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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I hope you can get a hold of am EM1.2. I'd be very interested in the results.