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Thread: Focusing Speed with E-P1 with new Firmware or GH1 versus a M8 or M9

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    Senior Member JMaher's Avatar
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    Focusing Speed with E-P1 with new Firmware or GH1 versus a M8 or M9

    With all this talk about speed increases and detailed analysis of the m4/3 cameras with new software (thanks Terry). I wonder if any of you “cross” camera users can comment on the relative focusing speed of an m4/3 such as the Pen versus manually focusing a new Leica?

    I haven’t used a rangefinder for many years (a Contax T) but my memory seems to say that the E-P1 shooting experience is reminiscent of using a rangefinder. Both are perhaps a little more deliberate than a Nikon D700 but not an issue except perhaps in sports and moving children pictures.

    While part of this is idle curiosity I am also considering purchasing a used M8 as I expect to see (or hope to see) sub-$2000 prices at some recent time. In the interim I really am having fun with the E-P1.

    Jim

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    Ranger 9
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    Re: Focusing Speed with E-P1 with new Firmware or GH1 versus a M8 or M9

    Quote Originally Posted by JMaher View Post
    I wonder if any of you “cross” camera users can comment on the relative focusing speed of an m4/3 such as the Pen versus manually focusing a new Leica?
    I'm a very cross camera user at the moment, as a result of reading all this M9 salivation when I can't afford one myself. But I do use an Epson R-D 1 and a Panasonic G1 a lot, so I've got some basis to consider this.

    I'm not sure it makes sense to compare them, though, because they're completely different processes. Contrast-detect autofocus in a µ4/3 camera is much faster than manual focus IF it has a good, high-contrast target.

    If it doesn't have a good target, it often won't focus at all, in which case you have to fall back to manual focusing via the magnified finder image (accurate but slow.) Same thing if it wants to lock in on a target other than the one you want -- you either have to intervene and select a different focus zone, which takes time, or focus manually.

    In these cases I feel manual focusing with an RF camera is significantly faster, particularly since you get to decide how close is close enough in terms of focus accuracy. If you're using a "forgiving" lens at moderate distances, you can slop into a usable focus setting very quickly (or preset the lens via the footage and DOF scales and not even bother focusing each shot thereafter.)

    In situations requiring very critical focusing, I think they're about equal. With the µ4/3 camera you'll have to magnify the manual-focus image and saw the focus ring back and forth until you've dialed in the exact setting you want. With the RF camera you'll need to find the most "focusable" area of the subject and look very closely at the RF patch (possibly using an eyepiece magnifier) until you're confident you've got the best alignment.

    With practice you can learn to use manual RF focus with fast-moving kids, sports, etc., via such techniques as pre-focusing on an area where you expect the action to happen. I often find this isn't actually any slower than using an AF camera, since you have to ride herd constantly on the AF to make sure it isn't focusing on the wrong thing, and intervene if it is.

    Summary of my take:

    -- In easy-to-focus situations, AF with µ4/3 camera is faster.

    -- In borderline situations, RF focusing is faster.

    -- In critical, hard-to-focus situations, they're about equal.

    So, if you spend most of your time in easy-to-focus situations with clear subjects, you should choose the AF camera. If you spend most of your time in borderline situations with subjects that confuse AF, you should choose the RF camera.

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    Senior Member JMaher's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing Speed with E-P1 with new Firmware or GH1 versus a M8 or M9

    Ranger 9,

    Thanks for the detailed reply. It gives me something to think about - it seems many of my shots are in difficult situations (here a D700 would be good if I was willing to carry it). On the other hand probably most of my shooting is in good light and I just dwell on the ones that aren't when I see the results.

    Jim

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    Senior Member pellicle's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing Speed with E-P1 with new Firmware or GH1 versus a M8 or M9

    Now I'll out myself here as having grown up using a optical match image system rangefinder on my first 35mm cameras (from about age 12 through to my first SLR when I was about 18

    I was developing my own black and white at (under supervision) from asbout then too (12)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger 9 View Post
    If it doesn't have a good target, it often won't focus at all, in which case you have to fall back to manual focusing via the magnified finder image (accurate but slow.)...
    With practice you can learn to use manual RF focus with fast-moving kids, sports, etc., via such techniques as pre-focusing on an area where you
    certainly with normal and wide lenses this is completely the best way to do things ... I love the system. It breaks down with telephoto though and stuff like this is then "back screen only"



    taken at a conference last week on a G1 with a FD 300mm quite a ways back, hand held.

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    Senior Member pellicle's Avatar
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    Re: Focusing Speed with E-P1 with new Firmware or GH1 versus a M8 or M9

    Oh

    and for some sort of "reference" I've had EOS 630 film cameras since they came out, use various other EOS film cameras (1n and 7) and owned 10D and 20D cameras. Using the cameras on One Shot AF with lenses like USM 28-105 I can't really feel much difference to the G1 with the 14-45 lens.

    I genuinely think that the real test will be using the 200mm lens and AF-C

    however if I was regularly doing sports then I would not be using the G1 anyway as its not fast enough in frame rate.

    It stuns me that there is nothing out there from Canon yet that is like the pellicle mirror cameras such as the 1RS or EOS RT. Given how good the sensors are these days I'd have thought that something like that giving
    * 0 problems to the AF system (no flapping mirror)
    * the potential to put the IR filter in the back of the pellicle mirror
    * keeping dust off the sensor
    * 0 problems with viewfinder blackout

    would be a killer sports camera ... perhaps the "kids" who are extreme sports photographers just don't know whats already been to have a clue what to demand from the makers

    perhaps the camera makers have retired from Canon and left only suits behind

    dunno

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