G9 with birds

Armanius

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Very very cool sequence of photos! And nice blow by blow commentary!

How much time transpired between the first and last photo? Did you take all of them with one long burst using cAF, one shot at a time with sAF, or something else?
 

Ziggy

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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #44
The Australasian Darter is an Anhinga. This is a female or immature drying out and hopping about in a tree before launching.
The others (both third to a half crops): Rainbow Lorikeets grooming; Willie Wagtail (a fantail).

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retiredfromlife

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So just for fun here is one of my Darters thinking it's a Tree Creeper. Have to say I was gobsmacked and wonder without the shots whether anyone would believe me about this.

Again, I'm very happy with the sharpness of the plumage.

The shots are not edited and only saved to JPEG in LR with std sharpening. I never have to touch WB in the field but I do a fair amount of on-the-fly exposure compensation given the changing light and these contrasty birds. The front wheel is assigned to that.

Lining up ...
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A kick of the the feet and flapping the wings ...View attachment 608969

Having a rest & checking the audience ...
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Claws in, wings out ...
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Take a break, take in the view ...
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Still a way to go ...
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Wing assist ...
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Sticking the beak in as an anchor ...
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Made it!View attachment 608977

OK. Dry the plumage out a bit more. So, what next?
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Well, take a walk with a jump or two along this branch ...
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This is a bit of a stretch ...
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OK, airspace is clear ...
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And away we go ...
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So that's a pretty interesting bit of learning. Normally it would have to spend a good deal of time drying out in order to be able lift off from ground level but with a bit of ingenuity it's given itself more options.
Great series especially since it tells a story
 

Armanius

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Great photos! It'd be awesome if y'all could describe and comment on the settings used and the shooting experience. Thank you!
 

masayoshi

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Great photos! It'd be awesome if y'all could describe and comment on the settings used and the shooting experience. Thank you!
Thanks! Sure, these are some settings I'm using now.

I have set up all the custom modes (C1, C2, C3-1) as Shutter priority, SS=1/2000, Auto iso (no upper limit), only Mechanical shutter. I use back button focus to disable shutter AF, and use AF/AE lock to activate AF. AF mode is AFC most of the time unless the bird is deep in the branches. Drive mode is set to H, and I don't change that (big work in post to discard garbage!). Picture quality/saving config: RAW is saved in disk 1, and JPEG (normal, medium size) is saved in disk 2. This seems to clear buffer very fast.

AF target area setup looks like this: C1 is a single box in the center; C2 is 5 boxes in diamond shape (3 vertical 3 horizontal); C3 is 13 boxes in diamond shape (5 vertical 5 horizontal). AF area mode is 'Custom multi' and C1 (in the Custom Multi menu) is used to register these target box configuration. By rotating the mode dial between C1-C3, I can change the size of the AF target area 'on the fly' without going to button/joystick/menu.

In the field, when I see the bird perching on the pole (like the bald eagle), I switch to C1 (single box AF target), and try to focus on the bird's eye, then take a few shots. Quickly review the bird's eye looks good, and if not, I switch to MF to take a few more shots. As soon as I see the bird is trying to fly away, I switch to C2 or C3 (with my right hand reaching to the mode dial, while left hand keeps the lens), and start burst shooting. Once the bird flies out, I have to keep the bird within the AF target box, so the size of the target area is very important. If I forget to switch to C2/3, then keeping the single box on the flying bird is almost impossible, and then lose the focus. Between 5 box (C2) and 13 box (C3), it is a matter of try & error right now, but it seems 13 target boxes work better for eagles and hawks. When the bird like hawk is flying out of branches (the example above), I tend to use 5 target box configuration, but so far the success is only a couple of instances, so I don't know if I keep that or not. For the bald eagle flying on icy lake, I used 13 target box, and that seems to become my favorite (like Nikon D500 Group fox box).

Hope this is something informative.
 

Gillymaru

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Wet and hungry G9 and 100-400mm
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Armanius

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Thanks! Sure, these are some settings I'm using now.

I have set up all the custom modes (C1, C2, C3-1) as Shutter priority, SS=1/2000, Auto iso (no upper limit), only Mechanical shutter. I use back button focus to disable shutter AF, and use AF/AE lock to activate AF. AF mode is AFC most of the time unless the bird is deep in the branches. Drive mode is set to H, and I don't change that (big work in post to discard garbage!). Picture quality/saving config: RAW is saved in disk 1, and JPEG (normal, medium size) is saved in disk 2. This seems to clear buffer very fast.

AF target area setup looks like this: C1 is a single box in the center; C2 is 5 boxes in diamond shape (3 vertical 3 horizontal); C3 is 13 boxes in diamond shape (5 vertical 5 horizontal). AF area mode is 'Custom multi' and C1 (in the Custom Multi menu) is used to register these target box configuration. By rotating the mode dial between C1-C3, I can change the size of the AF target area 'on the fly' without going to button/joystick/menu.

In the field, when I see the bird perching on the pole (like the bald eagle), I switch to C1 (single box AF target), and try to focus on the bird's eye, then take a few shots. Quickly review the bird's eye looks good, and if not, I switch to MF to take a few more shots. As soon as I see the bird is trying to fly away, I switch to C2 or C3 (with my right hand reaching to the mode dial, while left hand keeps the lens), and start burst shooting. Once the bird flies out, I have to keep the bird within the AF target box, so the size of the target area is very important. If I forget to switch to C2/3, then keeping the single box on the flying bird is almost impossible, and then lose the focus. Between 5 box (C2) and 13 box (C3), it is a matter of try & error right now, but it seems 13 target boxes work better for eagles and hawks. When the bird like hawk is flying out of branches (the example above), I tend to use 5 target box configuration, but so far the success is only a couple of instances, so I don't know if I keep that or not. For the bald eagle flying on icy lake, I used 13 target box, and that seems to become my favorite (like Nikon D500 Group fox box).

Hope this is something informative.
Very very helpful! Thank you!

Do you change any of the tracking sensitivity? Any particular reason you chose the mechanical shutter at 9 fps vs the e-shutter at 20 fps? How is the infamous "flutter" that DPReview discussed while shooting CAF at high speed? Thank you!
 

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  • G9 vs. D500 vs. EM1 BIF Shootout

Salton Sea Location
Got my G9 last Wednesday, my birthday and my present to myself, and went out the next 2 days to the Salton Sea to photographs BIF. For those that don’t know the Salton Sea is a oval shaped lake in a NW to SE orientation about 35 miles long by 10-15 miles wide, located in S. California desert about 120 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. In the early 1900’s the Colorado River along the AZ/CA border overflowed and water was diverted to this area, as It about 250 feet below sea level, and the lake was re-born. (An ancient lake had dried up thousands of years ago). Today the Salton Sea is pretty desolate, forgotten by all except for a few hardy residents and many, many birds. Mostly herons, gulls, pelicans, terns, clappers, plovers, geese and ducks. Hawks, vultures ands osprey are seen too. During the winter migration there over 400 species of migrating birds, so it can be a great place to photograph BIF.

I went early morning to the East side of the lake, so the sun would be behind me or to the South, thus assuring good light for most photos, as my goal was really to test the AF-C functions against each other, more so than getting dramatic photos. I went to a place called Bombay Beach which has lots of gulls and they were most cooperative in allowing me to photograph them. This area has a big flat beach and water comes in to low areas a few inches deep, with the birds completely surrounding the low areas. I slowly worked my way between a couple of these areas right next to the shoreline and was able to take photos of the birds flying N & S along the shore. Here I could get consistent repeatable results. There was some wind and the birds, although mostly cruising, moved pretty fast, I would guesstimate between 20-25 MPH.

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Photo Gear Setups
The G9 is my first Lumix body, though I have been shooting M4/3 for over 5 years now, first with the EM5, EM5 MKII, and for the last 4 years the EM1, of which I have 2. I also use Nikon gear too, have since the mid-1980’s, and last year bought a D500 instead of a EM1 MKII, as I just was never really happy with my EM1’s for action sports or BIF and did not feel that Olympus was being truthful about the new EM1 MKII for fast action and specifically for the type of shooting I did for this test. Most readers would be interested in how the G9 performs with the Olympus 40-150mm Pro f2.8 lens and how it performs against the D500, being one of the best AF systems available, but I thought why not compare all 3 cameras for this shoot, as there are a lot of EM1 owners who may not have upgraded to a newer body yet.

The gear setups used were the G9 with the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 Pro the 1st day and the 2nd day with the MC-14 added. The EM1 used the same lens the 1st day, but I didn’t shoot it the 2nd day or with the teleconverter. (Wish I had as you will see why in the final results). For the D500 I used the 70-200mm f2.8 VR the 1st day and changed to the 180mm f2.8 and 300mm f4 the 2nd day. Just to qualify, my 70-200 is the original VR version 1, the latest is V3, and it was introduced in 2003, though I bought it new in 2005. So it is a 15 plus year old design, but it has VR (2 stops) and is exceptionally sharp. Of course the VR wasn’t used due to the high shutter speeds. The 180mm D-IF-ED f2.8 is a design from 1995 and the 300mm f4 D IF-ED is from 2000, so they are even older designs, no VR, but as you will see, they too are very sharp lenses.

Trying to make the setting as even as possible I shot AF-C, Aperture priority wide open, the base ISO and let the shutter speed float. As it was a “Sunny 16 day” both days, this meant I would be at 1/2000 to 1/8000 ss. No filters were used. While I always shoot Raw plus Jpeg, one of the reasons I love the 2nd card slot in the G9, what is presented here are jpeg’s sooc. I shot in the Standard picture mode on the G9 and D500, and in Natural mode with the EM1. No other adjustments were made, other than cropping. The G9 was set to the “I” Burst mode L (2 FPS, see G9 Issues below) with AF Custom Setting Set 4 and IBIS on. The D500 was set to CL at 4 FPS and 25 point dynamic area AF with focus tracking with lock on in the middle settings. The EM1 was set to Sequential L at 4FPS, IBIS on. All cameras were set to Auto WB.

G9 Issues
I am not a “spray and pray” shooter and most times with AF-C I shoot at 3 or 4 FPS, as I find this slower speed allows me to watch what is happening in the viewfinder and see if the focus may be off, so I can momentarily lift my finger to have the camera refocus. Both the EM1 and D500 have many FPS speeds, but with the G9 it seems to be fixed. High is 9, Medium is 7 and Low is 2? Where the heck is 3, 4, 5 and 6 FPS?? I had both pdf manuals with me on my iPad, but could not find anywhere to adjust the FPS settings. I certainly hope I am wrong on this, as this is a Huge blunder if it is the case.

Unfortunately for about one third of the G9 shots, I kept accidentally hitting (I assume) the control dial and changing the aperture from f2.8 to f3.5 up to f5.6. This happened more than a few times and is way too easy to do. (this has never happened with my EM1 or D500.) Luckily only about 170 of the 3,000 G9 photos were at shutter speeds of under 1/2000 and the rating results for these 170 photos were just about the same as the overall average G9 rating, thanks to the bright sun, so really no issue except that it kept happening! (I have since learned that the G9 control dial, the one around the Menu/Set button, can be locked via a menu function and I have now mapped this to a function button. The aperture and SS still change with the front and back dials even if locked function is on though.)

Besides the aperture changing and the lack of being able to shoot at 4FPS, the two other frustrating issues with the G9 were the viewfinder being dark and the AF area selection changing. The EVF is DARK, 1 stop darker than the EM1 and more like 1-1/2 stops vs. the D500. It makes it difficult to see focus or the subject, especially with bright outside sun and then having to look at the dark EVF. Kinda like wearing sunglasses, going inside and removing them, it takes a few seconds for your eyes to adjust. It was very disturbing and I again referred to the manuals and found nothing on this. By accident I happened to hit the control dial (again) and this changed the EV and I noticed the EVF got brighter. So the rest of the day and the next I shot at + 1 stop EV so I could see the EVF with the same brightness as the EM1 and D500. Can’t believe this is the only way to increase EVF brightness, so if anyone can help me with this I would appreciate it.

On the AF area selection I wanted a diamond pattern about 5w by 5h and with having the 3 by 3 grid turned on, I would start out with this in the center part of the screen and move the camera and joystick to make panning adjustments as necessary. (love the AF joystick for this.) So I hit Fnc 1 button, set the diamond shape pattern, hit set and it would remain for a few shots, but then the AF pattern kept going back to a diamond pattern that was about 3 times the size and take up more than the center grid. OK with this one I did discover a cure, there is a custom AF pattern. I thought hitting the Set button (either on the screen or inside the Control dial) would hold the pattern, but they do not. You need to add it as a custom pattern first, and only then will the Set press hold the pattern and name it C1. This C1 pattern is now viewable when I hit the Fnc 1 button, but it is Not the same as the C1 on the top Mode dial, which I have not gotten into yet…..

Like I said before, this is my first Lumix camera and some of these issues are no doubt due to my lack of experience with the interface and controls. But it doesn’t help that unfortunately the G9 manual (either version) is pretty worthless, as many others have noted. The D500 has a 400 page manual, plus a 200 page Menu guide and 3 specific situation shooting manuals of 40 to 60 pages each for Sports, Movies and a Tech guide, and all are pretty clear. Functions are not just mentioned as to which button turns the feature on/off, but fully explained from a technical point of view and with what to expect with the different settings. Such a HUGE difference vs. Panasonic, as it seems their puny manual is a afterthought.

Photos below all 100% crops, test results in the next post.


G9 40-150mm @ 150mm with distracting object in background, did not affect AF
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G9 40-150mm at 150mm
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G9 with 40-150mm @135mm
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D500 with 70-200 Very tough condition getting landing gulls near the flocks, most times AF on all bodies went bonkers.
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D500 300mm f4 Even though 100% crop here, you can't really see the water drop hanging on the beak or the smaller droplet that landed on the feathers just behind the beak. Love the 300mm, it is so sharp.
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D500 300mm f4-Look close, the Yellow footed gull is looking at me with both eyes..so funny
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D500 180mm f2.8 Checking out the landing zone
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EM1 40-150 f2.8
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EM1 40-150mm. This is the unsharpest of the 3 star ratings, but the only white heron (Snowy Egret) in the 2 days. Had the EM1 in hand when it flew over.
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EM1 40-150mm f2.8
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SpecFoto

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G9 vs. D500 vs. EM1 BIF Shootout-Part 2

The Ratings and Results


Shooting almost 6,500 photos with 3 camera for this test meant I had to have a quick and simple system for reviewing and rating the photos. I choose LR Classic CC (Mac) as the G9 is supported and used a 1, 2 or 3 star system. With the caps lock key on, as I hit the appropriate number key, it would advance to the next photo. Still it took 2-1/2 days though to go through all the photos. 1 star means the photo was out of focus, 2 stars means the photo looked OK at the normal viewing size on my 27” monitors and 3 stars means when the photo is zoomed in to 100%, it is critically sharp. By this I mean the eyes were in perfect focus, the feathers had great details, the feet, if visible, were sharp. Any blurred areas and the photo was rated a 2. As most of these photos were taken at distances of 20 meters or more to the birds, the DOF was not really an issue. For the few photos taken at 15 meters or less, if the AF was properly focused on the birds head and some of the wing tips were soft because of the DOF, it was given a rating of 3.

Here are the rating results on 6,442 photos listed by the best performing in Rating #3 Critically Sharp.

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OK, no surprise, the D500 AF cleaned house…. did anyone actually think it wouldn’t? But the G9 with the Olympus 40-150 did very well against the comparable FL Nikon zoom, being less than 10% behind in the #3 Critically Sharp rating. I am impressed. Compare this to the EM1 with the 40-150, only 1/3 the amount of keepers vs the D500 and the zoom. This has been my long term experience for the EM1, I felt lucky if my keeper rate ever got to 20% for these types of BIF photos. This is the reason I only shot the EM1 for less than 450 photos, the results are not going to change.

The big surprise though is how bad the G9 with the 40-150 and the MC-14 did. Less than 7% keepers! So many of the photos were were just off by a bit, and thus were rated as a 2. As I mentioned in the Gear Setups above, I did not shoot the EM1 with the MC-14, but in the past I have gotten very good results with this combo for other types of non-action shooting. On the 2nd day I took about 50 photos with the G9 and MC-14 of some terns and plover shorebirds who were not flying but just walking in shallow water, and even those results were dismal. Something just can’t be right with this and I plan on going back next week to reshoot both the G9 and EM1 with the MC-14 (with cleaned contacts).

The other surprise to me is that the best AF performance was with my longest lens, the AFS 300mm f4. For comparison, this lens is just about the same size and weight as the Olympus 300mm f4, being 6mm shorter and 35 grams lighter. With the 1.5x crop factor of the D500 bringing the FL to 450mm, this was the most fun lens to shoot with. But as far as making a small kit, the 180mm f2.8 easily wins this, it is almost 1/2 the weight, thinner and 80mm shorter than 70-200 Zoom or 300mm f/4 and has a really cool sliding built-in metal hood. Heck, it is even thinner and smaller than the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 (with its huge plastic hood), same weight though, and it becomes a 270mm f2.8, pretty close to the FL of the Olympus zoomed out, but with a much higher keeper rate. I have not used this lens for fast actions or BIF shots before, it has been mostly used for portraits, but that will change because of the impressive results I obtained in this test.

While I haven’t mentioned IQ, I will say that all 3 of these camera produce great results. I will continue to use my EM1’s even though I have a newer 20MP body in the G9. And as far as a difference between the G9 and the D500, well even at 100% crop I do not see a difference with the photos I took. Maybe in your situation you will, but for me they are equals in the IQ department at base ISO. Hope this test is useful for some of you. If you have any comments, suggestions or want to lend me a EM1 MKII to do additional tests, just let me know.

G9 40-150 @150 with MC-14. One of the very few keepers I got with this combination.
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ijm5012

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Very detailed post @SpecFoto. I’m surprised that the E-M1 did so piss-poor, and I’m also surprised at the lower performance of the 70-200 VR. It must be something to do with it’s age. I have a VR II with mine, and it performs great. I can’t see why anyone would buy the latest VR III unless they’re shooting skmehig like a D850.

The G9 did great with the supposed non-DFD compatible 40-150 PRO. I truly wonder if there’s actually a difference in performance, or if Panasonic creates a profile for the Olympus lenses but is simply telling people they didn’t to try to drive sales of Panasonic lenses.
 

SpecFoto

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Very detailed post @SpecFoto. I’m surprised that the E-M1 did so piss-poor, and I’m also surprised at the lower performance of the 70-200 VR. It must be something to do with it’s age. I have a VR II with mine, and it performs great. I can’t see why anyone would buy the latest VR III unless they’re shooting skmehig like a D850.

The G9 did great with the supposed non-DFD compatible 40-150 PRO. I truly wonder if there’s actually a difference in performance, or if Panasonic creates a profile for the Olympus lenses but is simply telling people they didn’t to try to drive sales of Panasonic lenses.

My EM1's both seem about the same in CA-F and BIF, to use your phrase "piss-poor". This has not changed over the years. But for almost every other situation I have been happy. I intend to shoot the 2nd EM1 body when I head back to the Salton Sea next week.

My AF-C results with the 70-200 for other situations with surfers, air shows or other birds like pelicans has resulted in more keepers too. OK, to be honest I knew the D500 would win this contest so I tended to shoot the more difficult conditions for more photos on the 1st day with the 70-200. This meant shooting more of the gulls coming in low for a landing in the flock, which was a real problem for all 3 bodies, or flying low against the water with lots of sun glare, or shooting them if they went the opposite side of me so a 10' tall hill of sand, rocks and gull crap was the background, this caused a lot of AF confusion. And this is reflected in all the results, as all 3 bodies had problems acquiring AF in these conditions. In these situations the D500 was about 35% OOF, 45% 3 stars and 20% 2 stars. So it skewed the results somewhat, but less than 5 percent vs. the other combinations.

I know Panasonic tests the Olympus gear against and with theirs, or how else did they discover almost 3 months before the new 200mm f2.8 was released that there was a focusing issue that Olympus needed to fix on it's camera bodies? Maybe they did provide a 40-150 f2.8 profile for the G9 DFD, but it sure seems they forgot to include the MC-14 in that equation.
 
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hoodlum

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I know Panasonic tests the Olympus gear against and with theirs, or how else did they discover almost 3 months before the new 200mm f2.8 was released that there was a focusing issue that Olympus needed to fix on it's camera bodies? Maybe they did provide a 40-150 f2.8 profile for the G9 DFD, but it sure seems they forgot to include the MC-14 in that equation.
That is interesting. I wonder how the Olympus 300mm F4 would do with C-AF on the G9.
 

masayoshi

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Thanks for testing and write ups @SpecFoto Great information!

One thing about 1.4x TC, is of course lighting, and if you test 40-150mm F2.8, versus F4 and F5.6, without using TC, you may reproduce the (poor) results of TC. Would you be willing to do that in the next test? In my own experience, G9's AFC gets significantly slower in low light, while D500 still maintains the speed of AFC. This is critical, when the bird is something like hawk or harrier, and flying on marsh/bush in cloudy day or at sunset. Lock-on becomes extremely difficult with G9, while D500 still 'grabs' the focus like magic (you know what I'm saying?). But I'm comparing PL100-400 (G9) to 300 PF (D500), i.e. different lens on different body, so my conclusion is not really scientific at all. In the end, we need to use our tools where they excel. To me, m43 wins when I need to walk several miles with it, or I need to take photos right away from the car. D500 and big lens (like 200-500mm) wins when the subject is close from basecamp (car for me) and I can set up gimbal/tripod or supporting monopod etc. 300PF is actually getting more use, because portability is good (lighter than EM1.2 w/ 300F4), AF is extremely fast.
 

SpecFoto

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Thanks for testing and write ups @SpecFoto Great information!

One thing about 1.4x TC, is of course lighting, and if you test 40-150mm F2.8, versus F4 and F5.6, without using TC, you may reproduce the (poor) results of TC. Would you be willing to do that in the next test? In my own experience, G9's AFC gets significantly slower in low light, while D500 still maintains the speed of AFC.
Well actually in part 1 of the post under the G9 Issues, 2nd paragraph I told how I inadvertently changed the G9 Control dial a few times for about 1/3 of the total G9 photos (1,000), affecting the aperture. :confused-53: The aperture went from f2.8 to between f3.5 and f5.6, but the rating numbers were pretty consistent with the overall G9 rating. It was a bright day, but I did not notice ANY AF hunting or slowness at all with the 40-150mm and the G9 during this test. But yeah, when back there next week I will try to shoot at the mid range f stops and let the ISO climb, as I want to see what noise I will find at higher ISO's.
 

masayoshi

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Well actually in part 1 of the post under the G9 Issues, 2nd paragraph I told how I inadvertently changed the G9 Control dial a few times for about 1/3 of the total G9 photos (1,000), affecting the aperture. :confused-53: The aperture went from f2.8 to between f3.5 and f5.6, but the rating numbers were pretty consistent with the overall G9 rating. It was a bright day, but I did not notice ANY AF hunting or slowness at all with the 40-150mm and the G9 during this test. But yeah, when back there next week I will try to shoot at the mid range f stops and let the ISO climb, as I want to see what noise I will find at higher ISO's.
Ah, you shot aperture priority, I missed that, :sorry:
Maybe shoot in cloudy day on purpose?
 

SpecFoto

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Ah, you shot aperture priority, I missed that, :sorry:
Maybe shoot in cloudy day on purpose?
Don't worry about it, my testing post was a real long one and it was easy to miss small details.

As cloudy days never occur in the So Cal dessert :2thumbs:, I have a better solution. I will shoot with my 2 and 4 stop ND filters to slow things down with the Olympus lens. I use these all the time for portrait work with flash and the G9 better not slow AF down at f4 or f5.6. Even though I have many more Olympus lenses than Panasonic, the real reason I bought the G9 was so I could utilize the aperture ring on my Nocticron and use dual IS 2. About 1/2 of ALL my M4/3 shots are with that lens, it just rocks!! I had a fine art portrait session in the Hi Desert on Saturday and took about 450 photos, but all were at f1.2 to f1.6 and had the 3 stop ND filter on the Nocticron, so I could shoot at that wide of an aperture. There was no slowness at all with that setup.
 
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