Focus hunting in low light... What should I replace?

Discussion in 'This or That?' started by Rob1975, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. Rob1975

    Rob1975 Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 31, 2010
    I'm not sure this is the correct area to post this in, but it is a This or That? topic...

    Less than 6 months ago, I finally replaced my aging e-p1 with a like new e-p3. In addition to the two camera bodies, my kit also includes the 17mm 2.8 kit lens and the 45mm 1.8 lens. AF is drastically improved when using the e-p3, especially when the 45mm is on it. Unfortunately, the camera really struggles in low light when the 17mm is attached. This is not good, considering that the 35mm FOV is my favorite. I would say 95% of my photographs over the past 4 years were taken using this lens. I use the camera primarily to take pics of my 3 year old and 6 month old, although I also use the kit for taking portraits and in my documentary work.
    I'm now left with a few possible options:
    1. Replace the e-p3 with a newer body, such as the e-m5 or e-pl5, and keep the lenses (not sure this will improve low light AF performance)
    2. Replace the 17mm 2.8 with the new 17mm 1.8
    3. Try out a new go-to focal length and add the Panny 14mm 2.5 lens as my low light lens.

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
  2. pepinto_

    pepinto_ Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 27, 2013
    I would suggest the option 2.
    If you really like the 35mm fov, you should not change to another lens just because the 17mm 2.8 is slow to focus. That lens will also be slow to focus in the newer bodies.
    Moreover, changing to the new 17mm you will have a lens with better optical proprieties, and quick focus, a great combo.

    It is always better to invest in glass than bodies.
  3. Nathan King

    Nathan King Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 19, 2013
    Omaha, NE
    I second option two. The 17mm f/1.8 is extremely fast to focus, and I have not noticed focus hunting even in very dim rooms that I'm using studio flashes in.
  4. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    The slowness of focus is caused by the 17mm f/2.8 lens: this is an older lens design, and is much slower to focus than more recent lens designs, such as the 17mm f/1.8. Changing to a later body will not improve focussing speed on the 17mm f/2.8 lens (and recent cameras are only marginally better at focussing native Micro Four Thirds lenses than the E-P3 in S-AF mode). Replacing the 17mm f/2.8 lens with the later 17mm f/1.8 lens should assist your focus problems.
  5. Rob1975

    Rob1975 Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 31, 2010
    17mm 1.8 it is! now comes the tough question... black or silver (I have a black e-p3, so I'm leaning towards the black lens... although the silver 45mm lens looks pretty classic on the black body)
  6. pepinto_

    pepinto_ Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 27, 2013
    In my opinion, the silver lens combines very good with the black body. Looks very very cool :)
    But only you can decide, you will be using the camera all the time. :)
  7. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Real Name:
    Might I be a contrarian and make a couple of suggestions for consideration? If you are considering a new body, give some consideration to the GX7. The sensors in the GX7 and the GM1 have greatly improved their low light focus capabilities, and are worthy of your consideration. And, you maywant to wait for the new PanaLeica 15mm that is supposed to be released this year. It is a bit wider than the 17mm, but if that is OK with you, then you may want to wait if you are not in a hurry.

  8. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Real Name:
    Replace the light! Or better glass.
  9. Bif

    Bif Mu-43 Veteran

    May 28, 2012
    San Angelo TX
    Real Name:
    Bruce Foreman
    Poor autofocus performance in low light is pretty common. The 17mm f2.8 will be one of poorest due to it's relatively slow maximum aperture. However depending on ambient lighting conditions other lenses with wider maxi apertures can be affected.

    My suggestion for now is to set the camera for manual focus in marginal conditions, configured for focus assist, and completely bypass autofocus with it's low light problems. I just acquired the 17mm f2.8 and that's what I do in low light, that lens is not a bad performer.