Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2004/07/07

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Subject: [Leica] Ted, Tina, Henning and Bob on "focus and recompose"
From: rpalmier at (Robert Palmieri)
Date: Wed Jul 7 20:29:52 2004

Ted Grant wrote the following regarding this "focus and recompose"

Richard, thank you. ;-)

I read the focusing formula and I figured by the time I read that and
tried to figure out exactly what it says and is supposed to do with near
every frame I'd still be shooting my first roll of film from 55 years

Jeeeeeeeeeeeesh why is it an old fart like me who's shot thousands upon
thousands of frames and never encountered this focus thing, never knew
it and never had it happen that I'm aware of.

Absolutely wild stuff gang, man it's hard enough just getting the damn
without having some other thing to clutter one's mind on how to take
pictures. :-)  Just line-up the two images and hit the button! Well OK
squeeze gently on the shutter release. ;-)

I suppose I've been one extremely lucky SOB all these years and never
anything about this messin' with the focus tab or whatever. But I seem
re-cal a hell of a lot of my frames were Leica sharp all the time even
available darkness. :-)

Oh well one more techie thing to confuse my failing mind. :-)


Then Tina Manley supplied the following comment:

Hi, Dr. Jean -  Very interesting for taking photos of lens charts on the

wall!  I can't imagine trying to figure all of that out while my
are going about their everyday lives.  People are moving around grinding

corn and feeding chickens!  I have to focus quickly and move on.  Who
time to figure all of this out and focus and reframe?  Unless the
is inanimate or dead!


Then Henning Wulff provided this additional perspective:

While these calculations and formulae are correct, the point is still 
moot due to the almost universal field curvature, especially of fast 
lenses, at shorter distances.

After these calculations, you won't be closer to the truth or focus, 
_and_ your subject will be gone to sleep or just plain gone.

    *            Henning J. Wulff

And now I feel a strong need to comment on all of the above, despite the
unfortunate fact that I'll be out of town and out of touch for several
days and therefore unable to respond to possible responses:

As is so often the case, all of you grasp some part of the truth of the

Ted, I can't begin to express my gratitude to you not only for your
grace with the tools and the medium, but with your generosity in sharing
the benefits of your years of experience.  In fact, your last lengthy
dispatch regarding your shooting technique reminded me that while my
reflexes for capturing what I'm after keep improving, it's the quantum
leap into being able to anticipate the best instant to push the button
that is still out of reach.

Tina, you also get the "life and its representatives wait for no nerd"

Henning, I'm glad someone besides me recognises the reality of field
curvature for our work.

However, I'm here to tell you that anyone who thinks that they can just
focus with the rangefinder and then put the main subject anywhere else
in the frame with a 35mm f2 lens wide open is missing an important
refinement in Leica M technique.

I have frames on my contact sheets that I know were focussed accurately
according to the rangefinder with a fast enough shutter speed where the
reframed faces are just plain out of focus.

Now; whether or not we can become facile enough to pull off an
appropriate compensation maneuver without losing the thing that makes us
want to shoot this frame in the first place is the real question.  But
anyone who claims that the effect just doesn't exist is wrong.

Ted, the "never had it happen that I'm aware of" part of your response
may be all too true.  And Tina, this ain't about charts on walls - it's
about people's eyes being in focus.

One of the potential benefits of this list is the possibility that
intuitive artists and those who sometimes resort to basic arithmetic and
trigonometric principals will learn something from each other.

Bob Palmieri

Replies: Reply from s.jessurun95 at (animal) ([Leica] Ted, Tina, Henning and Bob on "focus and recompose")
Reply from george at (George Lottermoser) ([Leica] Ted, Tina, Henning and Bob on "focus and recompose")