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E-M1.2 Sports Shooting - Focus Issues

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by jmwhite151, Aug 28, 2017.

  1. jmwhite151

    jmwhite151 Mu-43 Rookie

    22
    Jun 21, 2017
    I have been taking pictures of ultimate frisbee games with my E-M1.2 and 40-150/2.8 PRO off and on for a couple of months. I have been getting inconsistent focus results and am hoping someone can point me in the right direction. (Disclaimer: I'm still a relative newbie.)

    Here are my ideal settings if the light allows:
    1/1000 sec, f/2.8, Auto ISO, Silent Seq. Low, C-AF+TR, 9 point focus
    Other settings, for reference in case changing one of these helps:
    C-AF Lock: 0, AF Limiter: Off, AF Scanner: mode2, Face priority: various (I accidentally change this all the time), Firmware: 1.2

    I have only been using the tracking recently. I find that the green box seems to track the subject well. But the focus is still inconsistent. I took a series of pictures yesterday (focal length: 150mm) where the subject was not moving. The tracking seemed to do just fine. But the sharpest point in the image is the grass that is ~3 feet behind the guy. The subject focus was less than ideal. I didn't take enough other pictures to notice a trend. But a good portion (half?) of the pictures were slightly out of focus. Some were nice and sharp.

    I had been using the same settings, except without the tracking and have temporarily given up on that due to inconsistent results. If I can get the tracking to work, I would like to give that a try.

    I have found that decreasing the aperture to f/4.0 or higher can help. But that seems like cheating and hurts in low light.

    In going back through my C-AF (no tracking) shots, I found that I had a bunch of ones with good focus when the subject was in direct sunlight.

    Any suggestions on how to improve the focus in less than direct sunlight? I have a couple of opportunities to try things out this week.
    _________________________________________________________________
    8/30/2017 Update - I wanted to reference a few related threads/links as well as summarize some of the things that have been said by others here and in related threads. (Thanks to everyone who has contributed.)

    Related Threads/Links:
    EM1ii - experience with C-TR focus
    EM1MK2-CAFTR check your settings
    Nikon D500 vs E-M1 II: My Thoughts for Motorsports
    Exclusive interview: Olympus R&D on continued E-M1 Mark II development (external link)

    Suggestions:
    1. Try C-AF instead of C-AF+TR
    2. Try S-AF (S-AF uses CDAF whereas C-AF uses PDAF)
    3. Minimize the number of AF points to 5 or 1
    4. Adjust C-AF lock Description (external link)
    5. Adjust focus fine tuning (only affects PDAF, right?) Instructions
    6. Make sure face priority is off
    7. Make sure image stabilization is off
    8. Use a mechanical shutter instead of electronic
    9. If light allows, use a smaller aperture to increase the depth of field
    10. Turn release priority off (there was one suggestion to turn it on)
    11. Some users have reported that faster shutter speeds improve the AF performance
    12. Buy a Nikon D500. (Ha, kind of kidding here, but it has gotten a lot of praise, even from E-M1.2 users.)

    Other Comments:
    1. Subjects crossing the frame seem to cause more AF issues than subject coming at or going away from the camera. Camera panning while shooting also causes issues.
    2. C-AF+TR doesn't seem to do well with static scenes. The tracking seems biased towards motion in the frame even if it isn't the original subject.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2017
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  2. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    There are a couple of us on this forum who've noticed this same thing. I noticed it personally when shooting motorsports, comparing a D500 & 70-200 f/2.8 to the E-M1 II and 40-150 f/2.8, and the Nikon kit walked all over the Olympus kit. It wasn't even close really. In fact, there was such a difference that I bought a small Nikon kit just for shooting sports with, and I'm very pleased with it. As for your E-M1 II:

    The first thing I would try is going back to the regular C-AF mode, not C-AF + Tracking. While the tracking in the E-M1 II is much better than the E-M1, I don't think it's particularly well suited for fast moving subjects.

    The second thing I would try is changing your AF target box from the 9-point mode to the 5-point mode. Unless you're really using those four outer quadrant boxes, you're simply giving the camera more chance to miss focus. I personally use the single AF point whenever possible.

    The third thing I'd try is adjusting the C-AF lock. Try setting to more towards the "loose" setting (whether that's "+" or "-" I can't remember). This will allow the AF to adjust more rapidly, which may help in your situation.

    The fourth thing I'd try is doing an AF Fine Tune check on your lens/camera combo. The C-AF mode on the E-M1 II uses the PDAF points, which may need some calibration to ensure focus accuracy. I've seen this improve my results with older 4/3 lenses dramatically.

    Also, turn face priority off. If your main intention is shooting the action, keep the focus point where you need it to be, don't rely on auto face recognition, which may confuse the AF system and do more harm than good based on what you're shooting.

    Are you shooting with IBIS on? At those shutter speeds its not needed, so I'd recommend turning it off.


    Hopefully this helps. I know that @nstelemark@nstelemark and myself have been chatting back and forth about this, because the E-M1 II seems to behave very bizarre in this regard.
     
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  3. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    When you shoot wide open at f2.8, the depth of field is very shallow with very little room for error for focus. Try stopping down a stop or two.
     
  4. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    Yes we have. I agree that the 5 point AF may help, but I found that the +1 tighter AF tracking seemed more consistent (but not enough that I was really happy).

    I agree that the AF says it is locked when using tracking but in fact it is not. I have release priority C set to off, and the camera releases the shutter which means it thinks it has focus when it does not. For me I went back to S-AF and short bursts which is exactly what I was using with the E-M1. And in all honesty the E-M1 tracking more accurately reported when it was out of focus. As @ijm5012@ijm5012 mentioned in another post I really hope the E-M1.2 continued development fixes these issues.
     
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  5. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    While I agree with this in general, I was using the 100-400 at f6+ on big narrow targets with no background clutter and still many of the "in focus" shots were not. Due to the subject I can go back to S-AF, I am just disappointed the tracking appears to work but does not.
     
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  6. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    So then how to APS-C and FF cameras shoot with f/2.8 or f/4 lenses that yield FAR shallower DoF do it?

    I'm sorry, but shooting the lens at f/2.8 here is not the issue at all. Not even close. It's the camera settings that need to be adjusted, and even then, it may or may not be up to the task.
     
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  7. genesimmons

    genesimmons Mu-43 Top Veteran

    595
    Feb 12, 2017
    i am in the same boat, very inconsitent focus, i recently shot a bike event and i used my 12-100 wide open and had great light and was at ss1600 mostly and my shots were much better, this was discussed earlier on about the em1.2 focusing better with higher shutter speeds, theres no reason for it, when it nails focus its great but this camera sure isnt reliable, i hope all these people with the same issues will cause olympus to go back to the drawing board and come up with some new software for it,
     
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  8. genesimmons

    genesimmons Mu-43 Top Veteran

    595
    Feb 12, 2017
    i also agree with the above, shooting at 2.8 isnt the issue, these cameras dont have near the depth of field of full frame, i shot my 75mm f1.8 wide open all night at a concert and lots was in focus, body guitar and of course her whole face all in focus at 1.8. i agree though dont use tracking, it lies aand says things are in focus whenthey are not, there was great post describing how priority release works on these cameras and how its different than others
     
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  9. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Rob
    This topic always breaks my heart. I love mirrorless, love my e-m1 but the unreliability of CAF is so frustrating and disappointing. Unfortunately for me, much of what I like to shoot moves.

    Hoping a FW upgrade brings major improvements soon. The H/W seems adequate. It's laughable that this was touted as a super fast sports camera at its release.

    Working on technique is absolutely valid, but doing so to improve a poor hit rate to a less poor hit rate is a waste of time.

    Impact to Oly is that I'm not buying any more lenses until I see improvement or I'll do as Ian and add a more able system to the mix. Simply unacceptable for a high end dslr to be this bad at advanced focus in 2017. My friends' old, slow, clunky d7100 produces more sharp in focus images of action with less effort!
     
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  10. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    Agreed @nstelemark@nstelemark . The direct comparison to the D500 really opened my eyes and made me evaluate my kit with a bit more scrutiny. I'm in the process of shuffling some gear around because of that. I am keeping my E-M1 II for my normal uses, but when I'm headed to the track to shoot motorsports, it's the Nikon kit that will accompany me, at least for the time being.
     
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  11. hokuahi

    hokuahi Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jul 14, 2017
    mililani
    Gotta say, I was expecting more with CAF but like the others it is nowhere near what I'd hoped for.
     
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  12. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    What is really interesting is that closing or opening targets that are in line with the lens axis, ie something going towards or away from the camera, seems to work well with tracking. It is the crossing targets when there is any panning involved that really seem to give it fits. But, and for me this is the key issue, it thinks it is in focus, and it is close enough you can't tell in the viewfinder.
     
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  13. zippo88

    zippo88 Mu-43 Regular

    65
    Nov 9, 2013
    Any guesses as to when a major firmware update may come out? How long was the m1 out before they made steps towards improving af?
     
  14. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    If light allows, then I would be stopping down to something like f/4 instead where 1/500 of a second is still plenty fast enough for frisbee.


    How is it cheating? Sure, in low light you made need to open the aperture to keep the shutter speed faster, but there is no rule you have to have a wide open, smaller DoF shot for sports. Your 40-150 PRO when shot on the long end will still give you plenty of separation from the background, but even on the wide end, wouldn't it be much better to come home with 80% keepers even if you are not meeting some arbitrary f-stop than it is to use an f-stop that drops your keepers considerably? Photography is not about using all your equipment at their extremes. It is about getting the photo that tells to story you want to tell regardless of what setting it took to get there.


    Yes, Oly's C-AF modes have always sucked on all the cameras of theirs I have owned starting back with the E-520, E-1, & E-3 and now with my E-M1. By the time I got to the E-M1 I really haven't even bothered to try out C-AF based on past history when shooting my kids sports. Instead I rely on S-AF, feathering (half pressing rapidly) the shutter button while following the action, and firing when I see something interesting. Usually I turn on drive mode as well in low speed to shoot a series of 2-4 shots, but not always. Quite frankly, once you get comfortable with the technique, there is no reason to ever try Oly's feeble C-AF except on the slowest subjects. You can get plenty of keepers this way.


    Because those have PDAF with a splitter and a dedicated AF sensor and they tend to just do better at C-AF. And as mentioned above, even with that stuff Oly has never done it very well compared to other brands. While the PDAF of the E-M1 mk1 and mk2 certainly help, I suspect the on sensor PDAF points may not be as swift as a splitter + PDAF sensor. That and Oly still can't get it working as well as others who have made on sensor PDAF C-AF work well. It really doesn't seem to be their strong point.


    Ya, but fortunately with practice and a good technique there is no reason why someone can't take great photos with the E-M1 or other mirrorless camera without having to depend on C-AF to do it. After all, some of the great sports shots were taken over the decades back when they didn't even have S-AF, let alone tracking and continuous focusing and the like.
     
  15. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    So true -

    Yes the focus is not perfect, but the story is very strong -

    Fun Ride:
    P8261445.jpg
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


    And sometimes you get lucky, the moment the background and secondary players and the buoy number -

    The Win
    P8261848 (1).jpg
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
     
  16. jmwhite151

    jmwhite151 Mu-43 Rookie

    22
    Jun 21, 2017
    Thanks for all of the responses! I'm glad to hear it's not just me. I'm disappointed to hear that it seems the firmware is not yet up to the task. Hopefully they can fix that. Can we start a petition or something? (partially kidding.) I was going to try out a few things today, mostly see if I can get C-AF to work with a single point (and see how well I can manually track the subject.) But it's raining. So no frisbee.

    I agree about stopping it down and increasing the duration. I have been playing around with that a bit. Most of the time I'm shooting after work and the sun is starting to set so light can be a limiting factor.

    Bummer that a company's flagship camera won't do the things they say it's good at. I still like the camera a lot. I just hope they can get this worked out.
     
  17. aruba3h

    aruba3h Guest

    Hate to say it but this is why I went over to a d500. I have oly and love them ---but the Mark 2 just don't cut it for action. The pix below was with my d500. Its really the cat's meow.!!!!!!!!!!!
    DSC_6107aaaa.JPG
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
     
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  18. Mark Clark

    Mark Clark Mu-43 Rookie

    15
    Jul 16, 2017
    I had been using the Canon 7d mark2 with the Canon 100-400 mark2 lens for wildlife photography with very good results over the past couple years. I was wanting something smaller when going on hikes and borrowed my friends Oly mark2 and 100-400 pany lens for a couple weeks. Despite trying ever combination of focus settings, the Oly-Pany combo could not come close to my Canon combo for auto-focus speed and accuracy. I thought about getting the d-500 200-500 combo, but the 200-500 weighs 5lbs, which is a bit too much for me.
     
  19. aruba3h

    aruba3h Guest

    Mark------70-200 f4 on a d500 will do the trick

    Ken
     
  20. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    He's currently shooting with a lens that'll reach 600+mm when factoring in the crop factor. Suggesting a lens that'll only go to 300mm equivalent seems like a bit of a stretch IMO.
     
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