Mirrorless telephoto zoom - missed opportunity - why no focus range limiter still

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by tomO2013, Dec 16, 2014.

  1. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013

    Over the past year or so, I've continually tried to explore as many different types of photography as I can (I find landscape to be the most challenging for me personally, probably followed closely by wildlife and sports).

    In the interests of trying to become a better photographer I've been practicing going into the mountains to shoot wildlife.... wolves, bears, elk, moose and also attending some hockey games. I've had mixed success as we all do when starting out. More recently I've found myself frustrated not by AF-tracking but the camera locking onto a near subject when I try to take a shot.

    It got me thinking - the Pro 40-150 is a fan-bloody-tastic lens optically, with a fast focus motor. Olympus should be very proud.
    However, comparing with lenses available on larger formats (unfortunately Fuji's telephoto zoom also has this same problem), I can see a tendency not to include a range limiter. Even if Panasonic, Fuji and Sony can close the DSLR gap for sports tracking-AF over the next year, the lenses themselves do not support range limitation and will still likely have a tendency to hunt at the longer focal lengths when shooting subjects behind trees/fences. This to me is a wasted opportunity for Olympus and Panasonic.

    I know Sony provided an electronic focus range limiter on the A99 - so theoretically speaking this could be done in software via some bastardised conglomeration of phase detect/contrast detect and depth from defocus?

    Does anybody else find themselves wishing for this ?

    **EDIT** ok so Sony does support focal range limitation on the FE70-200 so at least one mirrorless manufacturer supports this...
  2. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    You know, I never really gave it much thought as I have very few Nikon lenses that have a focus limiting option on them. However, your point is still very valid - why is there not one on there or in camera, possibly as a firmware option.

    Other than cost, I cannot think of a good reason for them not to include it on pro level optics.

    Given the sophisticated firmware of the OMD cameras, I could see them allowing you to setup a range of focus limiting lengths, then have a function button on the lens(much like the 12-50 and 12-40 have) and use that to do what you want it to do. I can't see that being that big a deal considering that the cameras have the option to leave the focus at the last position or reset it each time the camera is powered on.

    Maybe something we should write to Olympus about?
  3. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Yep. The 150f2 has a range limiter and this is one of the best features.
  4. Listener

    Listener Mu-43 Regular

    No automatic control feature will work perfectly all the time. You should be prepared to use manual focus when necessary.
  5. hoodlum

    hoodlum Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 16, 2012
    Toronto Canada
    I agree that a focus limiter (software or hardware) is something that is currently lacking. I was surprised when the initial Olympus mockups didn't show a limiter. It would be great to see something in software and the added range flexibility may make it more useful than a fixed hardware switch.
  6. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    The 75mm 1.8 needs a focus limiter. At close distances it's slow.
  7. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    I agree with you on the 75mm.... it would certainly give it a little more versatility. Even to have a focus hold button on the lens would be a very nice touch.
    I wasn't aware that the Oly 150 F2 had a limiter feature - that looks like a seriously impressive piece of glass.
    Unfortunately the good four thirds glass are still going for silly money. I'd hoped that four thirds glass would depreciate at some stage and I could pick up some bargains of the century!! :D

    Where this lack of limiter really frustrated me was when I was doing a wolves shoot recently. Yes I can and do use zone focusing techniques as was used during the film era, but unfortunately such technology is available now so I would like Oly and Pan to provide it to market in their lenses/camera bodies. The Pan 100-300 kept focusing on the nearest brush. It started to get quite frustrating. I have my EM1 setup that I can focus and use the AF to get the focus point as near as possible and then manually override (zoom magnify is enabled to get critical focus). Hopefully Olympus will listen and provide this as a firmware update. I've already written to them to suggest this.

    Failing that, at some point next year I may pick up another APS-C body and a 70-400 lens just for this specific type of wildlife photography.
  8. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    My A77 II lets me electronically set arbitrary focus limits, on any lens, at any time. No need for it to be in the lens...
  9. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    Actually that is specifically the body that I would be considering to use with the Sony 70-400mm. It was actually the Sony that started to make me think that Pan and Oly should start incorporating software based focus limitation in their lenses. I've admired that feature and Sony's implementation since the A99 AF-D and focus limitation feature. I was out shooting with a friend with the 7d and Canon 100-400 and another using the A77ii and 70-400 G2. The Sony really surprised me. It was tack sharp, lovely to use and had a fantastic build quality. The resulting files looked fantastic too.
  10. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Unfortunately, the range limiters on the ZD lenses aren't ideal for many situations, as I found out when I did sports photography. The AF can just as easily lock onto a distant object when you're trying to stay locked onto a subject anywhere from 50-300m away. I've even written to Olympus asking them to look into this and provide a means whereby you can set the range to suit your needs, not have just three settings that really suit no situation. It shouldn't be a difficult thing to do with 'all digital' lenses, as Olympus so often advertised as a benefit of their system. I simply can't believe that something like this hasn't been implemented, considering how long the system has been around.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    That's exactly what Olympus could and should have implemented, but for some reason has overlooked/ignored for the last ten years.
  12. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    That's a very sexy lens. Paired with a nx1 @15fps it would make for quite the system especially if the optics are even half as good as Samsung's existing lineup. Samsung have built a very nice system there with some great world class lenses.

    Another very sexy lens is this one...
    Handled one on an a7 a while back. I was super impressed. Thing was cut your finger sharp wide open and extremely quick to auto focus. Very impressive. Again Sony and their roadmap are putting out some great fe lenses in a short time.

    I could possibly be alone in this but it's real world features like focus limiters that make me consider jumping into another second system again.... Not sensors, not whiz bang jiggery pokery shakey 40 megapixel tech.
  13. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    All Sigma "Art" lenses with a physical range switch on the lens body itself have can have a focus limiter added/removed/modified via firmware using a usb dock, however there hasn't been many released yet (There should be more in the future).

    Via the usb dock almost anything can be modified about Sigma lenses, those which have electronic focus by wire can have the rate of focus at different focal lengths adjusted, etc. Adjust front/back focus at different ranges on different bodies... Basically anything which is purely electronic (physically connected focus rings cannot be changed).

    Also various things are locked out for one reason or another to the end user, so it varies somewhat from product to product. Also the requirement of owning a usb dock.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. newphoto

    newphoto Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 12, 2013
    I sure hope Olympus includes a focus limiter on the new 300 F4 Pro lens. It is much more useful at the longer focal lengths, particularly for flying birds!
  15. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    I can see it happening down the line from Panasonic once they get used to DFD and work on it some more.
    Theoretically the lens knows how far it is focusing and can tell the body, so the body can do "range limiter".
    Some day.

    Me, I'm more interested to see wolves, bears and Elk at a hockey game.
  16. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    • Like Like x 1
  17. I think that we are, or should be, well past the point where sensor measurements and megapixels are a large influence in choosing a system. Wall space permitting, I'm still making 40" prints out of images my old 8mp Canon EOS 350D which don't look out of place alongside anything else that I've shot with newer cameras with 12, 16 or 20mp sensors with greater dynamic range, colour depth, etc. The most significant advances in cameras that I have seen since I bought that Canon almost ten years ago are those which have changed how the cameras work and how I interface with them, not what the sensors are producing. The best cameras of today are the smartest cameras.
  18. zulfur666

    zulfur666 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 30, 2014
    Just FYI, the 60mm 2.8 has a focus limiter switch most of the time I leave it at 0- infinity, it is virtually no difference from Macro to infinity even if it hunts. Perhaps there is a stop watch measurable difference but not to me, seems the same no matter what position I place the switch at. JMO I seriously prefer the simplicity of the Oly lens with just a FN button (actually useful) Any more buttons is just brain boggling ... at least to me.... (ever look at a Canon 70-200 lens and its button configurations??? :confused: )
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