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Old Jul 29, 2008, 5:20 PM   #1
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I have an E3 and a 50-200 SWD which I used recently on a photo assignment at the Le Mans Classic motor race. Virtually all the action shots were out of focus, some, which were just fuzzy blobs I deleted in camera, but shots which looked OK on the camera screen turned out to be out of focus when down loaded. I was shooting offa monopod using continuous focus with focus and exposure centered and an exposure of350th-400th sec., at f3.5-f4.5. I have used an E500 in similar fashion up to now with really good results but this E3 combination is a disaster. I got the impression that the lens was hunting all the time. There is also a lot of radial movement between the lens and the body, 1.5-2mm which may have had something to do with it as well. Anyone out there had similar problems?
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Old Jul 29, 2008, 9:35 PM   #2
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You didn't say if this is a brand new camera (you just got it), or if you had the camera and lens for a while, and this is a new phenomena.

There was an issue with early E-3's with certain lenses that had focus issues...first do you have the latest firmware?

I hate to ask this since you have used E-system before, but do you have one focus point selected, or do you have it set to auto.

Also, do you have the lens locked properly, IOW you see an actual aperture number when you shoot and not "-.-" on the display or in your pictures' Exif information?

Do you still have the E-500 and other lenses to do some tests swapping the 50-200 between the two bodies to see if it's a lens issue or body issue, and do you have other lenses to try on the E-3?

I realize some of these are elementary questions, but that would be everything I'd test for if I was looking at your camera at a repair facility.

I should add as well that it could potentially be dust inside the mirror box (where the mirror flaps around). The focusing sensor is located at the BOTTOM of the mirror box, and it is prone to collecting dust (is not effected by the SSWF). Here's a link to a picture of where the focus sensor is located:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/08...Elightpath.jpg

What I do to clean the focus sensor (I take no responsibility if you follow this and wreck your camera) is remove the lens, put the camera in 30 second anti-shock mode (so the mirror flips out of the way but the shutter remains CLOSED), have the lens opening facing down (so the dust can fall out of the camera), and then use a Giottos Rocket Blower (any MANUAL blower will do, do NOT use canned air), trip the anti-shock (press the shutter release) and aim the blower towards the focus sensor, blow a few times and let the dust fall out of the camera for a few seconds. Wait until you hear the shutter click (again 30 seconds after you've pressed the shutter release due to the anti-shock being set to 30), set the anti-shock back to off, put the lens back on (recommend you turn off the camera so an SSWF cycle can be performed as well), and try it.

I recently bought an almost new E-330, and I found out that the store sometimes displays cameras without a lens or body cap on the camera...I did a shoot soon after I bought it, and had trouble focusing in lower light, until I did the above...works fine now.

Anyway, answer the questions first and maybe we can narrow down the issue.

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Old Jul 29, 2008, 9:45 PM   #3
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1.5mm to 2mm of "slop" or play certainly could be the main reason for your issues. I don't own an E-3 or the 50-200mmSWD but I had a somewhat similar experience with an E-510 and an OM Zuiko lens. The problem stemmed from the fact that the mounting screws holding the bayonet mount to the lens body were loose-no idea as to how that happened. The fix was to lock down the mounting screws.

Another area of concern is the stop screw found on the "side" of the lens mount. It is located just underneath the copper contacts. Ensure there is no play or for that matter the screw is actually there.

In certainly no expert , but I have been shooting a fair amount of baseball games this Summer.A couple of thoughts on shooting action sequences-in this case moving cars. You mentioned you shot at shutter speeds of 1/350-1/400/sec. I would think that you would improve the sharpness of the images by shooting at a minimum of 1/500 or 1/640/sec. or better yet higher. You would most likely have to punch up the ISO to 400 or 800 to get there but that would give you a much better chance to freeze the action.

Also, I've had limited success with continuous auto focus. The 'hunting' you mentioned is most likely the lens continually trying to focus due to C-AF. I've had greater success with S-AF, continuous burst, center focus. I try to prefocus the lens as much as possible as well. I would think that when shooting cars in a race, it is possible to anticipate where the car is going to be-roughly- I would prefocus the camera and get ready. BTW, I've been using the 70-300mm lens which is a good deal slower than the 50-200mm. I've had acceptable shots taken at ISO1600 and did some noise reduction with Neat Image.

It would be interesting to hear from you as to what the culprit actually ended up being.

In the meantime, Good luck

Zig




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Old Jul 30, 2008, 6:11 AM   #4
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I'll just add a wee bit to what Mike and Zig have suggested:

1. Update the firmware on the camera - there was one update that was solely related to fixing AF issues with the E3 and the new SWD lenses. Do you have the same problem with any non SWD lenses ?

2. Have you noticed any OOF issues with the E3 - there were a batch of them that had serious AF issues (I had one) and if you do find that you have a large no. of OOF shots (front or back focus) I would get the camera replaced. No firmware update will be able to fix those.

I took my E3 and 35-100F2 to a catwalk shoot and came across similar problems where the images look good on the E3's LCD and in focus but when you check on a computer the majority of them were out of focus. I think most of the problem there was down to me - shutter speed to slow - max 1/250, no flash, shooting from F2 to F5.6, not using CAF , etc etc but looking at your original post - you had a fast enough shutter speed, using a mono pod as well. Any chance of postign some pics ?

Cheers

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Old Jul 30, 2008, 5:15 PM   #5
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Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I have been doing this type of photography since the 1966 British Grand Prix and have used a variety of cameras and techniques. You always lose a few shots when cars are going 100mph plus past you but I am now quite good at holding the center of the frame between the front wheel and the middle of the car which usually gives a decent pic.

So far as I can see there is no dust internally and all the screws, stops etc., for the mount are secure. It would appear to be a manufacturing tolerance issue as the slop is less with the E500 lenses fitted.

The camera and lens are new and I have had good results using the camera with the E500 lenses but not for moving shots. The SWD lens has also given sharp pics when used on static subjects.

The moving shots were properly set up camera wise with the centre focus spot selected and used as the aim point. In a lot of shots the car more or less fills the frame even though it is going quite quickly, so even if the actual focus spot does not match up with the square on the finder it should still be picking up the range.

I use the 400th ish shutter speed to give movement in the wheels and usually a bit of background blur. If you go to a high shutter speed you stop all movement and you might as well take the photo in the car park.

The camera and lens software were updated. The camera and lens are going back to Olympus with copies of the photos and samples of the E500 shots. (Just to prove it is not my technique!) I will try to post a few samples but do not have time at the moment to cut down the file sizes. I will let you know how I get on with Olympus, they were quite good when the first SWD lens I got turned out to have a mark on the front element, it was changed without question.
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Old Jul 30, 2008, 5:26 PM   #6
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Well, if you've been photographing the British Grand Prix since '66 you've certainly seen a revolution in the types of vehicles used as well as the photographic equipment that capturesthese events.

I hope I didn't offend you with my simplisitc suggestions. When you do get a resolution form Olympus, it would be great if you could post it......Some photographs would also be much appreciated.

Good luck,

Zig
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Old Jul 30, 2008, 6:08 PM   #7
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Yes, back in the good old days I started with a Russian Zenit 35mm camera and a 300mm lens that I made an adaptor for. The only problem with the Zenit was that the mirror did not return after you took the shot so you just had to swing and pray that you did not hesitate as you pressed the shutter. With zone focus and about f8 I did not have any problems with out of focus shots. I wonder sometimes if we really are progressing. I recently took two 1966 slides of Jim Clark and John Surtees, scanned them and blew up about a third of theframeto 400mm x 600mm and printed them on canvas. Quality was really very good, I don't think I could have done that with the modern kit unless I used a digital back on my Rollei.
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Old Jul 30, 2008, 6:34 PM   #8
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Thanks for the update and some background info as well. From what I've read over the many months and from my own experience with the E3 I think there is still some AF issues that need resolving by Olympus either with the E3 or the SWD lenses. There's been quiet a few people reporting AF issues with the 14-35F2 esp in low light and thats pretty disconcerting considering that its supposed to be a low light lens and also its considerable cost. Oly need to identifiy whether there's an E3 issue - AF's etc or its a lens/SWD problem.

I'm going to mail Oly some of recent shots as well and see what they say. There is still a Flash WB issue thats not be resolved, and a few of the pics Im going to send hopefully will help them to fix the problem or tell me what Im doing wrong.

Harj

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Old Jul 31, 2008, 3:58 PM   #9
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I find the lens hunts and can miss focus moreif you have the AF target on 'Dynamic' as this gives to much scope for the lens to find a proper focus, especially with moving objects. And 350th to 400th second is not very fast to stop motionblur and get a sharp image, the wheels will still look like they are going around at much higher shutter speeds. You don't mention it, butdid youswitch IS off, or at least have it switched to IS-2 when using the camera on a monopod?

I wouldn't worry about 'radial movement', all lenses have it.



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Old Aug 14, 2008, 8:31 AM   #10
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The camera and lens have now gone back to Olympus for review/repair.

I was shooting with IS both on and off, it did not seem to make much of a difference to the quality. Looking at other camera sites it seems thatmost of themhave problems with autofocus one way or another. It would be better if manufacturers owned up to the limitations of their systems instead of waiting for customers to find out they have soft pics.

I will post the outcome when I get them back.
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