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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    Livin in a redneck paradise
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    My 18-180mm lens

    I have been having problems with the optical quality of my 18-180 lens, but I haven't definitely narrowed down the cause yet. It could be a large variety of strange circumstances, in which case I am not a big fan of the lens because it is so incredibly not useful, or I might have a lemon lens (I did get it second hand, albeit as a "factory demo" from a reputable dealer).

    My first thing is the extraordinary slow auto focusing, even in bright light. The slowest focus I ever had was a horizon at about 10:00 am with the 18-180. Updated the firmware on my camera helped, but it still hunts long and slowly for focus, and noisily, and the noise sounds much less refined than my other lenses.

    Second, the focus seems to be fairly inaccurate. It is like the lens suddenly decides "ok, good enough" and just stops and lets the camera take a picture, and I can't even find a single point in the frame that appears in focus, much less the subject. Granted, at times this might be caused by camera shake, I have notice a few of the pictures I thought were out of focus were actually taken at 1/50s at full telephoto zoom. I have to investigate this more, but even so I think a full 30% of my pictures will be genuinely out of focus.

    Third, the pictures seem flat, lack detail, lack contrast, the colors seem "off", etc. There seems to be a brown tone to many of my pictures, usually the same ones that are out of focus. The picture of the antelope, for example (in the 6,500 mile road trip thread), looks distinctly different to me from those taken with my 14-54mm lens, the one I posted here I went so far as to bump saturation, contrast, and improve sharpening and color balance, the only picture here I did that for to that extent, and it still looks wrong to me.

    All the problems above are exaggerated greatly by a polarizer, to the point I would call my 18-180 100% unusable with a polarizer. Also, the build quality seems poor and plasticky. Granted, the kit lenses are plasticky, so this is probably ordinary, but I still prefer the handling of both the 40-150 and 14-54 over the 18-180.

    Supposedly the 18-180 has the best quality of any super zoom and all that, so it is possible mine is bad. On the other hand, on occasions it nails focus and everything comes out perfect, which gives me hope it might be just a small problem with mine in particular.. I hope so, because that lens plus the 9-18mm are cornerstones of my plan for my camera, along with the 14-54. I only bought the kit lenses because I got both for $100.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    398
    I also just bought a used 18-180 off of ebay. Haven't really had much time to test it but AF seems fine both outside on a sunny day and inside during the afternoon, no flash.

    The only problem I have is if you hold the camera lens down, it will telegraph to it's zoom length, ie. the lens will extend. Doesn't seem to be a problem in normal use though???

    Here's three test shots....

    Full zoom facing south



    Early afternoon shooting north west



    Facing south, no lights on inside, no flash, bright sunny day but pretty dim inside



    Sorry I couldn't be more help...

    Cheers, Don
    Last edited by Don Kondra; 07-02-2008 at 09:49 PM. Reason: add directions
    Don Kondra - Furniture Designer/Maker
    Product Photography

    Olympus E-3 ~ E-30
    ZD 50 ~ 7-14 ~ 14-35 ~ 14-54 ~ 12-60 ~ 35-100 ~ 50-200 ~ EC 20
    Velbon tripod/ball head
    Slik tripod/Jobu Jr 2 Gimbal

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    398
    Quote Originally Posted by raven15 View Post
    My first thing is the extraordinary slow auto focusing, even in bright light. The slowest focus I ever had was a horizon at about 10:00 am with the 18-180. Updated the firmware on my camera helped, but it still hunts long and slowly for focus, and noisily, and the noise sounds much less refined than my other lenses.
    Did you do the half press shutter and focus 1/3 into the frame?

    Second, the focus seems to be fairly inaccurate. It is like the lens suddenly decides "ok, good enough" and just stops and lets the camera take a picture, and I can't even find a single point in the frame that appears in focus, much less the subject. Granted, at times this might be caused by camera shake, I have notice a few of the pictures I thought were out of focus were actually taken at 1/50s at full telephoto zoom. I have to investigate this more, but even so I think a full 30% of my pictures will be genuinely out of focus.
    Which focus setting are you using?

    Third, the pictures seem flat, lack detail, lack contrast, the colors seem "off", etc. There seems to be a brown tone to many of my pictures, usually the same ones that are out of focus. The picture of the antelope, for example (in the 6,500 mile road trip thread), looks distinctly different to me from those taken with my 14-54mm lens, the one I posted here I went so far as to bump saturation, contrast, and improve sharpening and color balance, the only picture here I did that for to that extent, and it still looks wrong to me.
    Raw or jpeg?

    FYI the above pictures are the first time I shot jpegs

    Cheers, Don
    Don Kondra - Furniture Designer/Maker
    Product Photography

    Olympus E-3 ~ E-30
    ZD 50 ~ 7-14 ~ 14-35 ~ 14-54 ~ 12-60 ~ 35-100 ~ 50-200 ~ EC 20
    Velbon tripod/ball head
    Slik tripod/Jobu Jr 2 Gimbal

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Derbyshire, UK
    Posts
    2,481
    Raven thanks for answering my question. Yes definately better to post in here you were right. Sorry to hear the lens issues hope you get them sorted out. You said when it works you were happy, care to post a good shot with that lens.
    Don can you post some more general shots with your lens too. It would be good to see how it compares with the kit lenses for general walkabout shots.
    Around every picture there's a corner & round every corner there's a picture
    - the fun's in finding them

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Livin in a redneck paradise
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    1,869
    I went through my more disappointing shots again (those I hadn't deleted), and there is a good chance I was just using too slow a shutter speed. The 18-180 is my "action" lens, and I am usually too excited about whatever I am taking a picture of to check my settings carefully when using it. It is made worse because I tend to use it at the long end, where there is less light available and shake is more pronounced. That is my fault, because I specifically bought a camera and long slow lens with no IS thinking "this will teach me to look at my settings and hold my camera right so I won't be all sloppy when I do get IS." I guess I am learning well... but I still can't completely be certain. I'll test it out more over the weekend.

    I don't remember which setting I was using during the long slow focus on the horizon, but I'm not sure it matters because it was a landscape shot, not like there was anything hard to find or track... I now use C AF+MF mode always (except a few excursions into MF when desperate). I either half or full press, depends on the circumstances. I shoot JPEG.

    I don't retract the slow and noisy autofocus comment regardless, and yes, my lens also slowly extends outward at times.

    It is also possible the polarizer was bad.

    Here is one shot that came out good, maybe it works OK after all. This was one of my very first shots with this lens, my "wildlife" practice shot when it first arrived. I have more but I'm going to bed.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    398
    Well, I hate to say it but I think you are expecting a little much from a camera without IS and handholding the shot with a relatively slow shutter speed.

    If you can, try using a tripod and see if that improves matters for you.

    And please, if you size your images to 700 x whatever it will fit the screen and we won't have to scroll to read your message

    Just to show the benefits of IS, this is the 70-300 at 300mm handheld with the E-510...



    Looking forward to seeing your next batch of test shots.

    Cheers, Don
    Don Kondra - Furniture Designer/Maker
    Product Photography

    Olympus E-3 ~ E-30
    ZD 50 ~ 7-14 ~ 14-35 ~ 14-54 ~ 12-60 ~ 35-100 ~ 50-200 ~ EC 20
    Velbon tripod/ball head
    Slik tripod/Jobu Jr 2 Gimbal

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Derbyshire, UK
    Posts
    2,481
    Raven looks just a bit soft to me rather than any hand shake. Looks like your shutter speed was fine for that focal length. Is that typical would you say for a good shot from the 18-180?
    Don what settings did you use for your shot the details were stripped off the image?
    How do you guys think the 70-300, 18-180 & 40-150 would all compare image wise at say 150mm?
    Around every picture there's a corner & round every corner there's a picture
    - the fun's in finding them

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    398
    1/350 F/8 ESP + AF Single AF ISO 100

    So far I would rate the IQ the way you have them listed, 70-300, 18-180 and then the 40-150.....

    Cheers, Don
    Don Kondra - Furniture Designer/Maker
    Product Photography

    Olympus E-3 ~ E-30
    ZD 50 ~ 7-14 ~ 14-35 ~ 14-54 ~ 12-60 ~ 35-100 ~ 50-200 ~ EC 20
    Velbon tripod/ball head
    Slik tripod/Jobu Jr 2 Gimbal

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Livin in a redneck paradise
    Posts
    1,869
    I usually keep in-camera sharpness at its lowest setting, that could be the reason for the softness. I might bump it up a notch. That picture looks fine to me, no blur. Though it may appear slightly brown.

    Don, in which order? Is the 70-300 best?

    I don't use the 40-150 much, but I do recall more vignetting on that lens. I thought it was better than the 18-180 otherwise, though less useful by far. But as I said, I haven't used it enough to really tell.

    Don, sorry about the picture size, it fits fine in my monitor. I'll keep things at 800x600 in the future. Though, in this case I did make it big on purpose to show more IQ. Yes, I was aware of the benefits of IS, my previous camera was a Canon A710IS, which could take steady shots at 1/4s (at least, no blur was noticeable within the constraints of the camera, it probably would have been with a 10mp dslr). It was a struggle to go back to no IS, but I convinced myself that the E-410's better 800 ISO would make it the A710's equal at least, with the 14-54.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    398
    Chipmunk resized, some brightness and contrast and +2 sharpen with FastStone Image Viewer.



    Hope you don't mind the editing???

    Cheers, Don
    Don Kondra - Furniture Designer/Maker
    Product Photography

    Olympus E-3 ~ E-30
    ZD 50 ~ 7-14 ~ 14-35 ~ 14-54 ~ 12-60 ~ 35-100 ~ 50-200 ~ EC 20
    Velbon tripod/ball head
    Slik tripod/Jobu Jr 2 Gimbal

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