Monday, June 18, 2012

Shooting Rangefinder-Style With Micro 4/3

kdixey's RF Shooting Emulation
dixeyk's Emulation of Rangefinder Style Shooting on Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2
Image Source:

dixeyk has written a post over on about recapturing the shooting style of classic rangefinder cameras with Micro 4/3 gear.

(Click Here) to read the full post.

I have referenced dixeyk's posts before. We seem to have similar interests in our photography. The goal was to set up a modern Micro 4/3 camera to allow a shooting style similar to a classic film rangefinder. Of course, the best way to get that is to have a digital Leica (or perhaps the Fuji XPro 1?), but that was not available.

The characteristics that dixeyk went for, as far as I can interpret, were a compact kit, fast (wide aperture) lenses, and fast focus (as one can achieve through manual focus on a rangefinder camera). For this, he chose to use a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 and the Lumix 20mm f1.7 as his normal lens. He also used Lumix 14mm f2.5 and Olympus 45mm f1.8 lenses, approximating a 28, 40, and 90mm field of view on a classic rangefinder. So far, I would have made similar choices, using my Lumix DMC-GF1 (another Lumix body without an internal viewfinder) and Lumix 20mm f1.7 lens.

Now here's where we go different ways. In dixeyk's case, he decided to shoot with the LCD and autofocus, utilizing the camera's ability to touch focus and shoot. This allows the user to pinpoint where in the field of view they want to focus by touching the LCD screen. As soon as focus is achieved, the camera automatically releases the shutter, capturing the image. I can see how this would feel similar to the fast focus and capture capability of a classic rangefinder.

For my own approach, especially in street photography, my favorite use of a rangefinder, I go in a completely different direction. I turn off the LCD, mount a 35mm optical finder (an old Russian version in my case) in the camera's flash shoe, and use hyperfocal settings to give a lot of depth of field. For information on that,

(Click Here) to see my previous post on setting hyperfocal distance on Panasonic Micro 4/3 cameras.

I find that the 35mm finder closely approximates the field of view of the 20mm f1.7 Lumix lens.
I use the exact same finder on my smaller Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5, which provides for directly setting zone focus in the manual focusing screen. In actuality, the LX5 does a better job of emulating a rangefinder than the GF1, in my opinion. It has a great scale to show the focus distance and depth of field, will allow you to lock the zoom at any focal length and the f-stop at any setting. It is a super-quick little camera for street photography.
(Click Here) to see my post on my LX5 street kit.
I will give dixeyk's approach a try. I think the main differences are in what each of us is trying to achieve. He's working toward quick response pinpoint focus and capture, while I'm working toward large depth of field, quick response street photography with a rangefinder camera.
Fun stuff.