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robminchin

Learning the E-620: Live View

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The Live View mode on the E-620 certainly has a number of foibles. It seems rather odd, for instance, that face detect is off in 'Auto' mode - which is where I would expect most users who wanted to use face detect to be. It also seems a bit odd at first that face detect does not work unless all the focus points are active - at which point the camera is suddenly able to put a focus point somewhere other than on one of the focus points. Clearly Olympus have designed Live View to be used in conjunction with the Fn button set to enable face-detect and all the related settings, unfortunately this doesn't work once you decide there's something better for Fn to do!

However, the linking of face-detect with the focus points does, in effect, give a second way of activating and de-activating it. Face-detect can be left on in the PASM modes, but will only be effective when all the focus points are enabled. The 'Can you take a picture of us?' mode now switches from being Auto + LV + Fn to Program + LV + all focus points on.

As you might have guessed from the last paragraph, I normally shoot with only a single focus point. I find that no camera, be it ever so intelligent, has quite developed the telepathy to enable it to tell which point in the scene I want it to focus on. I much prefer to focus and recompose so I know where the picture is focussed.

Of course, focus and recompose poses some challenges for Live View. In Imager AF it's simple enough as the focus is locked with a half press, but in Hybrid AF and Sensor AF, focus (or final focus for Hybrid) is carried out at the full press. It's possible to select an off-centre point, but (a) there may not be one where I want the focus to fall and (b) it's not the way I'm used to working.

The manual says that it is possible to lock focus in Sensor AF by pressing the AEL/AFL button. Unfortunately there are problems with this. Firstly, this is only the default behaviour in S-AF mode 1 - in mode 2 (which I prefer for every day use) AEL/AFL simply locks the exposure in Live View. Secondly, pressing the AEL/AFL button still locks the exposure - which is fine if you have it set to ESP (where it telepathically reads the exposure you want from your brain, I assume), but if (like me) you've set it to spot meter you get a spot metering on whatever you're focussing on. At least in Live View you can see that your exposure is way off...

In S-AF mode 3, the AEL/AFL button follows its normal behaviour and locks the focus. There isn't even any need to hold it, as the shutter release does not look for focus in this mode (and a half press of the focus locks the exposure). This is quite nice behaviour for Live View - but would involve a dive into the Cog menu every time as I would prefer focus to be linked to the shutter release button in normal use. However, there is a way out! MF mode 3 gives exactly the same behaviour from the buttons, and (as I don't - at least so far - want access to spot-metering in MF often in normal usage) it can be left on this setting.

So, for LV shooting in Hybrid or Sensor AF modes, I can simply switch to MF then focus with the AEL/AFL button and recompose. Interestingly, if you hit AEL/AFL on the magnified view in Hybrid mode, you get Imager focussing, enabling you to focus anywhere you can place the magnifier box (thanks to Ian for this tip from his blog!), while if you hit it in the full-screen view you get Sensor focussing.

But why would I want to do this, when both my current lenses support Imager AF? Apart from natural curiosity, it's certainly quite handy for manual-focus shooting (macros and the like) where I can hit AEL/AFL and then magnify the view to get the exact focus manually (or magnify first then hit AEL/AFL, giving exact control over the area which will be used for focussing - although AF does seem to slow down with smaller areas). As the major use for LV (apart from having a snap taken by someone else) appears to be manual focussing, this mode makes a lot of sense to me.

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Updated 27th October 2009 at 09:36 PM by robminchin

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