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18 February 2011

Keeping Things Straight

Levels in the accessory shoe
Levels in the accessory shoe of the Firstflex

A couple of weeks ago I bought this little accessory, a tiny pair of levels to put into a camera's "accessory shoe" (often mis-labelled "flash shoe"). What are the levels good for? Why, to make better pictures, haha! Of course that's not really true, because all kinds of good pictures are made without the camera being leveled, but there is a certain beauty to a picture that was made like that. The reason is that we don't really see with our eyes, but instead it's our brain that assembles the image... and the brain corrects vertical lines and levels horizons. An image that has vertical lines and level horizons will seem "just right", often it has a special kind of feeling to it.

On my Arca-Swiss (baby large format camera), I don't need this thing, since it has levels built in. In Large Format photography, leveling the camera is routine. On a 35mm camera, using this add-on levels requires a tripod, because you can't see the levels while you look into the viewfinder. Good for those occasions when you use a tripod anyway. Now on the 6x6 Firstflex, since you look at the viewfinder from above and since the levels are in the accessory shoe on the left of the viewfinder, it's perfect. You can see the image and right next to it check if you are leveled. It's not perfect if you're hand-holding the camera, but it's doable.

There are two levels in this thing: One for checking the horizon, one for checking the elevation. With this camera the horizon is easy to correct, it won't change your image much. On the other hand, you will point the camera up and down almost all the time. The result is that vertical lines will not be vertical. With the large format camera, that is easy to correct, but with a normal camera, that's just what you get. The choice is either to keep the camera leveled and crop the image or else live with it. At this point the accessory levels will at least help to keep the horizon in line and tell you where you would be leveled... or you can just decide to choose artistic freedom and point the camera whichever way you like :-)


Posted by betabug at 10:17 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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