Olympus 75-300ii AF/MF quality on different bodies

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(questions to 75-300ii users at the bottom)

...for the price I paid second hand, I do like my 75-300ii lens - with adequate light and at 150mm+, when I nail focus on my E-PL5 the results are acceptable to very nice, crisp and detail rich, to my eyes at least on a big ipad (talking mostly of static birds, hairy animals and such).

But here is the caveat:
I must have the focus nailed, a task more easily said than done on my E-PL5.
My E-PL5 in AF all too often misses than hits whatever the AF mode/target size choices I make. OK it is a middle of the road 2012 model and the 75-300 is an affordable model as well.
So I mostly do MF to make sure I do not return with only blurred shots loosing my “I got it” smile upon reviewing them after I return.

In MF mode and above 150mm+, the focus by wire mechanism seems to be missing extra fine resolution between motor steps - on the E-PL5 I get just adequate number of focus motor steps to get the job done and if I move the ring just a tad more it seems that I go 2-3 steps away from optimal focusing.

So my questions are these:
a. Is the 75-300ii performing focus much different on different bodies?
b. AF and MF performance and motor steps behavior different when mounted on different bodies? I feel that extra fine focus control is missing and that this has to do with the lens design and not the bodies it is attached - what do you 75-300ii owners think/have seen on the subject?

Nailing focus feels a bit of a fight for me with this lens and if it is its very nature I may send it away but I cannot find another m43 body over here to test things for myself...
 

Lawrence Beck

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Look a the 75-300ii image thread on this forum. That will answer your question and you can judge for yourself.

(questions to 75-300ii users at the bottom)

...for the price I paid second hand, I do like my 75-300ii lens - with adequate light and at 150mm+, when I nail focus on my E-PL5 the results are acceptable to very nice, crisp and detail rich, to my eyes at least on a big ipad (talking mostly of static birds, hairy animals and such).

But here is the caveat:
I must have the focus nailed, a task more easily said than done on my E-PL5.
My E-PL5 in AF all too often misses than hits whatever the AF mode/target size choices I make. OK it is a middle of the road 2012 model and the 75-300 is an affordable model as well.
So I mostly do MF to make sure I do not return with only blurred shots loosing my “I got it” smile upon reviewing them after I return.

In MF mode and above 150mm+, the focus by wire mechanism seems to be missing extra fine resolution between motor steps - on the E-PL5 I get just adequate number of focus motor steps to get the job done and if I move the ring just a tad more it seems that I go 2-3 steps away from optimal focusing.

So my questions are these:
a. Is the 75-300ii performing focus much different on different bodies?
b. AF and MF performance and motor steps behavior different when mounted on different bodies? I feel that extra fine focus control is missing and that this has to do with the lens design and not the bodies it is attached - what do you 75-300ii owners think/have seen on the subject?

Nailing focus feels a bit of a fight for me with this lens and if it is its very nature I may send it away but I cannot find another m43 body over here to test things for myself...
 
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Are you shooting it wide open? I have only used my 75-300 on my EM10ii but felt like focus was off when I first got it (it wasn't).

I'm not sure about anyone else's but mine definitely improves the sharpness when it's stepped down. Wide open at 300mm every photo I took looked fuzzy and perhaps out of focus. Stepping it down to f8 at 300mm made a very dramatic difference in my images.

I'll try it on an E-PL5 the next time my dad stops over and let you know how it performs on that.
 

Tilman Paulin

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The 75-300 is one of my favorite lenses keeping me in the m43 system ... :)

I just upgraded my E-M1 mk1 to an E-M1 mk2 - which improved autofocus reliability with the 75-300 noticeably.

Having said that I still use manual focus whenever possible.
(I have Fn1 set to "MF" and Fn2 to "Magnify")

Don't remember AF reliability on the EM5 - but adding the Fotodiox grip to the EM5 for use with the 75-300 helped a lot too.
 

gryphon1911

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The 75-300 is a fickle beast.

In order for it to perform well out needs the following:
  • Plenty of light
  • Stopping down a bit always helps, but I found wide open acceptable
  • I had focus issues on older bodies like the EM5.1, but got better on the EM5.2, EM1.1, and EM1.2
  • even with IBIS, I always tried my best to keep the shutter speed see fast as possible. Keep the shutter at 1/500 or faster.
  • Turn on electronic shutter or anti-shock with this lens.
Then, you'll get results like this:
Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II
 

Egregius V

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^^^ Agree about shutter speed and electronic shutter. Regardless, my first 75-300 II consistently missed autofocus at all focal lengths when the target was more than 2m away. Did this with my E-PL5, E-M10, and E-M5 II. Unless the target was something very high contrast, like black ink on white paper, the field of focus ended up slightly behind the target. Tried two more copies of the lens - same problem. Fortunately, AF was more accurate using a Panasonic GX85. MF always worked great. Also, no problems using the Panasonic 100-300 II on an Olympus body.
 

retiredfromlife

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While I do not have the 75-300 I do use the Panasonic 100-300 and have similar focusing problems.
I always blip the target at least twice with the AF. To me this seem to happens on my three Mu-43 bodies from Oly & Panasonic.
While lighting and contrast play a part it seem to be inherent in the system to some degree. But I must admit I have never tried a FF to know any exact differences between formats.
I also own the OlY 40-150 pro and it suffers from the same thing sometimes.
 

Egregius V

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Come to think of it, I've read several reviews of the first version of the Panasonic 100-300 which noted a tendency to backfocus. There could be copy variation or an improvement in the second version of the lens.

For some lenses, the problem of inaccurate AF is attributable to focus shifting (generally, the AF system works with the aperture fully open even if you're stopping it down). I've read that using the depth of field preview setting for the LCD/viewfinder (if the body has it) overcomes the problem. However, I haven't tested it.
 
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went through the answers - thanks everybody!

now,
I just upgraded my E-M1 mk1 to an E-M1 mk2 - which improved autofocus reliability with the 75-300 noticeably.
on both my EM10.2 and EM5.2
I had focus issues on older bodies like the EM5.1, but got better on the EM5.2, EM1.1, and EM1.2
Did this with my E-PL5, E-M10, and E-M5 II... using a Panasonic GX85. MF always worked great. Also, no problems using the Panasonic 100-300 II on an Olympus body.
do you guys find that the same number of relatively few steps exist, providing a bit coarse and fiddly MF experience when focusing far regardless of body used? I’d be surprised if the MF steps & feel change depending on body but I want to make sure with people who used this lens on different bodies.
 

gryphon1911

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went through the answers - thanks everybody!

now,







do you guys find that the same number of relatively few steps exist, providing a bit coarse and fiddly MF experience when focusing far regardless of body used? I’d be surprised if the MF steps & feel change depending on body but I want to make sure with people who used this lens on different bodies.
I stopped trying to MF on most mirrorless lenses. It is just a bit frustrating for me. I'd rather adapt a lens for using manual focus.
 
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...so it is not just me, I guess. I found focusing an 500mm/8 mirror Nikon lens almost easier than the 75-300ii and the Nikon 50/1.4 feels soooo much better than all the focus-by-wire native lenses I have ... I cannot understand why at least no option for linear focus ring movement exists - move a bit faster and your focus plane goes way off exactly the time you almost nailed it and just fine tuned it - aaaargh!!
 

Tilman Paulin

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I just tried the manual focus with the 75-300mm on an EM5, EM1 and EM1mk2.
I noticed no difference in regards to the "focus ring's" sensitivity.

What will make a difference is the size of your focus box / focus magnification. (I only use MF with "Magnify").
It feels easier with moderate magnification.

Also, the differences in the cameras' sensor stabilization makes a big difference. (obviously EM5 < EM1 < EM1.2)

Over the years the lens has delivered for me over and over again - on all 3 bodies.
Just picked a few favourites from my flickr stream and put them in this album:
Olympus 75-300
 

Tilman Paulin

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beautiful shots! how close have you been to the small birds? much cropping & sharpening applied?
Thanks Michail!

pretty close usually. A lot of those were on trees next to the house (through a window) - with the added stability of leaning against the window frame or putting my elbows down on the window sill. I try to crop as little as possible (and get the composition in camera whenever possible).

On those I usually convert with sharpening and noise reduction on low. Adding some extra denoise on the background or some mild sharpening on the bird if needed.
The lighting on the bird makes the biggest difference - if the light hits the feathers in the right way they pop and very little sharpening is required.
 
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To answer my own question:
As my old E-PL5 lost its IBIS function, I picked up a new E-M10mkii I found on sale.

Whoa, I notice significant improvement in how much more accurately the 75-300ii focuses in S-AF - I can finally trust the camera to do focus! - it is not 100% reliable but it is so much better than the E-PL5 in doing so that it made me reapreciate how good the 75-300ii is, even more so considering the total price of the body+lens combo.
MF is also much improved as an experience given the 5-axis IBIS being active during composition along the focus peaking assist.

I *guess* that most of the improvement comes from the active during composition IBIS since it presents a very stable image to the AF algorithms of the stronger CPU.
Very big improvement for just 3 years between the E-PL5 and the E-M10ii models.
 

PeterHG

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My first copy was spot on, even wide open and rendered beautifully and never missed focus. I sold it when I got the Panny 100-400 but have now sold that and bought another 75-300.
Can I ask why you sold the Panny 100-400 again in favour of the 75-300? My wife has got the latter and it's quite good, but we still wondered about getting the 100-400
 

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