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Thread: "The ideal Focus Cloth"

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    4

    "The ideal Focus Cloth"

    Greetings forum members. This is my my first posting on this site. I have purchased a second-hand LF outfit and will be travelling across South Australia during my next vacation. Hope to get some good shots with my recently purchased ToyoView 5X4.
    I would like to make a really good quality focusing cloth and I would welcome any information on size, materials etc - so I get it right first time.
    Regards
    RicT

  2. #2

    Re: "The ideal Focus Cloth"

    Using the search button here in the forum will bring you a lot of information about dark clothes, IMO a black t-shirt is very usable, at least for me.
    Regards
    Martin

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Humboldt County, CA
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    5,191

    Re: "The ideal Focus Cloth"

    I suggest a two-tone darkcloth -- white on the outside to keep off the Aussie sun and black inside to keep it dark. There are all sorts of fancy add-ons one can incorperate into the cloth -- velcro to keep it on the camera, etc. I'd avoid adding weights to the corners.

    vaughn

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    9,344

    Re: "The ideal Focus Cloth"

    Often times it is easier to get a better loupe or a brighter fresnel, or depending on the camera there might be a folding viewing hood covering the ground glass -- and then improvising with your shirt or jacket. It beats having to remember and carry a dedicated focusing cloth IMHO. On the other hand, if you throw your camera into a backpack then wrapping it in the focusing cloth adds some padding, and in a studio or out the car it doesn't matter.

    It also depends whether you're a fussbudget who spends 15 minutes at a time under the cloth or if you know what you want and just need a quick view to check focus or raise the front standard.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Westminster, MD
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    1,670

    Re: "The ideal Focus Cloth"

    I second the two toned darkcloth. Get one with white on the one side. Your cool head with thank you.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Chester, England.
    Posts
    53

    Re: "The ideal Focus Cloth"

    Hi Ric
    I've tried a few designs over the years, but the one that works best for me was made by my beloved in about 1/2 an hour. It's a piece of material (in this case Goretex) made into a tube about 2 feet long and wide enough to fit over my shoulders. One opening has a piece of elastic threaded though it so it figs snug around the rear frame of the camera. It's lined it with cotton, and being waterproof, I can throw it over the camera when working in rain and snow.
    I made a darkcloth similar to this a few years ago from black-out material. This had the advantage of being light grey, so keeping the internal temperature down in the summer. The main disadvantage is that it was a fairly heavyweight material. Also, the darkcloth doesn't have to be absolutely light tight. It only needs to be dark enough to judge the tones and light etc.
    The one I use now is made by Paramo. It's the same basic design as my tube, but has a few extras added and is made from for same material as Paramo's clothing. Have a look here http://www.lightandland.co.uk/articl...peId=2&conId=8. HTH

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Posts
    3,919

    Re: "The ideal Focus Cloth"

    I presume that Australia is like Florida, and a white or reflective outer layer is absolutely necessary to keep from frying your brains. I use a BTZS hood, which isn't perfect but it's the best that I've tried, and the price is reasonable.
    Another important hint is that the top of the box you keep your stuff in should be painted white or silver.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    9,344

    Re: "The ideal Focus Cloth"

    Somebody should make one out of modern microfiber and Goretex-y stuff so it breaths, unlike most of the fancy ones currently sold. Make it like a Patagonia softshell jacket and it would be great.

  9. #9
    Moderator
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    Sep 2003
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    Re: "The ideal Focus Cloth"

    This may not apply to southern Oz, but...

    Carl Weese told me a while back that just as one can never be too rich, or too slim, one can never bring along too many film holders.

    In that vein, I would extend the addage to say that one's dark cloth can never be too large - especially when you're shooting in the cold or rain.

  10. #10

    Re: "The ideal Focus Cloth"

    Ken,

    A kindred spirit! Most people seem to be looking for the minimum sized darkcloth I suppose so it saves a few ounces and packs smaller which makes sense if you're carrying your gear a fair distance. Do most of us do that, or do we work within a mile or so of the car? I have a large Harrison cloth which measures 54x94 inches and love it for 4x5. As you said, it can protect the camera from precipitation and it's nice and cozy in the winter and keeps the hot sun off my back in the summer. Plus it sure is dark in there! So, Ric my suggestion is to think BIG (relatively) when you make your 2 sided darkcloth- you'll definitely want a reflective side.



    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Lee View Post
    In my experience, bigger is better with dark cloths.

    Carl Weese told me a while back that just as one can never be too rich, or too slim, one can never bring along too many film holders.

    In that vein, I would extend the analogy to say that one's dark cloth can never be too large - especially when you're shooting in the cold or rain.

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