Minolta 5400 manual focus technique

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by joe_murray|2, Oct 16, 2004.

  1. Would anyone please describe the technique for manual focusing the Minolta 5400? Is it
    simply trial and error, ie. set a manual focus and scan and then look at the file?
  2. No, it's not trial and error. You have a target that you can point to any part of your image. I
    tend to pick the most important detail, such as the eyes on a subject. If I think the film is a
    bit curved, then I would make sure to not select a target dead center or at the very edge,
    but somewhere in between to make the best use of depth of field of the scanner lens.

    Once you have clicked your target point, then you have direct feedback, basically a kind of
    'meter' bar that goes higher as better focus is achieved. You can adjust this focus either on
    screen by dragging a scroll bar, or you can do it manually with the knob on the front of
    the scanner.

    I have found that it is often important to manually focus this scanner. The auto-focus is a
    bit hit or miss. You know you are in focus if you can see grain clearly defined. This is true
    even in Kodachrome and other fine grain films, the 5400 has amazing capability of
    resolving detail at 5400 dpi.
  3. Joe, do you have the scanner, and the manuals. In any event, it can be downloaded here:


    You want the hardware manual, the manual focus description is on page 14.

    (The software manual doesn't download properly, for me)

    I think this feature is a bit of a misnomer. Sure there's a real knob on the scanner, but you're still just playing with the bar graph, so it's still just "instrument flying", you don't see the grain come into focus.

    Here's an interesting thread:


    Also, give Vuescan a try. Different approach, you can specify default focus point for auto focus.
  4. I do not understand the advantage of using manual focus over selecting an autofocus point. With manual focus it looks like you're just trying to get that black bar to match what the autofocus system has listed as 'optimal focus'.

    Any ideas?
  5. Jeremy, I wonder too if there is any advantage to manual focus, at a point you specify, versus Point autofocus at that same point. Do read through the link I posted. One thing noted there, the grain dissolver might also be a factor.

    I'm not clear if some of the participants in that thread are advocating point autofocus (specifying focus point) or manual focus (specifying point and adjusting the bar graph). Hopefully, some can comment here.

    I suspect Point Autofocus, away from center (at around 1/3 distance from edge of image), is as good as anything. Autofocus is at center, I think, but I'm not sure, haven't seen it documented, yet. Frustrating.

    Tried Vuescan and Minolta last night. Point Autofocus with Minolta, about 2/3 up centerline of portrait oriented image was pretty sharp, but I suspect it could get sharper. Similar location focus point with Vuescan was way off.

    I've had my 5400 for about 12 hours, early days...
  6. Thanks all for the answers. I have been using Vuescan with auto focus but the results have
    been definately hit and miss. I process my own b&w negs and find that all film dries with a
    curl when air dried so zone focusing might be an answer. I'll try focusing the neg at the
    midway point of the curl.

    Is there a graphic feedback when using Vuescan or only with the Minolta software?
  7. Joe, this is an immediate issue for me, also. Having just got the scanner, I'm struggling a bit with the Minolta software. I'm used to Vuescan, but my try with it last night was way out of focus, and the cleaning wasn't that great. So, I'm trying to give the Minolta sw a chance, atleast for 16bit linear to be post processed with Vuescan.

    Something I'm trying, not saying it's the solution, but seems an improvement:

    * First, do a pre-scan with ice and grain dissolver off. This has 2 benefits that I can see: (I think) it gives the scanner nice grotty grain, and speeds things up.

    * Do a manual focus, picking a point about 1/2 way from center to edge, on the diagonal, and with nice uniform grain (like sky). Do the best you can to get both bars well over to the right. If it's not happening, shift your point a bit and try again. When the bars are close to max extension, single clicks on the directional arrows at either end of the scroll bar give good control.

    * Do a full-res scan. Because Ice and GD are off you will:

    a) get result fast

    b) clearly see where you've got grain, and where not.

    * If happy, delete the file, activate ICE and GD, do no further focus tests and ensure autofocus at scan is off, then scan.
  8. See also, my response here:

  9. og


    Hi Mendel. So you went the "5400" road... (I usually recommend the Nikon V because of the Minolta's driver limitations - but in your situation, I know that you will make wonders with that great hardware :)
    In the previous thread about the focus issue, the bottom-line was that you should specify point (with low contrast) and adjust the bar graph Manually.
    (AF SHOULD give the same results as doing it manually... unfortunately in some situations, it doesn't work as expected - may be a step/accuracy issue with the Minolta driver).
    (who has just took the digital plunge with a Canon 300D while updating the lenses kit...)
  10. Thanks for the tips, Olivier. I'll keep experimenting.

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