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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II The second 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 9th July 2019
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drmarkf drmarkf is offline
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Firmware 3.0 for dragonflies

Walti and I visited a local farm's wildlife area yesterday, Paul clutching his shiny new MC-20 and me with freshly-loaded firmware.

The reserve has several large, muddy & reedy pools, which are good habitat for dragonflies and damselflies. I'd gone with the main intention of checking whether v3.0 was better for shooting these in flight and, if so, whether I should alter any settings.

Anyone who has tried it knows that they pose a significant challenge to photographer and equipment, most species unpredictably darting speedily around, and especially with complex pool-side backgrounds.

As ever, practice helps a lot, but previously I'd managed very few shots in good focus, and I'd found getting as close as possible with the 40-150 was much the best approach. Lock-on with the 300 had been a very hit and miss affair, and I'd got only a handful of consecutively sharp images with the 300.

Well, I'm pleased to report that things are now much better with the 300 (didn't try it with the 40-150 or with either converter). Although the light wasn't very good (ISO1000 - 3200 to keep shutter speed at 1/1600 or faster), I regularly got bursts of 5 - 10 images in acceptable/excellent focus. Particularly good to say that the camera was repeatedly able to acquire and re-acquire focus on the insects against complex backgrounds, and I'd never convincingly been able to get any sort of lock-on like that before. I suspect Centre-start focus helps a lot here as long as you can keep the centre over the target.

I was using CAF+MF, 9-point, Centre-start (not Centre-priority), 15fps Low, silent shutter, SIS-auto.

I found 25-point took significantly longer to lock on, although I guess it might allow longer bursts in focus once it has.

Initially I had CAF sensitivity at +2, but you'll see in the last-but-one image below where the camera had switched focus to the ovipositing ripples, and this happened repeatedly so I tried later at +1, without an obvious improvement. I'll keep testing this at lower settings - there's probably a balance to be struck between holding focus on the insects against competing targets, while coping with their unpredictable flight.

The following images are all processed minimally, mostly just brightening up and dealing with noise & sharpening, and are 50-60% crops uploaded at 900px wide to keep the post size down. I'll probably do a bit more work on the best few and post them at higher res on the dragonfly thread.


Too much Oly gear.
Panasonic GM5, 12-32, 12-35, 15. Laowa 7.5.
Assorted legacy lenses, plus a Fuji X70 & a Sony A7S.
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