Olympus Pro Lenses - Very Soft/Poor Focus Results

mrjoemorgan

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Hi all,

I acquired a 2nd hand 300mm F4 PRO a few months ago which was basically unusable due to do the results I was getting with it. I shared my journey on this forum back then and was helpfully guided towards using the LensAlign. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with the latest macOS so I wasn't able to use it.

I have since sent it into Olympus UK to get checked and it came back yesterday with a note saying it was totally fine, and all they did was give it a clean. I sent in my MC-14 with it, and Olympus actually replaced the front glass of that MC-14 as it was having issues.

However, I am still experiencing poor results with my PRO glass and for the life of me cannot understand what is going on.

My 40-150mm is as sharp as a butcher's knife, I always get great results with that lens. However, if I stick the MC14 or MC20 on that lens, the results instantly become useless.

And the 300mm is still either a) not focusing correctly or b) extremely soft.

Here are four images, all taken on a TRIPOD, SAF, Single Shot, IS ON, Focus on the eye/head, with the same settings (1/640, f8, ISO400) - I have cropped the two smaller images to blow them up to be the same size as the 600mm eqv.

Despite the heavy crop, the 40-150 seems to be the sharpest of the lot. The images go in order from 40-150, 40-150 mc14, 40-150 mc20, 300m

40-150.jpg
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40-150mc14.jpg
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40-150mc20.jpg
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300mm.jpg
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If I zoom in even more in photoshop, you can see it even more (lens selection can be seen on the right, same order as above):
Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 3.56.19 PM.png
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Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 3.56.26 PM.png
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Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 3.56.32 PM.png
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Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 3.56.39 PM.png
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I have some more test examples which I will share after this. At first, I thought it might have been the air/atmosphere causing issues at long range. However, now that the 40-150mm shows superior IQ even with the digital crop, it makes me believe something isn't right?

I have also noticed, that the burst/frame rate on the camera is slower when the 300mm is on. Not sure if this info helps.

I appreciate anyone's thoughts/help on this.

Cheers

Joe
 
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mrjoemorgan

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At close range, the MC's + the 300mm are very sharp. It's just when its 10m+ that things go wrong.

This shot is handheld.

JOEM9372.jpg
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mrjoemorgan

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Two more examples.

300mm. SAF. IS on. Handheld. 1/1000 f7.1 ISO 640
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300mm + MC20. SAF. IS ON. Tripod. 1/800, F9, ISO 400.
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mrjoemorgan

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I’m not sure what’s causing it but in most of your examples the focal plan appears to be in front of the subject. Is the focus adjust zeroed/turned off?
That's been the thinking all along. Although Olympus said they tested for that and it wasn't.

I have done a full reset of the body already (so focus adjust should be off/zero) and that doesn't change anything. However (and this may be a dumb idea) should I do a full reset of the body with all the different lens combos?
 

mrjoemorgan

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Two bits of additional info.

1 - I just did a test with the 40-150 + 300. Same settings (Fast shutter speed etc), Manual Focus, and the Burst rate for L and H for the 300mm lens is about half the speed as the 40-150. With the MCs on the 40-150 is remains the same.

2 - At least once every time I go out shooting, ill get the Aperture 00 show up (lens contact error) so I have to turn off the body, take the lens off, put the lens back on and turn the body back on again to use it. This happens mostly with the MCs
 
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SpecFoto

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If your mounted to a tripod, why do you have IS on? It should be off.

This is from Page 97 of my EM1 MKIII manual about using IS:
S-IS Off - Image stabilization disabled. Select this option when using a tripod.

Same applies for my Nikon with 70-200VR lens and Sony A73 and 100-400GM lens with OIS. They both say to turn off image stabilization if on a tripod. IS will affect the focus if left on, as your results show. Your handheld 300mm shot with IS on is very sharp, so the lens seems fine.


 
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PakkyT

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Ya I was going to say the same thing. While these days people say that it no longer matters if the IS is ON when on a tripod, the manual still says turn it off. And looking at the above 7 samples, to my eye the two handheld ones look sharpest.
 

SpecFoto

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Ya I was going to say the same thing. While these days people say that it no longer matters if the IS is ON when on a tripod, the manual still says turn it off. And looking at the above 7 samples, to my eye the two handheld ones look sharpest.
Page 53 of the EM1 MKII manual, which the OP has, says:
  • When using a tripod, set [Image Stabilizer] to [OFF].
And the EM1X manual says exactly what my EM1 MK III says above. So if people are saying this, they are wrong. There must be a reason Olympus says to turn it off, or else their marketing would be promoting that leaving it on is a new "feature" :laugh:
 

mrjoemorgan

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I have tried with IS on and off when shooting hh or on tripod. Same results regardless.

The Handhold shot above of the bird which looks (almost) okay was around the 10m away mark, its still front focusing, but not as much. (The rock just in front I think is the most in focus)

Here is a handhold shot with the 300mm - same issue.
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RichardC

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You may have tried this already, but do you have a friendly camera store who will let you try a different body (assuming they are not all shut)?

It could be useful to see if it makes any difference - then at least you can rule one thing out.

No fault found means just that - just because they didn't find a fault first time round, doesn't mean there isn't one.

I have to say, in your shoes I would be very frustrated. I've only used the 300mm f4 a few times, always rented, always working as I hoped straight out of the box.
 

mrjoemorgan

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You may have tried this already, but do you have a friendly camera store who will let you try a different body (assuming they are not all shut)?

It could be useful to see if it makes any difference - then at least you can rule one thing out.

No fault found means just that - just because they didn't find a fault first time round, doesn't mean there isn't one.

I have to say, in your shoes I would be very frustrated. I've only used the 300mm f4 a few times, always rented, always working as I hoped straight out of the box.
Yeah, that's a good idea, not much open at the moment but that would certainly help test if its the body. When I sent it in, Olympus could have tested the lens on their body and found nothing wrong for example. Or only tested on subjects less than 10m away. It is interesting that close subjects are super sharp, but anything further away is quite different.

I am going to humor myself and do a Full Reset with every single lens combo possible attached. Re-install the firmware etc. In theory, it makes no sense why this would help, but at this point, ill try anything!
 

c12402

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Hi all,

I acquired a 2nd hand 300mm F4 PRO a few months ago which was basically unusable due to do the results I was getting with it. I shared my journey on this forum back then and was helpfully guided towards using the LensAlign. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with the latest macOS so I wasn't able to use it.

I have since sent it into Olympus UK to get checked and it came back yesterday with a note saying it was totally fine, and all they did was give it a clean. I sent in my MC-14 with it, and Olympus actually replaced the front glass of that MC-14 as it was having issues.

However, I am still experiencing poor results with my PRO glass and for the life of me cannot understand what is going on.

My 40-150mm is as sharp as a butcher's knife, I always get great results with that lens. However, if I stick the MC14 or MC20 on that lens, the results instantly become useless.

And the 300mm is still either a) not focusing correctly or b) extremely soft.

Here are four images, all taken on a TRIPOD, SAF, Single Shot, IS ON, Focus on the eye/head, with the same settings (1/640, f8, ISO400) - I have cropped the two smaller images to blow them up to be the same size as the 600mm eqv.

Despite the heavy crop, the 40-150 seems to be the sharpest of the lot. The images go in order from 40-150, 40-150 mc14, 40-150 mc20, 300m

View attachment 824476
View attachment 824477
View attachment 824478
View attachment 824479

If I zoom in even more in photoshop, you can see it even more (lens selection can be seen on the right, same order as above):
View attachment 824481
View attachment 824482
View attachment 824483
View attachment 824484

I have some more test examples which I will share after this. At first, I thought it might have been the air/atmosphere causing issues at long range. However, now that the 40-150mm shows superior IQ even with the digital crop, it makes me believe something isn't right?

I have also noticed, that the burst/frame rate on the camera is slower when the 300mm is on. Not sure if this info helps.

I appreciate anyone's thoughts/help on this.

Cheers

Joe
Hi Joe,

I have a new 300mmf4 that was working perfectly until I had a little accident walking and it received a -not hard- bump with the terrain, resulting in no visible damage signals after that.

From that moment on, it started to have a similar behavior than yours.

The solution was to send it to Olympus repair service asking for a recalibration. I had to send it twice as, after the first one, I found that focus tracking in moving objects did not work well, but now is perfectly working as new.
 

JanW

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Maybe you can do another test in MF with focus peaking.
In your first comparison focus is in front of the cow which is just at the edge of the dof.
I'm curious what the results will be when the subject is in the center of the dof.
Great subject for testing, with the grass showing the focus zone!

Jan
 

mrjoemorgan

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@Nam-in-Sonoma - not yet, that's going to be my next test. My smaller lenses are very sharp on the body though, its just the MC14, MC20 and 300mm which are not.

@JanW - they made for great testing subjects! They were sat down at first which was better but they kept coming to sat hello. I just did some more tests with MF+Peaking.

@c12402 - that's interesting to know. At first I thought it was the 300mm having issues, but now I can see its the MC14 nd MC20 as well
 

mrjoemorgan

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So I did some new tests today, with a cow sitting down so they should all be the same.

Single shot. Small single focal point. Reset the camera back to factory settings. 1/1600, F5, ISO400

For each of these I did:
  • Tripod, IBIS ON, SAF
  • Tripod, IBIS OFF, SAF
  • Tripod, IBIS OFF, MF+Peaking
  • HH, IBIS ON, SAF
  • HH, IBIS OFF, SAF
Here is a link to see the images so I don't spam the forum will too many images.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zozg3xe775yru36/AABjkoFOxY4I5Abek-DPJa6na?dl=0

Test 1 = 300mm - All of them front focusing and soft
Test 2 = 40-150 + MC20 - Same result
Test 3 = 40-140 + MC14 - Same result
Test 4 = 40-150 = Sharp. (For some reason I forgot to do HH, was too distracted by the calf behind me, which ill share below.)
 
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