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Thread: Real Low Light Difference?

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    Default Real Low Light Difference?

    Maybe this has been discussed, and if so, point me to it. Otherwise, what is the real-world low light focusing ability of the E-3, as compared to a E-510 or even E-1.

    I don't remember too many times when the E-1 wouldn't achieve AF in a low light situation (4 or 5, 60 watt light bulbs in a light colored wall living room). With the E-510 (14-54 lens attached) and the FL-50 set to bounce, it doesn't achieve AF sometimes. Seems like you need to grab the brightest spot and it better be bright.

    So I'm assuming the E-3 is better in this regard. But how much better? And does the new 12-60 help in this regard? And shouldn't the FL-50 be doing some magical infrared focus assisting?

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    Default Re: Real Low Light Difference?

    Yes, the FL-50 should do some magic focus assist but itīs not infrared, I think that if you have the focus assist off i.e. the built in irritating flashing then the FL-50īs less irritating red focus assist light is also turned of.
    /Kristofer

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    Default Re: Real Low Light Difference?

    Yes, at least on my E-3, focus assist on the camera needs to be on for it to work on the FL-50. I usually have it turned off because I find the camera's flash-based focus-assist very irritating (I miss the E-1's dedicated focus-assist lamp!).

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    Default Re: Real Low Light Difference?

    The E-510's AF functioning range is EV0-EV19 (P. 125 of the manual.)
    The E-1's AF functioning range is EV1-EV20 (P. 173 of the manual) and less with spot metering.

    The E-3's AF functioning range is EV-2 - EV19 (P. 142 of the manual.)

    In practice, this means that if you have enough light to see a subject through the E-3's optical viewfinder the camera can focus on it without any focus assistance lighting. The AF fails only when the subject illumination level is somewere way below candlelighting. That's a LOT better low light focusing capability than any previous Olympus 4/3 camera.

    The 12-60mm zoom provides no special assistance to the E-3 in terms of low light focusing. In fact, low light focusing with the 12-60mm on the E-3 is identical to focusing with the 14-54mm at shorter focal lengths as they are both f2.8 lenses at the wide end. The assistance that the 12-60 does bring to the the E-3 is that it has a faster focusing motor than the 14-54mm lens. While that does help marginally in terms of focusing speed, it does nothing to help in terms of low light focusing capability.

    The FL-50/36 are capable of providing infrared focusing assistance to the E-3 (and also earlier 4/3 cameras) if you desire. I have it turned off for my E-3 because it's not needed since the E-3 is so good at low light level focusing and it just drains the flash batteries.

    Occasionally, you may hear the E-3 criticized in terms of low light focusing capability when compared to Canon or Nikon competitors. The criticism is justified in terms of focusing speed, as the E-3 focuses slightly slower at low light levels, but it is still quite fast and very accurate.
    Good shooting,
    English Bob

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    Default Re: Real Low Light Difference?

    Thanks for the info. Based on the EV numbers, the E-510 should do better in low-light than the E-1, but that isn't what I have experienced. Interesting to know the E-3 is just two EV different than the E-510, but I guess them is important numbers...

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    Default Re: Real Low Light Difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by E B View Post
    The FL-50/36 are capable of providing infrared focusing assistance to the E-3 (and also earlier 4/3 cameras) if you desire. I have it turned off for my E-3 because it's not needed since the E-3 is so good at low light level focusing and it just drains the flash batteries.
    I don't believe it's infrared, it's just red visible light - if it was IR you wouldn't be able to see the AF assist but clearly you can see the three spots it projects.

    John
    Olympus E-1, Olympus E-500, Olympus E-330, Olympus DMC-L1, Olympus E-510, Olympus E-3, 7-14mm,12-60mm, 14-42mm, 14-45mm, 14-50mm(Leica), 14-54MM, Sigma 30mm, 35-100mm, 40-150mm(Mk1), 50mm (macro), 50-200mm, 'Bigma' 50-500mm, EC-14, EC-20, FL-36, FL-50, HLD-4, Lowepro Rezo 140AW, Slingshot 100AW

    Panasonic GF1, GH1, 7-14mm, 14-140mm, 20mm F1.7, DMW-MA1 Nikon D700, 24-70mm F2.8, 50mm F1.4G, 70-200mm F2.8, Fuji F72EXR, Casio EX-FH100


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    Default Re: Real Low Light Difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by sven View Post
    Yes, at least on my E-3, focus assist on the camera needs to be on for it to work on the FL-50. I usually have it turned off because I find the camera's flash-based focus-assist very irritating (I miss the E-1's dedicated focus-assist lamp!).
    Leave the AF Assist option on, but turn off the option that allows the camera to pop up the builtin flash without your permission. Then it won't do the strobe thing unless you have it popped up because you want to use it -- which should be a rare enough occasion
    E-620, E-410
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    Default Re: Real Low Light Difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnmcl7 View Post
    I don't believe it's infrared, it's just red visible light - if it was IR you wouldn't be able to see the AF assist but clearly you can see the three spots it projects.
    Yet the resultant focus performance seems much better than it should for the relatively dim spots the flash projects. We know from experience with R72 and deeper IR filters that there is no hot mirror in front of the AF sensor, so perhaps the flash is using a deep red around 700nm. High enough that human vision is already tailing off in brightness perception, but right around the peak sensitivity for silicon imagers. There could also be a substantial IR component, unseen even in dark conditions, though on most lenses this would actually cause some focusing error due to CA.

    From: http://www.kellerstudio.de/repairfaq/sam/laserioi.htm


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    Default Re: Real Low Light Difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by acme View Post
    Yet the resultant focus performance seems much better than it should for the relatively dim spots the flash projects.
    They're not that dim on either my FL-36/FL-50 and I can achieve similar focussing performance using a small LED light so I don't think it's better than it should be. All the light needs to do is provide some contrast on a dark subject which is exactly what the flash assist on the FL flashes do.

    John

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    Default Re: Real Low Light Difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnmcl7 View Post
    They're not that dim on either my FL-36/FL-50 and I can achieve similar focussing performance using a small LED light so I don't think it's better than it should be. All the light needs to do is provide some contrast on a dark subject which is exactly what the flash assist on the FL flashes do.
    It could be tested pretty easily, by someone with two bodies. Aim the spot from a 650nm LED (known spectrum) to the same general area as the assist lamp from the flash, tune it to be roughly the same apparent intensity, and take a picture of both spots with a second camera with an R72 filter on it. If the 650nm spot dropped out while the flash lamp stayed bright, or if they both stayed about the same, there would be the proof.

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    Default Re: Real Low Light Difference?

    Question is though............. how low can the camera's exposure meter go before it becomes nonoperational? My E-300 continually hunts in low light, so as an experiment I dug out a laser pointer to use as an AF assist light. It snapped into focus, but the resulting photo was too dark to see anything as the meter had refused to work at that light level.

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