A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

Started May 10, 2013 | Discussions
nosugar New Member • Posts: 3
A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus
8

Hi all, this is my very first post on dpreview :-P. Learnt a lot here from fellow enthusiasts, thought I might share a little tip/hack i use.

I've owned a Fuji X100 and now a X100s. I shoot street and usually shoot very close to my subjects , So F8 (sunny), Shutter at 500, ISO Auto (6400), manual focus at 7 feet and I am ready for some street photography.

So out I go to the streets and I see an interesting subject, whip out my x100s , frame > shoot (sometimes from the hip) in a matter of seconds ! Sometime later, I retire to a nice cafe, order a ice mocha ... and settle down to browse thru my shots. Arrrrggh !!!  Fully half of my shots are not in focus. Only now I've noticed that my manual focus distance has shifted from 7 feet to 15feet instead !!!

So the issue here to me is, the manual focus ring is so damn smooth that it is very easy for me to unintentionally touch it and shift focus distances. It is very irritating when you are zone focused and need too check the evf/lcd every now and then to make sure your distance scale is correct.

So I brainstormed a bit and came out with a small (maybe inelegant) solution. I dug out an old inner tube for my mountain bike, cut out a strip that is about the width of the focus rings and wrapped over it. The little bit of friction from the rubber prevents the focusing ring from moving from the lightest of touches but it does not affect anything else and I still can adjust aperture/manual focus (turning the ring or AEL/AFL method) as per normal.  I've attached a pic here ...

Fujifilm FinePix X100 Fujifilm X100S
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Lance St. Paul Regular Member • Posts: 216
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

Great tip - thanks!

On Sean Reid's site, Reid Reviews (subscription only) he's been using the X100S in single shot autofocus mode doing street photography with excellent results - it seems the S does much better than the X100 (what I use) in that department. In fact he states that the autofocus is a viable alternative to Leica M rangefinder...!

So you might want to experiment more with your new autofocus.

Lance Saint Paul

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Sebit Regular Member • Posts: 241
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

Thanks for the tip. May be useful.

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seb

Birse Boy Regular Member • Posts: 485
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

not used it for a while but doesn't the AFL button achieve the same thing, ie lock focus at whatever distance you have selected ? Does the focus ring over ride this, never tried it so not sure.

OP nosugar New Member • Posts: 3
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus
1

Lance St. Paul wrote:

Great tip - thanks!

On Sean Reid's site, Reid Reviews (subscription only) he's been using the X100S in single shot autofocus mode doing street photography with excellent results - it seems the S does much better than the X100 (what I use) in that department. In fact he states that the autofocus is a viable alternative to Leica M rangefinder...!

So you might want to experiment more with your new autofocus.

Lance Saint Paul

Sometimes in a crowded place, I see and predict shots. To me, raising the camera to eye level and pressing the shutter and  waiting another sec or two for focus is too slow to capture fleeting moments.

Frankly, even shooting with the improved S-AF, I still have more misses than hits unless I am in a very bright and sunny place where I can use F8 to 16 (larger DOF) and smaller with a faster shutter 250++ (stop blur) and faster. So to me the best compromise is still zone focusing.

I have another Olympus Om-D + 12mm F2.0 (24mm FF). In comparison, with the wide angle + small crop sensor, i get lots of DOF so my shots are almost always in focus even when I am shooting while in motion(the IBIS helps).  Another advantage is the S-AF is also way way faster and consistently accurate than the one in X100s.

Despite all the AF inconsistency,  nothing beats the combination of form factor, handling and the oh so sumptuous images the x100(s) delivers.

I hope Fuji can cook up some magic in the next firmware update to push up the AF performance to the M43/SLR levels. If this comes true, I will "divorce" my M43 systems and swear to love Fuji for the rest of my life.

Ray Sachs
Ray Sachs Forum Pro • Posts: 10,580
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

nosugar wrote:

Lance St. Paul wrote:

Great tip - thanks!

On Sean Reid's site, Reid Reviews (subscription only) he's been using the X100S in single shot autofocus mode doing street photography with excellent results - it seems the S does much better than the X100 (what I use) in that department. In fact he states that the autofocus is a viable alternative to Leica M rangefinder...!

So you might want to experiment more with your new autofocus.

Lance Saint Paul

Sometimes in a crowded place, I see and predict shots. To me, raising the camera to eye level and pressing the shutter and  waiting another sec or two for focus is too slow to capture fleeting moments.

Frankly, even shooting with the improved S-AF, I still have more misses than hits unless I am in a very bright and sunny place where I can use F8 to 16 (larger DOF) and smaller with a faster shutter 250++ (stop blur) and faster. So to me the best compromise is still zone focusing.

I find zone focus to be an absolute no-brainer for street shooting, even in fairly low light. If you tend to shoot at a similar distance from your subjects, you generally don't need a huge zone - I've done really well even with the RX1 (less DOF than the X100s) at about f5 in fairly low light. And I do a ton with a 28mm equivalent (X-Pro, GXR 28, hopefully a Nikon A or Ricoh GR soon) down to about f4. I've even used the Fuji 14mm on the X-Pro wide open at f2.8 and did fine for folks at my typical distances. Not having to frame with focus in mind and hope the camera focusses on the right spot makes a HUGE difference for street shooting where the moment you want to grab can last an instant.

I have another Olympus Om-D + 12mm F2.0 (24mm FF). In comparison, with the wide angle + small crop sensor, i get lots of DOF so my shots are almost always in focus even when I am shooting while in motion(the IBIS helps).  Another advantage is the S-AF is also way way faster and consistently accurate than the one in X100s.

Yeah, the 12mm on the OMD is a great lens for auto-focus. The irony is its also the best zone focus setup I've yet found in the mirrorless world, even better for my taste than Ricoh's "snap focus" feature, which is just a zone focus short-cut...

I've thought about using a rubber band trick like yours a few times, but with the various focus by wire cameras/lenses that I've used, I don't think I've actually had a problem knocking myself out of focus more than a couple of times in a few years, so I've just never gotten around to it. But someday I'll do something to miss a shot and really tick myself off and maybe then I will....

-Ray

Jeff Charles Veteran Member • Posts: 7,514
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

nosugar wrote:

Sometimes in a crowded place, I see and predict shots. To me, raising the camera to eye level and pressing the shutter and  waiting another sec or two for focus is too slow to capture fleeting moments.

A second or two seems like a lot in good light. The only thing that will cause more than a half second lag with the X100 in good light is the aperture dance, and I thought that had been fixed in the X100s.

Despite all the AF inconsistency...

I read about X100 and X100s AF inconsistency from time to time, but I have found X100 AF to be very dependable.

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Jeff
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Jeff Charles Veteran Member • Posts: 7,514
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

Lance St. Paul wrote:

Great tip - thanks!

On Sean Reid's site, Reid Reviews (subscription only) he's been using the X100S in single shot autofocus mode doing street photography with excellent results - it seems the S does much better than the X100 (what I use) in that department. In fact he states that the autofocus is a viable alternative to Leica M rangefinder...!

I understand the argument for zone focusing, but I prefer to acquire focus on my subject for every shot. I do sometimes prefocus and lock focus, if I know that I'll be taking several shots at the same distance, but that's not the same as zone focusing.

I'm not arguing against zone focusing. I've just never developed the habit, and it's good to hear an experienced photography like Reid confirm that it's not necessary with the X100s.

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Jeff
"Please proceed..."

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rjx
rjx Contributing Member • Posts: 929
Classic tip

Thick rubber bands, bike tire tubes, etc. You can even buy (expensive) rubber bands designed to use on your lenses.

The Fuji XF 18mm desperately needs some kind of band to keep the freaking focus ring still since it's super sensitive.

I have not had a problem with the focus ring on my X100S and I zone focus at least 90% of the time. Mine is pretty stiff, thankfully.

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eastvillager Senior Member • Posts: 1,338
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

i use a small piece of duck tape to tape the focus ring to the solid part of the lens. When I dont want it i stick it on the bottom plate. Much faster.

nosugar wrote:

Hi all, this is my very first post on dpreview :-P. Learnt a lot here from fellow enthusiasts, thought I might share a little tip/hack i use.

I've owned a Fuji X100 and now a X100s. I shoot street and usually shoot very close to my subjects , So F8 (sunny), Shutter at 500, ISO Auto (6400), manual focus at 7 feet and I am ready for some street photography.

So out I go to the streets and I see an interesting subject, whip out my x100s , frame > shoot (sometimes from the hip) in a matter of seconds ! Sometime later, I retire to a nice cafe, order a ice mocha ... and settle down to browse thru my shots. Arrrrggh !!!  Fully half of my shots are not in focus. Only now I've noticed that my manual focus distance has shifted from 7 feet to 15feet instead !!!

So the issue here to me is, the manual focus ring is so damn smooth that it is very easy for me to unintentionally touch it and shift focus distances. It is very irritating when you are zone focused and need too check the evf/lcd every now and then to make sure your distance scale is correct.

So I brainstormed a bit and came out with a small (maybe inelegant) solution. I dug out an old inner tube for my mountain bike, cut out a strip that is about the width of the focus rings and wrapped over it. The little bit of friction from the rubber prevents the focusing ring from moving from the lightest of touches but it does not affect anything else and I still can adjust aperture/manual focus (turning the ring or AEL/AFL method) as per normal.  I've attached a pic here ...

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gromit219 New Member • Posts: 10
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus
2

Maybe this would help:

Set AE/AF LOCK MODE to LOCK SWITCH

Set AE/AF LOCK BUTTON to AF LOCK ONLY

Set POWER MANAGEMENT to OFF

Set focus mode to AF-S

Focus on subject at desired distance, half press the shutter button and hold down, then press on AFL/AEL to lock focus. The focus square will turn green.

Press the Command Control to confirm focus. Press again to return to full viewfinder view.

The focus will stay locked at the desired distance and not be changed by the focus ring. If you're focused on a particular subject and just waiting to something to change, this will be more accurate than an arbitrary preset distance. Unlock the focus and repeat the above for a new subject.

Asylum Photo
Asylum Photo Senior Member • Posts: 1,277
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

gromit219 wrote:

Maybe this would help:

Set AE/AF LOCK MODE to LOCK SWITCH

Set AE/AF LOCK BUTTON to AF LOCK ONLY

Set POWER MANAGEMENT to OFF

Set focus mode to AF-S

Focus on subject at desired distance, half press the shutter button and hold down, then press on AFL/AEL to lock focus. The focus square will turn green.

Press the Command Control to confirm focus. Press again to return to full viewfinder view.

The focus will stay locked at the desired distance and not be changed by the focus ring. If you're focused on a particular subject and just waiting to something to change, this will be more accurate than an arbitrary preset distance. Unlock the focus and repeat the above for a new subject.

I was just coming in here to post this. This is the way I zone focus on the rare occasions that I do it.

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OP nosugar New Member • Posts: 3
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

gromit219 wrote:

Maybe this would help:

Set AE/AF LOCK MODE to LOCK SWITCH

Set AE/AF LOCK BUTTON to AF LOCK ONLY

Set POWER MANAGEMENT to OFF

Set focus mode to AF-S

Focus on subject at desired distance, half press the shutter button and hold down, then press on AFL/AEL to lock focus. The focus square will turn green.

Press the Command Control to confirm focus. Press again to return to full viewfinder view.

The focus will stay locked at the desired distance and not be changed by the focus ring. If you're focused on a particular subject and just waiting to something to change, this will be more accurate than an arbitrary preset distance. Unlock the focus and repeat the above for a new subject.

Set AE/AF LOCK MODE to LOCK SWITCH

Does this refer to No 4 on shooting menu > AE/AF-LOCK MODE > AE&AF ON/OFF SWITCH ?

Press the Command Control to confirm focus.

Command Control ? Is this the scrolling wheel where u press it will enlarge the view to confirm focus

I think there is a problem with this ... everytime you chimp, the focus will be unlocked and resets itself. Correct me if I'm wrong ?

Liviu Namolovan Contributing Member • Posts: 573
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

A nice workaround. Thank you/

FWTOQA Regular Member • Posts: 268
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

Asylum Photo wrote:

gromit219 wrote:

Maybe this would help:

Set AE/AF LOCK MODE to LOCK SWITCH

Set AE/AF LOCK BUTTON to AF LOCK ONLY

Set POWER MANAGEMENT to OFF

Set focus mode to AF-S

Focus on subject at desired distance, half press the shutter button and hold down, then press on AFL/AEL to lock focus. The focus square will turn green.

Press the Command Control to confirm focus. Press again to return to full viewfinder view.

The focus will stay locked at the desired distance and not be changed by the focus ring. If you're focused on a particular subject and just waiting to something to change, this will be more accurate than an arbitrary preset distance. Unlock the focus and repeat the above for a new subject.

I was just coming in here to post this. This is the way I zone focus on the rare occasions that I do it.

This isn't zone focusing though. It's called auto focusing if you use AF-S.

Jeff Charles Veteran Member • Posts: 7,514
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus
1

FWTOQA wrote:

Asylum Photo wrote:

gromit219 wrote:

Maybe this would help:

Set AE/AF LOCK MODE to LOCK SWITCH

Set AE/AF LOCK BUTTON to AF LOCK ONLY

Set POWER MANAGEMENT to OFF

Set focus mode to AF-S

Focus on subject at desired distance, half press the shutter button and hold down, then press on AFL/AEL to lock focus. The focus square will turn green.

Press the Command Control to confirm focus. Press again to return to full viewfinder view.

The focus will stay locked at the desired distance and not be changed by the focus ring. If you're focused on a particular subject and just waiting to something to change, this will be more accurate than an arbitrary preset distance. Unlock the focus and repeat the above for a new subject.

I was just coming in here to post this. This is the way I zone focus on the rare occasions that I do it.

This isn't zone focusing though. It's called auto focusing if you use AF-S.

The technique is to use AF to set focus at the distance you want to use for zone focusing, and then lock that focus distance with the AE/AF LOCK MODE. Its advantage over using manual focus for zone focusing is that the MF ring is not active and so cannot be moved accidentally.

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Jeff
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Jeff Charles Veteran Member • Posts: 7,514
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

gromit219 wrote:

Maybe this would help:

Set AE/AF LOCK MODE to LOCK SWITCH

Set AE/AF LOCK BUTTON to AF LOCK ONLY

Set POWER MANAGEMENT to OFF

Set focus mode to AF-S

Focus on subject at desired distance, half press the shutter button and hold down, then press on AFL/AEL to lock focus. The focus square will turn green.

Press the Command Control to confirm focus. Press again to return to full viewfinder view.

The focus will stay locked at the desired distance and not be changed by the focus ring. If you're focused on a particular subject and just waiting to something to change, this will be more accurate than an arbitrary preset distance. Unlock the focus and repeat the above for a new subject.

I use that technique too, but I set the AE-AF LOCK MODE to ON WHEN PRESSING. Set that way, releasing the button returns the camera to its default setting, so I never accidentally leave it at the locked focus distance. For zone focusing, I would set it to ON/OFF SWITCH.

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Jeff
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Sebit Regular Member • Posts: 241
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

gromit219 wrote:

Maybe this would help:

Set AE/AF LOCK MODE to LOCK SWITCH

Set AE/AF LOCK BUTTON to AF LOCK ONLY

Set POWER MANAGEMENT to OFF

Set focus mode to AF-S

Focus on subject at desired distance, half press the shutter button and hold down, then press on AFL/AEL to lock focus. The focus square will turn green.

Press the Command Control to confirm focus. Press again to return to full viewfinder view.

The focus will stay locked at the desired distance and not be changed by the focus ring. If you're focused on a particular subject and just waiting to something to change, this will be more accurate than an arbitrary preset distance. Unlock the focus and repeat the above for a new subject.

Interesting method, will try it. Thanks!

Three questions:

If I understand correctly the focus stays locked until the AFL/AEL is toggled again?

And without use of the lock toggled by AFL/AEL the AF works the normal way (by half press)?

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seb

gromit219 New Member • Posts: 10
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus
1

FWTOQA wrote:

This isn't zone focusing though. It's called auto focusing if you use AF-S.

It's the same. Instead of setting the focus distance numerically you preset the focus on any subject at around the distance you require. For one shot you could dial f/11, grab a focus at around the desired distance and wait for the subject to enter that zone. The next maybe f/2.8 on a steady subject and wait for something to happen. The beauty of having the aperture ring on the lens is that you can do this while raising the camera to your eye.

Austin101 Senior Member • Posts: 1,410
Re: A hack/tip for Fuji X100(s) users who zone focus

nosugar wrote:

Sometimes in a crowded place, I see and predict shots. To me, raising the camera to eye level and pressing the shutter and  waiting another sec or two for focus is too slow to capture fleeting moments.

My X100s takes less than a second to focus under normal light, if yours takes 2 seconds you should it in to get fixed.

that aside, by the time you've framed a shot AF has locked, there's really no need to zone focus with the X100s

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