Camera w/ Good C-AF for Erratic Subject?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Kirk, Sep 28, 2015.

  1. Kirk

    Kirk Mu-43 Regular

    26
    Aug 26, 2014
    Portland, Oregon
    I am looking for a second camera to be dedicated to C-AF and a medium tele-zoom. I currently have the E-M5 II and am pretty happy with it. Got it almost exclusively for the silent shutter. I don't plan to replace the E-M5 II, just augment it.

    I had the E-M1 before and really liked it (actually I prefer the body and tilting LCD over the E-M5 II), but sold it before firmware 3.0 was released. I upgraded to the E-M1 from the E-M5, which I also really liked. Before that I had the Oly E-3 and E-1 (and E-10 even). So I have been shooting Oly for a while.

    Continuous autofocus never really mattered to the way I took photographs, so I have never paid it much attention. Like many of you, my photography has shifted pretty radically since having children. Now that my oldest boy is 3 years old, he has turned into a blurred streak in most images. I can capture the quiet times easily (and silently). It is the action I am missing out on.

    I have tried working with C-AF on the E-M5 II but had little success. C-AF and also C-AF+Tr, release priority off, C-AF Lock to Normal, Continuous Low drive, different groupings of focus points like the 9 grid, and using fast focuses lenses like the 12-40mm f/2.8 and 40-150R f/3.5. Not many keepers. Did I miss something? Tried S-AF too, same story. Maybe if my little guy ran or biked in straight lines. But he is all over the place, very unpredictable.

    Is this still the last bastion of DSLRs? It seems crazy to buy a D7200 for this, but the buffer depth on all lesser Nikons is too small. A used Canon 7D?

    The Nikon 1 V3 seems close, but it is so much money for something that in all other regards seems a poor compromise. Sony A6000?

    Of course, the lens is part of the equation too, as some of the options above have a very limited selection, Sony E and Nikon 1 especially. And even the APS-C tele-zooms seem limited.

    Is the E-M1 with firmware 3.0 going to be able to compete in this race?

    Need advice, suggestions or maybe just a browbeating. Many thanks
     
  2. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Nikon 1, Sony A6000, Oly E-M1, and Panasonic G7/GH4/GX8 should all be in the same ballpark as far as C-AF goes.
     
  3. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    In my experience - it depends. Since the firmware upgrade to 3.0, the EM1 is way better. Getting sporadic motion - still not so much, but if you have a good line of sight and can pan across the field of view - the EM1 is your guy. The biggest hiccup is still the initial AF acquisition. It takes a bit for it to confirm, which is annoying.

    For erratic movement - even my Nikon D300 is way better than any mirrorless camera out there I've used for this. My suggestions:

    1) get an entry level DSLR and a decent mid to long zoom lens
    2) the S-AF on the EM1 in small bursts is not that bad and might be worth it.
     
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  4. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    A D300 is a very high-end DSLR, though, albeit an old one. Are entry level models made today comparable? The sensors will be better, and presumably the processors will be faster, but I don't know about focus features, which commonly lag far behind on entry-level DSLRs. After all, the D300 still has a higher burst rate (for example) than any contemporary Nikon except the D4S, despite being 8 years old.
     
  5. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I'd say the entry level ones are....but even if they were not, spending a few hundred dollars on a used D300 and a 70-300 would do most people pretty well. I don't shoot anything much higher than ISO 1000 with the D300, so that might be a deciding factor against it. Not sure the shooting conditions the OP is running in.
     
  6. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Walter
    I dunno if this applies to your situation, but I've been using an adapted 50-200 SWD on an EM1 with v3.1 firmware and it's performing very well on action shots of boys playing soccer using C-AF. I think the EM1 performs even better on native lenses. It might be worth searching the forums for threads and gallery photos that might be similar to your situation. I would imagine that the EM5 II should do well with native lenses, especially the 12-40 Pro. Is the problem that it's not locking focus soon enough on initial focus or losing focus when your child moves?

    BTW, I don't use sequential shooting on my sports shots. I have legacy habits left from the film days and tend to shoot single shots instead. :)
     
  7. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    762
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    While some DSLRs will perform even better, I would think the E-M1 with the latest fw and a snappy lens would be more than adequate for toddlers. The lens you are using also matters in getting that initial lock. Perhaps one other factor in which is the best solution might be why you sold your original E-M1. Was there something you didn't like about it that might steer your next choice?
     
  8. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    The only camera that will give you vectoring AF for continous focus is the Panasonic G7. Maybe GX-8 has that too. This 3D vectoring method is similar to Nikon 3D tracking which is what makes DSLR work so well in erratic movement. I have never tried it, but I saw that it works really fast and you don't need DFD though it will work better with Panny lenses. I would get a G7 if I need an action cam and it also has 4K video and 4K burst mode and pre-burst mode at 30fps which you can extract a video any frame as a 8MP still in any of the 30 frames a second. No DSLR today can do that. 8MP is enough for printing and for Facebook.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2015
  9. Kirk

    Kirk Mu-43 Regular

    26
    Aug 26, 2014
    Portland, Oregon
    Hey guys, thanks for all the replies. Yes, the problem is largely that it is not getting a lock fast enough, if ever. I'll have to go back and try the E-M5 II C-AF with single shot.

    @Lcrunyon@Lcrunyon, the only thing I didn't like about the E-M1 was that it did not have a silent (electronic) shutter option. Around that time the X-T1 got one added via firmware, and when the E-M1's FW 3.0 was announced without it, I figured it would never happen. So, I sold it and got the E-M5 II. And now we know about FW 4.0 and I was wrong.

    Until very recently, I'd never really bothered with C-AF since it didn't apply to my photography. Conditions would mostly be outdoors, so enough light. I can see how an OVF could be an advantage. But I really like an EVF for exposure warnings. Finding a good condition D300 or 7D seems like a viable option. I was wondering how an 4/3 E-5 w/ 50-200mm would compare to more modern cameras, and to an E-M1 with same lens or 40-150mm f/2.8.
     
  10. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Rob
    The Canon 7D Mark II has no peer in C-AF and C-AF-TR outside of the high-end Pro cameras. Nikon 7200, 750, Canon 5D MIII are all good also, but 7Dm2 has best AF and fast FPS. Oly E-M1 would be an improvement, but not great at this requirement. Sony A6000 is fast, but no better at C-AF. Even Nikon 5500 would be a vast improvement for C-AF and is often recommended as an entry-level sports and wildlife camera.

    FW 3.0 improved AF for the E-M1 quite a bit, but it still can't compare to a better SLR. Not even close. C-AF is the fly in the MFT ointment.

    Go to YouTube and look at some of Canon's tutorials on AF for the 7DM2. Truly impressive.
     
  11. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I'll save you some time...the C-Af with theEM5 Mk II is not going to acquire focus initially very fast in C-AF mode.
    DSLR is still king in this.
     
  12. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    I own the E-5 and is currently my sports camera. It's slower than the D300 for AF tracking and obviously miles ahead of my E-P5 and E-1. I usually shoot E-5/E-P5 combo; a blend of speed and low light. E-5 first target acquisition is faster than my E-P5 and C-AF keeper rate is way better than my E-P5.
     
  13. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Deeper dof and bounce flash will do more than a new camera.
     
  14. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Walter
    I think it's true that a Canon 7D II would beat an EM1 for AF speed, especially in C-AF. But, I find it hard to believe that the EM5 II isn't acquiring initial focus quickly enough with a native lens, especially a newer one like the 12-40 Pro. At least for myself, experimentation and practice have improved my ability to get action shots in focus. I used to shoot S-AF in single shot mode and got some pretty good results. Then again, I was shooting at a distance with an Oly 40-150 R, Pana 45-200, or the Oly 50-200 SWD. Hence, relative to my position, the boys weren't moving that fast, but I found that prefocusing and locking focus usually worked. However, the v3.1 update for the EM1 seems to have made C-AF work well enough that I've switched to that mode for sports and that's on an adapted 50-200 SWD that isn't as fast on AF as a 40-150 f2.8 Pro is.

    What I'm trying to say, I guess, is that working more with what you have may get you the results you want. As someone else noted, maybe using a narrower aperture would give you more DOF to work with. Keep experimenting. One other tip - check the lens and body electrical contacts. Make sure they're clean. Don't use anything abrasive to clean them. I used a tiny bit of DeOxit (Caig Laboratories) on a clean Q-tip to clean them after my Pana 45-200 had some AF hiccups. That seemed to have helped.
     
  15. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    You really need to understand on what the camera can grab focus on quickly, and that's true even with S-AF. And C-AF takes very slightly longer to lock initial focus than S-AF.

    Even with the Nikons - if you know where the cross sensors are, where the actual sensors really are, and how to best utilize them - you can really increase the initial lock speed. But if you don't know - well, the camera may not work as well as one expected.

    BTW - with both manufactures, lenses can make a difference.
     
  16. Kirk

    Kirk Mu-43 Regular

    26
    Aug 26, 2014
    Portland, Oregon
    Distances are pretty close, 10 to maybe 30 feet. I'm shooting exuberance, not sports. And often participating.

    I'm definitely willing to go back and try a few different things so that I am not getting a second system. Not sure my brain has the capacity to remember how to run two different camera systems.

    Yes, deeper DoF definitely helps, as does lens selection. I was surprised the afternoon I tried the 75mm and 40-150R @ 75 back to back. Not a single shot from the 75mm was anywhere close to in focus, but a handful from the 40-150R were. The 75mm is leasurely to focus comparatively, and the narrow DoF when run relatively wide open was working against me.

    I know I need to watch my shutter speeds more closely too. Not something I am used to having to worry too much about.
     
  17. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    If you are shooting in good light don't disregard picking up a cheap, used Nikon 1 V1. It really plays with the big boys in terms of AF speed and tracking. But you need light.
     
  18. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    One option that has recently worked for me with the E-M1 is to use the touch to focus and fire on the rear LCD. For some reason, the camera sometimes seem to respond quicker, but your reaction time also needs to be quick. I was at a jazz concert sitting next to the stage recently, and was having trouble locking focus with the EVF. Out of frustration, I resorted to using the rear LCD and found that it worked better than I would have expected. It is a different style of shooting, and one that I would not normally recommend as I find it awkward, but it is free for the try before you go spending money on another body.

    And if you are shooting in good lighting and do want a different body, I can personally recommend the D300 among others. They are going for very little these days, and while they are not foolproof, they are reasonably predictable in their behavior and can give you a good keeper rate, but I am still a believer that improvements in technique are always recommended as well. Technology only goes so far.

    Good luck,

    --Ken
     
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  19. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I too have found this - it makes for very fast shooting as I can simply frame and touch to focus and shoot, rather than having to use the D-pad to set an AF point or focus and recompose. It's the fastest way of doing S-AF that I know of in unpredictable situations, and given how fast and accurate S-AF is in m4/3 it means less time that the subject can move before the shutter fires.
     
  20. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I've found that even with supposedly the "premo combo" of the EM1 with newest firmware and the 40-150/2.8 PRO, definitely using a PDAF sensored AF point - there is an annoying lag for the C-AF most of the time when compared to the S-AF in the same situation.

    Erratic movement and the DSLR still is much faster and sure. The above Olympus combo does great though when there is time to lock onto the subject and track it for a bit, even panning in a predictable line of movement.

    I am willing to concede that I may not have some option set I should on the Olympus...but I think I have it setup correctly for the type of shooting I am doing.