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Olympus Cameras Forum Discuss Olympus film and digital cameras as well as Panasonic and Leica Four Thirds System digital SLRs - forum moderator is Greg McCary.
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  1. #1
    Member erikzen's Avatar
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    Advice on E510 needed

    I'm looking to buy my first digital slr and am strongly considering the E510. The only gripe I can find that people have with it that would bother me is problems with auto focus in low light. Has anyone experienced this and if so how much of a problem is it? I would think that you could just manually focus the shot.

    This is kind of important to me because my first major use of the camera is going to be at a party held at an aquarium where lighting will be low.

  2. #2
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    Re: Advice on E510 needed

    i just focused very quickly on my dog's head lit only by my computer monitor from about 6' away. this was with the 14-42 kit lens. all you have to do is be able to see something with any contrast so that the camera can focus on it. i dont think that the problem is any different with any other camera. also, you have the af assist with the flash up where it will light the area first so that it can focus.

  3. #3
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    Re: Advice on E510 needed

    Hi Erik, welcome to the forum... it has been really helpful to me and I hope it will be for you, too. You will probably get a lot of help on this subject.
    I've owned the 510 since before Christmas (Yes, there is a Santa!), with both kit lenses and my experience is that it has to be awfully dark before you can't auto focus.
    Even then if you select one AF sensor (I use the centre sensor almost exclusively), you can usually find something to focus on. My favourite target is the eye because it's most reflective on most faces, unless heavily shaded, and if the eye is in focus the face will look sharp. Next best is a cheek bone.
    Hone your trigger finger reflex and be ready; when trying to focus on something difficult, the focus will jump around a lot. That's a problem, of course, but the lenses and the AF are so quick they will usually lock on at some point. Be ready, and be quick, and you'll be pleasantly surprised a lot of the time. If not, well there's always delete.
    I'm not really fond of the flash-based focus assist; it doesn't seem to be that consistent and it's pretty intrusive unless the party is really happening.
    One trick is to use your 14 to 42 lens more than the longer lens, get close and don't use it at the longest end; lens aperture is vital to AF, it's all about light getting to the sensor.
    Would also suggest practice with the manual focus before it counts. Try to duplicate the lighting conditions and levels and locate moving targets... our cat has become my target of opportunity. If I can make her nervous enough she will pace at a slow walk for people.
    Then I shoot a bunch of photos at medium resolution jpeg settings and upload them to the laptop for the acid test. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
    Now, it's off the topic of focusing, but while practicing with your focus, use the opportunity to experiment with flash modes. The most obvious mode to try is fill flash; that offers the excellent exposure meter in this camera a chance to help out. It can produce some really natural but super clear photos with less flash shadow than normal.
    For even more natural views, albeit with some penalties (if you want to call them that… I like a bit of motion blur. It ads some dynamics that borders on video effects when everything works right!), try your slow synch. When everything comes together, you basically have a photo taken by ambient light with the flash providing some key highlights for a nice bright look that is exceptionally natural and pleasant.
    Depending on what you need the photos for, don't be afraid to go to ISO 400 or 800, to provide shutter speeds of no more than 1/4 second. Speeds of 1/18 to 1/15 are safer and 1/30 second will eliminate blur with most people chatting and standing around. The slower shutter speeds will provide some blur if people nod or turn their head or wave or step quickly. If you have to key on a particular person study him or her while shooting a few photos and look for when there is no motion or very little. Again quick reflexes are a saving grace.
    This is where the beauty of IS comes in; like with video, a good image begins with a still, or stabilized, camera. No matter how interesting your subject is you will have only abstract art if the movement isn't against a stable background. IS will hold the background solid down to some truly dangerous shutter speeds. But that can provide some absolutely amazing people photos if you give it a chance.
    One final "However"… photojournalists live and die by one cardinal rule: it's OK to play, but first make sure you have one good, solid photo in the can. It might not be the most exciting or dramatic but it will have the subject in focus, well exposed and fill the hole your editor has. Once you're safe you can experiment, but not before. As one dear editor once told me, "We don't publish our mistakes or anything that looks like a mistake."
    Trust your 510 and it will pleasantly surprise you, time after time!
    Equipment
    E510 Body
    14-42 mm, F/3.5-5.6 ZD ED
    40-150 mm, F/4.0-5.6 ZD ED
    No Name OM adapter
    OwnerUser Battery Grip

    Take the picture!
    Enjoy the beauties, learn all you can from the rejects…

  4. #4
    Senior Shooter Greg McCary's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on E510 needed

    It is no worse than any other camera I have ever owned. The 510 has three focusing points but the E3 has 11. I agree you will be suprised. It has to be fairly dark. It is as much to do with the lens as the camera. If you upgrade to the 14-54mm focusing is much easier in low light and faster to.The bigger diameter the lens the more light gets in and the camera performs better. The kit lens is 58mm and the 14-54 67mm. So naturaly it will focus quicker. The 510 is a very good deal right now. Plus it is a very durable camera. Built very tough. It's one reason I choice Olympus. Their cameras seem durable. You might consider 510 (body only) and then get the 14-54mm and then pick up the 40-150mm later. That's what I would do. There is a rebate on the 14-54mm through July as well.
    I am like Barney Fife, I have a gun but Andy makes me keep the bullet in my pocket..

    Sony a99/a7R

  5. #5
    Member Atomic2's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on E510 needed

    focuses way better than my friend's rebel
    E-3, E-510
    12-60 2.8-4.0
    40-150 3.5-4.5
    Sigma 30 1.4
    Zenit 58 F2 [with M42 adapter]
    Metz 48

  6. #6
    Color me obvious dumpy's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on E510 needed

    The 510 is also my first DLSR, itś a great camera at a great price. I havent experienced the AF problem yet, but one word of caution in low light situations. This camera does get very noisy at iso 1600 and even at 800. I try to never go over 400. I would recommend using the flash or maybe purchasing an FL-36 external flash unit ($200), but in an aquarium flash may present itś own set of problems.
    No matter what route you take gear wise, i would suggest being very familiar with your gear prior to this event. It will probably take some creative maneuvering to properly shoot this event and fiddleing with your gear and settings is the last thing you will want to be doing.

    Good luck

  7. #7
    Senior Shooter Greg McCary's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on E510 needed

    You could always wait on the 520. Due out in August. It is suppose to be a better camera all the way around. Lower noise too. Steet price of $699.99 (body only)
    I am like Barney Fife, I have a gun but Andy makes me keep the bullet in my pocket..

    Sony a99/a7R

  8. #8
    Member erikzen's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on E510 needed

    Thanks for all the replies. I hadn't actually purchased the camera at the time of the original post but based on your answers and some more info I gathered on the net, after holding the camera in my hands yesterday, I decided to take the plunge. Lots of great advice in this thread alone. I have a lot of learning ahead of me, but I'm greatly looking forward to it.

    Perhaps I should have just bought the body but I couldn't resist getting the two lenses. The shop I bought it at was willing to give me a deal. I would like to have waited until the E-520, either to get the better camera or get this one for less, but I need the camera in a month. I feel like I barely have enough time to learn how to use it as it now.

    Looking forward to showing off some photos soon!

  9. #9
    Senior Shooter Greg McCary's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on E510 needed

    I think you will be very happy, be sure and write a review, post pictures in the gallery and hang out in Viewfinder. And if you need help of any kind feel free to ask or even PM me. With the two kit lens you should be set to take awesome pictures for some time.
    I am like Barney Fife, I have a gun but Andy makes me keep the bullet in my pocket..

    Sony a99/a7R

  10. #10
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    Re: Advice on E510 needed

    I had the same concerns because I'd read about this in some reviews. Now that I have my camera, I don't think it's any worse than any other. As an example, last night I was testing the focus ability in a dark room lighted only by an 8w fluorescent in a desk lamp. I was using ISO 1600 and a couple of lenses with f3.5 apertures, with the auto-exposure going down to about 1/4 second shutter speed. I was still able to focus on objects with good contrast, while it did fail on darker, low-contrast objects. Mind you, the photos are totally useless due to the lighting, so basically, the focus is better than you need.

    By using the flash focus assist, you can actually focus in the dark.

  11. #11
    Member erikzen's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on E510 needed

    After playing around for a bit I don't really have a problem with AF. The somewhat limited dynamic range seems to be more of an issue but not anything you can't work around and certainly easier to deal with than in my old film days.

  12. #12
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    Re: Advice on E510 needed

    I hoping someone can still help me with this: I just received a old olympus e510 from a family member that has never been used. I am such a rookie at this and I am going to learn everything I can about how to use it. But I was wondering if someone could give me a quick learning on how I should set up this camera for taking pictures of my little girl playing basketball. Just need to know a quick setting set up. Of course it is action inside a gym atmosphere. Thank you all so much.

  13. #13
    Member erikzen's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on E510 needed

    Try this link:

    wrotniak.net: Customizing Your Olympus E-510 (or E-410) camera

    There is a lot of information here but it goes through just about every setting on the camera in detail. Definitely worth the time to go through it. Also read through the manual carefully with camera in hand. The camera has a lot of functionality but it takes time to learn. Trust me, it's worth the effort.

    From a very basic point of view, try setting the camera to Aperture priority to start. This will automatically adjust the aperture based on the shutter speed you choose. Use a fast shutter speed to capture fast action and/or in high light. Slow the shutter speed down to allow more light or to capture motion blurring. Play around with that for a hundred shots or so and you'll start to get a feel for the camera.

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