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m43 vs DSLR for motorsports?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by gdourado, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. gdourado

    gdourado Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 23, 2012
    Lisbon - Portugal

    How are you?
    So, today I was looking at an automotive forum and came across some great pictures from a recent trackday.
    There where some great panning shots and some great action shots of cars moving fast.
    This got me wondering if a m43 camera can do the same thing.
    I read that m43 cameras are great for one shot AF, but lag somewhat behind in regard to Continuous AF and AF tracking.
    Is this really so?
    Or is it more a matter of skill?

  2. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
    Bit of both really... Yes you can use mFT for motorsport, and there's doubtless some members here who could show you some damn fine shots.

    But, mFT is not the best option for this type of photography. There are some dSLRs (note that I'm not saying all dSLRs) that offer far better continuous and tracking AF, and also bigger buffers for sequential shooting. The 'big two' (CaNikon) also have fast telephotos available for the system, although these are very expensive.

    At the end of the day though, there's two elements here:

    - Good technique
    - Appropriate gear

    The first is far more significant than the second, but having both is ideal.
    • Like Like x 4
  3. LeeOsenton

    LeeOsenton Mu-43 Button Clicker

    Jun 25, 2010
    Hayes, Virginia, U.S.A.
    Lee Osenton
    Quite possibly the most logical, succinct, and non-biased opinion that I have read on this subject. Thanks,

  4. gdourado

    gdourado Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 23, 2012
    Lisbon - Portugal
    Thank you for the reply.
    Yes, it is a very good explanation.
    I don't really know a lot of m43 cameras. Just some reviews I read over the web. The only m43 camera I reAlly handled over time is my e-pl2.
    So, for the said situations, would, let's say, a 60d or a Nikon d90 do a much better job than for instance a gh2?
    I guess cameras like the 7d or the d300 would do a better job, but they also cost more than any m43 camera...
    Just out of curiosity...


    Sent from my GT-N7000 using Tapatalk 2
  5. JJJPhoto

    JJJPhoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    Cincinnati, OH
    Jerry Jackson Jr
    I think it depends on your technique. If you are going to rely on AF then you may have trouble depending on the m4/3 camera and lens combo. On the other hand I know many sports shooters who use manual focus and prefocus on an area where they are virtually certain the action is going to happen ... in which case you could get away with just about any camera.
  6. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    For most of us with "normal" access, motor sports are quite easy to photograph - we arent close enough to the action.

    AF tracking on the GH2, G3, GF3, EP3, and OMD is great for side-side action, not so great for front/back or where the "image" of the car changes a lot (like a very sharp corner). If you are trackside, and want "head on" shots, you are definitely going to see the advantages of PDAF. Otherwise, good panning technique will be more important than AF ability.

    There are a couple threads on this already. AFS is actually preferred, as AFC can add too much shutter lag.
  7. gcogger

    gcogger Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    May 25, 2010
    I use an old Canon 40D (same AF system as the 60D) for motorsports, mostly at my local track Goodwood. Galleries here if you're interested. I've also tried my GH2 but, frankly, the difference is huge. Unless you pre-focus, which I'd find very limiting, the GH2 simply cannot do the job with any degree of success. The continuous tracking focus is pretty hopeless, and it's very hard to follow a car through the viewfinder (or LCD) due to the way the image blacks out between shots.
    I'm seriously considering going all micro 4/3 and selling my Canon gear but so far I'm keeping it, purely for motorsports and any other fast moving subjects. Even if you can't afford an expensive DSLR, you'd still be much better off with something like a second hand Canon Rebel model (many of my linked galleries are with a 400D) and something like the Tamron 70-300mm VC USD lens than you would with any micro 4/3 setup.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. st3v4nt

    st3v4nt Mu-43 Veteran

    May 26, 2011
    Jakarta, Indonesia
    Perhaps the Olympus DSLR such as E-5 and couple of their fast zoom is the answer for this type of need. :) 
  9. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    I shot my race buddy, on my bike, in 1979 with a Pentax K1000 & Vivitar 75-210/3.8 zoom. Most of motorsports is highly deterministic motion, so if you don't have the subject coming towards you and a large aperture for shallow DOF it's not that hard to focus. Knowing the sport and practice are the most important things for any sports photography.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    pat at loudon 1979 8x10 by b_rubenstein, on Flickr
    • Like Like x 4
  10. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    For me, photography is all about capturing the exceptional image. The exceptional image for any subject comes in many forms. All else being even, what hardware does is:

    1) makes it's easier or harder to capture the exceptional image. Typically the better and more expensive the hardware the easier the capture.; and

    2) increases or decreases the ratio of keepers:trash, (again and typically), the better the equipment the higher the keeper ratio.

    There are always exceptions to ... well ... everything. Just because one photog can post exceptional images of a particular subject with a particular camera does not necessary mean that photog's methodology and hardware is the easiest or the best way to capture the exceptional image.

    In case of the OP, I have shot very little action with the OM-D, but my initial impression is that my dSLR's will significantly focus and track better than the OM-D (I am still low on the learning curve with the OM-D).

    Taken with a manual focus, manual advance circa 1970 film camera:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    • Like Like x 2
  11. Bokeaji

    Bokeaji Gonzo's Dad O.*

    Aug 6, 2011
    Austin, TX
    half my photos i take are of motorcycle racing
    using my em5 and mmf with 70-300, the focus is far too slow for any type of continuous
    i got around that by knowing where i wanted to take the photo(usually the corner) and just focus there first and wait...

    for panning, same thing... focus where i want the shot to happen, then wait for someone to be coming and pan along with them

    its not as good as a full dslr.. but its small and i dont want two systems really...
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Highgrovemanor

    Highgrovemanor Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 12, 2011
    Timing on this is perfect, as I just bought tickets to the F-1 race in Austin. Yahoo! The feedback is well received, as the only time I was shooting motorsports was with a bridge camera a few years ago - which I did enjoy shooting as I found an unoccupied photography hole in the fence that I could shoot through while shooting through the OUTTER fence. Pretty good close-ups uncropped where you can see the inner tire lifted off the ground.

    I will have access to my Dad's D90 and zoom, but will consider packing my GF1 for non-trackside shots. Just gotta decide what m43 lens, as I don't like changing lenses too often in the field. 9-18,20,14-45.
  13. Bokeaji

    Bokeaji Gonzo's Dad O.*

    Aug 6, 2011
    Austin, TX
    Friends of mine just bought their tickets too
    I'm not into cars enuf to join Jon the fun
    If it were motogp.... Lol

    Here's some pics from the races in OK a few weeks back
    Now that I think about it, I think these were with e30... I'll hafts find pics from em5 from the races at Cressida, TX later... I'm mobile and they're at home :( 

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    P5192851 by Gubrz, on Flickr

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    !P5193336 by Gubrz, on Flickr

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    P5193046 by Gubrz, on Flickr

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    P5182633 by Gubrz, on Flickr

    - Eliot@Austin, TX
    • Like Like x 1
  14. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    I'm going to be there, too. Maybe we can arrange to hook up somewhere. I'm taking my EOS 50D*, 70-200 2.8 and 1.4x TC to shoot the race. But I'll also have my GH2 and several lenses for shooting other activities in the area and around the track.

    *I'm giving a little thought to buying a used 7D before the race, and then reselling it after. That's generally a lot cheaper than renting gear. If I do, I'll let my son carry the 50D with 75-300 DO lens.

    Eliot, I'm going to try to get to next years MotoGP round at Indy, too.
  15. Highgrovemanor

    Highgrovemanor Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 12, 2011
    I bet that 2.8 is sweet! Serious glass costs serious bucks, which always makes me laugh when people complain about how expensive m43 lenses are. Between this race, ALMS going there in spring '13, and Indy Car coming back to me in Houston in '13, I think I'll need a permanent fast-sports solution. :) 

    I was initially excited for the 35-100 coming out, but it only being 70-200 effective and not having DSLR focus speed behind it, its a pass for me at the moment.

    And I agree rental prices are crazy. Wound up buying lenses for a big cruise we went on instead of renting.
  16. Highgrovemanor

    Highgrovemanor Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 12, 2011
    I'm not that into open-wheel, but F-1 race less than 4 hours from the house is NOT optional! :)  MotoGP was orginially going to Austin, but I dunno what happened after some changes with promoters.

    Nice pix, btw!
  17. atomic

    atomic Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 3, 2011
    I have shot motorsport with both a Nikon D300s (no, not mine) and an Olympus E-PM1. It is much easier to shoot with the Nikon, and I my ratio of keepers to deleters is much higher. If I owned the Nikon, however, I would rarely use it because of its size and weight. The little pen mini is so easy to bring along, even with a bunch of lenses, that I don't ever think twice about bringing it. The good shots with the pen are still good shots, and since it's digital I don't mind taking extra shots to get more keepers. I can use the practice anyways.

    There's a thread I started at https://www.mu-43.com/f88/motorsports-photography-m43-26001/ for pictures of motorsport with m43, for those that are interested.
  18. gdourado

    gdourado Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 23, 2012
    Lisbon - Portugal

    Thank you for the examples.
    I've been browsing flickr and also found some good examples of m43 doing action photography with great success!
    In regard to the AF tracking, is it a technical limitation of the contrast detect AF to do good Continuous AF or can it evolve to better capacity with newer m43 cameras?

    Or will olympus or panasonic incorporate Phase Detect to their cameras, like Nikon did to the 1 series?
    WOuld it be possible?

  19. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    The basic difference between contrast detect and phase detect is how focus is determined and the ability to determine the delta to focus. Contrast detection is a closed loop feedback control system done by analyzing adjacent light/dark pixels in an area of the image formed on the sensor. As the focus is changed the light/dark transition is more pronounced. Maximum sharpness is determined by passing through it, and then moving the lens back to the sharpest distance. Determining focus requires a great deal of signal processing. The up side to contrast detect is that it's very precise.

    Phase detect focusing is a hybrid open/closed loop feedback control system that uses dedicated distance sensors. The phase difference (angular separation of signal peaks) is analyzed to determine the distance from the camera to the subject, and then drive the focus of the lens directly to that point (open loop). A second measurement is then made to determine if focus has been obtained (close loop). The AF algorithm can also use the AF sensor output to predict the distance of a moving subject. The upside of phase detection is fast distance determination, the down side is that it's very often not as precise as contrast detect.

    To have the same sort of AF as the Nikon V1/J1 cameras would require a completely different sensor & processing. From what I've read, the Nikon's moving subject AF only works well in good light. Photography of random movement sports will probably remain in the domain of DSLR's for a while.
  20. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    Panasonic has a patent on a hybrid CDAF / PDAF system for mirrorless cameras. Will it ever see the light of day in a real camera? Who knows? Will current lenses designed for CDAF work well on a PDAF system? Who knows? We can only hope the answer to both is yes.
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