Help with Focusing on moving objects

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by Mathom33, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. Mathom33

    Mathom33 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 4, 2013
    The other day I decided to take some pictures of my dogs while chasing a ball.

    This is my first non point and shoot camera. I'm using a GX1 with the 45-200mm lens. Using the action setting, the camera seems to focus on the background more than on the moving subject.

    Is there a technique or setting to set focus on a moving target, or are these types of cameras not fast enough for this.

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  2. heli-mech

    heli-mech Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Mar 9, 2012
    Vancouver Island, Canada
    Use the smallest single point AF setting but its pretty much a limitation of m4/3, and contrast detection AF. You can partially overcome it by prefocusing and anticipating when the subject will be at your prefocused spot.
  3. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    Keep the subject larger in the frame (as with the first shot), so that your focus point is most likely to choose it.

    On a couple of shots, in particular the second shot, it appears that the focus may have been correct (grass below dog is in focus), but that your shutter speed was too slow, resulting in subject blur. Do you know what it was for those shots? You may have to bump the ISO some more (and/or use a faster lens) to freeze the action. I shot a hockey practice a couple weeks back and had to use ISO1600 (or higher) to get the shutter speed above 1/800s on an f/2.8 zoom lens in order to really freeze the players' sticks and the puck. You are shooting in better light, so you probably don't have to go that high.

    However, as heli-mech said, contrast detection AF does have a problem with tracking focus and even single action shots. It's probably the third biggest thing (behind marketing and completeness of the lens system) that is keeping mirrorless from knocking off DSLRs altogether. However, Canon, Nikon and Sony have all produced some form of on-sensor phase detect, usually in a hybrid system, which should be a big jump forward.
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  4. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    First thing to do is TAKE IT OFF SCENE MODE! You have very little control of the camera on any scene modes. Once you're in one of the PASM modes, you will be able to easily set your camera to single point AF for the most accurate focus. You will not likely find many photographers who use anything but the PASM modes, which is why many professional cameras don't even include any other modes.

    For shooting action the first suggested mode is usually Shutter Priority as you will need a minimum shutter speed to freeze the action, depending on your focal length and subject's speed of movement. For us experienced photographers, we'll instinctively know what minimum setting we need depending on the situation, but for a newbie you'll probably have to play around a bit. If you pan with your shots then you can (and must) use a slower shutter speed. For instance, I might need somewhere between 1/350s to 1/500s to freeze action on an indoor sports shot, whereas I can pan with 1/10s at the same focal length on a similar moving subject. One reason I can often get a clearer shot with a slower shutter speed than most is because I naturally follow my subject so much that it's like a natural pan on every shot. On Shutter Priority you set the shutter speed you want and the camera will stop down or open up the aperture accordingly to get the proper exposure at that shutter speed.

    However, it looks like you're shooting outdoors in bright sunlight, so chances are that you will not even get close to that minimum shutter speed. At reasonable aperture sizes, your shutter speed will probably be in the thousandths of a second. I would therefore say that you may want to use Aperture Priority instead. That will allow you to control your aperture for DOF control, and allow the camera to adjust the shutter speed accordingly to get the proper exposure. The smaller the F-number, the wider the aperture. The wider the aperture, the faster the shutter speed but also the shallower your field of focus will be. The smaller the aperture (larger F-number) the greater the DOF and the more items will come into focus, but the shutter speed will have to be slower to compensate. If you don't need much background blur but just want to keep lots in focus, you can stop down your aperture for greater DOF as long as you have enough light to keep the shutter speed up.

    The other way to get a faster shutter speed without opening up your aperture more is to bump up the ISO (increase the light sensitivity of the sensor). Shooting outdoors on a sunny day you should never have to do this, but if you get indoors or shoot outdoors in low light, you may have to do this if your lens is not fast enough to gather enough light through a wide aperture (more expensive lenses will allow a brighter aperture. We also call this a faster "lens speed"). This should usually be saved to a last resort though, when you can't get the settings you want through adjusting Aperture and Shutter Speed, as each time you bump up the ISO you will degrade your image quality and introduce noise. So basically, when you have your aperture wide open and you still can't get a fast enough shutter speed to freeze action or stop camera shake, or you don't have enough light to stop down the aperture for sufficient DOF with a shutter speed high enough to stop camera shake/motion blur... then that's normally when you would bump the ISO. That will generally occur in lower-light situations. You can also set your camera to Auto-ISO if you wish to allow it to bump the ISO for you once the other factors have reached their limits.
  5. Mathom33

    Mathom33 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 4, 2013
    Most of the photos were taken in at f4.1-5.6. Shutter speed was 320-800. All had ISO of 160. I normally shoot all my photos at a lower ISO. I hate going anywhere above 800, if it's inside I try to stay below 1600.

    I know that the higher ISO I go, the more noise. I think maybe I'm afraid to bump it up too high because I'm not too familiar with removing the noise while processing the photos.

    Both of these photos I took in manual mode. The hummingbird I put the super high burst mode on and my aperture and shutter speed preset.

    When taking pictures of my dogs, I find it more difficult since I am the one throwing the ball and then trying to find them downfield. Plus, there's no definitive spot where the ball will land and when one of my dogs will decide to leap into the air.

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  6. AndrewS

    AndrewS Mu-43 Regular

    May 12, 2012
    M43 can be very good for action, but select body and lens

    My investigations about this subject have shown that m43 can do photos of subjects moving towards or away from the camera very well. BUT you have to select an appropriate body, lens and use the best technique. You can read more about it here Camera Ergonomics: Micro Four Thirds for Sport & Action Photography Best camera is one with a built in viewfinder and 240 per second sensor sample rate. At present that means G6, GH3, EM5. Good, fast operating zoom lenses include Lumix 35-100, 45-150 and Olympus 40-150 and 75-300. The GX1/45-200mm combination is not the best for predictive AF but could work fine if prefocussed.
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  7. Mathom33

    Mathom33 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 4, 2013
    Just a follow up....

    After following some advice given I have been able to take photos with the clarity that I was looking for. They're not perfect, but they're a lot better than the previous pictures I was taking.

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  8. Mathom33

    Mathom33 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 4, 2013
    And some more....[​IMG] apa2yjyg.jpg y4uja7aq.jpg

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  9. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    Nice shots Miguel.
    Glad you've got it sorted.
  10. uci2ci

    uci2ci Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 22, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    MUCH MUCH MUCH better!! I'd say the focus is perfect or next to perfect. You made excellent use of the advice that you got here

    Cute pooches btw.
  11. lightning

    lightning Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 29, 2012
    Kerava, Finland
    Nice job Mathom33!

    I found the best solution for fast moving dogs to use AFF and Burst mode M or L, focus point size Medium. This with Panasonic G5, but i believe AFF mode is available with GX1 as well.

    When shooting JPG, almost every shots are in focus, when Raw, results is not so good, but good enough. One thing which is very annoying with G5 when shooting RAW is small buffer size! When you took the series of photos, it will freeze your camera for a while... :/

    few examples can be found here:
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  12. pcnyc

    pcnyc Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 15, 2010
    dogs are kinda hard to predict, but for linear moving things like kids on a swing, birds in flight, I often times follow the movement with the camera, to keep the subject in the same area of the frame and thus in focus, while motion blurs the background.

    Actually, with the newer m43 cameras being so fast at single AF, I usually find it better to just set it on single AF, fixed AF point, and keep clicking (at high burst, taking two or three pics each click), instead of holding down the shutter button and let the camera do all the work, like what I used to do with a 7D. I've just never felt quite comfortable with m43's tracking, so I prefer to do it myself.
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