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Focus speed of 25mm f/1.4 in low light on newer Olympus bodies

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by jamespetts, Nov 18, 2013.

  1. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    802
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Before it was stolen, I had a Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4 which I used with my E-P3. Although I am planning to use more zooms and fewer fixed lenses than previously, I thought it worthwhile to have a fast standard lens to use in low light conditions and to obtain shallow depth of field at non-telephoto distances.

    The obvious choice would be to replace the 25mm lens, but, when I used it before with the E-P3, although it focussed very fast and accurately in good and moderate light, in poor light (such as an indoor space at night that was lit with relatively dim artificial lights), it would focus very poorly: it would often take many (sometimes dozens of) seconds to find focus and on many occasions completely fail to find focus at all. This behaviour was markedly worse than, say, the 45mm f/1.8 in similar conditions.

    Has anyone had experience of whether using it on newer Olympus bodies (either of the OM-Ds for instance, or the latest generation of PENs) improves this behaviour and makes it usable in low light conditions? I know that there are some slight improvements in autofocus performance with the latest generation of cameras from Olympus over the E-P3 and the cameras from the second half of 2011 (in which the fast CDAF was first introduced), but I do not know whether this makes a difference with this particular lens.

    Otherwise, an alternative is the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 (a lens which I did not have before), which has the advantage of being cheaper, smaller and lighter, but is two thirds of a stop slower and not as sharp on the edges when stopped down.
     
  2. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    My PL25 focuses pretty well on my EM5 even in low light conditions.
     
  3. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    802
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Thank you - that is helpful. May I ask - how low was the light on these occasions? It might help to see samples if you have any public photographs taken in these conditions.

    When I used my E-P3, I found that the 14mm f/2.5 lens often focussed much better in low light conditions.
     
  4. nuclearboy

    nuclearboy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    849
    Jan 28, 2011
    Ellicott City, MD
    Chris
    I just spent the week taking night photos on a trip and I used the 25mm for many of them. I found no issues focusing in fairly low light. (nothing like the hunting and missing of the 20mm).
    I use the E-P5.
     
  5. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I use both the PL25 and O45 on the E-M5, and general low light AF performance seems pretty close between them. I can still get AF failures with the O45, just as I can with the PL25. Overall the O45 seems to focus ever so slightly faster, however - perhaps because it has less glass to move?
     
  6. jyc860923

    jyc860923 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 28, 2012
    Shenyang, China
    贾一川
    the latest Lumix model I've used is G5, and I'm using EPL5 now. though there are lense, sigma 19 for example, don't focus as fast on Olympus body as on Lumix, I can't tell if the p25 is any slower on my EPL5, so it should be fine.
     
  7. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    802
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Thank you all very much. Would any of you be able to link to photographs that you have taken with the 25mm lens in low light so that I can see the sort of conditions in which you have tried it?
     
  8. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    These probably aren't the best examples, but are E-M5 and PL25 @ f/1.4. I might see if I can find some more...

    Lots of movement in the these two hence 1/250 s @ ISO 800, AF lock was fine but large focus box meant I focussed on the wrong guy in the first shot:
    abacusbhangragroup-diwali.
    lavani-diwali-spin.

    1/50 s @ ISO 2500 - AF was able to lock but again, big focus box locked on the wrong person so I fine tuned with MF in the end:
    crowd-diwali.

    1/60 s @ ISO 3200 - I don't actually know this couple, these were quick candids using the flip LCD tilted sideways. Near-eye face-detect AF worked really well here:
    punkcouple-newbrighton-happy.JPG
    punkcouple-newbrighton-relaxed.JPG
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Philly
    Steve
    I have no issues with the OMD & PL25. Just the other day I was taking photos out at dusk and was able to focus on my dogs and water drops on leaves...I was amazed how well it performed, in less than ideal conditions. I haven't downloaded any of the images yet to post though.
     
  10. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    802
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Thank you all very much for your input. I had a go at it in the shop this afternoon (the London Camera Exchange on the Strand, where the staff are always very helpful) with the OM-D EM-1 (which I ended up buying, but without the 25mm f/1.4 for now), and it seemed to focus in the shop's dark rear corner considerably better than it had on the E-P3 (focus on the EM-1 generally seemed even faster than on the E-P3, which itself was very fast), but it was considerably slower than the 12-40mm and displayed, to a lesser extent, the hunting issues that I had had before on the E-P3: it would take longer to focus on any given spot and would sometimes miss focus entirely. However, it would do this rather less than it had with the E-P3.

    I shall have to think about this matter further, and consider further whether a fast standard fixed lens is a priority at this juncture. Thank you all again for your feedback.
     
  11. wanderenvy

    wanderenvy Mu-43 Regular

    153
    May 11, 2012
    In contrast detect AF, the ability to lock focus is a function of the light intensity and the inherent contrast offered by the subject matter. In other words, it's hard to generalize based on any "low light" examples posted in this thread as the subjects are different.

    I can point the PL25 in near darkness at someone wearing a high contrast checked shirt and it will lock focus quickly. Try focussing on a blank wall in decent light and it could hunt.

    In my experience, the omd e-m5 + pl25 combo is quite good at auto focus. The O45 is actually slower and can hunt a little. The 12-40 is better. But the difference we are talking here is marginal.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    Link to a Flickr group with photos taken with the PL25/1.4. It should have a few low light photos in it amongst the 16000 or so photos in the group. Happy viewing!! :)

    http://www.flickr.com/groups/1718910@N23/
     
  13. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Flickr is so slow these days... makes it really frustrating to browse...
     
  14. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    Agreed. All these tweaks and not getting better.
     
  15. nuclearboy

    nuclearboy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    849
    Jan 28, 2011
    Ellicott City, MD
    Chris
    I don't have any photos to post right now but I just returned from a trip where I was photographing at night (in a city with lights, however). If this helps, shutter speeds ranged from 1/3 to 1 second. In these conditions the 25/1.4 focused very fast. I simply did not notice any lag. I was also using the panasonic 12-35 and the oly 75mm. They all focused fine. These were the type of conditions that make the panasonic 20mm hunt back and forth for a second or two and then routinely miss focus.
     
  16. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    802
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Thank you all for your input. May I ask - are you using single focus points or allowing the camera to choose a focus point?
     
  17. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Philly
    Steve
    Me, I use single focus all the time.
     
  18. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I tend to use single focus box, but with near-eye face detect. The single AF box is often too large for my liking though - tap to focus using touch screen gives a smaller box but it's not always convenient.