Although I have some reservations about using my Olympus Micro-Four Thirds (MFT) cameras for landscapes, one area where they come into their own is fast action photography like motor sports. The sensor on all MFT cameras is just one quarter the size of a so-called full frame camera, and although they can still deliver file sizes based on up to 20Mpx, the individual pixels are so-much smaller, so suffer from noise in low light or high contrast situations and this does limit things somewhat, in my opinion. MFT cameras do have a couple of particular advantages though, especially for action photography – the small sensor means that a given focal length lens is equivalent to a lens twice as ‘long’ as one fitted to a full frame camera, and for any given aperture will have a much greater depth of focus. So, in practical terms, the same ‘spec’ lens on an MFT camera will bring things in much closer, and more of the subject will be in focus.
My camera, the Olympus E-M1 mk2, has one other killer feature – ProCapture. Whereas most cameras will focus on the subject when you half press the shutter, and then take one or more photos when you fully press it, Pro Capture starts recording as SOON as you half press the shutter, and ‘buffers’ or keeps the last 12 shots in its memory together with all those after you press the shutter, and these are then written to the memory card. So if you are shooting at one of the lower speeds, like 5 frames a second, you will get a couple of seconds worth of images BEFORE you make that final press of the shutter. How many times have we been looking through the viewfinder waiting for action to happen, like a bird taking off, but by the time we react to the movement, the bird has gone. This camera lets you go back in time!
So last weekend I spent some time at a club motor race meeting at Oulton Park in Cheshire with those nice folks from Olympus UK Events. I already had my E-M1ii of course but was pleased to try both a 40-150mm Pro lens, and the 300mm f4 Pro lens (they were loaning out cameras too if anyone wanted to try those). A great opportunity to ‘try before you buy’ given that the 300mm lens is around £2000 to buy. Also on hand to help were Lewis Speight, one of the technical gurus from Olympus UK, and Mike Inkley, a pro sports photographer. So off we went trackside to record the cars that were racing that day – some modern sports/touring cars, but some classic sports cars too.
Lets just say that the equipment we were using was amazing – the ability to fill the frame and focus on fast moving cars from the other side of the safety barrier, and record bursts of up to 40 shots as the cars went past or crested the top of the hill at Lodge Corner! I did however fill a complete memory card during my morning session – over 3000 images – so needless to say sorting through these and picking the best from each sequence took some time!
Suffice it to say, I would thoroughly recommend this setup for sport photography…