What is the best m43 for focus tracking?

Started Mar 31, 2013 | Questions
JamieTux
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What is the best m43 for focus tracking?
Mar 31, 2013

Hey everyone, since selling my Canon gear to move to m43 I've been shooting with just one top quality body (I have a gf2 as well buits really lacking in dr for my style of shooting so one useful camera only scares me!) I had the money put aside to get the new improved AF all singing all dancing Oly when its announced but all seems quiet on that front at the moment.  So I'd like to get a complementary camera to go with my om-d.  If that is the top at the moment then I guess I will need to hire where needed until the new one is announced and make a decision then.

I've even been looking at the GH3 despite its size, but I can't find anyone willing to put their neck on the line and call a winner!

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

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axlotl
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Re: What exactly do you mean by focus tracking ?
In reply to JamieTux, Mar 31, 2013

In the M43 world "Focus Tracking" is a process by which focus is established on a specific subject element, say, a face,  which the camera identifies and endeavours to keep in focus as the face moves about in the frame and maybe moving towards or away from the camera. In my experience this is not a hugely useful feature but some people might find it works for them.

Sometimes when people say focus tracking they actually mean follow focus on a subject moving towards or away from the camera (as in sport/action) using continuous AF and Burst (Lumix) or Continuous (Oly) drive. The EM5, G5 and GH3 can do this reasonably well with careful attention to technique. I have tested both the EM5 and GH3 but would not care to say one is better than the other at follow focus. They are using the same sensor (probably)  the same readout rate of 240 fps and both use CDAF without PDAF,  so there appears to be no pressing reason why one might expect one to be better than the other.

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JamieTux
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Re: What exactly do you mean by focus tracking ?
In reply to axlotl, Mar 31, 2013

I mean following a focus as a subject moves - towards or away from you or across the frame slightly as you try to pan - I have never needed to differentiate the direction of movement before.

I also realise that the GH3 and E-M5 are potentially using the same sensor, but I assumed (maybe incorrectly) that CDAF would be very dependent on the software and processing algorithms, not the imaging sensor itself (other than read speed).  I know that in first gen even on S-AF the Panasonics felt a lot faster than the Olympus using the exact same sensors.

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Fredrik Glckner
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Re: What exactly do you mean by focus tracking ?
In reply to axlotl, Mar 31, 2013

axlotl wrote:

I have tested both the EM5 and GH3 but would not care to say one is better than the other at follow focus. They are using the same sensor (probably)  the same readout rate of 240 fps and both use CDAF without PDAF,  so there appears to be no pressing reason why one might expect one to be better than the other.

Just a note that the GH3 240fps AF readout only works with the Lumix X 12-35mm and 35-100mm lenses so far, and probably it only works in farily well lit situations, e.g., daylight.

I'm not sure if the E-M5 can utilize 240fps with any lens, or just for some of the more recent ones. Given that the GH3 can only use this feature with the two newest premium zoom lenses, I have some doubts.

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Chris R-UK
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Question should be "what is the least worst"
In reply to JamieTux, Mar 31, 2013

Mirrorless cameras, with the exception of the Nikon 1 series, are poor compared with DSLRs at tracking moving subjects.  If the subject is small and fast moving like birds in flight mirrorless cameras are very poor.

Most bird photographers in this forum use single shot focusing for birds in flight because continuous focusing is effectively useless.  Single shot focusing can actually give quite good results although the hit rate is lower than with a DSLR and in my experience it is very difficult to get shots that require perfect timing, e.g. a diving bird hitting the water.

I think that the responses so far indicate that no M4/3 camera has yet solved this problem.

If you want to shoot relatively large and slower moving subjects M4/3 focus tracking may be OK but for faster/smaller subjects just accept that you will probably have to use single shot focusing.

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JamieTux
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Re: Question should be "what is the least worst"
In reply to Chris R-UK, Mar 31, 2013

I understood that, I was just hoping that someone would tell me that the gh3 or g5 was better so that I would buy it now, as it is it looks like my options realistically are buy a second OMD or keep hiring one every other week until the new ones come.

Much as I like my second camera to be fully compatible I'm a fan Of different bodies (Fuji s5 and Nikon D700 or Canon 5d2 and 7d
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PC Wheeler
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Re: what is the best m43 for focus tracking?
In reply to JamieTux, Mar 31, 2013

In their review of the OM-D http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/olympusem5/ they said in the conclusion under Cons "Focus tracking distinctly unreliable". They've not yet posted their review of the GH3.

Contrast-detect AF (most mirrorless cameras) seems to be inherently worse for tracking than phase-detect AF (DSLRS). On the other hand no worries about front focus or back focus.

I believe one or more mirrorless cameras has a hybrid PDAF/CDAF approach -- but since I don't do BIFs I've never been much concerned. My (now sold) EOS 7D has a very exotic AF with various settings to optimize tracking under different situations.

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Anders W
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Re: What exactly do you mean by focus tracking ?
In reply to Fredrik Glckner, Mar 31, 2013

Fredrik Glckner wrote:

axlotl wrote:

I have tested both the EM5 and GH3 but would not care to say one is better than the other at follow focus. They are using the same sensor (probably)  the same readout rate of 240 fps and both use CDAF without PDAF,  so there appears to be no pressing reason why one might expect one to be better than the other.

Just a note that the GH3 240fps AF readout only works with the Lumix X 12-35mm and 35-100mm lenses so far, and probably it only works in farily well lit situations, e.g., daylight.

That it would work at 240 Hz with these two lenses only is news to me. What's your source for that claim? I see no reason at all why the AF frame-rate would be lens-dependent.

I'm not sure if the E-M5 can utilize 240fps with any lens, or just for some of the more recent ones. Given that the GH3 can only use this feature with the two newest premium zoom lenses, I have some doubts.

The original E-M5 announcement says it can do 240 Hz in AF-C and doesn't say anything about this rate being lens-dependent.

http://www.dpreview.com/news/2012/02/08/Olympus_OM-D_E-M5_announced

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Fredrik Glckner
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Re: What exactly do you mean by focus tracking ?
In reply to Anders W, Mar 31, 2013

Anders W wrote:

Fredrik Glckner wrote:

axlotl wrote:

I have tested both the EM5 and GH3 but would not care to say one is better than the other at follow focus. They are using the same sensor (probably)  the same readout rate of 240 fps and both use CDAF without PDAF,  so there appears to be no pressing reason why one might expect one to be better than the other.

Just a note that the GH3 240fps AF readout only works with the Lumix X 12-35mm and 35-100mm lenses so far, and probably it only works in farily well lit situations, e.g., daylight.

That it would work at 240 Hz with these two lenses only is news to me. What's your source for that claim?

Here's a copy of the GH3 specifications, note the asterisk #1:

"The DMC-GH3 provides sensor drive and lens control at the speed of 240 fps, *1

*1 As of September 17, 2012, using a LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm / F2.8 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. or LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm / F2.8 / POWER O.I.S. lens.

Source:

http://www.domuswire.com/prodotti/schede/panasonic/11095181.pdf

This appendix is often lost when people copy the specifications into reviews and so on. I guess this is partially intentional: If people think the 240fps applies to all lenses, the camera sounds better.

The 240fps AF feature was available only after the firmware 1.1 upgrade for those lenses:

http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2012/11/01/fast-focusing-firmware-on-the-way-for-panasonic-zoom-lenses

With the original 1.0 firmware, you had at most 120fps AF control.

I see no reason at all why the AF frame-rate would be lens-dependent.

I disagree with that.

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Anders W
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Re: What exactly do you mean by focus tracking ?
In reply to Fredrik Glckner, Mar 31, 2013

Fredrik Glckner wrote:

Anders W wrote:

Fredrik Glckner wrote:

axlotl wrote:

I have tested both the EM5 and GH3 but would not care to say one is better than the other at follow focus. They are using the same sensor (probably)  the same readout rate of 240 fps and both use CDAF without PDAF,  so there appears to be no pressing reason why one might expect one to be better than the other.

Just a note that the GH3 240fps AF readout only works with the Lumix X 12-35mm and 35-100mm lenses so far, and probably it only works in farily well lit situations, e.g., daylight.

That it would work at 240 Hz with these two lenses only is news to me. What's your source for that claim?

Here's a copy of the GH3 specifications, note the asterisk #1:

"The DMC-GH3 provides sensor drive and lens control at the speed of 240 fps, *1

*1 As of September 17, 2012, using a LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm / F2.8 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. or LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm / F2.8 / POWER O.I.S. lens.

Source:

http://www.domuswire.com/prodotti/schede/panasonic/11095181.pdf

This appendix is often lost when people copy the specifications into reviews and so on. I guess this is partially intentional: If people think the 240fps applies to all lenses, the camera sounds better.

The 240fps AF feature was available only after the firmware 1.1 upgrade for those lenses:

http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2012/11/01/fast-focusing-firmware-on-the-way-for-panasonic-zoom-lenses

With the original 1.0 firmware, you had at most 120fps AF control.

I see no reason at all why the AF frame-rate would be lens-dependent.

I disagree with that.

So what would be the reason that AF frame-rate would be lens-dependent?

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PC Wheeler
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Re: What exactly do you mean by focus tracking ?
In reply to Anders W, Mar 31, 2013

Anders W wrote:

Fredrik Glckner wrote:

Anders W wrote:

Fredrik Glckner wrote:

axlotl wrote:

I have tested both the EM5 and GH3 but would not care to say one is better than the other at follow focus. They are using the same sensor (probably)  the same readout rate of 240 fps and both use CDAF without PDAF,  so there appears to be no pressing reason why one might expect one to be better than the other.

Just a note that the GH3 240fps AF readout only works with the Lumix X 12-35mm and 35-100mm lenses so far, and probably it only works in farily well lit situations, e.g., daylight.

That it would work at 240 Hz with these two lenses only is news to me. What's your source for that claim?

Here's a copy of the GH3 specifications, note the asterisk #1:

"The DMC-GH3 provides sensor drive and lens control at the speed of 240 fps, *1

*1 As of September 17, 2012, using a LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm / F2.8 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. or LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm / F2.8 / POWER O.I.S. lens.

Source:

http://www.domuswire.com/prodotti/schede/panasonic/11095181.pdf

This appendix is often lost when people copy the specifications into reviews and so on. I guess this is partially intentional: If people think the 240fps applies to all lenses, the camera sounds better.

The 240fps AF feature was available only after the firmware 1.1 upgrade for those lenses:

http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2012/11/01/fast-focusing-firmware-on-the-way-for-panasonic-zoom-lenses

With the original 1.0 firmware, you had at most 120fps AF control.

I see no reason at all why the AF frame-rate would be lens-dependent.

I disagree with that.

So what would be the reason that AF frame-rate would be lens-dependent?

Motors?

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danijel973
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Re: what is the best m43 for focus tracking?
In reply to JamieTux, Mar 31, 2013

The best m43 camera for focus tracking is Canon 5d MkIII, I'm afraid. Just say no to m43 for focus tracking.

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YouDidntDidYou
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Re: what is the best m43 for focus tracking?
In reply to JamieTux, Mar 31, 2013

I would wait for Olympus and Panasonic's April announcements.... they are both know to be working on focus tracking and have said their cdaf will be better than pdaf in the future

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jalywol
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Re: Question should be "what is the least worst"
In reply to JamieTux, Mar 31, 2013

JamieTux wrote:

I understood that, I was just hoping that someone would tell me that the gh3 or g5 was better so that I would buy it now, as it is it looks like my options realistically are buy a second OMD or keep hiring one every other week until the new ones come.

I suspect the GH3 has better focus tracking than the OMD, but I also suspect that it still has not caught up with DSLRs....I've played with it a little on the GH3, but I am so unfamiliar with it, that I can't give you a good comparison to anything useful (I always have shot AFS).

-J

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Aleo Veuliah
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Re: what is the best m43 for focus tracking?
In reply to JamieTux, Mar 31, 2013

I say two cameras, the OMD and the GH3.

I like better the GH3 but both are good. We can not still compare to the best DSLR's regarding the  AFT. But I had already seen some good sports pictures from Micro 4/3 cameras.


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s_grins
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Re: what is the best m43 for focus tracking?
In reply to JamieTux, Mar 31, 2013

I'd recommend you second OMD because , because, because...you can be happy with OMD only

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hindesite
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What about the alternative methods?
In reply to JamieTux, Mar 31, 2013

Focus tracking is one approach, and one that has been around for a while and is better performed by DSLRs. It doesn't seem very reliable on the OM-D, but technology has moved on and with LV we have alternatives not available to DSLRs.

I've been getting good results using the LCD touchscreen to select the focus point and take the picture, works where tracking is unreliable. I'm quite surprised, was sceptical until I tried it.

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micksh6
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Re: what is the best m43 for focus tracking?
In reply to Aleo Veuliah, Apr 1, 2013

Aleo Veuliah wrote:

I say two cameras, the OMD and the GH3.

Only two? You haven't tried another two, Olympus E-PL5 and E-PM2, have you?

I have E-PL5 and I compared it with OM-D. They are almost the same except that E-PL5 got smaller AF rectangle than OM-D. With 14x elongated AF rectangle E-PL5 and E-M5 have about the same focusing speed, but with the smallest square rectangle E-PL5 is faster. E-M5 doesn't have that small AF area.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51100254

I didn't test focus tracking, that was S-AF test. But, with CDAF it's a given that if camera is faster with S-AF it will be faster in C-AF and AF tracking too.

I like better the GH3 but both are good.

It's not "both", it's 4 cameras now, two of them are better than one of the two you tried. I can't say a thing about GH3, though.

We can not still compare to the best DSLR's regarding the  AFT. But I had already seen some good sports pictures from Micro 4/3 cameras.

This is true. And the quality of the pictures we see mostly depends on photographer skills, the camera AF tracking ability importance is a distant second (and it's essential to distinguish just C-AF vs C-AF with tracking), sometimes C-AF is used, sometimes it's not. I haven't seen many examples of successful tracking. There are good C-AF examples without tracking, though.

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Alumna Gorp
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Re: what is the best m43 for focus tracking?
In reply to JamieTux, Apr 1, 2013

Panasonic were slightly better, not so sure with these new camera` though.

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JamieTux
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Re: Question should be "what is the least worst"
In reply to jalywol, Apr 1, 2013

Thanks Jalywol,

That's exactly the feedback I was after, I'm not expecting slr level (yet) but having a difference to the OM-D would be enough for me at the moment.

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