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Need help. Love Oly Pens except for this one huge issue.

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by broncophil, May 28, 2012.

  1. broncophil

    broncophil Mu-43 Veteran

    May 23, 2010
    Have had an EPL1 and an EP3, Many, Many lenses.. 20 1.7 / 45 1.8 / Both Kit Lenses / 17 2.8 ...

    ALL Low light performance sucks.

    Even in a moderately lit conditions my current favorite set up of EP3 and 20 1.7, struggles to find focus lock..

    I'm in need of help, otherwise it might be back to DSLR for me.

    Any tips??
  2. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    4th gen PEN with E-M5 sensor, presumably later this year? Although the 20/1.7 isn't the best for focus lock on the Oly bodies. You might try the 25/1.4 instead, possibly in combination with a GX1 if you don't mind losing IS.
  3. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Is the issue low light IQ (i.e. too much noise) or low light AF?

    Otherwise, see Promit's response.
  4. broncophil

    broncophil Mu-43 Veteran

    May 23, 2010
    The issue is low light af.. but the 20 1.7 isnt the only lens with this issue.. pretty much every lens i've had.. and i thought the 45 1.8 was supposed to be good in low light, but that wasnt much better.
  5. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    I'm frequently at ISO 3200 at f/1.7 and slowish exposure (1/15 area) and still able to get a focus lock on the E-P3. It can get confused by some low contrast situations, but it's rare that I don't get a lock at all on a reasonably contrasty area.
  6. Grinch

    Grinch Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 9, 2011
    Your issue is the lense not the body...the 20 is known to lock focus slower than most m43 lenses in low light especially. Right tools for the job will help. 25 1.4 should work fine as well as the 45 you have/had. The 17 locks faster than the 20, it just doesn't fare as well in low light being f2.8. You could get another body but I really think you'd be chasing your tail getting EM5 and mounting the 20 on it. Get some better suited glass which is normally a sounder investment, if it is still an issue than maybe look at a body change. Hope this helps.
  7. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Clearly it's not the lenses, although some lenses will do better than the ones you have. The Pana 14 for example.

    The recent Panasonic bodies such as the GH2, G3, and GX1 will lock better in low light than the Olympus bodies and most DSLRs. The Olympus bodies don't AF as well in low light. They do well enough for me but not for you, so no one can help you. Your choices are either to go back to DSLR, change to Panasonic, or be content with the performance of the Olympus.
  8. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    The 25/1.4 is better than the 20/1.7 & 45/1.8 (I have all three.)

    The EP3 has an AF Assist light. Is it turned on in the A: AF/MF menu?
  9. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    seek a contrasty part to grab focus....it really helps the camera. Otherwise you may need to resort to manual focus.
  10. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I have never found that any of the Olympus bodies I've had AF particularly well in low light (don't have the OMD but I would assume it doesn't have the same issue). Doesn't seem like it's a PEN body strength. My E-P3 was loads better than previous bodies but if that's a priority then maybe its not the right body for you. Ever thought of something like a GX1 or GF2? My GH2 doesn't seem to have that issue. Would a mini DSLR body camera like the G3 or GH2 have any appeal to you?
  11. broncophil

    broncophil Mu-43 Veteran

    May 23, 2010
    i was canon dslr only for the past two years.

    then i tried the ep3 in a store and said whoa, WAAY better than my EPL1.

    Bought it.

    Then used it a bunch outdoors and thought this is great..


    Then recently been attending more and more functions, with it being summer.. and been ssooooo frustrated and embarrassed sometimes without it locking focus..

    now, i just think i'm gonna give nikon a whirl..

  12. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Have to say, even most DSLRs have trouble with AF in really low light conditions. The problem there is with certain (quite a few actually) lenses. The conditions I have in mind are, for example, music clubs. I don't know what the OP has in mind speaking of low light though...

    Digitalrev did a low light performance comparison video between the OM-D, the Sony NEX7 and the Fuji XPro1 recentrly, where the OM-D seemed to perform very well.

    One thing to remember concerning any camera with OVF though, is that the limit of presice focus, either manual or AF evaluation, is actually the limit of your eyesight in dimly lit conditions! :wink:

    An EVF equiped camera, or using the live view, without mirror, is only limited by sensor sensitivity (i.e. how well it performs in high ISO settings). If you see it focused in the EVF/Screen, then it's focused (except if there is some serious lens issue, backfocusing, etc).
  13. M4/3

    M4/3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 24, 2011
    I have an E-PL1 and E-M5. Whereas the E-PL1 may sometimes take 2-3 seconds to lock focus in a dimly lit room I find the E-M5 locks in about 1/2 second (with the original 14-42 kit lens) at least in iAuto mode. Maybe you should try the AF Assist light suggestion and/or perhaps iAuto mode.
  14. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    I don't know. I used a now OLD E-P2 with the Panasonic 20mm to shoot night time street stuff in Thailand and didn't have any significant problem. But I've learned that after years of doing my own focusing a lot of the focus issues that drive other people crazy don't particularly matter to me. The only lens that drove me crazy on the E-P2 body was the ZD 35mm. I loved the lens otherwise, but gave up trying to use the auto focus on it.

    The 20mm, though, can be used on the Pens in low light and focus accurately. Fast enough for me, but maybe not you. Using a single focus point (center) and looking for a highlight in the plane of focus are both useful. But I've never asked a camera to focus at night using multiple focus spots.
  15. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    +1, even with my FF dSLR's I look for a high-contract area for AF.

  16. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Great point. Come to think about it, I use focusing and recomposition all the time for low light shooting.
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