How to find my lowest useful shutter speeds with EM5?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by dancebert, Mar 17, 2016.

  1. dancebert

    dancebert Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 18, 2014
    Hua Hin, Thailand
    I'm repeating my personal stability tests because last time was a hand held non-m43 camera with std zoom. This time will be an EM5, P20, O45, hand held and with monopod. Constructive criticism requested.

    The purpose is to find the approximate speeds where I should transition technique and settings. Obviously, any such testing includes many variables. That's why I'm looking for approximate shutter speeds as starting points for real world use.

    When using my most stable hand held technique, the usual settings transitions are from single shot, to adding 2 sec delay, then to slow burst. Once I know my slowest effective hand held speeds for setting, I'll then test 2 monopod techniques, each with 2 sec delay and slow burst. That will be 7 tests.

    First I'll find approximate lowest useful speeds for each test by AE bracketing without Auto ISO, 7 shot +/- .5 EV. Next will be to shoot enough to determine which speeds are almost always useful. Target will be flat, glossy printed heavy stock with a variety of font and line sizes and orientations.

    If I'm getting consistent marginal results with blur in one direction when using the monopod, I'll try changing from Auto IS to Horiz or Vert.
  2. NCV

    NCV Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 9, 2016
    Try and shoot the subjects you normally shoot at low shutter speeds with your normal technique. Doing it for real always gives more useful results.

    I have found my limit is around 1/15 with wide and normal focal lengths.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    this is a good point...
    especially when you factor in that if the subject moves then it may not "add" to the picture...

  4. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    While I personally never use a shutter speed less than the focal length of the lens, IE 1/100 – 1/120 for a 50mm lens (50 x 2 which is the 4/3 magnification multiplier = 100) and usually rely on what most pros consider acceptable which is twice the focal length, you might consider getting a target shooters/snipers manual. Why??? Because it will explain how changes in body chemistry such as eating a candy bar, dehydration, pulse or blood pressure changes or sometimes what you eat can impact your muscle reactions which come into play when holding or supporting a gun or camera. Not to mention excitement of seeing something happening quickly and attempting to react. Way to many variables involved to not use a high shutter speed or in todays world a relatively high ISO.
  5. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    If you mean using the self-timer I find it very strange. With super slow shutter speeds one of the most important things is following the breath and with a delay this is almost impossible to do for me.

    I'd start with the longest lens I have, maybe even with the magnify on. The thing that I found more useful is to just look into the viewfinder. One minute, two minutes, etc. If there is movement it will be clearly visible in the shot. If you cannot see it the IBIS will be able to cancel it.

    After a while you should clearly see the image going up and down with your breath, drifting left and right, reaching a maximum point and swinging back.
    Then notice what parts of your body are tense and find a more comfortable and relaxed position. If you are tense you do not dump vibrations and add some more (you can try to tense up intentionally to see it). For example a backpack adds a lot of strain on the shoulders when you rise the arms even if you normally do not notice it.
    If should be able to notice the breath movement immediately as this can change a lot in different conditions: stress, mountain walk, etc. and you cannot relay too much on simple reference numbers. And lens weight and focal length of course matters.

    Another thing is how gentle and relaxed you are while pressing the release. Again try this while looking through the viewfinder with the fastest shutter speed of your camera and notice the shift before and after the shot.

    Do not take any shots during this. The reason is that you will be able to verify the shots only a long time later and so it is almost useless because you won't remember what you were doing and is just going to distract you. As a check you can take some shots at the beginning of the test session and at the end to see the difference, but I would not focus too much on the shots.
  6. Nawty

    Nawty Mu-43 Regular

    May 1, 2015
    There are too many variables for me to bother trying to figure out beyond sticking a lens on and taking some shots, for example I know I can get a decent keeper rate @ 150mm with my EM1 at 1/20 (plus or minus a bit depending on conditions) but would I ever do that? not really, and do I need to know any more? not really as there are too many other variables to take into account so being more specific is worthless. It does mean though that in situations that don't require a fast shutter speed I can drop the ISO if required and know the ballpark to aim for (dusk landscape perhaps).

    For me the key is to understand the technique to shoot at the slowest speed possible (eg, on the exhale, between heartbeats, with a certain grip etc) and then only drag that out when you need it.
  7. Nawty

    Nawty Mu-43 Regular

    May 1, 2015
    I've also just found something interesting here.

    Yesterday I took delivery of an EM5ii and on initial testing actuating the shutter causes much less movement than with the EM1. This is because with the EM5ii I am effectively squeezing it against my palm which sits slightly under the camera, whereas with the EM1 the shutter button is further away from the centre-line and my palm isn't under the same spot so pressing the shutter provides a twisting moment on the camera. This is born out with a telephoto lens where with the EM5ii i am still looking at the same framing after release and with the EM1 it has invariably moved a bit.
  8. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    To me that seems to be overly complicated dancebert and I have no doubt it would not work for me, too many distractions going on for me.

    I'll shoot after sunset, set Manual exposure, single shot, S-AF, 100 or 200 ISO, f-stop wide open, shutter speed at the reciprocal of the focal length, take a shot, close the f-stop one or two stops, shoot again and keep closing the f-stop until I feel I'm not steady enough. I might take a break for awhile and then start again about 2 stops open from where I knew I was not stable enough and repeat the process.

    That provides me with enough information to know when I might need to take a monopod or tripod with me.

    BTW, don't press the shutter button! Just roll your finger over the button.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  9. dancebert

    dancebert Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 18, 2014
    Hua Hin, Thailand
    Normal techniques? I made a point of saying the techniques were new to me:
    If I'm shooting for real, using anything other than a safe speed/ISO combination or a tripod probably means a blurry photo of a lost opportunity. Using more than one bracketed sequence of different speeds/ISOs in the hopes of finding a good one is testing or praying IMHO. I'd rather test where I can see the results on a big screen minutes later.
  10. dancebert

    dancebert Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 18, 2014
    Hua Hin, Thailand
    I didn't say super slow:
    At a half to full stop below safe single shot speed, 2 sec delay gives more keepers than my single shot speed and uses less battery than a burst. For what I consider 'super slow' I use the same technique my Marine veteran uncle taught me when I started shooting targets with a rifle: increase pressure when target is motionless, hold when it's moving, and you'll be surprised when the shot is activated.
  11. dancebert

    dancebert Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 18, 2014
    Hua Hin, Thailand
    Never heard of rolling, which means I curious to try it. On my EM5, the my finger's tip section is on the Main Dial and the shutter, the middle of the middle section rests lightly on FN1 and the joint between 2nd and 3rd sections is at the corner between top deck and camera side. Straightening the finger activates the shutter.

    BTW, 'press' is a synonym for 'depress'. Can't manually activate an EM5 shutter without depressing it.
  12. Sniksekk

    Sniksekk Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Apr 7, 2015
    I've never heard about the roll technique either. Can you elaborate @Clint@Clint ?
  13. SVENS1

    SVENS1 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 11, 2013
    I tried the roll technique with my e-pl5.
    Works great, takes very little movement to press for focus, a tad more for shutter release.
    Provides a better grip on the camera as well. With a bit more relaxed feel.
    I have larger hands
  14. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    @dancebert@dancebert @Sniksekk@Sniksekk
    I tired to find a video that shows this, but had no luck. So I hope this explanation works. It'll probably make more sense when you try it. You’ll have to find the most comfortable way for you and each camera may be different in what works best.

    In general rest your forefinger on the body just in front of the shutter button and just barely pressing the shutter button. You want light pressure on the body, not strictly on the shutter button. Now just roll your finger back over the shutter button.

    On the E-M1 you’ll have to rest your finger on the front dial instead of the camera body since the dial surrounds the shutter button. For me this is uncomfortable, so I rest my finger tip on the dial closest to the lens and then using the first joint in finger cause my finger to roll over the shutter button. This might also be envisioned as the front joint forward to the tip of your finger as being part of a lever.

    The intent is to keep consistent pressure (the less the better) on the camera and move your finger the smallest amount possible. You can practice this in a mirror and when you can see your finger barely moving when the shutter fires – you’ve got it.
    • Informative Informative x 1