the past and presently with the D2)

    Such an association (like Sony and Zeiss) often benefits the big global corporation partner as well as the small, prestige German partner as long as the product is well executed.

    If 10 years ago you suggested that Zeiss and Cosina would one day have jointly developed products and that Cosina would create a range of respected Leica M compatible rangefinders you would have been laughed at and dismissed as a crank.

    I predict (for a laugh) that Leica and Sigma will jointly develop a range of superb AF Leica SLR prime and fast zoom lenses that are made to a premium specification at a higher price than Sigma products that will be made in all the major fittings (Canon/Minolta/Nikon etc) and a version to fit the Leica/Sigma developed full frame AF DSLR.

    Weirder things have happened.
  33. Maybe they don't make AF lenses because they don't make an AF SLR. Just a thought.
  34. I hate to repeat myself.

    Leica makes AF lenses..
    I have one on my Digilux 2

    it works rather nicely i might add.
  35. Doug Herr's pictures continue to prove that while machines have come a long way, they still can't do as well in many situations as a master with a good manual tool in his hands. I guess that's the sort of person for whom Leica tries to make products, but there aren't many people around anymore with Doug's skills, so Leica's market is getting mighty small.
  36. Wayne wrote: If you have Autofocus you can turn it of... I doubt. I was asked to do a few frames with a R100mm macro - pleasant work. I have a Pentax AF 100mm macro, which seems to be good enough glass for me. Unluckily the Leica R lens offers 720? turn from infinity to 1:2, while the Pentax has less than 1 turn for infinity - 1:1 what means 1/5 part of the way for focusing or plain "unusable" for manual focused portraits, usable for spinal focused macro only. - Give me a better paied job and I'll get R, just for the feeling.
    The same about camera bodys; It's a real difference if they allow manual focusing or were made for it. O.K. some can have split-field screens, but where is the interchangeable 100% reflection mirror?
    I suppose, Leica isn't no more competitive. They just offer 2 lines of lovely gear.
  37. While it is true that most AF camera systems allow you to turn off AF and use MF ad lib, it is not quite the same thing. The focussing screens for AF and MF cameras have different requirements. The AF screens are quite bright but do not provide the contrast required for precision manual focussing; and they are missing the MF aids, such as inner RF and microprism collar. The AF mechanism doesn't require these aids and they are not there. If you really want MF, you should not buy an AF camera and turn the AF off, it just isn't the same thing.
  38. but there aren't many people around anymore with Doug's skills

    have you done a survey or something? i'd like to know how you are able to justify such statements....
  39. eliot, obviously youve never used an nikon f4 or f5....youre dead wrong about your af/mf theories
  40. "have you done a survey or something?"

    Yes, I look at people's photos. And Doug's site contains images that are as impeccably focussed as any I've surveyed elsewhere. You disagree?
  41. what people are these? professionals? people on photo.net? im curious where youre looking and why you can't find people that cant shoot a bird flying....so yes, i do disagree. i bet i can do a google and find just as many sharp pix as dougs, using all sorts of cameras...
  42. i did a 2 second google...this guy uses a 10D...i dont see any focus problems in these pix do you?

    theres even a flying one

  43. grant, are you sincere in saying you cannot see any qualitative differences between Doug's wildlife pictures and those of the guy you linked?
  44. as far as focus goes, of course not...thats what this thread is about tho...right? do you really think that theres nobody out there using af cams to do wildlife? cmon....football players move a HELL of a lot faster and closer than a bird does, try shooting that with a leicaflex...
  45. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    My turn. I never used AF until a few months ago with my new D70. You almost have to with this camera. But I started with MF, like most of us here, and even with all the latest and greatest Nikon bodies that provided AF, I never used it. I agree with Peter. I have lightening reflexes being raised on sports and wicked hand eye thanks to Atari and arcades. My style has changed, not my eye or look, but the way I shoot with the D70. The center sensor is the strongest and most accurate on the D70. So, it goes like this. Center on your point of interest and half depress the shutter button for the gizmo to find home. Lock it with aef/ael lock button on the back of the body and recompose. Trip the shutter. I don't know what is quicker, but I prefer to simultaneously mf while I'm composing the frame, not one then the other like I have to on the D70. An adjustment to a different tool I guess. I shot all sports, fast sports, on manual focus. I could never understand why some chose to have their frame and composer dictated by an af sensor. Oh well.
  46. eric, ever use a leica with an rf patch...one must focus and recompose, theres no gettin around it unless ur just doing the scale thing
    af points can at least be moved, and on the higher end digitals, work very very well...not to mention better have finders for the one who wishes to manually focus..
  47. "as far as focus goes, of course not...thats what this thread is about tho...right?"

    I didn't look at all the pictures you linked, but my general sense was that your guy is giving himself a lot of room in terms of depth of field. What impresses me about Doug's pictures is that he tends to use a paper-thin focus plane and still nails it.
  48. and youre telling me you couldnt find similar shots on the net? something tells me i probably could...
  49. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    no grant, never had the pleasure, never used a leica. only held one once actually, thanks to Jamie J. it weighed a ton and wondered why anyone would use one; like riding around on a penny farthing or something. but when i do get around to using one, i guess all that D70 practice will come in handy :p
  50. yea, except for no af... :p
  51. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    "and youre telling me you couldnt find similar shots on the net? something tells me i probably could..."

    click on my site and go to motion picture stills/india imax kingdom. Is that what you mean grant? i guess i should have read the arguemnet. but that's all provia/velvia at mf, on slr not rf.
  52. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    i hate af. i've only lost shots becasue of af on the D70. except when i was shooting an indy, i tried my friends F5 and the thing got confused and i gave it back with a "have fun, rookie" look on my face.
  53. eric, do you think i could have taken those with a digital on AF and got the same thing? just curious...
  54. Some people could make good use of a computer program that might be called something like "AutoCap" because their second grade teacher didn't rap their knuckles hard enough with the edge of her ruler when they were supposed to be studying the proper use of the written English language. They find fault with everything and everybody but can't do much correctly themselves.
  55. yea dontcha hate those fukkin people....jeeze
  56. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    oh absolutely grant. i could redo them on an af as well, and have had to with five or six shows since owning the d70. i didn't read what you and beau where discussing, except your claim that you could find mf wildlife photos on the web with razor thin focus. i just made it easy, i thought.

    Al, typing is like photogrpahy. soon all functions will be automated :)
  57. And some should get instruction on avoiding run-on sentences...
  58. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    aL, where do i gEt that pROgrAM??
  59. Leica should make a digital AF body on the principle of the
    Contax AX (and old Mamiya 6 &c.), in which the sensor itself
    moves back and forth to provide some range of autofocus with
    'plain old' M lenses. I am amazed that no one has done this yet,
    given how much simpler, faster, and less energy-intensive it
    would be to move a small, light sensor back and forth (witness
    the Konica-Minolta antishake mechanism, though that's small-
    scale of course) than to move pressure-plated rollfilm back and

    I would be happy with a slightly thicker M body if it allowed such
    focusing, optionally and, in order to keep things from being too
    thick, over a limited range. Perhaps when AF was activated, one
    could also optionally turn on live lcd view (battery-intensive, yes).

    Some such system would really expand the utility of the M body,
    without introducing the drawbacks of an SLR mechanism per se.
    Combined with manual focus adjustment, it might also allow for
    closer focusing with the M lenses, without a Visoflex &c..
  60. I think that Grant sells them.
  61. The "program", that is.
  62. Why don't you guys just e-mail each other with your arguments since it doesn't benefit the rest of us? I ain't interested in AF for what I do.
  63. I agree with Eric ~, I prefer to focus and compose
    simultaneously. My subjects fidget and wiggle and twitch too
    much and too often and my DOF typically is WAY too thin to do
    the focus/recompose/expose dance successfully. I've tried it
    with no end to the frustration. I prefer a viewscreen that allows
    precise focus over the ENTIRE area so I can focus on whatever I
    want, no matter what my composition is. YMMV but it works for
  64. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    if that were the case Stephen, why did you even click on the thread and read it? i think you're in the closet and intrested myself...
  65. A lot of folks think that AF decides things for you. I choose the focusing point in my
    photos, and just let the computer do the work for me. If it fails, I just refocus. I certainly
    don't lose anything by using AF when it'll do it, though.
  66. Canon has an interesting paper on how to use AF cameras to your best advantage. In it they basically say that the focus/re-compose method is NOT the way to use auto-focus. Click on the full version of Camera Handling & Maximum Image Quality. It is based around the top end Canon digitals, but I've been playing around with it on the 20D, and seems to have potential. Does take some getting use to though.......breaking old habits is tough to do sometimes.
  67. Douglas,

    Your posted photographs are just great. But, may I ask if you always get exact
    focus and exposure (and composition)? Some people seem to believe it. My
    experience over many years, and using many different cameras to shoot both
    personal shots and professional stock photographs is that the real keepers/
    sellers are only a small percentage of the total. This is not a loaded question,
    just a request to bring some people back to reality. Perfection is mighty hard

    In my view/experience, top class photographs require skill, dedication,
    compatible equuipment and a lot of shots, again and again. And ruthless
    editing. Compatible equipment does not mean one brand or another but what
    you are comfortable with for the job or the pleasure of using it.

    I like autofocus but many don't. But, could people please accept that
    autofocus has been around for over 25 years, is now highly developed, and
    no sane manufacturer would dream of bringing out a new non-autofocus
    camera - ever. A Nikon FM4? Don't think so.

    So, where to for Leica (SLR)? Back to the original question.
  68. Wayne Murphy wrote: " may I ask if you always get exact focus and exposure (and composition)?"
    I think you know the answer to that question, and yes it's time for a reality check. Quite often my subjects move or turn their heads just as I'm pressing the release, or I haven't placed the DOF correctly, or the brightness range in the scene might exceed the film's capability, so I do throw lots of stuff out. The DOF placement is one of the biggest reasons I throw slides out, for example on a buck if I want everything from the eyes to the nose to be in focus, or on a smaller bird I want the head and back to be in focus:
    Mountain Bluebird - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
    Leicaflex SL, 250mm f/4 Telyt-R, Provia 100F
    Wayne again: "Perfection is mighty hard work. In my view/experience, top class photographs require skill, dedication, compatible equipment and a lot of shots, again and again. And ruthless editing. Compatible equipment does not mean one brand or another but what you are comfortable with for the job or the pleasure of using it. "
    I agree completely. I used five rolls of film on the Mountain Bluebird. I've kept about half the slides; none were tossed due to exposure errors. Those that reached the circular file had poor DOF placement or the bird twitched at the moment of exposure.
    Wayne continues: "no sane manufacturer would dream of bringing out a new non-autofocus camera - ever."
    This is where we disagree. The compromises in the viewfinder required by the AF systems to date make precise focus and DOF evaluation over the ENTIRE viewscreen more difficult than in a well-designed manual-focus camera.
  69. This argument really comes down to one group of people who have complete and total faith in the wonders of technology vs. those of us who realize that the work-arounds oft times required to get the results we want from automated equipment are more trouble than just doing it the old fashioned way. That's as true with focus as with exposure. There are plenty of autofocus cameras and lenses on the market.
  70. Pete Sampras won all those championships with a racket that people were using when he was a toddler. Was it some sort of ludditism, pride, or brand-loyalty? I seriously doubt he'd risk his career for such reasons. The guy was so precise, his skills so refined, that all the new technology that "helps" others just got in his way.
  71. I don't own any autofocus cameras but my wife has a Rebel Ti and I have used it and also rented the Nikon F5 and Canon 1V to shoot bird photography with (also rented)telephotos. Personally I have never found even those really sophisticated autofocuses to work any kind of magic, in fact they are mostly a frustration to me, with one exception, and that is when a subject is moving quickly toward or away from the camera. When birds are skittering around AF doesn't seem to do anything I can't do just as well manually. A friend who is a commercial photographer gave me a possible explanation: that the high-end AF was designed with sports and fashion photographers in mind, not wildlife photogs. He said that a pro sports photog has no trouble capturing action from the sidelines but shooting from the end zone or goal, or race cars approaching or receeding, is much more productive with the predictive AF and a fast motor drive. Ditto a fashion photog shooting a model walking or running toward him. These guys can get a whole burst of in-focus shots whereas in the past they would be lucky to get just a few. I don't know if that's true but it did sound plausible. I am amazed by the rise in my # of keepers with using Image Satbilizers, and I leave the AF switched on because occasionally it is quicker than me, but I always have my hand on the focus ring and override the AF most of the time. BTW with the Nikon F5 and Canon 1V I have no trouble focusing manually on the standard screen. In fact for my eyes it's better than the one in the R8.
  72. Beau makes a point. Actually, then Wilson Pro Staff graphite composite that Sampras used was introduced in 1983 when Sampras was about 12. Now Jimmy Connors was competing for years with an absolutely outdated Wilson T-2000 metal racquet that Connors himself referred to as a "dinosaur."

    Those who have tried that racquet (myself included) often wonder how he ever "tamed" it, and I'd still challenge any player to name a racquet with more crude "feel" than the T-2000.

    Back to Beau's point, the men and women at the top get racquets free -- as many and as often as they wish, strung and weighted to their specifications. They're using what they *want* to use.

    Accomplished photographers like Doug, Beau, Al, Tom S., Jeff, Grant, Brad, Eric, Pete, Trevor -- just to name a few who are on this thread -- are using what they want to use. That's as it should be.
  73. "...with a racket that people were using when he was a toddler."

    Wow, did he really use a wooden racket?

  74. They still manufacture and race sail boats, even wooden ones. You can still get a brand new bamboo fly rod. Some folks still prefer being in control of a quality manual focus camera. Let it go already. That doesn't make me a better photographer. It doesn't make you a better photographer. It only saves me a fortune in batteries and and the financial loss involved with constantly trading "up" to the latest bestest newest. But you're right! I might get more out of focus pix than you do. Then again, perhaps not.
  75. "This argument really comes down to one group of people who have complete and total faith in the wonders of technology..."

    No it doesn't, you just made that up. Most respondents here are calling for a balance that your reply ignores. They're saying that sometimes AF delivers, and sometimes you have to over ride it. That sounds like pragmatism, not faith, to me.
  76. My respect for "Pro" sport and wildlife photographers who are stuck using AF cameras has risen quite a bit after reading this thread.
    I never realized the problems they faced using AF systems.
    I especially like photographs of bird photographer Arthur Morris. He does mention some AF tips. I will have to check them out.
    Birds as Art
  77. Yes, I did read the entire thread. Read like the typical digital vs. film flaming.
  78. no sane manufacturer would dream of bringing out a new non-autofocus camera - ever.

    What about Voigtlander/Cosina - who did that about 6 months ago? Mind you they are unusual. Then there is the Leica R9. Guess Leica is insane too. Hasselblad XPAN also.
  79. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    This argument really comes down to one group of people who have complete and total faith in the wonders of technology
    Kevin already pointed out that nobody is making that argument here. However, it is true every time I get in a jet. And I feel a lot safer with the collision avoidance system that's now in many commercial jets than I would be in a two seat propeller plane talking on the radio in a rainstorm. Technology has some huge benefits.
  80. The only real point is that not everything gets "better" as technology advances. Our consumer-driven society sometimes forgets that.

    The swords made by the master craftsmen of the Kamakura period in Japan (12th century!) are better than anything our modern metallurgy can devise. The ancient blades have 16,000 layers of metal of varying hardness and flexibility, and they cut like nothing we could come up with now, 900 years later.
  81. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    The swords made by the master craftsmen of the Kamakura period in Japan...
    I'll have to remember that the next time I'm invited to a sword fight.
  82. Yeah, you're gonna thank me when Uma Thurman comes after you.
  83. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I'll definitely thank someone when Uma Thurman comes after me.
  84. Al observed that: 'There are plenty of autofocus cameras and lenses on the market'.
    Indisputable -- but I think this valid point misses another: there is no camera on the
    market that offers four very desirable features: 1) freedom from the noise, bulk, and
    optical constraints of the SLR design, 2) interchangeable prime lenses, 3) backwards
    lens compatibility, and 4) autofocus ability. This is why I really think a fully M-
    compatible chip-movement autofocus body would be wonderful.
  85. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    she's not that hot actually. looks good in two d, but not 3.
  86. Nat, to get backwards compatibility with Leica M lenses on an autofucus body you'd have to have a front lens panel on the camera body do the focussing movement. I can't picture any easy compact way to have a servo motor that could turn the focusing mounts on such a wide variety of lenses! Moving a panel in and out...maybe.
  87. Al, didn't Contax do that with one of their SLR bodies? I think the lenses stayed still, but the film gate moved. Sounds good in theory, but I have no idea how well it worked in practice.
  88. Al, I'm hoping for a digital body with chip-plane movement. A la the Contax AX, but
    much simpler perhaps, as only a small and light chip needs to move, rather than a
    whole film plane/spool apparatus. A chip movement solution would take much less
    power than moving the lenses themselves, too.

    The body would, of course, have to be a bit thicker. For wide lenses, in particular,
    only a wee bit of extra thickness would be needed. For focusing longer lenses at
    close range, we'd have to start compromising and having AF over just part of the
    range. But combined with manual focus pre-extension of the lens, we could also get
    closer focus overall than with the standard M body.
  89. Yes, short range rear focus would work if you you used the focussing on the lens to get you close to the actual point of focus with long lenses. Still, I'm not convinced that I could live with letting the camera decide on where to focus. There's a cute pic of a kid earlier on the thread that at first glance appears to have the focus on the eyes, but looking closely the focus really seems sharpest just below the nose.
  90. she's not that hot actually. looks good in two d, but not 3

    i like her dd's
  91. Grant, ever the optimist.
  92. i try
  93. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    she's super cool on set with all the mook's. very down to earth and chatty. unlike that ben guy. that also complains about "runaway productions" on your national tv when his first, and later, five biggest movies where all shot in Canada.
  94. Ladeeeeze and Gentlemen! Welcome to that great new show, Hijacked Thread, featuring the delightful off topic banter of .[.Z & Grant...Let's have a BIG round of applause, folks!
  95. theres a topic...?
  96. ...and on this side, wearing the white trunks...
  97. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    "They still manufacture and race sail boats, even wooden ones. You can still get a brand new bamboo fly rod."

    like this?
  98. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    "Why would anybody want autofocus?"

    or like this?
  99. Let's have a BIG round of applause, folks! yeah, you tell 'em el capitan.
  100. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    "Some people could make good use of a computer program that might be called something like "AutoCap" because their second grade teacher didn't rap their knuckles hard enough with the edge of her ruler when they were supposed to be studying the proper use of the written English language."

    or like that?
  101. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    "This argument really comes down to one group of people who have complete and total faith in the wonders of technology vs. those of us who realize that..."

    or to just miss the topic all together like that?
  102. </i>
    <b>Whoah, sh*t's spiraling out of control!!</b>
  103. Need Rene in here to set up a voting machine.
  104. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    i wish it didn't take 45 min to burn and verify a dvd. i have 50 gig to do...
  105. i wish it didn't take 45 min to burn and verify a dvd. i have 50 gig to do...
    A case of beer would help...
  106. Eric, you lucky b*****d. My films are drying and I'll spend the next weekend scanning. Probably burning the DVD late sunday afternoon.<br>
    And to the Contax AX autofocus, it's not good. First it's sloooooooow and then the camera is very bulky.
    But you get a built in 7mm extension tube :)
    The focus confirmation in the Contax RX was fine. A bit like AF without motor.<br>
    <img src="http://www.hett.org/web/files/0001/IMG_6743.jpg" width="510"><br>
    Canon D60, EF 75-300 @240, F8, 1/800<br>
    I don't do wildlife, but here the AF was lucky :)
  107. Re. the slowness of the AX autofocus mechanism, I think this had largely to do with
    the mass and complexity of the mobile film spooling, plus the fairly slow general AF
    performance of that day. Today, I see no reason why moving a little chip would be
    any slower than lens-based AF. In fact it might easily be faster, and quieter.
  108. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Nathaniel, moving a tiny servo at this speed, in the microns, wouldn't stay accurate. it's alot to ask for a crude device like a camera that gets bumped and banged about. it's simple mechanical advantage and the same task can be preformed at the sloppy end, the elements.
  109. Way back at the beginning Al said: Why would anybody want autofocus? How is the camera suposed to know where in the photo the most important center of interest lies?
    Then Volker said: Al, how does a non AF camera know where the focus should be?

    I'm still wondering the answer to Al's question. I used to think AF was the answer to my less than perfect eyesight but in my experience Al is on the money. I think I know the answer to Volker's question. The non-AF cam does NOT know where the focus should be but I do. Isn't that the whole point?
  110. "This argument really comes down to one group of people who have complete and total faith in the wonders of technology vs. those of us who realize that..."
    I worked on the Space Shuttle for 25 years and I am amazed by the wonders of modern technology but I would never have absolute faith in it. Neither do the astronauts. Since the early days of Apollo they have insisted on manual over-ride.
    "Open the pod bay doors HAL. . . . I'm sorry Dave, but I can't do that"
  111. Eric, Konica-Minolta is attempting to do just that (move a chip on very small and fast
    scales) in -two- dimensions, in its anti-shake digital SLR body. We'll have to see how
    that, um, pans out -- but it sounds like the technology may be within reach.

    As to the more general question of AF's desirability in the first place, I really have
    missed pictures that AF would have gotten for me. Likewise, AF fails at times, which,
    along with power consumption, is why I wouldn't use it most of the time. But it sure
    would be great to have available in a pinch.
  112. Well, the straight answer to your question is that you have to control your focus points in an AF camera just like you control the rangefinder patch in an M. It's your responsibility in either case.

    I'll let someone else provide the 'not so straight' answer this time.
  113. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    sounds cool, but i hope they float it and charge it electrically, no moving parts might work.
  114. eliot, obviously youve never used an nikon f4 or f5....youre dead wrong about your af/mf theories

    Grant, I must confess, I have never used a Nikon F4 or F5 (I'm not sure I have strength to lug around such a bulky weighty camera :)). The "theories" you erefer to are not mine but are based on an article by Herb Keppler in Pop Photography in whcih he explains the different requirements of screens for AF vs MF cameras. AF screens are just NOT designed for the most accurate and easy MF. In defense of Keppler's "theory", I would say that I have used several Canon AF cameras (which are as good as anyone else's) and they are just not as easy to focus manually as MF cameras I have used (Nikon, Pentax, Leica). It is somewhat like focussing a ground glass screen for all focal lengths, without the aids for the shorter focal lengths.

    Oh well, I suppose the Nikon F4 and F5 are the exceptions (maybe they are better I don't know) and Keppler is all wet. :)
  115. Kent^ Kevin is on the spot!

    With my manual SLRs I have to use the splitimage to focus, with my Leica IIIf and Zorki4 and Kiev4am I have to use the rangefinder patch and with my Contax G2 and TVS and Canon D60 I use the indicated field in the viewfinder to focus.

    So I have to show the camera what I want in focus, the difference is who moves the lens elements.

    The problem is, AF lenses have less throw then manual ones and AF SLR viefinders are not optimal for manual focus.
    My lowly Contax 167MT viewfinder is brighter than that of an EOS 3, not to mention the D60.

    In any case, I am unable to focus on one eye of a moving kid with shallow DOF. I can focus a 85 at f1.4 with my camera on a tripod and an immobile subject, a human beeing usualy breathes from time to time and moves out of the 2-3 mm DOF
  116. Well, the straight answer to your question is that you have to control your focus points in an AF camera just like you control the rangefinder patch in an M. It's your responsibility in either case
    What so automatic about that? Automatic is when you can take the human out of the loop and the machine does what the human would have done. Or in certain cases, like the deorbit, entry and landing of a Space Shuttle, the machine does more or better than a human could have done. That's automatic to me. I have limited experience with AF only in my Canon. (first A2E and then EOS 3). They've tried to make it really automatic with "eye control focus." First you train the chip by moving your eye to specified quadrants of the lens. There is a sensor that reads subtle movements in your eye as you look at different parts of the focusing screen. It's a wonderful idea and when they perfect it they will have truly automatic focus. The problem is that it's slow and arbitrary in my experience. I often have to depress the shutter 1/2 way several times before the correct point comes into focus. It's like the camera guesses what to focus on. I say NO that's not it. So the cam takes another guess. NO. Guess. Maybe by now it's got the point in focus that I want. It pisses me off. I have to fight the machine to make it do what I want to. Maybe I need to "train" the eye-control-focus better with more eye movement input exercises.
  117. Edmo? Eric? Grant? .[.Z? How about starting an eye training academy?
  118. kent, you about 1 of 8 people that bought into that stupid eye movement idea.....that camera flopped horribly.....live and learn
  119. I didn't know there were others. I was just going by my own experience. Canon has a good idea but it doesn't work yet so they have a nerve releasing a product before it's ready. And me with a backpack full of Canon professional glass.
  120. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    "How about starting an eye training academy?"

    sure. we start with asteriods and galaga.

    But i still think you miss read the whole post Al. I'm pro mf and anti af.
  121. One thing that's apparent is that a lot of people just haven't taken the time to understand
    and learn how to use AF effectively. If you just switch on all of your focus points and
    activate them randomly via the shutter release then you're stuck in the nightmare position
    that Al alluded to near the beginning of the thread. The key to having control is firstly
    being selective about your focus points, then, even more importantly, separating AF from
    your shutter release by using the thumb button on the back of the camera..........You get
    the speed of AF coupled with the control of MF.
  122. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    sorry man, but by the time you've fiddled with all your buttons and chose this sensor and pressed that and locked this and recomposed, i've focused and shot and moved on.
  123. I'm with Eric. There's 45 fVckin' AF points in the Canon. In 1/4 of the time to select the one I want I could have focused the MF, badda-bing...badda-bang, and nailed it.
  124. So just switch off 44 of the AF points. RTFM...........
  125. Here we are 32 hours and at least 127 posts later and nothing has been settled. Some people love AF, some prefer MF. I guess the people who make Leicas are catering to the second group. If you want to shoot with Leica glass you have little choice. If you want auto focus your camera choices are wider but Leica glass is just a dream. Eat your heart out. Cry. But stop complaining.
  126. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Boris, anyone what does this one mean? "RTFM"
  127. To tell the truth I always believed the hype about the eye control focus and tried to use it that way. I never used the cam the way you're describing with manual focus point selection. I like the Canon lenses so there's still hope for me. But then the thing's so noisy: loud slap of shutter...whirrrrrrrr of auto film winding on...final click to arm the shutter. Everyone in ear shot by now has turned my way and tha...tha...that's all folks. What's the good of 45 supposedly eye-controlled focus points if I'm just using the one in the center like the first AF cams that came out. But what you say would work for me: center focus point on exclusively, focus, recompose, fire. AF works best with something more than dim light which is fine if all your subjects stand in the sun.
  128. readthefukkinmanual
  129. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Al, we're talking about the reason why leica(Leitz) doesnt make AF lenses so far. What's your take? Were'd Jacky go anyway?
  130. Heh Al. Good summary. To me nothing pictures the world as beautifully as Leica glass. At least the 50 Summicron. It would be enough to sway me to Leica but then it even gets better. So many things about Leica I love. It's like a sometimes difficult woman that you're in love with. You put up with little things because overall it's a great love affair.
  131. Kent: "....the thing's so noisy.......Everyone in ear shot by now has turned my way"

    This doesn't seem to be a problem for photographers like Peress and Nachtwey.

    "What's the good of 45....focus points.....if I'm just using the one"

    Use however many you want. Switch on what you want, switch off what you don't.

    "AF......is fine if all your subjects stand in the sun"

    If your camera is struggling to lock focus in anything other than bright sunlight then it
    needs to be repaired.
  132. </I></I></I></I></I></I></I></I></I></I></I></I></I></I></I></I></I>

    Depending on focal length and distance to subject, focus and recompose can translate
    into what many erroneously conclude are back-focus problems.
  133. Huh Brad???
    Boris - not that the Canon struggles to focus in anything other than bright light but take this pic for instance. AF would have said what I just said to Brad.
  134. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Brad, aint that the truth. unless you have a faulty D70
  135. I think that the reason they don't make the lenses is because they don't make the bodies, and for all the reasons just thoroughly hashed out in the past day and a half. It makes more sense to put their research money into (GASP! I'm gonna say the D word!) digital, and the ideal would be a full frame chip that would at least work with post-M5 vintage ultra wide angle lenses. SLR lenses with their longer back focus are less of a problem.

    I think that they learned their lesson with the M5 which was big and clunky by M standards, and hung the wrong way on it's strap until they introduced the three lug model. Before that they'd produced a superbly engineered but clunky Leicaflex that had an accurate external meter when everyone else was already introducing through the lens meters. By the time the got it halfway right people were fed up with multiple cams that would work with this model but not that model. A lot of pros had given up on Leica by the time the M4-2 was introduced and very few ever went for the SLR's although nobody ever complained that the lenses were bad.

    I doubt that they'll do autofocus M's or R's until they're sure that it's a mature proven technology and a sufficiant number of potential buyers are demading it. That doesn't describe today's situation.
  136. Kent, "huh" is the only word in AFs vocabulary, it's up to you to help it get further than
  137. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    AF works best with something more than dim light which is fine if all your subjects stand in the sun
    Hmmm...AF and my eyes give out at close to the same level...both usually under what I can handhold without some softness.
    MakeUp, Copyright 2004 Jeff Spirer
  138. OK I'm gonna read the manual. After 10 mos of Leica shooting it will probably be different to me now. I have a better picture in my mind of what I want to do so I can use the Canon with more control and less automatic. Thanks Boris.
  139. Jeff, I don't think it's the dim light so much as the tricky light that AF struggles with.
  140. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric


    thanks Boris. i thought it was one of those "rolling on floor..." or "real twats focus manualy"
  141. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Hey, "dim light" wasn't my phrase, it was yours.
  142. Kent: Re Focus and recompose...

    For a simple example, use easy (but somewhat exaggerated) numbers making a 3-4-5
    right triangle.

    You're facing a wall. On that wall, directly in front of you is a red dot - and it's 4 feet
    away. 3 feet to the left of that red dot is your subject against the wall.

    You stay where you are and pivot to the left and lock focus - which will be at a distance of
    5 feet. You pivot back to where you were before (recompose) directly in front of the red
    dot. You have a nice composition because your subject is is off-center to the left.
    However, the proper plane of focus is at 4 feet, but you previously locked focus at 5 feet -
    a large error if your DOF is shallow.
  143. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    A squared + B squared = C squared? 9+16=25?
  144. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Brad, do you know your trig?
  145. Yes Eric, even on the Leica forum...
  146. And I can compute the area of square knowing only one side... Howz that?
  147. Pythagorus!
  148. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Brad, how?
  149. Because each side of a square is equal. Just multiply the given length by itself and you have the area of that square.
  150. Eric~ don't open the Pythagoras proof.
  151. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    sorry, brain fart, didn't read Brad's post right.

    find the area of a circle then smartie pants, a 4" circle...
  152. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    "Eric~ don't open the Pythagoras proof."

    why not Kent, i love trig, it fits...
  153. What color is the circle?
  154. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Eric, make it more difficult. Maybe a 4 foot circle.
  155. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    okay, 4 metre circle, in black, of course...
  156. ok NOW it's ROTFLMAO
  157. I'm sorry, Peter.
  158. All I can say is it's a hell of a party. I learned more on this thread than 20 other threads. And then it broke down into hilarity.
  159. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    pie r squared ring a bell?
  160. NO! Pie is round - at least where I am.
  161. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    it was your pizza hut that started making em square!
  162. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    long and thin goes too far in but short and thick does the trick?
  163. "AF works best with something more than dim light..."
    Absolutely not true. I just replaced my EOS-3 with a 20d not only for digital capture (I'll get to that) but because the 20d is a better camera than the EOS-3. Sticking to the point of this thread, it's autofocus works well in light levels that challenge both a handheld light meter and human vision. No fooling. The kicker is, (here comes the digital capture part) the sensor's ability to record an image at these low light levels is shocking. Seriously. I won't delve too far into image quality in this thread as the topic is AF performance, but even if the M is slightly easier to focus in ultra-low light (and I'm not sure it is) the cold hard fact is that no film you could load into it could match digital capture for low light performance. It's not even close.
    Back to the point of this thread: I've attached an 'AF test' pic of the toughest focus subject I can think of, a bare wall. The only distinguishing mark is some tape residue that - you'll have to trust me - I can just make out with my naked eye. With a 50 f1.8 mounted on the 20d, it locked focus every time on the center focus point. (Perhaps the side focus points aren't as sensitive, as they hunted a bit.) My handheld meter (Sekonic 308) metered the light at an f1.0/f1.4 split @1/30th, asa 1600. (I shot it at f2.0 @1/15th) The attached pic records more detail than my eyes could see in the same light.
  164. Whoa, Kevin - welcome to the Dark Side!

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