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Manual Focus or Auto Focus?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Robert Watcher, Jun 9, 2014.

  1. Although I don't use the lens often - I did attach my manual focus Minolta 50mm f1.7 a day ago to my new Olympus E-PL5 - just to see how it felt and I took this single shot at the closest focusing distance.

    I find it a challenge to focus manually though - or quickly - - - shooting that way has to be a deliberate patient approach, which I don't entertain often. I was one of those guys who had no quams moving on to and trusting Auto Focus back in 2001, after 20+ years of shooting professionally with manual focus cameras and lenses.

    So I guess that even though I am convinced that the 50mm Minolta lens provides really nice images, I'll be getting myself the Olympus 45mm f1.8 before I head back to Nicaragua in a couple of months - - - so I don't inhibit my shooting style.

    Olympus E-PL5 w/50mm f1.7 Minolta : f2.8 : 6400 ISO

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

  2. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    I generally prefer autofocus but there are times that I use manual focus. Macro shots, hitting a very small focal point and, of course, manual focus lenses. I have a Rokinon 85mm that I love - it was a less expensive alternative to the Oly 75mm and only available as a manual lens.
    I also invested in the 45mm awhile ago because I preferred the autofocus to the manual Oly 50mm that I was using. It's faster and easier.
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  3. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Are you using MF magnification?

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  4. I just purchased a OM Classic Manual Lens to Micro Four Thirds adapter and gained 5 old OM system manual focus lenses. I play with them, but I struggle with the focus. I also struggle with the manual focus on my Rokinon 7.5. Back when I was using my OM-1 focusing was never an issue because I had better eyes, I had a split prism focusing screen, and manual focus was all that was available.
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  5. Yes - that is the only way that I can focus accurately with manual focus lenses. While I really appreciate this MF magnification feature - having to zoom out after each shot to compose the frame, is much better suited to slow deliberate tripod usage I suppose.

    I don't have a problem focusing with such lenses - just expressing a conclusion I think that I have come to, based on my way of shooting. Nice to hear replies of other photographers approaches.

  6. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound

    Thank you for the reply. Why are you having to zoom out? I compose the frame, invoke the MF by focusing the lens, then the image returns automatically when i am done focusing. Are you using a different technique?

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  7. Yes - you are correct. Being I seldom shoot manual, I was getting focusing methods mixed up. Sorry about that.

    This should make it clearer :smile: When I manual focus using Olympus Auto Focus lenses, the MF magnification kicks in as you have stated - and returns to full frame when I stop moving the focus ring. As valuable a feature as that is though, I find it touchy and difficult with the in and out with every touch or adjustment of the focus ring as I keep my fingers on it.

    However with my manual focus lenses, that MF magnification function does not work. And so I have to click on the zoom button to magnify - and then click it again to return to full frame - - - making it not very useful to me on anything other than a tripod setup I suppose.

  8. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Thanks for the clarification. I would agree with you.

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  9. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    I've adapted a Nikon mount Samyang 8mm f/3.5 fisheye to multiple systems. manually focusing that lens and having a generous DOF at f/5.6 makes getting subjects in focus quite effortless. I do agree with the OP, that I much prefer the AF abilities found in modern cameras when available. The Oly EM5 and the 17/1.8 and 45/1.8 focus very fast and are accurate. I trust their capabilities, which leaves me to be able to concentrate on nailing exposure and composition.

    I tend to have to work fast to get the shots that I want, especially when shooting street - so having fast AF if a requirement for me, Long live AF! :D 
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  10. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    It's both personal preference and personal finances. When I first started out with an EPL1 four years ago, I only had the 14-42 zoom, but I did own a 35mm, 50mm, 200mm, and Series 1 70-210 in OM mount. I used the manual lens a lot, with only the LCD and magnifier mode for focus at first. Later I got a VF2. Today, I really am happy to have the native M43 lenses like the 14mm, 20mm and 45mm primes, plus the 9-18 zoom, but I still like to use the older lenses when there is room to carry one and time to use it.

    I find my EPL5, with its tilt screen, is quite easy to use in magnify mode with lenses under 50mm that have a small throw on the barrel. Takes a second or two to get focus with a Tak 35mm. Longer lenses, they better be resting on something stationary, and then the VF2 is handy.

    I believe this is the OM200 f4 on the lowly lowly EPM1 but I did use a tripod. That's the main bummer with old lenses. Unless I edit the EXIF right away, I forget which lens I used.

    Attached Files:

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  11. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I programmed the top record button to kick in the zoom/magnify for manual focus. Seems to help me anyway. MF with native AF lenses is too painful for me to bother.

    For my collection of adapted lenses and manual lenses I really enjoy MF.
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  12. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    I really tried to use my Nikon 50mm f/1.8 on my E-M5; I even set up the faux 'focus peaking' in an attempt to facilitate the process.

    I really like having the aperture control on the lens rather than on the body, making the attempt worth some effort.

    It proved to be in vain - I simply can't get comfortable with the process :frown:. The lack of a focusing screen (ala the old SLR's) frustrates me a bit. Or maybe more than a bit :biggrin:.

    I turned my efforts into becoming comfortable with the control button on the body controlling the aperture with some success, and acquired a Panasonic 45mm f/1.8 to replace the Nikon.

    I really should find someone who can use the Nikon 50mm and adapter, they're sitting all alone neglected on the shelf...

    I'm now in the 'all auto focus all the time' group (with the exception of a UWA Rokinor 7.5mm but that thing doesn't really need 'focusing' in the traditional sense). Only when autofocus focus fails (such as shooting through rain drops on a window pane where the camera keeps trying to focus on the drops rather than on an object past the glass) do I enter into manual focus.


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  13. Joltinjess

    Joltinjess Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 6, 2013
    Port Moody, BC
    I bought the Minolta 1.7 because I thought it would help me take indoor shots of my young daughter, and it was cheap. At the time I didn't know how razor thin the DOF was at f1.7. Making it close to impossible to manually focus on my constantly moving daughter. I picked up a flash and haven't used the Minolta much lately. I'll grab it when I have a stationary subject and want to blur the background.
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