Olympus 75-300 f4.8-6.3 ll soft/out of focus?

AlexMachine

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I have had this lens for about 2 years now and I can’t get really sharp photos with this one. Body is EM-1 mkl.
Here are two testphotos, sunny day s-is1 is on. f9.0 iso 640, 1/400 200mm focus was in the left side of the life-buoy.
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This one had same info except 1/320. Focus was on the sign with waves on it.
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ibd

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In the 2nd picture, focus is clearly on the background.
What focus target point are you using? I think using the smallest available one can help in this situation.
 
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The focus point is at 2 different places in the above photos, being a long lens the depth of Field is narrow, even at F9. Does the em1 have a depth of field preview? I use that on my em1ii with both my 75-300 and 100-400. I also turn focus peaking on and still regularly miss focus.

I find the 75-300 the most difficult of all my lenses, but I do get good results with it, however it needed some effort to get there. Initially if the shutter speed was below 600 I would always get soft (shaky) results. Even though it gives you a narrower depth of field it is worth keeping the shutter speed above 800 if possible.

I watched youtube videos on long lens techniques and ended up taking hundreds of pictures of my LP collection in low light with IS off; then by reading the writing on the edge of the records and making small adjustments I worked out how best to hold the lens and camera. It's a bit like playing scales on a musical instrument, essential if you want to improve.

I found holding the lens was different with each camera. Surprisingly, my best results came with an old pm1 rather than the em10 or GX80. Even now with my em1ii it is difficult, I think it's because it is so light. I have to support the lens and camera in a way that I just don't have to with my 100-400.

I am now going through the exercise again using with my new Em5ii (were this lens will get its most use). I will take hundreds of shots until I am comfortable and can hand hold it at lower shutter speeds.
 

mfturner

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Zoomed in, I believe it is possible that the first photo is also focused a little behind the life-buoy. The gravel in the lower left has finer features visible than the bolt above or the rope on that ring to me. It is possible that the AF was confused by the metal poles behind the life-buoy. I find similar problems with kids in high school jazz band on stage, the AF will often be grabbing the music stand in front of the kid's face, or the curtains behind the kids. My old Canon's PDAF was actually a little worse for that than my Oly m10.3, maybe the focusing square indicated in the viewfinder is a better indication of what will be used for focus in the mirrorless CDAF. I don't know if the M1's focus settings can be tweaked. But it still happens to me with the m10.3, even with the smallest spot focus, and long lenses are where you notice it.

I totally agree with Glawsder though, my 75-300 took some practice hand-holding, even after years of using the Canon's 300F4L's ancient two stop IS and cropping it to essentially micro-four-thirds. So some amount of camera shake blur might be softening your photos too. Overall I'm happy with the 75-300, even chasing the dog running around the back yard with a lowly m10.3. Subject isolation is the main thing I miss from the Canon lens, I have to pay attention to everything in the frame now, LOL.
 

Ross the fiddler

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Another thing I had found when trying to isolate a small red object in a busy background was that 'red' seems to be more difficult to focus on & someone had suggested that to me at the time too. Also, that lens should look sharp wide open up to at least 250mm, but even at 300mm it should still be reasonably good (not as sharp as the Pro lenses but still good). Another thing when using CD-AF is that it will focus on anything with the most detail in it & why it is possible to get photos of a bird amongst branches because there may be more of the bird behind thin branches.
 

Egregius V

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I used to have this lens. It tended to backfocus on all of my Olympus bodies. I tried two more copies - same behavior. Autofocus was more reliable on a Panasonic camera. But if I turned focus peaking on, I could reliably adjust focus manually to optimal sharpness.
 

Ross the fiddler

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I used to have this lens. It tended to backfocus on all of my Olympus bodies. I tried two more copies - same behavior. Autofocus was more reliable on a Panasonic camera. But if I turned focus peaking on, I could reliably adjust focus manually to optimal sharpness.
CD-AF is body reliant, not lens. I feel it is just a characteristic of how contrast detection happens & the area it covers with the 'small' AF target area. It may be larger than the green box area & will focus on the largest amount of contrasting detail in that area, which may not necessarily be what you might intend.
 

b_rubenstein

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Hand holding shots with a 75-300mm provides useful data on one's stability holding a camera and lens. Taking pictures of anything other than a flat, 2 dimensional surface, makes it impossible to determine if lack of sharpness is due to misfocus or camera movement. And, shooting at f9 with µ4/3 camera/lenses negatively effects sharpness due to diffraction. Without a solid tripod and the knowledge of how to use it, coocky do-do test results are what you get.
 

Romey

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The first image appears to be motion blur. The second is definitely the focal point. Try the tips below and good luck!

Tripod be sure the camera IS is off.
Hand held try using a higher shutter speed and the camera IS. When hand holding my longer lenses I usually use a minimum speed (especially for this lens) that is 2x the focal length. At 200mm your actual focal length is 400mm. My minimum speed would be 1/800.

Obviously your focal point must be in focus. If you are still having issues with sharpness shoot 2 or 3 images of the same subject.
 

Mack

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The second one looks like the background is much sharper in the center and probably where the AF landed on. I don't trust the green "after-the-shot" AF square as to where the lens actually shot at. I've had it squarely on a perched bird, and then playback shows it is somewhere else so who knows - and maybe why Olympus does not show the AF square in their own software. The OP's lens appears to be quite soft on the left side in #2 though, and Imaging Resources mentions it too in their review and worse at the telephoto end.
 

Bidkev

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I'm not totally convinced that the problems with this lens (with so many people) can be attributed to the focus area actually being bigger than the square as I mentioned earlier although that could be a factor if focus outside the square "grabs" at something distant from the point that the photographer is presuming that the square is grabbing at.

I also am guessing that some folk don't realise that there is a smaller square hidden in the menu. That said, I always use the smallest square locked to the centre. I focus, and then recompose to place the main subject where I want in frame, and my keeper rate is high due to the fact that DOF in m43 is more forgiving in respect of recomposing. In view of the latter, I am not sure why so many folk have problems with this lens as I often shoot at speeds of 1/30 sec at full stretch and wide open. m43 has much leeway in regards of DOF. I must therefore assume that most problems are down to user error. Not so much as in the handling of the lens, although this is possible, but I'll give the user the benefit of the doubt that they are handling correctly, so that leaves "conditions".

Conditions: Is it a "UV Day" as is so often the case here in Qld in summer? Early morning has more moisture in the air that the eye fails to see, but a long lens will compress into making a soft image. Are you shooting over water? Is it more windy than you think and therefore the shutter is too slow? Is it really an "inanimate object" or is it a boat or pontoon that bobs on the water although anchored and assumed by the photographer to be still. If it's a bird, is it (imperceptibly) twitching? If it is still, is the branch swaying in and out of focus not seen to the eye? Lots of other conditions can come into play but finally, are you locking focus at half shutter press? The latter seems a silly question to put to anyone but I know of more than one photographer who didn't have his camera set this way

1/50 sec at near full stretch wide open. In the first pic point of focus was the eye but to the left you can see mangrove roots front and rear of POF are still fairly crisp due to the greater DOF of m43 so I'm not convinced that those who have problems should attribute it to a problem with focus. If it is a focus problem, then due to the forgiving nature of m43 DOF, it's likely the lens is faulty

48248067612_e02e932187_k.jpg
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White Faced Heron (3) by Kevin Dickinson, on Flickr

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White Faced Heron (2) by Kevin Dickinson, on Flickr
 
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mfturner

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Those are nice heron photos, Kevin. You make a great point about seeing conditions, haze and atmospheric turbulence. Further than about 50 feet and any of those can soften an image.
 

AlexMachine

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Thanks everyone! I will try to improve my technique with this lens. But I will also buy second hand 50-200 SWD and 1.4 teleconverter, to see if this would give better results.
 
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I've the EM5 and 75-300 and certainly backup what's said about how this lens can perform.
As mentioned conditions have an effect that are common to lense/ atmosphere relationships.
But I'd say, take heart that you're not alone, but importantly this lense does give excellent results as Kevin beautifully demonstrates
 

AlexMachine

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Got a good price, in my opinion, on Olympus 40-150 pro f2.8 and 1.4 teleconverter. New ones for 1090€
I think I’ll take that one and sell 75-300.
 

Bidkev

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Got a good price, in my opinion, on Olympus 40-150 pro f2.8 and 1.4 teleconverter. New ones for 1090€
I think I’ll take that one and sell 75-300.

Good luck with that. If you're flushed with money, I hope the price difference works out for you. Personally, out of all the images that I have in stock, birds are my worst seller. In the light of that, if resolution is your primary aim for personal reasons, and you intend to sell huge prints, or merely satisfy yourself via your purchase by pixel peeking, then go ahead and sell your 75-300. Apart from personal satisfaction of your perusal of images from a "superior" lens at 100% mag, I would argue that the "marketable" image from an "inferior" lens such as the 75-300 has just as much value (financially) as the resolution from "superior" lenses and rarely translates into anything (nowadays) than anything other than huge prints (who buys/sells them nowadays?) and personal satsfaction. I had the panny 100-400 and despite my missing of it's extra reach, I can't think of anything that it actually added to my photography other than reach and a resolution that media publishers weren't even aware of. All they see is a pic and if it looks OK it doesn't matter if it is 4 meg or 30 meg as long as it fits their agenda

I had the panny 100-400 which at 100% resolution was far superior to my 75-300. Did my bird pics look better? O f course they did but who gives a Fnck other than myself....................did that superiority sell? No it didn't because publishers aren't looking for resolution, they're looking for what an image "says". So is it worth spending the extra moolahs so that I can see how well I did getting that shot? Could I have captured the same "essence" of the shot with a kt lens?

At the risk of "blowing my own trumpet" most of my 75-300 images would hold their own against pro lenses at a "social media" level based on some of the images that I see posted on this forum.

I normally (no I don't, just attempting to be polite) measure my words carefully, but I've had few drinks tonight so I'll tell it like it is, (to my mind). Spend your megabucks on pro gear if that is your wont, but the best way to master photography is not with technology, but with basics. I have a camera (5 actually) "flooded" with "technological advancements" ..............do I use them?................ Rarely! AV or manual mod with the 75-300 coupled with basic photography skills will more often than not, produce images far superior than those produced by someone who thinks their lens/camera can "think" for them.
 

3dpan

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I just want to add a bit in defence of the humble m.Zuiko 75-300mm lens. My copy arrived a couple of days ago (made in Vietnam model) and after a few test pics I am amazed just how good it is.
I have a favorite test target, a wire fence line about a mile away from my house, across a river, and on a hilltop.
Without hijacking this thread with actual test pics, I will say that the 75-300mm resolved the wires on that fence as well as any other lens I own, including the Zeiss 500/8 Mirotar, or the Tokina AT-X 300/2.8.
In fact the results with my best lenses are so consistent I wonder if I have actually reached the resolving limit of the E-M5 II sensor.
 

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