Focus-by-wire - WTF

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
jeremyclarke
Junior MemberPosts: 40Gear list
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Re: Right camera wrong lens wrong flash
In reply to LincolnB, 4 months ago

FWIW no one has mentioned vintage MF lenses yet. I'm finding that in dark situations where the AF fails on the X-E1 and the MF on the X lenses disappoints I end up being a lot happier with the results from my old Minolta 50mm F/2. The MF is buttery and predictable though obviously a pain to constantly manage. You can get a 50mm f/1.4 for under $100 on ebay, though fast lenses at almost any other focal length are much more expensive because 50mm was the standard kit lens back in those days. As long as you're not sitting across the table from someone 50mm is usually workable though, and everyone looks good at the 85mm-equivalent portrait range

Like the others I'm mystified that you didn't bring the 35mm f/1.4 to a situation you knew would be dark (if you hadn't mentioned it I'd assume you didn't own it!). Yes it's a prime but extreme situations is exactly where primes are most needed, and a night club is definitely at the extreme end of low-light shooting. I find the by-wire focus ring on the 35mm significantly better/smoother than the one on the 18-55mm; Have you tried comparing them and practising manual focus with the 35mm? With some practice you could probably get it to do your bidding, and regardless of the manual focus feel it only makes sense to have f/1.4 in your pocket so you can gather more light.

Another thing to remember/notice is the (annoyingly) complex matrix that defines when the focus ring does and doesn't have an effect. Unfortunately the X-E1 will ignore turns of the focus ring in many situations where the result is confusing at least to me (and you it sounds like). For example when the shutter is half-pressed for AE-lock the focus ring is ignored, also when you are in "AF point selection" mode (i.e. when you are moving the box that gets zoomed by the command dial) the same applies. I'm sure there are other examples as well. It's maddening and I wish they'd fix it (along with various other "buttons get disabled when you're not in normal shooting mode" issues) but knowing is half the battle and it will be a lot less of a problem if you are aware of WHY the focus ring won't work, since it's usually quick and easy to get back to normal shooting mode and start manually focusing again (tap shutter button).

Of course, that issue is another reason to consider an adapted vintage MF lens for such situations, the focus ring will not only be better, but will always work exactly as expected. With an old MF lens you also get a super-accurate focus scale to quickly get yourself into the neighbourhood of your subject and avoid super long spins.

Of course, using a native lens gives you the options of staying in MF mode and using the AF-L button to try autofocus briefly when you think it might work. If you haven't tried that setup ("Back-button autofocus") then it will certainly improve your MF experience. When the subject seems to have some contrast/vertical lines use the AF-L button and see if it works, when you know AF is doomed start spinning that focus ring

Thanks to everyone else for the focusing advice despite the petulant tone of the original post. I'm still learning how best to use the X-E1 and obviously we can all use all the help we can get! It's definitely not the easiest camera in the world to focus with, but I'm kind of happy that it's pushing me to improve my MF game

 jeremyclarke's gear list:jeremyclarke's gear list
Fujifilm X-E1 Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Canon PowerShot S95 Canon EOS 450D +2 more
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