Pics of Fast Moving Kid: Should I Upgrade from OM-D E-M5?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by loko12345, Sep 21, 2013.

  1. loko12345

    loko12345 Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 8, 2012
    Hi all,

    I've had the OM-D E-M5 since for a little while now. It served me well so far (with the 25mm 1.4 lens) for its primary purpose: capturing pictures of my daughter who was born about 1 year ago. OM-D did a great job at first when my daughter was not moving much.

    The problem I'm running into is my daughter is about to turn one, is quite active and rarely sits still when we are at home. While I can sometimes get decent indoor shots with 125+ shutter speed and almost wide open or high ISO, I still often have a hard time freezing action of my daughter. I have tried the CAF function (without much success); I also tried the focus tracking feature, which seems to have a mind of its own, with even less success than CAF. I tried flash but it did not help much either. My best results have been either SAF single shot, or with burst mode; but again, the results have not been great/consistent.

    Is there any fairly easy & reliable work-around to capturing indoor pics of a fast moving toddler with an OM-D E-M5 without motion blur? I realize it could be a problem with my technique. However, if there is no easy work-around and another camera system would easily (or more easily) resolve this issue simply because of different AF & Tracking specs and technology, then I would be willing to invest in a new system.

    A local camera store mentioned the 6D, especially given the 6D low light capabilities. However, reading some reviews/forums regarding the 6D, it doesn't appear that it handles fast moving subjects well at all, which would be a problem for me - obviously. And it doesn't sound like the E-M1 would do the trick either. Not sure about the D600 (or the soon to be released D610); I considered in the past, but did not pull the trigger on it.

    A friend of mine suggested to just go ahead and buy a Mark III as it will be able to keep up with my daughter easily (now and in the future), and produce amazing pictures for a very long time. Obviously, this would be a pretty big investment (but one that I will be able and willing to make if necessary). However, I'm not sure if a Mark III would be too much of a jump from an OM-D E-M5 as I'm still learning the menu system of the OM-D and I've never owned a DSLR before.

    As you see, I am a bit conflicted, but in the end I am willing to make the necessary investment to get the pictures that I need, assuming the new camera would offer something that the OM-D E-M5 just can't produce, regardless of the technique employed. Size would not be a major factor, as this new camera would the "home, indoor, special event" camera, and I would have the OM-D EM-5 as the "on the go, travel" camera.

    Any thoughts/suggestions would be much appreciated, especially from folks with young children. Thanks much for reading.
  2. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Fast moving children in dimly lit environments give many cameras and photographers fits. Focus track at present is not really well developed on contrast-based AF cameras, although with the Nikon 1 being somewhat of an exception, and the new E-M1 hopefully joing that growing list. Phase-detection AF, like that used in many DSLR's is going to be better, but it still varies by model. My D300 is five years old, but it has an amazing tracking system that has not been carried forward into many of Nikon's newer bodies, although I believe that it has recently made a comeback in one of their more recent models.

    You could purchase a new system, but I am not sure that you would be getting your money's worth, as the other issue is poor lighting. If it was me, I would continue to refine your technique using either C-AF or S-AF, and learn how to use a flash to your advantage. With flash, you can hopefully gain a bit more DOF, so you have a bit of cushion if she moves after you have focused. Also, stick to wider lenses to increase your DOF. If all else fails, then consider a new body/system.

    Good luck,

  3. brettmaxwell

    brettmaxwell Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 8, 2012
    My daughter turns 2 next week, so I know what you mean about capturing an active kid. I have a D3S and a D600 for my professional work, but when it comes to capturing my daughter I almost always prefer to stick with the OMD EM5. I was often frustrated with the AF speed when I first got it with the Panny 20mm, but ever since I got the 17/1.8 I've been blown away by the focus speed and accuracy. The D3S certainly tracks focus better, but the OMD with 17mm aquires focus so insanely fast that I don't worry about tracking. The Panny 14mm also focuses very quickly, and the wider you go the more depth of field you're generally working with.
  4. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    You could just buy a good video camera.
  5. Hudsonhites

    Hudsonhites Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 14, 2011
    I've spent the last 8 years photographing my 3 & 8 year old daughters.

    In that time I've used an Olympus E-1, E-3, Nikon D700 and EM-5. The D700 has the higher keeper rate when it comes to capturing the girls in motion. The EM-5 is ok provided the light is decent and you're not using C-AF or tracking.

    This past winter we went to Finland for about a week the girls were sleigh riding the whole time. I shot with both the D700 & EM-5 the D700 definitely had an easier time nailing focus.

    The thing that will improve your photos of your daughter is study her behavior so you can anticipate her actions. Young kids tend to erratic in the movements which is hard to track.

    I know for myself as I got better at predicting their moments and got down at their level my photos of them improved.

    Now I use the EM-5 about 85% of the time only reaching for the D700 for dance recitals and sports.
  6. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Do the pictures have motion blur, or are they out of focus? Your comment about 1/125 sec shutter speed suggests motion blur from using too low of a shutter speed. Freezing action requires a higher shutter speed. To get it you either need a higher ISO or larger aperture. There isn't much a 1 y o can do that in theory requires AFC. AFS will be more reliable. Heck, I got by ok with MF until my son hit 13.
  7. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    This^. 125 is too low. Figure out how fast you have to go to freeze motion then determine if you can get exposure correct at that shutter speed. Then consider a different camera or lens (if necessary).

    I'd be a little surprise if you can't get some good shots with the 25/1.4 on your E-M5. That's a nice combo.
  8. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Low light is a very difficult challenge to overcome. I have a difficult time freezing motion or even focusing properly with my E-M5 and the 25-1.4 Panny.. If I use a high ISO, the noise is too much. I realize that my technique needs improving, but I do think that the equipment has limits.
    I also have problems with telephoto shots of birds and such. Many of my pictures are blurred from motion or out-of-focus. I will try to improve my technique and if all else fails, I'll have to spring for better glass...
  9. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Before you spring for better glass, do what you can to up your shutter speed, even if it means a high ISO. You can try to mitigate noise in an image, you cannot mitigate blur. If that fails, you can try faster glass, but know that the DOF on telephotos is quite thin at maxumum aperture.

  10. nsd20463

    nsd20463 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 30, 2011
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Borrow or rent a nice DSLR and lens before you buy it.
    IME Indoors + low light + little kids is always difficult no matter the camera.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. loko12345

    loko12345 Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 8, 2012
    This sounds like probably the best approach I can take before investing; I may go ahead and do that and see if the results are what I'm looking for.
  12. robin3mj

    robin3mj Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 30, 2012
    A local camera store wants to sell you a new camera, period.

    Learn to use the gear you have, and work around its limitations. Blur can convey a sense of motion. When the kiddo starts playing soccer (or whatever), not every photo has to be Sports Illustrated worthy- it's ok to have a series of photos, one of which may show her as a red streak, while the next is your kid (in focus) and her teammates laughing over orange slices at halftime.
  13. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    I would think an external flash would be a cheaper investment. Because even if you get the 5DmkIII, you'll still need to buy fast glass, that's a big chunk of change there.
  14. khollister

    khollister Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Sep 16, 2010
    Orlando, FL
    What folks don't often think about is that FF/FX may buy you another stop or two of ISO, but for a given DOF (assuming more is better here to make the focusing easier), you lose 2 stops of aperture, ending up right back where you started for shutter speed. Given Ming Thein's comment that C-AF/tracking of the E-M1 was on-par with the Nikon D200 et al, it is not clear that a consumer Canon DSLR is going to be any better.

    I don't have kids but I do have pets, and expecting available light photos of rapidly moving kids/pets in typical residential lighting (barring large nearby widows in daytime) without flash is going to lead to disappointment even with FF DSLR's unless you are willing to go ISO 6400 and above. Never mind the cost.

    Getting the big Oly flashgun (forget the model number at the moment, even though I own one) and mastering using it indirectly with something like a Demb Flash Diffuser ( will get you a lot further down the road than dumping another $3K or more in a 6D rig.

    The Oly system supports wireless flash too, so you could even place another one or two guns semi-permantly in your main living area (fireplace mantel, top of high furniture) to bounce off the ceiling to add even more even fill light.

    It wasn't that long ago that unless you had a Nikon F4/F5 or the equivalent Canon, you weren't using AF on much of anything moving fast, yet we still took pictures of kids and dogs.

    I've had Nikon D700's and D800's the last few years on the DSLR side (with top shelf fast glass) and I still was using Nikon Speedlights, especially in the evening since my living room is not light like a public restroom.

    You need to be up around 1/500 or higher for want you are trying to do - that's 2+ stops of EV, and assuming you are using a moderate length lens (50-100mm) you will need f/5.6 or so on FX to ensure the face/eyes are in focus while moving.
  15. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    I don't have a child, but I do have a dog and I figure they're more or less the same thing. When light gets low, I've noticed that there are basically two options. One, go all out with an expensive transition to big high end DSLR with fast lenses. Two, switch to video. Making video is quite a lot cheaper, but it's not necessarily something you want to do. I wouldn't worry about the focusing speed of the 6D myself, it should be plenty capable as long as you have a good fast lens up front. That means wider aperture than the 24-105 and a high speed focus motor too.
  16. loko12345

    loko12345 Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 8, 2012
    Thanks much for all of the answers so far; much appreciated. Any feedback with actual user experience (with kids) would be great, to the extent available.

    But as someone suggested, I may just end up renting a 6D, D600 or Mark III and see if the results are different and easier to attain. While the flash route and other techniques make sense, if I can get better or same results more effortlessly and reliably with different gear, then I may go that route. But I need to rent one of these bad boys first.
  17. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    X2 - people should just avoid the CAF options on these cameras for now. SAF is so fast there is little need for it.

    X2 - stop motion photos are boring. SOME blur actually makes for a much more compelling photo. This is one of my favorite pictures I have taken (Mexico Ballet Folklorico) BECAUSE of the motion blur. If I had used a faster shutter speed and hard a super-sharp shot, how would you know she was dancing and not just standing there?

  18. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Be careful trying to buy your way out of a bad situation. Money only takes you so far, and it is not often a substitute for good technique. Is there a reason that you are averse to flash?

  19. optigan

    optigan Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 19, 2013
    Los Angeles
    I find the 14mm to work well with my 3yr old. Definitely use SAF. Try lighting the room a bit better and don't be afraid of bumping the ISO. Of course the 12mm is on my short list too. I avoid flash because I really don't know how to use it but off camera flash would be worthy trying.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. brettmaxwell

    brettmaxwell Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 8, 2012
    flash can be great as it freezes motion and you could stop down a little for greater DOF. slap a flash on-camera and bounce up, back, and sideways, basically so it's hitting the ceiling/wall over your left or right shoulder. flash used this way can look very natural. if there's much ambient in the exposure, gel the flash to approximately match.
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