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Thread: To loupe or not to loupe?

  1. #1
    kev curry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006

    To loupe or not to loupe?

    Can anyone explain what the fuss is with selecting a loupe - what brand, what X magnification or why use one at all? I learned how to focus the view camera after reading
    Ken Rockwells site where he explains how to make a little paper dial that goes around the focusing knob of my Tachihara - the dial calculates the distance between the near/far objects in the scene that are to be in focus, then the dial is used to find the midway point between the two objects and hey presto the optimum fstop is selected from the dial for shotting the scene - beautifully simple and can be done easily by eye in 30sec's!
    I have never had to use my home made loupe, even when shotting close-ups I find I get sharp pictures - 'things dont seem to be so critical to use a loupe'! I must be missing something here but what?

  2. #2
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    Re: To loupe or not to loupe?

    I remember attending an exhibition of an architectural photographer who never used a loupe, and you could tell from the prints. Usually people shoot LF because they want more control over the process, and using a loupe is one way, whether your goal is for everything to be sharp or for most everything to be unsharp. If you use very narrow selective focus, it's even more important to use a loupe so you don't miss the target.

    As for the debate about which loupe and how much magnification--well, too much magnification and the fresnel and the glass get in the way of seeing the projected image. Too much distortion and you invite eye fatigue. Some loupes are better in the corners and some are better with wide lenses.

    Try focusing without a loupe, and then checking with a loupe, and see if you choose a different focus point with the loupe. If you do, then it will make a difference. If you don't, then maybe it doesn't matter for the kind of subjects you shoot.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Re: To loupe or not to loupe?

    The smaller the format the more I find I need something. Loupe,line tester something. With 8x10 it's less of an issue for me. But that's my eye sight at the moment.

    I tend to do most of the focussing without then I fine focus with.

    How much added weight/hassle is using one? It's not like you are hauling an ultra light setup to begin with. It's also not like you're rapid firing the camera either.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Westminster, MD

    Re: To loupe or not to loupe?

    Whatever works for you.

    With my eyes, I always use a loupe, even on 8x10.

    All depends on how good your ground glass is, and how bright your lens is, I guess.

    My camera bag is so heavy, I won't notice if the loupe was removed. Grin.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Sonora, California

    Re: To loupe or not to loupe?

    I've never really allowed myself the luxury of a real loupe. I started out using an orphaned 45mm lens from a long gone minolta slr. Moved from that to the viewing lens from a broken Ciro-flex (tlr) rigged into a short piece of tubing....I've settled on a pair of +3.25 reading glasses on a leash. I don't know if it shows in my prints...and I guess I don't really care.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Harbor City, California

    Re: To loupe or not to loupe?

    I suppose the need for a loupe (or not) has a lot to do with the type of subjects concerned. For scenics taken at small apertures amd minimal movements the method Kev Curry describes should work quite well. For other subjects and techniques a loupe should reduce the chance of error and assist in viewing the effects of movements.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Baraboo, Wisconsin

    Re: To loupe or not to loupe?

    Many people use the same system you use, with or without the little gadget you got from Ken Rockwell. In fact there's an excellent discussion of that system in an article written by QT and posted in this forum under the title "Focusing the View Camera" or something like that.

    I've been using the system for many years myself after first learning about it from two articles in Photo Techniques magazine written in the mid-1990s. However - and this is a big however, at least for me - I use a loupe for the final focus and often find that there's a very small tweak to be made to get the object on which I'm focusing into "perfect" focus. So I find a loupe invaluable. A lot depends on the size of your prints (as well as the obvious things such as your eye-sight). If you're making 8x10s from a 4x5 negative you might never notice that your focus is just the tiniest bit off. But if you're making 16x20s or larger you might. OTOH, maybe your focus is perfect without a loupe and if so that's fine for you. But I certainly find mine very useful.

    As for making a fuss over loupes, I don't know that there's a lot of that. Certainly an expensive loupe isn't needed just for use on a ground glass. Many people find reading glasses to work fine, others use an old 50mm lens from a 35mm camera, others probably use other things. A few people probably buy an expensive loupe because they think it will be better if it costs more. But the expensive loupes are made for viewing and evaluating slides on a light table and need to have quality optics that are irrelevant when the loupe is being used only to magnify an image on a LF camera's viewing screen.

    While the cost isn't critical, the mag factor is of some importance and so there's often a good bit of discussion about that. Different people prefer different factors. I've always liked 4x myself, 8x magnifies too many of the Fresnel lines or ground glass artifacts for me and actually interferes with focusing rather than helping. It's all a matter of personal preference.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    Re: To loupe or not to loupe?

    I seldom use a loupe. I use the near-far method you describe, and in most circumstances a loupe is not necessary. But there are circumstances where it can be helpful. When you determine the positions on the focusing knob corresponding to the near and far points, you are bound to make some errors. If the two points are uncertain, so will the point halfway in between. If these errors are small compared to the total focus spread, that uncertianty won't matter. But in some circumstances, this relative error is not small. This can occur if you are doing something like a facade of a buliding and near and far points are basially the same. Or it can happen with short foca length lenses no matter where in the scene the near and far points are. This will be particularly egregious if your focusing error is consistently in the same direction.

    You should try focusing on the same point several times and see how much the variation there is.
    Without a loupe, the variation along the rail could be a mm or more. That gets magnified on the focusing knob, but how much depends on the gearing.

    I had an optician make for me a pair of near vision glasses which lets me focus from about 6-7 inches. This has the advantage of providing the equivalent of about a 2 X loupe. More important, it places my eye relative to the 4 x 5 gg image which corresponds to its position when looking at an 8 x 10 print viewed from about 12 inches (or a larger print viewed from proportionately further away). So I am better able to judge how the scene wil turn out after enlarging.

  9. #9
    Photographer, Machinist, etc. Jeffrey Sipress's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Santa Barbara, CA

    Re: To loupe or not to loupe?

    I never use a loupe. I use an Optivisor. I now have both hands free to operate the camera. What a pleasure.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    nuevo mexico

    Re: To loupe or not to loupe?

    So you've just spent all this money buying the camera and the film. Then you spend more money on gas to get to where you want to shoot. Then you spend more TIME shooting this thing you want to shoot and you don't have a $44 Toyo-View 3.6x Loupe with you?

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