M8 has backfocus
Old 04-03-2007   #1
usccharles
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Question M8 has backfocus

after about 3 months of use with my M8, i can confirm from experience that my camera has back focus issues. its especially noticiable when using any lens wide open to isolate the subject and blur out the background. i always notice the area right behind the subject is a tad more focused than the area in front.

when doing close up (.7- 1m) at wide open, it is more pronounced. if i take a picture of a sheet full of writing on the wall, the picture comes out sharper if i focus a milimeter or two in front of the subject.

its really not a big deal for me because i've gotten used to it. i can't really tell the back focus when i turn down the aperature, and when i'm shooting wide open, i just turn my focus ring a few milimeters to focus a bit closer than the actual subject.

my question is, is this somthing that can be easily fixed, like say at my local leica repair shop, like i would do if the backfocus was with my M6, or does the M8 have to be sent back to the factory to get this done? i'll just live with it if i have to send it back to Solms, but if i can get it fixed locally...

anybody try fixing the backfocus issue?

thanks

Last edited by usccharles : 04-03-2007 at 20:07.
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Old 04-03-2007   #2
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I am not certain this is an "M8 problem" or merely a component of Leica rangefinder photography. Perhaps someone will have something to add regarding this observation.
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Old 04-04-2007   #3
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You can if it is off a mm?

If it is like film Leicas, there are two adjustment points, infinity and one meter. Both need to be set. A star at night is best for infinity. 200 feet is not ok.

Certain lenses may have issues as the focus changes with the aperture. Noctilux and Sonnar 1.5 come to mind. 75 1.4 is plain touchy. These really should be mated to your camera.

No it is not a big deal to adjust. Two screws. or I think the M8 uses a hex nut.
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Old 04-04-2007   #4
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Infinity-yes hex-nut user adjustable.. Near focus is a trip to Solms, although some users have done so DIY (not recommended, the adjustment is offset and needs a special tool).
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Old 04-04-2007   #5
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FWIW, my M8 backfocused significantly (approx. 1cm using a 50/1.4 @ 1.5m & f/1.4) right out of the box (apparent w/multiple lenses, so I knew it wasn't a particular lens that was @ fault). Since I only had the camera for a limited time & rarely shoot @ infinity, anyways, I only tested @ close distances (0.7-3m). I had the backfocus fixed on warranty along w/a major auto-exposure problem, so it had to go all the way to Solms (repair took about 7 weeks door-to-door). Assuming the backfocus correction only required adjustment of the RF mechanism (as opposed to something involving repositioning/replacement of the sensor), I suppose Leica NJ or any qualified Leica tech (DAG, etc.) could do the work.
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Old 04-07-2007   #6
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My M8 backfocusses routinely with my Noctilux, but not with my 50 Summicron. I had it with my 50 Summilux (now sold). I suppose I could send them to Solms to have them fettled, but I prefer to compensate for it or focus-bracket if there's time.
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Old 04-20-2007   #7
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I thought I was going blind. I made an appointment with my ophthalmologist. Seriously. I've shot with M6s, M7s, and MPs for years, and never even knew the term: I never saw it happening. Now with the M8, I'm getting tons of beautiful pictures totally ruined because of backfocus. I notice it moth with my 75 Summilux, but also with my Noctilux. So what are we saying here ---do we all have cameras out of adjustment, or is there something seriously wrong with the design of this camera?
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Old 04-23-2007   #8
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I'm seeing it on mine, too. It's funny because it's the least bad on my fastest lens (pre 50 lux). It's the worst on my 28 cron and noticable on my macro-elmar. I just got a 1.25x VF magnifier and that didn't really help at all. I was hoping that because the M8 had a slightly lower mag than I was used to that the focusing problem was due to user error. I don't think it is now.

I'm going to call Leica NJ about it today to seek advice. Hopefully my 10 day old M8 isn't going to have to go in for month(s) of repairwork like so many others have.

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Old 04-24-2007   #9
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My M8 and three lenses (50 lux asp, 35 cron, 90 cron) have been sent to Solms for about two months for focusing issues. Hoping it comes back soon and corrected. I also hope that after all this time they code the lenses.
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Old 04-25-2007   #10
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so good news (i guess its good news) is that my camera does have backfocus issues and can be fixed, per my repair guy. so good news as in its not something that can't be fixed.

the bad news is that nobody in korea has been trained by leica to fix backfocus on M8 as of current. Something to do with adjusting the CCD...

my repair guy gets his training in June and he says he should be able to fix mine in july.

tick tock tick tock...
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Old 04-25-2007   #11
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My voigtlander 40mm lens has backfocus but my 35mm nokton and 75mm summilux seem to be fine.

Thing is I love the 40mm lens. So it's really bothersome. The nokton needs to be sent in to fit on the m8 so I haven't really done much with it beyond focus on a point. I think my 25mm biogon has a bit of backfocus as well.

I've only had the camera for a week. So I'm still trying to gather how it behaves.
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Old 04-28-2007   #12
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Looks like I'm in the same boat...
Received the M8 two days ago, every pic I made is just a tad off.
Summilux 50 asph, wide open, focus on the eyes, ears are sharp, eyes not.
So after waiting 7 months for my camera, I have to return it for God knows how long after only two days.
I can tell you I'm quite p*ssed off...
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Old 05-14-2007   #13
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My Noctilux backfocuses some 10 cm (ears sharp, eyes unsharp, about) on my M8. All the other lenes I have are dead on. Like the Carl Zeiss ZM 50 mm 2,0 (which is far sharper than the 5 times more expensive 50 mm 1,0 Noctilux, - but that is another story...) and even my CV 50 mm 2,5 Color Scopar was dead on. Etc.

Removing the UV filter on the Noctiux helped and reduced the backfocus with about 3 cm.

Important:

Contacting the norwegian Leica rep, Farnes, I was adviced to have the Noctilux, - and all other 'old' Leica optics I might have, 'tagged with the new code and focus-adjusted 'to a tollerance level far beond they has ever had'....

This process is far more than just stashing a few colour codes on the bayonettes; the whole bayonette is changed and the focus mechanism on the lense fine-adjusted to tollerances far beond that typical in the analogue world.

So, I have sent the Noctilux and a 35 mm 2,0 Summicron away today. I was told that the process will be done in Solms and take 10 weeks! So, that was the summer of 2007. Hopefully that will help. If not, I will have my M8 and the Noctilux 'co-tuned'. This was a regular affair in the Old Wild West, some old Leica hacks told me at the Leica User Forum. If so, that will be another 10 weeks and that will be the end of 2007. - But I am a young guy. With just a little silvery hair. Here and there. If I live, I'll keep you posted.

But if all your lenses are off at close range, it is easy to fix yourself. Good news, he? You put a 2 mm Allen wrench in the center of the focus roller on the camera and turn it left about 1/10 of a turn. Then try the lenses again. etc.
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Old 05-14-2007   #14
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I'm not surprised about the"back focus" issue especially with the M8. Most high speed lenses will have this issue due to focus shift from spherical aberration (notoriously high in the 50/1 Noctilux). Slower lenses like the 50/2 or highly corrected ones like the 50/1.4 ASPH should have very little in comparison. Given that the sensor on the M8 is optically flat compared to film only worsens it and people can do a quick A/B comparison between the digital LCD and the camera's rf only makes it more obvious.
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Old 05-14-2007   #15
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Hmmm shot this last night. I'm focused on the arm of the guy with the ciggie and the beer but the jeans and hair of the blond behind him are what's in focus.



This is a 28 Ultron 1.9 wide open

And I am very surprised since I haven't been seeing a problem with this lens before.

----------------------------- UPON REFLECTION ------------------------------

see my post below. I think this is actually user error with the 75 Heliar. Apologies below . . .
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Old 05-14-2007   #16
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Yeah, that does seem to be a problem even when you take into account crop factor magnification. The nice thing about the M8 though is one can do incremmental focus bracket test shots and find out for each lens the degree of error in rather short order. After that, it's simply a matter of having the factory check/adjust the calibration or attempt it yourself with the cam roller eccentric screw at the center of the roller. If consistant at near and far and in the same direction for all of your lenses, I'd try the cam roller eccentric adjustment myself.
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Old 05-14-2007   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awilder
I'm not surprised about the"back focus" issue especially with the M8. Most high speed lenses will have this issue due to focus shift from spherical aberration (notoriously high in the 50/1 Noctilux). Slower lenses like the 50/2 or highly corrected ones like the 50/1.4 ASPH should have very little in comparison. Given that the sensor on the M8 is optically flat compared to film only worsens it and people can do a quick A/B comparison between the digital LCD and the camera's rf only makes it more obvious.
What I have been told is that the focus shift leans backwards the more you stop the Noctilux down. Further: Stopping the lense down also enlarges DOF which limits the problem. For the record; I tested my Canon EF 50 mm 1,0L on my 1Ds II. It is spot on. Even using AF! Not only that: The Noctilux has a shortest focusing distance of 1 meter while the Canon focuses down to 60 cm. That said; the Canon is far more difficult to focus. I used a viewfinder magnifier.
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Old 05-14-2007   #18
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Backfocus on the M8? When did they add the autofocus feature?

The M8 doesn't focus anything. You do with the aid of the rangefinder, which has to be properly calibrated for proper focusing.

If you bought it new, it may be covered under warranty by Leica; give them a call or write to them.
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Old 05-14-2007   #19
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Backfocus as in the difference between readout of focusing device and actual focal plane.

Joe, if the focus problem is more prominent with wides it suggests film to flange distance is a bit off, rather than a problem with RF mechanism. Could be the lens though.
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Old 05-15-2007   #20
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Another thing you might check out is whether you focused and recomposed?

It's not impossible that the field curvature of this lens is such that when you recompose, the focused subject gets to lie outside the plane of focus.
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Old 05-15-2007   #21
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I thought I was going crazy. This is my first Leica (M8). I thought Leica lenses were the state of the art. I was ready for some really sharp images. I'm using a Summilux 35mm1.4. I've been experimenting about three months and realized that the images wide open are focusing behind where I thought I was focusing in the view finder. I'm not ready to give up my camera for MONTHS! to have it fixed. You bet I won't be buying that second lens I was planning for (75mm). All the money we spent on this "name" camera.......how depressing!!
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Old 05-15-2007   #22
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There's been tons written about this on the LUG forum with all sort of folk performing all sort of tests.

Some people haven't experienced the problem, some have and were able to self correct it with an infinity adjustment. Others have sent their M8 to Leica, some have sent lenses, and I think some have sent the whole kit and kaboodle(sp).

My M8 had the backfocus issue and I was able to correct it by adjusting the RF's infinity setting. It took me a couple of tries to get it dead on, but all my lenses focus correctly now.

It is somewhat disheartening when a Holga is sharper than a $5k camera body and $3k lens because of a focus problem.
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Old 05-16-2007   #23
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Shoot, now I'm not so sure!!

Looking at the images directly before and after and considering the bokeh and DOF now I think that I still had the 75 Heliar on the M8 when I took the shot above.

Further, as my middle-aged memory just ain't what it usta be, I wonder if I didn't in fact guess the distance on that shot.

So just disregard that image as an example of backfocus!!!

Soooooooo sorry!!
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Old 05-17-2007   #24
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ok. So I now have the problem. Previously my 35mm nokton and 75mm summilux were spot on. Last week I ave my noctilux to photovillage to adapt to the M8 so I can focus up to infinity and I picked it up today and tried to put it on and it wouldn't go. It was very resistant. And had to apply some pressure but it went on. Once on the focus ring was solid stiff. So I took the lens off. I noticed the flange was scratched and that there were metal shaving rubbs on the inside of my M8 and on the focus bearing lever. Photovillage dude said they'll fix the lens and may give me a new one tomorrow.

However, I was concerned that mounting the nokton might have caused wear on the M8 internaly or even threw my focus off. Tonight I played with my 75mm summilux to test focus. And it's off. My other lens a 40mm nokton, which was once slightly off. Is now way off.

Ugh. I don't know what to do. Do I have to send it to Leica? I have a job to do in three weeks which was the whole reason I bought the M8, so I can work in digital and now I can't even. It's like I bought it for nothing. I'm so damn irked.
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Old 06-09-2007   #25
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My Nokton 40mm shows about 12cm-15 cm backfocus at 2M, but the 75 and 21 (as best I can tell) seem pretty much dead on. I've no other lenses against which to compare, but looking for shimming information for the Nokton.
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Old 07-05-2007   #26
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Her's the story so far.

40mm Nokton is on the way back to the factory. That's the least desired solution, of course, but I want it right, and there's nobody that can adjust it here. The lens aligned perfectly at infinity, but showed 10-15 cm back-focus on the M8.
In the meantime, I needed a "normal"-ish lens, so I got a 28mm f/1.9 It too backfocuses, but because has a cam'd rangefinder ramp, I shimmed the mouth (LTM) with a piece of paper (that's actually too thick). Now the rangefinder won't go to infinity when the lens stops there, but does focus more accurately close up. Still not right, but better.
After both were back focusing, you'd think I'd be concerned with the camera, right? Well... I have a CV 75mm which FRONT focuses a few cm. It'll go back, too, when the 40mm comes back right.

To prove the case, I went to the local photo store and put the 90mm ASPH on, and adjusted to IT, assuming that it was right. I got sharp pictures. The 35mm 'cron ASPH too- very nice, sharp pictures with either no trace, or nearly so of back/front focus.
I can't afford 'em (I seem to remember when I bought the 90 the first time around, it being FAR less expensive), so there's no way I'm getting the Leica lenses, but I'll keep sending lenses back to the dealer until they are all right.

The 21mm f/4? Perfect, as far as I can tell.

It's an expensive camera for there to be so muc suspicion about it. It's far too expensive to have to go back to Germany for fixing.
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Old 07-30-2007   #27
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OK, I *just* ordered the M8 due to all the praise on here and other places. I waited for months and months for this to work out.

If when I get my camera on Thursday and I find it back focuses, I am going to return it for a full refund and wait at least 6 more months.

I make a living with my Leica gear, I need it to work with lenses wide open, period.
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Old 07-30-2007   #28
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The backfocus is very easy to fix. Very. If it's consistent across lenses. THAT'S the problem. The M8 has resolving power so easily available (by pixel peeping) that it's much easier to see lens faults you might never have noticed with film.

That'll be the undoing of the digital rangefinder, I think. Pictures that print sharp at 8x10 might have a focus shift that makes manufacturers have to adjust lenses...
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Old 07-30-2007   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdos2
The backfocus is very easy to fix. Very. If it's consistent across lenses. THAT'S the problem. The M8 has resolving power so easily available (by pixel peeping) that it's much easier to see lens faults you might never have noticed with film.

That'll be the undoing of the digital rangefinder, I think. Pictures that print sharp at 8x10 might have a focus shift that makes manufacturers have to adjust lenses...
Well, I only have two lenses, the 28 cron and 50 asph, hopefully by now, they have done their homework. The problem for me is I can't give up the lenses to go to Solms or even New Jersey to be paired with the M8, no way, they are used almost daily.

I have over 180,000 frames on two 5D's, some with fast glass wide open at 1.4-1.2 that are flawless. I need flawless like I get with my M3, M6, MP3.

I'll know on Thursday....
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Old 07-30-2007   #30
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It was the flawed 50 f/1.2 on the 5D that got me into my M8, and back into rangefinder photography. I needed a lens/camera combo I could focus- where I was SURE that focus was.

No worries. The backfocus isn't common. My M8 didn't have it- the lenses I bought for it were poorly calibrated. A 70's 40mm Summicron-C is perfect on it.
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Old 09-14-2007   #31
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My 28/2 will not focus correctly on my M8 regardless of distance or aperture. Everything looks like it was shot with a Keystone 110. However it is sharp on a film body. Same with the Noctilux. My 24mm ASPH is fine on the M8 so it is now my standard lens. I prefer to have made that choice voluntarily and not have to choose from a pool of lenses that actually works on it.
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Old 01-26-2008   #32
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My fairly late M8 had (i.e., has) backfocus problems w/all lenses. This was not the case when it was new. Using Tim Jackson's "focus test chart", my M8 focused about 20mm away from the target line with all lenses. It is now in the sick M8 ward at the New Jersey Leica Hospital. I assume the camera responded to a light bump(?) - it appears that the rf mechanism is somewhat more fragile than the M Leica's I am accustomed to using. I strongly recommend Mr. Jacksons test target and methodology.
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Old 01-26-2008   #33
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Did you know it had focus problems before you used the test chart?
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