M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

Started Jun 4, 2014 | Discussions
PSCL1 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,712
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

To the OP:  Basically you need a DX or FX SLR for bird photography, by far the consensus on the Nature and Wildlife Forum.

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GeorgianBay1939
GeorgianBay1939 Senior Member • Posts: 3,926
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

Brian Wadie wrote:

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!

Yes, I am finding the 100-300 on the GH4 to be slow (but much better than on the GH2 or the GX7) in medium burst.  Apparently it is the lens, not the AF-C system on the GH4.  Some evidence at this thread: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53792470   which indicates that the new GH4  AF-C is a big improvement over previous Pannies for BIF shooters.

As usual, nice shots Brian!

t

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Jorginho Forum Pro • Posts: 13,657
Okey: GH4+ 35-100. An uneditted series for you

These are not shown because of beauty, but just to give you a good impression how well the GH4 plus the 35-100 f2.8. With the 100-300, the score would be less good clearly. But much better than anything else than a EM1 can give you when it comes to m43s.

Also note that it seems when there is less contrast, the focus is lost for a while. This also happens when I zoom in while shooting in burst mode.

All these are uneditted jpgs, not cropped, only group resized in PSE. That is it.

In all cases, just go to the pic to the right and then click on "fullscreen"and then "previous" in the left uppercorner to get the best impression.

Series number 1.

Damnn...have to do something about that itch NOW!!

These guys really went very fast!!

LIke the tile says, the last were very fast going everywhere! Snipped a few shots in the last one (three I think) because I lost track of them.

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Jorginho Forum Pro • Posts: 13,657
Sure, if they say so...

PSCL1 wrote:

To the OP: Basically you need a DX or FX SLR for bird photography, by far the consensus on the Nature and Wildlife Forum.

I think the best option for that kind of shooting is indeed with a midrange or good DSLR, but things have changed to my mind. You had to give up on that (BIF) with mFTs and all other mirrorless cams (with the exception of the Nikon 1).

Now, as I can show you, you do not. It is probably not as good, but it will suffice for quite a few persons but may be not the die hard birder...

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Mike_PEAT Forum Pro • Posts: 12,922
I use an add-on viewfinder, so m4/3-dSLR doesn't matter!

When shooting with a high-speed shutter whether it's m4/3 or dSLR the viewfinder is black a lot of the time, so instead I use an add-on optical viewfinder that goes into the hotshoe.

That way as well I can see what the camera sees and the area around the bird, so I can speed up or slow down my panning.

GeorgianBay1939
GeorgianBay1939 Senior Member • Posts: 3,926
Re: Okey: GH4+ 35-100. An uneditted series for you

Jorginho wrote:

These are not shown because of beauty, but just to give you a good impression how well the GH4 plus the 35-100 f2.8. With the 100-300, the score would be less good clearly. But much better than anything else than a EM1 can give you when it comes to m43s.

Also note that it seems when there is less contrast, the focus is lost for a while. This also happens when I zoom in while shooting in burst mode.

All these are uneditted jpgs, not cropped, only group resized in PSE. That is it.

In all cases, just go to the pic to the right and then click on "fullscreen"and then "previous" in the left uppercorner to get the best impression.

Series number 1.

Damnn...have to do something about that itch NOW!!

These guys really went very fast!!

LIke the tile says, the last were very fast going everywhere! Snipped a few shots in the last one (three I think) because I lost track of them.

Thanks for posting these examples.

What where the settings for these?

AF-C, Medium Burst, 49 Area, Exposure locked  ?

Tom

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GeorgianBay1939
GeorgianBay1939 Senior Member • Posts: 3,926
Re: I use an add-on viewfinder, so m4/3-dSLR doesn't matter!

Mike_PEAT wrote:

When shooting with a high-speed shutter whether it's m4/3 or dSLR the viewfinder is black a lot of the time, so instead I use an add-on optical viewfinder that goes into the hotshoe.

That way as well I can see what the camera sees and the area around the bird, so I can speed up or slow down my panning.

I am thinking of using a Red Dot Sight.  Is that what you are using or are you using an actual add-on OVF with what sort of  FL ?

thanks,

tom

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Solomente Regular Member • Posts: 176
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

I have an E-M1 and a 100-300 and do birding shots all the time. My experience matches what you're already seeing with M43... basically a complete inability to focus on any BIF. This is with C-AF or S-AF, single point or 9-point focus, face detection off, and all the other tricks people have suggested. The lens hunts from one end to the other, despite clearly having a large flying animal taking up a major portion of the focus area, with a bright contrasting background. Focus never locks.

Based on the feedback people have posted, and the fantastic pictures like Brian Wadle has shown, it's clearly possible to do BIF. I'm beginning to suspect, however, that the Oly camera and Panny lens combination is not the way to do it. It seems to me that the people having success have two factors going for them: A) They know what they're doing, and B) They are using the same brand camera and lens.

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Bhima78 Senior Member • Posts: 2,684
GH4 is close, but you should not disregard one other mirrorless system...
2

Honestly, m43's just isn't a great system YET for BIF. That isn't to say there aren't great photographers getting good BIF photos with the system, its just that the m43's system takes alot more patience and practice to be able to get more keeper shots. Honestly, I think the best mirrorless cam for BIF is likely the Nikon 1. Yeah, the IQ isn't as great as m43, but at the low ISO range, it isn't prohibitively different. And the focusing/continuous shooting of the Nikon 1 series is nothing short of amazing.

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Jorginho Forum Pro • Posts: 13,657
Re: Okey: GH4+ 35-100. An uneditted series for you

GeorgianBay1939 wrote:

Jorginho wrote:

These are not shown because of beauty, but just to give you a good impression how well the GH4 plus the 35-100 f2.8. With the 100-300, the score would be less good clearly. But much better than anything else than a EM1 can give you when it comes to m43s.

Also note that it seems when there is less contrast, the focus is lost for a while. This also happens when I zoom in while shooting in burst mode.

All these are uneditted jpgs, not cropped, only group resized in PSE. That is it.

In all cases, just go to the pic to the right and then click on "fullscreen"and then "previous" in the left uppercorner to get the best impression.

Series number 1.

Damnn...have to do something about that itch NOW!!

These guys really went very fast!!

LIke the tile says, the last were very fast going everywhere! Snipped a few shots in the last one (three I think) because I lost track of them.

Thanks for posting these examples.

What where the settings for these?

AF-C, Medium Burst, 49 Area, Exposure locked ?

Tom

NoAF-C. H Burst, single AF Area (square in the middle), exposre not locked. As I had to go from dark to very bright to dark locking the exposre was not an option I think.

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Jorginho Forum Pro • Posts: 13,657
Re: GH4 is close, but you should not disregard one other mirrorless system...

Bhima78 wrote:

Honestly, m43's just isn't a great system YET for BIF. That isn't to say there aren't great photographers getting good BIF photos with the system, its just that the m43's system takes alot more patience and practice to be able to get more keeper shots.

No. The very first day I went out (saturday, when I got the GH4) I got lots of shots and virtually complete bursts with 80% clear keepers. You need the right lens. For birding. m43s misses the right lens. That is why I would like to have a 100-250 f2.8 to f4 that does provide the speed to focus. With the 35-100 2.8, if the birds ligh close enough you'll get lots of good shots.

Honestly, I think the best mirrorless cam for BIF is likely the Nikon 1. Yeah, the IQ isn't as great as m43, but at the low ISO range, it isn't prohibitively different. And the focusing/continuous shooting of the Nikon 1 series is nothing short of amazing.

The AF system of the 1 is fantastic for this kind of work. Must be the best out there, I think so too. What everyone thinks of the IQ is personal, but the fact is that at base ISO it is far behind. Like 5 years behind. Especially the dynamic range.What some may bother is that you get less DOF. There is no 35-100 f2.8 equivalanert on a system that need f1.8 to have the same DOF.

Also: the autofocussing of the Nikons in poor light is not nearly as good. So if you want to shoot more than action in reasonable to good light and you do care for IQ, mFTs is better.

I think the Sony A6000 might be a better option for those who want a good alround cam. It seems to do C-AF on par with GH4 if not better, has similar IQ (better sensor but worse lenses) and has a 70-200 F4 fast lens.

If someone is really into birding do, a D7100 or somehting similar is the way to go still I think.
Whenever Panny and or Oly come with 100-250/150-250 f2.8 to f4 or f3.5 constant (or so) that performas like the 35-100 I think the EM1 and GH4 could be good enough for many.

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horsth Senior Member • Posts: 1,042
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

A few with the E-M1:

You may also have a look at my BIF gallery. Most pictures with E-M1 and Panas 45-200 or 100-300.

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Brian Wadie
Brian Wadie Veteran Member • Posts: 8,315
Re: GH4 is close, but you should not disregard one other mirrorless system...

Bhima78 wrote:

Honestly, m43's just isn't a great system YET for BIF. That isn't to say there aren't great photographers getting good BIF photos with the system, its just that the m43's system takes alot more patience and practice to be able to get more keeper shots. Honestly, I think the best mirrorless cam for BIF is likely the Nikon 1. Yeah, the IQ isn't as great as m43, but at the low ISO range, it isn't prohibitively different. And the focusing/continuous shooting of the Nikon 1 series is nothing short of amazing.

"its just that the m43's system takes alot more patience and practice to be able to get more keeper shots" - that's what I keep trying to explain to people, you have to work with the camera and not rely on it doing all the work for you

"I think the best mirrorless cam for BIF is likely the Nikon 1. Yeah, the IQ isn't as great as m43, but at the low ISO range, it isn't prohibitively different. And the focusing/continuous shooting of the Nikon 1 series is nothing short of amazing."

I must admit I keep looking at the Nikon 1 mk2 now that they have the new 100-300 lens out for it, I liked the way it handled when I tried it at its launch and nearly went that way instead of staying with Olympus but I just prefer the way that the EM's handle and now I have the knack don't honestly find it that difficult to get good BIF shots (big and mini ) on a regular basis

(and, to be honest, as a pensioner, I don't think I would get yet another camera system past my wife! )

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

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Martin.au
Martin.au Forum Pro • Posts: 11,953
Birds
1

Can't help you I'm afraid.

I can tell you my usual settings: shutter priority, auto iso, C-AF, 9 box focus, 6.5fps burst.

All with 75-300

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Brian Wadie
Brian Wadie Veteran Member • Posts: 8,315
Re: Birds

Martin.au wrote:

Can't help you I'm afraid.

I can tell you my usual settings: shutter priority, auto iso, C-AF, 9 box focus, 6.5fps burst.

All with 75-300

great work as always Martin, 90% the operator, 10% the kit I always reckon

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

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sb123 Senior Member • Posts: 1,161
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

The mix of 100-300, EM5, and AFC is an unhappy one that doesn't work well. The new Panasonics are much better with the 100-300 and AFC. Probably the GH4 is the best for AFC but they all work well. The GX7 is a very good platform for legacy tele lenses sue to its IBIS and Focus peaking. I've used it a lot with a Canon 400/5.6 and it has done very well, even for flying birds. The GM1 is surprisingly good with the 100-300. With practice the LCD can take the place of an EVF for finding and tracking birds. There is no vibration penalty at all compared to using an EVF camera. There is no smaller or lighter wildlife outfit with so high quality an output, so this is the one to always have with you while hiking or traveling. Add an extension tube for long distance stabilised macro, and a 12-32, and you have a complete outfit for nature photos.

Harassment

Barn Swallow

Heron Overhead

All with GM1 + 100-300

Photo Pete Veteran Member • Posts: 3,667
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

The mix of 100-300, EM5, and AFC is an unhappy one that doesn't work well. The new Panasonics are much better with the 100-300 and AFC. Probably the GH4 is the best for AFC but they all work well. The GX7 is a very good platform for legacy tele lenses sue to its IBIS and Focus peaking. I've used it a lot with a Canon 400/5.6 and it has done very well, even for flying birds. The GM1 is surprisingly good with the 100-300. With practice the LCD can take the place of an EVF for finding and tracking birds. There is no vibration penalty at all compared to using an EVF camera. There is no smaller or lighter wildlife outfit with so high quality an output, so this is the one to always have with you while hiking or traveling. Add an extension tube for long distance stabilised macro, and a 12-32, and you have a complete outfit for nature photos.

Harassment

Barn Swallow

Heron Overhead

All with GM1 + 100-300

Try the Nikon V3 with 70-300 lens.
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Photo Pete

sb123 Senior Member • Posts: 1,161
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

How's your 70-300 lens?  Which is to say that I would like to try it but that seems currently impossible.  I would expect its AFC performance to be stellar but otherwise for it to be inferior to the GM1.  Surprises are welcome.

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Steve Barnett

Paul B Jones
Paul B Jones Senior Member • Posts: 2,460
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

richard stern wrote:

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.

You hate it's bulk and weight? Whaaaaaaat? Unless you have some disability that is a tiny combo by nature photography standards. Rent a 600mm for a week. Then switch back to your 300 rig. You will no longer notice its bulk and weight. Because, absolutely and relatively, it has virtually none.

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Jason1500 Regular Member • Posts: 264
Re: M43 vs dSLR for birds, focusing

richard stern wrote:

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've gotten into shooting birds with my GH3 and I've learned a few tricks, not sure if it's applicable to the E-M5 or not but here's what I do.

1. Turn off Quick AF you camera will "hunt" for focus as you move the camera around trying to frame your subject even if you don't have the shutter button half-pressed or focus button pressed, turn it off and you'll only focus if you have the shutter button half-pressed or...

2. Do "back button" autofocus and disable AF on half shutter press, set AFS/AFF mode to AFS and then you can toggle between AFS and AFC and see which one suites you best.  With AFS it won't refocus until your release the button and hit it again. AFC will continue to find focus as long as you hold the button down. Personally I'm not sure which one I like better still trying things out but I think AFS might have the edge as you can just rapidly AF with your thumb.

3. I haven't tried this yet, but supposedly setting the picture profile to VIVID gives faster AF. Now if the AF works based off of contrast and using a vivid profile which has more contrast makes it focus faster I wonder if putting the contast to +5 on top of that will improve things further as well? I'll have to try it....every little bit helps and of course shooting raw you don't really care about the jpeg settings.

4. Stop down the aperture to increase your depth of field as much as possible especially if the bird is relatively close like 150ft or less away, shoot f11 or f16 and keep the focal length to 280mm or less, the Panasonic gets pretty soft at 300mm but at 280mm it's pretty good.  If the bird is 200ft away or more you can open up the aperture .

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