Disappointed after first outing with EM-1 and 50-20 SWD with EC-14

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by freelancer27, Apr 17, 2016.

  1. freelancer27

    freelancer27 Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 17, 2016
    Hi guys,

    I have been reading a lot in the last month on this forum and the pictures of user "Phocal" were a big reason why I got the 50-200 SWD.
    I bought the 50-200 and EC-14 from KEH for a good price and was really excited to try the combo today at a local pond. Most of the pics that I have seen on the web, made me think that this would be a killer wildlife combo for an affordable price.

    Now, I am back from my trip, looking at the pictures and I must say that I am really disappointed. None of the pics is really sharp.

    Of course it is the first time out with the combo and such a long focal length requires some getting used to... though I think that some stationary objects would have yielded in a better outcome than why I am seeing here...

    I have added a couple of items that should demonstrate my frustration.

    I have read that there is a potential need to adjust the focus of the lens withe the camera (and the EC-14)? I thought mirrorless cameras do not need focus adjustment?!

    What do you think?

    Attached Files:

  2. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    4/3 lenses like the 50-200 use PDAF only on the E-M1 and therefore may need focus adjustment. On mirrorless PDAF needs less adjustment as there's no discrepancy between separate focussing and imaging sensors, but there's still minor error between what the on chip phase detectors indicate and what is truly in focus. You might also need to check the EC-14, any extra attachments need to be accounted for during calibration.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Can't really look at the photos because we are in the middle of a massive storm here in Houston and I have no power so I'm on my phone.

    I got lucky with my 50-200, shot with it for over a year before I got focus tune software and it was almost dead on. When I got my 150 f/2 is when I got the focus tune software because it was off enough to be noticeable. I have since done it on the 50-200 and even tho I was happy with the results, the minor adjustments I made (set bare lens to -1 and ec-14 to -3) did make a noticeable difference.

    Looking at your photos it looks like you need to make some adjustments (will look on computer when I can). What were your shutter speeds and focal lengths? Is there any crop to the photos? Also, the egret photos are over exposed and that makes it harder to tell what is going on. On white birds I find I need to dial in some negative exposure comp, how much depends on how bright but I have dialed in up to -3 in really bright light.

    If you live near a zoo go there for some controlled testing. I normally visit the flamingos at my zoo to test new lenses. They tend to sit still, I can get close, no glass or fence to obstruct view, and I can set up my tripod. Perfect place to test out things.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. dogs100

    dogs100 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 12, 2011
    N Devon UK
    I was happy with my 50-200 swd until I did a lens calibration, now I am really happy. Like Phocal it wasn't a major adjustment but it came home what a difference it made when I did a camera update and didn't reset the calibration (you have to tell the camera to use it after an update). I was puzzled for a couple of outings until I cottoned on and reset the camera to recognise the adjustment. And Yes! you need to adjust for the ec14 separately, so lens alone then lens plus ec14.

    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. skellington

    skellington Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 4, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    How do you guys do a lens calibration? My google-fu doesn't turn up anything specific.
  6. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    I used this system LensAlign

    I got the target and software. Was very simple to setup and use and I highly recommend the system. It will cost a few hundred for everything which really is cheap when you consider how much you spend not just on the lens but also going places to take photos.
  7. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Ah, yes...the fatal mistake of taking an untested kit out into the field.....
    • Informative Informative x 1
  8. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Focus tune software is great. Here's another discussion on tuning without the SW.
    • Useful Useful x 1
  9. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I needed to make adjustments with mine (including with the EC14), but I did it with a lot of trial error on objects around home, inside & out (I have a large yard with trees) & that worked for me. It's more likely the telephoto end will need greater adjustment. I think mine's set to -3 for the Tele setting (I'm using my iPad in bed, so not sure of all).
  10. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Several things.........

    1. Because of how PDAF focus works, it will not focus at the same spot every time. You can put your camera on a tripod and shoot a target and every time it refocuses it will not focus at the same spot each time. It will have some error range that it focuses which is dependent on the lens and camera being used. This is why I really like the focus tune software. It allows you to get an average of where the lens is actually focusing so you can set the micro adjust to the optimal setting. This really is almost impossible to do without the software. It is also very fast and easy to do. I can do a prime lens in about 15 minutes and a zoom in 30 minutes, because on a zoom you adjust the wide and telephoto end so basically have to do it twice. This also brings me point 2

    2. This is not a one and done thing. As the lens ages this setting will need adjusted because the gears in the lens do wear down. I recommend doing this at least once a year and before any major photographic events, like a safari or big trip.

    For me, I firmly believe in getting the focus tune system. The cost really is a drop in the bucket when I factor in the money I spend going places to take photos. I go someplace every weekend to take photos and this is about $30 in gas and other expenses, that is $1500 a year just in my local adventures. Factor in any photographic outings for multiple days or other trips and I easily drop $4,000 a year just in going places to take photos. That with the price of the lenses/camera and the $200 for the system really is just a drop in the bucket. Then knowing this will need to be done periodically (I do it every 4-6 months) and the time involved, which my time is my most valuable asset, I feel it is more then worth it. This is also not just for 4/3 lenses. I do not own any of the Pro lenses yet but according to a few people I know they have had to do a micro adjust on them for when using C-AF because it is using PDAF for focus. Personally I have not really looked into this but I will when I get any of the Pro lenses, so I am not sure how you can accomplish because of how the hybrid focus system works with µ4/3 lenses. But it does make sense that when in C-AF and the camera is using PDAF that it would need to be done because of how PDAF focusing works. So, if using C-AF is something you do a lot of, then having the focus tune system for even your µ4/3 lenses makes even more sense.

    The new Nikon D5 and D500 really impress me because they have implemented a way to do micro adjust all in camera. This is super slick and something Olympus could easily add via a firmware update and that I feel really should be added.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. freelancer27

    freelancer27 Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 17, 2016
    Thanks guys!

    I think a lot of comments make sense. I think it comes down to the following points:
    * Exposure (slightly under expose when possible)
    * Technique (my last tele was around 450mm, adding another 130mm requires some training for handheld shots)
    * I think I chose the right shutterspeeds (around 1/640 for stationary birds) and right f-stops (from wide open down to F8)
    * Focus adjustments
    --> I think I need to look into this, what kind of options do you recommend? I would like to see if there is a way to do this without spending a couple of hundred dollars up front. What is the benefit of software?

    Thanks for all your help!
  12. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    The focus adjustment feature is in your camera. If you want to spend no money, simply setup your camera on a steady surface, turn off IS, and then put a target of some sort to shoot, such as a simple ruler sitting about 45-degrees from horizontal (front end on the table, back end lifted up). Now use the focus adjustment of your camera and start shooting the target and adjusting until the focus is dead on where you want it. I would imagine there must be some websites or YouTube videos giving tutorials if you do a search (huh, just did a quick search and nothing obvious came up. Will have to keep looking).
  13. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    I found that my lenses didn't need an adjust on their own, however with teleconverters they universally needed a small nudge. This was for both the 50-200mm SWD and 35-100mm f2.0.
  14. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    What the software provides is this. Lets say you have a target that is exactly 25 feet away. You press the focus button and the camera focuses at exactly 25 feet. You defocus (it is important that you turn the focus ring to change the focus before doing a refocus) / refocus and this time it focuses at 25' 1". Repeat and it is at 24' 11". Every time you focus it will not be the same distance that it focuses at. Using the software this variation is very easy to see because of how it plots out the focus distances. I am not saying you can not get it perfect just using your eyeball, but it will take a lot longer unless you are really lucky. While waiting for the software to arrive I did an eyeball alignment and got close (was two off from what I ended up setting it at).

    A good example is the setting I am using for my 150/2 and ec-14. At one setting the camera tended to focus more to the front of the target point, but it always had the target in acceptable focus at ƒ2.8. At the next setting it tended to focus behind the target point, but it also always had the target in acceptable focus (by this I mean the zero line on the ruler). So which setting do you pick? I went with the one that tends to focus behind the target because when I shoot birds I tend to focus on their shoulder which tends to put the eye a bit behind the point I am focusing on. Then if shooting say a lion looking at me I know to focus on the nose which puts the eyes a bit behind that point. Knowing this kind of information can get you more keeper photographs. If I was shooting more sports I probably would go with the more forward focus to help with any lag in a photo being taken (when I use it for sports I do change the setting because I know how the lens performs). This is the kind of information that using the software can provide. I can also do a prime in 15 minutes or a zoom in 30 minutes, which is really fast for getting a very high confidence setting. I leave the house knowing that my lenses are calibrated perfectly and have 100% confidence in my gear.

    I have also played around with are there any differences between the center focus point and the others. Spent an entire day testing this and from what I can tell there is no difference. So I just set them all to the same setting.

    Honestly, I did not believe that the camera would focus at a different point each time. I figured it would be off x amount and that it would be the same x every time. But, there really is a difference with each and every focus. The difference can be enough that 3-4 settings can/do overlap (especially at ƒ4.9 at the long end of the 50-200 with ec-14), but only 1 of those settings will give you the highest percentage of photos in focus.

    But, it is your money, your time, your gear.............your choice. I will provide the best information that I can and answer any questions. But make no mistake, I highly believe the software and target are well worth the money and will always suggest using it over any other method.
  15. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    freelancer27. Give the lens a chance and work on adjusting the AF and technique. As you noted, it takes some adjustment to use a long lens like this. But, I think you'll find that it's worth the effort. Here's some shots from my first outing with the lens after I acquired it. They are mostly sharp, except for some of the flamingo shots because they kept moving so much. I also just noticed that the lizard's head is out of focus, but his body is sharp. Since I shot wide open mostly (for testing), the thin DOF played a big part in what's in and out of focus. Stopping down a little would have helped. Still, I was very pleased with the lens. At the Zoo, 31May15
  16. freelancer27

    freelancer27 Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 17, 2016
    Thanks everybody!

    I will try to build my own focus adjustment set (based on the video posted above) and see how it turns out. If this does not help I will think about an option as posted by 'Phocal'.

    Thanks again! :)
  17. freelancer27

    freelancer27 Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 17, 2016
    Since the internet is full of 'something does not work and that is why I am complaining posts' (such as this... ;) ), I think it is important to also post the positive.

    Today I had another chance to go out and test the combo and it was already much, much better. When the focus hits and the light is in your favor, that combo DOES deliver really amazing results for the money!

    See results! :)

    Three things that I still noticed though:

    * You should stay under ISO 400 (looking at the yummy High ISO files of the D500, I am wondering why the EM-1 is sooo noisy for just a little bit smaller sensor...)

    * The Single AF is still hunting a lot, even on subjects that should be easy to focus. Any thoughts on the cause here?

    * Steady hand is really import! ;)

    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 3
  18. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    freelancer27, They look good. Are you using the standard size single AF target point or the small, because I suggest the small should be reserved for busy surrounding to subjects & the subject with plenty of detail otherwise it is likely to hunt, mainly because the E-M1 does not have twin cross PD-AF sensors (like a good DSLR) but just a single line of horizontal PD-AF detection on sensor (for each AF point) that only works effectively with enough vertical detail when using 4/3's DSLR lenses. The standard size target has a better chance of locking onto the subject (if the subject predominantly fills the AF target frame). Of course, when using M4/3's lenses with CD-AF it is much more reliable (so long as the AF area suits the subject) at locking onto less distinct subjects. If you can use the 4/3's lenses knowing these limitations & know how to get around those situations then great results can still be obtained.

    Actually, I could be wrong about how many lines of PD-AF pixels there are for each standard AF area.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016
  19. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Only problem with large AF point is it focusing behind the subject if subject is not completely covered by AF point. Like trying to focus on a birds head, large point can be bigger and focus on something behind head. Main thing is to remember you need vertical detail, slightly turning camera to get focus can help.

    Honestly I rarely have my 4/3 lenses hunt. When it does it's usually obvious and easy to correct.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  20. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Yes, there are occasions for both sizes & yes, the detail needs to be there to focus on.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2016
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