The Value of Proper Focus Point Placement, Plus Other Ramblings..............................

Phocal

Mu-43 Legend
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Messages
5,886
Location
Anchorage
So I was out fox hunting when I found this cutie, full story to follow soon. I do recommend clicking through to Flickr so you can zoom in on them.

Below is one of the first photos I took of him and I focused on the feathers between his eyes. Because I was so close the DoF was super shallow, which put his eyes just out of it. I did some sharpening of the eyes, but they are still soft enough that I notice it even without zooming in.

50646405208_defdd62f14_o.jpgBoreal Owl 001 by Phocal Art, on Flickr

In this next photograph I put the focus point on his eye and it really is a noticeable difference. You can see that his eye is much sharper and the feathers between his eyes are blurred.

50647240212_9600582524_o.jpgBoreal Owl 002 by Phocal Art, on Flickr

I am way to experienced to make the mistake I did in the first photograph and blow the DoF. Yes, I know there is a stick in front of him which ruins the image and makes the mistake moot (I got plenty of clear images later). But I hate when I make a mistake like this since I am so use to getting close and shooting with such narrow DoF. But, I will admit to being completely surprised to not only see this guy but that he let me get so close to him.......still no excuse.

If you click through to Flickr there are also other images of the owl that are much better and they made me realize just how much I love my Olympus gear. The first image was shot at 1/60 and the second at 1/80 but it was also with the MC-14. The ability to shoot handheld that slow at those focal lengths and get perfectly sharp images really is crazy to someone who started photography before IS was around. I really did think Dual IS was more a gimmick until I really started to test it's limits. Most of the images in this owl album were shot from positions that were not necessarily the most comfortable or stable and at slow shutter speeds, shows just how good it really is.

The 300/4 really is an amazing lens. Click through and zoom in on this next image to see all the detail that lens can capture. That lens just keeps making me so happy.

50647144986_823023fde1_o.jpgBoreal Owl 006 by Phocal Art, on Flickr

Guess I should mention the EM1X as well. That camera really does continue to impress me. I have noticed that the field sensor for temperature, reads significantly warmer. But I am really loving how you have two independent focus points for horizontal and vertical orientation. With my old EM1 I hardly ever shot in portrait because it was such a pain in the ass to move the focus point around. The one thing I really missed from Canon was how both orientations had different focus points and now my EM1X is that way. My photos today show that I am getting use to switching to portrait for some photographs, something I probably wouldn't' have done with my old EM1's. When I do need to move the focus point while in portrait I have the joystick in the exact same position as when in landscape. They really did lay out this camera very well.

Phocal
 

The Grumpy Snapper

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Oct 9, 2017
Messages
501
That's why I'm always amused by the photo forum "experts" who say that the 300mm is the equivalent of a 600mm f/8 and therefore has to much depth of field.

In the film era my 600mm lenses were often stopped down to f/8 just to get a couple of mm more depth of field.
 
Joined
Nov 2, 2013
Messages
298
Location
Western North Carolina
These are amazing! How close did he actually let you get? I can't get over the reflection of you in its eye! The sharpness and detail is incredible. The EXIF shows that this one (Boreal Owl 007) was at ISO 2500 and the file is amazingly clean. Are you using the Topaz tools or just LR/photoshop?

For those that haven't clicked through and seen this on Flickr on a computer screen, you really should. I hope @Phocal you are ok with me putting a screen grab here to show the level of detail. If not I will remove it.
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

Mack

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Jan 14, 2018
Messages
1,536
I just noticed that odd AF green square behavior when going from landscape mode to portrait mode in the E=M1X yesterday. I was on the smallest AF square, mostly in landscape, and flipped it sideways for a few portraits and the multiple moving green AF squares lit up hunting the subject.

I don't know where in its menu this is activated. :confused-53:

Waiting to see what the new BIRD AI in the upcoming E-M1X firmware update brings on Dec. 2-3.
 

PakkyT

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Jun 20, 2015
Messages
3,788
Location
Massachusetts, USA
Below is one of the first photos I took of him and I focused on the feathers between his eyes. Because I was so close the DoF was super shallow, which put his eyes just out of it. I did some sharpening of the eyes, but they are still soft enough that I notice it even without zooming in.
On my phone I browse Flipboard which is a collection of articles and such that are aimed at your interests so I get a few photography ones in the list (and always a a lot of click bait crap). Anyway, one was about ways to improve the sharpness of your photos and before I opened it my first through was "well, nailing your focus better be #1 on the list". They decided to only present the first 3 of the 8 or whatever tips which the rest would be discussed in another article. As usual I usually only skim these types of articles to see the bullet points before deciding to read any further. Getting the proper focus was in there but was only #2.

Anyway, your first photo above shows that. While you got good focus on your subject it wasn't on the part you felt was the most important. When looking at humans and animals, typically the eyes are the first place our eyes go and as you mentioned, as the eyes were just slightly out of focus being behind the focus plane, we tend to consider the photo a tiny bit soft.

I have to admit, I am terrible at this when a shot like this comes up suddenly and I am in a hurry to at least get the first shot off in case I don't get another. It usually isn't until I get home and download the photos that I realize I could have set the AF point in a better spot or I wish I had remembered my aperture was closed down a bit, slowing the shutter, and getting a slight bit of motion blur, or any number of other mistakes I typically make. At least when I am using my 12-100 PRO, I rarely have any reason to take it off f4 unless I am getting really close to something and need more DoF or if I am using a flash and forgot my ND filter to get under the sync speed. I assume with the 300/4 Pro you probably do much the same sacrificing DoF in order to keep shutter speeds reasonably fast for shooting wild life?
 
Last edited:

Phocal

Mu-43 Legend
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Messages
5,886
Location
Anchorage
That's why I'm always amused by the photo forum "experts" who say that the 300mm is the equivalent of a 600mm f/8 and therefore has to much depth of field.

In the film era my 600mm lenses were often stopped down to f/8 just to get a couple of mm more depth of field.
Yep. When I shot Canon FF I was always stopping down and seldom shot wide-open, expect when it was really dark and it was that or not get the shot (which honestly wasn't that often).
 

Phocal

Mu-43 Legend
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Messages
5,886
Location
Anchorage
These are amazing! How close did he actually let you get? I can't get over the reflection of you in its eye! The sharpness and detail is incredible. The EXIF shows that this one (Boreal Owl 007) was at ISO 2500 and the file is amazingly clean. Are you using the Topaz tools or just LR/photoshop?

For those that haven't clicked through and seen this on Flickr on a computer screen, you really should. I hope @Phocal you are ok with me putting a screen grab here to show the level of detail. If not I will remove it.
View attachment 859878
Thank you.

I wanted a head filling frame photo and actually got closer than the lenses minimum focus distance. So for this shot I was just a bit farther away than minimum focus distance, just a little over 3 feet.

I only use LR for my editing, which does a really good job of removing noise. I have some photos of the foxes from yesterday as well that were at this ISO that I just deleted. Sure I could remove the noise but it would remove what little detail there was. But when you get this close the 300/4 captures so much detail that losing some to noise and the follow on noise removal that the images still really stand up to close inspection.

No problem with the screen grab
 

Phocal

Mu-43 Legend
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Messages
5,886
Location
Anchorage
I just noticed that odd AF green square behavior when going from landscape mode to portrait mode in the E=M1X yesterday. I was on the smallest AF square, mostly in landscape, and flipped it sideways for a few portraits and the multiple moving green AF squares lit up hunting the subject.

I don't know where in its menu this is activated. :confused-53:

Waiting to see what the new BIRD AI in the upcoming E-M1X firmware update brings on Dec. 2-3.
All of that is under A2 in menu.

I am sure many will enjoy the Bird AI and I will as well, but I am not much of BiF shooter. So will not be super useful for me.
 

Phocal

Mu-43 Legend
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Messages
5,886
Location
Anchorage
On my phone I browse Flipboard which is a collection of articles and such that are aimed at your interests so I get a few photography ones in the list (and always a a lot of click bait crap). Anyway, one was about ways to improve the sharpness of your photos and before I opened it my first through was "well, nailing your focus better be #1 on the list". They decided to only present the first 3 of the 8 or whatever tips which the rest would be discussed in another article. As usual I usually only skim these types of articles to see the bullet points before deciding to read any further. Getting the proper focus was in there but was only #2.

Anyway, your first photo above shows that. While you got good focus on your subject it wasn't on the part you felt was the most important. When looking at humans and animals, typically the eyes are the first place our eyes go and as you mentioned, as the eyes were just slightly out of focus being behind the focus plane, we tend to consider the photo a tiny bit soft.

I have to admit, I am terrible at this when a shot like this comes up suddenly and I am in a hurry to at least get the first shot off in case I don't get another. It usually isn't until I get home and download the photos that I realize I could have set the AF point in a better spot or I wish I had remembered my aperture was closed down a bit, slowing the shutter, and getting a slight bit of motion blur, or any number of other mistakes I typically make. At least when I am using my 12-100 PRO, I rarely have any reason to take it off f4 unless I am getting really close to something and need more DoF or if I am using a flash and forgot my ND filter to get under the sync speed. I assume with the 300/4 Pro you probably do much the same sacrificing DoF in order to keep shutter speeds reasonably fast for shooting wild life?
Nailing focus should have been #1

I have learned to always get the shot I can and than try to improve on it. My first photo of this guy was from behind so I could at least hopefully ID him if I didn't get a chance for another photograph. Normally I am thinking about DoF when in these situations since I normally do shoot so close to my subjects and it really does need to be on my mind or I just end up wasting a lot of time getting photographs that don't meet my standards.

Going back to the getting the shot.......................

I normally start off with higher shutter speeds and higher ISO in these situations (it was pretty overcast, so I had to do the shutter speed / ISO dance), that way I know I get good sharp images. After getting some of those I move on to playing with shutter speed to get the lowest ISO I can while still getting sharp images. I have a number of motion blur images because I was really pushing what the camera can do, but I got a huge number of keepers thanks to Olympus's amazing IBIS. It was also snowing and I was trying to get snowflake streaks in the image with the lower shutter speeds but the snow was just to light to really get anything. I would have loved to have stopped down on some of these images (especially the frame filling head shot) but there was just not the light to do so, would have been way to slow of shutter speeds.

While I agree that a lot of times IBIS doesn't help when you have subject movement. But when the subject is an owl just chillin in tree, IBIS can really save the day. There was another photographer at the foxes and I got his attention when I found the owl. He was shooting Canon APSC with the Canon 100-400 and I saw his images on Facebook. He had to shoot at a much higher ISO than I did because he didn't have the IS I have, which really took away detail from his images. That one stop advantage APSC has over us was quickly eaten up and passed by the amazing Dual IS from Olympus.
 
Joined
Nov 2, 2013
Messages
298
Location
Western North Carolina
Thank you.

I wanted a head filling frame photo and actually got closer than the lenses minimum focus distance. So for this shot I was just a bit farther away than minimum focus distance, just a little over 3 feet.

I only use LR for my editing, which does a really good job of removing noise. I have some photos of the foxes from yesterday as well that were at this ISO that I just deleted. Sure I could remove the noise but it would remove what little detail there was. But when you get this close the 300/4 captures so much detail that losing some to noise and the follow on noise removal that the images still really stand up to close inspection.

No problem with the screen grab
That's really amazing that it would let you get that close.

I'm also impressed by the noise reduction being only done in LR. I think I've finally got typical sharpening dialed in for the E-M1.3, but every time I touch the luminance noise reduction slider I end up chasing my tail between losing too much detail and trying to keep some sharpness. Any tips for value ranges to start with?

Thanks,
Eli
 

Latest posts

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Copyright © 2009-2019 Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom