A definite problem: camera or lens that's not sharp?

Discussion in 'Leica M Camera Forum' started by carlb, Jul 4, 2013.

  1. carlb

    carlb Leica Place Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    649
    May 1, 2013
    The "new-ish" M8 came, the VC 15mm f4.5 M-mount came the same day. A great looking pair, feels great. I could get used to a range finder. :)

    Unfortunately, I'm not able to get sharp photos until about f8 on the VC, and even then it's not as sharp as say the Fuji with the 14mm F2.8 at any aperture.

    I have just this one lens. Is there a way for me to tell if the problem is with the camera or the lens?

    Here are test shots at f4.5, f5.6, f8, F11, and f16. All were focused out to infinity, where I would expect sharpness. I have others where zone-focus was used, to see if the near field would come into focus. Not any better for near-field, unfortunately.

    As can be seen the sharpest is f8.

    F4.5:
    [​IMG]

    F5.6:
    [​IMG]

    F8:
    [​IMG]

    F11:
    [​IMG]

    F16
    [​IMG]

    Can this be attributed to just the camera or lens?
     
  2. NJH

    NJH Leica Place Regular

    99
    Apr 29, 2013
    As you haven't used the rangefinder patch to focus we can't really say anything about that aspect of the camera, you have sharp images at f8+ though it seems. Would need to open the raw DNG files in ACR then zoom into 100% to see if really tack sharp. Would be good to try some other lenses, personally I have been astounded by how richly detailed the images from the M8 are when processing raw files and I was lucky I guess in that my rangefinder adjustment has been spot on with all 3 lenses thus far. None of the lenses I have suffer from focus shift but then again I also never shoot with them set to infinity, I either set them for hyperfocal -1 stop or focus with the rangefinder.
     
  3. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    Use a target like a fence post, and try the focus at min distance. This will indicate if the lens is front-focusing or rear focusing. Also check the distance scale against the RF.

    See this thread for my steps in calibrating a lens:

    https://www.leicaplace.com/f13/valdai-1984-black-jupiter-3-adaptation-test-199/

    To test if the camera or lens- first step, measure the distance to a test target and use the distance scale. Check the RF against it, take the picture- check a actual focus. If the RF is the culprit, this should indicate it.

    Does the RF image align for infinity focus?
     
  4. carlb

    carlb Leica Place Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    649
    May 1, 2013
    NJH, for a wide angle lens, I would expect infinity focus to be sharp at far-field, regardless of f-stop. Trying to do one thing at a time: can I get sharpness for far-field items?

    This is the M-mount version of this lens, so I did also focus a few shots using the range finder at the far trees out there. Same results.

    I'll try a few more settings, a different scene, and also look into converting from raw.

    Brian, I'll take a look at the steps you've outlined also.

    Thanks very much, guys. I'm willing to put the work into sorting this out, I just wish I didn't have to with a low-use M8 and new lens.

    - Carl
     
  5. carlb

    carlb Leica Place Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    649
    May 1, 2013
    1) Converting from raw: no help to the general fuzziness.

    2) 10 ft. Post Picture. Converted from raw. f4.5. Range finder agreed with tape measure:

    [​IMG]

    3) Spec for the lens says: "Nearest Distance 0.5m" and "Focusing Range Inf to 0.7m" - used 0.7m. Range finder agreed with tape measure. F4.5, converted from raw:

    [​IMG]

    Nothing seems wrong, just not "tack sharp." Am I expecting too much?
     
  6. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    1 Meter distance for the close-focus test is good, and can easily be measured with a tape measure.

    The lens will lose RF coupling at ~0.7m, but will keep focusing to 0.5m. Takes some getting used to. This should not be the cause of your problem.
     
  7. trisberg

    trisberg Leica Place Rookie

    17
    Mar 30, 2013
    If the first shot you posted is focused at infinity, then I think your lens is defective. Can you exchange it for another one?

    I've had some used Cosina/Voigtlander lenses that were bad and I had to return them. I'm always careful buying used since it seems that people hang on to the good ones and get rid of the lenses that don't perform well. Bought a used 21mm Color Skopar and got results that weren't sharp across the frame. Returned that lens and later bought a new one that has proven to be great.

    Do you have a second lens just to rule out an issue with the camera?

    -Thomas
     
  8. carlb

    carlb Leica Place Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    649
    May 1, 2013
    Yes, the top photos are focused at infinity. I tried focusing with the range finder out at the far trees as well, same results.

    Unfortunately, there's no Leica or range finder dealer in the Twin Cities (that I know of). I'd love to give a local place business on lenses and be able to try them out before purchase. Regardless, I don't have another rangefinder lens to compare results against.

    I'm leaning toward a bad lens, especially with what you've written about some of the modern Voigtlanders just being bad.

    Ugh. Was really hoping to have fun this weekend with the M8 and VC 15.

    Thanks much, all.
     
  9. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    May just be the images on the screen- but the right side loos fuzzier than the left. Try a "brick wall" test, or flat fence slats.

    If you can return the lens, probably a good idea.

    If I had to guess, a back-focus or misaligned optic.
     
  10. carlb

    carlb Leica Place Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    649
    May 1, 2013
    Setting up a replacement lens now. Fingers crossed!
     
  11. carlb

    carlb Leica Place Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    649
    May 1, 2013
    Stephen from Camera Quest was good enough to try my 15mm on his M8.2. Was sharp as his own copy of the 15mm, very sharp. Can only guess it was the M8 sensor alignmnet.

    Shipped the M8 back. Was still a couple of days within the 14 day return period. Dissapointed, but glad to have been able to finally try a rangefinder for a few days. They are a very neat way to shoot images.
     
  12. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    That is too bad- I had great luck with a used M8.

    Keep an eye on the forums for used M8's. That way, you can find one that has been used, and one that you have probably seen pictures from.
     
  13. NJH

    NJH Leica Place Regular

    99
    Apr 29, 2013
    Luck of the draw I guess. I bought what was at the time the cheapest M8 I could find for sale in the UK (or ebay). It came from a non-Leica camera specialist of some repute so I bought it anyway. Turned out that apart from the rear screen being scratched to hell and a very dusty sensor the camera is perfect in terms of function and looks great. Had less than 6K shots on it as well.

    Even used it to shoot an airshow yesterday so I am struggling more and more to see how I need any other camera, probably something cheap for Macro as that is one area where an enthusiast P&S with their typically insane close focusing is hard to argue against.

    Carl do you feel you will get another one or are you going to try something else now? I had a duff Olympus E-M5 and it did somewhat tarnish my whole opinion of the camera, having said that it is still probably the most likely thing I would consider buying outside of the M system (or to be more precise the E-P5 when the price comes down). Time has helped me to forget that I had a duff one yet so many seem to implicitly trust theirs.
     
  14. carlb

    carlb Leica Place Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    649
    May 1, 2013
    That's a very astute observation - "once bitten ..." Going forward, I'll be very concerned about buying a Leica site unseen. Things that were nerve-wracking:

    - Camera and lens from two separate sources. Common I suspect based upon how used Leicas are typically sold used - camera only. When a problem arose, I was responsible for determining on which side the problem was - and for convincing a skeptical camera supplier that I was probably right.
    - If I had chosen to shoot 50mm or such, my wide-angle problem may not have been seen for quite a while. (Camera vendor had tested it with a 50mm Leica lens before sale and found it AOK.) After discovering the problem I would have had to pay for servicing. I can only guess how much that would have been, but certainly not inexpensive. I can't pay for an expensive camera and still have to worry about expensive servicing.
    - Lens and camera being shipped back to their vendors now (about $75 for insured shipping), I'm out camera, lens, and purchased prices until the former are received, determined that everything is as shipped and nothing missing, and then add a few extra days for the banker's use of the money.

    I'm worried about a similar (or worse) scenario playing out again - it's a lot of money and nerves on the line. If there was a local dealer, I'd gladly shop from them. The higher price would be worth it.