EM1 settings for BIF.. Advice

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by bbarnett51, Jan 30, 2016.

  1. bbarnett51

    bbarnett51 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 23, 2015
    I just moved over from Canon and I'm using the EM1 and 50-200swd.(my ec14 hasn't arrived yet).
    The EM1 is a different animal. My Canon I had back button focus, AI SERVO, and focus tracking set to slow so it wouldn't be so quick to jump focus on a bird.
    What are the best settings for the em-1??
  2. jackthehat

    jackthehat Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 8, 2014
    Cumbria, UK
    I don't have the E-M1 but I do shoot BIF with Canon DSLRs. All I can say is that you will probably become frustrated. The E-M1 can handle a variety of action but BIF is a different animal altogether (no pun intended).
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Turn the Luck dial to 11, and use a lens with with fast, powerful motor(s).
  4. robcee

    robcee Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 10, 2016
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Rob Campbell
    you can set the EM1 to use back focus in the Buttons/Lever section of the gear menu. Set AEL/AFL to Mode 2 or 3, I forget which. That'll now work as an AF button and the shutter button half-press will lock exposure.

    I'd probably set your focus area to be a large chunk of the screen and focus mode to C-AF+tracking.
  5. schlumbeb

    schlumbeb New to Mu-43

    Oct 4, 2012
    This requires me to put the camera in C-AF mode, change C-AF to Mode 4, (Custom Menu/gears, Menu AF/MF, AEL/AFL, C-AF, to Mode 4) which makes the AEL/AFL button the button for focusing and not the shutter button! This setup also requires that I have release priority set for C-AF. Custom Menu (gears), Menu C Release, Rls Prioirty C - On.
    So now I just reassign the AEL/AFL function to the Fn1 button - Custom Menu (gears). Menu B Button/Dial/Lever, Button Function, Fn1 Function, and set AEL/AFL, press Ok.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. mcasan

    mcasan Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 26, 2014
    For fast wildlife such as BIF, I set up a MySet with aperture priority, F 4, ISO 1600, C-AF with tracking, mode 3, high speed shutter, center-weighted metering, and the block of 9 AF points starting in the middle of the screen.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    All good advice so far. I'm afraid that for picking up a woodpecker as it leaves the woods for you feeder is always going to be tough with current m43 cameras. Tracking an eagle or something bigger should be fine.

    Unfortunately this is a weakness of these cameras. We're all hoping that the e-m1mk2 brings improvement.
  8. kiwirobfinland

    kiwirobfinland Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 31, 2016
    Hi i have my em-1 settings for BIF
    S shutter speed as fast as ISO will allow
    sequential L or h
    C-AF TR (traking) not C-AF
    C-AF works well with sports but C-AF TR seems to work a lot better BIF
    af set with 9 squares
    it works a lot better then most people think (mostly not as good as your canon)
    the lens you are using make a big difference
    my 40-150mm f2.8 hits the mark more often then not but is too short for birding most off the time some days you get lucky
    my 75-300mm not so much i think that it has some thing too do with focus speed of the lens
    (the lens you have has something off a cult following from some of the post here i can see why)
    i hope that helps
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
    • Like Like x 4
    • Winner Winner x 1
  9. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    So far good advice but don't bother using sequential high with the 50-200. The 4/3 lenses have slower aperture mechanisms and will top out around 6.5fps when using continuous focus. In S-AF they can shoot at 10fps but when trying to do continuous focus they slow down. Also, the 50-200 will not shoot at 10fps (even in S-AF) unless you are shooting wide-open. It's nice that the lens is perfectly sharp wide-open (even with the EC-14) so you are only effected by the slower shooting in S-AF if you are trying to get more DoF.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  10. jyc860923

    jyc860923 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 28, 2012
    Shenyang, China
    I don't have the em1 but from my experience of shooting running dog, a fast lens is also quite necessary. I'm using the 40-150 2.8 lens, and there's little to none lag with its aperture mechanism, you can shoot at higher f stops for larger DOF without worrying the aperture mechanism slows things down, all my other lenses act slower in burst when stopped down.
  11. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Hi Barnett,

    I shoot BIF HH with the ZD 300 f2.8 usually w/ the EC14 attached. I've posted many here. Depending, my keeper rate can be 70% or 20% when I'm able to get the BIF in the frame. Framing HH @ 425mm is pretty tough so now that I have a gimbal, I'll be doing less HH.

    There are a couple important things to know about your lens choice. Phocal has hit on a part of it. All the 43 lenses use AF motors and aperture servos that by today's standards & in comparison to the E-M1 are pretty slow. Adding to that is the lack of a focus limiter switch on the 50-200. So it will go on a long hunt if you miss initial focus lock. Thankfully the ZD300 has a focus limiter because it too is pretty slow. My acquaintances who have gotten a 7DmII who I've shot BIF side-by-side w/ have all sold their EF mkI lenses to buy the mkII versions. Similar problems there too. So adjust your expectations.

    Those slow AF motors have another larger affect too. Besides all the well known variability in BIF conditions, the slow motors mean there is less, little? impact on keepers from the many possible changes in camera settings - almost any settings will work in some situations. As a result, you'll see lots of differing recommendations for camera settings. So I try to look beyond the camera to figure out how to be most successful. I spent days shooting RC airplanes in flight trying different settings so learned this lesson the hard way.

    The 2 factors that have the biggest impact on my BIF success are bird size & backgrounds. Big birds, little background distraction=hi keepers. Distracting backgrounds are the biggest problem for my gear. In all cases, getting quick initial focus lock is the key to success. Given the weak tracking capability of the E-M1/43 lens combo, I do everything I can to get good initial focus lock. The first of these is prefocus. Remember there is no C-AF w/ MF mode so prefocus is done a different way. I frequently aim the camera a anything at about the right shooting distance & half press the shutter button before a BIF has shown up. The other thing I do is set up a button to switch between all & single AF points. For BIF w/ little background distraction I use all AF points - my default. For distracting backgrounds, I switch to single point & try like hell to get it on the bird before pressing the shutter. Once initial focus is achieved, will get lots of keepers.

    Haven't found using only 9 AF points to have any benefit. Distracting backgrounds remain a problem & to little of the frame is active when trying for a fast small bird. Same goes for C-AT+Tr.

    The one setting I've seen that makes a noticeable difference is C-AF Lock (Off, Low, Normal, High). Any of the On settings will slow the lens from making significant focus changes. In a multi image sequence, the ZD 300 will bounce out of focus about every 3rd/4th image & using C-AF Lock Low reduces that problem. But it also will slow the lens acquiring initial focus lock if I'm not prefocused at the right distance. For me Normal & High setting are much too strong but then I have a focus limiter switch.

    Have tried Frame Rate Normal & High. Using High Frame Rate in theory should speed AF but I haven't been able to detect a significant difference. Same for turning Release Time Lag to Short. And using High Frame Rate prevents use of focus peaking.

    Some have suggested using C-AF Release Priority On speeds up initial focus lock. I find it only increases the number of rejects. An alternative I haven't tried yet is Full-time AF. I suspect that distracting backgrounds would make this setting useless unless you can get a single AF point on the bird so I'll give it a try w/ camera on gimbal.

    I expect the new MZ 300f4 or the MZ 40-150mm F2.8 will be a completely different ball game & look forward to owning the 300 eventually.

    Hope this is helpful for you.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2016
    • Informative Informative x 5
    • Like Like x 3
  12. bbarnett51

    bbarnett51 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 23, 2015
    Thanks for all the help. Olympus is a different animal compared to my Canon. HOWEVER, I was able to mess with a few settings and get some tack sharp bird shots. I'll post up tomorrow.
    The is definitely a maddening curve but I'm starting to like it.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. RenaudVL

    RenaudVL Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 21, 2011
  14. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    I've tested this carefully. It doesn't help AF for several reasons. PDAF used for 43 lenses doesn't rely on image contrast. Oly CDAF boosts image contrast to max just before doing AF so such settings can' t add anything.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. Sniksekk

    Sniksekk Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Apr 7, 2015
    A little of topic.
    Marathon, same settings as BIF? (10 km marathon finishing line).

    Can I zoom out at the same time as tracking and shooting? Or will this make the pictures miss?
    Lens 40-150 pro.
  16. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Shot skateboarders sometime ago. Face detect works pretty good so I'd try that if your location provides a good view of faces.

    As for zooming, consider using S-AF & single exposures AS YOU ZOOM or really slowing the frame rate for L-Sequential & C-AF.

    High frame rate for the EVF might be helpful w/ the Pro lens.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2016
    • Informative Informative x 1
  17. Kazooless

    Kazooless Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 5, 2015
    Jeff Kazules
    I use the M.Zuiko 75-300mm II with an E-M1 and I also use the EE-1 Dot Sight for BIF. I have had great success with this combo. The settings I use are the 9 squares, C-AF with highest speed to get the dual focus option. I've never used a high-end Canon or Nikon DSLR with a 600mm, but I can't imagine being much happier than I am now with the results I'm getting. Take a look at my most recent BIF's on Flickr: kazooless
    • Agree Agree x 1
  18. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
  19. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    I've been using my E-M1 since the camera first came out, using the O300-75II, P 45-175/4-5.6 & P35-100/2.8, and didn't find any of the AF settings to work particularly well for BIF. Based on using a LX100 for several months, and finding the AF good for moving subjects, I bought a GX8. The AF is just plain faster and better for BIF even with the Olympus lens which doesn't utilize DFD. The follwing shots were done with single point AF, CAF medium speed (4fps)

    This is less than a 1/4 of the frame of a hawk (O300-75II):
    24780636091_d6007d7671_b.jpg P1000198 by Bruce Rubenstein, on Flickr

    Brown Pelican, 1/2 frame P35-100 (the underside was in deep shadows and needed a significant boost):
    View attachment 456274 P1000468 by Bruce Rubenstein, on Flickr

    Compared to the EM-1 with rel 4.x FW, the in body IBIS of the GX8 is not too great, even when using Dual IS with the 35-100. SS with the mechanical shutter is an issue, but the electronic shutter works fine and there were no issues with rolling shutter. It's much less than the E-M1.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  20. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    This is an Osprey (Pandit Haliaetus) and while a member of the Accipitriformes order (same as all raptors) he is in a different family and genus. Actually the Osprey is part of a genus all his own because of characteristics completely different from all other hawks/eagles/owls/falcons.

    Sorry, just super anal about bird identification.
    • Like Like x 3
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.