Olympus UK E-System User Group

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-   -   Auto-focus on E3 (https://e-group.uk.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1302)

Rens 20th March 2008 10:44 AM

Auto-focus on E3
 
Overall Iím really happy with my E3. I like using it and am getting my best ever pictures.
I wouldnít buy a DSLR without articulating live view, so for the last two years I used a Sony R1. Used to its strengths the R1 was a good camera; just about DSLR IQ and an excellent lens.

The E3 betters it in just about every area. For example:

Much faster AF and file writing
Excellent manual focusing in live view
Better higher ISO IQ (yes, really)
Much better low contrast detail (very important for me)
Excellent OVF
IS that works

It took me a while to come to terms with the clunky ergonomics and interface, but theyíre no problem now.

BUTÖÖÖ

Thereís one area Iím not quite happy with. The accuracy of the AF is inconsistent. Usually itís pretty good, 80% spot on and 20% very close. But in some situations the ratio can be much lower than this, even down to fifty fifty.

It seems to vary a great deal depending on the subject and light; itís very choosy about what it can lock onto accurately, and instead of admitting itís unsure, shoots anyway. Iíve read that repeating patterns are known to fool it, and I can confirm AF can be way out on these.

But usually the mis-focus is slight, just enough to faintly blur sharp reflections and fine print. Viewing at 100% confirms the problem. Iíve reproduced results with tripod tests: IS disabled, and two second delay to eliminate body shake.

My old R1 has much slower AF (edge recognition, of course), and while very occasional subjects can fool it, itís accurate most of the time, far more often than the E3.

As the E3 is spot on much of the time, Iím guessing the basic system is OK. Maybe a future hardware update will improve matters.

How do other users feel about AF on their E3s?
How does it compare with other DSLRs in this respect?
Is my experience typical, or are my problems such that the camera should go back to Olympus?

Basically I love it, Iíd hate to send it away and be without it for any length of time.

Hope to hear some thoughts, best wishes to all,

Rens

Jim Ford 20th March 2008 11:07 AM

Re: Auto-focus on E3
 
I always use centre spot focus - if necessary focusing on an object, half pressing the shutter release to hold the focus and re-framing the shot before pressing the shutter fully.

I've never had any problems with this technique on my E500 or E3, and can't imagine needing any other.

_I'd_ rather decide what I want in focus, rather than the camera take a guess. Olys are smart, but not smart enough to read my mind!

Jim

andym 20th March 2008 11:21 AM

Re: Auto-focus on E3
 
Hi

I use the same technique as Jim ie centre spot and the recompose but have the camera set to MF and the mode set to 3 for MF.This allow focus with the AEL button,I then swap the AEL with the FN button so the FN becomes my autofocus.
I find this works well for me and stops any errors when recomposing the shot after I have focused ie once its focused my finger is off the FN button.
In this settup the shutter becomes my AEL so if you want to lock exposure you half press the shutter.
This way you can also manual focus after you have use auto-focus.

B.P.S Studios 20th March 2008 11:38 AM

Re: Auto-focus on E3
 
I also use the Centre Spot focus which I find works perfect for me

PeterD 20th March 2008 12:45 PM

Re: Auto-focus on E3
 
Hope you do not mind me butting in on this thread.

Virtually all new users of the E3 come across the same problems on settings and each of us has a favourite setting, sometimes to use universally and sometimes used for a particular shoot. The openess of the E3 to select what suits you best means the options are great.

The following thread was started and the table constructed, to help us all but in particular, first time users. It saves having to repeat ourselves in individual posts that just get lost in the passage of time.

http://e-group.uk.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1203

The table is not yet populated but could someone, particularly one of our more experienced photographers please enter some of their settings. You will be helping others and, you never know, may see settings that you might also want to try.

The link we established also in setting up the table also gives access to the Wrotniak article which I think is essential reading for E3 users as it clarifies the manual descriptions and provides more info. If we get this off the ground then we shall have created an excellant resource for all.

PeterD

Ian 20th March 2008 01:24 PM

Re: Auto-focus on E3
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Rens (Post 11671)
Overall I’m really happy with my E3. I like using it and am getting my best ever pictures.
I wouldn’t buy a DSLR without articulating live view, so for the last two years I used a Sony R1. Used to its strengths the R1 was a good camera; just about DSLR IQ and an excellent lens.

The E3 betters it in just about every area. For example:

Much faster AF and file writing
Excellent manual focusing in live view
Better higher ISO IQ (yes, really)
Much better low contrast detail (very important for me)
Excellent OVF
IS that works

It took me a while to come to terms with the clunky ergonomics and interface, but they’re no problem now.

BUT………

There’s one area I’m not quite happy with. The accuracy of the AF is inconsistent. Usually it’s pretty good, 80% spot on and 20% very close. But in some situations the ratio can be much lower than this, even down to fifty fifty.

It seems to vary a great deal depending on the subject and light; it’s very choosy about what it can lock onto accurately, and instead of admitting it’s unsure, shoots anyway. I’ve read that repeating patterns are known to fool it, and I can confirm AF can be way out on these.

But usually the mis-focus is slight, just enough to faintly blur sharp reflections and fine print. Viewing at 100% confirms the problem. I’ve reproduced results with tripod tests: IS disabled, and two second delay to eliminate body shake.

My old R1 has much slower AF (edge recognition, of course), and while very occasional subjects can fool it, it’s accurate most of the time, far more often than the E3.

As the E3 is spot on much of the time, I’m guessing the basic system is OK. Maybe a future hardware update will improve matters.

How do other users feel about AF on their E3s?
How does it compare with other DSLRs in this respect?
Is my experience typical, or are my problems such that the camera should go back to Olympus?

Basically I love it, I’d hate to send it away and be without it for any length of time.

Hope to hear some thoughts, best wishes to all,

Rens

Are you talking specifically about the 12-60 SWD? A batch of that lens was faulty. Check that its serial number doesn't fall into the range:

230005416 to 230010688

See:

http://fourthirds-user.com/2008/02/d...ed_service.php

Ian

Jim Ford 20th March 2008 01:31 PM

Re: Auto-focus on E3
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by andym (Post 11673)
Hi
have the camera set to MF and the mode set to 3 for MF.

Sounds interesting, but I'm not sure what you mean by 'mode set to 3 for MF'. I'd like to give it a try, so perhaps you'd explain in more detail, please.

Jim

andym 20th March 2008 01:49 PM

Re: Auto-focus on E3
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim Ford (Post 11677)
Sounds interesting, but I'm not sure what you mean by 'mode set to 3 for MF'. I'd like to give it a try, so perhaps you'd explain in more detail, please.

Jim

Jim

I'm at work at moment so do not have the camera in front of me at the moment.But off the top of my head if you go to wrench 1 and the to AEL/AFL and select MF you can change the various modes for MF.If you change it to mode 3 it sets the AEL button to auto focus and the shutter half press to AEL.
You now set you camera to MF and you can auto focus with the AEL button.I prefer to swap the AEL with the FN button and hence focus withthe FN button.
I have used all my E ststem cameras like this.It stops you sometimes losing the focus because you have to hold down the shutter button while recomposing.

Give it a try.It works for me.

If you need anymore help let me know and I'll sort it out when I get home tonight.

Rens 20th March 2008 02:54 PM

I also use single spot focus
 
(usually but not always the centre one), with small sensitivity selected.

It seems to be the subject that can give the camera problems rather than me. I would never describe myself as an expert, but I've been taking photos for decades and I'm sure using the most suitable settings.

If not, I'll be happy to learn of course.

For my studio guitar pictures I use the excellent live view manual system, no problems there. I'm getting better pictures than ever before

It's almost as though the AF is too fast for its own good. If you take several photos of the same subject, the first can be not quite in focus but later shots improve.

I'm contacting Olympus asking them to examine the system and see if they can offer a firmware upgrade to improve matters (though whether it gets to anyone relevent is doubtful). I'm not the only E3 user to be happy with the camera as a whole but have AF reservations. Along with Louis Dobson saying it must be incompetent usage, others have posted doubts about the AF on the dpreview forum.

By the way, I am using the 12-60 lens, but it's not in the recall numbers, I checked a couple of weeks ago.

Does anyone have information as to how the E3 AF system compares with other DSLRs?

Best wishes to all,

Rens

yorky 20th March 2008 03:30 PM

Re: I also use single spot focus
 
Has anyone any experiances at focusing accuratly on moving objects with the 510 and the 14- 54 lens

Jim Ford 20th March 2008 05:43 PM

Re: Auto-focus on E3
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by andym (Post 11680)
Jim

I'm at work at moment so do not have the camera in front of me at the moment.But off the top of my head if you go to wrench 1 and the to AEL/AFL and select MF you can change the various modes for MF.If you change it to mode 3 it sets the AEL button to auto focus and the shutter half press to AEL.
You now set you camera to MF and you can auto focus with the AEL button.I prefer to swap the AEL with the FN button and hence focus withthe FN button.
I have used all my E ststem cameras like this.It stops you sometimes losing the focus because you have to hold down the shutter button while recomposing.

Give it a try.It works for me.

Got it!

Looks like it could be a useful setting for me - thanks.

Jim

andym 20th March 2008 07:25 PM

Re: Auto-focus on E3
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim Ford (Post 11686)
Got it!

Looks like it could be a useful setting for me - thanks.

Jim

No problem ,hope it works for you.

I like it as once you are focused there no chance of changing the focus by letting go of the shutter button when you recompose and if you need to tweak the focus manually you can.
The other thing I do is to set the Fn button (which is swapped with the AEL)to My Mode and have the my mode programmed to allow auto focus with the shutter release in case I need it.

OlyFlyer 20th March 2008 08:48 PM

Re: Auto-focus on E3
 
Hi Rens,

I agree with you. The focus accuracy is not as I'd expect from such an expensive, pro level camera. The fact is, the E-500 was much better when it comes to accuracy. You are also right about the camera triggers the shutter occasionally even when the subject is not in focus. My hit rate is typically about 90%, which is OK and seems like better than yours, but definitely not excellent. My hit rate with the E-500 was ~100% and when the focus was off it was my fault, most often caused by hand shake and too slow shutter speed. That is not the case now, most OOF shots are the cameras fault, not mine. I also agree with you about the AF being too fast for its own good. I wish Olympus added a firmware solution to this called Focus priority, with variables Accuracy or Speed. I'd love to trade the speed for accuracy, so that firmware update would be very welcome.

There is another thing about AF which I am not very happy about. I shoot a lot of macro, and the way I often did with the E-500 was using the focus trap trick. I moved the camera too close to focus, fully pressed the shutter release and that moved the lens to fully extended position. Than I slowly moved my body backwards and the camera would trigger the shutter when the focus was right. Of course, shutter priority was set to OFF. That is not possible any more because the E-3 just moves the lens back and forth forever (it feels like forever) than maybe at some point triggers the shutter, but in that case the magnification is not controlled and it can be triggered anywhere whithin the range, and since the AF is not always right, occasionally totally OOF. Before anybody comments on the ED50 macro being known for hunting I must tell you, mine got repared for it and never once hunted after the repair and during the 1.5 year I used on my E-500. Now it is hunting again, but this time I know it is not the lens, but the camera which causes the hunting.

A lot of people refuse to admit that the E-3 is indeed having some global problems with the AF. It is a nice camera but there are some improvements need to be made. I really hope Olympus is not going to listen to all those saying it is a learning curve, user error or that it is an individual camera that is wrong and so on. I hope they take their work more seriously and do some more serious tests and come up with a better solution than telling us we are doing things wrong.

My normal settings are S-AF, Shutter priority S and C OFF, single AF point (not necessarily the centre one) and small sensitivity. With the E-500 I always used the centre point because that was the only usable point. The E-3 has 11 usable points, but I make the selection manually and still don't believe the camera can make that selection for me.

BTW, I use the 14-54, 40-150 and the ED50/2 macro. I don't have any SWD but a whole bunch of OM, PK and Nikkor manual focus lenses.

Cheers.

250swb 20th March 2008 10:48 PM

Re: Auto-focus on E3
 
I don't tend to use the central AF target, but rather one of the others.

Somebody on dpreview noted after testing the AF response of the E3 that the central AF target was in fact somewhat larger in area than the little square box, in fact extending towards the outer circle. In many photo's this gives a pretty large area for the camera to choose for itself which bit of the subject it finds a tasty level of contrast to focus on. On the outer AF targets the area is close to the square box size. So I use the central target if I am generally wanting to shoot a landscape at a distance, or obviously flat or unambiguous subjects, and use the other target areas if it is open to question where the AF should focus on. In practice using one of the others is the same action as using the central point, focus lock then recompose, an age old technique.

Rens 23rd March 2008 11:24 AM

Re: Auto-focus on E3
 
OlyFlyer says:


"A lot of people refuse to admit that the E-3 is indeed having some global problems with the AF. It is a nice camera but there are some improvements need to be made. I really hope Olympus is not going to listen to all those saying it is a learning curve, user error or that it is an individual camera that is wrong and so on. I hope they take their work more seriously and do some more serious tests and come up with a better solution than telling us we are doing things wrong."

He's right, trying to pretend (often out of misguided loyalty) there isn't a problem with at least some cameras will make it less likely that Olympus feel compelled to correct it.

250 swb's point about the outer focus points being smaller than the central one is something I'll investigate. If it's true, seems daft to me.

Best wishes to all, Rens


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