It Wasn't the Diopter...


What if you woke up one morning, and the only way to look clearly into your significant other's eyes was to be about a foot away from them? In fact, imagine that the whole world looked like your lenses when they are out of focus. Though I wear glasses, my eyes are not as great as they used to be, and it has affected my photography.

Almost every photographer has a preference for which eye they use when they look through the viewfinder. Mine used to be the left. As time went on, it became very difficult to see with my left eye. I used to be able to  focus all of my lenses manually, and achieve tack sharp results. That is difficult to do now.

According to my eye doctor, astigmatism is to blame for this problem—and it's only in the left eye. With my glasses on, my right eye can see 20/20. My left eye cannot be corrected without surgery—which I don't want to do. Without glasses and with only my left eye open, the English alphabet looks like Japanese characters.

It was scary when I realized that it wasn't the diopter that needed to be calibrated, or the camera that was misfocusing. I even tried using the depth-of-field button to reassure myself that I wasn't going blind at my age. After tinkering with both variables, I concluded that my vision was to blame. Shooting with my right eye proved more accurate for manual focusing.

Rewiring my brain to utilize my right eye took some time and patience. With time, it just became second nature. The dynamics totally changed though—the way I braced the camera into my body, the way I controlled some of my muscles, etc.

It is best if I use my glasses, or even the LCD with the camera in Live View mode.

The problem became progressively worse over time. First it started with my snapping pictures at varying focusing ranges while manually focusing, and praying to Rick Sammon that at least one was perfectly and accurately focused. For a long time, I didn't want to give in and use autofocus, because I felt that it didn't work effectively. After a while, I had no choice.

Despite the fact that I autofocus most of the time now, I miss the days where I was able to focus manually with no trouble. I still have trouble focusing, even with the precise focusing mechanisms built into a camera such as the Leica M9. The camera isn't to blame—it's me.

Since adapting, I can't put aside the concern that one day I may even become totally blind, or my right eye may go the route of my left.

It's not all terrible, though. This taught me to look at my photos very closely. In turn, I've developed new methods to reduce camera shake while shooting handheld.

A photographer with a creative vision has significant obstacles to overcome when needing to create an image in the dark.

Have you been suffering from a change in your vision? We want to know how you are coping. Let us know in the comments below.

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I'm trying to adjust to rhumetoid arthritis.  It is getting very painful to hold my camera for very long and some days I have problems walking.  I'm learning to use my tripod more and doing a little digiscoping instead of walking so far. 

I was born with low vision and have been using autofocus since I switched to a digitial camera 10 years ago.

Auto focius is getting faster, more accurate and better in low light.

I am almost legally blind (20/180) but still do a lot of photography. There is a huge difference between legal blindness and total blindnes.

My websites are

Don't give up or get too depressed. If you can see things that make you want to take photos you will find a way to do it. It my take more planning or an additional gadget, but with determination you can do it.