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focus help needed for X-E1 with manual vintage glass

X-E1 vintage lens focus

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#1 zuluviper



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Posted 27 November 2015 - 08:13 PM

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I have just bought a second but near mint x-e1 which I have paired with vintage lens. I am using a canon fd 50mm, and a Takumar 55mm and have found the images to be soft.


I have also used a 35mm Fujian and the images are sharper.


I think I am using the camera wrong. I have updated to the latest firmware and can see the focus peaking. In the evf the image is sharp but when I half press the shutter release the image seems to get softer and I refocus, I also use the ring button to magnify the subject and refocus but I am getting soft images. 


Is this the property of the lens I have? or the as I suspect the way I am using the x-system. Your guidance would be much appreciated.


Many thanks.

#2 RonaldL



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Posted 28 November 2015 - 01:52 PM



Half pressing the shutter suggests you would like the lens to autofocus. I am assuming your vintage lenses do not support this. Manual focus only using focus peaking is the only way with these lenses I assume. No point in half pressing the the shutter I guess




#3 Jürgen Heger

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Posted 28 November 2015 - 10:20 PM

I do not see anything similar with my x-e1 and a Nikon AF 85\1.8 and a Novoflex adapter..

You could check if you can get a better focus if you put your camera on a tripod and do a kind of focus bracketing. Focus according to the focus assitant, take an image and then turn the focus ring a little bit in one direction, take another image and finally turn the ring in the other direction a little bit over the first position take athird image. If the first image is the sharpest than the remaining softness comes from the lens. 

#4 JAL2099



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Posted 29 November 2015 - 01:17 AM

I've experienced the same thing with regard to the half-press. I trust the focus peak and what I see without the half-press.

I have no clue why it goes out of focus. It seems a bit odd.

#5 gdugic


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Posted 01 December 2015 - 08:50 AM

Just take the shot after you focus, do not pay attention to "blurriness" when you half press the shutter. I.E. do not refocus, there is no point in that...

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Fuji X-E1

18-55 f2.8-4

Nikkor 50mm f1.8D

Helios 44-2 58/2


#6 Jürgen Heger

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 09:32 PM


I played a little with the manual focus. At one point I also felt that the EVF gets soft when I press the release button half way. But when I looked carefully I noticed that just the focus peaking goes off. I had high lighted straight edges which pretended sharpness. This is about the same what happens when you do an unsharp masking in Photo Shop.

Are you sure this is not what you have seen?

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#7 dacalac



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Posted 01 December 2015 - 10:53 PM

I'd also try setting the sharpness in the settings to a +1 value and see if that helps if it's just slightly soft.  I'm using the 50mm f1.8 on my x-e1 as well and that's what I ended up doing.  Here are some examples


23029683096_e6a3f11996_c.jpgPortland-15 by dacalac, on Flickr


22434559573_27667a115f_c.jpgPortland-50 by dacalac, on Flickr

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#8 Larry Bolch

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Posted 02 December 2015 - 04:20 AM

Focus peaking is turned off by the half-press. Just shoot. Legacy glass designed for film cameras can be a disaster depending upon the design of the lens. I have two Canon Serenars of considerable age, both with flat rear elements. Film is matte, but sensors are shiny, so the light bounces back and forth between them, destroying contrast.


Many very fast vintage lenses are notoriously soft wide open. They were designed to help focus SLR film cameras in low-light and could be used wide-open in an emergency but at considerable cost in sharpness. Working for a morning paper, much of my work was in available darkness. The classic f/1.2 58mm Nikkor helped a lot, but I tried to keep it at a minimum of f/2.0-2.8 for the actual exposure. At the time, Nikon made the f/1.2 Noct-Nikkor, which was optimized for widest aperture shooting, but at the price I could not convince my boss that it would provide enough return on investment.

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#9 Sluw


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Posted 10 December 2015 - 01:10 PM

I think it's the lens as others pointed out. Most vintage lenses just aren't very sharp wide open. Did you already try shooting at high shutter speeds (>1/250) and from a tripod? 

#10 jp_stone



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Posted 30 April 2016 - 07:19 AM

Larry had very good truthful comments.  Like finally saying the Emperor is wearing no pants, it's not "fashionable" to say a bit of vintage glass is not sharp wide open, yet as Larry knows and others + myself, it be fact.


There is a romantic "draw" to an extent to play with old adapted glass in this manner. For me, it works best to take some "potshots" with the adapted glass for fun, but if the subject matter is something I cannot return to easily or re-create, TAKE SOME PICS WITH A REAL FUJI LENS before you vacate the scene.... that way you come home with something on your card in focus.


Once in awhile the adapted vintage glass will nail something or have it's own "soft focus" that comes out rather desirable too.


Great post/topic.

#11 milandro


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Posted 30 April 2016 - 07:59 AM

you can find great lenses to be shot manually and giving you both sharpness where needed and “ bokeh” too


Please, look at this portrait in this thread on adapted lenses and their rendering.






This portrait was taken with a X-E2 with an adapted 50mm 1.8 at 2.8.


Personally I don’t find anything wrong with this lens used this way.


Of course I wouldn’t use this lens always and for everything because it would be foolish to do so.


I use a combination of X lenses , manual modern lenses, adapted classic lenses.

the popular expression wishful thinking is an oxymoron!


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#12 johant


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Posted 30 April 2016 - 01:41 PM

I made a quick shot with my Pentax SMC Takumar 3.5/35mm to show the rendering of the Pentax lens coating (and probably aging).



Don't set the WB to Auto, of course, when you want to show the character of old glass. But in my opinion, the uniqueness of vintage lenses is one of the attractions.


As another example, here's the same car (but with a bit cloudier sky) shot with my Pentax SMC Takumar 200/4.




As a comparison, here is approximately the same scene, shot with the Fuji XC 50-230. It is clear that this is the sharper lens, with most contrast. But is that always the most important feature of a lens?



Edit: SOOC JPEG, film simulation Std, other settings on neutral, besides sharpness (+1).

Edited by johant, 30 April 2016 - 02:27 PM.

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: X-E1, vintage, lens, focus


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