Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/05/15

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Sharpness and handholding (was leica report 70-180)
From: "Gareth Jolly" <>
Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 11:27:47 +1000

Thanks, Ted and everybody else who responded.

Ted, this is the direction I've been heading towards, although frankly I
don't trust my focussing ability to shoot at maximum aperture unless I'm
forced to by light conditions.

I started with the 1/focal length rule, then it dawned on me that I simply
wasn't getting the best performance from my lens.

In saying this, I am aware (of course) that the dictates of depth of field
for particular shots mean that I won't invariably use this approach.  In
addition, I use an older (1970s) 50mm Summicron - so Erwin's test results
tell me that it will not perform as well as the new 50mms at full aperture.

I'm using a Nikon soft release on my M6.  Only one I could find easily in

As Ted says, it is a percentage game.  I've had some shots work at 1/15
second with an SLR.  Some shots.  But you loose a heap of shots as well, due
to camera shake or subject movement.  I've also tested out my M6 in some
horrendous lighting conditions and it has produced shots I don't think you'd
be able to get with any other camera.

What did interest me about Erwin's report was the suggestion that
performance of a 70-180 zoom continued to improve at (from memory) 1/2000 s
and 1/4000 s.  You apply the 1/focal length rule and it says 1/250 should be
ok - 1/500s great etc.

One direction all this can lead you in (as far as photojournalism is
concerned) is to move to films like Fuji Neopan 1600, as standard.  A couple
of extra stops, but still relatively fine grain, to enable you to use faster
shutter speeds.

With most landscapes, where depth of field won't be an issue, I think I'll
just shoot a stop or two down from maximum aperture.

BTW, has anyone tried travelling with Neopan 1600?  Can it survive repeated
Xrays in thick lead bag?  I'm travelling to China, taking a lot of internal
flights, and I'm concerned I might be refused a hand inspection.

Oh and on the issue of the size of enlargements.  I work on the theory that
potentially I could want to enlarge a shot up to 20 x 24.  99% shots I
won't, of course.  But you never know when you might be taking your world
famous shot.

Gareth Jolly

Sydney, Australia

Ted wrote:

>A very simple method of shutter speed and aperture that I have used for
>years and one doesn't need to remember technical aspects as it works
>effectivelly in situations where one doesn't require a great depth of
>field. Which is the case in many photo situations.
>I always try to work at the widest possible aperture and the highest
>possible shutter speed.  In this manner the combination might be 1000 at
>f1.4 on a 180mm  f2.8 or with the R8 1/8000 at 2.8.
>If you work in this manner and learning to make it work effectively, it
>eliminates much unwanted distracting backgrounds by becoming an enhancing
>mush of colour or B&W gradations. And assists in cutting camera vibration.
>I might clarify, "not always" as there is a limit to how steady any human
>can hand hold a camera at slow shutter speeds.
>Yep and I bet there will be some who say "I can hand hold at 1 second."
>Well I don't doubt it as I've squeezed a few of them myself and they have
>worked. But lots of times? Nope! These occur when it's a complete "Hail
>Mary" hoping you are going to get an image no one else has made.  Would
>they stand-up to 16X20 enlargements? Some might, but the chances are most
>One thing, going wide and high in some cases that combination might be an
>aperture of 1,0 at 1/15th with 3200 available darkness film due to lighting
>conditions. However, at the slower shutter speeds one merely uses greater
>care in squeezing the soft release shutter button, controlling breathing
>and or leaning / bracing oneself against something for supoort.
>Sure there are lenses, "long-heavy" that without question the ratio of
>sharp images increases with the use of a tripod. At one time I could hand
>hold some pretty long glass and every image was as sharp as though it were
>off a tripod.  But old father time comes to play along with miscalculated
>parachute jumping injuries and the strength goes out of the right shoulder
>and upper arm.
>In your mind you think you can do it, but in reality it is best to use the
>tripod or in the case of sports where tripods are not allowed, the monopod
>is most effective.
>So think wide aperture and high shutter speeds and this will always or
>should be on your side in eliminating the "shakies!"