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Olympus OM-D E-M1 The first Micro Four Thirds camera that offers phase detect focusing so you can use Four Thirds DSLR lenses normally as well a Micro Four Thirds lenses.

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Old 13th December 2014
TonyR TonyR is offline
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40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

I have been meaning to write something about the new 40-150 Pro lens when using C-AF, particularly in comparison to the 50-200 SWD 4/3 lens.

When I first tried the new lens on my E-M1 with C-AF, I have to say that I was disappointed. I have been using the 50-200 SWD for most of the year with some good results and the 40-150 behaves very differently.

To get good results from the 50-200 SWD I used back-button focus and usually, nine area. The lens acquired focus pretty quickly if it was well defined like a bird in the sky. Then once locked (on the older firmware, after the second beep. Now we only get one beep which makes it harder to know when it is locked.) it would usually track the subject very well. i.e. staying in focus.

At first with the 40-150, I was horrified to see it breathing heavily in and out around the subject. After it seemed to get focus, it would then start wobbling back and forth (a long way!) and thus be mostly out of focus. Yuk! My first results were not as bad is this description might suggest but were quite varied from sharp to not.

However, I have noticed a different behavior which improves matters which relates back to the second focus lock (which used to have the second beep). Basically, if you track the subject well and allow the camera to get a successful second lock, then it will track quite well. If this goes according to plan you get lock (with beep) - small focus wobble - second lock (no beep) followed by reasonably good tracking. If it goes badly, you get lock (with beep) followed by lots of large wobbles back and forth with no second lock. If this happens, it's best to start again from scratch.

What bugs me about this is that is seems that the new lens is not really making any use of the PDAF sensors. Given that the 50-200 is an older, mechanically slower lens and works quite well, Olympus should have been able to make the new lens work similarly, but much more responsively and accurately using PDAF. It seems to me that they are only using CDAF . What a waste! Get on the job Olympus! I want a firmware upfdate that makes full use of PDAF.

The CDAF characteristics show up in other situations such as my dog running in a field. Given half a chance, the 40-150 will focus on the background behind the dog whereas the 50-200 will realise that the dog is nearer than the background and so focus on the dog . In this situation, with the new lens, you need to use a focus box small enough to be completely on the dog to avoid the problem. It is hard to track accurately though.

One more thing; using a large, single area focus box (i.e. choose the 3x magnification in Zoom AF) seems to cause the camera to become incredibly slow. It can become unresponsive for a second or two thinking about something. So, unusable at the moment.

In short, Olympus had a lot of time to make this lens perform with the E-M1 and seem to have blown it. As it is, it is usable with care but it should be great. This needs improving and if it isn't, it doesn't bode well for the 300 f/4, especially for birders.

On a brighter note, when you make it work, you can get results like these (both taken with the MC-14).





Cheers!
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Old 13th December 2014
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Re: 40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

Thanks for this still at the sell 4/3 lenses to get a 40/150 or stay with the 50 /200?
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Old 14th December 2014
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Re: 40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

It is with interest I read your comment about the large single box focus area not being usable. I always use this with reasonable success for BIF with the 75-300 but only on S-AF, I can't get C-AF to work reliably on the E-M1 with any focus area mode. I have up to now thought it to be a camera issue but many are reporting excellent results with the 50-200 so this may not be the case.

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Old 14th December 2014
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Re: 40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

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Originally Posted by Wee man View Post
Thanks for this still at the sell 4/3 lenses to get a 40/150 or stay with the 50 /200?
I am in the same boat so to speak Ed.
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Old 14th December 2014
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Re: 40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

Oh dear oh dear this is what I did not want to hear. Very disappointing, I was hoping the new lens and the eventual 300 f4 would be much better.
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Old 14th December 2014
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Re: 40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

One of the things I am highlighting is that with both the 50-200 and 40-150, you need to use special technique to get good results. And these techniques seem to be different for each lens. When this works out, the results from the 40-150 Pro + MC-14 are very similar to the 50-200.

In my opinion, the technique thing is about allowing the camera to get the C-AF focus sorted out before you start snapping away. That's why I use back-button focus and don't attempt to start shooting before I can see that the focus is following properly. This is tricky with AF on the shutter button because you have to maintain the half press before shooting and, once you have started shooting, it is quite difficult to return to a half press without fully releasing the shutter and thus losing the focus lock. It is sometimes necessary to let the C-AF re-settle if say your subject suddenly changes direction for example. This is easy with back button focus because you can stop shooting whilst still holding the back button in.

I think the 40-150 requires different AF area selections to work optimally and this is an area that I am only just starting to get a handle on. 9 area and 81(?) area work for flying subjects and smaller AF areas are probably needed for subjects in front of a busy background.

At the moment, I am using C-AF Release priority Off (i.e. only fire the shutter when in focus) as this seems to give better results. It may be that with more familiarity, I can switch this back to On. At the moment, I am only using along with Single frame shooting and have yet to experiment with Continuous shooting.

I have C-AF Lock set to Normal at the moment because I didn't find that this setting made any difference at all with the 50-200. However, it is possible that it may have an effect with native m43 lenses.

So, still lots to find out.
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Old 14th December 2014
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Re: 40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

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Originally Posted by Miketoll View Post
Oh dear oh dear this is what I did not want to hear. Very disappointing, I was hoping the new lens and the eventual 300 f4 would be much better.
No disrespect to Tony because this is a very useful post but it would be good to have a number of user experiences in the pot before drawing 100% conclusions.
I for one have not yet tried my 40-150 with moving subjects so cannot comment, when I get an opportunity I will add my experiences.

And to further add Tony makes the point (in his last post) that some technique honing may be required to get the best results, this comes down to practice experimentation.
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Old 14th December 2014
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Re: 40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

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Originally Posted by benvendetta View Post
I am in the same boat so to speak Ed.
I'm in the position of considering buying a 50-200 SWD lens (next year).
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Re: 40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

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Originally Posted by Greytop View Post
No disrespect to Tony because this is a very useful post but it would be good to have a number of user experiences in the pot before drawing 100% conclusions.
I for one have not yet tried my 40-150 with moving subjects so cannot comment, when I get an opportunity I will add my experiences.

And to further add Tony makes the point (in his last post) that some technique honing may be required to get the best results, this comes down to practice experimentation.
You are right about using the correct or perfected technique with these lenses as I had to learn that CD-AF will focus on the background if not contained within the subject (& enough detail) & also, it serves well for birds hiding in the bushes as the camera sees through the branches at the birds behind (if the focus box size is appropriate for the size of the bird).
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Old 14th December 2014
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Re: 40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

Well, thanks for your feedback from your new lens mZD 40-150/2.8 pro, I think what you are describing on CAF mode is exactly how the little brother mZD pro 12-40/2.8 works on CAF too, and you are right they both different from how the 4/3 telephoto lenses as 50-200 performs on CAF mode.

With m43 lenses on CAF mode (I have also the Pany 35-100/2.8) after the focus beep (the first and only with the new firmware), if you try to focus on something still the focus shifts back and forth with small increments and tries to find a movement on the target to follow (when the light is difficult the shifting is more and slow), you have to trust the camera and use 1 or 9 f.p. with hole focus point box (small or Normal) on the moving target to have good results. If the target isn't moving don't use CAF.

I think also better results come with L-mode (camera continuous focus) and shutter release = On (you will have some unused photos ofcourse) , I try the back button for focus also with old firmware but I didn't find it so good on tracking with CAF, only on SAF, I will try it again and see.
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Old 16th December 2014
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Foolow up on 40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

I have done some more experiments with the 40-150 + MC-14 and noticed some behaviours that might be of assistance to others when using this lens.

First of all C-AF Lock. I previously commented that this setting seemed to have no effect on the 50-200 SWD so I have tried it out with the new lens. It makes an enormous difference! High setting introduces a delay of about 1 second when switching between subjects at different distances before the focus searches for new focus. Normal is a delay of about half a second and Low about a quarter of a second. Off notices the change almost immediately and snaps to the new position.

I have not tried this option in practice trying to follow a moving subject but it seems to me that it must have a major effect. Perhaps, for subjects with a smooth background (sky), lots of focus points and Focus Lock Off would work well? For trickier background, perhaps a small focus box and Focus Lock Short or Normal? It would not be easy to switch between the two setups though...

The other interesting thing concerns single area focus with Zoom AF combined with C-AF. This behaves very differently to to normal single area AF no matter what the box size. With normal single area AF, the initial focus acquisition is a fast single movement as long as the subject is large enough. The same process with Zoom AF consists of an initial snap to focus (as long as the target is large enough) followed by a rapid pumping of focus backwards and forwards. I can both see and hear this process happening and it lasts for about two seconds! I think this explains why Zoom AF with C-AF is unusable. When the subject is small, this process just keeps on going. Add in a long focus lock delay and you have a recipe for continuous non-focus!

When I get a chance, I am going to try Focus Lock Off with multi-area AF and see what happens.
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Old 16th December 2014
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Re: 40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

A quick test shows no major improvement. A seagull flew by 25m away whilst I had Release Priority set to Off. I didn't get a single shot in the 10 seconds it took to fly by indicating that the camera never once thought it was in focus. And it was right.

The trouble with CDAF for this application has always been that it relies on comparing contrast in this frame with that of the previous frame. This is fine where the image is comparable but when a bird is constantly changing shape and moving in the frame, the comparison is just not valid. Just about unusable for birds...

Any ideas anyone?
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Old 16th December 2014
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Re: 40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

Tony,

This is a very interesting thread for me. My lens and converter arrived today and I gave it a quick test in bright, sunny conditions. I didn't find the C-AF too bad. I was using the central 9 AF points and the Lock set to High. Hopefully we can get some more contributions and work out the best settings.

Below are 3 100% crops with no processing - not great photos, but the focussing is not bad.

Andy





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Old 16th December 2014
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Re: 40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyR View Post
....

The trouble with CDAF for this application has always been that it relies on comparing contrast in this frame with that of the previous frame. This is fine where the image is comparable but when a bird is constantly changing shape and moving in the frame, the comparison is just not valid. Just about unusable for birds...

Any ideas anyone?
Tony,
I realise that your thread is specifically about C-AF....
However since I assume your objective is to capture images with reliable AF on moving objects I suspect your best option would be to use S-AF with Sequential Low drive mode @ 6.5fps (and a diamond AF pattern). In this mode the AF is active between frames. Once you have initial AF lock, given the relatively small movement of the bird the AF on second & subsequent frames will occur reliably.

I think what you've been describing is the general ineffectiveness of the C-AF feature and the new lens isn't going to change this issue.
Apologies in advance in case you find this observation unhelpful.
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Old 16th December 2014
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Re: 40-150 f/2.8 Pro with C-AF

Yes, better than my efforts! 2nd, 3rd and 4th look good. I might try Focus Lock on High. Thanks for your feedback. Perhaps your birds were filling more of the frame than mine?

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Originally Posted by Bengeo View Post
Tony,

This is a very interesting thread for me. My lens and converter arrived today and I gave it a quick test in bright, sunny conditions. I didn't find the C-AF too bad. I was using the central 9 AF points and the Lock set to High. Hopefully we can get some more contributions and work out the best settings.

Below are 3 100% crops with no processing - not great photos, but the focussing is not bad.

Andy





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