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Coming from a P&S, is the slow AF on E-PL1 noticeable?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by RichStant, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. RichStant

    RichStant Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 17, 2010
    I'm looking to upgrade from a point & shoot to something pocketable but with better quality & low light performance. After reading numerous reviews, it seems most of the world is torn between the better image quality/low light performance/IBIS on the E-PL1, and the much faster AF on the GF1.

    However I don't really know how the figures for AF speeds translate into real-world use. I'm not a pro - coming from a compact point & shoot, am I going to notice the slow AF, or is it likely to be much faster than my old compact anyway? Does it make much of a difference in the real world?

    I'm basically going to be shooting standard family stuff.

    Thanks for any advice - I know similar questions have been asked everywhere recently, I'm just after putting the raw performance figures into context of what I want to do!!
  2. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    Welcome Rich, and I'll give you might take. I have to say that the E-PL1 is not the fastest camera in very low light. But "very low" is a relative term. If you are inside in a room with the average amount of lights on or even one light on, you should not have any problems. If, however, you are in a very minimally lit room...say just the light of a TV set..you can have issues with the auto focus hunting for focus. It's not always like that, but it can be that way. There are however, scene mode options among other controls that can override the "hunting".

    If you're more concerned about capturing speed - such as children, dogs, sports...there are ways to work that as well, but I wouldn't be the best person to respond since I'm not really a "techie" but more of an intuitive type who does read the manual sometimes.:biggrin:

    I recently wrote up a "review" of the E-PL1 that can be found along with others by clicking on the Review tab, up at the right, as did a couple of other members. And, as you've noted there have been quite a few questions about this camera in the existing threads - which if you've read them all should be of quite a bit of help, too.

    I'm sure as the day/night goes on you'll get some more technical answers to help you figure out if this particular camera will meet your needs, or not.:thumbup:
  3. RichStant

    RichStant Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 17, 2010
    Thanks for the info - and thanks for pointing out the reviews tab, that was very useful. Reading through those reviews it sounds like I'd be fine. A few people mentioned that focussing was much faster through a panasonic 20mm lens. Is that the lumix G 20mm / F1.7? Why does changing the lens alter how fast the AF works?
  4. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    The AF speed of any E-Px is likely to be at least on par if not faster than any decent P&S, plus the range of usable light conditions is much wider. So all in all, it should feel like an improvement over what you had.

    Now compared to a Pany µ4:3, the E-Px line is at the moment slower (a new firmware due on april 22nd might shuffle the cards here), but not that much slower. This tends to hide the fact that any µ4:3, be it Oly or Pany, is way slower to AF than any entry level DSLR. If AF speed is your paradigm to buy, then by all means, go for a Pentax K-x at the same price level (and suffer the added bulk). Or in other words, if AF speed would have make you lose a picture with an Olympus, it's only marginally likely that you would have nailed it had you had a Panasonic instead.

    But I reckon Panasonic AF feels more responsive and purely in terms of ergonomics, it's more satisfactory.

    Yes that's the one. AF depends on the one hand on internal body electronics, but also on the other hand on the lens motor to reach a designed position to focus. The less glass elements you move, the faster the motor, the faster the AF. Panasonic makes a habit of designing lenses where a single glass elements moves inside to focus, so the motor has less weight to slide, is faster, and locks AF faster.
  5. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Don't sweat the AF. Once you start to make photos, you'll be blown away and forget all the negative crap you read all over the net.
    The images will speak for themselves....
    • Like Like x 1
  6. vincechu

    vincechu Mu-43 Regular

    Agreed :)  Don't worry too much about tech specs too much, I'd say the AF of the m4/3rds gear is faster than P+S cameras but if you want speed for sports, traditional DSLR's might be the way to go.

    I'd recommend trying both in store
  7. RichStant

    RichStant Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 17, 2010
    That's great, thanks for all the friendly advice :)  Looks like I'll be going shopping for a E-PL1 over the next week!
  8. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    Rich, when you're not shopping or reading, it would be great if you'd stop by the Welcomes and Intros forum for an "official" hello.

    Take your time on the camera and once you make your decision be sure to let us know so we can share your anticipation - and see the results.:biggrin:
  9. ajramirez

    ajramirez Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 16, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    I think it depends on the compact. After seeing your post, I decided to pull out two of my P&S cameras (none of which have been used since I bought the E-P1.) What I found was that my Fuji F10 focuses much slower than the E-P1 with the 20mm Lumix. No surprises there. However, my Canon SD850IS focuses at about the same speed, or even slightly quicker, on the wide end of the zoom, and slightly slower on the tele end.

    Having said that, in real world use, I have absolutely no complaints about the focusing speed of the E-P1. I find myself using it much more often than my Canon EOS 50D and T1i bodies, which focus much quicker than the E-P1.

    I realize your question is about the E-PL1, but I would think the autofocus performance of the E-PL1 should be equal to, or better than, the E-P1.


    • Like Like x 1
  10. bv77

    bv77 New to Mu-43

    Mar 26, 2010
    South Florida
    Depends on the p&s .. I have two ricohs that AF faster then the E-pl1.. I returned mine before the update though.
    How much faster is the AF after the update? I couldn't find anyone here discussing it...
  11. RichStant

    RichStant Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 17, 2010
    There's a graph over at dpreview that shows the E-PL1 after the update is as fast as the G1 (http://www.dpreview.com/news/1004/10042202olypenfirmware.asp). The panasonic lens on the E-PL1 is even faster again. I just bought my E-PL1 and find the AF absolutely fine, although I haven't had too much of a play yet!
    • Like Like x 1
  12. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    Congratulations on making up your mind and going for the E-PL1! And thanks for that link, too, Rich.:2thumbs:
  13. bv77

    bv77 New to Mu-43

    Mar 26, 2010
    South Florida
    yup saw that chart.. I was wondering if users could confirm it
  14. FaradayCage

    FaradayCage Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 22, 2010
    I have come from the P&S world, after the film world of a Contax G rangefinder. I did so mainly because I wanted to use my G glass again, and now I can. This camera is much noisier than your average P&S, but I imagine, not owning any DSLRs, that it's as quiet or quieter than they are. The noise was my big surprise. I doubt you'll find its AF speed much different than any point and shoot. If you can live with that, you'll be farking amazed with the leap in image quality, as well as options for manual control and things like IR filters, legacy lenses and even (gasp) pinhole photography! Check it out:
    creative pinhole, zone plate and infrared photography

    It seems to me one could just buy a spare body cap for the E-PL1, a pinhole plate, and epoxy. Cut a hole in the body cap, epoxy the pinhole plate, carefully centered, to the back of the body cap, and you would have an accessory to create a digital pinhole camera. There are lots of pages on the web about making traditional pinhole cameras... some of the most remarkable are not pinhole cameras but "slit" cameras where the pinhole is not just a hole but a very narrow slit. Some experimentation is called for!
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