View Full Version : Problems with low light focus on Olympus E-510

Bill C
05-03-2008, 07:16 PM
I am a long time user of OM equipment and am looking to buy a DSLR. Obviously, since I already have OM equipment an Olympus digital is an attractive option and I have been looking at the E-510. However, I have read that it has problems with autofocusing in low light. I did experience this a little when I tried a 510 at a dealer. Anyone else have comments on this?

Don Kondra
05-03-2008, 07:50 PM
Uh, no.

This won't win any awards but I snapped a pic of Max sleeping, there was a 100w lamp in rice paper frame beside me and three 100w ceiling bulbs ten feet behind Max. NO flash....

Had to fool with the exposure to get this but the auto focus was quick if not accurate :)


It's a good thing to question what you read about the "short comings" of the Olympus system.

Because They ARE picking on us :D

Cheers, Don

05-03-2008, 10:07 PM
The low light focus issue applies to pretty much all cameras. I've tried Canon's and Sony's in the same lighting or object (low light, reflective surfaces...) and they also had difficulty.
The flash assist (illuminator) helps quite a bit, also your focus brackets are something you need to get used to. I use center frame most of the time. In the no win situations the camera is always set to S-AF+MF, to manual focus when needed.
Hope this helps, the E510 is a great camera. If you're using OM lenses (non-ED) you're using manual focus anyway.

05-04-2008, 07:04 AM
There's another factor to consider: low contrast. They tend to go hand in hand.

Sometimes is also helps to get the camera off axis to focus lock. Auto focus tends to work well on vertical lines better than horizontal. For example: Try focusing on a white window blind even in bright light in landscape orientation and you'll see what I mean. Take the camera a bit off axis and focus snaps in.

It's not limited to Olympus, I've seen other cameras hunt in low light and low contrast.

Bill C
05-04-2008, 07:18 AM
Thanks for those comments

Bill C
05-04-2008, 07:36 AM
Hey fotogmarc: how does the "flash assist (illuminator)"work. Is this just using normal flash or is it something else

05-04-2008, 09:07 AM
It uses the built in flash
Go to the menu, tools 1, af illuminat (on) (off)

Hope it works out

Bill C
05-04-2008, 10:57 AM
Thanks fotomarc. I don't have the 510 yet but will try that when I get it

05-04-2008, 04:47 PM
Many cameras have some sort of trickery for low light focusing. The E-510 strobes the pop up flash, some have a bright leds, like little flashlights, and sometimes just old tricks work. Find something about the same distance to focus lock on and swing on over to the subject. The depth of field is generous on the four thirds cameras so if you're off by a little bit the shot won't be a ruined.

Bill C
05-04-2008, 06:57 PM
Thanks Ken.

Anybody out there had experience using OM lenses on the 510. Does IS work? Are the OM lenses difficult to use? I know AF doesn't work. Also has anyone used a T-32 flash on a 510 and, if so, is a Wein required?

05-04-2008, 07:53 PM
Update the firmware on your camera, that will make IS work with the OM lenses. The newer firmware will also make the camera focus slightly faster, among other things.

05-05-2008, 07:56 PM
I answered this in your other post. To sum that answer up, yes, but with limitations and I personally wouldn't bother unless it was one heck of a piece of glass. I believe the T32 has to be adapted because of the higher trigger voltages.

05-08-2008, 09:43 PM
However, I have read that it has problems with autofocusing in low light. I did experience this a little when I tried a 510 at a dealer. Anyone else have comments on this?Every camera needs a fast lens to work in "low light", even my EOS "Robocameras".
"Fast" meaning at least an f/2 (any focal length) lens, preferably an f/1.4.

As has been noted, low contrast is one of the main culprits when your camera canot gain focus.

For low light focusing wiht my f/2.8 lenses, I use an "Element" brand 3-watt LED tactical flashlight (SAM'S) to aid my cameras.
There are other LED camera focusing aids out there, one my very lightweight "Coast" brand LED "lenser" and my "CameraBright" X1-ER+ LED light (B&H) that screws into the tripod socket.
With all of them, you turn the light "on" to focus, then "off" to shoot.
With the X1, you have your hands free.
Both low-watt lights are good out to about 15 feet, while the 3-watt tactical light is good out to 25 feet.