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Thread: do you use a loupe when focusing?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    El Portal, CA (Yosemite)

    do you use a loupe when focusing?

    I have read that some large format photographers use a loupe when focusing. How essential is a loupe for focusing. When I focus my mamiya c220 w/ porroflex finder, it is dim, but I just get a feel for what is in focus. Sometimes I will get a portion of forground that is out of focus but this is to be expected when working with the larger format that doesn't have tilt.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2002

    do you use a loupe when focusing?

    Part of the mystique of large format, IMO, is the ability to record details on the film that might not have been apparent to the naked eye. With or without the tilts and movements, critical focusing is, well, critical. I use either a 4X or 5X loupe to fine-focus my 4x5 camera, without it everything is guesswork. I have a 10X loupe available, but that starts to show the fresnel grooves and the grain in the groundglass, so don't use it much.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    do you use a loupe when focusing?

    When critical focusing is needed, I always trust my Schneider 6x loupe. Sometimes I use my bino reflex viewer for convenience and fast operation, but it can never replace my loupe.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    God's Country

    do you use a loupe when focusing?

    I usually use a loupe for critical focusing...there are some folks who say that they get most things into focus and then stop down to sharpen up the rest. This technique hasn't worked for me in the past and, therefore, I choose to rely on the loupe to ensure sharpness (especially in those areas I want to be sharp.

    I use either a Sylvestri tilting loupe or the Toyo long barrel version...they both work very well.
    Life in the fast lane!

  5. #5

    do you use a loupe when focusing?

    Focusing loupe in LF is similar to using a magnifier on top of a focusing screen of any format. Magnifying power needs to be tuned to focusing screen so as not show screen's texture, yet produce larger image to help the process.

    I think you might want to look into the set up on your C220. Porroflex makes the image darker than a waist level finder as it is built of mirrors. Mamiya made a magnifier hood for C line TLRs that some users like (but it's more like an enclosed wasit level. A prism finder would also make an improvement. A new screen however, will make your day. I'd suggest medium format forum on to research this subject further.
    simplest solutions are usually the most difficult ...

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    do you use a loupe when focusing?

    Yes. Totally obsolete probably not very good Ednalite Magnifinder, contemporary with my little Speed Graphic. I do better with it than with trifocals-assisted vision. Am going to try a set of +3.50 reading glasses when I find one, am not hopeful.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    do you use a loupe when focusing?


    I also use a 4x loupe for critical focusing. The Mamiya C330 I own also has a flip up...loupe! So Mamiya must have thought it was a good idea too.



  8. #8
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    do you use a loupe when focusing?

    Yes, I like a loupe of about 4X. I usually use a Schneider 4X for 8x10" or 11x14" or if I'm shooting 4x5" with a folding hood instead of a groundglass, I'll use the Toyo 3.6X, because it is a bit longer and clears the hood easily. Too much magnification, and you start magnifying the surface of the groundglass or the fresnel.

    If you have a chimney magnifier for your medium format camera, those can make great loupes, since they have square corners, and they are optically no different from loupes. Schneider even makes a base to attach their 3X loupe to a Hasselblad. I used to use the 5x magnifier from my Bronica as a groundglass loupe.

  9. #9

    do you use a loupe when focusing?

    Ok. I used a 4x loupe to focus my 4x5. When I moved to 8x10 I stopped using loupes all together. I focus wide open. and perform all the movements necesary to get everything in focus and then stop down the lens, some times way down. For contact prints only this method seems to work great. The other day I came across a website. They have a focusing screen with a very thin fresnel lens sanwiched between 1/16" thick glases and epoxied together. They claim an increase of 2.7 stops of light at the corners. In the website they have pictures of the ground glass focused on something with and without the velveteen screen. The difference is outstanding. I am very tempted to get one. The only thing that scares me a little bit is that design of the focusing screen is made to be looked at from a little distance. If you get closer you defeat the design. How many of you heard or used something like this?

  10. #10
    Jon Shiu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Mendocino, California

    do you use a loupe when focusing?

    I don't usually use a loupe to focus. If your eye is sensitive to contrast, you can see the edges of things snap into focus without having to see fine detail. (I'm also pretty near-sighted and can focus 4-5" from the ground glass when I'm not wearing glasses.)
    my black and white photos of the Mendocino Coast:

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