How to take sharp pictures with unsharp eyes?
October 29, 2010 3:55 AM   Subscribe

My vision is changing, which is not unusual, I'm getting older. But I'm having the odd problem when I use cameras (view cameras and medium format as well as 35mm) in getting the best focus (manually). How can I best use cameras, lupes, focussing screens and the like as my vision changes thanks to my advancing years?

I have worn glasses for years due to short/near sightedness (my close up vision used to be spot on, even while wearing the glasses). As I'm getting older I notice that to see things clearly when close up I now have to not use the glasses. In time I guess I'll need glasses to see things close up (both my parents do) but in the meantime I have a problem with cameras.

When I focus with my 35mm camera I need my glasses, even though the viewfinder is next to my eye. With my medium format and my view camera the image is on a ground glass screen, for those I'm better off without the glasses right?
What about loupes used for focusing the enlarger (which look at film grain)? What's best?

Basically, I'd be grateful for any advice from manual photographers for coping with less than 20/20 vision. Help me keep my pictures sharp. I will go to an opticians but my vision is likely to keep changing isn't it?
posted by itsjustanalias to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Cheap reading glasses (I buy them for $1.25 a pair) might be sufficient.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:34 AM on October 29, 2010

It may depend on the camera: some Nikons, for example, allow different eyepiece 'diopters' to be fitted to adjust for differing eyesight acuities.

And some medium format cameras (Mamiyas & Hasselblads, for example) have accessory magnifying 'chimney' finders which can apparently make things a little easier if ones eyesight is not so good.
posted by misteraitch at 5:14 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Most SLR's have a focusing adjustemnt on the non-digital viewfinder (the old-school one) - you can adjust this to focus clearly with your glasses on.
posted by TravellingDen at 6:28 AM on October 29, 2010

Nthing misteraitch--my moderate range Canon DSLR has a dialable diopter on the eyepiece, and my old Minolta SLR has the ability to slide on diopters. For the ground glass medium and view, since your face isn't right up to it, keeping your glasses on or buying a good pair of computer reading glasses ($20) will help-I'm not sure why keeping your glasses off would be better here. Loupes typically have a higher magnification than the reading glass range, so--and I'm guessing here--when the grain looks in focus using a 30X or even a 10X loupe, I'm thinking you DO have it in focus, despite your possible need for a 1.5 or 2.0X IRL.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:32 AM on October 29, 2010

I occasionally shoot video professionally. Reading glasses work fine for me. That is, if the image in the viewfinder is in focus through my glasses, the recorded image is also in focus.
posted by philip-random at 8:04 AM on October 29, 2010

For your view camera work, get some mono vision glasses (not progressives) tuned to the distance you like to work from the ground glass. Your optician can help you get the right amount of correction for this distance. Or don't use glasses at all for view camera work, if that is working fine.
posted by DarkForest at 10:04 AM on October 29, 2010

I have 20/800 vision (read: horrible). I used various DSLRs and always used my glasses because diopters don't come strong enough. I've since moved on to rangefinder photography and continue to use my glasses (R2A and now M6TTL 0.58x). The nice thing about rangefinders is it's super easy to tell if you're in focus on what you're aiming for or not.

I do take my glasses of when I'm looking at something up close (e.g., fixing small broken things etc.). I wear glasses for seeing things in the distance due to myopia (aka shortsighted). My glasses put anything beyond 5 inches from my face in focus, but anything closer is blurry. Taking my glasses off results in the ability to focus in on those things within 5 inches.

While the viewfinder may be against my face when taking photos, I'm looking through it and not at it. Therefore it makes sense that I leave my glasses on. Should I one day get a camera that requires looking at ground glass closely, I will take my glasses off to better see it nice and close since I'd be looking at an image projected on the ground glass and not through the ground glass at the subject.
posted by Brian Puccio at 11:10 AM on October 29, 2010

I do Medium and Large-format shooting occasionally, and I've found that looking at ground-glass works best for me, to compose, at enough distance that I can leave my glasses on .. but in order to get acceptable focus, I must remove my glasses and get closer to the glass.

Looking through viewfinders, on the other hand, I'm stuck with glasses. My vision isn't anywhere near good enough to see 8 inches past my own nose.

I'm 49 years old, for the record, and my vision has been slowly going downhill like this since I turned 44.

It helps that with my photo work, mostly landscape, I can go slowly to compose and focus.
posted by dwbrant at 11:35 AM on October 29, 2010

« Older Powerbocks to replace a bike?   |   Must Watch Movies. Tell me, for I must know. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.