I’ve had a few readers contact me recently with some questions regarding my article covering a very specific OM-D E-M1X BIF test. This short article provides some E-M1X BIF test follow-up.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
As outlined in my previous article, my E-M1X BIF test was set up to challenge the auto-focus speed and performance of my E-M1X under very specific test conditions. These included fast approaching low contrast subject matter, on an overcast day, with virtually no time to prepare for an incoming bird-in-flight. Obviously these are not typical BIF conditions under which the majority of people would purposely choose to photograph flying birds.
Some folks have asked why I chose gulls for this specific test since these birds are fairly easy to photograph. I chose gulls because they were good low contrast, readily available subjects to photograph on the overcast days during which the test was conducted. To push the AF acquisition time and accuracy of my E-M1X during the test I wanted to make sure that I had a continual high volume of subject birds. I did not want to have the luxury of being able to track a bird-in-flight coming in from a fair distance away. Most cameras can handle a simple task like that quite competently. To me test = push my gear.
Under these specific test conditions I did find the the E-M1X performed best when using the ‘Airplanes’ Subject Tracking Mode. Under more typical bird-in-flight conditions, when lighting is much better and a photographer has more time to spot and prepare for an incoming bird-in-flight… most folks would choose to use other camera settings.
For example, given better light and more time to set up their photograph, many photographers would likely use AF-C with a single AF point for birds-in-flight. This is a setting that I also use (as well as others) depending on photographic conditions and subject matter.
So, while using the ‘Airplanes’ Tracking Mode can be useful under specific conditions (e.g. fast approaching, low contrast subjects during overcast conditions, requiring very fast AF acquisition) many people may find that different camera settings are more appropriate for them under other bird-in-flight conditions. The ‘Airplanes’ Subject Tracking mode is not a magic bullet… but it can be quite effective to deal with specific conditions. It happens to be what I choose as my initial setting for birds-in-flight. For other folks, it won’t be.
In situations where an incoming bird is not too close to a busy background (like the osprey image above) I do like using the ‘Airplanes’ Subject Tracking mode. However, in situations where the photographic conditions may cause the ‘Airplanes’ Subject Tracking mode to get confused, I will change my settings and use AF-C with a single AF point (or other settings as appropriate) for birds-in-flight.
Next spring I will be doing some experimentation with the ‘Airplanes’ Subject Tracking mode when attempting to photograph swallows in flight to test how it performs with these erratic speed demons. Of course that’s six months down the road. Who knows… by then Olympus may have introduced a ‘bird in flight’ Subject Tracking mode for the E-M1X.
All photographs in this article were captured hand-held using camera gear as per the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.
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