Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)

Started Oct 6, 2018 | Questions
HarryShin Regular Member • Posts: 183
Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)

Hi:

Question: I’d to get advice on how to track fast moving objects when using a telephoto lens.

Background Info:

a: What I’m trying to shoot / track are jets at an air show.

B: I use the Olympus EM1 II (15 FPS), 40-150mm 2.8 with teleconverter;  I usually shoot at 150mm  (210mm with teleconverter)

C: I have no problems tracking a group of planes (ie Blue Angels) doing a formation flight, but it’s difficult to impossible tracking the demo aircraft (ex: F-22, F-35) flying solo and especially when they do a high speed pass.

D: To somewhat deal with this situation, I recently started experimenting with the Olympus Eye Dot (I think that’s what it’s called) and it actually works better than me looking through the viewfinder. The problem is that it’s only an approximation and it has zero value in re: what’s the optimal focal length at any given situation.

E: I’m going to assume ( but I’m not sure) that an optical viewfinder may be better than the EVF, however that still doesn’t deal with the difficulty of just trackin’g a fast moving object when using extreme telephoto.

F: I’d really like to get specific input solutions in that I’m probably going to get even a longer focal length lens; for some of the venues, even the above lens is still too short. I can only image the incremental difficultly of getting a decent shot a longer focal lengths.

Associated question: For those familiar with the EM1 II system, what specific settings should I use fo the C-AF or should I even bother with C-AF? Because of the... unreliability of the focusing system for me (I’m sure it might be user error), I’ve been just been estimating focus distance and shooting manual / f8 etc... (it’s an air show and the planes fly in the general area / distance); it works most of the time, but it’s not accurate and I would like to do it as accurately as possible.

Thanks in advance for any help, Harry

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Denjw
Denjw Veteran Member • Posts: 6,398
Re: Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)
3

HarryShin wrote:

Hi:

Question: I’d to get advice on how to track fast moving objects when using a telephoto lens.

Background Info:

a: What I’m trying to shoot / track are jets at an air show.

B: I use the Olympus EM1 II (15 FPS), 40-150mm 2.8 with teleconverter; I usually shoot at 150mm (210mm with teleconverter)

C: I have no problems tracking a group of planes (ie Blue Angels) doing a formation flight, but it’s difficult to impossible tracking the demo aircraft (ex: F-22, F-35) flying solo and especially when they do a high speed pass.

D: To somewhat deal with this situation, I recently started experimenting with the Olympus Eye Dot (I think that’s what it’s called) and it actually works better than me looking through the viewfinder. The problem is that it’s only an approximation and it has zero value in re: what’s the optimal focal length at any given situation.

E: I’m going to assume ( but I’m not sure) that an optical viewfinder may be better than the EVF, however that still doesn’t deal with the difficulty of just trackin’g a fast moving object when using extreme telephoto.

F: I’d really like to get specific input solutions in that I’m probably going to get even a longer focal length lens; for some of the venues, even the above lens is still too short. I can only image the incremental difficultly of getting a decent shot a longer focal lengths.

Associated question: For those familiar with the EM1 II system, what specific settings should I use fo the C-AF or should I even bother with C-AF? Because of the... unreliability of the focusing system for me (I’m sure it might be user error), I’ve been just been estimating focus distance and shooting manual / f8 etc... (it’s an air show and the planes fly in the general area / distance); it works most of the time, but it’s not accurate and I would like to do it as accurately as possible.

Thanks in advance for any help, Harry

I am not an aviation shooter but do use the E-M1 II for BIFs.

I would have thought the Dot EE-1 would have helped to shoot aircraft. Just make sure you have it calibrated properly so the dot sight target matches the camera's focus box.

EVF's do take some getting used to but still can be used for fast moving subjects.

C-AF works well on the E-MMkII and with the 40-150mm so you just to need to experiment with some settings and practice.

Some settings to try:

Make sure Rec View =Off

Use Sequential Drive Low with electronic shutter.

Try 5 point or 9 point targets.

AF Scanner Mode 3

Use the built in AF limiter if aircraft are close

C-AF Tracking sensitivity 0 - +2

C-AF Release Priority =On

But the most important thing is the ability to keep the focus points on the subject and that is what takes a lot of practice to become proficient at.

Some aviation shooter will no doubt chime in with their thoughts.

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drj3 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,139
Re: Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)

I also do not photograph planes, but birds.  However, I will add to Denjw post the following suggestion.

Set up all your desired settings including focus pattern (for example 5 center points) in your desired mode and assign a Home focus pattern (Menu - Cog - A2 - Set Home) like all focus points.  Assign the lens button (Cog - B - Button Function - LFn) to Home.  Now set one on the AF Limiter distances to appropriate values (you can set all three to different values).

Save to one of the Custom modes.

Now you can reset any of the things you changed, back to other settings and it will not affect the Custom mode you set.  You can have different settings for each Custom Mode position and none Custom modes for almost every function.

Once you have set the two focus patterns (Home and default for that Custom mode), you can instantly change focus pattern by just tapping the lens button (LFn) and tapping it again returns to the first pattern.  This is very useful to change from focus on the only thing in the sky (all focus points - when there is only one plane at a distance or directly overhead) and precise focus on a single plane or a specific point on a plane.

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Martin.au
Martin.au Forum Pro • Posts: 13,551
Re: Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)
1

And high frame rate for the EVF.

For aircraft, you can pretty well run with the focus limiter on all the time. Just set it to say 20m to infinite, or even 50m to infinite. You won't get that close to a plane. The main purpose is to stop the lens moving through the close focus range, which takes a while, and makes it hard to reestablish focus.

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Wu Jiaqiu
Wu Jiaqiu Forum Pro • Posts: 24,675
Re: Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)

i would say an OVF is better than an EVF and yes i have used both, high speed passes we all miss them at times, once the aircraft is near to you it's already gone, picking up an aircraft in the viewfinder with a narrow aov with a telephoto can be a bit frustrating but it gets easier over time, sometimes i just sight along the barrel of the lens then put the camera to my eye if i am having a bad day, following the aircraft in until you need to take the shot works really well for me, you know you've got it in your sights then and no last minute panic because you can't find it. Can't help you with the specific camera stuff.

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Adrian Harris
Adrian Harris Veteran Member • Posts: 5,366
Re: Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)

HarryShin wrote:

Hi:

Question: I’d to get advice on how to track fast moving objects when using a telephoto lens.

Background Info:

a: What I’m trying to shoot / track are jets at an air show.

B: I use the Olympus EM1 II (15 FPS), 40-150mm 2.8 with teleconverter; I usually shoot at 150mm (210mm with teleconverter)

C: I have no problems tracking a group of planes (ie Blue Angels) doing a formation flight, but it’s difficult to impossible tracking the demo aircraft (ex: F-22, F-35) flying solo and especially when they do a high speed pass.

D: To somewhat deal with this situation, I recently started experimenting with the Olympus Eye Dot (I think that’s what it’s called) and it actually works better than me looking through the viewfinder. The problem is that it’s only an approximation and it has zero value in re: what’s the optimal focal length at any given situation.

E: I’m going to assume ( but I’m not sure) that an optical viewfinder may be better than the EVF, however that still doesn’t deal with the difficulty of just trackin’g a fast moving object when using extreme telephoto.

F: I’d really like to get specific input solutions in that I’m probably going to get even a longer focal length lens; for some of the venues, even the above lens is still too short. I can only image the incremental difficultly of getting a decent shot a longer focal lengths.

Associated question: For those familiar with the EM1 II system, what specific settings should I use fo the C-AF or should I even bother with C-AF? Because of the... unreliability of the focusing system for me (I’m sure it might be user error), I’ve been just been estimating focus distance and shooting manual / f8 etc... (it’s an air show and the planes fly in the general area / distance); it works most of the time, but it’s not accurate and I would like to do it as accurately as possible.

Thanks in advance for any help, Harry

Harry the main thing is to get a lot of practice at panning in general, then your reflexes and muscles will become accustomed to the procedure.

One issue is that their speed across the frame means that you need to gradually speed up and slow down as they pass.

So practice on cars and seaguls if possible and you will soon develop the skill.

PS. I do shoot airshows with em1-mk2 and I use central 9 focus squares, 8fps, and normal evf refresh rate.

Practice practice practice.

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Trevor Carpenter
Trevor Carpenter Forum Pro • Posts: 15,867
Re: Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)
2

Adrian Harris wrote:

Practice practice practice.

Listen to Adrian, those three words are very wise

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drmarkf Contributing Member • Posts: 500
Re: Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)

You've had good advice above (I shoot mainly BIF, but I have done planes at a few air shows, and I have been on an E-M1ii aircraft shooting workshop with an Olympus 'visionary').

The only important thing I'd add is a word of caution about use of the electronic shutter. It's fine for jets and 'classic' propellor aircraft, but you can get problems of rolling shutter with modern propellor aircraft where the prop rotation speed is fast enough to give bendy-looking blades.

The other time when you can get distortion is with fast passes of any aircraft against buildings or lines of trees, when again the panning speed is fast enough to get distortion since the sensor's not read fast enough. I have even had this occasionally when panning very fast moving birds against similar backgrounds.

The solution is to remember to switch to mechanical shutter for those types of use.

I generally keep it around 8 - 10fps 'L' or you get far too many images to weed through, and I suspect the camera will focus better at this slightly slower frame rate.

If you want to have nice, partially-blurry propellers on classic aircraft it's best to keep the shutter speed to 1/250 or 1/320th.

Oh yes. Practice, practice, practice

Hope that helps.

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Skeeterbytes Forum Pro • Posts: 16,337
Re: Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)

Denjw wrote:

HarryShin wrote:

Hi:

Question: I’d to get advice on how to track fast moving objects when using a telephoto lens.

Background Info:

a: What I’m trying to shoot / track are jets at an air show.

B: I use the Olympus EM1 II (15 FPS), 40-150mm 2.8 with teleconverter; I usually shoot at 150mm (210mm with teleconverter)

C: I have no problems tracking a group of planes (ie Blue Angels) doing a formation flight, but it’s difficult to impossible tracking the demo aircraft (ex: F-22, F-35) flying solo and especially when they do a high speed pass.

D: To somewhat deal with this situation, I recently started experimenting with the Olympus Eye Dot (I think that’s what it’s called) and it actually works better than me looking through the viewfinder. The problem is that it’s only an approximation and it has zero value in re: what’s the optimal focal length at any given situation.

E: I’m going to assume ( but I’m not sure) that an optical viewfinder may be better than the EVF, however that still doesn’t deal with the difficulty of just trackin’g a fast moving object when using extreme telephoto.

F: I’d really like to get specific input solutions in that I’m probably going to get even a longer focal length lens; for some of the venues, even the above lens is still too short. I can only image the incremental difficultly of getting a decent shot a longer focal lengths.

Associated question: For those familiar with the EM1 II system, what specific settings should I use fo the C-AF or should I even bother with C-AF? Because of the... unreliability of the focusing system for me (I’m sure it might be user error), I’ve been just been estimating focus distance and shooting manual / f8 etc... (it’s an air show and the planes fly in the general area / distance); it works most of the time, but it’s not accurate and I would like to do it as accurately as possible.

Thanks in advance for any help, Harry

I am not an aviation shooter but do use the E-M1 II for BIFs.

I would have thought the Dot EE-1 would have helped to shoot aircraft. Just make sure you have it calibrated properly so the dot sight target matches the camera's focus box.

EVF's do take some getting used to but still can be used for fast moving subjects.

C-AF works well on the E-MMkII and with the 40-150mm so you just to need to experiment with some settings and practice.

Some settings to try:

Make sure Rec View =Off

Use Sequential Drive Low with electronic shutter.

Try 5 point or 9 point targets.

AF Scanner Mode 3

Use the built in AF limiter if aircraft are close

C-AF Tracking sensitivity 0 - +2

C-AF Release Priority =On

But the most important thing is the ability to keep the focus points on the subject and that is what takes a lot of practice to become proficient at.

Some aviation shooter will no doubt chime in with their thoughts.

These settings are a very good starting point. I'll add that you were using standard shutter high frame rate, which locks focus on first frame. Switching to low rate (max 10 fps) allows C-AF to adjust during your burst sequence and gives the camera AI an opportunity to assist in following the subject.

Experiment with all focus points, which will display only those engaged as the subject crosses the frame. With a clear sky it may be better than five or nine-box focus pattern. I tend to shoot earthbound moving things so have fore and background to contend with and use it less often.

If you use electronic shutter, jets should be okay but anything with a prop will look...interesting.

Good luck!

Rick

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Dutch Newchurch
Dutch Newchurch Senior Member • Posts: 5,506
Re: Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)
1

I keep both eyes open and try to superimpose the small aircraft in my left eye over the large one I see through the viewfinder in my right eye.  That helps me keep the subject centred during its pass.

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Skeeterbytes Forum Pro • Posts: 16,337
Re: Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)

Dutch Newchurch wrote:

I keep both eyes open and try to superimpose the small aircraft in my left eye over the large one I see through the viewfinder in my right eye. That helps me keep the subject centred during its pass.

Valuable tip. I can usually do this with the 40-150 and sports, especially when following the ball and not necessarily the players. With the 300 (12X) my brain doesn't do so well accommodating such different magnifications and I generally rely on the finder alone.

As an aside: EVF/OVF isn't especially relevant either, as I used the E-series and similar magnifications before switching to E-M1.

Cheers,

Rick

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gary0319
gary0319 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,381
About dot finders...
1

I don’t have the Olympus dot finder but have another one that is similar. Try this..

Measure the vertical distance from the middle of the finder screen ( where the reticle is) to the center of your lens. This might be 4 or 5 inches, maybe more.  Than set up a target at some yards distant  with two marks at the same vertical distance. With you camera on a tripod, set the center focus point of your camera on the lower target and adjust the reticle to be on your upper target.   Now you have the two focus lines in perfect parallel. If your dot sight is on the middle of the canopy of the jet, your focus point of the camera will be exactly those 4 or 5 or whatever inches below, regardless of the distance from the aircraft. No need to adjust for distance.

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mad-marco New Member • Posts: 18
Re: Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)

Dutch Newchurch wrote:

I keep both eyes open and try to superimpose the small aircraft in my left eye over the large one I see through the viewfinder in my right eye. That helps me keep the subject centred during its pass.

This is good advice.

If you can learn to shoot with the EVF and keep your other eye open, then it is much easier to reaquire the target of you lose it. I prefer EVFs to OVFs, but this is only my opinion.

Other settings that might help are:

  • C-AF (obviously)
  • 5 or 9 focus points selected
  • Either sequential low with shutter shock or single shot (yes I do this and it works, just learn to gently pump the shutter button)
  • I don't use electronic shutter, but others seem to like it

As someone has previously mentioned, there is nothing quite like lots of practice.

Martin.au
Martin.au Forum Pro • Posts: 13,551
Re: Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)
1

mad-marco wrote:

Dutch Newchurch wrote:

I keep both eyes open and try to superimpose the small aircraft in my left eye over the large one I see through the viewfinder in my right eye. That helps me keep the subject centred during its pass.

This is good advice.

If you can learn to shoot with the EVF and keep your other eye open, then it is much easier to reaquire the target of you lose it. I prefer EVFs to OVFs, but this is only my opinion.

Other settings that might help are:

  • C-AF (obviously)
  • 5 or 9 focus points selected
  • Either sequential low with shutter shock or single shot (yes I do this and it works, just learn to gently pump the shutter button)
  • I don't use electronic shutter, but others seem to like it

As someone has previously mentioned, there is nothing quite like lots of practice.

That's how Vass gets his amazing bird pictures (and I think is commonplace in that long-tele style photography). It's hard to do at really long focal lengths, but very cool when you manage it).

Also known as, "practice, practice, practice".

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OP HarryShin Regular Member • Posts: 183
Re: Advice Needed: EM1 II: How to track fasting moving subjects (and focusing)

Thanks to all for the great tips.   Iā€™m going to save this thread and implement / test out the various suggestions.

Much appreciated,  Harry

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