Occasional focus hunting with FT lens on EM1: SWD helps?

Started 9 months ago | Discussions
W A Stewart
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Occasional focus hunting with FT lens on EM1: SWD helps?
9 months ago

I've been comparing AF performance with an mFT zoom (Panny 12-35mm) and a FT zoom (Zuiko 14-54mm Series I), with some shots on a tripod and some handheld, in modest to fairly low light indoors. What I find is that the 14-54 does pretty well - subjectively not as fast but accurate and pretty fast in the majority of trials. However, now and then it exhibits the hunting behavior that one would get on earlier mFT camera bodies.

In case it's relevant, I turned IS off and used spot focusing (most of the time - I also tried center weighted).

I don't know how the 12-60 SWD would compare. I sold mine when deciding to move to mFT. My recollection is that it was faster but not otherwise different in its focusing. I am also concerned that it would be too big on the EM1. Even the 14-54 seems large and the weight difference is noticeable. Still, I am curious about others' experiences with the SWD lenses.

Thanks.

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W Alex Stewart

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W A Stewart
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Second FT lens trial
In reply to W A Stewart, 9 months ago

OK, "trial" is a fancy word for replacing a lens and locking focus at various distances and light levels. As noted, I sold almost all my FT lenses, but I still have the old 40-150mm, so old in this case that it's the faster f/3.5-4.5. Faster in aperture, that is. It's no match in focus speed for the 50-200 SWD (which I used to have). I kept the old lens because it's one of the few FT lenses that focuses somewhat acceptably on mFT cameras... that is, prior to EM1 cameras.

What I found was that the focusing action is really noisy - the SWD fixed that pretty well. And you can easily tell how hard a time it's having getting focus lock. It takes one, two, or three little swishing sounds depending on how hard a time it's having. Not surprisingly, it can take one very short swish in good light with good contrast. It has the hardest time in dim light, with less contrast, and closer up. In fact, it can take two half presses to really get focus up close (at least in dim light). All in all I'd say it's useable in a pinch. Its results are pretty good as well. Before I got the 50-200 I used the old 40-150 at a game at Lambeau - must have been a while ago because most of us thought it would be Favre's last home game (against the Seahawks - Pack won - and Favre came back for one more year).

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W Alex Stewart

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G1Shooter
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Re: Second FT lens trial
In reply to W A Stewart, 9 months ago

Can't help with a reply, but am very interested as to what others say as I am considering a 50-200 SWD for my EM-1.

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W A Stewart
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Re: Second FT lens trial
In reply to G1Shooter, 9 months ago

It is a great lens, not too big on E-3, E-5 bodies. Probably want the battery grip - it helped even on those bodies.

I also hope to hear, about the 12-60 in my case. My sense it that not many are using these combinations yet, though I may be wrong about that. Michael Reichman posted about using them but that was before he'd done much yet (I think).

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W Alex Stewart

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G1Shooter
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Re: Second FT lens trial
In reply to W A Stewart, 9 months ago

W A Stewart wrote: Probably want the battery grip............

Have it as I anticipated using longer and heavier lenses.

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W A Stewart
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Robin Wong's testing
In reply to G1Shooter, 9 months ago

Here is a useful review that I had briefly seen and forgotten in a rush of work:

http://robinwong.blogspot.com/2013/09/olympus-om-d-e-m1-review-shooting-with.html

It is consistent with what I have seen - the mFT lenses focus faster but the FT ones can be useful. He does not find the occasional hunting I have found, but I think he did not test much in different lower light conditions. He does say that the SWD ones will focus faster, which makes sense. One lens that seems to focus at least as well on the EM1 is the 50mm f/2 macro - which was slow to focus on FT cameras - but optically outstanding.

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W Alex Stewart

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radsaq
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Re: Second FT lens trial
In reply to G1Shooter, 9 months ago

G1Shooter wrote:

Can't help with a reply, but am very interested as to what others say as I am considering a 50-200 SWD for my EM-1.

If the max aperture trumps reach and/or focus speed, then there's really nothing that can replace the 50-200mm in the current m4/3 lineup. If you need maximum reach (and especially if you plan on using the 1.4x TC), then I would suggest the Olympus 75-300mm or Panasonic 100-300mm lenses, since these are *much* smaller and *much* lighter than the 50-200mm + 1.4x TC combination, and the difference in light-gathering is quite small. Even with SWD, the 50-200mm feels relatively glacial in comparison to the 100-300mm. And both of the m4/3 lenses are probably underrated as far as sharpness goes, likely due to the general difficulty of getting good photos at 600mm EFL.

(Yes, I'm terrible at it, so I should know. No, I'm not insulting everyone else.)

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W A Stewart
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12-60 experiences anyone?
In reply to radsaq, 9 months ago

Thanks radsaq. That makes sense. And yes, I think the "lesser" lenses tend to have good optical quality.

What I still hope for is that someone can speak to the 12-60 SWD on an EM1.  I agree with you about the 50-200 SWD - that's the only lens of that type if it's needed. Still, I don't think sports shooters will be jumping onto the EM1 bandwagon. Photojournalists -  and pj style shooters - that's another matter.

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W Alex Stewart

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jkrumm
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Re: 12-60 experiences anyone?
In reply to W A Stewart, 9 months ago

I use the 12-60 about 80% of the time on my EM1. Focus is not perfect, but mostly good. In low light or with horizontal lines it can still do the ratcheting that regular m43 cameras do when using cdaf. I've used it for around 5 years and really like it, but for most people I'd recommend the 12-40.

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John Krumm
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W A Stewart
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Thanks John.
In reply to jkrumm, 9 months ago

John, I guess that's pretty much as I would have expected. And I do get why you'd use that lens. I miss it. Such a great range, weight and speed combination when I used it on my E-3.

I don't know. Currently I am leaning to saving for the Panny 35-100 to go with my 12-35. I have an EM5 as well so I could use one on each body. (Actually I have two EM5's as I used to use one with the 12-35 and one with the 60 macro - I'll sell one once the holiday season settles down.)

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W Alex Stewart

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drj3
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Re: Second FT lens trial
In reply to radsaq, 9 months ago

radsaq wrote:

G1Shooter wrote:

Can't help with a reply, but am very interested as to what others say as I am considering a 50-200 SWD for my EM-1.

If the max aperture trumps reach and/or focus speed, then there's really nothing that can replace the 50-200mm in the current m4/3 lineup. If you need maximum reach (and especially if you plan on using the 1.4x TC), then I would suggest the Olympus 75-300mm or Panasonic 100-300mm lenses, since these are *much* smaller and *much* lighter than the 50-200mm + 1.4x TC combination, and the difference in light-gathering is quite small. Even with SWD, the 50-200mm feels relatively glacial in comparison to the 100-300mm. And both of the m4/3 lenses are probably underrated as far as sharpness goes, likely due to the general difficulty of getting good photos at 600mm EFL.

(Yes, I'm terrible at it, so I should know. No, I'm not insulting everyone else.)

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The EC14+50+200 focuses well on the E-M1 in most situations, better than the 12-60 which is okay ( but the 12-60 does hunt in moderately low light - its okay in very low light with focus assist).  The 50-200 does sometimes have a problem with horizontals, which is mostly a problem if you are trying to photograph BIFs in normal landscape mode.  For stationary objects (sitting birds & insects for me), it is very good in good light (similar to the E5) but, a little slower than the E5 in lower light.  The small target area is a little larger than the single point on the E5 but certainly okay for most situations.  If you are not into BIFs then the 50-200 works well.  The EC14+50-200 is sharp wide open, so you can use it at f5 without any problem.  The 12-60 focus is okay, but is much better on the E5.  The only place were I have found any real problem with the 12-60 is trying to focus on my 5 month old kittens in low light when they are playing.  The E5 is much better in this situation (always focuses immediately) and I assume the 12-40 on the E-M1 would perform in a similar way.  If I did not have the 12-60, then I would probably get the 12-40, but I would seriously miss the 40-60mm range of the 12-60.

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drj3

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W A Stewart
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Re: Second FT lens trial
In reply to drj3, 9 months ago

Dr. J3, I will call you (if that's OK): I think you express the tradeoffs well. The one other thing that concerns me is the size of the 12-60 on even a largish mFt like the EM1, but that is an obvious point.

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W Alex Stewart

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Banger
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Re: Occasional focus hunting with FT lens on EM1: SWD helps?
In reply to W A Stewart, 9 months ago

I have the 14-54mm MK1 and like you I find it quite acceptable on the E-M1 but it struggles a bit in low light. Not as good as on the E30 but the E30 had 'cross' focus points  where as the E-M1 seems to have only horizontal PDAF points (pls correct me if I'm wrong), which means you will need to be careful where you place the focus point.

However  the optical quality of my 14-54mm is very good and whilst it's larger and heavier than most u4/3 lenses,  I use it a lot except when on long hikes.  The 11-22mm performs the same but I think it's really good for landscapes  and architecture shooting.

Nevertheless I have the 12-40mm on my radar for next year !

Rob

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drj3
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Re: Second FT lens trial
In reply to W A Stewart, 9 months ago

W A Stewart wrote:

Dr. J3, I will call you (if that's OK): I think you express the tradeoffs well. The one other thing that concerns me is the size of the 12-60 on even a largish mFt like the EM1, but that is an obvious point.

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W Alex Stewart

Size is relative to what one has experience with.  The E-M1 + adaptor + FTs lens + grip is subjectively not that different  from the E5 in size and weight.  The FTs lenses are actually a little better balanced on the DSLR cameras they designed for.  I think individuals who are accustomed to the MFT camera/lens size and focus speeds will be somewhat disappointed with the 12-60 on the E-M1 especially if they want to photograph moving subjects in lower light.  That is not something I do very often and I still have my E5 when I need to do this.  The extra 40-60mm makes it worth it to me since I don't mind the size or weight and I use it primarily outdoors in reasonably good light.  The MFT 12-40 and the upcoming 40-150 would probably be a better combination than the 12-60 and 50-200 for most users, however, even these are much larger and heavier than the typical MFT lens

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drj3

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Art_P
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Spent a short time w the 12-60
In reply to W A Stewart, 9 months ago

side by side between the 12-60 and 12-40 at the Olympus booth at PhotoPlus.

Lighting was typical trade show- not all that dim, so didn't get in low light testing

The 12-60 was of course larger and heavier, but not unmanageable.

12-40 consistently focused faster, but the 12-60 was no slouch... it did require a strong vertical or horizontal though.

Currently torn... do I get the 12-40 for it's constant f2.8, or the 12-60 for it's more useful zoom range and lower cost?  A decision I can put off until I have some spare cash

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jkrumm
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Re: Thanks John.
In reply to W A Stewart, 9 months ago

Saving for the 35-100 sounds like a good bet. I will probably hold onto my 12-60 for a while longer. If the 40-150 2.8 is a good performer and not out-of-this world expensive I might get that, then finally retire the 12-60 for the 12-40, though if they released a high performance telephoto soon enough (pro level) I might just get that and skip the 40-150.

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John Krumm
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David Stinson
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Re: Spent a short time w the 12-60
In reply to Art_P, 9 months ago

Art_P wrote:

side by side between the 12-60 and 12-40 at the Olympus booth at PhotoPlus.

Lighting was typical trade show- not all that dim, so didn't get in low light testing

The 12-60 was of course larger and heavier, but not unmanageable.

12-40 consistently focused faster, but the 12-60 was no slouch... it did require a strong vertical or horizontal though.

Currently torn... do I get the 12-40 for it's constant f2.8, or the 12-60 for it's more useful zoom range and lower cost? A decision I can put off until I have some spare cash

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Art P
"I am a creature of contrast,
of light and shadow.
I live where the two play together,
I thrive on the conflict"

I'm looking to sell my 12-60.  If you're interested msg me.

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Godfrey
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Re: Occasional focus hunting with FT lens on EM1: SWD helps?
In reply to W A Stewart, 9 months ago

I've seen occasional focus hunting with any lens on any AF camera from time to time.

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Florida Nature Photographer
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Re: Occasional focus hunting with FT lens on EM1: SWD helps?
In reply to W A Stewart, 9 months ago

W A Stewart wrote:

I am curious about others' experiences with the SWD lenses.

Thanks.

You can read about mine in the Olympus SLR forum here...

E-M1 - 50-200 - Still having trouble with Auto Focus

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