RX1 - a day in Philly

Started Mar 28, 2013 | Discussions thread
Ray Sachs
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Re: RX1 - a day in Philly
In reply to Robgo2, Mar 31, 2013

Robgo2 wrote:

It has always seemed to me that precise focusing is better than approximate focusing.

All other things being equal, yes, but if it prevents you from getting the shot at the right moment, not so much.

As I understand it, zone focusing is a clever technique that was designed to overcome the inherent slowness of manual focusing.  But with the advent of fast autofocus, zone focusing was abandoned by all but a few, such as yourself, most of whom are shooting Leicas.

Not so few as you might imagine and definitely not limited to Leicas! Ricohs (the GRD and GXR with the 28mm module) are among the most popular street cameras and those things are totally designed around making zone focussing as easy and intuitive as possible. Why do you think Olympus and Fuji have recently introduced lenses with manual focus rings that mimic the old manual focus lenses with distance and DOF scales? Its not because they're better for critical focus. And why do you think all Fuji X-series cameras and several smaller compacts include electronic distances scales (and in some cases, DOF scales). Those things really don't have all that many uses other than zone focus and hyperfocal shooting, which are different but related concepts (actually, they're the same - its just that hyperfocal is the largest possible "zone"). I've been using zone focus almost exclusively for street shooting for the past few years (basically since I got into it, tried auto-focus for a while, tried zone focus, and never went back except in the lowest light when you don't have enough DOF. And I've yet to shoot with a Leica...

Still, I can see the advantage of not having to worry about focusing at all when the decisive moment arrives.  I will definitely give it a try the next time I am out street-shooting.

If you have any smaller sensor cameras, its that much easier. Try it in good light first, get the hang of it, and then try in lower light. The tolerances are much tighter in lower light so you have to watch your settings more closely.

It would be very helpful if Sony would create an option via firmware whereby the lens would not automatically reset to infinity whenever the camera goes to sleep.  Are you listening, Sony?

It would be nice, but its really not difficult as is. Moving the focus point from infinity (where it resets after a power down) to the 2-3 meter area where you'll probably be shooting in zone focus mode, takes about a second. I spent the whole morning and early afternoon Wednesday shooting with the RX1 and the Nikon Coolpix A, neither of which remember the manual focus setting. And it was really a non-issue. I was expecting to be frustrated by it, but I wasn't at all.

Good luck if you decide to try it...

-Ray
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