Have E-PL1, Considering Panasonic GF3 (E-PL1 Focuses on Background)

Started Sep 7, 2012 | Discussions thread
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larrytusaz Senior Member • Posts: 2,437
Have E-PL1, Considering Panasonic GF3 (E-PL1 Focuses on Background)

Short Overview

I have the E-PL1 but am pondering either an Olympus E-PM1 or Panasonic GF3 because the E-PL1 seems to not want to focus on the subject, instead focusing on the background even when I place the active AF sensor onto the subject.

More details below (I'm sorry if the posting is too long).

The Problem

I have the Olympus E-PL1 and basically am fine with it. Most of all, I just love its JPEG engine. I really like the Olympus models in terms of the JPEG engine, the in-body IS, & I like their kit lenses more than Panasonic's (original 14-45 is large, 14-42 that replaced it is inferior to it, the 14-42 X doesn't have a normal zoom ring).

(Yes, you can mount Olympus lenses on Panasonic bodies, but then you don't have image-stabilization.)

However, there has been one fatal flaw with the E-PL1--with certain shots (child shots come to mind), it can be stubborn as a mule about not wanting to focus on the closest subject, instead focusing on the background & blurring the daylights out of the actual subject. It does this even though I take control of the active AF point & place the point square on the subject's face. It still has a tendency to focus on the background any stinking way.

I sometimes manage to improve matters by using face-detect, but that doesn't always work (they're looking down at their ice cream cone or pine-cone etc & that's the type of shot I want) and it's just antithetical to me in terms of that I'm used to cameras working to where you select a particular AF point and it focuses on that part, no trickery involved. With extreme macros it's understandable, but otherwise, this shouldn't happen.

E-PM1 or GF3?

I've pondered the E-PM1 thinking maybe it would do better, and I'd still have the excellent Olympus JPEG engine and in-body IS (and kit lens). Also it has a hot-shoe (I use "bubble levels" a lot for landscapes). However, reading further I've learned more about how the Panasonic GF3 works. With the touchscreen you can tap anywhere and it focuses on that spot, quickly, and immediately fires. That sounds like it would be the fix to my problem.

Also, I hear that the GF3 has a better JPEG engine than the GF1 era and when I examined samples of the GF3 alongside E-PL1 samples, they looked a lot more alike than with the GF1/E-PL1 comparison.

My questions:

(1) What is a good lens (besides the 20mm 1.7) to use with the GF3? Would it be all that bad of a thing to just use the Olympus 14-42 & forget about IS?

(2) I like to do landscapes a lot as well, and have a hot-shoe bubble level. (Without one, heaven help me, my landscapes are so crooked .) The GF3 has no hot-shoe to mount such an accessory. What are possible workarounds?

(3) If I instead go with the E-PM1, does it have this same insistence on focusing the background instead of your subject tendency?

 larrytusaz's gear list:larrytusaz's gear list
Nikon D3100 Nikon D3300 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II
Olympus PEN E-PL1 Olympus PEN E-PM1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3
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