EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days

Started Aug 14, 2016 | Discussions
Brian Wadie
Brian Wadie Forum Pro • Posts: 10,200
EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days
18

I've been having a happy time using my "Birthday Lens" on local birds, bees and butterflies (with the odd plane thrown in) and so far I am delighted with it. It has to rate as the sharpest lens I have ever owned out to 50+ ft at 400mm wide open and up there with the very best of my canon L lenses beyond that

As expected, I'm struggling with BIF work (relative to my 7Dmk2) but I'm happy that its going to be fine for my Airshows, water sports and the like

A big thanks to Trevor and all the rest of you for posting your results with this cracking lens

I'm putting together a collection of my test shots here

https://www.flickr.com/photos/75445098@N04/albums/72157672388575385

a few examples of my early attempts (cropped, minimal sharpening from JPGs with in-camera sharpening set to zero and the odd bit of exposure adjustment)

juvenile Dunnock

Whitethroat running up branch

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

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tt321
tt321 Forum Pro • Posts: 13,774
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days
1

The album you linked to is totally amazing. I esp. enjoyed the landscapes and insects.

drj3 Forum Pro • Posts: 10,536
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days
1

Good sharp set of images as well as your collection of test shots.

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drj3

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Ellen 1 Contributing Member • Posts: 985
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days
1

Beautiful sharp images, well taken.

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Ellen McIlroy
OMD-EM1 OMD-EM 10 12-40 pro 40-150 pro, 300mm pro.

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richj20 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,181
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days
1

Happy Birthday! You are off to a good start.

- Richard

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JohnLock Senior Member • Posts: 1,524
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days
1

Brian, you surely do know how to use a good lens.  --the bumblebee shot is super and all the others only fantastic!

JL

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JulesGo
JulesGo Regular Member • Posts: 472
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days
6

Nice photos Trevor.  Congrads on your new lens.

It works quite well for BIF.  IMO, the trick is not to try to track-focus before taking the shot.  Try this:

  1. If possible, pre focus the lens for the approximate distance where you expect to take the shot.
  2. Follow the bird in the EVF.  If you are VERY FAR from focus, try a very quick pre focus by pushing the shutter half way.
  3. When you have the bird framed, QUICKLY press the shutter button and fire a burst - no shutter half press before.
  4. I use these settings:  C-AF - A - 3x3 - f/8 - IS Off - HI-9

These Puffins are fast flyers - 75-90 kmh.  The difficult part is framing them - focusing worked quite well most of the time.

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Jules Gobeil
Nature photographer - Photographe de la nature
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Brian Wadie
OP Brian Wadie Forum Pro • Posts: 10,200
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days

JulesGo wrote:

Nice photos Trevor. Congrads on your new lens.

It works quite well for BIF. IMO, the trick is not to try to track-focus before taking the shot. Try this:

  1. If possible, pre focus the lens for the approximate distance where you expect to take the shot.
  2. Follow the bird in the EVF. If you are VERY FAR from focus, try a very quick pre focus by pushing the shutter half way.
  3. When you have the bird framed, QUICKLY press the shutter button and fire a burst - no shutter half press before.
  4. I use these settings: C-AF - A - 3x3 - f/8 - IS Off - HI-9

These Puffins are fast flyers - 75-90 kmh. The difficult part is framing them - focusing worked quite well most of the time.

thanks Jules, that is in fact the technique I have been using for my BIF work for many years, the half-press being necessary to see the distant birds in the EVF (the one weakness of the EVF vs OVF is that you have to have reasonable focus to see the subject ) As you say, instant trigger of short burst is an effective way of catching the moment.

(by the way, its Brian, not Trevor )

I've been doing a bit more fiddling about and a lot of my problems are down to trying to catch distant birds in low contrast situations, I had the chance to bang off a few frames at a distant passing bird of prey this morning (maybe female marsh harrier, just waiting on ID confirmation from our local birding group, who have been tracking a nesting pair this year). Even though very small (around 500 pixels on longest axis) the shots are sharp enough to pick up some feather and face marking detail . Just a case of getting used to birding with the EM-1 again after having it easy with the 7Dmk2 I suspect

Great Puffin shots by the way

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

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JulesGo
JulesGo Regular Member • Posts: 472
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days

Brian Wadie wrote:

...

(by the way, its Brian, not Trevor )

I've been doing a bit more fiddling about and a lot of my problems are down to trying to catch distant birds in low contrast situations, I had the chance to bang off a few frames at a distant passing bird of prey this morning (maybe female marsh harrier, just waiting on ID confirmation from our local birding group, who have been tracking a nesting pair this year). Even though very small (around 500 pixels on longest axis) the shots are sharp enough to pick up some feather and face marking detail . Just a case of getting used to birding with the EM-1 again after having it easy with the 7Dmk2 I suspect

Great Puffin shots by the way

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

Thanks Brian.  Sorry for the mistake with your first name...

I'm also struggling with distant BIF.  Here is how I do it:

I have 2 presets for birding:  normal for stationary birds and BIF.  My normal birding preset is S-AF, IS-1, small focus point and wide open aperture.

For distant flying birds on a low contrast or busy BG, I found that switching to the BIF preset is not the solution.  I stay with the normal preset and quickly jump to f/8 to get more DOF, I then half-press the shutter and I try to focus on the bird with the small focus point.  When it is on the target, I fire the shot.

This works quite well but, most of the time, the shots are not worth keeping even if the bird is in focus, because of the distance.

BIF is an extreme sport... at least for me !

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Jules Gobeil
Nature photographer - Photographe de la nature
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Brian Wadie
OP Brian Wadie Forum Pro • Posts: 10,200
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days

no worries about the name Jules, it was quite flattering to be mistaken for "The Master"

just for interest I stuck my eF400f5.6L on the EM-1 (metabones smart T) and once more confirmed that my preference is for front loaded lenses, the waver I had been having shooting into the sky has gone (and focus looks easier with a "static" subject in the EVF).

Must relearn my oly 75-300 BIF technique for the panny 100-400

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Brian Wadie
OP Brian Wadie Forum Pro • Posts: 10,200
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days

Yep, I've been shooting BIF with m4/3rds since the early days of the EM-5 but have to confess that when I have to be sure of success in the air the 7Dmk2 comes out.

Whilst its feasible with the m4/3rds its a doddle with the 7Dmk2 (I'm hoping the much heralded EM-1 mk2 will have cross type sensors and approach if not match the 7Dmk2 )

A bit more playing and I switched on the mf focus peaking which helped spot one of my mistakes, I typically shoot using SAF + MF and spotted that because of the way I hold the lens I was moving the focus ring as I tracked the birds.

Switching to SAF only has reduced the number of missed focus shots but still some way to go

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Brian Wadie
OP Brian Wadie Forum Pro • Posts: 10,200
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, a bit more birding

Its been fun remembering how to use the EM-1 when trying a bit of BIF work (and remembering why I got my 7Dmk2 for this )

An early run to our local harbour side provided plenty of opportunity to work the 100-400 + EM-1 with a variety of subjects and confirm that, as Trevor said elsewhere, this is probably the best lens I have ever owned

However, it also reminded me that I still can't get much success shooting white gulls against a bright background (I reckon less than 30% success rate)

On the other hand, darker gulls, ducks etc are much easier, probably 50 - 60% success rate and with the Panny 100-400 I was having great success shooting CAF (better in fact than I was getting with SAF + MF which is my standard method for this subject). I shall be trying this at our local Bournemouth Air Festival later this week with every hope of good results

A couple of shots of a juvenile gull chasing an adult that has caught a crab (and failing to get attention)

and a Gull on a Rock (makes a change from a bird on a stick   )

For everything else in the harbour bog standard settings gave superb results

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JulesGo
JulesGo Regular Member • Posts: 472
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, a bit more birding
2

I don't think I would have been able to track the Puffins in flight with a heavy Canon.  I find that a light weight setup is a blessing and will never return to heavy equipment.

3 years ago, on a first trip to Ile aux Perroquets to photograph Puffins and other Alcidae, I came back with wonderful photos of still birds but my BIF were all so-so.  I was using an EM-5 and a 100-300mm.

Last month, using the EM-1 and 100-400mm was a different story.  What a difference !  Using C-AF, focus is instantaneous and  the bursts are really fast.

I took 3,500 photos that day, mostly BIF.  Of course, I discarded a lot, but most were discarded because the bird was too far away, or because there was no bird in the photo  or only half a bird !  Puffins are fast flyers...  I didn't discard many because they were OOF.

Like you, I also have great hopes for the EM-1 II.  A better sensor will be welcomed:  better C-AF and more MPX  will help me a lot.  I enjoy doing BIF and I crop a lot !!!

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Jules Gobeil
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daddyo Forum Pro • Posts: 12,670
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days
1

Very nice series Brian -- excellent moon shot. Glad you are liking the lens -- I too am thrilled with mine, especially the performance of the excellent OIS.

This fall we have a camping trip planned to my favorite birding park -- South Llano River State Park -- here in central Texas. I'm looking forward to really giving the lens a good workout on that trip.

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God Bless,
Greg
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Brian Wadie
OP Brian Wadie Forum Pro • Posts: 10,200
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days

thanks Greg, I look forward to seeing what you find on your trip

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Brian Wadie
OP Brian Wadie Forum Pro • Posts: 10,200
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, BIF focus solved?

No text.

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Brian Wadie
OP Brian Wadie Forum Pro • Posts: 10,200
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, focus problems solved?

Something got screwed up when I tried to upload this earlier so let's see if this will work

Realising that my "focus problems" were most likely of my own making I have sat down with the camera and taking note of various useful comments here and elsewhere (thanks folks ) think I have sorted out where I had the camera set wrong

Quick tests in failing light indicate I may be on the right track so I thought I would share were I've got to (and you can all say "we could have told you that" ) and then give it a proper test tomorrow.

The "Solution" was in my settings for CAF where I have now switched off "focus lock before shutter button released" and also switched off the CAF focus lock.

Using all focus points active and 9 frames / sec mechanical shutter (forces PDAF?) I am getting much better results, particularly with white gulls against a bland sky racing toward me (held focus from about 1/3rd of frame filled to wings out of frame)

Counter-intuitive to what I would need to do with my 7Dmk2 but it seems to doing what I want

This was shot 12 in the approach sequence, 100% crop ( a bit noisy as it was badly under-exposed being a grab shot )

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JulesGo
JulesGo Regular Member • Posts: 472
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, focus problems solved?

Brian Wadie wrote:

Something got screwed up when I tried to upload this earlier so let's see if this will work

Realising that my "focus problems" were most likely of my own making I have sat down with the camera and taking note of various useful comments here and elsewhere (thanks folks ) think I have sorted out where I had the camera set wrong

Quick tests in failing light indicate I may be on the right track so I thought I would share were I've got to (and you can all say "we could have told you that" ) and then give it a proper test tomorrow.

The "Solution" was in my settings for CAF where I have now switched off "focus lock before shutter button released" and also switched off the CAF focus lock.

Using all focus points active and 9 frames / sec mechanical shutter (forces PDAF?) I am getting much better results, particularly with white gulls against a bland sky racing toward me (held focus from about 1/3rd of frame filled to wings out of frame)

Counter-intuitive to what I would need to do with my 7Dmk2 but it seems to doing what I want

This was shot 12 in the approach sequence, 100% crop ( a bit noisy as it was badly under-exposed being a grab shot )

My BIF preset also has RLS Priority C-Mode at ON (can shoot when OOF). When set to OFF, one needs to half-press the shutter until focus is achieved and this DOES NOT WORK, at least for me.

What do you mean when you write "Using all focus points active" ?  Is there a setting for that ?

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Jules Gobeil
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Brian Wadie
OP Brian Wadie Forum Pro • Posts: 10,200
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, focus problems solved?

JulesGo wrote:

Brian Wadie wrote:

Something got screwed up when I tried to upload this earlier so let's see if this will work

Realising that my "focus problems" were most likely of my own making I have sat down with the camera and taking note of various useful comments here and elsewhere (thanks folks ) think I have sorted out where I had the camera set wrong

Quick tests in failing light indicate I may be on the right track so I thought I would share were I've got to (and you can all say "we could have told you that" ) and then give it a proper test tomorrow.

The "Solution" was in my settings for CAF where I have now switched off "focus lock before shutter button released" and also switched off the CAF focus lock.

Using all focus points active and 9 frames / sec mechanical shutter (forces PDAF?) I am getting much better results, particularly with white gulls against a bland sky racing toward me (held focus from about 1/3rd of frame filled to wings out of frame)

Counter-intuitive to what I would need to do with my 7Dmk2 but it seems to doing what I want

This was shot 12 in the approach sequence, 100% crop ( a bit noisy as it was badly under-exposed being a grab shot )

My BIF preset also has RLS Priority C-Mode at ON (can shoot when OOF). When set to OFF, one needs to half-press the shutter until focus is achieved and this DOES NOT WORK, at least for me.

What do you mean when you write "Using all focus points active" ? Is there a setting for that ?

Interesting to hear you confirm the Release priority effect Jules, by "all focus points active" I simply mean that I select all focus points rather than centre point or 9 point box. This means that the entire sensor area (more or less ) is being used to lock onto the subject rather than just those in the centre or central region

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Pete_Murrell
Pete_Murrell New Member • Posts: 11
Re: EM-1 + panasonic 100 - 400, the first few days

Hi there,

Loved your pics with the 100-400.
I am considering buying this lens and selling my 75-300. How do these lenses compare IQ wise? Is there a big enough quality increase to justify the outlay?
Anyway, down to my reason for posting...

Have you seen the red dot sight by Olympus? I assume Olympus developed this to overcome the short comings of BIF with EVF.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1116753-REG/olympus_ee_1_dot_sight_for.html

(I couldn't get the link to work so the old fashioned way...copy and paste into your address bar).

To use it, you hold the camera at arms length (not such a big ask with m4/3) and use the dot sight much the same as you use a dot sight with a gun...both eyes open. This way your peripheral vision is never compromised and you virtually never lose sight of the bird. You simply put the cross hair in the dot sight on the bird and track the bird that way. No need to use the view finder at all. There is a set up process and you have to set the red dot sigh to the focal length of the lens you'll be using but it's by no means a task.

I just wish I had unlimited funds...even if those funds were limited to buying camera gear.

Thanks for your post and have a great time taking memories.

Pete

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