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Outdoor Sports Setup for E-M1

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by marcr1230, Apr 5, 2014.

  1. marcr1230

    marcr1230 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 28, 2013
    This is a follow on to my indoor sports thread: https://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?t=59796
    and somewhat relevant to Clint's thread re focusing modes: https://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?t=54962

    I'm on a journey to see if my E-M1 can replace my big honking DSLR

    so far for sports - the answer is maybe but not without a lot of attention to detail

    Here was my setup today:

    Focus Mode: C-AF
    Focus Points: Box of Nine in the center
    Shutter Priority: 1/1000 Sec
    Auto ISO

    on Menu -> setup (coggy things)
    there are a number of interesting focus related options
    submenu A:

    Full Time AF - Camera is always trying to focus (even when shutter not halfway down)
    C-AF lock high - change the sensitivity of C-AF to react to sudden subject movements

    submenu C:

    Release Priority C (for C-AF) release shutter even when not in focus
    Release lag time - shorten the lag time when depressing shutter

    The camera weight is so much better/lighter than Big Bertha DSLR

    The results were ok - I'm not sure I would use release priority again - what's the point of an unfocused image ?

    the full-time AF - I think it burns though the battery - not sure it's needed because usually if I want to shoot, my finger is on the shutter button

    The camera has a hair-trigger, good and bad, but even at Low Continuous rate, each shot is more like a burst, and a couple times I took a burst without intending to - no harm done though.

    Batteries - burned thru 2 completely after about 5 hours and 400 shots

    Lens - I was using the 75-300 - maybe it was the light on our poor sun starved skins, but the 75-300 seems to draw a little harsher than the 12-40, very contrasty. I really want the upcoming 40-150/2.8 potentially a better range and wider aperture for my needs

    (I disabled the post-shot image review)
    EVF lag - it does lag a bit and can be disconcerting. the return of the image after shooting is more disruptive than with an optical viewfinder.

    In bright light, the autofocus held its own more or less.

    Here's a couple examples:

    View attachment 352881

    View attachment 352882
    • Like Like x 2
  2. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    what was typical aperture? DoF on the first shot is huge. I think that AF should be very forgiving.
  3. MarkoPolo

    MarkoPolo Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 25, 2014
    Greeley, CO
    Mark Brown
    Thanks for this input macr1230, I am waiting for an opportunity to try some action shots with the 50-200 SWD to see how the settings are best utilized.
  4. marcr1230

    marcr1230 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 28, 2013
    The aperture in shot #1 was 4.8 @75mm (the lens is 4.8-6.7 variable aperture zoom)
    the second shot was 5.1 @ 100mm

    yes - very forgiving
  5. mcasan

    mcasan Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 26, 2014
    The wife and I use Aperture priority for our 4 MySets. Two of the MySets are for wildlife and both do C-AF. For large animal shooting the Myset is ISO 800 and f8. For fast animals or BIF, the ISO is 1600 with f8. Of course all the MySets are just starting point presets. From those presets we change the aperture, ISO, AF points as needed for the given scene.
  6. marcr1230

    marcr1230 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 28, 2013
    Here's one from this weekend's meet

    I turned off Release priority, and the AF always on - the battery lasted much longer
    Without Release Priority - the camera won't fire unless focus is detected, which sometimes in sequences is
    a little un-smooth, because you press the shutter, and then nothing happens, or the time between shots is uneven because it couldn't grab focus - but this setup is the best so far
    Release Priority Off
    Focus Points - 9 or 1
    Shutter Release - fast (low lag)
    Low Continuous shot rate

    I got a nice dramatic low angle and used the 12-40 on the wide side:

    View attachment 354126
    • Like Like x 3
  7. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I used to do sports photography for many years starting with an E-1 an ending with an E-5, but I'm now retired so didn't get a chance with the E-M1. That said, Olympus has never managed to get C-AF right, as long as I've been using their gear and tests that I've done with the E-M1 and 4/3 lenses indicates that it's no better. I expected that fast action and C-AF would be better with dedicated lenses, but it doesn't appear to be the case from what I've seen. That doesn't mean you can't get good shorts with the gear, but action requires a lot more work than were you using a Canon/Nikon. The 50-200mm SWD is a great lens, but I don't think that it'll give any improvement. Olympus just hasn't managed to work out effective C-AF.

    If you're sports work doesn't need to be of significant size, say less than A4, then I'd be trying the HD video and then taking stills from the video, It's easy to do, the results are pretty good and you can possibly use the full-time AF in video mode to track the subject. I haven't tried it myself, as the only m4/3 lenses I have are the 17mm f2.8 and standard 14-42mm zoom, neither of which are ideal for that sort of work. I have taken stills from E-M1 video and they are very good, and would have been perfectly useable for the news work I was doing.
  8. marcr1230

    marcr1230 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 28, 2013
    I think this sums it up nicely, for action sports it's workable, but you don't get as many keepers due to focus issues ( I would say about 85% or more of my 400 shots today were focused well.

    There's also the issue of EVF lag - not appreciable when you shoot weddings / travel / street - but when you take a quick sequence, the choppy-ness of the EVF sometimes makes it hard to maintain aim on the subject. by the 3rd or 4th shot, the subject is filling the screen, or moving out of the frame, and you don't have a clear enough view to make quick framing, zooming adjustments (perhaps this gets better with experience)

    in terms of print image size - I have to problems here - the sensor is good enough for 18x24 at least with no cropping
  9. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    The way I did sports was simply to wait for an appropriate action sequence, as once you got to know the sport and often the players (after covering games weekend after weekend), you could anticipate when something good was likely to happen. You'd be following the game (like Aussie Rules football) not looking into the viewfinder and then put your eye to the camera several seconds beforehand, focus and fire a burst. The 10fps would have given me a lot more keepers, as with the 5fps, I'd often just miss the perfect money shot. The E-M1 would also have been incredibly good for night games, where many of the regional sporting fields had pretty poor lighting.

    With other sports, like cricket (a game akin to watching grass grow), I would have loved to use HD video, as I could then just follow the bowler, batsman or fielder and grab stills off the video. I did that a couple of times with the E-5, but the quality was pretty low. For sports like athletics, all I could do was pre-focus on a spot and fire when the athletes hit the spot. C-AF was worse in these situations than S-AF, never hitting the mark. In another area where video would also have been brilliant is in many indoor venues where I had to cover speakers and the like. Taking video would have been unobtrusive, capturing completely unexpected moments and provided more than adequate stills for the newspaper.

    If I was to start again, I'd seriously consider a 4K camera like the Panasonic and do a whole lot more sports using video and just taking stills off the video. Quite frankly, I think this is the way future sports photographers will be going. They will take purely video, capture stills off the video and also present video clips for online publishing. The photographer wouldn't have to do a lot of work, as the sub-editors would be doing most of the selecting etc (after the photographer culled the videos and/or stills).
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