Problem getting sharp images when using manual focus through the viewfinder of an Olympus E-10

I purchased my E-10 because I wanted a digital camera that would produce high quality images and also allow me the same flexibility I have with my 35mm SLR camera. As soon as I started trying to use manual focus on my E-10, I discovered that I was getting an unbelievably high percentage of images which were horribly out of focus. I simply put up with this problem for several months by using various focusing methods for each shot until I finally determined under which conditions the photos were out of focus. After I determined that the problem was in the manual focus system, I kept using the camera (using auto focus) until I was able to part with the camera long enough to send it in for repairs.

On December 1, 2001, I delivered my E-10 to the store where I purchased it so they could send it in for repairs. Along with the camera, I sent a detailed printed report with sample photos and a CD-ROM that I had burned with examples of photos sorted into specific folders based on the focusing method that was used for the photos in each folder. It was January 26, 2002 before I was able to pick my E-10 up with the assurance of Olympus that it had been repaired. Here are a few of the first shots I took with my newly "repaired" E-10.

  

Taken using Manual Focus through the viewfinder         Taken using Manual Focus based on LCD display

  

Taken using Manual Focus through the viewfinder         Taken using Auto Focus

It does not appear that they even tested my camera for a manual focus problem.

Before I returned the camera to the store a second time, I did some research on the internet and learned that this problem is far from an isolated problem. I found that there are numerous reports of customers having to return their E-10ís repeatedly for repair or replacement before getting an E-10 on which the manual focus through the viewfinder worked correctly. One user reports that He had to try FIVE E-10ís before he found one that focused properly. Another says that he was told by one of Olympusís own E-10 experts that it was not possible to repair an E-10 that has this problem. It is only possible to replace it with an E-10 that doesnít have this problem ..The reports also indicate that once a customer gets an E-10 that is correct, they are able to take manual focus photos using the viewfinder and get perfect results on nearly every shot. I included additional documentation copied from the internet that explained the problem even more clearly than I had been able to document it. This new documentation also included detailed descriptions of ways to test for this problem.

When I went back to pick up the replacement camera, the store owner, store manager, and I all tested it. The results were appalling! Here are some of the test shots we took before I left the camera store.

  

Manual Focus under low light                                                 Auto Focus under low light

  

Manual Focus with flash                                                            Auto Focus with flash

The simplest test that will quickly give a reasonably good indication as to whether or not an E-10 has this problem has been proposed by Ed Oliver on Olympusís own message board.

RE: Testing the E10 - a favor, please.

Ed Oliver - 11 Feb - 10:51:35 AM

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If you have the E10 or E20 I would appreciate if you could do the following test and email me the results at .

Reason for the test - ongoing discussion with Olympus about manual focus.

Test:

1. Set up test chart (piece of 8.5x11 paper with one horizontal black line and three vertical black lines which can be marker pen) about 24" from camera that is mounted on tripod and illuminated with any light that is bright enough to focus the chart. You do not need to take any pictures.

2. Make sure your eye piece is set for the sharpest image with your eyes. This is done by pointing the camera at a white piece of paper and turning the diopter adjustment until the black rectangle and circle are as sharp as possible.

3. Set focal length to 36mm and lens opening to f2.4 (shutter speed not material) and no filters.

4. Turn on camera and LCD and get distance scale.

5. Set focus to manual and adjust focus until you have the best possible image in the viewfinder. Note distance on LCD scale.

6. Close the viewfinder blind, switch to auto focus, 1/2 press shutter while watching the LCD distance scale.

Please report if ANY (little or lot) or NO movement of this scale. Repeat several times and see if same thing happens and is consistent

Serial number and firmware number would be appreciated.

Thanks for your help and I will report the results and reason if enough data comes in.

Ed Oliver

(If any movement whatsoever can be detected on the LCD distance scale, the camera is DEFECTIVE!!!)

Edís stated reason for his request that others try this test is "ongoing discussion with Olympus about manual focus." It appears that Ed is having the same problem that many of the rest of are having with our E-10ís or E-20ís. Not only with the camera itself, but also with the apparent stonewalling of this issue by Olympus.

In one final attempt to prove to myself, AND anyone else who cares, that focusing problem is in my camera and not in something I am doing wrong, I set up another more structured test using playing cards. I got the idea of using playing cards from a web page Dave Weikel has concerning this very focus problem on the E-10. If you donít want to believe the documentation I am presenting here, at least take time to review the information at http://www.davidweikel.com/E10_samples/manual_focus/manual_focus.shtml

I structured my test setup to limit any variables that might cause incorrect results in the test. I took additional test shots with my 25-year-old Asahi Pentax KX SLR 35mm camera. The color balance of in this test is not correct, and there are other differences between the pictures that are immaterial to this test. The only question at issue concerns whether or not it is possible to accurately set the focus point of the E-10 using the image as seen in the viewfinder, the differences noted above have no bearing on the test results

View of test target showing arrangement of cards                       E-10 f2.4 Manual focus using LCD.

  

In focus , no error

E-10, f2.4 Manual focus using the Viewfinder                                 E-10, f2.4 Auto-focus

    

Focus target Focus point In focus , no error

Focus error about 10 inches

E-10, f4.8 Manual focus using the Viewfinder                                                 E-10, f4.8 Auto-focus

    

Focus target Focus point In focus , no error

Focus error about 10 inches

Pentax KX with 55mm f2                                                                 Pentax KX with 140mm f4

    

In focus , no error In focus , no error

It is quite clear from these test shots that in every case in which I was attempting to focus the E-10 using manual focus based on the image seen in the viewfinder, the actual point of focus is several cards (therefore inches) away from the focusing target on the Joker. This is also confirmed by the fact that the limits of the depth of field are NOT equal distance from the Joker. All the remaining shots have the actual point of focus at the word JOKER, and the limits of the depth of equal distance from the Joker.

THERE CAN BE NO FURTHER DOUBT!

The problem so many of us have been trying to get resolved is in the E-10 manual focusing system!

I am one sincerely angry customer,

J. Phil Arnold

Click here for my E-Mail Address