Olympus SP500UZ erratic autofocus

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by Rob Ryder, Jun 18, 2006.

  1. Rob Ryder

    Rob Ryder Guest

    I hope someone can help me.
    I have an SP500UZ and I am experiencing erratic behaviour with
    autofocus. Most of the time it is OK, but than it seems very slow (1
    sec). Also the focus point seems to jump about all over the place
    (instead of 'frame centre').

    This is causing a real headache trying to take motor racing photos! I
    have lots of photos of an empty race circuit! I have tried various
    focus settings, but nothing seems to correct the problem...

    Any suggestions on the best camera settings for motor sport photos?
    P.S. I have tried manual focus, but I find it virtually unusable on
    the SP500UZ :-(
    Rob Ryder, Jun 18, 2006
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  2. Rob Ryder

    ASAAR Guest

    Focusing is easier for the camera when there's an abundance of
    light. Your racing photos are probably taken with the lens zoomed
    out to a long telephoto position, which on most P&S cameras will
    reduce the len's maximum aperture, in turn reducing the light
    received. It's also fairly hard for P&S cameras to focus on moving
    objects. DSLRs are much better able to do that. One thing you can
    do that could help is to anticipate where the race cars will be when
    you want to take the shot, and prefocus on that area (or another
    equidistant location), keeping the shutter half depressed until the
    cars arrive where you want to take their picture. If the camera
    doesn't appear to focus properly, you should have enough time to try
    it again several times before the cars finally arrive.
    ASAAR, Jun 18, 2006
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  3. Rob Ryder

    Ken Weitzel Guest

    Hi Rob...

    Don't have a 500; went for the 350 instead. Hindsight is wonderful,
    sure wish I'd spent the few more dollars for the 500. :(

    Anyway, "if" they're similar enough, I suspect what you're calling
    "erratic" focus is merely the camera being allowed to pick it's
    own choice of focus point (default) when it doesn't find
    anything to focus on in the target mark.

    Should this be the case, then it's easy enough for you to change
    the default. Menu > camera > AF mode. iESP allows the camera
    to choose for itself. Spot forces the camera to focus what's
    in the target mark.

    That explains the target jumping around, but doubt it will
    solve your problem - just isn't going to be fast enough. :(

    What might be worth a try is using manual focus, setting the
    focus on a point where you want to take a picture, ie right in
    front of you. If that's for instance 50 feet, then set it at
    manual 50 feet. Follow the cars around with your viewfinder
    and snap them only when they're right in front of you.

    Hope this helps.

    Take care.

    Ken Weitzel, Jun 18, 2006
  4. Rob Ryder

    Rob Ryder Guest

    Thanks for the tips guys... I'll try them at the next race meeting :)
    Rob Ryder, Jun 18, 2006
  5. Rob Ryder

    Malcolm Guest

    I hope someone can help me.
    I don't know the SP500UZ. Does it have manual focus and exposure lock? If
    so, use both for motor racing. This will reduce the shutter lag
    dramatically! And remember to pan. Then you should be OK.

    Malcolm, Jun 18, 2006
  6. Rob Ryder

    Rob Ryder Guest

    Thanks Malcolm
    The SP500 does have manual focus but is not the easiest in the world
    to use. I do not know if it is the resolution of the screen, but I
    find manually focussing the shot more like guesswork.
    Maybe I will get better with practice? I have only been using the
    camera for three weeks (and one race meeting).
    Rob Ryder, Jun 18, 2006
  7. Rob Ryder

    SteveB Guest

    Does the SP500 have the same manual focus trick as older UZ Oly's?
    Autofocus on something at the distance required (best in spot focus), then
    while still half-pressing the shutter, hold the OK button down and the
    camera will change to manual focus set accurately to the distance you want.
    You can then leave it in MF for a series of shots at that same distance.

    Use exposure memory lock as well as already stated and you'll have a fast
    SteveB, Jun 18, 2006
  8. Rob Ryder

    Ken Weitzel Guest

    Hi Steve...

    The sp-350 doesn't. (just tried it :)

    What it does have that previous cameras didn't is iESP focus.

    What that does is... if it can't find something to focus on
    inside the target, it just moves the target to where there is
    something it can focus on. Really, really suprising to see the
    target moving around all by itself :) Sometimes with weird
    results, too :)

    And iESP is the default, "spot" (the usual, what we expect) is
    a menu option.

    Take care.

    Ken Weitzel, Jun 18, 2006
  9. Rob Ryder

    Malcolm Guest

    I have an older Oly. (C750) For some thing like motor racing, I would use
    the distance scale in the view finder and set the focus to infinity. Works
    like a dream. I haven't any out of focus mnaual focus shots. Even for other
    subjects, I estimate the distance (say 2 metres) and set the focus to that.
    Works very well.

    Agreed, trying to focus on the screen just isn't useable.

    Malcolm, Jun 19, 2006
  10. Rob Ryder

    SteveB Guest

    The C750 has iESP and spot as well. iESP has the moving box same as yours.
    SteveB, Jun 19, 2006
  11. Rob Ryder

    Rob Ryder Guest

    Brilliant! I didn't know about autofocus lock.
    Thanks a million.

    Rob Ryder, Jun 20, 2006
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