Needing Help w/ OMD E-M1 AF Tracking Tips for Moving Subjects

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markdishner
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Needing Help w/ OMD E-M1 AF Tracking Tips for Moving Subjects
3 months ago

Hi All,

I have the E-M1 and I'd like to get better results for moving subjects such as kids playing soccer or wildlife. I think the camera can probably do significantly better than I'm seeing now, so I'd appreciate any advice y'all have. I have tried both options for continuous AF (i.e., with and without tracking.) Tracking seems to hunt more, but it seems more sensitive too. Mainly I have tried this with the Olympus 40-150mm F4-5.6, but some with the Olympus 45mm F1.8 too.

Also, I'm not really sure what to expect.  I have recently gotten into m4/3 and have shot only Nikons previously.  I'd also appreacaite any comments on what is realistic to expect with the E-M1, and any suggestions based on your shooting experience regarding what if any lenses would work better from an AF perspective.

Thanks!!

Mark

Olympus E-M1
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Bob657
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Re: Needing Help w/ OMD E-M1 AF Tracking Tips for Moving Subjects
In reply to markdishner, 3 months ago

Mark, for the subjects you mentioned I'd shoot with SAF not CAF of any type, as I think you'll have better results.  The af is so fast (especially with the 45mm) you'll have a high keeper rate without the complications of CAF.  I generally use the small single af point as well.

Some do use CAF without tracking and find it improves their results, generally with the 9 point setting.  I use that for BIF and find it helpful.  One last comment is that those using tracking seem to find setting the CAF lock to normal helps as well.

Best,

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Lab D
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Use C-AF and make sure focal point is on the subject.
In reply to markdishner, 3 months ago

I've tracked kids and dogs without any issues.  Make sure you start with the focal point on the subject when you press the shutter.

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Heyseuss Hoolio
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Re: Needing Help w/ OMD E-M1 AF Tracking Tips for Moving Subjects
In reply to markdishner, 3 months ago

There's actually 11 in this series but 10 fits better.

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PatrickNSF
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Re: Needing Help w/ OMD E-M1 AF Tracking Tips for Moving Subjects
In reply to markdishner, 3 months ago

There are a number of discussions at the mu-43 boards regarding C-AF and moving subjects. I've been working on the issue myself with limited success.

http://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?t=64283

http://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?t=64407

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Rocky ID Olympian
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some tips
In reply to markdishner, 3 months ago

Dear Mark,

Below are some tips from me.

1. Use the small AF points (press OK to reveal Super Control Panel, highlight the AF points options then press OK, press info, then press up/down until the AF points are small). Turn off face detection too.

2. Use fast EVF framerate (press menu, choose custom menu, choose display/PC, adjust the "frame rate" from normal to high. If the frame rate option text is in gray color and unselectable, you have to un assign any button that you assigned for "focus peaking".

3. Now select CAF

This I find would be the fastest CAF setting for me.
The performance will depends on the lenses too though.

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CrisPhoto
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Re: Needing Help w/ OMD E-M1 AF Tracking Tips for Moving Subjects
In reply to markdishner, 3 months ago

Hi Mark,

I have the EM5 and EM1, with EM1 C-AF is very useful and I get high keeper rates with C-AF (80% and more).

For a good starting point, I would say:

  • You need light, the Phase-Detect pixels need 1/200s or faster at ISO800. Your actual settings might be different, (eg.g 1/50s and ISO200) but if light is not enough for the equivalent settings above, the camera will fall back to slow contrast AF (then it behaves similar to my EM5)
  • Use frame rate L (6fps) and never H (11fps). The concept of C-AF does not fit to frame rate H at all (where only the first shot has AF and AE lock) .
  • Turn off "release priority". Camera might hunt a little but if you press the shutter, the picture will be tack sharp. Otherwise the picture is soft. In case the camera does not yield focus and does not release, nothing is lost, the picture would have been garbage anyhow (you see, i don't like release prio)
  • Use the "single AF target" if you have busy background and the 3x3 target if you have blue sky. Use the "small+single AF target" only if you want to catch birds in trees, but not for your children
  • Don't use touch screen to adjust focus target, the target might be between the phase detect pixel areas and the AF result will be unpredictable. Use the arrow keys on the AF matrix to shift the focus area.

C-AF works quite good for me. I use the "old" 50-200SWD lens and the 75mm/1.8 with very good results. Both have tiny DOF but C-AF works very good.

Hope I did not forget another important advice.

Regarding "C-AF tracking", this is more complicated and will slow down the camera a bit. I would avoid C-AF-tr and use C-AF most of the time.

Christof

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Woza
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Re: Needing Help w/ OMD E-M1 AF Tracking Tips for Moving Subjects
In reply to markdishner, 3 months ago
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Elix
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Re: Needing Help w/ OMD E-M1 AF Tracking Tips for Moving Subjects
In reply to CrisPhoto, 3 months ago

CrisPhoto wrote:

...

  • Use frame rate L (6fps) and never H (11fps). The concept of C-AF does not fit to frame rate H at all (where only the first shot has AF and AE lock) .

Why do you say so? Logic suggests that with H frame rate you would get more frames to choose from compared to H, all within the same focus and exposure settings. That independently if H or L works better for the particular application, that's another story.

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wildlifr
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According to Thom Hogan, go back to Nikon
In reply to markdishner, 3 months ago

Thom's quote:

"FWIW, I spent two weeks recently in the Galapagos with the Fujifilm, Nikon, and Olympus kits I described. From that experience, I would absolutely go with the Nikon if this hypothetical situation applied to me today. Again, Fujifilm left me wanting at the telephoto end, and big time. The Olympus was a challenge to get keepers with on fast moving bird action (the Fujifilm probably would have been, too, but I quickly avoided the 55-200mm lens because of that).

On the other hand, for the scenic work and when I was doing animals-in-environment shots, both the Fujifilm and Olympus did well. Some may even prefer their JPEG rendering. However, looking at IQ after raw conversion, I’d still rate the D7100 as the keeper. I’ll have more to say on this soon...

With 24mp (actually about 22mp with this crop), there’s incredible detail in the birds features, and no visible noise despite using ISO 800. But here’s the kicker: that’s shot 3 in a sequence of 8. All in focus. The best I could do with the other cameras was 2 of 8 in focus."

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Garry Schaefer
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Re: Needing Help w/ OMD E-M1 AF Tracking Tips for Moving Subjects
In reply to Elix, 3 months ago

Isn't it the case that with burst rate H there is no AF between frames after the first.

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CrisPhoto
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Re: Needing Help w/ OMD E-M1 AF Tracking Tips for Moving Subjects
In reply to Elix, 3 months ago

Elix wrote:

CrisPhoto wrote:

...

  • Use frame rate L (6fps) and never H (11fps). The concept of C-AF does not fit to frame rate H at all (where only the first shot has AF and AE lock) .

Why do you say so? Logic suggests that with H frame rate you would get more frames to choose from compared to H, all within the same focus and exposure settings. That independently if H or L works better for the particular application, that's another story.

???

I assume we talk about C-AF because the OP talked about moving subjects?

Ok, if we talk about moving subjects: As my camera often needs 1-2 missed shots until it predicts the target speed correctly, using frame rate H will give exactly 0 (= zero) sharp shots with moving targets. First photo is soft because subject moved slightly from AF-lock to exposure and all folowing shots are totally blurred. Therefore using mode H will give a lot of frustration instead of plenty sharp shots to choose from. At least in my experience.

These are my typical setings for static/moving subjects:

H + S-AF: When I have static focus distance, I would use frame rate H and S-AF. Typically, I have my camera in A-mode for this.

L + C-AF: When I have variing focus distance, I use frame rate L and C-AF. The camera will adjust focus between shots. Addionally, from the fact that the photos are tack-sharp even if the target is moving between focus lock and exposure I guess that the camera is trying to predict the target speed.

To toggle from S-Af to C-AF quickly, I have configured a MySet2 which replaces the odd "workbook" mode.

As my camera often needs 1-2 missed shots until it predicts the target speed correctly, using frame rate H will give exactly 0 (= zero) sharp shots with moving targets. Therefore using mode H will give a lot of frustration instead of plenty sharp shots to choose from. At least in my experience.

Christof

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CrisPhoto
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Re: According to Thom Hogan, go back to Nikon
In reply to wildlifr, 3 months ago

wildlifr wrote:

Thom's quote:

"FWIW, I spent two weeks recently in the Galapagos with the Fujifilm, Nikon, and Olympus kits I described. From that experience, I would absolutely go with the Nikon if this hypothetical situation applied to me today. Again, Fujifilm left me wanting at the telephoto end, and big time. The Olympus was a challenge to get keepers with on fast moving bird action (the Fujifilm probably would have been, too, but I quickly avoided the 55-200mm lens because of that).

On the other hand, for the scenic work and when I was doing animals-in-environment shots, both the Fujifilm and Olympus did well. Some may even prefer their JPEG rendering. However, looking at IQ after raw conversion, I’d still rate the D7100 as the keeper. I’ll have more to say on this soon...

With 24mp (actually about 22mp with this crop), there’s incredible detail in the birds features, and no visible noise despite using ISO 800. But here’s the kicker: that’s shot 3 in a sequence of 8. All in focus. The best I could do with the other cameras was 2 of 8 in focus."

Others have much more luck /better settings than Thom. Or he had very very wild animals

In a sequence of 15 shots the first two are slightly blurred and the others are sharp. My keeper rate is easily above 70%.

DonParrot has even better skills and higher keeper rates. Search for his latest threads here ...

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Elix
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Re: Needing Help w/ OMD E-M1 AF Tracking Tips for Moving Subjects
In reply to CrisPhoto, 3 months ago

Thanks. Even if you had actually said before, I simply missed the fact that in L mode the camera re-focuses between shoots.

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Klarno
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Re: Needing Help w/ OMD E-M1 AF Tracking Tips for Moving Subjects
In reply to Elix, 3 months ago

Elix wrote:

CrisPhoto wrote:

...

  • Use frame rate L (6fps) and never H (11fps). The concept of C-AF does not fit to frame rate H at all (where only the first shot has AF and AE lock) .

Why do you say so? Logic suggests that with H frame rate you would get more frames to choose from compared to H, all within the same focus and exposure settings. That independently if H or L works better for the particular application, that's another story.

If you have your camera set to L frame rate while using C-AF, the camera will continue to perform C-AF while taking pictures, and it will do this at up to 6.5 frames per second. If you have your camera set to H frame rate, then the camera disables C-AF while your shutter button is depressed.

So it depends, really, on if your subject is changing distances on you during the captures.

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Re: Needing Help w/ OMD E-M1 AF Tracking Tips for Moving Subjects
In reply to Klarno, 3 months ago
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Alex Notpro
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RTFM
In reply to Elix, 3 months ago

Elix wrote:

CrisPhoto wrote:

...

  • Use frame rate L (6fps) and never H (11fps). The concept of C-AF does not fit to frame rate H at all (where only the first shot has AF and AE lock) .

Why do you say so? Logic suggests that with H frame rate you would get more frames to choose from compared to H, all within the same focus and exposure settings. That independently if H or L works better for the particular application, that's another story.

Page 55 of the E-M1 manual, "Sequential H: Photographs are taken at about 10 frames per second (fps) while the shutter button is pressed all the way down. Focus, exposure, and white balance are fixed at the values for the fi rst shot in each series"

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Alex Notpro
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my settings, documented tests
In reply to markdishner, 3 months ago

After some trial-and-error and practice, I've been able to get results that are comparable to my old D7000. Here are two documented tests:

Important settings and comments:

  • AF mode: "C-AF TR" and plain "C-AF" work very differently, but both work if used correctly. 
  • Custom Menu A - C-AF Lock should be set to OFF
  • Focus Area needs to overlay the PDAF areas - I now just set mine to the smallest center point to keep it simple
  • Must use 'Sequential L' Drive mode. 'H' mode disables C-AF after the first frame.
  • Face Detection, Full-Time AF - turn both of these off, these settings have a tendency to distract the camera while you wait for the subject to move into position, and then lose time before the first frame can be taken.
  • For the documented tests I used Live View and shot one-handed in order to film with the iPhone in my left hand; results are much better when shooting with the EVF and both hands on the camera.
  • Release Priority must be OFF.
  • IBIS: With the default factory settings, the E-M1 disables IBIS in the Sequential Drive modes. Keep this default, or turn off IBIS completely. IBIS also seems to be disabled automatically at 1/1250s and above. I seem to get better C-AF results when IBIS is not engaged.
  • Lenses: the 42.5 and 14-150 have worked best for me. The 100-300 works best at wider FLs. The 60/2.8 does not work at all.
  • The first shot in a burst is often misfocused
  • Even with C-AF TR, you need to be able to pan the camera and keep the subject near the center of the frame during the entire burst. This takes some practice.
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PatrickNSF
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Re: my settings, documented tests
In reply to Alex Notpro, 3 months ago

This was very helpful, Alex. Thanks for posting it. I tested your suggestions this morning with the dog and my 14-150mm (not my sharpest lens), and I noticed some improvement. I hope to test more this weekend.

>> Must use 'Sequential L' Drive mode. 'H' mode disables C-AF after the first frame. <<What fps do you set "Sequential L" at? I have mine set at 5fps, but I can't remember what the default is.

Also, out of curiosity, did you hang on to your Nikon D7000 or switch entirely to the E-M1. I still have my Sony A77 (but no lenses) at the moment solely for C-AF. I'd like to figure out C-AF with the E-M1 before selling the A77 (again).

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cayzi
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Re: some tips
In reply to Rocky ID Olympian, 3 months ago

Rocky ID Olympian wrote:

2. Use fast EVF framerate (press menu, choose custom menu, choose display/PC, adjust the "frame rate" from normal to high. If the frame rate option text is in gray color and unselectable, you have to un assign any button that you assigned for "focus peaking".

@Rocky ID:

I have E-M10 and I tried what you mention above. But for me option is still gray color and unselectable.

Any idea if this may be different on E-M10?

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