Fast-focusing/firing digicam?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Joe B., Jul 31, 2004.

  1. Joe B.

    Joe B. Guest

    Using my Powershot S50 for street photography I found I was missing a lot of
    shots because the shutter/focusing lag allowed subjects to move- a lot-
    before the picture was taken. I'm told this is standard stuff for digital
    conpacts. But I wonder- is there any small digital camera comparable to the
    S50 that has fast response times? And as an afterthought- would the G5 be any
    better in this respect? Any other makers making anything faster-reacting an a
    pocketable or near-pcoketable size?

    --
    Joe B. (remove composer for email)
    Joe B., Jul 31, 2004
    #1
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  2. "Joe B." <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Using my Powershot S50 for street photography I found I was missing a lot

    of
    > shots because the shutter/focusing lag allowed subjects to move- a lot-
    > before the picture was taken. I'm told this is standard stuff for digital
    > conpacts. But I wonder- is there any small digital camera comparable to

    the
    > S50 that has fast response times? And as an afterthought- would the G5 be

    any
    > better in this respect? Any other makers making anything faster-reacting

    an a
    > pocketable or near-pcoketable size?


    No. Not that I have found. I have ended up putting a 45mm Tessar pancake
    on my E-1, to just make the darn thing fit in a pouch, for the same use.
    Robert Meyers, Jul 31, 2004
    #2
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  3. << I found I was missing a lot of
    shots because the shutter/focusing lag allowed subjects to move- a lot-
    before the picture was taken. >>

    Joe-

    I tried many small digital cameras at a couple of stores. All seem to have the
    problem to some extent.

    The fastest of those I tried, was the Pentax Optio S4i. I bought it, and now
    find that it may have some lens flare. I wish I had read the test reports
    first.

    One other thing I didn't expect, was that the LCD screen freezes for an instant
    while focusing takes place. Consequently, what you see on the screen is a
    slightly older view of the scene than when exposure takes place. This is a
    major pain when you are following a moving subject!

    Lets say the camera you have is typical. You may find one that is a little
    better, but not much. Either way, you can minimize the effects of the delay by
    pre-focusing.

    To do this, you need to practice it on every shot so it becomes second nature.
    You press the button part way down, wait for an indication that focusing has
    been done, wait for the right moment to take the picture and then press the
    button the rest of the way down. At that point the shutter should fire almost
    instantly.

    Another practice that may help, is to use the optical finder with the LCD
    screen turned off. On some cameras, that slightly reduces the time required to
    focus. It certainly eliminates the bother of a freezing LCD screen.

    Fred
    Fred McKenzie, Jul 31, 2004
    #3
  4. Joe B.

    Joe B. Guest

    On Sat, 31 Jul 2004 18:32:12 +0100, Fred McKenzie wrote
    (in message <>):

    > << I found I was missing a lot of
    > shots because the shutter/focusing lag allowed subjects to move- a lot-
    > before the picture was taken. >>
    >
    > Joe-
    >
    > I tried many small digital cameras at a couple of stores. All seem to have
    > the
    > problem to some extent.


    As I feared.... Someone will produce a fast-focusing digital compact sometime
    though. It has to happen.

    > The fastest of those I tried, was the Pentax Optio S4i. I bought it, and now
    > find that it may have some lens flare. I wish I had read the test reports
    > first.
    >
    > One other thing I didn't expect, was that the LCD screen freezes for an
    > instant
    > while focusing takes place. Consequently, what you see on the screen is a
    > slightly older view of the scene than when exposure takes place. This is a
    > major pain when you are following a moving subject!
    >
    > Lets say the camera you have is typical. You may find one that is a little
    > better, but not much. Either way, you can minimize the effects of the delay
    > by
    > pre-focusing.
    >
    > To do this, you need to practice it on every shot so it becomes second
    > nature.
    > You press the button part way down, wait for an indication that focusing has
    > been done, wait for the right moment to take the picture and then press the
    > button the rest of the way down. At that point the shutter should fire
    > almost
    > instantly.


    Good suggestion! But, I already use pre-focusing all the time, pretty much,
    where applicable. It is my default method when using AF cameras. The problem
    is that for many moving subjects it isn't possible to pre-focus, since by the
    time it is locked in they have moved and that setting is now incorrect. So
    I'm really looking for faster focusing. And when it arrives, i think I will
    really appreciate it.

    > Another practice that may help, is to use the optical finder with the LCD
    > screen turned off. On some cameras, that slightly reduces the time required
    > to
    > focus. It certainly eliminates the bother of a freezing LCD screen.
    >
    > Fred


    Another good suggestion. I do that already too.

    Thanks anyway though! I might take a look at that Pentax Optio- flare-prone
    or not, if it is appreciably faster it might be handy to have one anyway.


    --
    Joe B. (remove composer for email)
    Joe B., Jul 31, 2004
    #4
  5. I am sure quite a few posters will be along with their "independent"
    suggestions

    Arts

    "Joe B." <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Using my Powershot S50 for street photography I found I was missing a lot

    of
    > shots because the shutter/focusing lag allowed subjects to move- a lot-
    > before the picture was taken. I'm told this is standard stuff for digital
    > conpacts. But I wonder- is there any small digital camera comparable to

    the
    > S50 that has fast response times? And as an afterthought- would the G5 be

    any
    > better in this respect? Any other makers making anything faster-reacting

    an a
    > pocketable or near-pcoketable size?
    >
    > --
    > Joe B. (remove composer for email)
    >
    Arty Phacting, Jul 31, 2004
    #5
  6. Joe B.

    Joe B. Guest

    On Sat, 31 Jul 2004 18:19:12 +0100, Robert Meyers wrote
    (in message <>):

    > Any other makers making anything faster-reacting
    > an a
    >> pocketable or near-pcoketable size?

    >
    > No. Not that I have found. I have ended up putting a 45mm Tessar pancake
    > on my E-1, to just make the darn thing fit in a pouch, for the same use.


    I'd even consider doing this with my 300D... I'd consider it but I've found
    through experimentation that manually focusing manual focus lenses on the
    300D doesn't work too well in the situations where I've tried it- I got an
    amazing number of out-of-focus shots when I used an M42 85/2 which I would
    have thought would give a reasonably usable viewfinder indication of focus.
    Not so in practice! The 300D wasn't optimised for manual focus. Would you the
    E-1 is good for manual focusing? If so, I'd be interested to know that.

    --
    Joe B. (remove composer for email)
    Joe B., Jul 31, 2004
    #6
  7. "Joe B." <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > On Sat, 31 Jul 2004 18:19:12 +0100, Robert Meyers wrote
    > (in message <>):
    >
    > > Any other makers making anything faster-reacting
    > > an a
    > >> pocketable or near-pcoketable size?

    > >
    > > No. Not that I have found. I have ended up putting a 45mm Tessar

    pancake
    > > on my E-1, to just make the darn thing fit in a pouch, for the same use.

    >
    > I'd even consider doing this with my 300D... I'd consider it but I've

    found
    > through experimentation that manually focusing manual focus lenses on the
    > 300D doesn't work too well in the situations where I've tried it- I got an
    > amazing number of out-of-focus shots when I used an M42 85/2 which I would
    > have thought would give a reasonably usable viewfinder indication of

    focus.
    > Not so in practice! The 300D wasn't optimised for manual focus. Would you

    the
    > E-1 is good for manual focusing? If so, I'd be interested to know that.


    Well, I have only been using the Tesser (45/2.8) and the S-Planner (60/2.8)
    for two days and am at abou .2% -.4% OOF... about comparable to any AF
    system I have used (note the decimal). I would suggest zone focusing or,
    focus till it looks sharp and then change the f-stop one stop smaller. I do
    both. I did a shoot yesterday with 945 shots on my E-1, at least 80% with
    those two lenses. The metering was spot on, and Auto WB close, but not
    perfect (will use cust next time, but they were raw, so who cares).

    If you want some examples, email me. On the otherhand, if you buy a Oly
    E-1, they give you a free Four Thirds Adapter for OM lenses in some markets.

    Rob.
    Robert Meyers, Jul 31, 2004
    #7
  8. Joe B.

    Alan D Guest

    Try holding down the shutter button halfway to get things focused and the
    other automatic settings squared away. Then pan and recompose your shot
    still holding down the shutter button halfway. Then when ready, press it
    all the way. If you are already doing that, then there is not much else
    that can be done for these point and shoot cameras. Otherwise, it may help
    quite a bit. I used that technique for my Kodak DC240.

    Alan D.


    "Joe B." <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Using my Powershot S50 for street photography I found I was missing a lot

    of
    > shots because the shutter/focusing lag allowed subjects to move- a lot-
    > before the picture was taken. I'm told this is standard stuff for digital
    > conpacts. But I wonder- is there any small digital camera comparable to

    the
    > S50 that has fast response times? And as an afterthought- would the G5 be

    any
    > better in this respect? Any other makers making anything faster-reacting

    an a
    > pocketable or near-pcoketable size?
    >
    > --
    > Joe B. (remove composer for email)
    >
    Alan D, Jul 31, 2004
    #8
  9. In article <>,
    Joe B. <> wrote:

    > Using my Powershot S50 for street photography I found I was missing a lot of
    > shots because the shutter/focusing lag allowed subjects to move- a lot-
    > before the picture was taken. I'm told this is standard stuff for digital
    > conpacts. But I wonder- is there any small digital camera comparable to the
    > S50 that has fast response times? And as an afterthought- would the G5 be any
    > better in this respect? Any other makers making anything faster-reacting an a
    > pocketable or near-pcoketable size?


    Your problem is that small cameras detect focus by rapidly taking many
    pictures while sweeping the focus range. It's a slow process,
    especially when light is low or objects are moving.

    DSLR cameras use a dedicated focusing mechanism that instantly
    calculates the focusing error. The lens can move to the correct focus
    without sweeping.

    I'd love to see am instant focusing compact but it doesn't seem to be a
    priority with manufacturers. Too bad the compacts can't slide a
    focusing prism over the CCD.
    Kevin McMurtrie, Jul 31, 2004
    #9
  10. << I'd love to see am instant focusing compact but it doesn't seem to be a
    priority with manufacturers. >>

    Kevin, Joe et al-

    I believe that one voice the manufacturers listen to, is Consumers
    Union/Consumers Reports. I've read many negative comments about their reports
    here in this news group, but you have to admit that a very large number of
    people read and believe them.

    Unfortunately their digital camera test reports don't give much weight to the
    delay that bothers us. They seem to be more concerned with the time it takes
    to be ready to take a picture when you turn the power on, or the time it takes
    the flash to recycle between shots. Maybe they don't grasp the importance of
    this problem.

    They seem to publish about two reports a year, trying to keep up with the
    latest models. I wonder if enough of us wrote them to complain about that
    aspect of their test reports, they would pay more attention to focus delay?

    Consumer Reports may be the only lever we have to accelerate the development of
    faster focusing systems. Other magazines that publish information about
    digital cameras, derive their income from advertisers. I doubt they would
    publish anything that might offend someone. (Anyone remember Modern
    Photography?)

    Fred
    Fred McKenzie, Aug 1, 2004
    #10
  11. Joe B.

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Fred McKenzie wrote:

    > << I'd love to see am instant focusing compact but it doesn't seem to be a
    > priority with manufacturers. >>
    >
    > Kevin, Joe et al-
    >
    > I believe that one voice the manufacturers listen to, is Consumers
    > Union/Consumers Reports. I've read many negative comments about their reports
    > here in this news group, but you have to admit that a very large number of
    > people read and believe them.
    >
    > Unfortunately their digital camera test reports don't give much weight to the
    > delay that bothers us. They seem to be more concerned with the time it takes
    > to be ready to take a picture when you turn the power on, or the time it takes
    > the flash to recycle between shots. Maybe they don't grasp the importance of
    > this problem.
    >
    > They seem to publish about two reports a year, trying to keep up with the
    > latest models. I wonder if enough of us wrote them to complain about that
    > aspect of their test reports, they would pay more attention to focus delay?
    >
    > Consumer Reports may be the only lever we have to accelerate the development of
    > faster focusing systems. Other magazines that publish information about
    > digital cameras, derive their income from advertisers. I doubt they would
    > publish anything that might offend someone. (Anyone remember Modern
    > Photography?)
    >
    > Fred
    >


    In the past two years, the speed of focus, and 'shutter delay' (which
    encompasses focus and aperture setting, and 'electronic housekeeping')
    has been greatly reduced. Total time for some of the more expensive
    cameras is under 1 second. Perhaps, if you want something faster, a
    good fixed focus fixed aperture film camera would be more to your liking.
    Ron Hunter, Aug 1, 2004
    #11
  12. Joe B.

    Steve B Guest

    Or just get an Olympus with a 'My Mode' control. Set everything up for
    wide-angle, hyperfocal distance (there's websites to help calculate this), f4
    and save it as a 'My Mode'. Everything is pretty quick then, and it behaves
    somewhat like a fixed focus film camera.

    >
    > In the past two years, the speed of focus, and 'shutter delay' (which
    > encompasses focus and aperture setting, and 'electronic housekeeping')
    > has been greatly reduced. Total time for some of the more expensive
    > cameras is under 1 second. Perhaps, if you want something faster, a
    > good fixed focus fixed aperture film camera would be more to your liking.
    Steve B, Aug 1, 2004
    #12
  13. "Steve B" <sbrads@nildramDOTcoDOTuk> writes:
    > Or just get an Olympus with a 'My Mode' control. Set everything up
    > for wide-angle, hyperfocal distance (there's websites to help
    > calculate this), f4 and save it as a 'My Mode'. Everything is
    > pretty quick then, and it behaves somewhat like a fixed focus film
    > camera.


    No need to buy a new camera.

    The S50 has a "Custom" setting on its mode dial, but more important:
    There is no need for it just to shoot at hyperfocal distance!

    I believe that on the Canon S50 (and on almost any compact), setting
    the scene mode dial to "Mountain" will automatically set the camera
    to use the hyperfocal distance and as small an aperture as the ambient
    light will allow.

    The small sensor (1/1.8") on a S50 gives incredible DOF, so for street
    shooting, this works great. For instance, on a Powershot S50 at the
    WA end (7.1 mm) f/4, the hyperfocal distance is 2.5 meters and
    everything from 1.25 meters to infinity will appear to be in focus.
    --
    - gisle hannemyr [ gisle{at}hannemyr.no - http://folk.uio.no/gisle/ ]
    ========================================================================
    «To live outside the law, you must be honest.» (Bob Dylan)
    Gisle Hannemyr, Aug 1, 2004
    #13
  14. Joe B.

    Joe B. Guest

    On Sun, 1 Aug 2004 16:40:15 +0100, Gisle Hannemyr wrote
    (in message <>):

    > "Steve B" <sbrads@nildramDOTcoDOTuk> writes:
    >> Or just get an Olympus with a 'My Mode' control. Set everything up
    >> for wide-angle, hyperfocal distance (there's websites to help
    >> calculate this), f4 and save it as a 'My Mode'. Everything is
    >> pretty quick then, and it behaves somewhat like a fixed focus film
    >> camera.

    >
    > No need to buy a new camera.
    >
    > The S50 has a "Custom" setting on its mode dial, but more important:
    > There is no need for it just to shoot at hyperfocal distance!
    >
    > I believe that on the Canon S50 (and on almost any compact), setting
    > the scene mode dial to "Mountain" will automatically set the camera
    > to use the hyperfocal distance and as small an aperture as the ambient
    > light will allow.
    >
    > The small sensor (1/1.8") on a S50 gives incredible DOF, so for street
    > shooting, this works great. For instance, on a Powershot S50 at the
    > WA end (7.1 mm) f/4, the hyperfocal distance is 2.5 meters and
    > everything from 1.25 meters to infinity will appear to be in focus.


    This sounds good but the (mountain) mode won't allow RAW files.

    The best solution for the S50 that I cancome up with at the moment is to
    leave the camera on P or A as I would normally, use manual focus, set it at
    whatever fits the scene or guess at hyperfocal distance. Then when framing I
    need to make first pressure on the shutter release so that the camera then
    has the exposure worked out and doesn't have to wait to process that bit of
    arithmetic before firing, and put final pressure on the shutter release whan
    I want to take the picture. That seems to speed the shutter firing up
    noticeably. Of course this slows ME down a bit, but we can't have everythng I
    suppose.
    --
    Joe B. (remove composer for email)
    Joe B., Aug 1, 2004
    #14
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