EPL5 focus speed

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by WilburNJ, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. WilburNJ

    WilburNJ Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 30, 2012
    Hi folks,

    I recently brought my epl5 with the 75 1.8 mounted to a fashion show and was somewhat disappointed with the focus speed I experienced. The last times I went to these events, I used my Canon gear (1d4 w/ 70-200 f/4.0), and the focus speed difference was very different. Almost everything I shot with the canon was a keeper, but the rate with the Oly was probably less than 50%. Undoubtedly, some or maybe much of that performance maybe user error given my newness to the Oly gear. So hopefully I'll improve over time....

    Don't get me wrong, I still love the Oly. In fact, so much so that I upgraded to the OMD EM5 a month after owning the epl5. I sold the little brother to a friend and am now happy with the em5 as my everyday gear.

    I do have to make a decision about what to do with my canon gear. I'm an amateur enthusiast, so I don't have any real "need" for that pro gear. But, I find it great for pics of my kids when they are playing sports. So, I suppose ill end up keeping the canon gear for that, and maybe for very special international trips.

    In the meantime, I'm loving my new gear. :)

    Here are a few pics from the fashion show, for those interested:



  2. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    I think you got some nice shots. Other than AF speed and accuracy, do you have any opinions/comments on actual image quality?

    PDAF and properly callibrated DSLR cameras will shoot moving subjects better than m43.

    On more static subjects, the EPL5 + 75 should focus just as quickly as a DSLR, but CDAF cannot track movement. It just focuses on the area of greatest contrast.

    Oh, and the 1D series has some of the best AF in the world. Period. So, it's a little unfair comparison. If you had brought a 5D classic, and had to use the center point AF, your keeper rate would have been likely more on line with the EPL5. Maybe a tad better.

    I'm sure you can figure out the trade-off now. AF vs. size. It's one of those compromises we have to make. I've kept both because of that. Maybe also try MF? You could learn to creep the focus ring as the models move. Just a thought.

    Hope that's helpful in some way.

    Of course, the person who got a lower keep rate than you is this poor lady in the lower left with her NEX :)

  3. Al.

    Al. Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 3, 2010
    Hull, East Yorkshire, UK
    Real Name:
    or the silly i-pad users
  4. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    The issues when shooting models on the runway are:

    1 - AF slows down as the light level drops. If nothing was in sharp focus, then low light is your problem.

    2 - If something other than your subject is in focus, then the AF sensor area is too large and is focusing on whatever has higher contrast. You can use the zoom focus to shrink the AF box size to between x5 - x14. Note: as the focus box size gets smaller, it takes longer to acquire focus, particularly in lower light.

    3 - Also keep in mind, if you're shooting wide open with the 75/1.8, then the DOF is very shallow.

    FWIW, in higher light levels, CDAF in the newer ยต4/3 cameras is very fast and accurate for linear motion like this.
  5. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    The motion looks more oblique than linear, IMO.
  6. Drdave944

    Drdave944 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 2, 2012
    I don't think it an issue with the camera. Perhaps it is the lens. I say this because I took my EPL-5 to a very poorly lighted MMA match and the camera using a 25mm Leica 1.4 wide open. Of course the pictures are not great because of everyone moving around so fast but the camera did auto focus fast and well. And the camera didn't weigh 5 lb!
  7. WilburNJ

    WilburNJ Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 30, 2012
    Thanks for the feedback everyone. Yes, I think I have a lot to learn to properly handle my new toys (now the EM5), so presumably I'll get better at anticipating things, including how to time the shutter lag.

    In the meantime, just to show you the difference, take a look at some of my pics of similar subjects using my Canon gear:

    I have every hope that I'll get my Oly pics close enough to these that I'll end up selling my Canon gear. But, even if I don't, then I guess I'll just end up keeping both and using my Oly for most situations and dusting off my Canon for special situations.

    In terms of image quality, I'm very impressed by how good the pics from my EPL5 were, especially those shot in RAW. Quite frankly, I was shocked by how good they were. On a recent trip to Beijing, i spent a morning before heading to the airport and did some sightseeing photography. I think some of those photos were fantastic, at least in terms of innate quality of the lens and sensor. I posted them on this forum a few weeks back, pics that were right out of the camera. But when I processed them from raw, wow! I really think the M43 systems have come a long way.
  8. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Linear is straight line. The subject is moving in a straight line.

    Even my E-PL2 can nail the focus with moving cars. The 75/1.8 has more mass that has to be moved for focusing, which is another challenge.

    Random direction like soccer or birds in flight are the real problem areas for CDAF.
  9. stonebat

    stonebat Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 17, 2010
    The flagship Canon body uses predictive AF. CDAF has a long way to go. I don't think CDAF can replace PDAF completely.
  10. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Certainly not right now.
  11. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    What kind of focus pattern were you using? I notice you have a lot of the spectators in perfect focus, which should not be happening with a 75mm f/1.8 shot wide open (I'm assuming you must be shooting wide open in that lighting). In contrast to your Canon photos, you were shooting MUCH wider with the E-PL5 and of course the Canon would not have the same problem. The difference in crops makes the focus speed impossible to compare, and it looks to me like your E-PL5 is locking focus but not on your subject. Your Canon didn't have much variance to focus between. Your subject was right in your face so to speak. It's not the fact that your Canon was a 1D which makes the comparison unfair. That has very little to do with it. ;)

    Try a single AF point if you're not, and make the focus box size smaller if you haven't.
  12. WilburNJ

    WilburNJ Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 30, 2012
    I think I had set the focus point to the smallest rectangle and used the touch LCD to place the focus point in the frame, and then used the shutter release to actually focus and expose. I think the biggest problem was lack of contrast of the subject (driven a bit by harsh lighting) while trying to get the camera to follow the models as they strutted quickly down the runway while also trying to avoid the big heads, cameras, cellphones, and ipads in my way.

    I was offered, one time, the opportunity to sit in the press box, which would have given me the ability to get a direct view of the models as they walked the runway. But that space is incredibly tight. I think each photog gets a 1 square foot space to plant himself/herself; I'm 6'5" and I didn't want to be that confined and, as importantly, didn't want to block people who have more legitimate reasons for being there than I do. :)

    Anyway, I'm sure I'll get the hang of the Oly over time. As I tell my kids, "practice, practice, practice."
  13. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    When you get the hang of getting the 75/1.8 to AF on a full moon, you won't have any trouble with the models.
  14. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    Real Name:
    John Griggs
    I don't find the 75mm f/1.8 to be a particularly fast focusing lens... but then many telephotos are not. On my now-sold Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II I would employ the focus limiter when shooting sports to minimize possible hunting time on missed focus.

    The 75mm, when it does hunt, is like an old hound dog, lol -- it gets there, but not as fast as I'd like.

    However, I've noticed no difference in the focus between my E-M5 and E-PL5. They seem to work the same.
  15. Lisandra

    Lisandra Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 16, 2010
    my em5 is less consistent than my gh3, sometimes it hunts
  16. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 14, 2012
    I've noticed slower focus times on moving subjects - and often the autofocus will single out a static element in the picture rather than try and cope with a moving person.

    A far larger factor on AF speed for me has been using single vs continuous autofocus. C-AF is awfully slow.