This article shares some E-M1X’s Bird Detection AI tips, and is based on experimenting with this technology over the past few weeks. I apologize in advance for using some existing images in this article… but we are in the first week of a new 4 week COVID-19 lock down.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
The first thing that I’ve learned about Intelligent Subject Tracking on the E-M1X is that this auto focusing technology works very differently than the other AF options on my E-M1X.
As reported in the YouTube video done by the folks at Imaging Resource, the on-chip phase detect auto focusing points on the E-M1X’s sensor are not used by Intelligent Subject Tracking to actually acquire focus. The information on Intelligent Subject Tracking starts at about 12:20 in the YouTube video.
Rather than use on sensor AF points, the dual TruePic VIII quad core processors in the E-M1X are used to analyse the potential photograph and determine auto focus. When I first started using Bird Detection AI I made the mistake of engaging all of the AF points on the sensor, as I would do when using Cluster Area C-AF. On the surface this was not problematic as the E-M1X would still quickly draw white boxes around birds, and when the shutter release was half-depressed grab focus on the subject bird.
It becomes a problem when there are multiple birds in the composition, as a photographer has no way of telling the camera on which bird it should focus. Quite simply, engaging all of the AF points when using the E-M1X’s Bird Detection AI can confuse the camera when multiple subjects are in the frame, and reduces the effectiveness of using Bird Detection AI.
Rather than engage all of the AF points, I activate a single AF point and typically leave it positioned in mid-frame when photographing individual perched birds. I use the larger sized single AF point as it is easier to see in my EVF if I need to move it. I imagine that a photographer could use the 3 X 3 box or the ‘+’ auto focus shape if preferred.
If multiple birds are in the frame and a photographer wants to select a specific bird, all they need to do is move the single AF point on to that specific bird and half depress the shutter release. That will now lock the Bird Detection AI on that particular bird. This makes using Bird Detection AI much easier in groupings of birds. Always remember to reset your single AF point to the centre of the frame before capturing subsequent images of other birds. I find using a single, large AF point to be very helpful if I need to ‘thread the needle’ past branches in the foreground that may occasionally confuse Bird Detection AI.
As far as I can tell, using a single, large AF point is helpful when photographing birds-in-flight. The E-M1X’s Bird Detection AI will chose the bird closest to the camera, or to the single AF point. I do my utmost to plan my image capture for both factors to be in sync. When photographing birds-in-flight I start with my single AF point in the centre of the frame.
If the bird is flying from right to left, I quickly move my single AF point usually 2 clicks to the left. This puts the AF point in close proximity to where I am expecting the head/eye of the flying bird to be in my composition when I capture my photograph. This seems to make it easier and faster for my E-M1X to acquire good focus on the bird-in-flight. Obviously if a bird was flying from left to right in my frame, I’d move the single AF point 2 clicks to the right before capturing my image.
Another thing that I was doing that was completely pointless was adjusting the AF sensitivity on my E-M1X. Another photographer in the area pointed out to me that AF sensitivity adjustments with the E-M1X only work when using C-AF. It has no effect at all when using C-AF+TR which is the mode needed when using Bird Detection AI. There is information on the Olympus website that points this out. I now leave the AF sensitivity on my E-M1X at the ‘0’ default setting when using Bird Detection AI.
After I stopped making a few mistakes, I discovered that using the E-M1X’s Bird Detection AI is very simple and effective. I don’t know if I’m using this technology as designed, but these E-M1X Bird Detection AI tips seem to work very well for me, so I thought I’d share them with other E-M1X owners.
Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear and technology as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.
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