Do not shoot a Nikon D500

bbarnett51

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I was out birding and ran into a local photographer that I know purely from Facebook. We exchanged pleasantries and went back to shooting birds.
After awhile, we got bored and I borrowed his d500. Now I’ve used one before but we had good light and a lot of birds coming in. The focusing on this camera is seriously incredible. It’s almost effortless to shoot BIF.
I have the keep telling myself all the reasons I chose Oly but there is no doubt we are ages behind on focus tracking.
 

ijm5012

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Resistance is futile.

I made the mistake last year of renting one, shooting it side by side with my E-M1 II for Motorsports, and instantly knew that it was a far superior tool. Like, not even close.

I now have a D500 and a collection of a few nice f/2.8 lenses for the Nikon. I still use my Olympus gear for the majority of my shooting, but when it comes to dedicated sports photography, the D500 gets the nod every time. It’s an incredible camera.
 

bbarnett51

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Resistance is futile.

I made the mistake last year of renting one, shooting it side by side with my E-M1 II for Motorsports, and instantly knew that it was a far superior tool. Like, not even close.

I now have a D500 and a collection of a few nice f/2.8 lenses for the Nikon. I still use my Olympus gear for the majority of my shooting, but when it comes to dedicated sports photography, the D500 gets the nod every time. It’s an incredible camera.
And it’s $100 cheaper for the body compared to the em1.2 ‍♂
 

ijm5012

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And it’s $100 cheaper for the body compared to the em1.2 ‍♂
Low shutter count used bodies are going for ~$1250 over at FM. I’m considering picking up a second one.

I was astonished at the difference in C-AF performance. It really opened my eyes as to how much Olympus has to improve the E-M1 II for it to compete with camera’s in that price bracket. Hoping great strides will be made with FW 2.0.

There’s no denying the Oly is smaller than the Nikon, but the D500’s performance justifies its size IMO. Simply a joy to shoot with.
 

pdk42

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Hoping great strides will be made with FW 2.0.
There have been so many disappointments with CAF from both Oly and Panasonic. Olympus have now set expectations for fw 2.0 and I fear it'll be another disappointment. What's worse is that we're now over a year in from Olympus putting those rumours out and there's not even a sniff of what the changes might be and when they might arrive. I'm personally losing hope of mirrorless ever being up to DSLRs for core sports/wildlife work. Thankfully, I'm not really into that genre heavily - if I were I'd be running a Nikon kit.
 

ijm5012

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There have been so many disappointments with CAF from both Oly and Panasonic. Olympus have now set expectations for fw 2.0 and I fear it'll be another disappointment. What's worse is that we're now over a year in from Olympus putting those rumours out and there's not even a sniff of what the changes might be and when they might arrive. I'm personally losing hope of mirrorless ever being up to DSLRs for core sports/wildlife work. Thankfully, I'm not really into that genre heavily - if I were I'd be running a Nikon kit.
To be fair, Panasonic is trudging along with an inferior C-AF method, trying to use CDAF-only, rather than the far better performing and proven PDAF. Why they're being so stubborn is beyond me (although I do recall seeing something on the rumor site a few days ago talking about a few patent filings from Panasonic for PDAF, so maybe they've finally realized the errors in their way).

Olympus though, it's pretty inexcusable IMO. This is now the second-generation of their OSPDAF technology, packed inside of a $2,000 camera that can't compete with its competitors when it comes to demanding C-AF performance. It's a huge let-down really. I'm hopefully that they'll address the issue, but the question is "when"? They also (for some reason beyond my comprehension), made it so that PDAF doesn't work during video. It's CDAF only. WTF? Mic input, flip-around screen, class-leading 5-axis IBIS, 4K video. It's literally a vlogger's dream camera, except for they crippled it by only using CDAF.

As for your comment about mirrorless never making it, Sony is really killing it. The a6500, A9, and A7R3 are all fantastic when it comes to C-AF performance. Fuji is also supposed to be pretty good too with the latest update to the X-T2. And Canon should do just fine when they launch their mirrorless camera, because the Dual Pixel AF acts essentially as a mirrorless camera anyway, since the mirror is flipped up.

Mirrorless will get there, it's just a matter of whether or not m43 mirrorless will or not.
 

Armanius

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Gulp ... here I am trying to decide between the EM1ii vs. G9. Although for me, I'm not taking photos of BIF, but rather, of an ever faster toddler. But I suppose even the D500 would make life easier on the not as fast subjects like a toddler. Then thrown in the less inexpensive Fuji XT2 (or whatever is coming up next) in the mix, and things get even more complicated.
 
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I have a sneaking suspicion that Nikon with their new mirrorless offering may surprise everyone with the AF performance. They have a way of making things work sometimes.

I've no real hope for this generation of EM1.2 Even with firmware fixes, a lot of the issues I've had with the C-AF were more with how they handle the Group AF tracking and selection of the target AF. I've been toying with a Pentax Q and on it's S-AF Auto I've had it pick the proper subject more accurately than I remember the EM1.2 doing in a similar mode. How the hell can Olympus allow something like that??? A $2000 flagship from them should be at least on par with a Nikon 51-pt AF system like in the D700/D750/D4. If Olympus ever gets there, My guess is that we are looking at another 2 EM1 iterations (mark IV) and given the refresh cycle Olympus is talking about that is 6 years out.

I don't see too many people waiting that long. By then Canon and Nikon should have fairly robust and viable APS-C/135 mirrorless offerings into the consumer pipeline.

Please don't get me wrong....I think that Olympus has a great product, but they need to reign in the marketing hype and the over reaching promises. Keep them realistic, but we need the base performance to be there before anyone will really care about things like ProCapture or 20fps. If I cannot get the camera to track properly, those options are a very niche use case at best an ones that other cameras have already had (Nikon 1 had those options in the V1). Problem is, Nikon had a 1" sensor camera with horrible controls and an even more pathetic than their DX lens lineup.

All I know is that the D500 is the first camera that I have literally been able to keep the subject basically in the viewfinder, have it get locked on almost immediately and stay stuck on tenaciously through out the whole shooting cycle. That is with the base settings as well. That's not even dipping into the advanced AF features. I though the early reviewers were potential shills, paid mouthpieces when they talked about just how good the D5/D500 AF was. IMHO, if anything Nikon didn't play it up enough!
 

Turbofrog

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To be fair, Panasonic is trudging along with an inferior C-AF method, trying to use CDAF-only, rather than the far better performing and proven PDAF. Why they're being so stubborn is beyond me (although I do recall seeing something on the rumor site a few days ago talking about a few patent filings from Panasonic for PDAF, so maybe they've finally realized the errors in their way).

Olympus though, it's pretty inexcusable IMO. This is now the second-generation of their OSPDAF technology, packed inside of a $2,000 camera that can't compete with its competitors when it comes to demanding C-AF performance. It's a huge let-down really. I'm hopefully that they'll address the issue, but the question is "when"? They also (for some reason beyond my comprehension), made it so that PDAF doesn't work during video. It's CDAF only. WTF? Mic input, flip-around screen, class-leading 5-axis IBIS, 4K video. It's literally a vlogger's dream camera, except for they crippled it by only using CDAF.

As for your comment about mirrorless never making it, Sony is really killing it. The a6500, A9, and A7R3 are all fantastic when it comes to C-AF performance. Fuji is also supposed to be pretty good too with the latest update to the X-T2. And Canon should do just fine when they launch their mirrorless camera, because the Dual Pixel AF acts essentially as a mirrorless camera anyway, since the mirror is flipped up.

Mirrorless will get there, it's just a matter of whether or not m43 mirrorless will or not.
I think we need to walk back on all this a little bit...

The D500 quite literally may have the best autofocus of any camera ever made. It's the same AF system as is used on the Nikon D5, but because of the crop sensor, those PDAF points cover nearly the entire frame.

Just because the D500 is significantly better than the E-M1 II, does not mean that the E-M1 II's autofocus is trash. You're making a false assumption that because the E-M1's AF is worse than the absolute very best AF system on the market, that the AF systems in the X-T2, A6500, A9, or A7r III are "of course going to be better." But there's really no reasonable basis for that conclusion. There is equally as good reason to believe that the D500's AF is still miles better than any of those other mirrorless cameras you mentioned.

Heck, the D500's AF is miles better than any Canon crop DSLR, and I bet you could make a compelling argument that it's better than the $6000 1DX II as well!

DPReview does the most thorough testing of any of the review sites that I know of, and they called the E-M1 II the benchmark for mirrorless autofocus when it came out. They had already reviewed the X-T2 and the A6300 at the time, and they did not change their conclusion when they reviewed the A6500. The A9 set a new milestone, but it's a $4500 body! The A7r III also appears to be extremely good, and I would bet it's probably better than the E-M1 II. But again, that's a brand new $3200 body, more than a year newer and nearly 2x more expensive than the E-M1 II's street price.

Ultimately, this is all about the D500 and the expectation that it sets. If that's the bar you're using, you can expect to be disappointed by every single other camera on the market.
 
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shnitz

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Yes, it feels really good to be able to take an honest look at what you're doing, and see what works best. I like my E-M1, but I take photos of swimming periodically. I have a D7100 with a Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8. It's a no-brainer which to take, because even "just" a D7100 rocks any mirrorless cameras in AF capability. Which is why I own both systems. The D7100 on a nice hiking day means that my backpack is a photo backpack, even with "just" the relatively transportable 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6 and 55-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lenses. Compare that to an E-M1 with 12-40mm and 100-300mm lenses, and those fit in a side satchel without intruding into the hiking gear.

Gulp ... here I am trying to decide between the EM1ii vs. G9. Although for me, I'm not taking photos of BIF, but rather, of an ever faster toddler. But I suppose even the D500 would make life easier on the not as fast subjects like a toddler. Then thrown in the less inexpensive Fuji XT2 (or whatever is coming up next) in the mix, and things get even more complicated.
We aren't talking about the same level whatsoever. An "ever-faster toddler" is still a snail. My iphone can shoot a toddler. Look outside your window and look at how fast birds fly. You often have little warning when they'll be in the air, they fly erratically, swooping, dipping, diving, etc. My old Panasonic G2 could track a toddler, and it's a dinosaur.
 

pdk42

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I think we need to walk back on all this a little bit...

The D500 quite literally may have the best autofocus of any camera ever made. It's the same AF system as is used on the Nikon D5, but because of the crop sensor, those PDAF points cover nearly the entire frame.

Just because the D500 is significantly better than the E-M1 II, does not mean that the E-M1 II's autofocus is trash. You're making a false assumption that because the E-M1's AF is worse than the absolute very best AF system on the market, that the AF systems in the X-T2, A6500, A9, or A7r III are "of course going to be better." But there's really no reasonable basis for that conclusion. There is equally as good reason to believe that the D500's AF is still miles better than any of those other mirrorless cameras you mentioned.

Heck, the D500's AF is miles better than any Canon crop DSLR, and I bet you could make a compelling argument that it's better than the $6000 1DX II as well!

DPReview does the most thorough testing of any of the review sites that I know of, and they called the E-M1 II the benchmark for mirrorless autofocus when it came out. They had already reviewed the X-T2 and the A6300 at the time, and they did not change their conclusion when they reviewed the A6500. The A9 set a new milestone, but it's a $4500 body! The A7r III also appears to be extremely good, and I would bet it's probably better than the E-M1 II. But again, that's a brand new $3200 body, more than a year newer and nearly 2x more expensive than the E-M1 II's street price.

Ultimately, this is all about the D500 and the expectation that it sets. If that's the bar you're using, you can expect to be disappointed by every single other camera on the market.
I guess it's all about expectation setting. Olympus pitched the E-M1ii as a Pro action camera. On the face of it, it's a perfect system:

- Up to 60fps with AF fixed, or 18fps with AF active
- Very deep buffer allowing massive shooting time at full speed, even with raw
- Fancy features like Pro-Capture which are very useful for action
- Excellent long lenses like the 40-150 Pro and 300 Pro which are both sharp and also lightening fast in AF drive
- Top-class IS
- Reasonable NR control up to about ISO 3200
- Compact and light
- PDAF on-chip AF sensels

BUT - although the AF is a lot better than previous cameras, it's still lagging when you ask for real user experience rather than quickie conclusions by the usual reviewers.

Now, I not saying it's a complete fail (nor the others here), but if Olympus really want to crack this sector then they need to get at least close to the market leaders. The D500 might be the best of the bunch, but they're not the only ones that are ahead.

I run an E-M1ii and like it a lot, but I'm not a hard-core action genre tog.

And I'm not dumping on Olympus only. Early reports from the G9 reveal that it too has its limitations. And as Ian said, their pre-occupation with CDAF (DFD) is odd.
 

drd1135

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I have a sneaking suspicion that Nikon with their new mirrorless offering may surprise everyone with the AF performance. They have a way of making things work sometimes.

I've no real hope for this generation of EM1.2 Even with firmware fixes, a lot of the issues I've had with the C-AF were more with how they handle the Group AF tracking and selection of the target AF. I've been toying with a Pentax Q and on it's S-AF Auto I've had it pick the proper subject more accurately than I remember the EM1.2 doing in a similar mode. How the hell can Olympus allow something like that??? A $2000 flagship from them should be at least on par with a Nikon 51-pt AF system like in the D700/D750/D4. If Olympus ever gets there, My guess is that we are looking at another 2 EM1 iterations (mark IV) and given the refresh cycle Olympus is talking about that is 6 years out.

I don't see too many people waiting that long. By then Canon and Nikon should have fairly robust and viable APS-C/135 mirrorless offerings into the consumer pipeline.

Please don't get me wrong....I think that Olympus has a great product, but they need to reign in the marketing hype and the over reaching promises. Keep them realistic, but we need the base performance to be there before anyone will really care about things like ProCapture or 20fps. If I cannot get the camera to track properly, those options are a very niche use case at best an ones that other cameras have already had (Nikon 1 had those options in the V1). Problem is, Nikon had a 1" sensor camera with horrible controls and an even more pathetic than their DX lens lineup.

All I know is that the D500 is the first camera that I have literally been able to keep the subject basically in the viewfinder, have it get locked on almost immediately and stay stuck on tenaciously through out the whole shooting cycle. That is with the base settings as well. That's not even dipping into the advanced AF features. I though the early reviewers were potential shills, paid mouthpieces when they talked about just how good the D5/D500 AF was. IMHO, if anything Nikon didn't play it up enough!
It wouldn't surprise me if NIkon did have good CAF in their upcoming mirrorless camera. Their real advantage may well lie in their focus algorithms which are Nikon's secrets.
 

ijm5012

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It wouldn't surprise me if NIkon did have good CAF in their upcoming mirrorless camera. Their real advantage may well lie in their focus algorithms which are Nikon's secrets.
Nikon's Live View AF sucks balls though. It's nothing like Canon's DPAF, which is on-sensor. Nikon's DSLR's still use a separate phase-detect system, which you can't do with mirrorless, because there's no mirror box.
 
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Nikon's Live View AF sucks balls though. It's nothing like Canon's DPAF, which is on-sensor. Nikon's DSLR's still use a separate phase-detect system, which you can't do with mirrorless, because there's no mirror box.
Well...it sucks balls because they are relying on CDAF only with a set of sensors not really designed for that. If you look at what they are capable of doing with the Nikon 1 series, which does use on sensor PDAF...its a whole different story. On top of that, we don't know just how long Nikon has been working on the soon to be announced mirrorless. My guess is that upscaling the Nikon 1 tech is not going to be that big a deal for Nikon here. The hope is that they can not only hit the 1 series AF performance, but improve.
 

ijm5012

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I think we need to walk back on all this a little bit...
I agree with you that the D500 has the best AF system of anything in a sub $3k body. However...

Your argument that comparing Olympus' flagship model to Nikon's crop-sensor flagship model isn't fair is a bit obscene IMO. Both cameras tout their AF system, AF point coverage, shooting speed, etc. in all their marketing materials, and they both occupy the same price bracket. So it's an extremely fair fight, it's just one that the Nikon wins handily.

IMO, Olympus needs to step up, knowing that the D500 has set the bar, rather than saying "Oh yeah, but that camera is just so good that it's really no fair", which is the argument you're trying to make. That's rubbish IMO.

Regarding the Sony cameras, yes the A9 and A7R3 are more expensive than the E-M1 II, but if Olympus (and Panasonic) are attempting to steal FF users, is it really reasonable to say "Yeah, our C-AF system isn't as good as those other cameras, but we're cheaper so that's gotta be worth something, right?". No professional worth their salt is going to switch to a system that's got worse C-AF performance, and trying to use price as a justification for worse performance is rubbish.

If Olympus and Panasonic are going to position themselves as real alternative to larger sensor systems, then they need to deliver on the performance end of that proposition, and not just rely on saying "Well yeah but we're cheaper and smaller than those other cameras, so the trade-off in performance is worth it". At the end of the day, if you have clients paying you to shoot, they expect you get the shot. If you can't do that with a specific camera, then you better find one that does or you won't be shooting for them anymore.

If you're just a hobbyist looking to get something that performs OK and you're fine with a lower keeper rate, then all of this is irrelevant. I'm looking at this from the standpoint of a working professional. Trying to use price as an excuse to justify worse performance in your flagship camera is a bullshit excuse.
 

ijm5012

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Well...it sucks balls because they are relying on CDAF only with a set of sensors not really designed for that. If you look at what they are capable of doing with the Nikon 1 series, which does use on sensor PDAF...its a whole different story. On top of that, we don't know just how long Nikon has been working on the soon to be announced mirrorless. My guess is that upscaling the Nikon 1 tech is not going to be that big a deal for Nikon here. The hope is that they can not only hit the 1 series AF performance, but improve.
True, I always forget about the 1 series. Hoping that can scale that up to a FF sensor and rival the performance of Canon's DPAF.
 

DynaSport

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I was out birding and ran into a local photographer that I know purely from Facebook. We exchanged pleasantries and went back to shooting birds.
After awhile, we got bored and I borrowed his d500. Now I’ve used one before but we had good light and a lot of birds coming in. The focusing on this camera is seriously incredible. It’s almost effortless to shoot BIF.
I have the keep telling myself all the reasons I chose Oly but there is no doubt we are ages behind on focus tracking.
What lens were you using for BIF?
 

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