How to properly set your diopter to your Canon 310XL Super 8 Camera

How to properly focus your Canon 310XL Super 8 Camera

Properly focusing your Canon 310XL is both an art and science; but even if your technique is correct, your 50+ years old camera may not be up-to par, and that's where other seller's "tested" cameras fail, and professionally serviced cameras shine!

Before you focus you must set your diopter to your eyesight!

Follow these 10 steps to properly set your camera's diopter according to your eyesight, and avoid the frustration of receiving an out of focus film back from the lab.

Though we all would like it if our film comes back developed exactly as we saw it through the viewfinder, the reality is, it takes some additional work to achieve proper focus. The diopter or dioptric system in your camera's viewfinder, must always be adjusted to suit your specific eyesight; so much that if you set the diopter to your eyesight, and pass the camera along to other person, that other person will most likely re-adjust the focusing ring because for them the image appears out of focus. 

On the Canon 310XL the dioptric system is controlled by rotating the eye-cup on the viewfinder; BUT WAIT, don't start rotating it yet.

There are two techniques to properly set your diopter, one is the "infinity" technique (which Canon recommends), and one which we like to call the "set distance" method. We'll go over the infinity technique on a separate post, today let's try the "set distance" technique, which  though more involved, is a bit more accurate.

Canon 310XL out of focus

Set your camera's diopter with the Set Distance Method

Following are all steps that can help you to properly set your diopter on your Canon 310XL Super 8 Camera:

  1. With a marker pen, draw a plus sign symbol "+" on a piece of masking tape and tape it to a bright wall at eye level. The "+" symbol should be  about one inch tall.
  2. Find the film plane indicator (symbol) on your camera, it is a small circle with a line through it on the side of the camera right below the On/OFF switch, the symbol is embossed on the camera so it may be tough to find at first (see image above for reference).
  3. Measure 4 feet from the wall to the film plane symbol on the camera. Use a measuring tape for accuracy, don't skimp on this, accuracy is important here. Make a mark somewhere to maintain the 4 feet mark from the wall visible without having to measure again and again. (or simply set your camera on a tripod)
  4. Rotate the focusing ring until the distance scale is set at 4 feet. 
  5. Fully ZOOM IN into the "+" symbol on the wall.
  6. Look through the viewfinder and rotate the eye-cup, which in turns rotates the diopter control until the "+" symbol is as clear/sharp as possible. Make sure that while you are holding the camera, the film plane symbol remains at 4 feet from the wall.
  7. Re-check that your camera is at 4 feet while the "+" symbol is still sharp.
  8. Your diopter is set now; the camera is set to YOUR eyesight. Make sure not to rotate the eye-cup otherwise you'll have to start again.
  9. Lock the diopter's rotation by adding a piece of tape around it, just make sure this tape may be removed to allow for others to set the camera according to their eyesight. (if you have a Canon 514XL here's where you rotate the locking ring to avoid the eyepiece from rotating).
  10. While shooting: it is very important that you Do NOT focus at the focal length that you will be shooting at, you must ALWAYS fully zoom in, focus, then pull out to whatever focal length you will be shooting at. This may seem to throw your focus out a little bit, but it will be correct! 

 With the "set distance" technique described above, you'll obtain a very accurate diopter setting; however this technique may not be very useful when you are out in the field. In those instances you may choose the "infinity" technique instead which you can find in your camera's instructions manual. 

But what happens if you know that you have properly set your camera's diopter, and your focusing was correct during shooting, and still your film comes back out of focus? in that case, your camera needs a good old CLA maintenance and/or repair. We here at MonsterFlipsUSA provide Super 8 camera repair and maintenance services; simply contact us and we'll help you out.



Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

You may also like View all