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Split View Rangefinder confusion


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#1 John Reagan

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 03:01 AM

I've been reading for months and I'm pleased to have joined what seems to be the most active forum discussing 8mm cameras and film. It's a relief. I'm trying to turn new people on to the virtues of film but I'm starting out myself. I have a Minolta XL 84 Sound with a split view rangefinder. Solidly built camera. The camera works brilliantly and have just sent out some Tri-X to have developed for a later upload to YouTube. My question is (and pardon my ignorance):

How can I zoom and focus on the fly when I'm doing run and gun? For instance if a rabbit stops running for a second, I'd like to zoom in closer and film it. I wouldn't have time to focus the rangefinder on an object in the distance first. How can I shoot that theoretical rabbit before it hops off and make sure it's in focus? Do I have to always 'compose' a shot by focusing on a distant object every time I want to film something that I might zoom on? I don't think that would be very practical (not to mention I'd miss out on tons of random shots) yet I see some beautiful examples of what seem to be on the fly close ups on YouTube so it seems there's a method to the madness.

I admire the amount of help so many of you have given in the past. Thanks!
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#2 John Reagan

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 07:11 AM

"split view rangefinder"

I definitely mean Split Image focusing aid. Apologies. You guys must have incredible patience with newbies. I'm enthusiastic about this hobby and your help is very valued.
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#3 Claus Harding

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 11:27 AM

John,

I don't know that there are any easy solutions. Personally, I do think split-image screens are the best solution for Super-8 as traditional ground glass just doesn't function too well in what are after all very small and sometimes very dim viewfinders.

However, to your question:

Short of knowing your lens and your distances very well by intuition (so you can rack the barrel by instinct) I can't think of a reliable way to have instant focus confirmation without first zooming in.

I have yet to experiment with video assist (lipstick cam or similar on the viewfinder) so I can't say if an electronic solution might be able be set in such a way as to give you that 'kick' in the image when you hit focus, much like I get on the broadcast TV cameras I use. I doubt it, but I don't know for sure.

Beyond that, a large depth of field might your savior in such situations.

Claus.
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#4 John Reagan

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 05:46 AM

Short of knowing your lens and your distances very well by intuition (so you can rack the barrel by instinct) I can't think of a reliable way to have instant focus confirmation without first zooming in.

Beyond that, a large depth of field might your savior in such situations.

Claus.


Claus, completely understood and I cannot thank you enough for your answer to the issue that so far has stumped me with Super 8.

You're very correct, results with a large DOF were crisp and nice. Independent of that I'll be learning my camera and hopefully upgrade to a Canon 814 XL one day. Although this Minolta, being my first, has sentimental value.

I'd been hesitant to shoot a test cart with different focal lengths but I shall, and if all else fails, a tape measure for short distances and eyeball estimates for longer ones should be something I should experiment with, although that method does seems daunting!

Apologies if I was cryptic, the lens is a 56mm f/1.4, and your answer put my mind to rest.

Thanks again!

John
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