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Thread: Isolating Subjects and Shoot Closer

  1. #1

    Default Isolating Subjects and Shoot Closer

    today, i went to explore on the question:

    How do i shoot really close and get a Ralph Gibson, Bastienne's Eye effect:

    in the slr world, this problem would simply be solved with a lens that could
    focus down to 35cm, or a macro lens. Other options would include
    Tele-Converters or extenders which allows closer focusing (at the expense of

    Another option for SLRs and especially TLRs would be the close-up lens. This is
    the least expensive option but the one with a loss of image quality.

    So what about RF ?

    well, as it turns out, the RF is quite lousy when it comes to close(r) focusing.
    With Leicas, the normal close focusing starts from 0.7m, with a Bessa R4,
    it focuses down to 0.5m (provided your lens supports it). Issues include
    parallax errors giving inaccurate framelines.

    So, the way i see it, these are the following options for closer focusing:

    a. Use a special lens that allows closer focus or scale focus.
    the most famous is the Summicron DR lens, which focuses from 0.5m onwards.

    Most wide-angled voigtlander lens allows a mix of rf coupled plus scale distance.
    In scale distance, the subject to lens distance is estimated.

    I have a Nikkor 50/f2 which is RF coupled from inf to 0.7, and from 0.7m to 46cm (1.5 feet),
    it allows scale focusing. I tested this today, at 46cm, it is roughly the length of my fore-arm
    to my finger-tips. I found that I could improve scale focusing accuracy if I shot at f4 - f5.6 (at a minimum

    here is a pix:

    The issue is that shooting at this range requires a good estimation + deep DOF.

    b. I then went to explore the other direction, using my elmarit 90/f2.8,
    fixed it on my epson r-d1 with a crop factor of 1.5m, making it behave
    like a 135mm Hektor but faster and shorter focusing distance (1m vs 1.5m).

    the effect is similar but different. using a tele flattens the subject avoiding
    the large nose effect of closeups. But using a tele isn't really the same
    as close up.

    c. Another option is to forget rf bodies, and to use the rf lens on mirror-less bodies,
    for example, a hawkeye on a sony nex for close focusing:

    more information here: Hawk’s Factory Close Focus Adapter Review | J B Hildebrand Photography

    d. Lastly, i could just shoot like RG with a 50mm, presumably coupled to 0.7m,
    and enlarge the picture (in his case via an enlarger) after scanning and cropping.

    Please share your comments.


  2. #2

    Default Re: Isolating Subjects and Shoot Closer

    here's another pix:

  3. #3

    Default Re: Isolating Subjects and Shoot Closer

    the DR Cron works at 2 levels:

    with goggles from 0.5 to 1m and without goggles from
    1m to infinity. both are rangefinder coupled.

    on the m8/m9, can't focus to infinity. forget the r-d1 with DR cron with goggles.

    One correction to the first post: RG used the DR Summicron for a long time,
    presumably for close-focusing.

    Last edited by raytoei; 8th April 2012 at 11:59 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Isolating Subjects and Shoot Closer

    I think if you really want to have close focus, you are better off with a mirrorless camera like the Ricoh GXR and maybe one of those extension tubes. Otherwise, unless you calibrate/design your rangefinder for close focus, it ain't going to be easy.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Isolating Subjects and Shoot Closer

    The blog about the Hawk adapter is fantastic, he has lots to say about the new Nex 7 and Nex cameras regarding M lenses too. Thanks for sharing

  6. #6

    Default Re: Isolating Subjects and Shoot Closer

    i did more reading up...2 lens which could potentially help me in focusing closer are:

    * Dual Range Summicron.

    Gommy wrote an excellent article on using the DR Cron with the m8,
    found here:

    * Elmar Macro 90mm, this is a very nice collapsible lens, very expensive but certainly helps in close ups.

    Other lens which allows closer focusing are those lens with goggles for the m3, eg, the goggled Summaron and 35mm Summicron, they both focus down to 0.65m.

    I tested using the uncoupled Nikkor 50/f2 and narrowed aperture down to f/16 and used a flash. it works but at f16, bokeh isn't obvious, and also focusing can't vary too much from 1.5feet.

    I then tested the Elmarit 90/f2.8 with the russian turret on the R-D1 (making it into a 135mm lens). the Russian turrent has markings for 1.5m, 3m and Infinity for the 135mm focal length. it is largely accurate. Here are some objects i took about 20 mins ago:

    The softness i think is due to hand-shake OR focusing as I was using f2.8 and composing on the turret. But the overall look is quite pleasing, no ?


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    New Zealand

    Default Re: Isolating Subjects and Shoot Closer

    What about using a VisoFlex and something like the 90 Elmarit head only, within the focus mount? OK, high priced gear, and really, the same lens on the NEX works better, but if you want to keep it all R/F, cheating a little bit perhaps, LOL.
    I've got a couple of Viso units ( Viso 1 & Viso 2), but the shutter release is in a different spot on the M8. I am waiting for the M6 to arrive, so hopefully the Viso 2 will fit that.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Isolating Subjects and Shoot Closer

    Thanks for sharing raytoei! ... Hawk Adapter now on my wishlist!


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