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View Full Version : SOLVED EC20 + 50-200mmSWD breaking all the rules


birdboy
30th November 2011, 07:22 PM
I have struggled to understand what settings to use on my E3 + EC14 or EC20 + 50-200mmSWD for bird pictures.

The general consensus is that the EC20 is not suitable for the 50-200mmSWD in anything other than very good light conditions say a light value of 12+. I have found that by trying to stay within the rules I get very disappointing pictures. So I have rebelled. I shot Aperture priority with Auto ISO settings and the limit raised to 2000.

The guidance for DSLR users seems to be avoid; low light conditions, high ISO, low shutter speeds and small aperture settings (certainly nothing above f8).

I took the following photo today after much experimenting with settings.
This one was taken handheld at about 5.5m away with E3 +50-200mmSWD at 1/250Ē f16 ISO 1250 IS1 Light valve of 9.3. No cropping.

1900

This one was taken handheld at about 5.5m away with E3 +EC20+50-200mmSWD at 1/30Ē f16 ISO 2000 IS1 Light valve of 8.6. No Cropping.

1901


Whilst I accept that it is not the sharpest picture it will suffice as a record, itís not a one off the others I took with these settings are similar.

The key seems to be to use an aperture of f16 which gives a depth of field of 80mm at this distance and focal length. The only logical explanation I can think of is that the quality of the glass 50-200mmSWD is not that good at the edges and stopping down uses less glass and so better sharpness.

My conclusions is that for this type of shot use f11 for EC14 and f16 for the EC20 with the 50-200mmSWD and do not be too frightened to use high ISOís.

benvendetta
30th November 2011, 10:59 PM
I only have the non SWD 50-200 with the EC-20 combo, but I find f9 to give the best image quality (with my E-3). As for high ISO values it all depends what you are shooting. I wouldn't want to go too high with wildlife (800 absolutely the max) but for something like sports I would push it too 1600 or at a push 2000.

David Morison
30th November 2011, 11:39 PM
I agree with what Dave says re. photographing wildlife. Whilst I mainly use Auto ISO I do set the upper limit for most wildlife shots at 800-1000. The vast majority of my images of birds in particular are subject to large cropping, sometimes up to 100% and irrespective of whether you have an old or new sensor this will always result in image degradation if higher ISO values are used. I know because I've tried it and sometimes it is necessary if you want an image at all, but it will only produce a record shot.

David

David M
1st December 2011, 12:44 AM
As someone who shot film for 30+ years with Kodachrome and later Provia 100 as my high speed film it's nice to be able to crank the ISO up to 400 if I need to.

Greytop
1st December 2011, 09:00 AM
Here's an ISO1000 example using the EC-20 and 50-200 SWD. Lighting was less than ideal in this case and I find that the combination will quite comfortably stand a wide open aperture (which helps).

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/p3243419_10242.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/31767)

Here's another at ISO1600, again wide open.

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/P6055572_800.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/34883)

birdboy
1st December 2011, 11:02 AM
Thanks for your replies. What I think these illustrate comes down to the quality of your particulate lens. The better quality lenses (of the same model) allow you to shot wide open. I have watched with envy your photo’s taken with this combo and have never been able to reproduce anything near that sharpness wide open or near wide open even under test conditions with a focus card, tripod, mirror lock etc.

I accept without doubt that its best to shot with low ISO but there is compromise when the light is not good and your lens won’t allow you to get sharp pictures wide open.

Huw I think your examples are fantastic but you must have a very good example of the 50-200mmSWD lens don’t’ ever let it go.

I have seen posts about poor quality shots using the EC20 and not even Olympus recommend using this combo with the 50-200mmSWD lens. I have emailed the Olympus helpdesk only to be told that there is nothing wrong with the expected quality of my pictures. The question is do you think this variability in picture quality is down to the lens quality or something else in the way in which the picture is taken. If you pay £1,000 for a lens is this variability acceptable? It’s a factor as it puts me off of buying another Olympus lens new or second hand. My suspicion is that sometimes only the poorer quality lens end up being sold second hand.

I posted this more aimed at those like me who appear to have a poor quality 50-200SWD lens and see if stopping down gives something more acceptable.

Does anyone know if this could be fixed or improved if it took a visit to the Olympus repair shop?

Thanks for your interest in this thread.
John

David M
1st December 2011, 11:21 AM
So have you tried controlled tests using a tripod and taking your protective filter off?

birdboy
1st December 2011, 11:54 AM
So have you tried controlled tests using a tripod and taking your protective filter off?

Yes Dave I have tried this and changed the UV filter for a Marumi Digital High Grade filter. Are your shots taken with a filter?

The Olympus help desk gave me the following reply:
"In general, the maximum aperture isn't usually very sharp, and the lens gets sharper as you stop down. But if you stop down too far then the image starts getting blurry again. At the largest aperture, you're using the complete surface of every optical element, and every flaw (either in design or manufacturing) shows up. As you stop down, you use less of many of the optical elements, so many of the flaws have less of an impact on image quality. But if you stop down too far, then diffraction starts making the image less sharp. Once you stop down past about f/15, the image starts getting softer instead of sharper."

It seems to me that Olympus specs allow for this variation and if you have a good one look after it, if not tough.

John

andym
1st December 2011, 12:24 PM
Out of interest have you tried these type of shots without either of the converters and see if you still have the problem.

I do not have the EC20 but my old 50-200 with the EC14 works a treat.I normally shoot at about f6.3 and if I can get the shutter speed up over 200th of a second don't use IS.

Is you IS on or off?

Greytop
1st December 2011, 12:56 PM
John, if I were in your shoes I would be inclined to run some controlled tests, tripod mounted, mirror lock-up, IS off with and without the converters and the 50-200 wide open, auto and manual focus. Target something nice and defined like small news print cello-taped to a wall.
The goal.. to check focus accuracy.

I suspect it may well be the pairing of your body and lens plus converters requiring focus adjustment. Having to stop down as much as you have suggests to me that might well be the problem.

I know that focus adjustment is not available with the E-3 but sending the body and lenses away to Olympus for calibration is a possibility if this test confirms that auto-focus is off but manual focus gives you a sharp result.

I'll just add that I have owned two examples of the 50-200 SWD and both have been excellent performers. Maybe I have been lucky but my experience with Oly lens QA and performance out of the box has been outstanding. That's not to say there are not bad copies out there of course.

Nick Temple-Fry
1st December 2011, 01:29 PM
'hmm.

For those that haven't followed the various discussions see

http://e-group.uk.net/forum/showthread.php?t=15105

http://e-group.uk.net/forum/showthread.php?t=15532

I do find that my 50-200 is sharp from close to wide open, and this would tend to match other peoples experience. And the lens (in either swd or the original form - which I use) is not renowned for variability. I have posted (as have others) pictures using the 50-200 and the telecoverters and these have not needed to use high f-numbers to achieve sharpness. And I would certainly expect to see some diffraction softening affecting the images shot as high as f16 and f22, particularly as you move towards the rear of the dof away from the exact focus point.

So Birdboys conclusions are at odds with my, and the general experience of users with this combination.

(by the way has any one noted that he achieved a reasonable image at 1/30'th of a second at 400mm, a formidable achievement).

I do wonder whether something else is happenning here, though I've no real idea what.

I would concur that high iso is not to be necessarily feared, if it gives a better exposure of all parts of a scene then that weighs against the increase in general noise.

I'd also wonder if the implications of sensor noise and the use of teleconverters is really understood (at least by me:)). A teleconverter doesn't really increase the focal length of a lens, it spreads the central portion of an image over the whole area of the sensor (thereby apparently increasing the focal length), discarding the rest. Thus any detail boundary will cover a greater number of pixels (as will airy discs and other undesirable artifacts), but if the detail is larger then it will be be less likely to be disrupted. I've no real idea how the relationship pays off as magnification and iso increases.

Nick

birdboy
1st December 2011, 03:25 PM
Out of interest have you tried these type of shots without either of the converters and see if you still have the problem.

Is you IS on or off?

Andy I have tried this without the EC20 the first picture was posted taken with that combo i.e. E3 + 50-200mmSWD.

IS1 was used and seems to work very well as the second picture was taken at 1/30".

John, if I were in your shoes I would be inclined to run some controlled tests, tripod mounted, mirror lock-up, IS off with and without the converters and the 50-200 wide open, auto and manual focus. Target something nice and defined like small news print cello-taped to a wall.
The goal.. to check focus accuracy.

I suspect it may well be the pairing of your body and lens plus converters requiring focus adjustment. Having to stop down as much as you have suggests to me that might well be the problem.

I know that focus adjustment is not available with the E-3 but sending the body and lenses away to Olympus for calibration is a possibility if this test confirms that auto-focus is off but manual focus gives you a sharp result.

I'll just add that I have owned two examples of the 50-200 SWD and both have been excellent performers. Maybe I have been lucky but my experience with Oly lens QA and performance out of the box has been outstanding. That's not to say there are not bad copies out there of course.

Greytop I've done the control tests without either telecoverter and AF is spot on but the image is very soft and only sharpens up when I stop down to say f5.6.

The first was taken wide open at f3.5 no crop

1904

The second was taken at f5.6 no crop and although there is a change of depth in field there is also and increase in sharpness.

1905


Nick I do not think in my case this is a teleconverter problem because of the problems with the lens on its own. I note your own experience of this lens and others that post on this forum.*ohwell

I thank you all your replies and as Nick has pointed out I've written on this before. I am really trying to find a work around and share with others my experiences. I did take all my equipment to my local camera repair man who used to work for Olympus before setting himself up in business. He cleaned all the lenses contacts and sensor. But the problem still exists and the only conclusion is if this is normal then I have a rough lens that should not have got through quality control but Olympus repair do not think it is a quality issue.

I do think this is a quality issue and that others like me eventually give up.

John

Nick Temple-Fry
1st December 2011, 04:25 PM
The first was taken wide open at f3.5 no crop

1904

The second was taken at f5.6 no crop and although there is a change of depth in field there is also and increase in sharpness.

1905


John

I'm not an expert on these charts, and it's difficult to be sure on such small images. But I do wonder if you are getting some front focus on the lens/camera. On both charts the first full width line in front of the 0 line appears sharper than the corresponding line behind the 0 line. This strikes me as odd because dof should extend further backwards than it does forewards.

Though the test set-up would need to be repeated a number of times to be sure that it's not a minor alignment problem in testing.

In fact having written this I note that the target is not central - and in both cases the actual focus point appears to be on the bottom (SSSE) of the taget circle - and on the F3.5 chart that appears to be the sharpest point.

I wonder - but mostly if someone with more experience of using these charts can comment.

Nick

gazza95
1st December 2011, 05:53 PM
Hi Birdboy

This is similar to another thread around the 50-200 a couple of weeks ago. From testing I did on my 50-200 non SWD at that time it does seem sharpest at around F5.6 or F8 with a 1.4 converter. If you look at various lens reports for the 50-200 this seems to be typical.

If I want to get sharp pictures then I use a minimum of 1/600 or 1/800 with the converter and a monopod. Seems I don't have the steadiest of hands. These are without IS as many of my pictures involve panning of some sort.

I mainly shoot Aperture priority now and then adjust ISO to get shutter speed I want.

By doing this I am pretty sure that the duff pictures I get are due to bad focusing. To be honest with firmware 1.4 C-AF is bloody frustrating as it will fire the shutter when out of focus and Early Release is set to off. You have to press shutter half way, wait for beep and then take shot and hope...... This is even when using single point target.

With S-AF I have no such problems and can get high percentage of keepers.

It does seem strange that you need to close the lens down as far as you are suggeting to get sharp images.


Gary

Greytop
1st December 2011, 05:57 PM
I agree with Nick I think if anything there seems to a tenancy to front focus in these two images.
My guess also that this test was performed relatively closely to the minimum focus distance. Have you done any tests with several metres between your lens and the target. The target could be something else contrasty that enables you gauge whether you have any front or back focus at distance.

birdboy
1st December 2011, 06:52 PM
Hi Birdboy

This is similar to another thread around the 50-200 a couple of weeks ago. From testing I did on my 50-200 non SWD at that time it does seem sharpest at around F5.6 or F8 with a 1.4 converter. If you look at various lens reports for the 50-200 this seems to be typical.

It does seem strange that you need to close the lens down as far as you are suggeting to get sharp images.


Gary

Thanks Gary I did follow that earlier thread and your reply seemed more in line with my experience. To me itís back to varying degrees of quality of lens or the likes of Huw (Greytop) have some super secret technique to get the pictures they get.

John

birdboy
1st December 2011, 07:34 PM
I agree with Nick I think if anything there seems to a tenancy to front focus in these two images.
My guess also that this test was performed relatively closely to the minimum focus distance. Have you done any tests with several metres between your lens and the target. The target could be something else contrasty that enables you gauge whether you have any front or back focus at distance.

These observations of yours and Nicks are very sharp requiring a very critical eye. My simple way of looking at this is that if it is a focusing issue the picture will still be sharp somewhere, just not where you may want it, but somewhere in the picture it will be sharp especially with the focus card I used as it gives a better guide to depth of field than a flat contrast objective.

I did take more pictures further away as I did calculations on depth of field and considered I was too close to the minimum focus distance. My target was somewhat agriculturally aligned :o at about 3.3m. Itís not the actual focus point that concerns me but the very soft appearance.

The first was at f3.5 these are cropped

1906

The second at f5.6

1907

and the third at f8

1908

All this help is very interesting and I thank you all for your views. I think I have tried all the options short of sending the lens back to Olympus. Does anyone know what a full service would involve?

John

Greytop
1st December 2011, 11:11 PM
Were these with mirror lock up, timer delay/remote release and IS off John? What was your shutter speed and focal length?
Naturally I'm assuming they were taken on a tripod :)

Something very odd going on there, the f/3.5 and to a degree the f/8 image look like there has been some movement going on.

David M
1st December 2011, 11:41 PM
Yes Dave I have tried this and changed the UV filter for a Marumi Digital High Grade filter. Are your shots taken with a filter?

John

I discovered over 20 years ago how much a quality filter can degrade image quality and haven't used one since.

I don't use the 50-200 as a wildlife lens, it's more of a landscape lens for me. When I do use it for wildlife it's coupled with the EC-14 where it's sharp at f6.3 (f4.5 on the lens).

Nick Temple-Fry
2nd December 2011, 12:45 AM
and on the F3.5 chart that appears to be the sharpest point.

Nick

And on the small image provided that position appears to be sharp.

If the shots were not centred very exactly on the target circle then it's difficult to hold a view on front or back focus.

But the comments on using a filter are interesting, as you narrow the aperture you are taking less light that is incident on your lens/filter at a higher angle, the higher the angle the more dispersion you will get from the filter (and the higher spread of wavelengths which will be compounded as a problem by the bayer array on the sensor when the light finally gets there). This would be consistent with your need to set higher apertures than are generally used.

On the whole I see little use for filters on long lenses which are well protected by the lens hood anyway, certainly they should be removed before making test shots.

It's a difficult one to resolve. On the one hand it's quite possible we have a lens that's not optimal or a camera where the focus adjustment is slightly off. One the other side we may have a problem with technique/use/expectation.

I wonder if trying another 50-200 SWD (perhaps from the hire service Ian operates) and doing some test shots on targets (without a filter) might help.

Nick

Phill D
2nd December 2011, 06:28 AM
This thread says solved so what was the solution? I know I read it fairly quickly but I've definitely missed it somewhere.

birdboy
2nd December 2011, 12:18 PM
This thread says solved so what was the solution? I know I read it fairly quickly but I've definitely missed it somewhere.

I thought I had solved the problem by stopping down. But the feedback I've suggests that I should get much better. So the problem is not solved. Perhaps the real solution is to rename my lens 50-200SWD1:4.0/5.6.

All the comments about mirror lock and filters I have tried before with no real noticable change.

If it is my "technique/use/expectation" how do you explain the quality of pictures that the likes of Huw (Greytop) etc are getting. Have they removed filters use of mirror lock and top the range tripods?


If I am doing something wrong its so frsutrating not to know what it is?

Thanks again for the help. I had considered hiring another lens, but what do I do then if it is the lens.
John

birdboy
2nd December 2011, 03:34 PM
Were these with mirror lock up, timer delay/remote release and IS off John? What was your shutter speed and focal length?
Naturally I'm assuming they were taken on a tripod :)

Something very odd going on there, the f/3.5 and to a degree the f/8 image look like there has been some movement going on.

Huw all were shot from a tripod (RSPB CF +Gitzo 2180 head)did not use mirror lock up timer delay or remote release IS1 was used I normally turn this off but I seem to have forgotten this.

Ist shot 200mm f3.5 1/750" ISO 200 light value 12.2
2nd shot 200mm f5.6 1/250" ISO200 light value 11.9
3rd shot 200mm f8.0 1/125" ISO200 light value 12.0

I would very interested in how you took your pictures, did you use a tripod mirror lock up Ive looked at your exif data so know the basics. How much post processing did you carry out?

Thanks for your interest and help in my now unsolved problem.
John

Greytop
2nd December 2011, 05:44 PM
Huw all were shot from a tripod (RSPB CF +Gitzo 2180 head)did not use mirror lock up timer delay or remote release IS1 was used I normally turn this off but I seem to have forgotten this.

Ist shot 200mm f3.5 1/750" ISO 200 light value 12.2
2nd shot 200mm f5.6 1/250" ISO200 light value 11.9
3rd shot 200mm f8.0 1/125" ISO200 light value 12.0

I would very interested in how you took your pictures, did you use a tripod mirror lock up Ive looked at your exif data so know the basics. How much post processing did you carry out?

Thanks for your interest and help in my now unsolved problem.
John

Hi John, the pain that it is I think it's work employing all those techniques for testing because it removes all the questionable variables. In particular leaving IS on whilst on a tripod at longer focal lengths can have a real negative effect on the image sharpness (I've had experience of this my self a few times).

With regard to my pictures, they are generally hand held with some support (sitting in a large chair reversed in our lounge) which looks out into our back garden. Patio door open if the weathers OK ;)
I always use IS too when taking hand held shots, I find it does an excellent job.

Images are RAW processed in CaptureOne 6.3 Pro and if needed I tend to use Neat Image for any noise reduction.