E-M1 Focus problems

Started Mar 13, 2014 | Discussions
lnikj Regular Member • Posts: 190
E-M1 Focus problems

In a recent thread that I don't want to hijack (Blasted OM-D Focusing) I mentioned cases where I shoot and nothing appears to be in focus. I attach three examples of these from a few days ago.

In each case I took several images and for each subject all have identical problems. In between I pointed my camera elsewhere and the camera produced sharp images.

I reason that it's not the camera, but me, so what am I doing wrong?

All are E-M1 + 12-40mm, converted on Lightroom defaults.

Focus Point: Middle of the trees

Focus Point: Moss on red rock at bottom of stream

Focus Point: End of the middle sand runnel where it meets the water

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Advent1sam
Advent1sam Veteran Member • Posts: 5,631
Re: E-M1 Focus problems

I feel your pain, the em-1 is a great camera but af is a lottery.

lnikj wrote:

In a recent thread that I don't want to hijack (Blasted OM-D Focusing) I mentioned cases where I shoot and nothing appears to be in focus. I attach three examples of these from a few days ago.

In each case I took several images and for each subject all have identical problems. In between I pointed my camera elsewhere and the camera produced sharp images.

I reason that it's not the camera, but me, so what am I doing wrong?

All are E-M1 + 12-40mm, converted on Lightroom defaults.

Focus Point: Middle of the trees

Focus Point: Moss on red rock at bottom of stream

Focus Point: End of the middle sand runnel where it meets the water

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Lab D Veteran Member • Posts: 6,938
Doesn't Oly software show the exact focal point?

It has been a while since I used it, but does it show where ther camera thinks the focal point is?  If it is different than you think, it might be you.  If it is on a spot that is out of focus, it is the camera.

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OP lnikj Regular Member • Posts: 190
Re: Doesn't Oly software show the exact focal point?

Lab D wrote:

It has been a while since I used it, but does it show where ther camera thinks the focal point is? If it is different than you think, it might be you. If it is on a spot that is out of focus, it is the camera.

Yes, I have checked the green squares and they are as I report.

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radsaq
radsaq Contributing Member • Posts: 914
Re: E-M1 Focus problems
2

The first two shots look like they may be slightly unsharp due to diffraction. If you're looking for ultimate pixel-level sharpness, you probably don't want to above f/5.6 at 12mm. The third shot looks as though it's sharp where you indicate, but there simply isn't enough depth of field even at f/5.6 at 32mm for the depth of the scene.

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OP lnikj Regular Member • Posts: 190
Re: E-M1 Focus problems
1

radsaq wrote:

The first two shots look like they may be slightly unsharp due to diffraction. If you're looking for ultimate pixel-level sharpness, you probably don't want to above f/5.6 at 12mm. The third shot looks as though it's sharp where you indicate, but there simply isn't enough depth of field even at f/5.6 at 32mm for the depth of the scene.

Hmmm … you could be right about the first two. Thing is I had always assumed I was pretty safe from diffraction up to f/7.1. Clearly not.

Turning bright red as I write on that one.

Not sure about the third one though. Still doesn't look right to me.

Nevertheless, I asked what I was doing wrong, and I guess the answer is "unreasonable expectations'.

Cheers.

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David Kieltyka
David Kieltyka Veteran Member • Posts: 5,206
Re: E-M1 Focus problems

I'd recommend doing a systematic focus test using every AF point. Preferably with the camera on a tripod. Focus on something well-lit with good contrast. A brick wall, boring though it is, would do the job. Start with the top-left AF point and work your way across the frame & then down a row. Take two or three pics with each point, refocusing each time. Then note which AF points, if any, have problems. If you have points that are consistently off try them with a different subject and see if the issue persists.

My E-M1 has an entire row of AF points that consistently back focus. Small or large point size, choice of subject, bright or dim light, type of light...doesn't matter. I'll eventually send the camera in for service, but for now I just avoid that row (second from bottom).

-Dave-

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Skeeterbytes Forum Pro • Posts: 14,282
Re: E-M1 Focus problems

Might atmospheric conditions be kicking in as well?

Just got this camera and lens and initially at least, the combo is certainly sharp. The 12-40 is a big step ahead of the 12-50.

Cheers,

Rick

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Ben C Davis Senior Member • Posts: 1,557
Focus problems

I find that  some  times  I push the go button just as it  starts  to turn green.

Maybe counting to one then push may help.

8)

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Digital Dick Senior Member • Posts: 1,816
Re: E-M1 Focus problems

Are you sure you are not putting the lens into it's forced manual focus mode by pulling the front ring on the lens back toward the camera? If you do this accidentally the auto focus is overridden. It's very easy to do this until you get used to this lens.

Dick

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OP lnikj Regular Member • Posts: 190
Re: E-M1 Focus problems

Here's another shot from the same day at f/9. Looks sharper than the f/7.1 ones to me?

Focus point: Black rocks on shoreline at 5 o'clock.

@Rick - Don't think that would be commensurate with atmospherics in this case.

@Ben - I don't think I do that but will watch out for it.

@Dave - Ouch! But I concede it is a good way forward.

http://www.nomadlens.com

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Big Ga Forum Pro • Posts: 18,622
Re: E-M1 Focus problems

lnikj wrote:

I reason that it's not the camera, but me, so what am I doing wrong?

Reasoning that its you and not the camera.

Start there, and re-examine.

rhlpetrus Forum Pro • Posts: 25,819
Re: Focus problems
1

Ben C Davis wrote:

I find that some times I push the go button just as it starts to turn green.

Maybe counting to one then push may help.

8)

Why not use focus priority release? Or are using it? But even if focus is not there yet, therebshould be some  part ofvimage in focus, no?

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rhlpetrus Forum Pro • Posts: 25,819
Re: E-M1 Focus problems

I don't think diffraction is the issue. Did you use a tripod?

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Guy Parsons
Guy Parsons Forum Pro • Posts: 30,477
The third image

lnikj wrote:

Not sure about the third one though. Still doesn't look right to me.

Nevertheless, I asked what I was doing wrong, and I guess the answer is "unreasonable expectations'.

Looks a bit odd to me at the focus point, like I used to get with my old E-PL1 with IBIS on as that camera IBIS gave a tiny amount of blur at safe shutter speeds, sharper with IBIS off - if the shutter speed was good.

But meanwhile, mostly it's a depth of field issue where you would need to be in alleged diffraction territory to get a better result.

For scenery I use the Merklinger method where I focus on the most distant bit of interest and use an aperture to suit what I want to resolve in the foreground, definitely better distance detail that way. For that third shot I would focus on the distant shore rocks and use f/8 or even f/11. Worth a try next time in that sort of situation.

Also experiment with using 1/8 second anti-shock delay as it may help avoid the dreaded legendary shutter shock, I leave my cameras at 1/8 sec delay just in case, never seen problems before or after though.

It also helps to never pixel peep past 50% as 100% viewing is totally unrealistic.

Regards..... Guy

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OP lnikj Regular Member • Posts: 190
Re: E-M1 Focus problems

rhlpetrus wrote:

I don't think diffraction is the issue. Did you use a tripod?

No

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OP lnikj Regular Member • Posts: 190
Re: The third image

Guy Parsons wrote:

lnikj wrote:

Not sure about the third one though. Still doesn't look right to me.

Nevertheless, I asked what I was doing wrong, and I guess the answer is "unreasonable expectations'.

Looks a bit odd to me at the focus point, like I used to get with my old E-PL1 with IBIS on as that camera IBIS gave a tiny amount of blur at safe shutter speeds, sharper with IBIS off - if the shutter speed was good.

But meanwhile, mostly it's a depth of field issue where you would need to be in alleged diffraction territory to get a better result.

For scenery I use the Merklinger method where I focus on the most distant bit of interest and use an aperture to suit what I want to resolve in the foreground, definitely better distance detail that way. For that third shot I would focus on the distant shore rocks and use f/8 or even f/11. Worth a try next time in that sort of situation.

Also experiment with using 1/8 second anti-shock delay as it may help avoid the dreaded legendary shutter shock, I leave my cameras at 1/8 sec delay just in case, never seen problems before or after though.

It also helps to never pixel peep past 50% as 100% viewing is totally unrealistic.

Regards..... Guy

I've switched on the anti shock delay so I'll give that a try.

As you guessed I was focusing at my rough estimate of the Hyperfocal distance. I will try the alternative next time.

I'm afraid that I am pixelpeeper (it brings me joy with my Foveons, but not with my Bayers.)

Cheers for the advice.

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OP lnikj Regular Member • Posts: 190
The words that dare not speak their name

Following a "tip off" in a PM that pointed me to various relevant posts I am now starting to wonder if what I am seeing in some of my images is … wait for it … *shutter shock*.

There I said it. I know that I'm not allowed to say this about the E-M1 and will probably now be derided as a troll. I will certainly be attacked for being unscientific and having questionable shooting technique I am sure.

I have been going back through my E-M1 images with a fresh eye. This isn't that easy as I am a pretty ruthless with my images and throw most of them away for a variety of reasons, not least for failing to obtain critical sharpness at 1:1.

What my admittedly unscientific study has shown is that my softest E-M1 images are all to be found at about 1/80s - 1/320s, with a particular bias at 1/200s. I have beautifully sharp images handheld at 1/15s and plenty at 1/640s or above.

I generally shoot images in two ways. In the evening on a tripod with IBIS off and slow shutter speeds, or handheld out when walking with my other half in the middle of the day through to late afternoon/early evening. Unsurprisingly the latter leads to a lot of shots at f/7.1 (my self imposed 'diffraction limit') and at shutter speeds in the vicinity of 1/200s.

I was looking at these images suspecting diffraction of being the culprit but maybe it isn't. Maybe it is the words that dare not speak their name.

I know that doesn't explain the first image I posted (1/500s) so I guess that will add fuel to the fire.

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jalywol
jalywol Veteran Member • Posts: 9,455
Re: The words that dare not speak their name

lnikj wrote:

Following a "tip off" in a PM that pointed me to various relevant posts I am now starting to wonder if what I am seeing in some of my images is … wait for it … *shutter shock*.

There I said it. I know that I'm not allowed to say this about the E-M1 and will probably now be derided as a troll. I will certainly be attacked for being unscientific and having questionable shooting technique I am sure.

I have been going back through my E-M1 images with a fresh eye. This isn't that easy as I am a pretty ruthless with my images and throw most of them away for a variety of reasons, not least for failing to obtain critical sharpness at 1:1.

What my admittedly unscientific study has shown is that my softest E-M1 images are all to be found at about 1/80s - 1/320s, with a particular bias at 1/200s. I have beautifully sharp images handheld at 1/15s and plenty at 1/640s or above.

I generally shoot images in two ways. In the evening on a tripod with IBIS off and slow shutter speeds, or handheld out when walking with my other half in the middle of the day through to late afternoon/early evening. Unsurprisingly the latter leads to a lot of shots at f/7.1 (my self imposed 'diffraction limit') and at shutter speeds in the vicinity of 1/200s.

I was looking at these images suspecting diffraction of being the culprit but maybe it isn't. Maybe it is the words that dare not speak their name.

I know that doesn't explain the first image I posted (1/500s) so I guess that will add fuel to the fire.

Shutter shock occurred to me when you first posted, but I am honestly not sure if that is what is going on here.

In the first photo,  the very topmost pine branches on the trees are in focus, but anything closer is not.  In the second, the whitish rocks directly above the green moss appear to be in focus, or at least more in focus than the moss.  In the third photo, I am seeing plain, ordinary motion blur/camera shake blur.

The first two photos are a bit of a puzzlement as to why things are soft....It might be a combination of factors, rather than any one.  Diffraction, slight offset of focus point, subtle movement during the shot, and perhaps shutter shock, are all potential contributors.  I don't know what is doing it in your shots, however.

I find that when I am not paying attention to my holding technique, I am more likely to see things that look like shutter shock on the EM1.  I have one shot in between two others of a brick building front that would be a poster child for SS...however the other two on either side of it with the exact same settings were perfectly sharp, and I when I went over them, I remembered that I had gotten sloppy with my holding technique for the bad one....no shutter shock in that particular case, just user error.  That may be a factor in this...or not.  I do believe that the IBIS seems to be more capable of accommodating user induced camera movement during very slow shutter speeds than it is in the "danger zone"; whether that is what you are seeing or SS or something else, I honestly do not know.

I would test your focus point accuracy first, if you are trying to run this down.  It's possible that the camera is simply not focusing correctly on the exact spot it is supposed to.  I know there is theoretically not supposed to be back or front focus on a CDAF sensor, but I have personally had one camera that did it (my first GH2....I was able to exchange it for another since it was obvious from when I first got it. Its replacement had no problems with focus accuracy at all).  If that turns out ok, then I'd do a tripod vs hand held comparison to try and narrow it down further.

Oh, and the 1/8 second delay is also a good idea to try.  I leave that on all the time on mine; just a habit I got into with my PENs and I have had no complaints on the EM1 sharpness with it on, so I just leave it on.  YMMV, of course.....

I hope you can get to the bottom of this.

-J

photohounds
photohounds Senior Member • Posts: 1,145
Re: E-M1 Focus problems

lnikj wrote:

radsaq wrote:

The first two shots look like they may be slightly unsharp due to diffraction. If you're looking for ultimate pixel-level sharpness, you probably don't want to above f/5.6 at 12mm. The third shot looks as though it's sharp where you indicate, but there simply isn't enough depth of field even at f/5.6 at 32mm for the depth of the scene.

Hmmm … you could be right about the first two. Thing is I had always assumed I was pretty safe from diffraction up to f/7.1. Clearly not.

Turning bright red as I write on that one.

Not sure about the third one though. Still doesn't look right to me.

Nevertheless, I asked what I was doing wrong, and I guess the answer is "unreasonable expectations'.

Cheers.

Diffraction with that lens (in fact most Zuikos) doesn't set in until f11+
It should be way sharper than that. The lenses are certainly capable of much more. This isn't normal.

Not teaching you how to suck eggs, are the lenses spotless?
Lots of haze in the air?

I usually shoot with sharpenss -1, what is yours set to?
Also what picture mode did you use?

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