Getting Better with Age

I’m still wrapping my head around my Olympus cameras getting better with age as additional capabilities are provided through firmware updates. My previous experience with other cameras was that firmware updates were mainly used to fix software bugs, not give me new capabilities at no additional cost.

When I purchased my first E-M1X I was amazed with the camera’s innovative functionality, build quality, handling and ergonomics. Having read about how Olympus would add features through software, I was anticipating that birds would be added to the E-M1X’s Intelligent Subject Tracking.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 483 mm, efov 966 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-640, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3335 pixels on the width

When Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking was announced in 2020 I was overjoyed. My assumption was that it would help push my bird photography to new levels. And, it certainly has accomplished that in spades for me.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/640, ISO-2000, subject distance 3.3 metres, cropped to 4063 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI

Being able to use Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking effectively has taken some ongoing effort and experimentation. Getting better with age isn’t an automatic proposition. It takes some work and commitment. I’ve now captured over 40,000 images using this technology as I’ve been experimenting and playing with it.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-2500, subject distance 3.4 metres, full frame capture, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking

While photographing perched birds became far more effiicient and effective when using Bird Detection AI, it wasn’t until I started using a single AF point that I began to maximize its potential. Adjusting that single AF point was instrumental in being able to ‘thread the needle’ through twigs and branches.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-2500, cropped to 4923 pixels on the width, subject distance 6 metres, Bird Detection AI

Using the E-M1X’s articulated rear screen in conjunction with Bird Detection AI made capturing low angle photographs of birds significantly easier. We all have our own skill and physical limitations. For me, using Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking in combination with the E-M1X’s articulated rear screen has made some previously impossible photographs… possible.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/4000, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 2436 pixels on the width, distance to subject 15.9 metres

Capturing photographs of fast, erratic flyers like swallows has become something that can be accomplished with confidence and consistency.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 370 mm, efov 740 mm, f/8.7, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 2001 pixels on the width

One of the hallmarks of bird photography is its unpredictable nature. Sometimes split second opportunities appear. These require rapid ‘quick fire’ responses.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 140 mm, efov 280 mm, f/7.1, 1/2000, ISO-800, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 3426 pixels on the width, subject distance 6.6 metres

My E-M1X has been up to the challenge of these fleeting opportunities. As my familiarity and skill using Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking has improved, so too has my success with ‘quick fire’ captures. I continue to be genuinely surprised with the ‘quick fire’  photographs that I’ve been able to capture.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, Pro Capture L, cropped to 3003 pixels on the width, subject distance 36.6 metres

Olympus has done other things to make my E-M1X bodies and my wife’s E-M1 Mark III better with age. Although we won’t likely use it, being able to capture video files in RAW using an Atomos Ninja V HDR monitor takes these cameras to a whole new level. I have little doubt in my mind that OMDS will continue the Olympus tradition of giving its customers additional functionality through firmware updates. It is such a joy to get a ‘new’ camera when major firmware updates are provided.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-2500, subject distance 4.9 Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking

Technology will continue to advance while my current Olympus camera bodies continue to get better with age. I’ve noticed that OMDS has been discounting the E-M1X for a while now. Currently an E-M1X is only $600 more than buying an E-M1 Mark III in Canada. This price differential could be a no-brainer for many M4/3 bird photographers.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 140 mm, efov 280 mm, f/7.1, 1/2500, ISO-1000, full frame capture, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, subject distance 17.2 metres

Discounting is often a signal that a new model is in the pipeline. I have no idea what that could be as I have no inside knowledge of such things.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-2000, full frame capture, subject distance 5.9 metres, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking

Perhaps we’ll see OMDS launch a new body with a new sensor and a global shutter. That would certainly be a signficant technological step. Even if that happens I’ll continue to use my existing E-M1X bodies. My challenge is pretty simple. I need to keep getting better with age so I can keep up with the growing functionality of my current gear!

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. This is the 1,021st article published on this website since its original inception.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/1600, ISO-200, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 3270 pixels on the width, distance to subject 14.9 metres

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8 thoughts on “Getting Better with Age”

  1. I’m going to assume a blitz of new software by OMDS. That would be their first step to see which way the market is moving.

    1. Hi Lewsh,

      That is certainly one way to look at what OMDS may do with software updates. Since the costs to update firmware is quite steep I would take a different viewpoint, thinking that OMDS would assess market needs first before it spent any money doing updates.

      Tom

      1. I would have thought that firmware updates were less costly than hardware updates in manufacturing. I think any manufacturer has their finger on the pulse of the industry they participate in. I’m also thinking that OMDS has a finite timeline to make inroads to new gear. No dawdling here.

        1. Hi Lewsh,

          I’m not sure if I may have misunderstood your initial comment. 🙂 I would agree with your viewe that a camera hardware update would be more expensive than a firmware update.

          tom

          1. My apologies on my confusing text. To clarify: I think OMDS will test the waters with firmware first and see the response to their investments.

            1. Hi Lewsh,

              It will be interesting to see what OMDS does. Apparently there are two new cameras rumoured for 2021 and OMDS has stated that they will be following the lens road map. It will be interesting to see what they introduce on the hardware side and what kind of firmware updates they provide in the near term.

              Tom

              1. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think there will be further firmware updates for existing cameras. Instead, what might have been firmware updates will be selling points on new gear.
                I’m also rather sure that new bodies will be brought to market and the lens road map will be completed as Olympus saw the map but I don’t know what they view as marketable new lenses beyond Olympus’s map.
                I’m waiting to see what a EM1-Mark 4 bring to photographers. Holding my breath.

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