M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

Started Jun 4, 2014 | Discussions
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richard stern Contributing Member • Posts: 515
M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

Hi,

I shoot a lot of birds, including BIF. I have an Oly E-M5, and Panny 100-300 lens, and I love them for iq, light weight, ease of use etc., but they are lousy for birds isolated against a clear sky, particularly in flight, where in any AF mode there is so much hunting and focusing movement that the bird has generally gone, and the keeper rate is very low.

I also have a Nikon D7000, 300 f4 and 1.4 TC, which I love for birds against the sky and in flight, because of its instant and accurate C-AF mode and high iq. But I hate its bulk and weight. For any other type of photo (people, landscapes etc.) the iq of the 2 systems is similar.

I have read reams of stuff about PDAF, CDAF, legacy lenses, micro and non-micro 43 lenses etc., and am no further ahead. I find the info for this subject on the E-M1 conflicting and confusing.  Does anyone know if there is a real world camera that I can use with my existing 100-300 m43 lens, that gives iq and ease of use for general photography that is as good as the E-M5, and also consistent instant auto-focus that is as good as the Nikon combo for BIF?

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Nikon D7000 Olympus E-M1
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Michael M Fliegel
Michael M Fliegel Veteran Member • Posts: 3,112
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

I hear that the Panasonic GH4 is supposed to be the best mFT at this.  I have not spent much time with the continuous autofocus on my EM1 but I bet that it's not bad (but not on par with the Nikon).  Different tools for different jobs.

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WhyNot
WhyNot Veteran Member • Posts: 4,713
Other problems

I have similar problems, but my birds are usually sitting in a tree or in a bush.  ...  The pre-M1 mFT cameras, that I have, have two problems that the FT PDAF cameras did not. First, the focus area seems too large as CDAF takes a little more work to gain accurate focus than the PDAF systems, and what bugs me the most is that it does not know when it is IN FOCUS – it has to cycle once to be sure. Second, shooting against a bright sky or a dark background the EVF tries to make life easier by adjusting the lighting. This often renders the subject unseeable – blown with a dark background and the subject in full sunlight or completely dark with a bright background (this also makes AF more difficult for the camera.) ….. If you're comparing mFT AF for tracking BIF against Nikon or Canon I suspect they still lose. ….

GeorgianBay1939
GeorgianBay1939 Senior Member • Posts: 3,552
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

There is some discussion re the 100-300 for BIF on the thread starting here:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53790944

I hope that it helps.

Tom

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robls
robls Junior Member • Posts: 47
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

For BIF i still use my Nikon D7100 and 80-400 afs, but i prefer the OMD EM-1 and 75-300 for sitting birds with enough light. This  Bittern was taken at the end of my garden on the island of  Texel, Netherlands. Heavy crop and handheld. Better then the Nikon.

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zackiedawg
zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 25,914
New gen mirrorless all seem to have stepped up...

Richard, if you look at some recent YouTube comparisons and recent tests, it seems that all of the newest gen cameras in mirrorless seem to have stepped up considerably over past models when it comes to AF-C functionality and ability to accurately focus on moving targets.  While there may be some slight differences between these models for various features, functions, design, etc, they all seem to be very good and very capable of focusing in AF-C even for fast moving subjects, given the right modes and settings:

Olympus EM1

Panasonic GH4

Sony A6000

Fuji XT1

I would think the EM1 would be a significant step up from your current camera, and still use the same lenses.  The GH4 may also be worth looking at, with M4:3 shooters knowledgeable about the lens you are asking about to confirm it will work optimally on this camera.

Each of the cameras above will use AF-C as well as a typical entry-level DSLR, or sometimes even better - each might require a little bit of learning to figure out the best and optimal settings for BIF shooting, and a little adjustment for DSLR shooters to get used to EVFs for tracking/panning compared to an OVF...and each represent a definite large leap forward in AF-C speed and accuracy on mirrorless large-sensor interchangeable lens cameras.

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Justin
galleries: www.pbase.com/zackiedawg

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Brian Wadie
Brian Wadie Veteran Member • Posts: 6,909
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

having come from canon 7D / 5Dmk2 + fast L lenses to the EM-1 / EM5 bodies and a variety of lenses including the 75-300mk2 and 50-200 mk1 I would say from my own experience that the EM-1 with firmware v1.4 with the 75-300 or 50-200 +EC-14 are going to be the closest to your Nikon D7000, 300 f4 and 1.4 TC (haven't used the G4 so can't comment but reports look good)

Having said that, they will never be as easy to use for birding as your D7000 set-up but, with the right techniques, setting and much practise, they are perfectly capable of shooting small, fast birds in flight (down to the size of a Merlin in my experience but not good enough for Swallow or Swifts)

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So much to learn, so little time left to do it!

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X_Holger Regular Member • Posts: 258
GH4 will work best with your 100-300

The new GH4 will have the fastest and most precise AF with your 100-300 because of the new DFD (depth from defocus) technology in combination with Panasonic lenses.

Like zackiedawg I have seen the AF comparison on youtube and DFD really seems to work.

Olympus decided to use a different technology with PDAF pixels on the sensor of the E-M1 to have full compatibility with FT lenses.

I guess that those new technologies that are now reserved for the most expensive TOP cameras will be seen in cheaper models in some months or one year from now .....

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Kameraphil Regular Member • Posts: 445
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing
1

A bird was posing for me as I was reading the thread. All are straight OOC jpegs, shot with E-M1 and Oly 75-300mm Mk1:

Brian Wadie
Brian Wadie Veteran Member • Posts: 6,909
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing
1

merlin at speed across meadow

diving Herring Gull

oyster catcher with mussel

pigeon over-flight

green finch aggression at extreme distance

green finch take off extreme distance

over flying Spoonbil

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So much to learn, so little time left to do it!

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richard stern OP Contributing Member • Posts: 515
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

Brian - fabulous shots, but you didn't day what you used to take them.
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Richard (rb_stern),
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richard stern OP Contributing Member • Posts: 515
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

Oops - say not day!
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String
String Senior Member • Posts: 1,575
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing
1

Check the EXIF... all with an E-M1 @ 300mm

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Brian Wadie
Brian Wadie Veteran Member • Posts: 6,909
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

String wrote:

Check the EXIF... all with an E-M1 @ 300mm

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thanks for pointing that out, it was with the 75-300 to be precise, usually centre point or 9 point focus with SAF and 6fps sequential shooting in 3 shot bursts,

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So much to learn, so little time left to do it!

 Brian Wadie's gear list:Brian Wadie's gear list
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richard stern OP Contributing Member • Posts: 515
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

Check the EXIF... all with an E-M1 @ 300mm

With AF-C or AF-S?
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String
String Senior Member • Posts: 1,575
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

Not much of a bird guy to be honest however I have taken a few. Here are some with the E-M5 and the Oly 75. All I ever use is S-AF.

I do not find the 100-300 a very fast focusing lens, at least on the E-M5. Its okay for static subjects but struggles with anything moving.

 String's gear list:String's gear list
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Kameraphil Regular Member • Posts: 445
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing
1

I take it Brian's "SAF" means AF-S

Brian Wadie
Brian Wadie Veteran Member • Posts: 6,909
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

Kameraphil wrote:

I take it Brian's "SAF" means AF-S

sorry, old age has struck again, all the right letters, just not in the right order

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So much to learn, so little time left to do it!

 Brian Wadie's gear list:Brian Wadie's gear list
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Brian Wadie
Brian Wadie Veteran Member • Posts: 6,909
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

String wrote:

Not much of a bird guy to be honest however I have taken a few. Here are some with the E-M5 and the Oly 75. All I ever use is S-AF.

I do not find the 100-300 a very fast focusing lens, at least on the E-M5. Its okay for static subjects but struggles with anything moving.

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I have read reports that the focus motor in the 100-300 is a bit sluggish and this slows down focus speed as reported for instance this review by Ming Thein " the biggest limitation is continuous AF performance. It’s already a problem for the M4/3 system since all focus systems are contrast detect; it’s even worse with the 100-300 because the focus motor itself is slow, the required amount of physical movement of the lens elements between the infinity and the 1.5m near limit is large, and the lens is one of the earlier generation of designs that doesn’t have the benefit of the technology used in Panasonic’s current lenses. It isn’t slow per se, but it definitely isn’t up to the latest Olympus primes in speed" Can't comment from personal experience as I have never used it

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So much to learn, so little time left to do it!

 Brian Wadie's gear list:Brian Wadie's gear list
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Brian Wadie
Brian Wadie Veteran Member • Posts: 6,909
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

a few taken with the EM-5, which does a not bad job, just not as easy as with the EM-1

peregrine falcon flat across a meadow

and with the EM-1

Lanner Falcon about to turn over to stoop

Lanner hitting the lure

Lanner having dropped the lure, coming down for the kill

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So much to learn, so little time left to do it!

 Brian Wadie's gear list:Brian Wadie's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Canon EOS 7D Mark II Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm 1:2.8 Macro Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 +1 more
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