E-M1 shoots planes in flight - and fails!

pcrit

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I finally had a chance to try some more shooting with the E-M1 as I have a small airport near my house. I shot with a 75-300mm and mainly in C-AF mode and also with C-AF w/ tracking to see if that helped. They weren't moving all that fast but I missed probably 60-75% of my shots and it would hunt for focus and miss. Anybody else getting the same results? I have some my 6 year old daughter's soccer games and it seemed to be okay but I just didn't seem to find subjects in flight to be reliable at all. My D3 & D3s did not miss a single shot and my friend was shooting right beside me. I really want to love this camera but wondering if it was me or the camera. Any thoughts?
 

Replytoken

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With the right glass, I would be disappointed if your D3 or D3s had a low keeper rate. While your concerns about the E-M1 are not without merit, it is really fair to compare it to these bodies? The D3 set an incredibly high bar when it was released, and few cameras hav ebeen able to meet that level of performance. Having said that, let's get back to the E-M1. It is certainly better than most of the other m4/3rd's cameras, GH$ excluded, but shooting fast moving objects is really not their strong suit. You will need a lot of familiarity,a dn good technique, to get your keeper rate up substantially, and some recent articles from Thom Hogan seem to be toouch on the issue that you raise. I also suspect that the 75-300 may not be the fastest optic, so that probably did not help matters much. If you want to love your E-M1, try to focus on a few of its strengths. And use the Nikons for where they perform best, and where size is not a concern.

Good luck,

--Ken
 

Geoff3DMN

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I have an EM-1 and I love using it for most things but having used the EM-1 and 75-300 for some motorsport shooting it's not in the same league as my older Nikon D7000 (let along the Nikon pro gear!).

My impression is that the EM-1 motosport AF performance is actually inferior to my daughters D3200 as well (and that's an entry level DSLR with about as basic an AF system as they come with).

So... I use my D7000 for the little bit of motor sports I shoot (and think about buying a D7100 or D610) and keep my EM-1 for just about everything else (2 systems but it works for me).
 

penfan2010

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I don't have an E-M1, but have shot planes in flight (WW2 prop and modern jets) during air shows with the Olympus 75-300 MkII and an older 4/3 70-300 with m43 adapter on my E-M5 and older E-P2 and E-PL1 bodies, all of which do not have as good a focusing system as the E-M1. What has helped me is a combination of using my cameras on Single, not Continuous focus, plus relying on timing my shots (sometimes even pre-focusing on full Manual focus setting based on my pre-digital/pre-AF experience shooting sports and air shows; I also use single frame not burst mode). Maybe try Single mode next time? You E-M1 has a superior focusing system so it should be able to capture more in focus photos than my older cameras. Hope this makes sense.

Some examples from the E-M5 and old E-P2:

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Mohun

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This is excellent technique in fitting the subject to the equipment.
 

JudyM

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There are quite a few threads about the shortcomings of m43 autofocus for birds and planes in flight. I've had enough disappointing results that I've all but given up on using autofocus lenses with m43 bodies for birds and planes in flight. I find I have much better luck using manual focus lenses. I pick a far landmark, focus on it, then pan in until I begin to lose focus. I pick another landmark at that point and that's my zone. Whenever my subject is in that zone, I'm reasonably sure it will be in focus. It's not unlike we did with 35mm cameras before autofocus. The first three shots below were taken using manual focus and a zone. The middle one is a little soft, but the other two are pretty sharp.

If I do find myself using autofocus, I do as penfan2010 mentioned. I don't use tracking or continuous autofocus, and I don't shoot bursts. I use single frame autofocus and pump the shutter button to force the camera to focus and refocus until I'm ready to take the shot. The shot of the red plane below was taken with the Panasonic 100-300mm (a lens I love to hate) using this technique.

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P1070094Discovery by j.murphy2, on Flickr

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P1070075Discovery by j.murphy2, on Flickr

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20120602_238 1 by j.murphy2, on Flickr

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20130608_60 (1) by j.murphy2, on Flickr
 

OzRay

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What focus setting did you use? If single point, you're likely to never get good shots. The best thing to do is enable all or no less than the centre nine point focus option, so that the AF sensor sees the entire plane.
 

phigmov

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One thing I've wondered about planes in flight (and BIF for that matter) - is it not possible to manually set focus to infinity and use a high-aperture value to ensure everything is in focus ? In good light, with objects out a few hundred metres or more it should be OK ? Essentially a variation in zone-focus for street photography.
 

Replytoken

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One thing I've wondered about planes in flight (and BIF for that matter) - is it not possible to manually set focus to infinity and use a high-aperture value to ensure everything is in focus ? In good light, with objects out a few hundred metres or more it should be OK ? Essentially a variation in zone-focus for street photography.
You would be somewhat hampered by diffraction and hyperfocal distances with longer focal length lenses. Have a look at a DOF table for 150mm focal length, for example, and you will get an idea of what I mean.

--Ken
 

T N Args

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Why on earth did you use C-AF? Posts 4 and 7 should get you sorted.

The important thing for being a µ4/3 action shooter is that you can't act as dumb as a D4s shooter. You've gotta use your noggin! :eek:
 

lightmonkey

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You would be somewhat hampered by diffraction and hyperfocal distances with longer focal length lenses. Have a look at a DOF table for 150mm focal length, for example, and you will get an idea of what I mean.

--Ken
200MM, F8, 100M (~football field distances) gives a zone of 60M. not bad, right?
 

pcrit

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Nice pictures everyone!!!!!! Thanks for the comments and I am sure a large part of it is user error and getting used to a new system. I don't expect it to perform like my Nikon full frame cameras but I didn't expect it to do as badly as it did and it was okay doing the sports events (soccer games) I shot with it but it seems like flight is not it's strongpoint which I can deal with. I am going to try shooting in AF-S and expanding the focus points to see what a difference that makes. Thanks again for the advice and loving the pictures shot by everybody. I actually almost the exact same space shuttle picture from a trip to Washington a few years ago using my Nikon D7000.
 

Replytoken

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200MM, F8, 100M (~football field distances) gives a zone of 60M. not bad, right?
I am looking at the tables at DOFMaster, and they only go out to 50m. For the lens and aperture that you have quoted, the DOF at 50m is 43.5 (near) and 63 (far). The hyperfocal distance at f/8 is 334m (near). I suspect that 200mm at those distances is not going to fill a frame easily unless you are photographing a somewhat large object. So, yes, it is possible, but it seems like a number of other factors will need to be alinged in your favor to get a decent number of high quality keepers.

--Ken
 

nstelemark

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Shot while I was taking pictures of the heavy lift ship - https://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?t=50260&page=20&p=667176#post667176

E-M1 + 50-200 f3.5 @200

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