Photo: “Focus Guide”

Focus Guide - March 2014

Focus Guide – March 2014

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Let’s talk about constraints. I hold a belief that working within constraints can be useful in that it requires you to work efficiently and with deliberation. Take Holga cameras for instance; they still remain relevant in the age of increasingly complex digital offerings and at least some of that appeal has to do with the simplicity of their function.

Today’s image showcases the focusing that you’ll find on all Holgas. Pretty straight-forward with the single figure indicating focus at 3ft from the camera, the group of three at 4ft to 6ft, the group of seven at 8ft to 10ft, and the mountain puts focus at infinity (pretty much anything over around 18ft). Using the camera means you have to keep this in mind and consider your distance from your subject as you shoot since the viewfinder is not connected to the lens. It’s not a bad thing to have to put that mental effort in. Like any skill it improves with the practice of the specifics of the process.

Using my Fuji X10 entails a similar mental discipline. Unlike other cameras in the X line the viewfinder doesn’t provide any information other than zooming with the lens. No shutter speed or aperture info, no focus confirmation. This was considered by many to be a flaw and possibly contributes to why the X10 is a bit forgotten. I actually find it to be an excellent exercise. Given that the viewfinder is similar to what you find on some film rangefinders it is up to the photographer to understand and adjust for parallax (the difference between what is seen through the viewfinder and what the camera captures through the lens). To be clear, this is no better or worse than using a through-the lens-viewfinder, or the LCD screen on the back of your camera, it’s merely another way to work. Personally I enjoy having to anticipate and adapt to the constraint. YMMV.

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