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Olympus OM-D E-M1 The first Micro Four Thirds camera that offers phase detect focusing so you can use Four Thirds DSLR lenses normally as well a Micro Four Thirds lenses.

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Old 30th August 2013
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One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

Yes, Birds in Flight - it's something the E-5, E-30 and E-3 are better, much better, at than any Pen or the OM-D E-M5, although Nikon and Canon are undoubtedly better at still (with some models at least).



It's all about autofocus and being able to continuously focus on a bird and not anything else in the frame, while shooting continuously at a reasonably high frame rate.

The E-5, E30 and E-3 DSLRs focus better for this type of photography than Olympus' Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras because DSLRs rely on phase detect (PDAF) or range-finding autofocus. PDAF is less likely to be confused while trying to establish focus on a subject that is not stable on the frame. If it gets a partial focus on a subject it knows immediately which way to focus and even to an extent how far it needs to change focus.

Four Thirds lenses are also geared (literally) for PDAF. The mechanical optimisations made for PDAF mean they don't work well with mirrorless Pen and OM-D contrast detect AF. So the general assumption is that Olympus will some how implement PDAF in the promised new camera which various Olympus statements have said will work normally with Four Thirds lenses.



None of the above is new and has been discussed many times in many places. But what I would like to get to the bottom of is just how difficult BIF photography is. I have tried it many times with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras and I have come to the conclusion that you need to be highly skilled to be able to get a consistently high success rate - even if you have a high-spec. camera.

I have included a couple of my own BIF shots above and I am pretty pleased with them but I also have to admit that these are very much 'success by chance' shots

I believe that you simply can't just wave a camera and lens around at a flying bird in the vague hope of getting a great shot. I hope some of our esteemed bird photographers here can confirm that you need to do some advance planning, anticipating which direction the bird will be travelling in, establishing the right moment to start shooting and therefore locking focus and of course to use the correct camera modes and settings.

For example, C-AF requires continuous shooting in L-mode, not H-mode - which only focuses once at the beginning of the sequence. Using the correct selection of AF points is important, and steady tracking of your subject is also essential.

I'm personally keen to learn more about this so please do post hints and tips here if possible

Ian
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Last edited by Ian; 30th August 2013 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 30th August 2013
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Re: One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

Coo, I don't do BIF, but that second shot looks pretty good and must have been difficult to nail IMHO.

BTW: Do I smell a rat, or at least a pigeon, Ian



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Old 30th August 2013
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Re: One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

I though you could not use the new camera until the end of the month? that second shot is great good timing.
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Old 30th August 2013
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Re: One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

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Originally Posted by snaarman View Post
Coo, I don't do BIF, but that second shot looks pretty good and must have been difficult to nail IMHO.

BTW: Do I smell a rat, or at least a pigeon, Ian



Pete
Definite whiff of rat.

I never had any success with CAF on any of my previous cameras (E-410, E-510 and E-600) even though they used PDAF. This I put down to the Olympus PDAF algorithms being inadequate (plus of course my own limitations).
The E-M5 gives a different possibility which a number of other members have also found. The actual focus speed of the latest m4/3 cameras and lenses is very fast although the CAF algorithms seem little improved. By using SAF a single (usually small) focus box and continually "pumping" the half press focus while tracking the bird and then firing the shutter( either single shot or burst) when the right composition is obtained gives a much improved "keeper" rate.

Now, if Olympus have a new CDAF/PDAF sensor AND have been able to develop tracking algorithms to rival certain other manufacturers then it will be a whole new game.

Of course it could be something entirely different, we'll know soon I guess.
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Old 30th August 2013
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Re: One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

I'm sure a lot of it is about practice; something in which I'm sadly lacking.
The best two I've managed of late came about completely accidentally whilst I was watching for something different and didn't get time to change the camera settings at all.

View the exif on this one for a chuckle.

Marsh Harrier - Circus aeruginosus by peak4, on Flickr

And I turned round casually and found a Redshank performing in front of me one evening as we were packing up.

Redshank - Tringa totanus by peak4, on Flickr

Both really more by good luck than pre-planning, but it does show the potential if one did actually set out for BIF; ideally with a gimbal mount or similar.
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Re: One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

Trying to oblige you Ian













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Old 30th August 2013
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Re: One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

Nice pix Chevvy although rather large for online viewing; I can't see the whole image on my laptop screen. 800-900 pixels wide or 700 tall is what I recommend.

So what are your tips for favourable keeper rates?

Ian
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Old 30th August 2013
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Re: One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

My take on this, fwiw, rather echoes Ian. A lot of it is down to technique. Modern, fast-focussing cameras can help, but a knowledge of the subject and what it is likely to do is priceless. The great bird photography Eric Hosking was also a renowned ornithologist, and he was that before he was a photographer.
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Re: One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian View Post
Nice pix Chevvy although rather large for online viewing; I can't see the whole image on my laptop screen. 800-900 pixels wide or 700 tall is what I recommend.

So what are your tips for favourable keeper rates?

Ian

Sorry about size ... rushed to oblige

A) Know your subject, location* & flight patterns & light conditions esp. sun position

1) check weather forecast for Red Kite SUN Day - when good light confirmed
2) pop into Butcher and request Chicken Wings for the friday before
3) collect chicken wings, break each into 2 or 3 pieces and roast for 25 mins - allow to cool, turning so they do not stick ... and leave outdoors to cool and get "high"
4) charge batteries and select chips and lenses, pack photo kit bag
5) leave in plenty of time with chicken wings for "Breakkers with Red Kites"

6) arrive and set out "Brekkers" in well lit, in focus reach locations* and settle self ready with camera kit nearby - take a few test shots and adjust settings/position as necessary

7) BEG IAN for TRIAL USE of new OM-D Pro ???

8) get the gas on for sausages, bacon, eggs, mushrooms and Tea for 9am with fellow Bird in Flight mates to discuss the fun and then throw the English Springer Spaniel in the River Thames for a wash off of the mud before packing car for home
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Old 31st August 2013
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Re: One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian View Post
Nice pix Chevvy although rather large for online viewing; I can't see the whole image on my laptop screen. 800-900 pixels wide or 700 tall is what I recommend.

So what are your tips for favourable keeper rates?

Ian
As you know, I am viewing anik for their CAF with focus lock - if this were not so useful (albeit, not essential) for Birds in Flight then those cameras would not have sold so high in volume to Bif Togs

Thus, the icing on the cake, for me would be PDAF and a lighter version of the 90-250 (the current 90-250 and 300 are terrific shg BUT so heavy and Bif are mostly handheld, whilst I am happy with the E-5 and not needing a lighter OM-D EM-5 yet I am not into weight training with 3Kg of SHG as it is sooo unbalanced

I do wonder if the ? 75-300 m4/3 lens would work with the E-5 but I think there is a tech reason thats a no-no ??? Ian can you help me there ? please
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Old 31st August 2013
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Re: One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

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Originally Posted by Chevvyf1 View Post
As you know, I am viewing anik for their CAF with focus lock - if this were not so useful (albeit, not essential) for Birds in Flight then those cameras would not have sold so high in volume to Bif Togs

Thus, the icing on the cake, for me would be PDAF and a lighter version of the 90-250 (the current 90-250 and 300 are terrific shg BUT so heavy and Bif are mostly handheld, whilst I am happy with the E-5 and not needing a lighter OM-D EM-5 yet I am not into weight training with 3Kg of SHG as it is sooo unbalanced

I do wonder if the ? 75-300 m4/3 lens would work with the E-5 but I think there is a tech reason thats a no-no ??? Ian can you help me there ? please
You can use Four Thirds lenses on Micro Four Thirds cameras using an adapter, which is fundamentally a spacer tube, but not the other way around because a Micro Four Thirds lens has to be closer to the sensor than a Four Thirds body permits.

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Old 31st August 2013
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Re: One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chevvyf1 View Post
I do wonder if the ? 75-300 m4/3 lens would work with the E-5 but I think there is a tech reason thats a no-no ??? Ian can you help me there ? please
Unfortunately, no M4/3's lenses can be used on any of the E DSLR's with a 'flappy' mirror in between because M4/3's lenses sit much closer to the sensor (by 19mm) which can't happen on your E5.
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Old 30th August 2013
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Re: One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

Quite by coincidence, whilst clearing the loft out today (don't ask! ), I found this info sheet, supplied by Andy Elliott (OlyOM) a while ago prior to a shoot at the Cambridgeshire Raptor Centre with my E-3.


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Old 30th August 2013
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Re: One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

Having had a manually focused shot of a Common Swift in flight published in a mag 20 years ago I've never understood all the fuss about birds in flight.
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Old 30th August 2013
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Re: One thing many existing Olympus users expect from the new camera - BIF!

I think that technique and understanding the characteristics of a particular species' flight pattern are key skills in BIF. However while it is possible to accurately track most birds, especially the larger species and some smaller ones, these are not the only factors you need for birds from the Swallow/Martin group. as they hunt on the wing and are very fast their flight track is almost completely unpredictable as they will instantly change direction to catch an insect that the photographer can't even see. In this case getting it in the viewfinder is difficult and keeping it there is even more so and mostly one shot is all you can get. A camera that can lock focus in a split second on a fast moving bird is vital, at least for me, and of all the cameras I have owned the one that does the business is the Canon 7D ( the 5D MkIII is even better). Olympus has never for me come anywhere near this performance, even though the IQ of the E-M5 matches the Canon. With the reported 81 AF points it is hoped that the new offering from Olympus can match the performance and hopefully exceed the Canon.

No apologies for these shots taken on the Canon with the EF 400mm f5.6 (no IS) as they illustrate the results I am hoping the new E-M1 can achieve:

Barn Swallow



Red Rumped Swallow





Note that the ISO value used for the Barn Swallow is 3200 as it was taken at dusk. All shots are large crops.

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