Eyesight Problems and Grounglass

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I have been using 35ml for 10 years and bought a Leica Focomat because I have a Retinal Disease and thought that the Autofocus feature would help. I have since found that with a grain magnifier I can see the grain quite well (much to my suprise!!) My question is do you think I will be able to focus on the groundglass.(I use the focus confirmation light on my EOS) I wish I had access to a 4x5 to experiment with. My eyesight situation is hard to describe but I have a distorted central vision. When magnified enough however I do pretty well and in fact have had to make fine tuning adjustments to my Leica Enlarger from time to time. Thanks so much for any comments........yours truly...Richard

-- Richard Melhuish (rmelhu@aol.com), April 12, 2001


I can't answer your question, but the following points may be helpful 1. large format photography is light years away from 35mm and although you will find the technical considerations and knowledge requirements more demanding, you may well find it easier to focus a 5"x4" (once you've become used to the dim image) than a 35mm - after all, you can get big prints from large format without the need for much enlargement. 2. I view the focussing screen with a x4 loupe. More power than this can be counterproductive because a more powerful magnifyer also magnifies the grain of the ground glass screen to a level that I find confusing. The lens is then stopped down, typically to a much smaller aperture than with 35mm, which will help with any focussing problems. 3. LF people are a friendly bunch. Why not ask, possibly here, if anyone will let you try focussing their camera? I bet someone will - I would certainly be happy to help if you happen to live in my area.

-- Garry Edwards (bestsnapper@aol.com), April 12, 2001.

You might think of going to 8x10 and using a focusing loupe as well. The larger ground glass will make it easier to see and something like a Schneider or Rodenstock 4x loupe will help that much more. With a good sized dark cloth you will be able to see the ground glass image and you can keep back a bit to help with the overall view. Then you can contact print from the negatives & most focus problems will disappear.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), April 12, 2001.

Richard - focussing a view camera can be difficult for ANYONE -- I think it takes practice and expereince more than sharp eyesight. My vision is 20/20 and I had trouble getting what I want in focus at first -- experience counts for a lot in 4x5. If you can use a grain magnifier I think with a dark cloth and a loupe you will be able to focus. I might suggest a 4x5 polaroid back as well - a very useful learning tool.

A year or so ago I read about a well known product photographer who had a condition that was similar to yours (I don't remeber the medical details). He preferred to use classic 8x10 view cameras and classic lenses -- not the most convenient or easy tools --- and he came up with some very unique images that furthered his career

-- gleep wurp (gleepw@hotmail.com), April 12, 2001.

Richard, Some sort of retinal desease made my right eye useless for focusing anything, in darkroom or under the dark cloth. If you're doing fine with grain magnifier there are great chances focusing the view camera will come to be so fun and troubleful as for the rest of us. Welcome to LF photography!

Cesar B.

-- Cesar Barreto (cesarb@infolink.com.br), April 12, 2001.

I don't understand why you use the focus confirmation light on your EOS instead of just letting the Autofocus do it mechanically. I'd say stick with the EOS/V35 and save your sight.

-- B. (bmitch@home.com), April 12, 2001.

Lifting/carrying a large format outfit (a heavy load by definition) will lead to elevated bloodpressure: this may not be a good thing for your eye condition. Discuss it with your ophthalmologist.

-- Hans Berkhout (berkhout@cadvision.com), April 12, 2001.

Being diabetic I have vision problems also, so I went to the drugstore and bought a pair of 8x magnifying glasses, solved my problem and they don't cost much. Pat

-- pat krentz (patwandakrentz@aol.com), April 13, 2001.

What great advice !! I think I will dive in to L.F. I so much enjoyed reading all of your kind comments. Thanks a bunch.!! Richard

-- Richard Melhuish (rmelhu@aol.com), April 15, 2001.

Richard, I'm also new to MF, but I know of medium format users who have noticed a significant image brightness increase using a Beattie Intenscreen for their focusing screen. I just looked in the Calumet catalog and they are also made for LF -- perhaps some of the more experienced members can speak to this. Also, I have read that some groundglass has finer grain -- perhaps this may help! Best, Paul

-- Paul Chaplo (chaplo@usa.net), April 25, 2001.

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