Decisive moments in film {portraiture|film}

turning heads

turning heads. Kodak ProImage 100, film.

I assume the general public already knows how to use an autofocus camera for decisive moments. While its super easy to do on a digital camera, its costly to use the same attitude on film.

Now lets learn how to do it with a rangefinder. It’s a lot easier with the rangefinder. Here are the 3 steps :-

  1. Focus on the subject, preferably at f2.0 or smaller aperture. You can focus at the “ground” or nearby object whereby the subject will be passing or at the subject itself if you are expecting a change in expression.
  2. Wait for the moment
  3. Press the shutter

Thats it. How does these steps differs from a normal autofocus camera?

In an autofocus camera, the focus kicks in when you half press the shutter, or you use the de-coupled autofocus button. Due to the way we shoot in digital, we cannot help but to re-press the button whenever the subject changes the expression or if he/she about to walk into the location that you want. There isn’t much thought required so you just focus on the subject and press multiple shots. When i said “we cannot help but to re-press” it has a lot to do with how often we depend on the camera and build that into a habit vs inability.

This is where a rangefinder comes in real helpful. Its essentially a dated mechanism for focusing that got replaced by SLRs. If you use it long enough however, you soon learn to think and be rewarded with its simplicity. It is both the slowest and the fastest autofocusing mechanism in the world.

In 100 shots i have taken with my rangefinder whether its the Leica ME/M9 or the Hexar/Bessa/M7 film bodies, i have maybe 2% of mis-focused shots. In my autofocus bodies, i have around 5-10% of mis-focused shots. This might sound absolutely ridiculous until you try it. I am going to keep that surprise as the reward that you deserve to receive for trying out.

Keep shooting.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. I’ve only used autofocus bodies a few times, and admittedly they were quite old bodies, but man, autofocus screws me up so bad, I turned it off halfway through my first roll and every time since I used manual focus lenses. Ugh…

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