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Lens focus The place to talk about your camera's glassware.

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Old 8th June 2011
birdboy birdboy is offline
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Is my E3 faulty?

I have convinced myself I have a focusing problem with my camera and lenses 12-60mm swd & 50-200mmswd. My general feeling is that I do not get the pin sharp pictures I once used to get. I feel I should be getting better pictures as I develop techniques and better equipment i.e. tripods. My wife thinks my pictures are great and itís all in my mind. I do not know whether all my surfing on the internet has coloured my judgment. My main hobby is photography feathered birds, I am not a twitcher I take the picture and we try and identify the birds from books etc.

I have had my E3 since July 2008 and was very pleased with the pictures I took with it. In Feb 2010 I had a repair done to the screen (screws fell out). At this time I did some searching on the internet to see if others had had this problem and I also got interested in some of the other issues that seemed to be around at that time. When the camera came back March 2009 the pictures seemed good at first then from about May 2010 it seemed even harder to get good sharp pictures. I did have an incident where the camera was accidently knocked over on its stand when it was only about a foot off the ground. The pictures were ghosting / soft and the whole frame seemed to lack definition. But occasionally I get very good sharp pictures. Nothing seems consistent. I like to take birds in flight using high shutter speeds 1/1000sec +. I contacted Olympus customer support in July 2010 and emailed them the pictures. They suggested several things which I had already tried. In the end I returned the camera for a check it came back no fault found. I have since heard someone who had the camera back from Olympus only to find their problem still existed, but it was eventually fixed.
So the camera came back and I have persevered playing with settings and techniques. Sometimes I get very sharp pictures and that gives me a buzz. I have since revisited the forums and seen all sorts of problems over focusing and image stabilisation. I am now convinced that my E3 and or lenses are not performing as they should.

I have included an example of a picture which I feel shows my perceived problem. The picture was taken on a tripod and the focus light came up before I took the picture.

Is it me or does there seem to be a problem I just seem to be binning too many pictures?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

John
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Old 8th June 2011
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Re: Is my E3 faulty?

That is a pretty badly focussed photo John. How did you focus, auto or manual? If auto what target mode did you use and what was the focal length of the lens? Does manual focus improve things?

Try using mirror lock-up (anti-shock) and a remote release or use the timer. I find that there is a significant improvement in quality by using anti-shock and my remote cable. Pick a subject and use just the single centre target and take a series of shots and see if there is any improvement.

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Old 8th June 2011
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Re: Is my E3 faulty?

Hi John,

I see the problem but am not sure what is causing it. Are you using IS with the tripod? (This is not recommended)

As Steve said, it would be useful to know how your camera is set up to focus. You could test focus by mounting on a tripod and focusing on a fixed target, i.e. not a bird. The No 5 post in your picture would be a good target. Use anti shock and single target centre point as Steve suggests and take a picture using AF. Then switch to manual focus and use magnified live view to focus critically. If AF is working correctly you shouldn't see any difference in sharpness. Make sure you try this on a still day with ample anti shock time to allow all vibrations to settle and keep IS switched off. If both pictures are unsharp then something has been knocked out of alignmet, either in the camera of lens. If MF is sharp but not AF then the AF is faulty.
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Old 9th June 2011
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Re: Is my E3 faulty?

Looking at the shot (and it's difficult with the low res image posted and no exif) suggests that the camera has picked up focus on the water behind the bird, so the subject is oof ('cos it's in front of the focus point) and the sign is falling out of the focal range behind.

There could be all sort of reasons.

Try some some tests with the camera set to a single focal point and mounted on a tripod. Pick an obvious point and focus on it, repeat with various fixed subjects.

There were some focus issues with early E-3 cameras (not all), basically some in the first batch to reach the UK. But since then there have no reports of a 'model' problem.

The E-3 is a pretty tough camera, mine (amongst the first in the UK) has toppled from an extended tripod and followed me down when I've fallen over. You need to be pretty unlucky for a fall to cause harm.

Nick
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Old 9th June 2011
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Re: Is my E3 faulty?

Thanks for the replies.
The picture was focused using the continuous auto focus feature and I got indication it had focused. I tend to use single point small as the focus point. The picture was cropped and resized to comply with upload requirements. When I view my picture I view them in 1:1 and that’s where the problem really shows.

Exif info.
Hardware Info
Model E3
Camera ID Olympus Digital Camera
Lens Information Olympus 50-200mm F2.8-3.5SWD +_EC20
Software used Olympus Master 2.30W

Shooting Information
Shooting Mode A (Aperature Priority
Focal Length 364.0mm
Focal Length(equ) 728.0mm
Shutter 1/2000 sec
F. No F6.9
Exposure Comp 0.0EV
Flash OFF
Whitebalance Auto
PICTURE MODE NATURAL
Saturation 0
Contrast 0
Sharpness 0
Gradation AUTO
Colour Space sRGB IEC61966-2.1
Metering Mode ESP (ESP+AF)
ISO Sentivity 400
Focus Mode Continuous AF
Macro Off
Drive Sequential shooting (2Frame)
EXT. WB DETECT ON
Image Stability OFF
Image Information
Format Exif JPEG
Image size 1200 x 900
Resolution 300
Color Depth 16.7 million colors
File size 220.21KB
Shooting Date 31/05/2011 12:02:33

I am interested in the mirror lock feature I have this turned off. I have read Wrotniak guide but to be honest I do not understand. I turned it off because I sometimes want the 5fs feature. I will try the 2second setting and see if that makes a difference.
The picture was taken at f6.9 364mm (50-200mm swd + ec20) with a shutter of 1/2000sec C-AF ISO 400. The tripod was a RSP CF with Gitzo head 2180 from a bird hide at Mimsmere. I have IS turned off after much experimenting I believe that it has a detrimental effect on sharpness at shutter speeds over 1/80sec.
I know the EC20 loses stops and some clarity but what I think I get with far subjects is the effect as if none of the picture is in focus almost as if there is camera shake. What I do not understand is with a shutter speed of 1/2000 if that should negate any camera steadiness effect at the focal length I am shooting. I have also tried using the remote control cable and manual focus but get the same result.
Nick your experience of falling camera is very helpful for me as I have convinced myself that that may well be the problem. Steve and John’s thoughts about mirror lock are something I will experiment with.
John
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Old 9th June 2011
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Re: Is my E3 faulty?

That doesn't look like a focus issue to me but rather an exaggerated version of the problems I have when using IS on my E5, everything in the shot is blurred there appears to be nothing more in focus than anything else.
Try turning IS off and see what happens, with fast shutter speeds IS is redundant anyway, and not really needed if using a monopole and not all if using a tripod.

Edit
Sorry just read your next post and you already had IS turned off. That's a strange one, maybe it's a camera fault but nothing to do with shutter speed or IS etc but something to do with the processing of the image either that or the focus is miles out but that seems extreme. Try manual focus and see what happens as already has been suggested.

Paul
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Old 9th June 2011
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Re: Is my E3 faulty?

Just a thought, you say the photo was taken with Continuous AF and small sensitivity.

The default for "release priority" for CAF, is on; that is the shutter will release without a focus confirmation.

Could it be that a slight camera movement takes the small AF point off the original target, and the shutter releases as the camera is changing focus to the new target?
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Old 9th June 2011
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Re: Is my E3 faulty?

I think the key to driving this forward is some test shots on a fixed object, preferably one with some details in front/behind (so you can see front/back focus) as suggested by John (Zuiko).

Probably best to do it with the aperture wide open (to reduce dof) and initially without the ec20. Once we see what those tell us we may get a better idea as to what to suggest next.

Nick
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Old 9th June 2011
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Re: Is my E3 faulty?

This is all very useful feedback for me thanks to you all.

I looked up more about mirror lock and played with some settings on a chimney pot not as interesting as birds but they don't want to hang arround for the 2 secs while the mirror stays locked up. There was a slight improvement.

I have stayed away from liveview but I tried it in manual focus and with my remote control. Using the enlarged display I can really see the challenge for the camera as any slight touch shakes the camera clearly when using the EC20. On reflection I should have shown a picture taken without the EC20.

Bill's (peak4) comment is an interesting one and maybe I should stay with SAF especially if I then were to use mirror lock as often my subjects move around. However if the subject does move out of focus between focus lock and firing the shutter some other point in the picture should be in focus and I cannot see any.

I did a quick test with the 50-200mmSWD without the EC20 in CAF. I focused on the cross over of the two tape measures with the camera mounted on my tripod (RSP CF with Gitzo head 2180). The camera was only 2.5m from the focus point however.

The Exit info is;
Hardware Info
Model E3
Camera ID Olympus Digital Camera
Lens Information Olympus 50-200mm F2.8-3.5SWD
Software used Olympus Master 2.30W

Shooting Information
Shooting Mode A (Aperature Priority
Focal Length 200.0mm
Focal Length(equ) 400.0mm
Shutter 1/400 sec
F. No F3.5
Exposure Comp 0.0EV
Flash OFF
Whitebalance Auto
PICTURE MODE NATURAL
Saturation 0
Contrast 0
Sharpness 0
Gradation AUTO
Colour Space Adobe RGB (1998)
Metering Mode CenterWeightedAverage
ISO Sentivity 100
Focus Mode Continuous AF
Macro Off
Drive Sequential shooting (1Frame)
EXT. WB DETECT ON
Image Stability OFF

Does this indicate what I can expect from this setup. I will do some tesing with the mirror lock tomorrow if the light is good.

This all seems to be telling me that it is me having unrealistic expectations when photographing far subjects and there is probalbly nothing wrong with the camera or lenses.

Once again thanks for all your replies.

John
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Old 9th June 2011
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Re: Is my E3 faulty?

Well that seems a reasonable result, though I'd suggest you retry the experiment on more distant fixed objects. But from that picture I can't see anything wrong.

I don't tend to use the 50-200 with the ec2.0, but I do use the 90-250 with the teleconverter. That gives me a 500mm equivalent used handheld with IS on, often at much lower shutter speeds (say 1/250) and an acceptable rate of good results. I do find the C-AF Lock = On (P90 of E-3 manual, Customizing..) is a useful setting, it means the focus point remains where I set it, even if an unusually deep breath wobbled the camera onto an area of better contrast.

(oh and if you wear glasses, varifocal are a No-No for long tele lenses, you can get away with them for shorter distances but...)

Nick
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Old 9th June 2011
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Re: Is my E3 faulty?

Tthe current issue of Amateur Photographer comes with a graduated cardboard so you can test the AF of your camera. Perhaps you should try it?
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Old 10th June 2011
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Re: Is my E3 faulty?

That first sample picture is SO bad, maybe the thing really does need a repair.
Was it the same lens attatched when the camera had its fall?
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Old 10th June 2011
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Re: Is my E3 faulty?

Ulfric

Yes it was the same lens. I am begining to think that the problem could be with using CAF and that SAF would have been a better choice for that subject.

Thanks

John
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Old 10th June 2011
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Re: Is my E3 faulty?

Nick

I am very interested to hear that you use your 90-250mm with the EC20 but not the 50-200mmswd. Is that because of the better glass and f stop of 5.6 compared to 7.1 with the swd combo? Handheld and using IS wow have you any pictures in your gallery of birds taken with this setup? You say 500mm equivalent which I take as 1000mm 35mm equivalent thats some magnification.

I am looking to get a better lens setup specifically for taking birds some distance. I was looking at the prime Ed 300mm lens but with all things there will have to be compromise, sharpness/price/weight. I was thinking about the groups hiring option to test the prime lens if I can convince myself that there is nothing wrong with performance of my equipment just the way I have been using it.

Thanks for help.
John
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Old 10th June 2011
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Re: Is my E3 faulty?

Quote:
Originally Posted by birdboy View Post
Nick

I am very interested to hear that you use your 90-250mm with the EC20 but not the 50-200mmswd. Is that because of the better glass and f stop of 5.6 compared to 7.1 with the swd combo? Handheld and using IS wow have you any pictures in your gallery of birds taken with this setup? You say 500mm equivalent which I take as 1000mm 35mm equivalent thats some magnification.
There is no real reason I don't use the ec2.0 with the 50-200, others do, but it does require quite a lot of light towards the long end.

These were taken with the 90-250 ec2.0





There are quite a few of us managing 500mm (ok 1000 in old money) handheld. (see for instance PeterD and his Sigma)

Renting, or at least trying out the lens at an e-group meet is quite a good idea, both the 300mm and the 90-250 are big heavy beasts.

Nick
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