How is focus tracking of EM-5 or EM-1?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by New Daddy, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. New Daddy

    New Daddy Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 24, 2011
    Clarification first: by "focus tracking", I mean the ability of the camera to change the focus point as the subject in the initial focus point moves, as a result of either the subject's movement or the camera's movement. By "focus tracking", I do not mean the camera's continuous focusing speed, although AF-C is a necessary condition for focus tracking for the obvious reasons. (I make this clarification at the outset because a lot of the discussion about "focus tracking" on the internet just deals with AF-C speed, where the user fixes a focus point and pans the camera along with the moving subject, like race cars or horses. While that is also one index of the camera's function, that's not what I'm interested in here.)


    I'm looking for better "focus tracking" in m4/3.

    For moving subjects without regularity in the trajectory (like kids), its value is obvious. Because my first generation m4/3 do so poorly tracking moving subjects, I normally use my Nikon for moving children.

    Even for relatively stationary subjects, "focus tracking" would come in handy because I focus and recompose a lot. i.e., the camera moves this time, not the subject. Under this scenario, my first generation Pannys track relatively well, but not always. It often loses the subject and locks focus on something else entirely or some other part of the subject after recomposition. As a result, I generally rely on the traditional fixed focus point in the center with AF-S and recompose, or, if I have enough time, move the focus point with the joy stick. With newer m4/3, I guess you can use the touch screen to change the focus point, but focus-and-recompose being such a habit of mine that is used across different systems (some of which don't have touch screen for focus), I'd rather have a good "focus tracking" than good touch screen AF.


    How is the focus-tracking in E-M5 or E-M1? I've seen and read some reviews on the internet with mixed responses. Some were positive, but I wasn't quite sure that those positive responses were based on "focus-tracking" in the sense that I use it here, rather than continuous AF with panning.
  2. Serhan

    Serhan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 7, 2011
    E-M1 is better:

  3. New Daddy

    New Daddy Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 24, 2011
    Yes, I've read the review, and it's that kind of review that I find confusing.

    It says "which makes it easy to pan the camera to keep the subject in the frame". When you are willing to pan the camera, sometimes all you need is good AF-C, not focus tracking. The sample sequence photos in that Dpreview does look like they relied on focus-tracking though.
  4. New Daddy

    New Daddy Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 24, 2011
  5. New Daddy

    New Daddy Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 24, 2011
    This is a review on youtube. EM-1's focus tracking start at about 8:20.

    As you can see, he pans the camera and the bike stays at about the same point in the frame. Good AF-C without focus-tracking could have pulled it off. He even says the EM-1's "focus-tracking" performs better when the subject was moving back and forth but it hunted a bit when it was moving from side to side. That's really strange. Usually CDAF performs better when the subject moves horizontally, and it tends to hunt when the subject approaches or recedes. So I think the reviewer in that video may have failed to expose E-M1's focus tracking performance fully by panning the camera.

    A test of this nature would have been better, although the subject is rather slow and I have no idea why the focus was on the hip of the subject.
  6. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 8, 2012
    Real Name:
    I have both E-M5 and E-M1 neither can truly track my 4 year old or my 9 year old unless they are on the couch :) but even in single I get good shots with the E-M1
    ( I also have FF cameras)
    honestly its not a huge deal for me because I can get good shots :)

    now this weekend I was at a fall festival and thy had those bouncy slides and obstacle bouncy courses and I got some great shots of my kid sliding down the side in great focus :) and got quite a few that were way out of focus :) but I did miss a fun shot of the two together till the guy yelled one at a time :) hahhahaha

    so you can get clear shots but not %100 reliable but I was in single mode hit him once at the top then when he was half way down so the lens was just refocusing a touch for me the tracking still goes off and grabs other things !

    work around it manual focus the peaking in the E-M1 is awesome pre focus where they will be put it on 6 or so FPS and fire a touch before and through the area use a bit wider F stop and you will get great shots :)
  7. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Real Name:
  8. bcaslis

    bcaslis Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 3, 2011
    Wilsonville, OR, USA
    Real Name:
    Brian Caslis
    The problem is that some reviewers are mixing what focus tracking means.

    1.) When doing C-AF there is tracking in the sense that the camera needs to track and predict movement to keep the focus locked.
    2.) When doing C-AF+TR (which is what the OP is asking about) the camera needs to be all of the above plus determine the subject's changed position

    I have not experimented with this yet on the E-M1 so can't comment. But from experience with high-end DSLRs, it's pretty much a given that C-AF plus good positioning of the AF point works better than C-AF+TR. I've never used any camera (including a Nikon D3) that worked particularly well for this except for certain type of conditions (such as a person wearing red against a blue backdrop).

    Finally the E-M1 uses a mix of CDAF and PDAF when doing continuous focusing using m43 lenses. Olympus has not given any details on how it is mixing the systems but they have clearly said it is in interviews.