OMD EM5 on the dance floor

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by LDraper, May 17, 2016.

  1. LDraper

    LDraper Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 4, 2011
    Albuquerque, NM
    I recently worked a wedding as a second shooter. I mostly worked with the photographer's Canon, but I had the opportunity to shoot with my Em5 ii during the dancing. I was using the Oly 12-40 with the Fl600r flash bounced off the ceiling. It worked fine for the opening dances with the bride, groom, mother and father. But then they turned the lights out and the camera couldn't find focus. It hunted and hunted. I finally figured to switch to manual focus. That let me get some decent shots, but even so they were often soft.

    What are other people's experience with this rig - or any mft camera- in the darkness of a dance floor? Any tips on how to get consistent shots? Am I missing something? My auto assist lamp is turned on, but it didn't seem effective. Thanks for any thoughts.
  2. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    I find f/2.8 isn't quite enough in situations like that if you're using the smallest AF point, there isn't enough time for the CDAF to lock on as everything is moving under the tiny AF point. With more light from a faster lens (even if you stop down for actual exposure) or a bigger AF point you'll have better luck.

    DSLR systems have an advantage here as they have external flash units with powerful but near invisible to the eye AF illuminator grids. The onboard AF illuminator just isn't up to the job.
  3. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I would also agree to make sure you're not using the small AF point, but in a situation like that I would be wanting a more powerful flash too (for bouncing off the ceiling). I use the FL50(R) but an equivalent power or higher Metz (using TTL) might be a better option. Actually, in that situation it might be OK to go with manual flash. The FL600R is similar power to the older FL36R but double the batteries & that struggled in a hall with a higher ceiling. Also, the ceiling needs to be a plain white (ideally) without any texture as that absorbs light (non-reflective) as well as sound & hence poor for bounce flash use.
  4. LDraper

    LDraper Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 4, 2011
    Albuquerque, NM
    Thanks for the input. I'll definitely try a larger AF point - I was using the smallest setting. I've been experimenting at home (black cat in a dark corner) using the LED light on the flash as a focus aid. I'm not sure how effective it is, but it might help. I was also wondering if the EM1 would perform better in this sort of situation? Do any of the Panny cameras have better low light focus performance?
  5. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    I tried going down the m4/3 path for events a while ago. I had an E-M1 but it was before the major firmware updates. At you observed it was fine for ceremonies, small candid stuff, etc. But couldn't keep up on the dance floor in lower light.

    I know there are many that make it work for them so I'm not saying it won't. Just that it was not for me. But as you mention you were using the main's Canon gear I'm guessing you're not heavily invested in another system yet. I on the other hand, have a full Nikon FX setup of primary and backup gear. So while it would have been nice to lighten my load, the money is already spent.
  6. LDraper

    LDraper Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 4, 2011
    Albuquerque, NM
    Shooting weddings as a second shooter is kind of an experiment for me. I'm hoping I can make it work without having to invest in another system. If it comes to that I'll have to evaluate my options. It also depends on what the studio is going to be okay with. I'm still hoping I can make it work well enough - but I did bump up against one of the limitations of mft as a system. Kind of interesting in that way.
  7. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    That should make some difference as there needs to be enough contrast detail to focus on & the larger Target area raises the chance of there being more detail to lock onto. It's best to save the small AF target area for situations like birds in trees etc & other situations where it is necessary to pick out a subject in a busy background (in good enough light), but the subject still needs to have enough contrast detail to focus on though. Also, at functions where you are primarily photographing people then the Face Recognition would probably be beneficial whereas at other times (scenery & animals etc) it may be better to disable it. Cameras are tools & understanding how they function & differ from one type to another is important for them to be used successfully. I think that when users of DSLRs using PD-AF come to using a camera using CD-AF they aren't always aware of the difference in how they differ in AF behaviour. PD-AF normally focusses on the nearest detail in a target area whereas the CD-AF will focus on the most contrast in the target area, which can be behind small objects, such as a bird behind small branches (just one of my areas of interest) which is an advantage in that use, but a larger focus area (standard single AF point) with Face Detection should be effective for people (usually). Anyhow, I hope you have better success next time.

    EDIT: After doing a bit of playing in a dark room of the house I have to admit the CD-AF does slow down & moving dancers would be difficult to focus on in a dark situation.

    I am not so familiar with the newer flash models such as the FL600R but the feature description does highlight the LED being usable for AF assisting & I would definitely be using it indoors (especially when the light level drops). It is also claimed that it recharges quicker between flashes than the older models too.
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
  8. JBoot

    JBoot Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Dec 4, 2012
    Scotch Plains, NJ
    I shoot Nikon FX gear for events professionally and while having tried the E-M5ii at a few events, it's just not equipped with IR focus assist like the big cameras are when the lights go all the way down. I haven not seen it for m4/3. You do not want to use the LED assist, as this will be too distracting in a dark environment as you continue to shoot.

    The big Nikon flashes have an IR grid illumination system that will pretty much let you focus instantly in the pitch black. If you google around or look on YouTube there are videos showing how you can use these systems in pitch black, though you need to stay on the center focus point for accuracy.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. AlanU

    AlanU Mu-43 Veteran

    May 2, 2012
    What Canon body were you using???? The Canon 6d has a EV -3 sensitivity so you can focus in almost no light with no IR assist.

    In the world of wedding the documentation of such events do not have room to miss photos. Sounds like your not heavily invested in the m43 so you can think twice about the selection of tools for certain situations. Even though I'm Canon user I'd gladly dive into the Nikon system simply for their bodies.

    I'd suggest incorporating off camera flash with dance floor photographs. Using a speedlight in the dark simply looses some of the energy on the dance floor if your lighting the dark dance floor. I incorporate TTL flash on body and remote flash using RF60 manual flash units. Turning off the TTL flash on camera and simply using the rim light of the remote flash looks great.

    You can experiment and learn from your experience as a second shooter. If your planning to do Primary shooting you have absolutely no room for experimentation and you must execute everything as a Master. I think you've discovered the limitation of your gear to a certain extent. I'd suggest renting or borrowing different gear and see how it does the task you were struggling in with your olympus. Just remember that you will not always want to focus on a human face. With phase detect AF you will not front/back focus if your using IR assist. Personally for me I virtually have zero issue in the worst case scenario focusing in any lighting with a phase detect Dslr with flash onboard. Not often but sometimes I deactivate the flash head but use the IR on my flash and get perfect focus using a Dslr.
    • Useful Useful x 1
  10. tpsfoto

    tpsfoto Mu-43 Rookie

    Jun 24, 2010
    As a wedding photographer for over 35 years.....and being an Olympus shooter / Nikon shooter.....the Oly falls very short on no to very low light the lenses do not have the ability to read the footage scale as in nikon, canon or hasselblads etc ....the go to gear for most wedding shooters. When we couldn't see we would set the focus to 8-10 feet on manual and walk into focus.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
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