Is the EM1x well suited for indoor and night time sports shooting?

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Jeff Veteran Member • Posts: 5,537
Is the EM1x well suited for indoor and night time sports shooting?

Other threads have spent a good bit of time 'discussing' the suitability of the EM1x for indoor and nighttime sports shooting under the lights. I don't think there is any real dispute that the EM1x and existing lenses should be well suited for sports under daylight conditions. So the question is whether (setting aside important issues of professional support) the EM1x might be a credible substitute for Nikon D5 and Canon 1Dx shooters

A key issue concerns the performance one can expect under typical arena or stadium lighting conditions. The standard for lighting in these venues ranges from 2700 lux (250 ) for the NFL,100 for nationally televised college football games, 50 for standard play in outdoor college sports, and 80 for NCAA basketball. High school fields and arenas that are typically in the range of 30-50 fc. See for more NCAA examples.

In photographic terms, this corresponds to EV10 for the pro sports venues, a range 8-9 EV for collegiate sports, and low as 7 for high school. Let's take a low mid-point in this range, say EV 8. What constraint does would this put on your sports shooting?

EV 8,  f/4 and ISO 1600 imply a shutter speed of 1/250.  For my tastes this is pretty marginal for stopping action. In my personal experience shooting high school sports, under these conditions one has to selectively look for shots where action is naturally frozen, such as a change in direction of a runner, or the top of a leap for a ball. It's not satisfactory across the board ... you'll get a mix of keepers and discards, and need to edit carefully to cull down to satisfactory shots.  If my livelihood depended on reliably 'getting the shot' and delivering in real time, this would be a hard sell.

Things would certainly be better at f/2.8. So you're thinking about this type of sports shooting, the 40-150/2.8 is going to be a good investment.  The 300/4 might work well in pro stadiums, but be a more marginal performer in youth, high school, or small college sports.

The old FT 150/2 would provide a good combination of reach and aperture if you can  work around it's slow focus speed.  I'd love to see this lens reissued in modern mFT mount. Alas, it doesn't appear anywhere on the current lens roadmap for Olympus.

The fast 1.2 primes would work well, but with a max focal length of 45 wouldn't have the reach for general purpose shooting.  The 75/1.8 could have some use, but it's not a fast focusing lens.

So that's my rational to say that the EM1x might find some use on the sidelines of sports played under the lights, but a marginal substitute for the D5's and 1Dx's and their large aperture super telephotos. Of course, you'll spend $10,000 more to get into a system like that, but there's real value in that investment.

On the hand, a lot of amateur, high school, collegiate, and even professional sports takes place in daylight where the EM1x might provide excellent service, especially in foul weather.

We'll see how things go as the EM1x gets in the hands of real users. Based on this quick analysis, my personal expectation would be for the system to have value for those not needing professional services, typically work more in daylight than under the lights, and don't wish to spend more than 5 or 6K or so on camera and lenses.

My 2 cents.

 Jeff's gear list:Jeff's gear list
Olympus PEN E-P5 Olympus E-M1 Olympus OM-D E-M1X Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 150mm 1:2.0 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 +6 more
Nikon D5
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