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Focusing the Canon 1014XL-S


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#1 Alan Brown

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 04:09 PM

I?m having a problem setting up focus on the 1014XL-S. I can?t seem to keep the split image aligned between the telephoto and wide range of the lens. I believe this might be down to a problem with setting the viewfinder to my eye sight.

To initially set up the viewfinder I adjusted the circle in the middle until it was dark and sharp. I assumed this correctly set the viewfinder to my eye sight.

Then, to focus on an object or person I zoom right in, adjust focus until the top and bottom of the image are aligned and then pull back to the desired framing. Unfortunately, when I pull back the image becomes slightly unaligned in the viewfinder. I?ve tried pulling out to the lens widest setting, adjusting the viewfinder until the circle is dark and sharp, then zooming in to telephoto, adjusting the focus until the image is aligned, then pulling back to wide and re-adjusting the viewfinder (and repeating this many times) but I still cant get rid of the slight discrepancy between the telephoto and wide end of the lens. It?s driving me nuts.

I?ve noticed that the top and bottom lines within the viewfinders circle don?t appear to be 100% aligned. The bottom lines are marginally to the right of the top lines. The manual mentions nothing about these lines having to be aligned but does show a picture of the circle with the top and bottom lines 100% aligned. I?m sure this must be the cause of the problem but I can?t seem to align these lines.

I?ve also noticed an annoying effect of the viewing system. When focusing you need to use a vertical line or object to align the top and bottom of the image ? not usually a problem. However, I?ve noticed that if you slightly move your eye within the viewfinder the alignment of the image appears to drift accordingly. It?s like a bad mirror that gives an accurate image in one part but then slightly distorts as your eye moves away from this part. In other words, if you align an image with your eye dead center of the viewfinder and then you move your eye to the left or right then the image goes out of alignment accordingly. Have other 1014 XL-S owners noticed this?

The bottom line is that I don?t trust the split image focusing system. Of course, if I?m doing anything wrong then any suggestions would be very welcome. Otherwise, what I really need to know is that if I set focus by the tape measuring method and the image appears to be slightly out of focus in the viewfinder will it be in focus on the film? I?d rather know this before I shoot a cartridge of film.

Hope this post has made sense. I?m new to the split image focusing system.
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#2 jacob thomas

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 07:51 PM

I think I know what you are talking about. Sometimes when you zoom out after focussing the top and bottom halves of the rangefinder are no longer perfectly aligned.

However I don't think you need to worry about it, I've followed the instructions in the manual for setting the viewfinder diopter and zoom right in to focus and haven't had any focus problems in my shots yet. (Perhaps this is thanks to the huge depth of field of the super 8 format, but I've always assumed that the slight shift was just one of the idiosyncrasies of the 1014XL-S.)

I know this doesn't help but... if you really need a perfect viewfinder get a Beaulieu with full ground-glass viewfinder (and then have it serviced and laserbrightened by Bernie O'Doherty).
The ground-glass viewfinder in the 4008 is imho the best of any s8 camera.
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#3 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 07:52 PM

The ground-glass viewfinder in the 4008 is imho the best of any s8 camera.


Totally agree with that statement, and Beaulieu lost the ball of engineering after the 4008-series, unfortunately. It is actually better than many entry-level 16mm cameras.
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#4 Jim Carlile

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 10:27 PM

...To initially set up the viewfinder I adjusted the circle in the middle until it was dark and sharp. I assumed this correctly set the viewfinder to my eye sight....



It's not, and that might be the problem.

There are about 3 or 4 different ways to adjust the viewfinder, but there's one easy way. Set the lens at its most extreme telephoto position, and then focus it at infinity.

Then, through the viewfinder, aim at some kind of vertical object, like a telephone pole, that's at least 300 feet away. With the lens at its extreme focal length, and the focus at infinity, you know the lens is optimally focused for that distance. So now, adjust the eyepiece until the split-image is at its sharpest and the telephone pole is in focus through the circle. That's all there is to it.

You can also set the lens at telephoto and then throw it out of focus, aim at the sky and adjust the eyepiece until the two split-halves are sharp, but the focusing method is more accurate.

The lens should hold focus as you zoom back to wide-angle. On some cameras, like the Eumigs, there's a wierd idiosyncrasy where you focus at telephoto, then zoom back all the way to wide angle, and THEN zoom up to sight your subject. If you're losing focus on the Canon, it might need to be fixed. The split-image rangefinder on that camera is the best in the business and it should be aligned.

The tape method of focusing is theoretically the best, but of course, it's dependent upon the accuracy of the lens markings. Usually they're right on. You can't worry too much about how the focus looks in the viewfinder outside the circle, but it should be pretty close.

If in doubt, shoot outside and use a higher speed film. Then focusing is not an issue. Or experiment and see for yourself with a couple rolls of film.
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