Oly OMD Birds in Flight Questions?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by 2mnycars, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. 2mnycars

    2mnycars Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2012
    I have had my Oly OMD M-5 for a while now. I saw a beautiful hawk in a tree when I was out walking my dogs....I didn't do well photographing it.

    Once camera was fired up and ready to go (40-150 lens mounted), I got a shot in the tree. I had hurried....and didn't notice that there were nearer branches close to me. The lens focused on those. Scrap one photo of a beautiful bird in the tree.

    When I moved up the hawk took off. I got a shot, but it was from a distance.

    I tracked the hawk down. I had several chances. All were blurry. Low shutter speed.

    I feel like a rookie. Frankly years ago (Nikon F3+motor drive) i would have had much better results.

    Resolved...be better prepared. Resisting buying a 100-300 lens....no money.

    Resolved...manual focus...in future.

    Any suggestions? None of the images are good enough to show here. Need to allow for back lighting, and force the camera into shorter exposure times to reduce the impact of camera shake.
  2. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Hi there fellow Torontonian!

    I was read Moose Peterson's blog the other day where he talked about tracking, AF, and panning technique. He's using a D4 and some very expensive glass but he even admits it took a very long time and it takes constant practice to maintain accuracy on BIF photography. He recommends getting people to toss tennis balls (or visit a tennis match) and spend the entire game chasing the ball to perfect your technique.

    Then there's finding your exposure - maybe you'd be better off +compensating your exposure. You also have spot and centre metering on that camera - I'd use spot - the classic Olympus metering mode. Or Spot Hi (or even Spot Low).

    People took BIF pictures that were tack sharp for decades long before AF and motor drives. I'm not sure why you feel an F3 and rig would give you more keepers though - it's a very different camera. You will improve, you just have to practice. I just got the 75-300 Oly lens a couple of weeks ago and have had no chance to really try it on moving subjects. For the brief period I had it on my camera when it arrived and I pointed at some things I realized it's a lens that's going to require practice.
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  3. uci2ci

    uci2ci Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 22, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Dont be put off by your first attempt. In all honesty, mu43 is not the best system for BIF, with the exception of maybe the EM-1. Tracking on the EM-5 is..well....horrible. Dont rely on it. Use the smallest focus box avilable and use S-AF+MF. It also helps to set focusing to one the FN buttons instead of the shutter button. Secondly, use burst shots. Third, prefocus when you can. This one really help when used together with burst shots. If you see a bird coming towards you, focus on something stationary just in front of its flight path and let the burst shots rip! This is next to impossible with birds high above in the sky, but for beach birds that fly close to the ground, it works quite nicely. Use a higher f-stop to give you more leeway on focus depth. Also, dont expect to catch a swallow in flight with your gear....stick to slow flyers/hoverers such as gulls and humming birds (my fav!)

    Most importantly, don't beat yourself up when you miss or mess up a good photo op. It will leave a sour taste in your mouth and ruins the whole experience. It take patience, lots of missed shots and a lot of luck to get a decent shot. There have been many days when I dont get a single sharp BIF photo out of a hundred frames...but theres always tomorrow ;)
    • Like Like x 2
  4. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    I'd try in burst mode too. Set up for that by selecting menu, item 2 (advanced settings), item 1, then 2nd selection (multiple frames with a "H" beside it. It will take images quickly as long as you hold shutter down. I only have a manual lens - 200mm konica, and have got a few shots that turned out ok. Not up to the standards I've seen here and elsewhere, but I'm learning. I prefocus on a spot, and try to pan. If you use Aperture priority, you can select a wide Depth of Field and not have to worry too much about focus.

    I think my best result might have been with a Oly 75 with a eagle flying. As for birds in trees, I only use manual focus now, as I had trouble with branches messing up focus.
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  5. 2mnycars

    2mnycars Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2012
    I am delighted with my OMD.
    I would have had much better results with my d300s. I am still learning how to use the OMD. (I had a photo business for years. Used Nikon f2 and F3 with motor drive. I have caught jets flying at tree top level. jet fighters. Basswood Lake near The Soo.
    I shake much more now.
    interesting comments. spot metering ok.
    manual focus for sure.
  6. I made my first attempt at a BIF using a 75-300 and an M-10. I had the lens at full zoom and I was able to get everything set up because the Baldy was sitting when I first saw it. Somehow I got lucky, even though the bird was way out there, I was mostly able to track it and get some shots.



  7. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Shooting BIF, or still birds for that matter, is, IMHO, something that is not done casually (e.g. pulling out your camera and firing). Good shots require good technique, and the right settings, regardless of camera. Regarding equipment, it is best if you are fully set up before firing your first shot. High shutter speeds are your friend, so do not be afraid to bump your ISO if need be. And if you are shooting against a bright sky, dial in some exposure so your birds are not underexposed. The rest relies heavily on technique. With an E-M5, I would update your firmware for smaller focus points if you have not already done so. Set the focus to S-AF (and possibly with MF override if you are good at quickly adjusting on the fly). Set the drive for continuous, and fire in short bursts if the birds are in flight. If a bird is perched, then take your time and carefully focus and release the shutter.

    I primarily shoot birds with a D300, tripod, and long lenses, but went out with my recently acquired (used) E-M5 this weekend, and was quickly reminded about all of the suggestions that I recommended above. If the weather was not cold and rainy, I would have stayed outside and kept shooting (and practicing) until things started to come together. Good BIF images often require a lot of skill (and sometimes specialized equipment makes a difference in the hands of a skilled photographer). If you have any seagulls, I suggest practicing on them. They are large, fly slow and smooth, and will often perch long enough for you to get the shot.

    Good luck,

    • Like Like x 1
  8. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 4, 2010
  9. 2mnycars

    2mnycars Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2012
    Thanks everyone.
    I have had my M5 for over a year.
    During that time I did become very disillusioned with my purchase for a while. I resolved to dig in and learn about the camera. I did reflect I could have saved money and bought the smallest dslr body Nikon makes to meet my needs for a lightweight system. so I read everything I could find on using this good camera, and that has helped.

    The good news is that I was able to get images of the hawk at rest, and then flying.

    so now I know this is a good light weight camera for me. I am glad I bought the camera grip and lenses.

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