What's wrong with these Summicron shots?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by leon chang, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. See below some testshots I took with my last generation Summicron M-35 f/2 asph. As you can see in these pictures, the objects that should be straight are somewhat diagonal/ sloping. Does anyone have a suggestion what's wrong here? To the best of my knowledge I held the camera straight. I can't imagine that I was too close. I know there are probably hundreds of Photoshop actions to correct this but I'm not interested in those. Is this a lens problem? Is it the guy behind the camera (me, that is) ? This is pretty annoying. Thanks for yr help.
  2. The top one is tilted to the left, the other two to the right. Are you sure you don't have the top one reversed?
  3. personally I like your fotos and it is the shooter making them diagonal. Practice.
  4. better said, I like the diagonal of the fotos which makes them more interesting. Otherwise humbug.
  5. Leon, you don't say what body you are using. That interests me as I have had a similar problem with my R-D1 and today I was forced to do a test with a spirit level. My conclusion is that the framelines are about 2.5 degrees out of kilter with the body (and sensor). NB a figure arrived at with the help of photoshop. Name your weapon of choice. Johnny.
  6. Leon

    Is this not convergence at work, where the film plane and the plane of the subject are not parallel? When we look up at something, the view is indeed convergent, but our brain makes it look right. The camera's only brian is external and can thus not make the corrections: the brain's owner must do that by making the planes parallel. That is the one of the main advantages of view cameras that can change the relative alignment of the lens plane, and the film plane to correct the perspective tricks.

    Does that help?
  7. "Name your weapon of choice"

    Johny, it's a 2004 Leica MP.
  8. I also have a similar problem when I shoot trees from abt. 3 to 4 meters distance; they look diagonal....
    Having said that, I once experienced the same problem shooting a Canon 17-40 F/4L USM- lens.

    I hope the above is not a lens/ camera problem though.
  9. I understand Leica has a fix for that. It's a lift you put in one shoe, they give you 2 free and then they're around $120 each for the rest of your shoes <wink>.
  10. Is this a regular problem? If so, you could have a type of vision condition that I can't remember the name of right now. I have it to a small degree and I have to really remember to line up vertical subjects carefully, especially when using wide lenses. You might try a spirit level--I find it helps on some shots.
  11. Check your shoes. Looks like you dropped a heel.

    Seriously - level issues. I aquired a tendendecy to tilt small-viewfinder cameras (typically digital video) a consistent 1.2 degrees left. One way to get past it is to put a level on the flash shoe, the kind you read from behind the cameras. Pay attention to it. Eventually you might correct the problem.

    Very best of luck. It's going to be okay.
  12. Try framing your shots next time by making sure at least one horizontal, vertical or even diagonal is square with the frame. By doing so you may violate the classic rule that the horizon should be straight because it is of no importance any longer.

    Just take a look at the (poor) photograph I took recently. It all seems weird at first glance; the camera is pointed upward from vertical and the horizon is not square with the frame.

    At second glance it starts to look pretty logical because of the fact that I purposely placed the right hand side of the building square with the vertical of the frame.

    When I look at your photos, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with your photos. Here is what I think happened: your framing was correct until you pressed the shutter button on the right hand side of your MP just a bit too excited....Just check the other photos you took that day.
  13. Press down on the shutter release, not push down which seems to be what you do. Or, wear a boot on one foot and a flip-flop on the other.
  14. Your camera must have been tilted at the time of the exposures!
  15. I'm sure I know the answer. First, as several have noted, ther camera was aimed upwards, in order to include the height of the subject. When the camera back is not kept vertical, that will cause the vertical lines to converge. That is just a necessary consequence of tilting the camera up. The only ways out of it are: 1. Use a wide angle lens that will cover the height of the scene without being aimed upward; 2. use a perspective control lens, or a camera with a rising front; 3. climb up a stairway, seek a second-flooor window or balcony, or otherwise gain a high enough camera angle to cover the subject with the camera back held vertical.

    There is a tendency, when there are converging verticals, to tilt the camera to the left or right, to make one edge of the picture vertical. That is exactly what you did in picture #1. You favored the left edge of the scene, and tilted the camera to the right, to keep the left-hand verticals vertical. That resulted in an exaggeration of the leaning verticals on the right, making those lines lean in more dramatically. It's OK to do that, as long as it's what you wanted; but you should be aware of when you are doing it, since it may not give the effect you had in mind. In this case it resulted in tilting foreground lines off of the horizontal, giving the shot an overall out-of-kilter effect.

    Picture 2: The camera was not tilted upwards. How do I know? Because the left and right umbrellas are parallel. Had the camera been tilted up, the umbrellas would be leaning in toward each other. Instead, the whole camera was tilted off level to the left. (Why?)

    Picture #3: Here the camera was again aimed upward, back not vertical. How can I tell? Because the verticals are converging, coming closer together at the top. Here, the camera was then tilted to the left, partially straightening the verticals on the right. The result is a bit more sucessful, IMO, than in #1.

    So here's my point: there's a tendency to guide off either the left or right edge, in an instinctive effort to straighten the picture. But often this will result in putting the picture out of kilter. So it's important to be aware of how our almost unconscious efforts to correct the perspective will affect the picture. It's easier to get the hang of it by viewing a groundglass, such as an SLR or a twin-lens medium-format camera. An old Yashica D, Rolleicord, or what-have-you is a good learning tool for this.
  16. Leon, I think your next course of action involves some experimentation. All will be revealed - hopefully.
  17. Unless you are perfectly perpendicular to your subjects you'll always see convergence. (You must be both horizontally and vertically perpendicular, or either one can get you.)It's the laws of physics at work. The wider angle your lens, the more convergence will be emphasized. I too, like your photos anyway.
  18. "feisty bunch of guys wondering why a $5700 camera won't automatically take a great photo."
    <p>You spend that much money on a trophy camera and can't be bothered to read a basic book on composition? Here's a perfect example that Greenspun was right!
  19. Some people draw conclusions like curtains . . . .
  20. Leon, with what Rob F. said, and the other comments, you have a comprehensive answer, but I add this. If you don't like your results, then to counter the influence of the mind's amazing adaptive ability, it helps if you think of your composition pictorially and geometrically, SEPARATELY. You can switch your thinking back and forth between the two views in your mind as you look at your composition. For me, it can take a bit of time, but for some shots, its worth it. It may be that very experienced great photographers do this automatically, but it is not easy for me.

    I learned these techniques using a 24 and 20 Nikkor and have built on them using the VC15 on the M, but I am finding that these ideas are applicable to a lot of shots with even just a 35, which is not that wide. I normally try to keep the camera vertically and horizontally level, or I deliberately shoot on an extreme diagonal. I sometimes even have to stand on my tip toes to include just those last few inches I need to keep the camera vertical and include a small detail. Of courese, in that situation, its best to be using a fast shutter speed.

    The great thing about what you are exploring is that it will apply to every type of photography you choose: SLR or rangefinder, digital or film. Have fun.
  21. jtk


    Less beer, more espresso.
  22. Mark, John, Rob and all others; thanks a lot. Interesting read. I will have to be a bit more careful next time I guess.
  23. Leon, I believe there have been some issues with the lenshood not bayoneting on parallel to the camera body, with this particular lens.

    Is it possible that you have such a problem and are also using the frontmost edge(as seen through the viewfinder) of this hood as a "level" when composing? Just a thought
  24. Here's a tip: Briefly open your other eye (most probably your left eye) to doublecheck your levelling. If the framing (as seen through the viewfinder with your right eye) appears tilted - correct it. :) Cheers.
  25. Leon, I would get you to examine the way you hold the camera and to see how much movement there is when you press down on the shutter release.

    Are you sure you aren't accidentally pushing down on the shutter too hard, causing the whole camera to move down to the right on horizontal shots and to the top right on vertical shots ?

    Put your camera on a tripod, compose carefully and use a shutter-release cable. If this works fine, then it's not the camera !
  26. I find it hard to believe anyone would take a picture with that amount of tilt. I think it is more likely he reversed the first pic in scanning and has a misalignment in his viewfinder causing all pics to tilt in one direction.

    Leon, get a Nikon SLR and all your problems will go away.
  27. Operator error, sorry. I will not believe that the film window is cocked, nor that the viewfinder is by that much.

    Incidentally, if you study Cezanne landscapes, he will most often have the level horizon rise to the right. It works great for him. So there is nothing wrong with (slightly) tilted horizons. The best of us do deliberately what irks you here. The reason for this annoyance is that you have done it unconsciously. And you drop the horizon to the left 2 out of 3 times .. No Cezanne, sorry.

    Try harder to level your camera body. You have earned the lots of money to afford the best and newest. Show now that you can use this gear correctly and consciously as you wish!
  28. I don't believe it's a misalignment of the viewfinder since I didn't have this problem with the Elmar 2.8 50. It could also be that the 0.72 factor of the viewfinder makes the framelines for the 35 'cron appear very wide and almost out of my field of view. Maybe I therefore didn't frame the camera very well?

    By the way; what causes a misaligned viewfinder??
  29. <<--Incidentally, if you study Cezanne landscapes, he will most often have the level horizon rise to the right. It works great for him. So there is nothing wrong with (slightly) tilted horizons.-->>

    What's that supposed to mean, Leon should put up with titled horizons even if he doesn't want them?

    I just looked at a dozen or so Cezanne landscapes and I didn't see one where Cezanne artificially skewed the horizon to rise on the right. Not so say that he never did, but I don't recall that being one of Cezanne artifices in his landscapes.

    The difference here is, even if Cezanne did tilt a horizon once in a while, he never complained about since it would have been intentional. In Leon's case it is unintentional and he is complaining about it. Is Leon supposed to think he's a Cezanne because his pics are unintentionally coming out skewed?

    It sounds to me like you're trying to justify a defective camera, presumably because it's a Leica and, as we all know, Leicas can do no wrong, why else would they cost so much!

    There is obviously something wrong with Leon's camera - either the viewfinder/lens combination is not suitable for him or the camera, most likely the viewfinder, is defective.
  30. Leon, this may an intersting read for you; John Szarkowski on famous Leica photographer Gary Winogrand.

    "In the street pictures of the early sixties Winogrand began to develop two pictorial strategies that he found suggested in certain pictures in Frank's The Americans. The first of these related to unexplored possibilities of the wide-angle lens on the hand camera. The conventional conception of the wide-angle lens saw it as a tool that included more of the potential subject from a given vantage point; most photographers would not use it unless their backs were literally against the wall. Winogrand learned to use it as a way of including what he wanted from a closer vantage point, from which he could photograph an entire pedestrian (for example) from a distance at which we normally focus only on faces. From this intimate distance the shoes of the subject are seen from above, its face straight-on, or even a little from below, and the whole of the figure is drawn with an unfamiliar, unsettling complexity.

    To pursue such a strategy while photographing people on the street means that the camera back is never vertical, as prescribed by classic procedure; if the figure fills the frame the lens will be pointed at the subject's navel, and the camera back will be inclined some forty-five degrees downward from vertical. In this posture any lens will violate our belief that we should see the walls of buildings as parallel to each other, but the wide-angle lens, because of its broader cone of vision, will exaggerate the effect, and destroy all sense of architectural order. To retrieve a kind of stability Winogrand experimented with tilting the frame, making a vertical near the left edge of his subject square with the frame, and then a vertical near the right edge, or a dominant vertical anywhere between. In the process he discovered that he could compose his pictures with a freedom that he had not utilized before, and that the tilted frame could not only maintain a kind of discipline over the flamboyant tendencies of the wide-angle lens but could also intensify his intuited sense of his picture's meanings...

    It should be pointed out that Winogrand scorned technical effects, including wide-angle effects, and that he abandoned his attempts to use the extremely wide-angle 21mm lens because he could not control or conceal its attention-getting mannerisms. He said (repeatedly) that there was no special way that a photograph should look, and he could not abide a lens that made photographs look a special way.

    Years later, when students (at lecture after lecture) asked him why he tilted the frame, it would give him pleasure to deny that it was tilted, meaning perhaps that the finished print was always hung square to the wall, or reproduced square to the page. He also said that the tilt was never arbitrary, that there was always a reason, which is true if one counts intuitive experiment as a reason. Sometimes he said that it was, on occasion, simply a way of including what he wanted within the frame, but his proof sheets make it clear that he would often tilt first one way and then the other, trying to find the configuration of facts that would best express the force of the energies that were his subject. Sometimes he suggested elliptically that he tilted the frame to make the picture square and secure."
  31. Juergen, I thanks for the quotation. I think it's a good explanation, perhaps unintentional, of why artistes like the work of Winograd but everyone likes HCB's.
  32. "Less beer, more espresso."


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