OM-D E-M10 II: an in-depth look at the Focus Bracketing mode

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Mat - MirrorLessons, Sep 4, 2015.

  1. Mat - MirrorLessons

    Mat - MirrorLessons Mu-43 Veteran

    274
    Mar 10, 2013
    Turin
    So we tested the new Focus Bracketing feature (actually Heather did, not me :) ) for the last 10 days and here is what she found.
    • You can take up to 999 shots and choose the focus differential in 10 steps. Focus differential means how wider or narrower you want the focus distance to be changed between one shot and the other.
    • Works with both RAW and JPGs
    • Can work well also hand held (5-axis definitely help) but a tripod is still advised
    • In this mode the camera switches to the electronic shutter and High continuous shooting speed, so banding with some artificial lights and also rolling shutter can occur (another reason to prefer the tripod)
    • Flash can be used up to 1/20s (probably to avoid banding and sync problems). Works in manual only and RC is deactivated, so you have to connect the unit to the camera's hot-shoe. Tested with the Nissin i40 and Fl-600r. If the recycle time of the flash slows down, the camera will wait before taking the next shot (like the E-M5 II does with the High Res Shot).
    • Drains battery life like crazy :D
    swallowtail-1-L.
    E-M10 II, 1/200, f/2.8, ISO 400 - 10 shots, focus differential of 10 (hand-held) - Post-processed in Helicon Focus

    Just to avoid any confusion, the camera does not stack the pictures so you'll still need to do that with a dedicated software (Helicon Focus is great by the way).

    It really is a handy feature for macro photographers as you only need to select the first focus point (the shortest as the camera will increase the distance), then the camera will change the distance automatically instead of doing it manually. It is of course faster but also more precise since the amount of focus distance changed between one shot and the other will always be exactly the same.

    You can find other examples and the entire article here.
     
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  2. Brian Beezley

    Brian Beezley Mu-43 All-Pro

    Very informative article. With regard to banding sync, tell Heather it's 60 Hz in the US and 50 Hz elsewhere (the article has it reversed). I would have e-mailed her, but I could find no address.

    Brian
     
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  3. Mat - MirrorLessons

    Mat - MirrorLessons Mu-43 Veteran

    274
    Mar 10, 2013
    Turin
    LOL you're right, thanks for pointing it out ;)
     
  4. Drdul

    Drdul Mu-43 Regular

    105
    May 16, 2015
    Vancouver, BC
    Richard
    Hi Mat! Is the focus bracketing feature of use for anything other than macro shots? For example, could I use it with the focus distance set at say 2.0 m, and set the camera to take a small number of photos (say 3) with the focus distance varying by half a metre or so, with the result that I would have three photos taken at 1.5 m, 2.0 m and 2.5 m focus distance? This would be useful in street photography where I shoot with the lens pre-focused at around 2.5 m, but sometimes I end up with people too close to the camera to be in focus. My understanding is that in focus bracketing mode the camera shoots at 11 fps, so it would only take 0.18 seconds to shoot three photos at varying focus distances, which means that in that short amount of time I wouldn't often miss what I was taking a photo of, and might be able to save some photos where the focus would otherwise be off.
     
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  5. Mat - MirrorLessons

    Mat - MirrorLessons Mu-43 Veteran

    274
    Mar 10, 2013
    Turin
    Focus Stacking is a technique also used by landscape photographers. For street however it can be more tricky because there is movement involved. It depends how fast your subjects are moving. The camera uses the electronic shutter so you could have some rolling shutter issues if you move very quickly to take a shot or if people in the frame are moving quickly.
     
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  6. Halaking

    Halaking Mu-43 Top Veteran

    667
    Dec 17, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Morris
    Thanks for the great works once again!!
     
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  7. Tapper

    Tapper Mu-43 Regular

    184
    Mar 12, 2013
    Great feature.
    Hoping very hard that Olympus updates EM5 II with it, as well as the trackpad focusing.
     
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  8. Drdul

    Drdul Mu-43 Regular

    105
    May 16, 2015
    Vancouver, BC
    Richard
    Thanks for the insight. I guess I'll just have to try it to see how well it works. Now if only someone would donate an E-M10 II for my research purposes. :)
     
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  9. Mat - MirrorLessons

    Mat - MirrorLessons Mu-43 Veteran

    274
    Mar 10, 2013
    Turin
    Yes, I really hope so!
     
  10. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    Finally focus bracketing returns to the Olympus lineup, last camera was the E-500. And this seems kind of like super focus bracketing compared to the E-500. Hope they keep it around.
     
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  11. Mat - MirrorLessons

    Mat - MirrorLessons Mu-43 Veteran

    274
    Mar 10, 2013
    Turin
    So, the E-M1 gets focus bracketing and focus stacking, E-M5 II gets focus bracketing via firmware updates. There are also other interesting things (complete list here).
    Not bad at all, I just wonder why not implementing focus stacking on all the E-M10 II and E-M1 as well.
     
  12. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I'm wondering if Olympus is going to include a merge feature of some kind in Viewer 3? Would be nice if they did so we wouldn't have to find a stacking / merging program.
     
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  13. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    Luke
    there is a focus stacking and a focus bracketing. They are two different features. The bracketing works as Mat describes. It's my understanding that the focus stacking feature shoots a bracket AND does the stacking in camera. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong. I was just reading about it on the Olympus website.
     
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  14. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    You are correct. In camera focus stacking is only available on the em1 tho.
     
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  15. gary0319

    gary0319 Mu-43 Veteran

    302
    Nov 26, 2014
    Sarasota FL
    Check out the newly announced November firmware updates for the E-M5 II and E-M1 http://www.olympus-global.com/en/news/2015b/nr150915omde.jsp

    Focus bracketing for both the E-M5 II and the E-M1 and, AND focus stacking for the E-M1. Maybe with all the upgrades to the E-M1, Olympus may not be in such a rush to roll out an E-M1 II??
     
  16. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    I would prefer they wait and come out with real improvements and not just stuff that we see can be done with firmware. I'm sure they could do a firmware update to add high resolution, but figure that will not happen until the em1ii
     
  17. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    I was looking at maybe getting an EM10 II since it comes with Focus Bracketing, but apparently the EM1 will be getting this via firmware update. This may be enough to let me hold pat wiht the EM10 I
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
  18. gary0319

    gary0319 Mu-43 Veteran

    302
    Nov 26, 2014
    Sarasota FL
    Good idea, particularly since the E-M1 firmware update will include focus "stacking", which is not part of the E-M10 II firmware or the E-M5 II update.
     
  19. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    Next step would be to take 999 shots and try for the thousand, just to be sure.
    Proper testing and all that. :|
     
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  20. mcasan

    mcasan Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 26, 2014
    Atlanta
    Lets us know how that 1000th shot works out. :)


    With more features going into E-M1, it does make the owners feel they continue to get value for money. It also buys time for Olympus to not release E-M1 II until Photokina 2016 next September. Makes you wonder what E-M1 II will have to have to top E-M1 besides a larger sensor and a high resolution mode.
     
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