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E-PL5 autofocus woes

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Cederic, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 14, 2012
    I'm finding myself really struggling with this scenario:
    Walking down the street, photograph someone as I walk past. Camera at waist level, autofocus, auto exposure, etc.

    It's how I do street photography. I like the results.

    Unfortunately the E-PL5 is giving me lots of beautifully exposed, delightfully framed photographs of fuzzy people walking past stunningly crisp backdrops.

    Any suggestions on how to convince the autofocus to focus on the subject, rather than the background?
  2. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 14, 2012
    Forgot to mention: Face detection is switched on. So far it's detected a face seven times, out of around 1200 photographs. Two of those were false positives, three of them were oriental, and one was not native English. I'm not sure it likes these white folks 'round here.
  3. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Shut off face detection. IMO doesn't work. Actually, not been impressed with it on most any camera.

    What did you use before the EPL5?

    What lens are you using and at what aperture?
  4. Yohan Pamudji

    Yohan Pamudji Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 21, 2012
    Mississippi, USA
    Have you tried touch focus/shutter? I think you'll get better results when you tell the camera where to focus instead of letting the camera decide.
  5. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 12, 2012
    Strange... I use face detection all the time with my e-p3 and I get perfect results 9/10 times...
  6. Rudy

    Rudy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 24, 2013
    Oakland, CA
    Try setting auto focus to all targets (user manual page 44) and then prefocus on something at roughly the correct distance. The auto focus will then first try to focus on anything in the frame that is close to that distance. It kind of gets stuck at that range as long as it finds something to lock on to. However once it locked onto the background it will try to stay there as well...
  7. davidzvi

    davidzvi Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Silly question, focus mode?

    If I had to guess I would say S-AF and not C-AF?
  8. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    I also recently began using the pre-focus option ("full-time AF") on my EPL5. Haven't done any rigorous tests, but it seems to help.
  9. PaulGiz

    PaulGiz Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 3, 2013
    Rhode Island, USA
    I love this feature, in any difficult situation it gives quite good results.

    Face detection is looking for a round or oval shape with 2 or three dark spots in it. It works OK if people are facing you, not so much in profile or 3/4 profile or if they're moving. Funny thing about face detect – it will find and focus on hubcaps!!!

    For your situation I'd shut face detect off and see if you miss it.

  10. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    I'd use the touch screen to designate the focus point of your photo. And use a fast focusing lens like the 14/2.5 or 17/1.8.
  11. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    In my opinion, face detect works in a studio setting but not in a busy street setting. Which is ironic, 'cause who uses face detect in a studio setting?

    Either way, I would definitely turn it off for street photography.

    I agree with the suggestion of using touch focus on the tilt screen, if you must shoot from the hip.
  12. LowTEC

    LowTEC Mu-43 Regular

    Touch screen shutter got to be the quickest and most accurate method
  13. rfortson

    rfortson Mu-43 Veteran

    I agree with the others about the touch focus/release. I never even considered this feature on my OM-D before buying it, but having tried it I love using it. Very accurate and fast.
  14. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 14, 2012
    Wow, lots to consider there, thank you everyone.

    Face detect : I'll turn it off, see it that helps
    AF 'All Targets' : Already turned on
    'Prefocus' at suitable range : Not tried that, great idea
    Previous camera: Large sensor compact, so I'm used to a more forgiving depth of field
    Lens/Aperture: 14-42PZ at 14/f3.5 (or rarely further closed, but only rarely because it's winter and there isn't enough light)

    I agree completely that using the touch screen to select focus point and trip the shutter is superb on the E-PL5, and I do use it a lot. The main reason that I prefer not to use it for much of my street photography is one that'll get me slapped: I shoot unsighted. I'm looking away from the camera, often away from the subject so that they don't catch my eye, they don't look at the camera, they don't realise they're being photographed.

    Candid photography is easy and can still be aimed, framed, focussed and lit when you're using a 90mm lens. I use 14mm. People five feet away notice things. I don't want them noticing my camera.

    Otherwise, yes, I'd be getting grubby fingerprints all over the touch screen :) 

    I'll continue to play and experiment, and report back on the results.
  15. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    There's also the m.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 and 75mm f/1.8. ;) 
  16. Gary Ramey

    Gary Ramey Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 27, 2012
    Aurora Colorado
    I ran into this in a different way inside a gym taking basketball photos. f1.8 is pretty thin on DOF, so while things were in focus...a lot of my gym photos of players were soft. That did occur to me but I thought I could center the focus and it wouldn't be that far off. The players movement would lead them to be out of the focus plane.
  17. Bamamike

    Bamamike Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 19, 2012
    Koblenz, Germany
    AF all targets isn't very helpful while street shooting. I always prefer the cerntral focus point which can be easily switched to the left or right, and you know what you focusing on. I even use the smalll focus point.
  18. Mookalafalas

    Mookalafalas Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Feb 22, 2012
    Tainan, Taiwan
    I have a similar problem as the OP. I frequently have the box over the subject, get the beep, and then have a blurry subject, sharp background. I can even see on the screen that the subject is not in focus when the camera is beeping that it's ready. It's quite frustrating. I wish the focus areas were much smaller instead of such large squares...
  19. PaulGiz

    PaulGiz Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 3, 2013
    Rhode Island, USA
    You can change the size of focus points. On your E-PL5 they even stay at the size you define, unlike OM-D which resets to larger boxes.

    Read your manual. The beauty of Olympus is the fact that all sorts of things can be customized.

  20. Yohan Pamudji

    Yohan Pamudji Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 21, 2012
    Mississippi, USA
    The big AF points are frustrating--true. But you can make them smaller (although there's a gotcha to it as well). When you touch the screen to focus, a slider appears on the right side of the screen. Slide it up or down to make the box smaller or bigger. The 'gotcha' is that if you press the OK button to get out of that mode, for instance to make settings changes, you lose the smaller AF point setting and it only takes effect when you touch the screen to focus again. Basically as long as you stay in that mode the AF point will stay the size you specify.
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