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Fast Focussing

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by littlefish, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. littlefish

    littlefish Mu-43 Regular

    92
    Aug 22, 2011
    Glos., UK
    Can anyone recommend a Micro 4/3 camera body with fast focussing, please? Budget is up to 500 / 600 GBP, body only.

    I have the G3 which is fine for general use but I'm missing 'moments'. Our daughter doesn't keep still for anything or anyone and the G3's focus can't cope. In comparison, friends' DSLRs capture movement better. I've had the chance to use their kit briefly a Canon (700D+ kit lens), a Nikon (D3300 with kit lens) and a couple of Sony Alphas and they all caught moments that I'm sure I'd have missed with the G3. The D3300 in particular was lovely to use.

    If I'm doing something fundamentally wrong or missed the point about Micro 4/3 somewhere, please tell me! I'm not proud, I just want to take better pictures.
     
  2. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    Do you have focusing issues with the O45 as well as your other lenses? If you mainly miss with the 20 and the consumer zooms, maybe you just need a new lens. Many people have complained that the 20 is too slow for kid pics. If its just with the 20, I would recommend the PL25, the PL15, or the O25, but keep in mind that people often report that lenses focus a bit faster on same branded bodies (still, the O25 will be noticeably faster than the 20, and maybe the least expensive option) .
     
  3. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    Which lens are you primarily using? I notice that the 20mm f1.7 is in your signature, which is a notoriously slow to focus lens, Without prefocusing/back button manual focusing and shooting at as small an aperture as the light allows to get more DoF it would be very hard to nail focus on a fast moving subject at close range. The 14-42 is meant to be pretty good though.

    Contrast detect auto focus is generally much slower in low light than phase detect (used by all the other cameras you listed), the newer cameras are better than old however the trend is still there. There are various tricks I use which improve my focus speed and accuracy, one of the key ones for me is putting the focus box on the side of someones face rather than the center. Eyes are great as you have both the contrast of the eye against skin and the edge of the face against background which will be slightly out of focus. Phase detect is much more forgiving in use as it doesn't care as much what you point it at. Many people have tried my camera and commented on the sluggish or hunting auto focus, I suspect many of these comments are based on lack of familiarity with the camera rather than an actual failure of the camera, these days I find most DSLR's harder to use as I've become unaccustomed to their bulk and control layout (not to mention spoilt by the EVF).

    If it's a very fast moving person at closeish range I generally don't bother with autofocus, I hit a button for peaking, nudge the focus ring til I can see stripes, and just shoot away with as small an aperture as the light allows and don't worry about it. If there isn't enough light, use a flash, if I can't use a flash then I need more realistic expectations.
     
  4. littlefish

    littlefish Mu-43 Regular

    92
    Aug 22, 2011
    Glos., UK
    Thanks for the quick replies.

    The issue is with all lenses although less so with the 45-200 with which I use the EVF almost exclusively. That observation is purely subjective but I reckon I get better shots with the big zoom than with the 20mm.

    And, yes, the 20mm is my default lens partly for the field of view, especially indoors, but mainly because it's 'fast'.

    I considered other lenses but discounted buying them on grounds of cost. A new D3300 & kits lens with the current UK cashback offer is only £10 more than the O25 which set me thinking on swapping back to DSLRs. I'll switch to the 14-42 kit lens & 45mm for a while, use the 'to one side' focussing tip and see how I get on.

    Thanks again for your time.
     
  5. chipbutty

    chipbutty Mu-43 Veteran

    When I had my G3 I found the AF to be blazingly fast. It was faster than my G6. I didn't have an issue missing shots with any of my lenses, though a few with the P20 as many people do. So I'm a bit bemused. Do you have it set to a single AF point?
     
  6. littlefish

    littlefish Mu-43 Regular

    92
    Aug 22, 2011
    Glos., UK
    Others have mentioned the G3's fast autofocus but I've not experienced this hence one of the reasons for my post. In fairness, I used Canon DSLRs with L lenses both personally and at work for a number of years so my expectations might be too high. The G3 is set to AFS. The AFC option is greyed out for the 20mm though I've never had the time to find out why.
     
  7. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Replacing the P20 with the O17/1.8 will make a large improvement in AF speed. However, if you're shooting at low light levels, indoors AF speed slows down considerably. DSLR's are still cheaper and better under those conditions.
     
  8. chipbutty

    chipbutty Mu-43 Veteran

    I think the slower external focussing system on that lens doesn't suit continuous auto focus.

     
  9. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    It isn't your camera ;
    You have a horde of options,
    but I'd firstly recommend the Sigma 19mmF2.8 : focus is very fast indeed.
    Spending money will buy you the M.Zuiko17mmF1.8, M.Zuiko25mmF1.8, PanaLeica25mmF1.4 : all do a similar job as indoor children cameras.
    The Sigma30mm is also significantly wider than the M.Zuiko45mm and is my main indoor kids lens.
     
  10. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    662
    Jul 1, 2013
    Well, maybe that's panasonic's thought, but it works fine on an Oly body with C-AF.

    DSLRs are still very superior to moving subjects when using C-AF. I have a crappy D3000 that blows away my G5 and EM5 for moving subjects in C-AF, it loses by a long shot in S-AF though. If you want something compact that can handle action, Nikon's 1 series can't be beat. I have a J1 and as far as focusing and tracking goes, none of my M43 gear or even D7000 can keep up.
     
  11. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Are you looking for better C-AF tracking? The G3 acquires focus quite fast on still objects that are reasonably well lit. C-AF on the G3 is, IMHO, an exercise in futility. If you are not looking at switching to a body that offers better C-AF abilities, then you might see if a change in your technique might get you more keepers. Fast (and erratic) moving children are a challenge for many cameras, so this is not a unique issue. For example, try upping your ISO (and possibly using a flash) so you can increase both your shutter speed and aperture. Then try to minimize the time from focus confirmation to firing the shutter. It sounds obvious, but many of us pause between locking focus and firing the shutter waiting for that perfect moment. Also try using spot focus with the smallest possible square. These may or may not help in your particular situation, but they are free and easy.

    Good luck,

    --Ken
     
  12. littlefish

    littlefish Mu-43 Regular

    92
    Aug 22, 2011
    Glos., UK
    Thank you so much to everyone for commenting. (I've noted the points where my technique has been, er, lacking somewhat and consequently spent a lot of time reading the manual (again) last night.)

    Switching from the 20mm to the 14-42 kit lens made an enormous difference. It's like having a different camera.

    Here are a few moments from last night's kick about that I'm confident I'd not have caught with the 20mm.






    [​IMG]

    We're so proud... :biggrin:

    Looks like the 20mm will be going as I bought it only for shooting little people. The 19mm looks about right in terms of performance & price as a replacement (thanks, Ulfric).

    However, I was wondering, is there a zoom lens roughly 14-75+ with the sharpness of the 20mm and the focussing speed of the 14-42 kit lens?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. chipbutty

    chipbutty Mu-43 Veteran

    That seems to have done the trick! The 20mm is a fantastic lens in its own right. Something of a landmark lens in the m43 world but as you've found capturing fast action isn't its forte!

    I've recently bought a second hand Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4. Superb lens and very versatile. Not only is the focusing very fast but at f1.4 I can get sufficiently fast shutter speeds indoors to freeze my three year old daughter. A very nice bit of glass though not the smallest or lightest in m43.

     
  14. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    My experience with Sigma lenses (30/2.8 & 60/2.8) is that the focus is significantly faster than the 20/1.7, but a notch below the current Olympus µ4/3 lenses. Nothing will focus as fast as the 14-42 and be as sharp as a 20/1.7, cover a range of 14-75+ and have a large enough aperture to be good for low light. If you've got the funds, don't mind the size/weight and want fast and sharp, get the P12-35/2.8 or O12-40/2.8.
     
  15. chipbutty

    chipbutty Mu-43 Veteran

    Yes I would agree with your comments on the Sigma lenses. My experience with the 30mm is that its AF is not as fast as the current Panasonic and Olympus offerings. Great lens though and very cheap.

     
  16. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    If it exists it also makes the Tea!

    (It doesn't exist.)
     
  17. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    662
    Jul 1, 2013
    Check our the Oly 25 1.8. I have and like the Panasonic 25 but it's huge. Both are lightning quick. The Oly 12-40 is awesome as well.
     
  18. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    Just keep in mind that the 19mm is a slow lens and you will be a shooting high ISO or using a flash indoors. I would look at the O25 if its in your price range. You will get much better pictures indoors with a fast lens.
     
  19. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    The f2.8 of the Sigma 19mm is significantly brighter than the kit zoom the O.P. is using.

    (A camera upgrade to get cleaner high-ISO is always a possibility of course : )
     
  20. littlefish

    littlefish Mu-43 Regular

    92
    Aug 22, 2011
    Glos., UK
    I suspected as much but don't ask, don't get.

    The 19mm is definitely the way to go.