Fz300 Focus issues

Started Sep 1, 2017 | Discussions
lepidoteron New Member • Posts: 24
Fz300 Focus issues

Hello, new to this forum but have used the website quite a for research.  I recently upgraded from using an Olympus SH-2 for wildlife photography, mainly butterflies.  The camera has been great to me but i've started to notice lower IQ than other similarly priced cameras so i've wanted something better.  I was using the SH-2 in auto mode and didn't know anything about cameras but for the past  few weeks i've done much research.

I've setup my FZ300 as Graham Houghton on Youtube has recommended but this thing can't focus for jack.  I'm using A mode, f4, 100 iso, with 1-Area focus, tried changing the focus area size to various sizes.  It seems to want to focus on things that are further than my target.  My SH-2 has little trouble focusing on a butterfly or flower when there are other objects behind it but zooming in on the target with the FZ300 gives me red on the lcd and says 3.3 ft, seeming to want to focus on the objects behind it.

I never see anyone praise the SH-2 while the FZ300 is tooted as being amazing, so can someone help me figure this out or is it just not going to suit my needs?  Basically I want to be able to zoom in and focus on a butterfly on flowers even when there are nearby objects.  It should not have this problem if the measly sh-2 can do it in a snap.

Thanks

Olympus Stylus SH-2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300
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OP lepidoteron New Member • Posts: 24
Re: Fz300 Focus issues

Addition:  The camera is picking up targets better when on af macro mode, on regular it can't even focus on something on the ground 6 feet away if i zoom in enough for my targer to fill most of the screen, something the sh-2 has absolutely no problem with.  Is there a setting I need to change?  Thinking of returning this, maybe I have a defective one.  I don't know what the 3.3 ft display on the lcd means, when zooming further it says 6.6 ft and that seems to be the point where it refuses to focus on anything closer than the very distant trees.

sherman_levine
sherman_levine Forum Pro • Posts: 11,364
Re: Fz300 Focus issues

What focal length (or "x")  is your zoom set to?

What is the distance from the lens to the subject?

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ozy53 Junior Member • Posts: 40
Re: Fz300 Focus issues

I sold my Cannon SX530 to buy the Fz330 & wished I hadn't! the only good thing I can say about the Panasonic 330 is the 4k video is superb as for photos & 1080p video its pants, sorry Panasonic 330 fans, I should have got the Fz1000.

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OP lepidoteron New Member • Posts: 24
Re: Fz300 Focus issues

sherman_levine wrote:

What focal length (or "x") is your zoom set to?

What is the distance from the lens to the subject?

I am testing focusing on a piece of trash among leaf litter as well as some hanging flowers.  I can only get focus with 600m zoom on the trash when using IA mode, however it still wants to prioritize focus on distant trees when focusing on hanging forground flowers but I would like to use A mode.  The lens is about 6  feet from the subjects but it doesn't matter how far I am, if I try to fill the screen with the subject it won't focus on it.  When in IA mode the lcd screen says 3.3ft. - no matter how far I zoom but in the other modes it goes to 6.6 If i zoom past around 232 mm.  I do not know what this means.  Sorry I am learning, the fact IA mode seem to focus better must mean I need to change some setting.

sherman_levine
sherman_levine Forum Pro • Posts: 11,364
Re: Fz300 Focus issues
1

lepidoteron wrote:

sherman_levine wrote:

What focal length (or "x") is your zoom set to?

What is the distance from the lens to the subject?

I am testing focusing on a piece of trash among leaf litter as well as some hanging flowers. I can only get focus with 600m zoom on the trash when using IA mode, however it still wants to prioritize focus on distant trees when focusing on hanging forground flowers but I would like to use A mode. The lens is about 6 feet from the subjects but it doesn't matter how far I am, if I try to fill the screen with the subject it won't focus on it. When in IA mode the lcd screen says 3.3ft. - no matter how far I zoom but in the other modes it goes to 6.6 If i zoom past around 232 mm. I do not know what this means. Sorry I am learning, the fact IA mode seem to focus better must mean I need to change some setting.

Take a look at the FZ300 advanced manual

ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/camera/om/dmc-fz300_en_adv_om.pdf

You want to use the AF-Macro (not the macro zoom or the normal settings). I believe that the minimum focus distance to subject will be about 3ft in AF-macro mode at full zoom, but about 6ft in non-macro mode.  The cutoff is quite sharp between ok and not-ok

(At least that's the case for the FZ200 which is optically very similar).

iA probably sets automatically to macro mode.

AF-macro mode will favor focusing on close subjects over far ones.

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kohinoor Contributing Member • Posts: 773
Re: Fz300 Focus issues

As Sherman has noted above the min focusing distance depends on the focal length.

To give you the figures for the two extremes:  1m(3.3ft) at max tele (600mm) and only 1cm (less than 1/2inch) at max wide angle.

As you are getting the red warning saying 3.3ft ... I think you are at max tele where the min distance is ... well ... 3.3ft.

I´ve had a brief look at the specifications of your Oly cam. -It says in tele macro mode one can focus as close as 0.4m and if this applies to max tele (600mm) then this is indeed much closer than what the FZ300 can do at the same tele position.

However, -you mentioned your main target is butterflies and I never found the min focusing distance of 1m at 600mm tele to be too limiting for subjects this big. A working distance of 1m min allways seemed to be just right to get the butterfly big enough in the frame without scaring it away. For smaller subjects I´d consider a close up add on lens.

Here an example of a shot at about 1m:

Cheers

K.

hwvlover
hwvlover Senior Member • Posts: 3,316
Re: Fz300 Focus issues

The OP is right.

Nothing frustrates me more with this camera (which apparently will focus at full zoom at a distance of 1 metre) than when I am zooming and getting a red display indicating that I cannot get focus as the distance from the subject needs to be from 2 metres to infinity.

How does that work?

It is particularly annoying because I want to fill the frame with the subject to maximise the pixels on target....getting a message saying I have to move further away from my subject does not reconcile.

And I thought it was just me.

Regards,
David
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OP lepidoteron New Member • Posts: 24
Re: Fz300 Focus issues

All,

I will reply more detailed later but quickly, I realize now the sh-2 is able to focus at a much closer distance despite both cameras having 25mm lens, I don't understand why this is, even with the macro mode on the fz300 set.  It appears I will be leaving the macro mode on pretty much always for butterflies.  The sh-2 only has "super macro" which fixes the lens length and can only really work if almost touching the subject. Most of my shots were with regular P auto mode, using much of the zoom while trying to get closer but many subjects are very wary.  It seems I have to stand quite a bit further back with the FZ300 to shoot the same subject, resulting in what feels like having less "zoom", although Extended Zoom may make up for that. Still the main reason I bought this camera was for better quality images as I am quite good at approaching most targets. I am concerned it will be slower and clunkier than the incredibly speedy sh-2 but I need more practice. I have thousands of shots with the sh-2 and have gotten better with it over time, see my flickr:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/63280420@N06/5eKMwf

Thanks

kohinoor Contributing Member • Posts: 773
Re: Fz300 Focus issues

sherman_levine wrote:

lepidoteron wrote:

sherman_levine wrote:

What focal length (or "x") is your zoom set to?

What is the distance from the lens to the subject?

I am testing focusing on a piece of trash among leaf litter as well as some hanging flowers. I can only get focus with 600m zoom on the trash when using IA mode, however it still wants to prioritize focus on distant trees when focusing on hanging forground flowers but I would like to use A mode. The lens is about 6 feet from the subjects but it doesn't matter how far I am, if I try to fill the screen with the subject it won't focus on it. When in IA mode the lcd screen says 3.3ft. - no matter how far I zoom but in the other modes it goes to 6.6 If i zoom past around 232 mm. I do not know what this means. Sorry I am learning, the fact IA mode seem to focus better must mean I need to change some setting.

Take a look at the FZ300 advanced manual

ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/camera/om/dmc-fz300_en_adv_om.pdf

You want to use the AF-Macro (not the macro zoom or the normal settings). I believe that the minimum focus distance to subject will be about 3ft in AF-macro mode at full zoom, but about 6ft in non-macro mode. The cutoff is quite sharp between ok and not-ok

(At least that's the case for the FZ200 which is optically very similar).

iA probably sets automatically to macro mode.

AF-macro mode will favor focusing on close subjects over far ones.

There´s two different problems you are facing: The first one is about AFmacro as explained by Sherm.

The other problem is the FZ300´s auto focus which can at times misfocus on contrasty backgrounds even if the subject in the foreground covers an area bigger than the selected focus box size. And if it does so it will insist stubbornly to have the focus there and it may require several half presses of the shutter button to try again before it will eventually change. There is no cure for this and one can only work around by re-focusing several times ore by "pulling" AF from some nearby more contrasty subjects which are about in the focal plane of the subject (provided such are available).

This can be a real annoyance and it was one of the main reasons for me to return the cam.

Below two examples :

focus box is a drawing for demonstration purpose!

I tried to focus on the brown flowers in the foreground but the cam insisted on the contrasty foliage in the background. (The flowers filled the smallest focus box nicely. )

correctly focused after "pulling" focus from leafes in lower left area. One would think the dark brown flowers should have provided enough contrast for AF accquisition ... but not so!

Last two pics are from FZ200 for demonstration as I don´t have the respective comparison shots from the FZ300 any more.

Edit: Found them:

axlotl Senior Member • Posts: 1,882
Re: Fz300 Focus issues

lepidoteron wrote:

Hello, new to this forum but have used the website quite a for research. I recently upgraded from using an Olympus SH-2 for wildlife photography, mainly butterflies. The camera has been great to me but i've started to notice lower IQ than other similarly priced cameras so i've wanted something better. I was using the SH-2 in auto mode and didn't know anything about cameras but for the past few weeks i've done much research.

I've setup my FZ300 as Graham Houghton on Youtube has recommended but this thing can't focus for jack. I'm using A mode, f4, 100 iso, with 1-Area focus, tried changing the focus area size to various sizes. It seems to want to focus on things that are further than my target. My SH-2 has little trouble focusing on a butterfly or flower when there are other objects behind it but zooming in on the target with the FZ300 gives me red on the lcd and says 3.3 ft, seeming to want to focus on the objects behind it.

I never see anyone praise the SH-2 while the FZ300 is tooted as being amazing, so can someone help me figure this out or is it just not going to suit my needs? Basically I want to be able to zoom in and focus on a butterfly on flowers even when there are nearby objects. It should not have this problem if the measly sh-2 can do it in a snap.

Thanks

HI, Welcome to the forum.

I suspect the main issue here is that you are in the process of becoming accustomed to the new camera which has different characteristics from the previous one.

Regarding the tendency to focus on things behind your desired subject: You can easily change the position and size of the active AF area to ensure the camera focuses where you want it to. I find this is very accurate and consistent with all the recent Panasonic cameras including the FZ300.  I use and recommend [Direct Focus Area] to facilitate this.

Regarding the closest focus distance: I suggest you take time out from making photos to explore the camera's focusing characteristics in Normal AF, AF Macro and Macro Zoom (JPG only).

Put a test target in front of the camera and experiment to see how close it will focus at each focal length. When the distance indicator flashes red that is just telling you the camera will not focus that close at that focal length.  The distances which flash up are a general guide not an accurate indication of the minimum focus distance.

In AF Macro I find 70mm and 600mm to be the most useful focal lengths.  600mm allows me to stand back from little subjects while still covering a small area. 70mm gets me in closer.

At 25mm the camera will focus with the lens filter touching the subject but that is not useful in practice.

Macro Zoom is like iZoom but at the close up end of the distance scale. It uses image interpolation to create the final picture. It only extends to an indicated focal length of 75mm but does give a very close up view of little subjects. The effect is like screwing a close up filter onto the lens but without the need to actually bother with any extra equipment.

Andrew

Rodger1943
Rodger1943 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,130
Re: Fz300 Focus issues
2

You can resolve the focus issues if you use manual focus. I find it works better, especially on the FZ200, I don't have the FZ300, but I can't imagine it being much different, however the Af should still work quite well if you are in the macro setting, which should allow full zoom at about 4 feet. That also includes the extra optical zoom, so if you reduce your picture size to 3mp, you can get over 1100mm focal length from 4 feet away.

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Ken Yull Senior Member • Posts: 1,922
Re: Fz300 Focus issues
1

Only time focusing can be difficult is when the main subject is moving around, like foliage on a breezy day.  Can't say that it has been a problem very often with my FZ330, and when I think it should be better then there is always manual focusing available.

Though occasionally after having a liberal amount of falling down liquid it can be impossible. 

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axlotl Senior Member • Posts: 1,882
Re: More observations on this

lepidoteron wrote:

Hello, new to this forum but have used the website quite a for research. I recently upgraded from using an Olympus SH-2 for wildlife photography, mainly butterflies. The camera has been great to me but i've started to notice lower IQ than other similarly priced cameras so i've wanted something better. I was using the SH-2 in auto mode and didn't know anything about cameras but for the past few weeks i've done much research.

I've setup my FZ300 as Graham Houghton on Youtube has recommended but this thing can't focus for jack. I'm using A mode, f4, 100 iso, with 1-Area focus, tried changing the focus area size to various sizes. It seems to want to focus on things that are further than my target. My SH-2 has little trouble focusing on a butterfly or flower when there are other objects behind it but zooming in on the target with the FZ300 gives me red on the lcd and says 3.3 ft, seeming to want to focus on the objects behind it.

OK  So today I managed to reproduce this behaviour with the FZ300 and played around to find out what is going on.  The TZ90 does the same thing.

If the camera is a bit too close to achieve focus it beeps, puts up the red flashing focus distance indicator and red focus area box and will not focus where desired but it might focus at a somewhat greater distance.

If the camera is WAY too close to the desired subject  it can sometimes grab focus on the background if there is something in the background on which to focus, regardless of the set focus area size.

The solution is to pull back until the desired subject will come into focus.

I have to assume that in this case the camera might be reverting to a super large AF area in the search for something on which it can focus.

It can also do this in very low light but then the extra large AF area is indicated on the screen.

Andrew

I never see anyone praise the SH-2 while the FZ300 is tooted as being amazing, so can someone help me figure this out or is it just not going to suit my needs? Basically I want to be able to zoom in and focus on a butterfly on flowers even when there are nearby objects. It should not have this problem if the measly sh-2 can do it in a snap.

Thanks

Sonyshine
Sonyshine Veteran Member • Posts: 8,892
Re: Fz300 Focus issues
2

The red distance message in the EVF means you are too close - even the macro setting keeps you about a metre away from your target at 600mm zoom.

Reduce the zoom and you can get closer but of course the view gets wider.

To focus close at 600mm you need the extension and close up lens attachment.

I always use the smallest single spot focus and often use the touch screen to shift it about.

These are all taken using the normal lens with macro setting on:

These are taken with the extension tube and close up conversion on the lens:

Once understood you will find the FZ300 very quick and accurate to focus. I use AF-C and fire in short bursts.

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SpeedyGonzalys Senior Member • Posts: 1,185
Re: Fz300 Focus issues

kohinoor wrote:

As Sherman has noted above the min focusing distance depends on the focal length.

To give you the figures for the two extremes: 1m(3.3ft) at max tele (600mm) and only 1cm (less than 1/2inch) at max wide angle.

As you are getting the red warning saying 3.3ft ... I think you are at max tele where the min distance is ... well ... 3.3ft.

I´ve had a brief look at the specifications of your Oly cam. -It says in tele macro mode one can focus as close as 0.4m and if this applies to max tele (600mm) then this is indeed much closer than what the FZ300 can do at the same tele position.

However, -you mentioned your main target is butterflies and I never found the min focusing distance of 1m at 600mm tele to be too limiting for subjects this big. A working distance of 1m min allways seemed to be just right to get the butterfly big enough in the frame without scaring it away. For smaller subjects I´d consider a close up add on lens.

Here an example of a shot at about 1m:

Cheers

K.

awesome shot..

Peter

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OP lepidoteron New Member • Posts: 24
Re: Fz300 Focus issues

All, greatly appreciate the replies, especially those with sample images.  The camera does indeed focus very quickly and I have had more practice with various focusing modes, but the minimum distance limit is really unfortunate for me.  Is that typical for bridge cameras?  This makes the oly sh2 actually have a greater reach on closer small targets because I can get much closer physically.  I haven't measured this distance but it's what caused my confusion with the fz300.  After shooting many small skipper butterflies I am not impressed with how much they fill the screen with 600x zoom, although using exzoom gives much better results, however thats essentially the same as cropping I'm told.  I haven't had a chance to view IQ yet but that's for another thread.

SpeedyGonzalys Senior Member • Posts: 1,185
Re: Fz300 Focus issues

lepidoteron wrote:

All, greatly appreciate the replies, especially those with sample images. The camera does indeed focus very quickly and I have had more practice with various focusing modes, but the minimum distance limit is really unfortunate for me. Is that typical for bridge cameras? This makes the oly sh2 actually have a greater reach on closer small targets because I can get much closer physically. I haven't measured this distance but it's what caused my confusion with the fz300. After shooting many small skipper butterflies I am not impressed with how much they fill the screen with 600x zoom, although using exzoom gives much better results, however thats essentially the same as cropping I'm told. I haven't had a chance to view IQ yet but that's for another thread.

If your goal is to fill the screen as much as possible, get a +2 closeup lens (NOT a cheapo 1 glass but achromat!!), it reduces the closest distance allot, so you can even get closer than the Oly (+2 gives iirc 33cm with EFL600) Look at the stunning results here and some achromat info. DONt expect to get the same (immediately) these are master shots.

Acromat examples

Closeup overview

Peter

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hwvlover
hwvlover Senior Member • Posts: 3,316
Re: Fz300 Focus issues

SpeedyGonzalys wrote:

lepidoteron wrote:

All, greatly appreciate the replies, especially those with sample images. The camera does indeed focus very quickly and I have had more practice with various focusing modes, but the minimum distance limit is really unfortunate for me. Is that typical for bridge cameras? This makes the oly sh2 actually have a greater reach on closer small targets because I can get much closer physically. I haven't measured this distance but it's what caused my confusion with the fz300. After shooting many small skipper butterflies I am not impressed with how much they fill the screen with 600x zoom, although using exzoom gives much better results, however thats essentially the same as cropping I'm told. I haven't had a chance to view IQ yet but that's for another thread.

If your goal is to fill the screen as much as possible, get a +2 closeup lens (NOT a cheapo 1 glass but achromat!!), it reduces the closest distance allot, so you can even get closer than the Oly (+2 gives iirc 33cm with EFL600) Look at the stunning results here and some achromat info. DONt expect to get the same (immediately) these are master shots.

Acromat examples

Closeup overview

Peter

Excellent answer Peter although that won't help me with my issue.

The focus problem I have is invariably when trying to photograph hummingbirds often in difficult (light into shadow) light or lower light conditions. I have enough "fun" getting the focus right with the excellent Raynox 150 in other use without adding that into the equation of capturing those moving hummers.

I still do not understand why I can get focus at 230mm equivalent (display shows focus range 1 metre to infinity) but as soon as I hit 235mm equivalent I cannot get focus without moving away from the target. (the display now showing focus range 2 metres to infinty).

As I said before how does that reconcile with a camera which focuses to at full telephoto at 1 metre,

I guess it is light related but have not yet found any guidance in the advanced manual
I can and do make use of manual focus but, when hummers are the target, I just wish I could turn off the "enlarged screen, it distracts me and slows me up most times.
But not always

Regards,
David
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Rodger1943
Rodger1943 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,130
Re: Fz300 Focus issues

I think once you go past a certain zoom range the camera can no longer focus in as close unless you select a specific macro setting. You could also try manual focus, as I found on my FZ200 that MF would allow the camera to focus in as close as the macro setting. In fact now, I tend to take most macro shots using MF and use the one touch AF button to refine the focus.

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