Newbie help for indoor photos

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by cp3508, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. cp3508

    cp3508 New to Mu-43

    3
    Dec 30, 2013
    Hi everyone!

    I bought my Olympus OM-D E-M5 a few months ago. It is my first interchangeable lens camera, so please bear with me for some likely basic questions. Would love to tap into the vast knowledge of you all! :smile:

    I have the 12-50mm kit lens, and also bought the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm lens for a smaller option. With both lens, the photos are sharp outdoors. However, my indoor photos (especially when not during the day) are not sharp, no matter how still I try to be. Often times, there are people in my indoor photos and they invariably will move slightly. Sometimes I also try to focus, and my camera will just be unable to focus and I can't take a photo. I have since returned the Panasonic pancake zoom lens as it became frozen and wouldn't retract into itself anymore. Rather, I purchased the Olympus Zuiko 17mm f1.8 and the Panasonic 25mm f 1.4 lenses. Hopefully the lower f stops will allow for clearer shots indoors, as well as be good all purpose lens outdoors.

    1) Apart from using a very high ISO, tripod, or flash, are fuzzy indoor photos unavoidable with the Olympus 12-50mm kit lens?

    2) Has anyone experienced this inability to focus issue? I've experienced this several times and could not snap a shot. Could I have a bad camera? Not trying to focus on something super close either.

    3) Should I hopefully get more sharp photos with the lower f stop lens that I just purchased? Not arrived yet, so haven't tried either.

    4) Must I use the very low f stops to get sharp low light photos? Will the background hence be blurry if I wanted a more balanced photo?


    Thank you in advance for help!!
     
  2. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    937
    Feb 22, 2013
    Connecticut
    The lenses are "slower", in that they are limited in how much light is let in which results in a slower shutter speed. What is happening is that due to the low shutter speed even slight movement becomes blurred. The only ways around it are either a tripod and a still scene, or lighting systems like a good flash. Otherwise you'd need to set a high ISO, which can result in more noise in the resulting image.

    Getting "faster" lenses like the 17mm f/1.8 and the 25mm will help. They will let 200% - 300% more light hit the sensor, which means the camera can use a faster shutter speed in the same situation.
     
  3. cp3508

    cp3508 New to Mu-43

    3
    Dec 30, 2013
    Thank you!! Are the faster lens only faster at the lower f stops? I.e. will they be the same at the same f stop as the Olympus 12-50mm kit lens?
     
  4. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    827
    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    Taking a picture is about gathering enough light to be properly exposed. There are four ways to get more light:

    1) Use external lighting (flashes, strobes, sun, lights, etc.)
    2) Keep the shutter open longer (i.e., slower shutter speed.)
    3) Use a bigger lens opening; a.k.a., aperture (i.e., "smaller" f-number*)
    4) Bump the ISO

    * note, the lens opening is the focal length divided by the aperture selected - for example, at 2.8, the opening is the focal length divided by 2.8 - so smaller numbers mean bigger openings. You will sometimes see it written as f/2.8.

    Ignoring #1, you can tradeoff the other three for different effects. To get rid of motion blur, you need a faster shutter. For example, if you were at 1/30s, ISO200 and f/2.8, and found you had motion blur, the you can get the same exposure at 1/60s by bumping to ISO400 (still at f/2.8) or opening the aperture up to f/1.4 (still at ISO200.) The higher ISO will give more noise, while the larger aperture will mean that less of the photo, depth-wise, will be in focus (for example, a persons eyes may be in focus in both shots, but the nose may only be in focus in the f/2.8 shot.)

    The term "fast lens" means that it has a very big aperture, so you can crank it open to gather more light, allowing for a faster shutter speed. In the example, if your lens only went to f/2.8, you would be stuck at 1/30s, but if it went to f/1.4, you would have that option of using 1/60s. So, it lets you be faster for the same exposure.
     
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  5. Fred S

    Fred S Mu-43 Veteran

    493
    Feb 20, 2012
    Calgary
    Fred S
    Excellent replays so far
    You should not see any noise with your E-M5 at ISO 3200

    Here is a Lilly Indoors NO Flash
    EPL-5 and 12-50 lens with Tripod ( same sensor EPL-5 and OM-D E-M5 )
    ISO 3200 f 10

    lilly01-12-13_zpsa0193f25.
     
  6. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    I'll help answer a few of your questions. First of all, your m43 mirrorless camera uses what is called Contrast Detection AF (CDAF) and for that, you need a lot of light to let the AF lock in quickly. But that requires lens in the f/1.4 to 2.8 ranges which are considered fast. Slow lenses from f/3.5 to f/5.6 allow less light in to the sensor, thus making AF target locking more difficult or slow because now it has less contrast to work with. That's why they coined the term (slow lenses for a reason!) So your slower lens would probably focus ok on the wide end (typically wide end is faster than zoom end), but as you zoom you'll loose light and the sensor has less light to work with and hence the CDAF becomes less effective. Your choice of faster prime lenses will solve your first problem. The E-M5 when coupled with a prime lens like PanaLeica 25mm f.1,4 will allow you to lock focus no problem in low light. So you might want to buy 2 set of prime lenses -- a 12mm f/2 and a 20 or 25mm 1.4.

    In daylight, your slow zooms are going to work just fine because there is a lot more light.

    IBIS. The in-camera 5 axis stabilization is VERY good, so good that if you have your shooting style down pat, you can handhold the camera even at 1/20s and get pretty sharp photos. IBIS, however, becomes counter-productive in higher shutter speeds because then the shutter speed can record the movement of the sensor itself during compensation. So for low light, rely on your E-M5's excellent IBIS. But IBIS only reduce camera shake. Movement generated on the camera. IBIS can not remove subject movement. For that, you need to rely on shutter speed to freeze the subject matter. For any subject movement to freeze, you need at least 1/100s or 1/125sec just to be on the safe side. I find 1/60 or 1/80s not enough speed to freeze mild subject movement. You can rectify this with a number of solutions. Unfortunately a tripod can not solve this problem. A tripod can only help eliminate camera shake, not subject movement!

    To raise shutter speed in low light, you need to position

    1, Subject(s) closer to the light source
    2, Raise ISO to allow you to shoot faster speeds
    3, Use flash or hot lamps

    I usually stay away from using flash and if I have to use flash, I use it only in RC mode (off-camera remote). If you use straight on flash, the lighting is going to be flat. Flat is fine for snapshot, but it's boring.

    Do not be afraid to raise the ISO speed. Your E-M5 is capable of taking much high ISO photos than my older E-PL1.

    I get clean high ISO files up to ISO 2500 with Jpegs and 3200 with ORF RAW processed. So if my E-PL1 can do 3200 relatively clean, why can't the E-M5 do any better? To get clean high ISO photos,

    you need to get

    1, White Balace spot on -- which means you rely on manual white balance preset
    2, Exposure spot on -- which means you don't want your photos to be underexposed.

    If you underexpose a photo or get the WB wrong, any level adjustments and sharpening in Photoshop or with any PP software is going to bring out the noise. Get the exposure and WB right, high ISO files can be clean. Experiment. Don't be shy about noise.

    To answer your last question about DOF coverage. When you are doing group shot at such close proximity, the m43 crop sensor with a multiplier of 2x from 35mm may not give you much of a leeway in terms of getting everything sharp front and back at close shooting distance. We call this hyperfocal distance. You need to go a bit wider on the m43. The widest lens I like without too much of the perspective and geometric distortions you get from is the 12mm f/2.0. Your 12-50 has the 12mm end, but is slow. Again in low light, your 12-50 lens will struggle more to focus than with a prime 12mm f/2.0. And the 12mm gives you the best in terms of hyperfocal distance and sharpness performance at f/2.0, which is what you want. You want to open up at f/2.0 so you can use fast shutter speeds and you get high resolving power (sharpness with a prime) plus you get deeper depth of field shooting close in confined spaces.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  7. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    Actually the term fast lens came to be when AF was introduced in film DSLR with I think the first Pentax autofocus lens on a manual DSLR film body. Before then, all prime lenses are made either in 1.4, 1.8, 2.8 or 3.5 variations. Prime lenses aren't made in f/4 or f/5.6 with the exception of mirror lenses which is fixed f/8.

    The reason is this. AF sensors on AF film bodies has a sensitivity limitation of up to f/5.6. Latest Nikon and Canon bodies can now focus at f/8 (but on a few center sensors only). Which means that for AF to work well, the lens has to be f/5.6 or faster in aperture. Which explains why all the zoom lenses have their widest aperture set to f/4 and f/5.6 for AF and metering before the lens is stopped down for exposure. A PDAF and CDAF both need light for their respective detection system to work, so the more light the sensor sees the easier it is to detect. Certainly f/1.4 or 2.8 lenses allow heck of a lot more light than an f/4 and f/5.6 lens. More light, the AF system works faster and hence the term fast lens and slower lens for anything f/4 and up and not because the lens is a 1.4 or 2.8.

    The reason for this clarification is that, the newer Nikon D4, D800 and Df and the Nikon D610 has selective PDAF sensors that can detect light down to f/8! Which means their AF performance in low light even with slower lenses can be quicker than their respective older models. This bodes true of what I've seen thus far. So we need to keep in mind that fast lens is only to indicate what your AF performance will be like if you mount one of these lenses on your body and shoot in low light.

    Hope this helps.
     
  8. cp3508

    cp3508 New to Mu-43

    3
    Dec 30, 2013
    Thank you so much everyone!! I'll play around with my new 17mm and 25mm when I get them.

    Do you think they are too similar in focal length, and I should return one?

     
  9. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    827
    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    Interesting. That makes sense, too. I will now think about it in both senses of the term (historical or not, both make sense.)
     
  10. TiiminMb

    TiiminMb New to Mu-43

    4
    Dec 26, 2013
    Good discussion. I'm however skeptical that the term fast lens only came into being upon the introduction of auto focus. I'd always heard it explained as referring to low f stop and thus faster exposure.
     
  11. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    carpandean nailed it with the reply above; this is simply about getting enough light to make a proper exposure, at a fast enough shutter speed to prevent motion blur on people.

    I recommend this to everyone with exposure questions: Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. If you spend even a small amount of time digesting the material in that book not only will this all make perfect sense to you, but you'll better understand what the functions and modes on your camera are for too :2thumbs:

    With the kit lens, you're stuck at a smaller aperture number (f/3.5 to f/6.3), and you need a reasonably fast shutter speed to keep people from being blurry (1/100 or 1/125 is usually good for me), so that means you'd have to use a very high ISO or add more light to make up the difference in exposure.

    Basically, a good larger aperture lens and/or using some added light (whether that means turning on more lights, or using a flash) will help you get clean, crisp photos.
     
  12. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    Faster shutter speed is a matter of film speed. At that time, film ISO comes in 25, 64 all the way to 400 and then 800. The well famous Kodachrome 25 and 64 were used extensively by many pros including the National Geographic, plus in the 70s or so, there were more primes than zooms and primes are usually 1.4 or 1.8 varieties. Then when a camera is sold, it's usually sold with a 50mm standard kit lens of the 1.4 or 1.8. So in a way, we associate faster shutter speed only with the speed of the film because there were no slow zoom lenses then. Naturally if we use Kodachrome 25 and 64 (which I have used and loved), you are not gonna get the super fast shutter speeds you get today with the latest sensors that can do ISO6400 or ISO12800 with ease. If you want to shoot action at night with faster shutter speeds, you simply can not use Kodachrome 25 or 64 period even if you have a 1.4 or 1.2 lens.

    The term started I think with the advent of autofocus cameras starting with the Pentax ME-F and it's rare cumbersome 35-70 2.8 AF zoom lens. It was the only one lens and was terrible at focusing. It's not until the introduction of the Minolta Maxxum 7000 that basically revolutionized the industry. When that came to be, it became obvious then the limit for AF to function is f/5.6. At f/5.6 however, the AF would focus hideous slower than say a f/2.8 zoom lens and at that time, the computing power of an AF film SLR is, well hideously slower compared to the DIGIC, EXPEED or VENUS whatever of the modern multi-core of today. But as with any economy of scale, you have people who can afford a 35-70 f/2.8 zoom lens and that there are more people who can only afford a 35-70 f/4-5.6 lens. Those will focus noticeably slower and less responsive than say a zoom lens that has a constant aperture range of f/2.8 over the whole zoom range. Plus, you can not add a teleconverter on a f/4-5.6 and that would render the AF in operational. If it works, it would be hideously and painfully slow and would hunt a lot. There would be no problem adding a teleconverter to a f/2.8, but if you do and you make it a f/5.6 with a doubler, then the autofocus detection will be less snappy because it now has less light to contend with and may hunt a bit more.
    So by adding a teleconverter to a fast f/2.8, you inadvertently make the lens either hunt more or make the AF less snappy and hence they realize that f/2.8 or f/1.4 makes the AF more responsive so wide open aperture lenses make AF fast. Action photographers WANT a fast responsive AF for subject tracking in low light. You need also remember that, autofocus systems exist even in the film days. So obviously, a Nikon F5 or F6 shooting with Kodachrome 25 and a f/1.4 isn't going to give you shutter speeds effective enough in an NBA match.

    I think the reason why fast lens came to be is because of digital. You have a selection of higher ISO settings, so the determining factor to get lower noise/grain or faster shutter speed is a wide open lens like a f/1.4 lens and in this case, it does make sense. But in the old film days where every prime lens is either a 1.4 or 1.8, film speed determines faster shutter speeds not aperture.
     
  13. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    Not sure where you are saying that lenses only came in a few f-stops. I have several older film lenses that are 1.2, 1.7, 2, 3.9 etc. Yes, most of them are under 5.6 but not everything was the standard you claimed above. More of the faster lenses I have seen have been film lenses, and the slower lenses are coming due to the higher ISO of digital backs.
     
  14. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    In a kit lens, they come in few f-stops. Obviously, you can buy other prime lenses. Slow lenses have always been available in the film days. They are more popular now because of the high ISO digital backs, but the slow AF persists because there is always less light for the AF sensor to work on. But I think this will change in the future models.
     
  15. Gary Ramey

    Gary Ramey Mu-43 Veteran

    240
    Dec 27, 2012
    Aurora Colorado
    You can use a faster lens. I usually just bump the ISO indoors. @1600 or 3200 you should be plenty fast enough to take blur free photos. Just my 2 cents.
     
  16. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    And not to mention size and weight.
     
  17. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    It's called a fast lens simply because the same film (or digital ISO rating) with a larger aperture will allow you to obtain the same exposure at a faster shutter speed. At a given ISO, large aperture = faster shutter speed = 'fast' lens.

    The fact that AF computation works better/more quickly with more light on the sensor is coincidental, and I can't find anything to indicate that 'fast' lenses has ever referred to AF speed. To the best of my knowledge, the term "fast" pre-dates AF lenses and cameras in any case.
     
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  18. Matero

    Matero Mu-43 Veteran

    455
    Jun 22, 2013
    Finland
    Well, there's no straight yes/no answer to this one, it depends :)

    I believe most forum members here agree that there are room for both of these lenses. However, if you need to save some money, keep the PL 25mm/1.4. But I would recommend you to keep both lenses, practice little bit and then decide. They are different 'animals'.
     
  19. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    827
    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    Not that I trust Wikipedia for much, but in an article on lens speed, it includes a quote that sheds some light on which is the correct reason for classifying a lens as "fast" (or "rapid" in 1911):

    Clearly, this predates autofocus.

    Also, if you Google the term "fast lens", you find numerous articles from various photo sources, which all say something like ...

    (source: http://www.ephotozine.com/article/what-does--fast-lens--mean--23153)
     
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