Can focusing on the windscreen be ignored?

as im contributing more to mapillary and doing more driving im getting a lot more chips on my windscreen than usual. its getting so bad lately that every 10 to 20 photos it focuses slightly on the windscreen which means the road isnt in perfect focus, and then every once in a while it goes really out of focus like this:

is it possible with the android api to tell the camera not to focus on anything up close? the windscreen is around a foot away from the camera but most of things of interest on the road would be a few meters away at the closest so theres no need to focus so close

Can you set manual focus?

not that im aware of no

A link please, so that we can at least see which camera you use.

Might sound a bit dumb, but in my experience with taking images through glass it helps when:

  • the angle on the glass is as close as possible to 90 degrees
  • the glass is as clean as possible
  • the camera is as close as possible to the glass
  • when possible place “sun screens” around the camera towards the glass (out of sight of the camera off course)

The last one is a bit hard to explain (English is not my native language) That way you can block reflections (as I can see to the left of your image) some cameras tend to focus on reflections…

Not a solution, but it might help?

the camera model is sony xz1 compact

all good advice.

the camera is mounted as close as i can get it and i clean the windscreen most days when i start. my setup hasnt really changed much since a year ago when the camera was focusing perfectly for each shot so none of those reasons should be an issue. although i have moved the black cloth slightly since then so i could do a better job of hiding those reflections at the side… but anyway in this case the camera is definitely focusing on the chips in the glass.

Unfortunately the Mapillary app is fairly limited in photographic features - developers, this looks like a feature request!

A workaround could be to use the Open Camera app, where you can lock the focus or set it to infinity. It also has a repeat unlimited features (as well as exposure compensation), geo tagging and repeat mode interval can be set to a distance, so it pauses when you stop.

Unfortunately you will then have to use a computer to upload the images, but you will get much better control.

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good idea! ill give it a go next time. i always upload from my computer anyway and ive been using the command line tools a lot more lately since im using a gopro so it wont be too much extra effort

Thank @eesger. You’re spot on, especially when it comes to having a skirt for the camera. Just picture doing something like this for it, .

Some other users have done thing like putting black velvet on their dashboard to help reduce the glare.

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Focus on windscreen is always an issue, despite carefully cleaning the windscreen and putting a black felt on the dashboard. So I use the fixed_focus option that is available and focus at infinity on my two smartphones. Not available on your xz1? Did you try to activate the “Force the use of the legacy Camera API” in Developer settings?

Would that skirt fit a Gopro ? I thought about cutting something in black paper, or even 3D printing.

The Mapillary App has a ‘Fixed focus at infinity’ in Settings -> Camera which in theory should solve your issue. That said, it resulted in all photos being slightly out of focus with the phone I tested this on.

Plan B: change your windshield? :wink:

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i remember trying the fixed focus option when i started using mapillary first, and as you said @fgouget, the photos were slightly out of focus. ill give it a go again though.

my insurance is up at the end of the year so i will be upgrading to the plan that covers windshield replacement so i only have to put up with it for another few months i suppose!

Hi @filipc, I’m sorry, it wouldn’t. I should’ve been more clear that in “like this one”, my example was meant as a general concept.

I’ll undertake this for myself for my garmins at some point this year. I’m waiting until I get a new car. The Nissan Cube I have has a fairly straight up and windshield. Most cars have a much more of an angle. In fact having some angle on the side windows. That’s my excuse for procrastination on this.

But ya, it’s going to have to be something much smaller. In fact, I may see what I can do with rubber. The other issue is that when I get the cameras too close to the side windows, I can and do hit bumps that have caused them to wack the window. That’s actually ended up in a scratch or two. Not a big deal on this one but it’ll matter for the new one.

i tried this the last few days and it works great! even with rain on the window one day and dirt another day the camera still stayed focused on the road.

it would still be better to have this option in the Mapillary app of course so it wouldnt be capturing when youre stopped at traffic lights, which would mean less processing later on.

the exposure with Open Camera seems to vary randomly from photo to photo as well so its going to make it a lot harder to brighten dark photos. usually with the photos from the mapillary app i select them in groups in lightroom and match changes to them all at once but you cant really do that when every second photo has a different exposure

oh well, better that than blurry photos anyway