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Question regarding Olympus 12mm f2 + Focus Ring

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by bigboysdad, Dec 12, 2014.

  1. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    The 12 is an excellent lens worth every penny, but the fact that the fast AF on this lens and on your average m43 camera produce great results leads me to question the value of the focus ring. For me, AF beats the focus ring every time when it comes to image quality, even in tight instant situations where it could be said the snapshot feature would be needed - see random image here:

    15003758311_eae0655b96_b. Untitled by bigboysdad, on Flickr


    In particular, the snapshot feature seems to compare poorly in terms of sharpness, even where the correct distance settings are applied. So can anyone demonstrate with some examples, the value of the clutch focus ring other than when set to infinity? You may tell me that the lack of sharpness is one of the the points of the clutch feature. Fine, please educate me. In particular, I’m interested in seeing images where the shooter has purposely set out to use this feature and ended up with the results they intended. Would very much like to learn something here. Thanks.
     
  2. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    832
    Sep 30, 2013
    The primary advantage of the snap back focus ring is not vs AF, but vs MF using the standard infinitely-spinning fly by wire style focus ring (though the snap focus ring is still fly-by-wire, it just acts less so). Many people find it be a preferable method of focusing manually. Its entirely possible that the marks on the lens aren't perfectly accurate however, and this is the case with many AF lenses that have distance markings, its more of a rough guide than a precise tool.

    Another advantage to the snap-focus design is the ability to throw the lens into MF mode in a split second without having to dig through the menu on your camera. However, you can set most cameras to SAF+MF, or bind a custom function key to toggle MF and get essentially the same functionality. On my EM1 I set the lever to toggle focus modes, as I have more lenses without the snap back ring than I do with, and I prefer consistent controls.

    Using manual focus is generally more time consuming, difficult, and prone to error than using AF, so if you're getting soft results with MF, most likely your focus point isn't quite right, rather than anything to do with the lens itself. I would suggest using peaking/magnification, or if AF does the job for you, just use AF.

    Personally, all the M43rds lenses I own focus fast and accurately enough for me that I virtually never use manual focus. The only real exceptions being my 7.5/3.5, which is manual focus only of course, and situations with complex overlapping details like a bird in a tree, where the AF system can easily fail or get confused, and often then I only MF to help get the AF system closer to the intended subject.
     
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  3. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Veteran

    364
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    Where i use the manual focus is in low light situations where AF doesn't work - eg. astrophotography. AF doesn't work very well for me with video too in some situations, where the subject is moving in or out of focus.
     
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  4. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    You can use the MF ring for Zone Focusing, assuming you're using Aperture Priority or Manual mode and don't go wider than the Zone's matching Aperture.

    Barry
     
  5. 350duser

    350duser Mu-43 Veteran

    313
    Sep 26, 2012
    Brisbane, QLD
    Focussing on the stars or distant low light objects is the one time I use the ring.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    From those responses, I can conclude then, that the focus ring only really comes into play when shooting static subjects/ scenes as opposed to, say, fast moving street photography and that for the purposes of street photography, the focus ring is not needed (as I believe was touted when this lens was released) as AF has you covered. I thought that may have been the case and it was certainly my experience but I just wanted to verify that with other users on this community. Many thanks for the responses.
     
  7. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    My most common use of MF is in situations where the AF locks onto the wrong thing. For example, twigs or grass between me and an animal. Rather than fool around trying to get the AF to do the right thing, focus peaking and an AF/MF switch right under my thumb makes it easy to use my GX7s MF to get the shot.
     
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  8. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Zone focusing can be very useful for street, so that
    A. You have most or all of the scene in focus
    B. You don't have to worry about a/f delay
    C. You don't have to worry about which points the a/f will choose to focus on, or whether you have the subjects' faces centered.

    Barry
     
  9. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    That's right, when set to infinity. But with any other distance, the consensus seems to be that this can all be achieved with the af and without the need for the focus ring. At least in a fast moving street photography scenario anyway.
     
  10. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 4, 2010
    Not really. It depends on the aperture and the look you're after. Shooting street and setting a suitable focal-length and aperture value for 3-10m is a very different proposition to setting FL to infinity without a suitable aperture set - most people you walk past will be out of focus.

    Think of an old non-AF camera or a modern digital with adapted lens - for example an original film Pen or Trip 35 - you set a FL to match a scene and away you went. No delays, hit the button and the shutter trips.
     
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  11. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Nope. Not infinity.

    bigboysdad, try doing a little reading on these two terms:

    • hyperfocal distance
    • zone focusing
    I think you will understand phigmov better and begin to see why a calibrated focus ring is useful in many situations, particularly on the 12 which has a large DOF. Actually, I think it could be argued that one never wants to focus a lens any farther out than the hyperfocal distance. In other words, never at infinity.
     
  12. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    The main problem I see with this thread is that the argument really is subjective and comes down to shooting preference, experience.

    Some people learned on MF cameras and trust themselves to MF better than the AF, some people prefer to reduce the camera image acquisition time by removing the AF time, no matter how fast from the capture, while others have had issues in the past with the AF getting confused or unable to lock onto the subject they wanted - so resort to using MF to achieve what they want.

    When you shoot long enough you'll start to be able to identify the times when MF is desired/required to get the shot.

    No question that the majority of shots can be captured with todays outstanding AF systems, but they are not bullet proof and sometimes it is nice to have the MF at your disposal.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    Thank you. Do you by any chance have any examples of any images you are able to post where a calibrated focus ring was useful (particularly when shooting in an outside busy environment)?
     
  14. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    I appreciate your response, what you say reconciles with my experience with the 12. I have no doubt that the focus ring is useful when taking shots of still subjects and for sure, the AF on the 12 isn’t bullet proof. But it is exceptionally good and the AF hits the spot for me in over 90% of shots in busy environments and produces better results than when using the focus ring. I was just wondering whether anyone had different experiences to me and had any examples where the use of the clutch focus in a busy environment produced a great result which they were able to post here. I would be interested to see that. So far in this thread, the answer is no.
     
  15. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 4, 2010
    I can't find any examples online (not that my googling is any better than your ability to google) - most people don't necessarily explicitly state how they got the shot they got.

    Two quick examples of the manual focal technique from Digitialrevs 17 & 12mm lens reviews. I can't seem to embed the start-time but he discusses it briefly at 3:14 in the first video and 2:14 in the second.

    http://youtu.be/K5MiOsQTFXU?t=3m14s

    http://youtu.be/YN4I4KcvAL0?t=2m14s

    Eric Kim also discusses this technique here with respect to street photography - An Introduction to Zone Focusing for your Leica, Rangefinder, or DSLR

    A similar example on the Ricoh GR - Ricoh GR: Zone Focus to Shoot Bikeriders

    Obviously you can use this technique with any lens set to MF, its just a little easier with an adapted or Oly style ring.
     
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  16. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    Thanks, seen the first 3 links (the Digitalrev ones formed part of my decision to buy the 17 and 12).
     
  17. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    I think you're just going to have to try it (zone focus).

    If you don't understand how to read the zone scale on the focus ring, reply and I'll look for the article I read before.

    Barry
     
  18. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    I do understand it, I just think (in my experience) AF overall produces better results, that's all.
     
  19. Rasmus

    Rasmus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    657
    Nov 16, 2013
    Stockholm, Sweden.
    I wouldn't exactly call these subjects static, yet I caught them with MF only lenses. Mostly 350/2.8, but the last was with 400/4.5.

    P3221595.

    P3221641.

    P5174105.

    P5174180.

    P7050108.
     
  20. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    Many thanks Rasmus. I'm guessing the viewfinder and careful preparation would have been essential in those examples.