Continuing the X-T1 vs E-M1 for sports battle

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by jonbrisbincreative, Dec 1, 2014.

  1. jonbrisbincreative

    jonbrisbincreative Mu-43 Regular

    76
    Mar 30, 2014
    I rented both the Fujinon 56mm f1.2 and 55-200 for a couple days to do both a wedding and the High School State Football Championships. I used the zoom and the 56mm down on the field to see how the autofocus performed as well as how versatile the camera was as a sports shooter. My standard kit is a 7D and 200/2.8 L prime. This shot is with the 56/1.2 @ f2.8 and ISO 1600.

    DSCF6341-2.

    The noise is noticeable at 100% and in crops, but I'm generally much happier with the look and performance of the X-T1 at high ISO over the E-M1. I don't think there's actually less noise overall but there's almost no chroma noise unlike the E-M1 and I think that's what makes all the difference. You still loose detail with the X-Trans sensor, even at ISO 1600 (it isn't an A7s after all), but it performs better in more situations and the RAW files are generally more maleable than my 7D (not saying a whole lot, I know).

    I think I'll write up a blog post on my experience with the X-T1 in a very demanding sports environment (albeit in an NFL stadium with proper lighting; a far cry from the conditions I usually shoot high school football under!). It obviously doesn't perform the same as the guy standing next to me with the Nikon D4s and $10k telephoto lens. But it's still a very capable all-around camera. I haven't decided yet whether to look toward the 40-150/2.8 zoom for the E-M1 or the 50-140/2.8 for the X-T1. It's really going to come down to autofocus performance and overall IQ. I would call the E-M1 a fast focuser in single-point mode but using it in continuous mode and with tracking I didn't see a tremendous difference in performance in favor of the E-M1. The E-M1 has a tendency to miss just like the X-T1 (though both will miss less than my 7D actually). The 55-200 is not a fast focusing lens (I expect the 50-140 to be miles ahead in this department) and yet it was still usable. Again, it's not a 1D or a D4 but the gap is much narrower than one might assume given the specs on paper. It doesn't make that wonderful "whirring" sound when you hold the button down since it doesn't do 12fps, but for what I generally shoot, it seems to be getting the job done.

    The E-M1 autofocus could be very good if one didn't rely on tracking and between-frame autofocus. If the 40-150 was fast enough to focus with single-point mode, then you could use the highest 10fps setting and shoot very brief bursts by pressing the trigger often, rather than holding it down and tracking the action. In my tests so far the X-T1 won't focus that fast. I may just have to wait a while now, though. I imagine I'll be shooting some basketball games before long so I may just have to rent them both and see how they perform. Football season is over for us now, so there's no more of that to shoot this year. Too bad. :(
     
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  2. jyc860923

    jyc860923 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 28, 2012
    Shenyang, China
    贾一川
    a great shot and an excellent comparison, thanks for sharing. by the way I've always been thinking about getting the em1 for its PDAF during CAF, now it doesn't seem that promising I guess
     
  3. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    Yeah. Based on more than a few reviews I thought there was a pretty big gap between E-M1 and X-T1 for shooting action. Reality may differ.
     
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  4. jonbrisbincreative

    jonbrisbincreative Mu-43 Regular

    76
    Mar 30, 2014
    The PDAF only works for 4/3 lens, unfortunately. For all native m4/3 lenses, it uses strictly CDAF. I have an adapted 4/3 zoom for the E-M1 (the 14-54/2.8-3.5 which is a very fast focuser, relatively speaking). It's a great zoom, though quite heavy compared to other native m4/3 lenses. The C-AF also only works in between frames in "low" continuous shooting mode, which tops out at 6.5fps. The fastest continuous mode, 10fps, will stay focused after the first frame and won't re-focus between frames. That's not as much of a limitation as it might at first seem, but it can be a real limitation. The X-T1, on the other hand, will continuously autofocus in high-speed mode (using PDAF pixels among the imaging pixels). That means different things depending on the lens. The Fuji 55-200 can get about 4-7fps with focus priority. Not all of those will actually be in focus when tracking fast action, but it "could" get as much as 8fps, depending on the lens.

    On balance, my E-M1 doesn't seem to outperform my X-T1 by a significant margin. They do things differently and shooting one or the other takes some getting used to and practice. This is completely subjective, but it seems like the X-T1 will miss focus more predictably than the E-M1 which means I can account for it better. I know what the lag is going to be for the X-T1 so I can hit the button early. The E-M1 doesn't always give me the predictability in its focusing errors so I often don't know until after I've downloaded the image onto my laptop that an image has missed focus.

    I know some people have made a big deal out of the autofocus performance of Fuji cameras. In general I agree that the AF of the E-M1 often "feels" faster. Most of that, however, comes from the lens. The 75 is a super fast focuser but the Pana/Leica 25mm is not (and it's much noisier as well). The Fuji 56/1.2 is a fast focuser on par with the Oly 75 IMO. The X-T1's AF is very accurate for the most part. It does baffle me sometimes what it chooses to "accurately" focus on, which is sometimes everything *except* what's in the focusing box! :) But Fuji has such a fantastic track record of firmware updates that I have every confidence that AF performance of Fuji cameras and lenses will actually steadily increase over time.
     
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  5. humzai

    humzai Mu-43 Veteran

    410
    Apr 17, 2012
    That's the part most people seem to forget. Technique often matters more then anything else. However it seems to me that the gh4 is much faster to obtain initial lock then the e-m1. It might be just as good at retaining focus lock as well. I'm still not sure. This is based on using both olly pro lenses the panny 100-300mm and some other native lenses.
     
  6. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Eric
    Jon, the only thing that bothers me about the X-T1 as I understand it is that with regard to C-AF tracking it only works while you're actually shooting images in burst - you can't track and then take a single photo when the moment is right. Is that correct? For me, this would make the m43 cameras with their faster S-AF preferable to me for the type of sports shooting I do (which is outdoors in decent light most of the time so very high ISO doesn't usually come into play)
     
  7. christofp

    christofp Mu-43 Regular

    138
    Jul 21, 2012
    Your findings sound a little bit odd for me. I have no issues with my "old" 50-200 SWD lens and the EM1. 80% keeper rate with fast action.

    Three things I would like to know:
    1. Shutter priority: Unfortunately the EM1 default setting for AFC ist shutter-priority=ON. This will give a lot of blurred photos because the shutter will fire regardless of AF. Did you disable C-Af shutter priority in the menu?
    2. 10fps high speed: AF between the frames is only possible with 6.5 fps setting. At 10fps, there is no C-AF, it is more like S-AF. Did you shoot with 10FPS (shutter mode H) or with 6.5fps (shutter mode L)?
    3. C-AF + tracking (green square around moving objects) seems to slow down the camera and the AF system. Did you use C-AF (which should work quite well at 6.5 fps) or did you use C-AF+Tr which does not work well for most users?

    Christof
     
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  8. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Mike Aubrey
    Really? I could have sworn that in C-AF+Tracking mode, native lenses uses PDAF+CDAF in tandum...
     
  9. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Sports photography is far more dependent on the photographer than the camera, afterall, lots of great and historic sports photos have been taken with manual focus cameras and not even motor driven ones. I started sports photography with an E-1 and 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 lens. Fast AF? Hardy. Fast frame rate? Nil. C-AF? What was that? The guys at the newspaper with their Nikons and those at other papers with their Canons couldn't work out how I got my shots. :biggrin:
     
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  10. RKF

    RKF Mu-43 Regular

    29
    Aug 3, 2014
    Funny how everything comes down to perspective. Football's been an iconic sport for eons … and photographers were capturing great images of it four decades ago.

    Back then you had manual focus, [oftentimes manual exposure], a maximum of 5fps, 250 frames [if you had the big film back], and your ISO [ASA] topped out at 800 [and that 800 didn't look so great].

    I think we've become overly reliant on today's whiz bang technology.

    Put another way: it certainly ought to be possible to get outstanding sports images with the E-M1 if folks were able to get outstanding images of the same event with an F2 and MD-II 40 years ago.

    Just an observation.
     
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  11. RKF

    RKF Mu-43 Regular

    29
    Aug 3, 2014
    Great minds think alike ... but you just beat me to it. :wink:
     
  12. jonbrisbincreative

    jonbrisbincreative Mu-43 Regular

    76
    Mar 30, 2014
    That's not been my experience. It does C-AF like you would expect, though it does seem to hunt a lot to keep the frame in focus. With focus priority on, that doesn't matter so much because the shutter will only fire when it's in focus. But it's somewhat annoying to have your view of the action obscured off and on by the lens focusing. Some of that is the lens, as well. I was using the 55-200 which is known to be a slower focuser than others. The 56/1.2 was reasonably fast and didn't exhibit this behavior nearly as much.
     
  13. jonbrisbincreative

    jonbrisbincreative Mu-43 Regular

    76
    Mar 30, 2014
    To answer your questions: yes, I was using focus priority and the 6fps setting (rather than 6.5...but I've used 6.5 before as well). I was also not using the C-AF + tracking but simply C-AF for the reason you mentioned: it seriously slows down the operation of the camera and it doesn't seem to offer me any value over shooting with a fixed center point as I've done for years on the Canon.

    I'm actually seriously considering going with the 50-200 SWD with my E-M1. I'll be selling all my Canon stuff pretty soon and replacing it with some equivalent of either Oly or Fuji gear but I haven't made the decision yet which one. I'm starting to lean toward using the E-M1 with adapted 4/3 lenses (the 14-54 I already have and the 50-200 I'm considering) and using the Fuji for portraits, events, and other work with primes like the 35/1.4 and 56/1.2. This combination seems to offer me the most flexibility and IQ for the purposes for which each platform is best-suited. I'm not terribly happy with m4/3 for portraits and events (I know others disagree and are fine with the IQ...more power to them!) but I love the usability of the E-M1 and the high frame rate. The AF also feels faster (whether it actually results in more keepers or not I'm not sure).

    It sounds to me like the Oly 50-200 will either match or outperform the Fuji 50-140 at less than half the cost. I also don't see a huge improvement coming with the Oly 40-150 unless I'm completely misreading the early reviews. I haven't found anyone yet with a review model that has compared it to the 50-200. I'm sure that will come.
     
  14. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    Can someone point me to the concrete evidence of this? Everything that I've read states that the PDAF is not just for legacy 4/3 lenses, but works for all the lenses.

    I've also sent an email to Olympus support to see if they have an official word on it.
     
  15. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    The 40-150f2.8 is faster to AF than the 50-200, no question. The 50-200 is usable with tracking on for shooting Lacrosse. But the gold standard for me for shooting sports is the 150f2. The AF limiter is a real winner for sports and it is a a bright, sharp lens.

    If I had to pick between the 40-150 and the 50-200 the 40-150 would get the nod for action.
     
  16. jonbrisbincreative

    jonbrisbincreative Mu-43 Regular

    76
    Mar 30, 2014
    I can probably wait until the new 40-150s hit the used market. I don't really want to pay full retail when I won't really need that lens until track season. Otherwise my only real option is the 50-200.
     
  17. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    Here is an update about the PDAF/CDAF of the Olympus OMD EM1.

    My original inquiry to Olympus Support:

    Category: Digital Cameras

    Model: E-M1

    Type of Inquiry: Camera Questions

    Question: I just wanted to clarify a question about the focusing system on the OMD EM1.

    How does the hybrid AF system work? I see a lot of information out on photo forums that the PDAF system only works when a legacy 4/3 lens is attached. My understanding is that the PDAF system works with micro 4/3 lenses as well, but the camera will determine which focusing system is best to incorporate at the time the shot is taken.

    Does that sound accurate?

    Olympus response:

    Dear Andrew,

    Thank you for contacting Olympus Technical Support.

    Yes, the Dual FAST AF system can use both the contrast and phase detection elements when a micro 4/3 lens is used, the camera decides when to take advantage of both systems. If a 4/3 lens is used, only the phase detection portion is used. For more information regarding this, please refer to the following web page:

    http://asia.olympus-imaging.com/products/dslr/em1/feature/05/

    If you require additional assistance please reply to this email leaving the complete history intact.


    Best Regards,

    Olympus Technical Support
    Olympus Imaging America Inc.
    Toll Free Technical Support Hotline 1-888-553-4448
     
  18. humzai

    humzai Mu-43 Veteran

    410
    Apr 17, 2012
    The Olympus 40-150mm 2.8 is a really fast lens. I haven't yet updated to firmware 2.0 still on 1.4. If the update makes a significant difference than I could be wrong. The 40-150 is much faster than the e-m1. It focus insanely fast on the gh4, if it had ois then it would work.perfextly on the gh4 but even without it its quite usable. It's much faster than the 50-200 non swd, which is actually slower than the Panasonic 100-300mm.
     
  19. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Eric
    I suppose what I was referring to was the predictive focus that Fuji was touting, which as I understand only works with the PDAF sensor points (which makes sense) and also only in the burst shooting modes.