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Author Topic: Difficulty using 24mm PC-E nikkor  (Read 1256 times)

bwana

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Difficulty using 24mm PC-E nikkor
« on: March 01, 2019, 10:20:50 pm »

I tried using the tilt function of this lens and it really is HARD to get the focal plane right so that everything is in focus. Out of 5 shots I only had one keeper where the whole scene (near to far) was in focus at f5.6. My technique may be off but I start with focussing on the furthest object with detail - for example buildings , and then tilt down to bring the focal plane of the closer objects in the lower part of the frame into focus. However as I did that, I would lose focus in the upper part of the frame. What happens to the upper part of the frame if it is focussed at infinity when I tilt down? Shouldnt it stay in focus since it is at infinity? It seems that as I tilt down, I have to bring focus in closer to keep the upper part of the frame in focus.

I compared this to the 24 mm f1.4 nikkor and at f5.6 I could take two shots- one near and one far, focus stack them and get a sharper image with a lot less fuss. It also seems the PC-e doesnt have the same 'bite' as the 24 f1.4 although that is a minor quibble. I know the f1.4 is a special purpose wide angle but I really like it for its versatility. Stopped down it also is a great landscape lens. I am trying the PC-e for correction of buildings but am coming to realize that with photoshopping the distortion, stacking a couple of images and now with computational tools like AI sharpen and AI clear, the pc-e may be suboptimal.
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kers

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Re: Difficulty using 24mm PC-E nikkor
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2019, 04:20:38 am »

You can check with splitview at 100% if everything is in focus. But then you say it was in focus.
Then i don't know wat have gone wrong- a very delicate tilt has already great consequences.
With the 24PCE you need f10 for optimal results and check sharpness in the whole area.
At least my copy demanded that.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2019, 04:37:11 am by kers »
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mcbroomf

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Re: Difficulty using 24mm PC-E nikkor
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2019, 04:28:10 am »

I use the Canon lens but technique wise it should be similar. 

Rather than starting with no tilt I estimate the amount of tilt I'll need, but then focus on the center point as it shifts less with changes to tilt.  Then I check far and near points repeatedly as I change tilt, all with liveview and high mag.  The Canon also needs ~F8-11 for best results and I'm focusing with the lens wide open.
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TomRobbins

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Re: Difficulty using 24mm PC-E nikkor
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2019, 06:37:52 am »

I've used Canon's versions for years; original 90 and 45mm, then the 90 and 50mm replacements plus the 24mm. Of those three, the 90mm is the easiest to adjust for tilt.

Kers is on the money about delicate tilt adjustments having great consequences. It's very easy to overshoot the correct amount of tilt. My method involves a slight variation. Estimate tilt amount as per Mcbroomf's suggestion. Using live view, focus on a magnified point at the center of the frame, then using the camera body joystick, move the magnified viewpoint slowly upward or downward in the frame until some out of focus blur just becomes visible. Carefully adjust lens tilt until both of these magnified viewpoints are in focus. Now, use the joystick and move the magnified view further upward, or downward, and repeat the process until everything from the top to bottom of the frame is in focus.

Ensure both the camera body and the subject plane are not tilted relative to each other. Also identify any regions that deviate up or down from the focal plane as these will skew the tilt adjustments.

As with anything else, it becomes easier with practice. 

   
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langier

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Re: Difficulty using 24mm PC-E nikkor
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2019, 09:54:46 am »

Compared to tilt on a view camera, the 24mm PC-E takes a much more delicate tilt like others have noted. It's a lot like splitting hairs to put the proper tilt on this less, much less than one thinks.

I've also set my lens to align both the tilt and shift on the same axis and that helps a little bit too, especially with the framing for me. With a 24mm and wider, it's almost a moot point to need to scheimpflug the lens to gain additional DOF in many cases except in rare cases or shooting in the wind, I've found, at least for a lot of my work any more. In macro work, it's probably better to stack, especially if you have total control of your conditions.
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bwana

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Re: Difficulty using 24mm PC-E nikkor
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2019, 11:19:40 am »

thank you for your replies. yes i discovered that i have to focus in the 'middle' of the subject field i want in focus and then obsess over focus, iterating focus points. It seems this 'manual' pc-e process is a relic from the past - almost like trying to frame and focus a subject on a view camera. But because everything is shrunken down, it's almost impossible with human hands to adjust the tilt to be just right. The tilt knob is small and the resistance makes it hard to make delicate adjustments. Unlike the focus barrel which is grasped by the whole hand allowing greater leverage. I would have thought they could have an augmented reality interface to automate this process - you know a grid superimposed on the viewfinder that you can manipulate through the joystick. Amazingly, in Capture one there is a 'focus mask' that can tell what is and what is not in focus and lights up in green. Even something like that would GREAT to have in the viewfinder. Additionally, by having a floating lens element that can be adjusted along any axis, you could eliminate the need for rotating the lens. You could specify a focal plane angle and orientation in 3 space and let the autofocus servo motors do the rest.

I am not liking the pc-e as much as i thought i would have. The need to iterate the 'focus and inspect process' over multiple areas (often the same points) in the image starts to feel like drudgery. It feels like the camera is making demands on me beyond what is necessary.  Esp when depth of field is so good at f8 on a wide angle. And now with AI sharpen to computationally enhance focus in an already focus-stacked photo.

But like anything else, I imagine that when you get the hang of it, a lot of the 'cognitive load' of the process becomes  automatic. It's just that the real life conditions often do not provide the luxury of the needed time to do all this for one image (changing weather, changing light, crowds,traffic,etc).
« Last Edit: March 02, 2019, 11:24:07 am by bwana »
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Rob C

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Re: Difficulty using 24mm PC-E nikkor
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2019, 05:33:18 am »

I'd suggest the most useful of movements on a wide lens for the 135 format is the availability of rising/falling front. It's all I ever used on my old 35mm Nikkor which, of course, was also the only movement it had. Served me well on those rare occasions when I had to use it. But then, I was only shooting buildings for travel stock shots. Close-up stuff is another problem. But why would you want to use a wide for that unless to distort, in which case...

That's not to say that using tilts at wide apertures can't also be an "effect" filter of sorts, but it's not one that grabs me as anything I want to do.

Rob

sbay

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Re: Difficulty using 24mm PC-E nikkor
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2019, 04:01:49 pm »

At first I tried iterating focus between close and far points but found it difficult to get right. Now I just dial a little bit of tilt (guess), turn on focus peaking and try to center the field of red (from peaking). If that doesn't work, dial in a bit more tilt and repeat.

Lightsmith

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Re: Difficulty using 24mm PC-E nikkor
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2019, 03:25:45 pm »

Try first tilting the lens down 2-4 degrees, then using Live View zoom and check focus at the nearest point in the foreground. Once it is in focus, zoom in on the background and adjust the tilt  forwards or backwards to get the most distant element in focus. Repeat this process until you are happy with the result. This is the most direct approach and the fastest overall.

Even with a tilt-shift lens I would use f/8 or smaller aperture as you still want as much DOF as possible and with most lenses they are less sharp at wider apertures.
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Gary Brook

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Re: Difficulty using 24mm PC-E nikkor
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2019, 11:49:26 am »

I don't own one of these lenses but a couple of days ago I ran into John Shaw's website (www.johnshawphoto.com) where he described in his blog how he used that lens in his landscape images, specifically how to focus it accurately, using focus peaking on the D850 Live View.  It may be of interest to you and others.
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Rob C

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Re: Difficulty using 24mm PC-E nikkor
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2019, 03:51:06 pm »

I don't own one of these lenses but a couple of days ago I ran into John Shaw's website (www.johnshawphoto.com) where he described in his blog how he used that lens in his landscape images, specifically how to focus it accurately, using focus peaking on the D850 Live View.  It may be of interest to you and others.


I think very highly of John Shaw. I bought a couple of his books during the film era and found him very honest and helpful in those books. As with the item above, he has an easy way of making things understandable and clear. His photography was also very appealing, and I'm not even a landscape guy.

Rob
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