50-200SWD, EC-14 + E-M1 = unreliable autofocus?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by dhazeghi, Apr 3, 2016.

  1. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    I finally had a chance to take the 50-200SWD out with the E-M1 and the 1.4x TC to do some landscape shooting last weekend and I found the experience rather frustrating. Despite contrasty conditions, the lens often had difficulty locking, especially at the long-end. And when it did miss focus, it would invariably rack back and forth for some seconds and then give up. I need to try the lens a bit more without the teleconverter, but my initial impression was pretty poor. I was using the center AF point only (with small size), in order to improve precision. Would using a larger AF point (or more of them) improve the ability to lock on?
  2. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    I've had this combo (w/o EC-14 too) have trouble when trying to focus is low contrast conditions, such as trying to focus on aircraft with a background of cloudy sky. It hits the focus at first, but then starts racking back and forth. I ended up using it in MF when it does that. Otherwise, it does great and I've gotten good results shooting kids soccer games with C-AF and 9 center squares. Considering the movement of the kids, it does that really well.

    Since your subjects aren't moving, you have the luxury of using MF with focus peaking. Try that.
  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    have had similar experiences with the same combo... read somewhere that phase detection prefers locking on vertical elements as opposed to horizontal elements... had issues shooting distant surfers where the predominant elements were horizontal

    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Someone suggested tilting the camera to focus when you have mostly horizontal lines.
  5. JudyM

    JudyM Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 5, 2010
    Westminster, MD
    I had the same combination. The lens by itself gave excellent results, but my results with the converter were dismal. I know the combination is capable of great results, I've seen examples of it, but I couldn't even get close. The maddening part is that the results weren't consistent, front focused one time, back focused the next, or not at all because it couldn't lock on. Being also a Canon shooter, I've got experience microadjusting my lenses, but this didn't improve with any amount of adjustment. I really wanted to like the combination, but in the end I sold everything. (I'm not abandoning m43, just taking time to rethink all of my gear.)
  6. My take is that if I want the fastest possible autofocus with 4/3 lenses I'll use the E-M1. If I want the most reliable autofocus I'll use a CDAF body. As far as I am aware you can't make the E-M1 use CDAF with a 4/3 lens.
  7. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I would not use a small AF target for landscape at all as that is asking for trouble, (maybe I'm being a little harsh there though) especially when using the EC14 (& more so with the EC20) because of the lower available light for focussing. The normal size will see more of the vertical detail on a wider (horizontal plain) than the small square would see. I would only use the Small Target for small details such as birds in trees etc. Landscape without sufficient vertical detail (such as distant tree tops) will not be great for locking on with AF, but if there was an option to switch the CD-AF on the E-M1 for 4/3's lens then I would be delighted (particularly when I was using 14-54 II lens that is optimised for Live View CD-AF). If there is more horizontal detail then you can rotate the camera to get focus lock (& return to landscape position to take the shot). Coming from a DSLR with Twin Cross AF Detectors these little details need to be remembered to get success.

    That's true but I don't think the SWD lenses, especially the 50-200 is so great using CD-AF (I've only tried it once on my E-M5).
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2016
  8. RenaudVL

    RenaudVL Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    I had the same issue, I have used this recommendation from this thread and I saw an improvement.

    Better AF results with Vivid plus increased Sharpness and Contrast?

    Also when shooting a subject in front of a busy background I would roughly focus manually on it and then half press the shutter and it would lock on target...
    My keeper rate greatly improve, I did enjoy this combo immensely....
  9. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    I compared using the 50-200 SWD on both my EM1 and my EM5 w/o EC-14 and the EM5 was substantially slower to focus than the EM1. Which was expected. The EM5 probably took at least 3x as long as the EM1, in my guess. It will focus on CD-AF, but slowly. I haven't tried other 4/3rds lenses, but I'd expect similar results.
  10. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    It's interesting to come across this thread, because I purchased a refurbished E-M1 during the Olympus 25% off sale (got it for $540, can't beat that), primarily to use with the 50-200 both by itself, but also with the 1.4x TC.

    I currently own two GH4's and a nice selection of quality native m43 lenses. I really enjoy shooting motorsports, not only because I like racing but it's also a good challenge. My native telephoto lenses consist of the Panasonic 34-100 f/2.8, and the Panasonic 45-175 PZ. I previously owned the 100-300, but grew tired of it's slow performance in C-AF as well as its reduced burst shooting rate. So I sold it and contemplated what I wanted to do, because I wanted a lens that had good reach, but was also fast enough to generate some soft, out of focus backgrounds for subject isolation. I decided to purchase the 50-200 and use it as a MF lens on my GH4's. The one outing I took it to last year (got the lens late in the year), and it performed quite well. I was able to set my focus zone, and wait for the subjects to enter the zone at which point I'd take the shot. However once winter arrive, the typical winter GAS and gear churn ideas started up again. I thought about selling the 50-200 and getting the 40-150 PRO + TC, but then I thought that it only covers the range of the 50-200 by itself, while I regularly would use the 1.4x TC to capture more distant parts of a circuit. Also, the PRO combo would run me roughly $1300 used.

    I then started to consider picking up an E-M1. Prices have been falling and I have seen multiple copies sell for around $700. I thought, for less than the cost of the PRO combo, I could get a faster lens AND another body. In addition to being able to AF the 50-200, I also like the thought of having IBIS for use with my primes, as well as some of the trick long exposure tools Olympus has in their cameras. So when the 25% off sale came around, I jumped at the chance to get an E-M1.

    The tracking is saying it's supposed to arrive tomorrow (though it hasn't been updated since Saturday, when it was in Tennessee), and the first local auto-x event of the year is this coming weekend, so I should be able to put it through its paces both with and without the TC to see how it performs. I'll be sure to pay particular attention to how the lens performs with and without the 1.4x TC.
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  11. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The 14-54 II lens is slow too but at least it is designed to also work with CD-AF whereas the SWD lenses have to work harder as it makes its multiple steps to get there, hence not the best for the lens.
  12. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I hope it works out well for you then. :thumbup: :drinks:
  13. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    The 50-200 slows with the TCs. Can be unusable with the 2x of light isn't bright.

    C-AF is a challenge with any lens. My biggest frustration with the platform.
  14. That is true. Some 4/3 lenses are very slow and jerky and cause the AF motor to work hard, and even the CDAF compatible 4/3 lenses aren't great. I would just like the E-M1 to use CDAF when the PDAF fails or the ability to force the it to use CDAF. The other advantage of CDAF is that the focus point can be placed over a larger portion of the image whereas the PDAF points only have limited sensor coverage.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I don't use the small AF points, and rarely if ever shoot the 50-200swd in dinner light, but like others here I've learned to work with the AF. I've generally found it to be very reliable though, at least in terms of accuracy. I don't do C-AF or much telephoto landscape though, and most use was seen in African sunlight
  16. PhilippePASCAL

    PhilippePASCAL Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 21, 2015
    I'm not sure CDAF would work better in the same situation (less light due to EC14, small target).
    -Enlarge your focus point
    -Try to close aperture by one/two "clicks" (i know it may seems counter-intuitive, but it can remove some EC14 artifacts/blur and help PDAF).Stay under f8 "real" (f5.6 on lens setting when using ec14) but at least f4/4.5

    Apart that, with SWD model, MF override is very helpful. Combined with zoom and focus peaking, it can be better than AF.
    Report if it works
  17. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I'm not sure about the aperture setting helping AF as the aperture should be wide open when focussing (unless it is closed down some due to excessive brightness) & only closes to its selected aperture for exposure.
  18. PhilippePASCAL

    PhilippePASCAL Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 21, 2015
    I understand, and you are right on this point. PDAF works fully open before closing down.
    So apart using a larger focus aimpoint, or rotating camera for PDAF sensors :biggrin:...

    As i was searching for my 50-200, some ppl reported great sample variations on both EC-xx and FT to MFT.
    A non-parallel focal plane can explain AF troubles.
    Checking sharpness wide open, with and without TC, lens on tripod, against a (flat far away) test chart can be a good idea.
  19. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    It's not just the phase detect - it is inherent in the OM-Ds, see
    Unable to focus
    Page 140, E-M1_Manual_ver4_e
    Page 98, E-M5_Instruction_Manual_EN

    When I first put the 50-200 SWD on the E-M5 I was very disappointed. When the E-M1 came out I spent the day shooting with the lens - it really felt like I was learning how to focus all over again. On several different occasions I spent considerable time just sitting in one spot focusing on different subjects, and just going out to shoot with it until I learned the foibles of the focusing.

    With the firmware updates I find the lens very capable even with C-AF, maybe only micro seconds slower then the Olympus 40-150mm Pro lens. I won't use C-AF+Tracking and will typically use the small focus targets where I seem to get the best results overall. I recently acquired a EC-20 teleconvertor and was pretty amazed at how will it works with the lens, even at sunset.

    Considering this lens is 9 years old technology it works pretty amazing and I seldom have issues with it. It is frustrating when it decides just to take off focusing somewhere else - I get around that by keeping some fingers on the focusing ring and will just slightly move the focusing ring when it decides to act on its own. And then go back to use the focusing button. The ability to manually focus with this lens at any time can be a saver.

    Since Kevin mentioned surfers, I found that highlights off of water really distract the focusing and as such the smaller focus targets are a positive factor.
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  20. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
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