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  #1  
Old 28th February 2010
karen
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E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

Before I start let me say I am very new to photography this is my first DSLR and I am a complete novice, so please be patient and explain any answer as if you were talking to a 3 year old!

My husband and I bought this camera last year, and although at first it seemed to work fine, now I cannot seem to get it to take pictures in the dark at all, they come out extremely dark even though I can see the flash going off? What am I doing wrong? It appears I canít restore to factory settings as I think (if Iím correct) I should have set a restore point? I have tried going to M on the dial and setting the ISO to 400 on the menu (im not sure if this is correct?) but that still doesnt work

Also I used to be able to take pictures quite quickly (consecutively) but now it seems to take so long to focus I am missing the picture. One of the reasons I purchased this was that I hated that lag on my older cheaper digital camera.

Please can someone help? I really havenít a clue and the handbook isnít helping as Iím not sure of the terminology used as a complete newbie.
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Old 28th February 2010
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Re: E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

Quote:
Originally Posted by karen View Post
Before I start let me say I am very new to photography this is my first DSLR and I am a complete novice, so please be patient and explain any answer as if you were talking to a 3 year old!

My husband and I bought this camera last year, and although at first it seemed to work fine, now I cannot seem to get it to take pictures in the dark at all, they come out extremely dark even though I can see the flash going off? What am I doing wrong? It appears I canít restore to factory settings as I think (if Iím correct) I should have set a restore point? I have tried going to M on the dial and setting the ISO to 400 on the menu (im not sure if this is correct?) but that still doesnt work

Also I used to be able to take pictures quite quickly (consecutively) but now it seems to take so long to focus I am missing the picture. One of the reasons I purchased this was that I hated that lag on my older cheaper digital camera.

Please can someone help? I really havenít a clue and the handbook isnít helping as Iím not sure of the terminology used as a complete newbie.
There are two issues here: exposre and focus, so I'll address each in turn.

Exposure: even with flash, depending on your camera settings and the distance of the subject from the camera, it's very possible that the image will be too dark. To avoid unrealistic camera settings, try using the AUTO mode on the mode dial. This should set a combination of ISO, aperture and shutter speed that will be suitable for the scene. Even so, if your subject is too far away, the flash will not be able to illuminate it adequately. The built in flash is not very powerful sto start with, so you may need to invest in a more powerful external flash.

Experimentation is very useful - I would set the camea to 'A' (Aperture priority mode) with an aperture of f/5.6 to start off with. ISO 400 is a good choice as well. The camera will choose the shutter speed. Ensure the flash setting is set to Auto. The metering mode is probably best set to ESP (selective pattern mode). Try test shots with different apertures and ISO settings. Your subject should not really be more than 7-8 feet from the camera.

Focus: The autofocus sensors in the camera can't work effectively in dark or dim conditions. This is the same for all AF DSLRs. It's quite normal. After a certain level of darkness you will ned to use manual focus (MF instead of S-AF). E-System cameras like the E-420 have a manual focus aid via Live View. In Live View mode, with MF set, press the INFO button until you see a small green box in the centre of the screen. Press OK and the live view will be magnified to show the view inside that green box. You can then adjust the focus ring on the lens to accurately focus. Press OK again and then you are read to shoot.

Do let us know if any of the above has helped!

Ian
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Old 28th February 2010
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Re: E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

Ahh That is perfect, why isnt the manual so easy!

As this has been most helpful, I am going to go for another question too!

A work colleague had some beautiful pictures of Hong Kong Harbour with the boats lights blurred across the picture but background lovely and sharp (he said he had set the picture with a long exposure) Can I do such a thing with this camera if I get a tripod, or do I need something a lot fancier?
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Old 28th February 2010
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Re: E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

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Originally Posted by karen View Post
Ahh That is perfect, why isnt the manual so easy!

As this has been most helpful, I am going to go for another question too!

A work colleague had some beautiful pictures of Hong Kong Harbour with the boats lights blurred across the picture but background lovely and sharp (he said he had set the picture with a long exposure) Can I do such a thing with this camera if I get a tripod, or do I need something a lot fancier?
Yes of course

In this case, set a low ISO, and maybe a smaller aperture (larger aperture number) to reduce the light coming into the camera and so force a longer time for the shutter to be open (several seconds is ideal). This is easy in night time scences, but in daylight there may be too much brightness, so you might have to use neutral density (ND) filters to darken things.

A tripod or other solid support is essential for long exposure shots - and a cable release would be a good idea too. The Olympus one is excellent but quite expensive, but Jessops sells a cheaper third party one that will be OK.

Are you going to Hong Kong?

Ian
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Old 28th February 2010
Ken Lister Ken Lister is offline
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Re: E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

Quote:
Originally Posted by karen View Post
Before I start let me say I am very new to photography this is my first DSLR and I am a complete novice, so please be patient and explain any answer as if you were talking to a 3 year old!.
Welcome to the forum. A friendlier bunch of people you could not wish to meet. There is always someone able to give you the advice you need. As for talking to three year olds - my wife says talking to me is just like talking to one!
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Old 28th February 2010
BobS BobS is offline
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Re: E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

Hi Karen and welcome. We are a friendly bunch, some of us a bit crusty sometimes but nevertheless, kind at heart and helpful

If you are looking for a wireless remote control, I purchased one on eBay some time ago and it works fine. The supplier is in Australia but it arrived very quickly and it comes with a 2.5" screen protector. The eBay item number is 200441284470 and the cost is £6.48 post free. (Anyone else want one?).

Bob
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Old 30th March 2010
ChiTowndude
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Re: E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

Reading the above posts, I'm encouraged and hope to find some help here. I'm a newbie to DSLR, mostly because of my past philosophy that "If you don't have a camera with you, you can't get the picture" and DSLRs simply are too bulky and a nuisance dangling around the neck. However, now that photos are displayed on HDTVs, quality is becoming more important to me.

I got lucky and got a used Olympus Evolt e-420 with the Zuiko 25mm pancake. It's actually possible to have a somewhat bulking hip bag for this item and it's the most portable DSLR I've seen.

Aside from being overwhelmed by all the options, though, I've hit a serious wall that might cause me to return it and give up on DSLRs. Last night, I wanted to photograph the moon rising over Lake Michigan. The camera could not focus in auto mode nor in night scene mode, and try as I might, I could not get the shot. If there was a way to set the AF to infinity while in night scene, that would have been great, but I can't see it.

In fact, I can't see an easy way to switch to manual focus at all. Grabbing the manual focus ring in various scene modes seems to do nothing at all. I could really use some help. Thanks in advance to anyone with advice.
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Old 30th March 2010
Jim Ford Jim Ford is offline
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Re: E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

ChiTowndude:

Your camera should do what you're asking - after all you're not asking for the moon! ;^)

I haven't got an E-420, but selecting manual focus (MF) is a very basic function included on all the Olympus E series cameras that I know of. You select the 'box' in the info screen, which is probably currently set at 'S-AF', to 'MF'. You can then manually focus with the lens focus ring.

Jim
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Old 30th March 2010
ChiTowndude
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Re: E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

Thanks for taking the time to respond. I wish it were that easy. Unfortunately there's no way to select MF in the night scene mode (at least that I can see).
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Old 30th March 2010
Jim Ford Jim Ford is offline
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Re: E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiTowndude View Post
Thanks for taking the time to respond. I wish it were that easy. Unfortunately there's no way to select MF in the night scene mode (at least that I can see).
Just because you're taking a image in the night doesn't mean that you have to use 'night scene' or any other mode. Use shutter priority at the slowest setting you can hand hold and the ISO setting at (say) 800 and see how you get on.

Have you Read The Fine Manual?

Jim
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Old 30th March 2010
ChiTowndude
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Re: E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

Thanks again for getting back to me! I've been plowing through the 'Fine' manual (that is to say, RTFM, but in this case given how Olympus wrote the thing, 'F' does not stand for 'Fine') but getting the right shot is taking 'way more experimenting time than I had planned. One of the things about having a camera with you is the ability to quickly get it to the proper setting to get The Shot. Dickering with a bunch of settings each time wasn't my hope, and so a quick flip to 'Night Scene' seemed best.

I can certainly try the settings you suggested. What F stop does one use for this sort of shot, a moon reflecting over water? Is there any way to get this thing to default to infinity focus? I've got a 25mm lens, so I figure 1/25 second or faster is possible.

Is there a site where there are actual e-420 users familiar with this camera who have hands on experience and tips on how to do quick adjustments? I've searched the web and can't find doodly-squat.
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Old 30th March 2010
Jim Ford Jim Ford is offline
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Re: E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiTowndude View Post
Is there a site where there are actual e-420 users familiar with this camera who have hands on experience and tips on how to do quick adjustments? I've searched the web and can't find doodly-squat.
How about:

http://www.wrotniak.net/photo/moon/index.html

for tips on shooting the moon with an 'E' camera.

This is for the 510/410, which are similar to your 420:

http://www.wrotniak.net/photo/43/e510-sett.html

There's also a forum for Olympus digital SLRs here, which is well worth subscribing to:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/forum.asp?forum=1022

Jim
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Old 30th March 2010
ChiTowndude
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Re: E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

Can't thank you enough for these resources! I will work on them and get back to you.
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  #14  
Old 31st March 2010
ChiTowndude
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Thumbs up Re: E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

Well,the site that was recommended to me to help in basic setup of the e-420 was not much help, apparently because the changes from the 410 and 510 menus are rather significant. However, on the dpreview.com I found the following web page specific to the e-420 setup!! Thanks to John Foster for this!!

http://www.biofos.com/esystem/e420_set.html
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  #15  
Old 31st March 2010
ChiTowndude
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Re: E-420 Taking pictures in dark? and focus lag (complete novice)

OK, with manual mode on and using F2.8 on my Zuiko 25mm and shutter speek 1/25, I'm getting an 'OK' image of the moon rising over the lake. I'd like to get more of the reflection on the water, though, and I'd like the moon to be less of a blazing white disc. Any suggestions, if it's even possible with this setup?
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