How much have micro 4/3 cameras improved for action shooting?

Started 6 months ago | Discussions
danieladougan
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How much have micro 4/3 cameras improved for action shooting?
6 months ago

I'm a hobbyist just starting to learn a little more serious photography. I've built a kit over the past few months, mostly with used equipment that is fully functional. But I've noticed some real focus accuracy problems, especially (but not just) with action.

I know micro 4/3 is not ideal for action shooting, but I only do it occasionally and I value the compactness and affordability of the system for everything else.

So here's what I currently have:

  • Olympus Pen E-PL1 body
  • Panasonic 14-42mm f3.5-5.6
  • Panasonic Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4
  • Olympus 45mm f1.8
  • Olympus 40-150mm f4.0-5.6

I also have a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V that I use as a spare "take it everywhere" camera. It's pretty decent for a point-and-shoot/bridge camera.

So anyway, I was wondering if upgrading to a more recent body (say the E-PL5) would make a real difference in the number of "keeper" shots I get. I'm not into pixel peeping, but I know when an image is ruined at ANY size by autofocus errors. I don't use the 14-42mm very often at all, but I use all of the other lenses frequently. The Oly 40-150 is the most prone to autofocus errors and the one I am most likely to use for shooting action due to the focal length.

I don't really feel like throwing down $1300 for the Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8 lens or the upcoming Olympus 45-150mm f2.8. Spending about the same amount of coin for an OM-D E-M1 doesn't sound too appealing either. But I did find someone selling his E-PL5 used for $260, plus I could sell off my E-PL1 to pay for part of the cost of upgrading.

Is this a good idea? Is it that significant of an upgrade to go from E-PL1 to E-PL5?

linux99
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My OMD is a lot lot better for action shots than my epl1
In reply to danieladougan, 6 months ago

FWITW my OMD is a lot better fpr action shots than the epl1 - which really isn't up to par at all. That being said the OMD isn't great.

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Polariser
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Re: How much have micro 4/3 cameras improved for action shooting?
In reply to danieladougan, 6 months ago

Not much. Its perhaps the one remaining area where they lag behind.

However, other mirror less cameras with better PDAF enhanced sensors do a lot better job e.g. the Sony A6000

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Martin.au
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Re: How much have micro 4/3 cameras improved for action shooting?
In reply to danieladougan, 6 months ago

Well i like it.

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lefkop
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Re: How much have micro 4/3 cameras improved for action shooting?
In reply to danieladougan, 6 months ago

i have the gh4, and it can really fire off shots quickly too. Plus you can just film in 4k and frame grab if needed 30fps. The epl1 is known to be very slow to focus.

cheers

Paul

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Jacques Cornell
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CAF or SAF? N/T
In reply to Martin.au, 6 months ago
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www.jacquescornell.photography

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Martin.au
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Re: CAF or SAF? N/T
In reply to Jacques Cornell, 6 months ago

Jacques Cornell wrote:

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www.jacquescornell.photography

All C-AF

My gallery has more. Almost all "action" stuff of mine is shot with caf.

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DaveyB
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Re: How much have micro 4/3 cameras improved for action shooting?
In reply to lefkop, 6 months ago

Hi, at the following link you can watch the CameraStore's video of a real-world, telephoto AF shootout between the best mirrorless cameras on the market, from Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji and Sony - with a top-class Nikon DSLR as a comparator. The Panasonic GH4 is a clear winner, only marginally behind the Nikon DSLR - its a major leap forward for m4/3 cameras' AF in this last generation of bodies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=up8K_xd_iwU&list=PLiXUulBBkNvHyKmWDiPkFfRyxNZparnP9

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David
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ALinGolden
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Re: My OMD is a lot lot better for action shots than my epl1
In reply to linux99, 6 months ago

Er, what did you say?  OMD is the acronym for Olympus Maitani Digital.

The term formally has preceded Olympus camera model names since the OMD-E1 was released.

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Digital Dick
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The problem with grabbing a frame from a video
In reply to lefkop, 6 months ago

I hear a lot of people suggesting that you can get a good still image by just grabbing a frame from 4K video. That sounds good but you need to be aware that if the video is of a moving subject your grabbed frame will be an image that was shot at probably a lot lower shutter speed than you would normally have used to photograph the same moving subject with a still camera. For example if you shot the video at 24 frames per second, you probably has the shutter speed set at 1/50 sec. I don't know many people that would shoot a moving car or motor bike at 1/50 sec and be happy with the resulting blurred image.

Dick

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drj3
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Re: How much have micro 4/3 cameras improved for action shooting?
In reply to danieladougan, 6 months ago

The Olympus E-M1 and the Panasonic GH4 are both much more capable than previous m43s cameras. My use suggests that at least the E-M1 is better than most entry level DSLRs, about equivalent to the previous Olympus E5 DSLR (except for very small targets with very patterned background). I believe most users would probably be satisfied with either used with lenses up to 100mm (200mm equivalent). If action photography is your primary interest, then it is still full frame DSLRs which can provide the best performance.

Above 100mm, the current best performance would probably be the E-M1 using the 43s 50-200 SWD f2.8-3.5 or this lens with the EC14 to get to 283mm at f5. This should change next year with the introduction of the Olympus m43s 40-150 f2.8 and 300mm f4 and the possible introduction of a tele-converter. Unfortunately Panasonic has at least temporarily halted development of any longer fast zoom telephoto lenses with OIS, possibly limiting the excellent GH4's usefulness for photography requiring longer telephoto lenses.

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lefkop
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Re: The problem with grabbing a frame from a video
In reply to Digital Dick, 6 months ago

Digital Dick wrote:

I hear a lot of people suggesting that you can get a good still image by just grabbing a frame from 4K video. That sounds good but you need to be aware that if the video is of a moving subject your grabbed frame will be an image that was shot at probably a lot lower shutter speed than you would normally have used to photograph the same moving subject with a still camera. For example if you shot the video at 24 frames per second, you probably has the shutter speed set at 1/50 sec. I don't know many people that would shoot a moving car or motor bike at 1/50 sec and be happy with the resulting blurred image.

Dick

Hi Dick, of course you are correct to an extent here as most filmic looks for video are 24p 1/48 But the story does not stop here. Shooting for photography and shooting for film are fundamentally different. Often a conscious decision is made when filming a movie to have more staccato feel to action sequences by increasing the shutter speed. In filming the 1/48 rule is regularly played with and with low budget indie type stuff there is no choice because to do so because these people lack the proper filtrarion to deal bright sun. For instance 4x4 NDIR filters, polarizers, and anything else can cost into the thousands very quickly. On the opposite side for interiors there is usually not enough light to grab exposure. For the look and feel of the action sequence the director or DP will often make this call. Currently the filmic look is in, but also remember that we often shoot for TV which is 1/60 at 30 fps and slow motion effects are common too. I don't remember for sure but a RED can do 300 fps at full 5k resolution or something lime that.

All that being said, If one has an intention going in of grabbing stills from video, no reason why not to fire away at a high shutter rate so the blur effect is elmininated. If we can grab a nice 4k frame from a high speed action sequence by using video we have another tool to help us achieve this goal. The gh4 is a great versatile tool that can help us achieve both our movie and stills vision.

Personally I am having a blast with this camera.

a la prochaine

Paul

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Vesku
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Re: How much have micro 4/3 cameras improved for action shooting?
In reply to danieladougan, 6 months ago

I have had Panasonic GF1, GH2, GH3 and GH4.

I have shooted action photos with them and Pana 45-200mm and 100-300mm lenses.

There has been a constant evolution of generations:

GF1 was very slow with AFC, comletely unusable and impossible to follow motion. Using AFS was bad too and without EVF hard to hold steady.

GH2 was slow and hopeless with AFC, I used AFS and succes rate was poor. IQ when focus and exposure was correct was just OK. RAW buffer so slow that must use JPG.

GH3 was much better but the slow AFC speed and EVF blackout made it difficult to follow motion. Much better IQ because I could use RAW with burst.

GH4 is fast and good but Panasonic old tele lenses slows AFC down. New lenses like 35-100 and 14-140 are joy to use in action photography. Better success rest with CFC AF system. IQ a bit better thaN GH3.

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Paulmorgan
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Re: How much have micro 4/3 cameras improved for action shooting?
In reply to danieladougan, 6 months ago

danieladougan wrote:

I'm a hobbyist just starting to learn a little more serious photography. I've built a kit over the past few months, mostly with used equipment that is fully functional. But I've noticed some real focus accuracy problems, especially (but not just) with action.

I know micro 4/3 is not ideal for action shooting, but I only do it occasionally and I value the compactness and affordability of the system for everything else.

So here's what I currently have:

  • Olympus Pen E-PL1 body
  • Panasonic 14-42mm f3.5-5.6
  • Panasonic Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4
  • Olympus 45mm f1.8
  • Olympus 40-150mm f4.0-5.6

I also have a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V that I use as a spare "take it everywhere" camera. It's pretty decent for a point-and-shoot/bridge camera.

So anyway, I was wondering if upgrading to a more recent body (say the E-PL5) would make a real difference in the number of "keeper" shots I get. I'm not into pixel peeping, but I know when an image is ruined at ANY size by autofocus errors. I don't use the 14-42mm very often at all, but I use all of the other lenses frequently. The Oly 40-150 is the most prone to autofocus errors and the one I am most likely to use for shooting action due to the focal length.

I don't really feel like throwing down $1300 for the Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8 lens or the upcoming Olympus 45-150mm f2.8. Spending about the same amount of coin for an OM-D E-M1 doesn't sound too appealing either. But I did find someone selling his E-PL5 used for $260, plus I could sell off my E-PL1 to pay for part of the cost of upgrading.

Is this a good idea? Is it that significant of an upgrade to go from E-PL1 to E-PL5?

They have always been capable of shooting action, its just the people that use these cameras that have problems.

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Vesku
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Re: How much have micro 4/3 cameras improved for action shooting?
In reply to Paulmorgan, 6 months ago

Paulmorgan wrote:

They have always been capable of shooting action, its just the people that use these cameras that have problems.

There are lots of kind of action but in generally it is shooting fast and unpredictable motion. You can shoot with older cameras i.e. chess game, it some kind of action too.

My action shooting needs a viewfinder, tele lens, fast and accurate AFC and fast burst mode capable of following difficult motion.

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Jorginho
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GH4 is a huge step forward.
In reply to danieladougan, 6 months ago

Really a fine cam for action with the 12-35, 35-100 and 45-175 which I used. Not so with the 45-200 and 100-300....

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Paulmorgan
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Re: How much have micro 4/3 cameras improved for action shooting?
In reply to Vesku, 6 months ago

Vesku wrote:

Paulmorgan wrote:

They have always been capable of shooting action, its just the people that use these cameras that have problems.

There are lots of kind of action but in generally it is shooting fast and unpredictable motion. You can shoot with older cameras i.e. chess game, it some kind of action too.

My action shooting needs a viewfinder, tele lens, fast and accurate AFC and fast burst mode capable of following difficult motion.

I doubt your talking about real action then.

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PC Wheeler
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Re: GH4 is a huge step forward.
In reply to Jorginho, 6 months ago

Jorginho wrote:

Really a fine cam for action with the 12-35, 35-100 and 45-175 which I used.

And with the14-140 II

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tomtom50
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Re: How much have micro 4/3 cameras improved for action shooting?
In reply to danieladougan, 6 months ago

Wait a bit longer. The PDAF on the E-M1 trickle down soon.

The E-PL5 price will drop when the E-PL7 is introduced if you want an interim fix.

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SmoothGlass
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Re: How much have micro 4/3 cameras improved for action shooting?
In reply to DaveyB, 6 months ago

DaveyB wrote:

Hi, at the following link you can watch the CameraStore's video of a real-world, telephoto AF shootout between the best mirrorless cameras on the market, from Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji and Sony - with a top-class Nikon DSLR as a comparator. The Panasonic GH4 is a clear winner, only marginally behind the Nikon DSLR - its a major leap forward for m4/3 cameras' AF in this last generation of bodies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=up8K_xd_iwU&list=PLiXUulBBkNvHyKmWDiPkFfRyxNZparnP9

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David
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I wish people would stop posting that video, it proves nothing as what they deemed to be in focus didn't look 100.0% in focus, but close. Also the issue of EVF lag was glossed over. I'm a mirrorless convert as I rarely shoot action. But even I'd gladly admit that EVFs have a ways to go to catch up to the best DSLRs, and I doubt that any mirrorless outside of the Nikon 1 series has fully caught up to the Nikon D7100 or Canon equivalent. And even the Nikon 1 EVFs have slight EVF lag.

ImagingResource had this to say about the A6000 which has autofocus performance similar to the GH4 and EM1:

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-a6000/sony-a6000-shooters-report-part-ii.htm

"When I picked up the Nikon D4S to shoot with it for awhile, I noticed something else that seemed very odd. I was seemingly better at predicting the action with the D4S -- I was catching more peak moments. My strong sense is that the electronic viewfinder of the A6000, with its slight delay, was causing me to react late when the ball was passed and the action shifted. The optical viewfinder of the D4S has no equivalent delay, but on the other hand, the camera does blackout the viewfinder briefly for every frame. Whatever the precise cause, there was no question that I was slightly, but noticeably, faster at following changing action with the D4S. It's of no real concern to me overall, but if shooting sports for money was in my game plan (it's not), this would drop the A6000 off my shopping list.

When I examined my pictures closely later, I saw that, yes, the Wide and Zone AF area modes were often fooled into focusing on the wrong subject. My first shot or three in any given sequence were also often not really sharp, although the camera would usually catch up in later frames. To tally up my approximate hit rate -- i.e. sharp shots vs. soft shots -- I didn't count aborted sequences or ones where I knew or strongly suspected that I had messed up. With those caveats stated, my hit rate in typical properly executed burst sequences was roughly 50%.

It's important to understand that number in context. A 50% hit rate at 11 frames-per-second works out to 5 or 6 sharp pictures per second. That's pretty good, and comparable or better than what most DSLR cameras in the A6000's price range can do."

I'd expect the GH4 and EM1 to be on par with the A6000 and suffer from the same EVF lag issue. Their GH4 test doesn't seem to have included as much fast action shooting, but it's worth reading: http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/panasonic-gh4/panasonic-gh4-shooters-report-part-i.htm  I haven't seen an E-M1 shooter's report yet.

All of that said, mirrorless has come a long way in the last 5 years, and I expect EVFs to keep improving and eventually catch up to at least the Nikon D7100 level as far as fast action AF performance.

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