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  • Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

    Up until yesterday, if you had asked me if I was completely happy with micro 4/3rd's I would have said yes....apart from still preferring an OV.
    However I went with a friend to Prees Heath in Shropshire to photograph butterflies for a couple of days. I mostly used the 60mm and 70-300mm, which allowing for user error were pretty good on the static butterflies. However we were also photographing a moving dragonfly which spent an hour or so zipping from one end of a pond to the other. It was impossible to focus on the dragonfly with the 70-300mm, the lens just went back and forth without focussing. It was impossible to see the dragonfly through the viewfinder and I couldn't use one eye to look through the VF (because of the continual hunting) and the other to look straight at the scene in front of me. I tried every combination I could think off, pre-focussing and switching to manual, changing the focus area from single point, to the central area to the whole area in CAF and switching the IS off. After annoying the other photographers with the sound of my lens constantly hunting for focus (or was that making them laugh?) I conceded defeat and borrowed my friend's Canon 5Diii. What a difference; I could see the dragonfly for a start and follow it, and also focus on it without a problem. It just wasn't a level playing field and unlike m4/3rd's, I can crop right down to the dragonfly (as she only had a 100mm lens on it) and not lose out on IQ as it was FF.
    So whilst I don't want to be one of those photographers that constantly blames the equipment for poor photos, in this instance the system did not perform at all. Has anyone else tried photographing dragonflies with the CSC and if so, how do you go about it? Firstly, what would the optimum settings be for the EM-1 regarding focussing? Secondly would this improve the EVF as yesterday, I could not follow the dragonfly at all. Or do I need to stop using the 70-300? I find the 70-300 better for bugs etc where you need to keep some distance from the subject but if I am honest I don't like that lens or even the 75-300 that much.
    So in a way, this is a bit of a whinge but my photography buddy is into wildlife in a big way and some of the workshops we have done/ will do are fairly expensive; I don't want to waste my money by not getting a decent result. Or do I need to consider investing in a used FF camera purely for occasions like this? However I don't want to go back to my first year where I carted both systems around
    So your advice/suggestions will be greatly received! And thank you

    Oh and I am not giving up on the EM-1, I love the camera but I also want to nail the shots on days like yesterday.

  • #2
    Re: Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

    Watched a YouTube video recently that might be of some interest:
    [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hbli8lh9Pcw"]Bird and Wildlife Photography Equipment: Lenses, cameras, teleconverters, tripods, monopods - YouTube[/ame]

    It features three wildlife photographers using what I thought resembled tree trunks for lenses. Two of them, I happen to know, own micro four thirds equipment and they have acknowledged elsewhere that the smaller size and crop factor is an enormous boon for most situations. But for flying birds (and I suppose butterflies), unfortunately the mediocre tracking and high focus error rate was reckoned to make the system virtually unusable for these purposes. The overwhelming view was you need a DSLR by Canon or Nikon, preferably using fast (and therefore large) lenses. But probably a cropped sensor and not full frame in order to obtain the greater magnification. I can believe that Canon probably has the best tracking of moving objects on any camera system at the moment.

    I think therefore that your doubts are well founded and this is a weakness of the system we've chosen and not your fault at all. But perhaps it won't always be that way.
    Last edited by MichaelShea; 11th July 2014, 04:34 PM. Reason: Hyperlink entered

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    • #3
      Re: Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

      Check this post in dpreview:

      http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/50099629

      It's pre the Oly mirrorless cameras, but is still probably relevant.

      The first two paragraphs give a 'taster':

      "Like it was said and proved many times here, Olympus C-AF really works great with the right settings techniques. I've done it even with the E-620 and 40-15mm MKII with good results, but with the E-5 and the 35-100 it was superb.

      I want to add that I also used briefly the E-5 with grip and the 50-200 SWD and it was the fastest AF performance I have ever saw. It was like lightning, a Nikon D3 with 70-200mm seemed very slow by comparison. The only combination I used that seems to compete is the Canon 1DX with the 70-200mm IS II. You don't believe me, try it. A side note, for different reasons I use Nikon gear now."

      Hope it helps.

      Jim

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      • #4
        Re: Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

        Anne you have my sympathy. I have tried dragonflies in flight with the EM1 with both the 12-40mm f2.8 and 50-200mm SWD. I cannot get anywhere near the same keeper rate as I do with my E5. The two factors that make the EM1 useless in this regard are its CAF performance and the EVF. When you are tracking your subject such as erratic flying dragonflies every millisecond counts and the delay with a EVF as in the EM1 is significant. When it comes to wanting to photo this type of subject I have now given up with the EM1 and will always opt for my E5 and the 50-200mmSWD.

        I am afraid that IMHO for this type of photography the camera matters and the EM1 does not cut it. Oly have made a big mistake in not bringing out an E7.

        John
        John

        OM-D E-M1, 12-40 f2.8 Pro, Tamron 14-150mm f5.8, E5, E3, Zuiko 50-200mm SWD, Zuiko 12-60mm SWD, Zuiko ED 70-300mm f5.6, 50mmf2, Zuiko ED 9-18mm f5.6, Sigma 50-500mm f6.3, EC14, EC20, RM-1, VA-1

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        • #5
          Re: Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

          Anne, like you and others I'm reluctantly looking elsewhere to get acceptable C-AF performance. It however does not stop me trying to get the pictures want from E-M1. This means accepting lower percentage hit rate and some somewhat counter intuitive settings. I've not shot enough dragon flies to know the answers but have list of things I want to try. Best pictures so far were with MF and short bursts of Hi speed sequence. I now manual focus using lens ring rather that AEL/AFl button simply to get better exposure control.

          The E-M1 does seems to focus quickly sometimes and not others. The key three points to me seem to be;
          - having vertical edges to focus on.
          - having "stable" image to focus on. i.e. the edge you want to focus on must briefly stay in same place.
          - lens being focused close to where you need.

          Based on comments and observation from others I am trying;
          S-AF+MF or double tap S-AF so can pre-focus focus close to where I want. S-AF and Early Rlease Off has advantage of only taking pic when in focus but does not chase focus forever. Also if you don't get focus quickly release shutter and try again. Repeated tapping shutter seems to grab focus quicker than just waiting and hoping.

          IBIS ON/Auto to image briefly stays stable on sensor.

          Sequencial shooting with Low or Hi. Just short bursts. As getting focus is pot luck might as well try a couple of shoots in quick succession.

          If you do try C-AF then C-Lock is worth experimenting with.

          Am sure others will have helpful suggestions.

          Gary

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          • #6
            Re: Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

            Hi Annie, I have yet to have ago at photographing dragonflies, as I have not seen any when out with camera, but I have photographed hover flies Smith good sharp results, I have found the 75 300 a bit to slow but the 75 f1.8 and the 12 50mm lens better for this, I have not had any real problem with the evf ,I only have the em5 , I would have thought the em1 would be more responsive.

            Dave
            My Published Book: http://www.blurb.com/my/book/detail/2771168

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            • #7
              Re: Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

              Here is one of my hoverflies in flight with the EM5 not as fast as a dragon flies but really small in comparison .

              http://www.mediafire.com/view/iidpdu...P813003017.jpg
              My Published Book: http://www.blurb.com/my/book/detail/2771168

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              • #8
                Re: Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

                A huge crop, so not the best example. But taken a long way away and so far my only shot of a Marsh Harrier!


                Full frame, no crop. Olympus OM-D E M10 with 40/150 lens.



                Slight crop at very long range. Panasonic G6 with Panasonic 45/200 lens
                Too many cameras!
                E-500, E-510, EPM1, EPL5, EP3, EP5, OM-D E M10, OM-D E M5, Trip 35mm, Samsung WP10 and Panasonic G6 plus lots of lenses many manual focus.

                Photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

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                • #9
                  Re: Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

                  Anne, I know just where you are coming from and have had exactly the same experience. The last photo I took of a DIF on an Olympus camera was with the E5 and 300mm f2.8. I have managed a few with the 7D/400mm and the obvious difference for me is the OVF. As most of my photography is of wildlife I am still at the crossroads as far as brand is concerned and have been since the intro of the E-M5.

                  David
                  PBase Galleries:-http://www.pbase.com/davidmorisonimages

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                  • #10
                    Re: Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

                    Originally posted by Daveart View Post
                    Hi Annie, I have yet to have ago at photographing dragonflies, as I have not seen any when out with camera, but I have photographed hover flies Smith good sharp results, I have found the 75 300 a bit to slow but the 75 f1.8 and the 12 50mm lens better for this, I have not had any real problem with the evf ,I only have the em5 , I would have thought the em1 would be more responsive.

                    Dave

                    I have yet to "go for Dragons" with the ONE and look forward to it and shall try the 75 and the DTC
                    .
                    .
                    [I].
                    .
                    I Lurve Walking in our Glorious Countryside; Photography;
                    Riding Ducati Motorbikes; Reading & Cooking ! ...


                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/photomagicf1_chevvy/sets/

                    the ONE photo album

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                    • #11
                      Re: Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

                      I went out this morning with the idea of trying, yet again, to get some DIFs. Managed a couple of Emperor shots but this was only because the creature was hovering against a solid, featureless background. S-AF single shot, 5x enlarged small single point. I wouldn't like to think I could repeat this though.





                      I had difficulty concentrating on the task in hand because I was being mobbed by two pairs of Common Tern who presumably had young on a shingle island nearby:



                      Taken with E-M1 and 75-300mm at RSPB Langford Lowfields

                      David
                      PBase Galleries:-http://www.pbase.com/davidmorisonimages

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                      • #12
                        Re: Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

                        first is a real cracker
                        .
                        .
                        [I].
                        .
                        I Lurve Walking in our Glorious Countryside; Photography;
                        Riding Ducati Motorbikes; Reading & Cooking ! ...


                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/photomagicf1_chevvy/sets/

                        the ONE photo album

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

                          Hi, number 1 for me, really great shot

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                          • #14
                            Re: Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

                            I'd never had any luck with dragonflies on the wing till I tried with micro four thirds. My old G1 managed some respectable shots in September 2013.
                            I did have to extend my lunch hour slightly (~1½ hours by the pond) & missed more than I got, but they kept coming back to give me another try.
                            Mike
                            Compulsive photographic Dabbler.
                            Flickr

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Advice on shooting dragonflies and other small fast moving objects

                              Seeing as this thread has been resurrected from last year, has anyone tried for DIF with the E-M1 & version 3.0 firmware? I've recently added a 50-200 SWD lens to my kit & may try some comparisons with the E30 too, not that I see much chance of dragon flies where I am. They're come & gone before I can even raise a camera at them.
                              Ross
                              I fiddle with violins (when I'm not fiddling with a camera).
                              Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ross-the-fiddler/
                              Cameras: OM-D E-M1 & Mk II, Olympus Stylus 1, OM-D E-M5.
                              Lenses: M.ZD7-14mm f2.8 PRO Lens, M.ZD12-40mm f2.8 PRO Lens, M.ZD40-150mm f2.8 PRO Lens, MC-14, MC-20, M.ZD45mm f1.8, M.ZD12-50, M.ZD60 Macro, M.ZD75-300 Mk II, MMF-3, ZD14-54 II, Sigma 150mm F2.8 APO Macro DG HSM.
                              Flashes: FL36R X2, FL50R, FL50.
                              Software: Capture One Pro 10 (& Olympus Viewer 3).

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