E-M1X Bird Subject Detection

I just received a Development Update from Olympus this morning that formally announced the development of Bird Subject Detection for the Olympus OM-D E-M1X camera. This Olympus Development Announcement also provides an updated lens road map, confirms the M.Zuiko PRO 150-400 F4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO zoom, and announces that OM-D Webcam Beta software is now available for download.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 134mm, efov 268mm, f/8, 1/1600, ISO-400, subject distance 15.65 metres

As regular readers will know, I have been experimenting with the use of Airplane Subject Detection for birds-in-flight on a periodic basis.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 210 mm, efov 420 mm, f/5, 1/2000, ISO-250, subject distance 36.3 metres

I have found that Airplane Subject Detection can work extremely well under certain conditions, but it did not perform consistently for birds-in-flight in some shooting conditions. This was understandable since this AI Subject Tracking mode was not specifically designed to photograph birds-in-flight.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X with M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/4000, ISO-1250, subject distance 43.6 metres

The fact that Olympus will be developing Bird Subject Detection for the OM-D E-M1X is a significant development for photographers like me who own this particular camera model and enjoy bird photography.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X with M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/4000, ISO-1250, subject distance 37.6 metres

Other E-M1X AI Subject Tracking modes for motosports, airplanes and trains provide excellent results for these specific subjects. I am very encouraged about this Olympus announcement.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X with M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/4000, ISO-1250, subject distance 39.6 metres

Bird Subject Detection is scheduled for release at the same time as the M.Zuiko PRO 150-400 F4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO zoom lens (i.e. Winter 2020). This firmware update will be an excellent compliment for this PRO zoom lens.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X with M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/4000, ISO-1250, subject distance 39.8 metres

Just in case you were wondering, the last four osprey in-flight images in this article were all captured using E-M1X Airplane Subject Tracking mode.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Image were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Some photographs were cropped to taste, then resized for web use.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 190 mm, efov 380 mm, f/8, 1/1600, ISO-1250, -0.7 step

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4 thoughts on “E-M1X Bird Subject Detection”

  1. I am very enthused about the bird tracking feature and have been hoping for some time that it would come to pass. The new lens looks like a winner for birds and animals also but will need to see the weight and cost to make a decision. In any event, it is nice to see that Olympus is not dropping dead as some have predicted.

    1. Hi Joel,

      I am also very enthusiastic about the Bird Subject Detection firmware upgrade. The potential for this feature, as well as the M.Zuiko 150-400 F4.5 IS PRO are two factors that contributed to me buying into the Olympus system (among a host of other capabilities).

      Unlike many other photo websites, we took a different view of the pending sale of Olympus imaging and interpret this as a strategic decision rather than just a ‘dumping of a money losing division’. Time will tell which interpretation proves correct. The fact that Olympus has announced the Bird Subject Detection feature is a significant one for those of us who view the pending sale from a strategic orientation.

      From what I’ve seen on some websites the weight of the 150-400 F4.5 is rumored to be in the 1.7 to 2.0 KG range depending on whether the tripod foot is attached or not. In terms of size, based on some online images I’ve seen that compare it to the Panasonic 100-400, my best guess is that it will be approximately 12″ to 12.5″ in length (30.5-31.75 cm) not counting lens hood.

      Cost is anyone’s guess, especially given the pending sale. After looking at some current pricing, my guess would be that the upcoming M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom will be priced at about $1,950 to $2,100 US (slightly above the Panasonic lens). In my mind the M.Zuiko 150-400 F4.5 will be priced above the 300mm f/4… likely in the $3,500 – $4,250 US range. If Olympus brings out the rumoured 500 mm f/5.6 PRO, I see that priced at about $5,000 US. Anyway… that’s my 2 cents worth!


  2. This press release is encouraging. Clearly Olympus is going to deliver lenses they have already announced, and are planning for more. A software up-date for “Bird subject detection” will be appreciated by the ever-growing community of bird photographers who have switched to Olympus. The 150-400 will be ideal for bird and nature photographers. It will also be ideal for action sports photographers. I’m sure that Olympus was planning on previewing it at the Tokyo Olympics, and I’m sure that was a real sucker punch for their bottom line.

    Like you and most other Olympus-users, we love the system and will continue to use it. Customer loyalty is a great asset.

    1. Hi Glen,

      I agree that this Development Announcement is very positive as it confirms the ‘business as usual” statement that Olympus executives made last week. On a personal basis I was particularly encouraged by the Bird Subject Tracking announcement as this has not been mentioned in any previous Olypus communications as a specific firmware development. This will be a superb feature for those of us who own E-M1X bodies. I know a couple of pros who do a lot of work photographing motorsports/motorcross and they specifically bought the E-M1X because of its AI subject tracking of cars/motorcycle capability. Both of them absolutely love this AI feature and tell me that it has been a true ‘game changer’ for their work.

      I was also pleased to see some additional clarification on the M.Zuiko lens road map.

      Unlike many folks I have taken a more positive perspective on the news from last week… and this recent announcement makes me even more positive about the future of Olympus imaging.


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