4/3 lenses and S-AF on the E-M1

Started Oct 19, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Sierra Dave Regular Member • Posts: 464
4/3 lenses and S-AF on the E-M1

My E-M1 arrived yesterday.  I have now tested all of my 4/3 lenses on it - the 14-54/2.8-3.5, 12-60/2.8-4.0 SWD and 50-200/2.8-3.5 (non-SWD) - both in good and bad light.

Certainly it is dramatically faster than the E-M5 ever was, but that's not exactly a high bar to clear.  The thing I'm most pleased about is that if focus is achieved on the 14-54 and 12-60, refocusing on a point close by is pretty much instant, which is to say just as fast with native lenses.  The 50-200 is a bit more hit or miss, but that's been my experience with that lens on 4/3 bodies as well.

Beyond those points though, I'm honestly a little disappointed.  The 12-60 is (was?) supposedly Olympus's fastest focusing 4/3 lens, and it's noticeably slower to reach AF from infinity than the little 12-50/3.5-6.3 kit m4/3 lens to AF.  It's also fairly loud and seems to working quite a bit harder than on my barely functional E-410.  Considering that the AF motor on that lens has crapped out twice already, that's not good news.

Speed aside, accuracy is a bit of a mixed bag.  In bright high contrast situations I've had a number of failures to lock.  On the 50-200 that's understandable but I wouldn't have expected that of the 12-60 and 14-54.  More alarming in some sense are the infrequent but nevertheless present cases of false AF confirmation, where the camera confirms focus even though from the EVF it is clear that absolutely nothing in the image is in focus.  I couldn't swear to it, but my impression is that the E-M5's CDAF implementation actually had a lower overall false-confirmation rate with 4/3 lenses.

In lower light, failure to lock becomes less of a nuisance and more of a problem.  This again is in contrast to native lenses where both speed and locking rate remains high, even for small aperture lenses like the kit 12-50.

Aside from the AF, I don't have anything negative to say about the E-M1 (well okay, the on/off switch is weird, but whatever), but the AF was basically what justified the purchase for me, and in its current incarnation, I'm reconsidering sticking with 4/3 lenses vs. switching over completely to native m4/3 ones.

Anyhow, I'm curious how others are finding the AF on the E-M1 with 4/3 lenses, particularly as compared to AF on other higher-end cameras (E-5 or whatever Canon/Nikon equivalent you've tried in the past).

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