1. Reminder: Please use our affiliate links for holiday shopping!

MFT at a toddler's party

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by ionian, Sep 18, 2016.

  1. ionian

    ionian Mu-43 Veteran

    396
    May 20, 2016
    Kent, UK
    Simon
    image.

    I, like many of us I should think, take the odd photography gig for friends. Last year I photographed a two-year old birthday party, and they asked me back to do the same this year. Last year I had my trusty Nikon, but this year I have moved to M43 and no longer have the DSLR and its amazing focus tracking.

    I have heard many times that M43 is no good for small lively children, but by adapting my shooting style I managed to produce a portfolio of c.60 good images for my friends documenting the afternoon.

    When I arrived I feared the worst - the party was held in a big church hall with a very high ceiling. There was no way I could make bounce flash work, which was my initial plan. Plus the parents had rented a boat load of soft-play toys: ball pools, crawl tunnels, slides, scooters and pedal cars - and had plenty of food to keep the kids' energy levels up for the duration. Hyperactive kids, crazy bouncing toys, and me relying on ambient light and the Olympus C-AF modes. I wasn't hopeful.

    I set up my EM-1 to shoot fine jpg, with the portrait pre-set style, to minimise post processing. I wanted to get things right in camera wherever possible. I set function 1 to ISO, and function 2 to the 2x digital teleconverter. I used my Oly 45mm f1.8, in aperture priority, although I essentially just kept the aperture wide open.

    After some initial experimenting, I realised that I needed to keep my shutter speed over 1/250 so I tweaked the ISO on the fly as necessary to maintain that speed. I started with the C-AF tracking mode, but found it hunting for focus too often and I missed shots. However, by swapping to the normal C-AF I had much better results. I didn't worry about critical focus every time - the images will mostly be viewed online, and they were sharp enough at the necessary resolution.

    By using the O45, I concentrated on isolating toddlers from the busy backgrounds and capturing a moment of interaction with the toys, or with the camera. I didn't get any general scene shots, but it made my images simple and easy to compose. Where the action was unfolding further away from me, I swapped to the digital teleconverter. I got down on the floor so I was at the children's level, and this really helped with interaction.

    Picking the decisive moment was key - this was made easier by shooting at a pause in the action. Patience, with the camera to my eye, yielded good results.

    I processed the images on my iPad, using Snapseed and facetune. Most of the time I just cropped and added a vignette, but for the shots with the digital teleconverter (which were much more grainy) I converted to black and white and then increased the clarity a touch. I also added a VSCO-style film filter to a few of the images to mix up my processing, giving some a low contrast and nicely split-toned feel. Finally I concentrated on the real gems using Facetune to make some great portrait shots. Processing of all 60 pictures probably took 3 hours - not bad considering the volume and the fact I did bespoke changes to each one.

    So there you go - successful toddler photography with MFT. What tips do you have for successfully capturing CIF (children in flight) with our chosen set-ups?

    I can't give many examples because I don't want to post up images of children without checking first, but here are a few that I have been given permission to use. I'm not saying they are stunning as stand-alone images, but they successfully met the brief I was given.

    image.

    image.

    image.

    image.

    image.

    image.
     
    • Like Like x 11
    • Winner Winner x 1
  2. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Top Veteran

    766
    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Ya know I see lots of posts like that and I often think to myself, do they just suck at using their cameras?

    Its weird because sometime you see these posts about a newborn or toddler and what camera or lens should they get and the responses act like if you can't do a shutter speed of 1/8000 on your body while your lens is at f1.2 then might as well post it next to those grainy burry Big Foot shots. Is everyone giving birth to the Flash these days, because I just don't get it. And I have FOUR kids so lots of experience shooting babies, toddlers, and kids and MOST of my shots came out great, even the old ones with {GASP} only 4/3rds equipment and lenses that topped out at f2.8. And before that, {GASP, GASP, GASP}, point and shoot Olympus digital cameras and still I got good shots. Did I do it wrong since they weren't all crap?
     
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 1
    • Funny Funny x 1
  3. ionian

    ionian Mu-43 Veteran

    396
    May 20, 2016
    Kent, UK
    Simon
    @PakkyT@PakkyT - I've been thinking about this because it seems to be an all-pervasive myth that gets repeated wherever you go. I wonder if it is down to a combination of things:
    - not using a fast enough shutter speed;
    - composing too wide, so the subject moves too much within the frame;
    - not using the c-af mode effectively to track one spot on the subject (the face, preferably!), made more pronounced by using a shallow depth of field.

    I also wonder if many of us (and I am as guilty as the next on this) just use having children as an excuse to buy gear, and so seek advice from the great swaths of gearheads online whose first reaction will always be that you need a D4 for ANY moving subject, from falcons to snails :)
     
    • Winner Winner x 1
  4. Leighgion

    Leighgion Mu-43 Regular

    125
    Aug 1, 2012
    Madrid, Spain
    Leigh L Pang
    The idea that m4/3 is problematic for active subjects has foundation. And I say this as a father who has plenty of m4/3 shots he's happy with and ionian (nice work, BTW!) did note that he too found it necessary to adapt shooting style. Your level of satisfaction is going to depend very much on the character of the children and your expectations as a photographer.

    These days my photography is done with three different cams:

    iPhone 6s
    Olympus E-PM1 (usually w/20mm f/1.7)
    Nikon D700 (usually w/50mm F1.4G)

    If you took away my D700, I'd still have a broad range of photos I like. Possibly even just as many. However, they'd tend
    towards a notably different character with a lot more carefully timed still moments and a lot less action. My E-PM1 is handy, but everything about its operation is slower than the Nikon, especially AF. A healthy percentage of my kid photos, between speed and light level, were only possible with my Nikon.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  5. astrostl

    astrostl Mu-43 Veteran

    358
    Oct 4, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Justin Honold
    The PM1 is a five year-old body which focuses on (small) size over features and performance, and the 20mm is notable for excelling in everything but autofocus, especially when used on non-Panasonic bodies. Do you think that pairing is a remotely fair fight against a Nikon DSLR with a $500 lens?
     
    • Agree Agree x 3
  6. SVQuant

    SVQuant Mu-43 Top Veteran

    851
    Sep 20, 2015
    SF Bay Area, California, USA
    Sameer
    I actually find all discussions of kids and m43 pretty hilarious. At the time my oldest was born, I had a Nikon film SLR (FF yes, but fixed ISO and limited storage) and never had trouble taking toddler shots. Got 1 or 2 blurry ones a roll and that was that. Gradually moved to digital over the years and have shots from early digital point and shoots as well as film for my second one and a combination of DSLR and cell phone from my third one's toddler years. The tools are all different and one just learnt how to use them.

    @ionian@ionian Nice captures.
     
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  7. ionian

    ionian Mu-43 Veteran

    396
    May 20, 2016
    Kent, UK
    Simon
    The 20mm is not ideal for these sort of shots - no afc, too wide for me, and slow to focus. I had the 20mm on my second body but it didn't even leave the bag.

    That said, there's a way to adapt to any situation. Its the same as knowing you can't push shadows a ton in landscape work, so you bracket exposures (I tend to blend them manually for control over DR). And of all the current m43 bodies, the EM1 is as good as afc gets, and although I've not had mine for long it has handled any situation I've put it in so far.

    Thanks for the nice comments - a few of the other images were real keepers but I don't want to post them up without speaking to the parents, many of whom I do not know.
     
  8. Leighgion

    Leighgion Mu-43 Regular

    125
    Aug 1, 2012
    Madrid, Spain
    Leigh L Pang
    Totally not ideal for the focus speed alone. The field of view actually works well for me and my little girl as I'm more often closer to her than farther away, but unfortunately I'm an ordinary guy, not a camera lab, so I use what I have, which I could only have because I bought all of it while I was still single and childless. :laugh1:

    That's the key, yeah. My m4/3 setup may be slow, but I get my keepers with it by accepting its limitations, leveraging its strengths and not giving up.

    Totally get you. My wife and I have agreed not to post anything of our little one. Makes my wife feel more secure.
     
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  9. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    First off, Simon, very nice shots. Your strategy makes perfect sense to me. And it allows m4/3s to easily shine.

    But before we just trash anyone who has ever said " a DSLR is the better tool for the job" let's consider if your goal is to capture lots of real action shots. I've been to too many under ten parties now, and almost all feature trampolines or giant slides or gymnastics or elevated rope courses or climbing walls or all of the above. The buildings that house these events are generally cavernous and under lit.

    If you shoot those events with a current gen Canikon mid-range or higher DSLR and 70-200/2.8 or a 50 or 85/1.4 and you shoot the same event with whatever m4/3s kit you want I will bet all of my money that you will be happier with the results from the DSLR. Doesn't mean you can't get good or acceptable results from m4/3s, but your chances of getting more great shots, action shots, will be noticeably higher with a DSLR. And it doesn't make you a lousy photog, Pakky, if you accept that different gear will help you. Though I will admit that the gap between gear is inversely proportional to skill of the photog!
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  10. ionian

    ionian Mu-43 Veteran

    396
    May 20, 2016
    Kent, UK
    Simon
    I certainly don't want to trash anyone @demiro@demiro - and I agree that a DSLR is going to make certain shots easier. But I don't believe it's the only way, and I think we are actually all in agreement about this - it's the people dealing in absolutes that I disagree with ("don't buy a m43 camera if you want to take shots of your kids" etc).
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    My daughter is getting married in October and I am organizing old photos of her from infancy (born in 1987) through college. I began with a manually focused Pentax MX and 40 mm lens up through a baisc AF MZ-S and a used 645. (My first digital was an *ist D in 2003.) We have always had to adjust our techniques to the technology of the cameras. Many of these shots used C-AF that consisted of my left hand. We did manage to make these adjustments and children's birthday parties from the 20th century exist and are treasured. I appreciate the OP describing his techniques and I have learned some new stuff that I may try at my first grandchild's first party. :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. chicago8c

    chicago8c Mu-43 Top Veteran

    650
    Mar 9, 2014
    I love my PL15 and O25 for toddler-in-motion shots (with GM1 and OM-D). Maybe I will run into issues as he gets older and better at running, but so far no AF problems. The 12-40 + flash has also been speedy when I am OK with a heavier setup.
     
  13. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    You didn't trash anyone. I was directing that a bit more generally. Should've spelled it out better.

    You are dead on about absolutes. No good.
     
    • Like Like x 1