Testing New Purchases – Prep For Farnborough – C-AF – Macro Learning

Recent Purchases

Mzuiko 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 ed ii

When I decided to go fully Olympus and trade in my Nikon D7100, I purchased this lens, primarily because it’s coming up to Farnborough airshow. This lens and the OMD’s Micro four thirds 2xcrop ratio, gives me a 150mm – 600mm lens. Which is pretty good for aircraft. Armed forces day was on 30th June so I took the lens over to Scarborough, knowing that they had three mini air displays. The lens is heavy, as to be expected, and on full zoom, 300mm, handshake isn’t always cancelled out by the OMD’s 5 axis image stabilizer. However, when panning the camera to follow the movement of the aircraft, the hand shake becomes irrelevant to a large degree. It’s much more noticeable on those shots when the lens is not panning. This is despite using shutter priority and keeping in between 1/800 and 1/4000. I also have a neuro-muscular condition and this makes hand shake worse sometimes.

There is a down size to this lens, and it’s the same one you get with most cameras at full zoom, and that’s vignetting. Although to give credit where it’s due, this is really apparent on an under exposed image, and decreases as you get closer to the correct exposure, at which point it’s sometimes apparent and others not. So the vignetting is really down to me under-exposing the photos and not keeping my eye on what I was doing.

The Blades Aerobatic Display Team ISO 100 Shutter 1/1000 aperture f6.7 300mm

The above is clearly an underexposed photo. The next image I have developed a little in Lightroom, but I wanted to show one of my favourite photos from the afternoon. There is still a slight halo around the aircraft, which shows that even good exposure doesn’t eliminate the vignette completely. However as you decrease the focal length to around 200mm the vignette isn’t there at all. This is no different than any other non prime telephoto lens.

The Blades Aerobatic Display Team ISO 100 shutter 1/800 aperture f6.7 300mm

C-AF – Continuous auto focus. In preparing myself for Farnborough I wanted to put the OMD and the Mzuiko through their paces, and test the continuous autofocus as I will be shooting fast-moving aircraft. Having completed some research online I ensured that I did not include focus tracking with the C-AF, which is an option with the OMD. The reviews were clear that the tracking works best when much closer to a slower moving subject. Before leaving home I changed the metering to centre weighted instead of the spot that I usually use, and increased the focus area slightly, again instead of the centre point that I often use. It was a mixed result to be honest. At times the C-AF worked wonders, and at others it kept refocusing and going completely out of focus, or focusing on the clouds or passing gulls (which incidently began to mob the aircraft as if they were birds of prey – common behaviour during the breeding season, but with aircraft? That’s a new one on me).

Maybe the inconsistent auto-focus is down to my lack of experience using it, or maybe that’s the way with C-AF for distant objects which are very fast-moving.. The OMD EM10 mk iii doesn’t have the added element of phase detection auto focus, it’s known to not be as quick as other Olympu’s, but when it worked it was exceptional and I have some very clear, crisp photos, and during some highly complex aerobatic maneuvers. The EM10 is probably performing better than its enthusiast+ level, I can’t expect it to be as good as the pro camera OMD EM1 mk ii, and the auto focus on the EM10 is reportedly better than the Pen F, which is aimed between the EM10 enthusiast+ and EM 1 mk ii Pro level in the market. Overall the results were good, and the defects were mostly mine. I need to be more aware of shutter speed and exposure, the camera did what it could to keep up with the fast speed that I was using, but I either needed to increase the ISO or decrease the shutter speed, and that’s completely down to me. Very good preparation for Farnborough, and I know what I need to do to improve my photography of aircraft, including pan more smoothly.

Meike Extenders 10mm and 16mm with electrical contacts

I purchased these so that I could get closer to the subjects in macro photography, and capture sharper details of the eyes and wings of bugs and bees, and closer to the inside of flowers. The Meike extenders for the 4/3 mount has electrical contacts that actually work, so autofocus and aperture changes can be controlled in camera. I have previously had extenders where the electrical connectors didn’t work (for the Nikon), not good.

Iam really impressed. I only used the 16mm (you can combine the two and create a 26mm extender, but you then need to shoot almost touching your subject and the depth of field is so narrow that its difficult to shoot anyway. It was a very windy day, so I had little opportunity to use the set up, but the results were impressive when I was able to. Depth of field is best controlled by using auto focus, half press on shutter release, and in one smooth action press right down and take the shot. If you pause you’re gonna lose the focus. The other way is to use auto focus, and then move your head very slowly backwards and forwards until you have the focus and the focal range that you are seeking for the image. Macro photography is a very gentle, slow, getting to fall in love with your subject before pressing the shutter release – if you want good photo’s. You can’t rush. here are some photos of the same subject – in the last one I hold a 20 pence piece so that you can see just how close the set up brings me and how small the subject is.

The third photo shows just how narrow the depth of field is. The stars are out of focus, but between them they have these little brown leaves – the tips of which are in focus. Only the first photo is good, but I wanted to highlight how narrow the depth of field is. I know that I can get that close now (and take better photo’s than these). The strengths of the extenders are that you have more control eliminating background distractions, you can get closer to your subject and capture the minutiae in fine details (can’t wait to get to shoot more Bee’s), you can create very large photo’s of tiny subjects, the electrical contacts work. The difficulties, you need to be incredibly aware of depth of field, double-check that you have got the focus how you want it where you want it. you lose a couple of stops of light, so it’s better to shoot in bright, sunny conditions, there’s no point shooting in the wind. Theres too much movement to control depth of field. Here’s one more just because I love, love, love macro photography.

ISO 500 shutter 1/125 aperture f2.8 60mm

Dot.foto batteries for OMD EM 10

When I shoot aircraft I do so in burst mode. It’s the last part of the technical elements that I use to capture crisp images of aircraft in flight. With going away to Farnborough, and burst shooting, there is no chance that the one battery I had was going to last me 5 hours of flying and three hours of static and street photography. I took a risk and decided to but the Dot.Foto battery for the OMD rather than the brand version. I got two batteries this way for the same prices instead of one Olympus branded battery. Did the risk pay off? Most definitely. 1127 frames shot, plus an in-camera review and evaluation of half of those (to delete the crap). The frame count sounds high, but shooting in burst you are able to shoot more frames with less battery depletion than when you are constantly turning you camera on and off for individual photos, and this is most certainly the case for the Olympus brand battery as well. My belief is that these batteries are as good as each other, however, I am aware that the performance of the Dot.foto is likely to reduce with repeated charging, whereas the Olympus are more stable and will deplete more slowly. I will keep an eye on that.

One final photos, OK, so the aircraft are not sharp, but couldn’t resist adding this one.

The Blades Over Scarborough Castle

11 Replies to “Testing New Purchases – Prep For Farnborough – C-AF – Macro Learning”

  1. I love that purple flower! I really like macro too – my favorite thing to photo is my cats’ eyes (ize), they are so amazing, I hope you get a chance to do that, if you haven’t already.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful photographs and WOW the purple image is stunning… me too I love macro working, especially with flowers.. Would love to capture cat’s eyes, but we only have dogs, Grace. Might give them a go and see how well they come out in macro xx


  3. Richard, regarding Continuous Auto Focusing – I think this can be a little bit hit and miss from what I have read, seen on various youtube videos and through my own experience.

    I have a Canon 5D Mkiii and tried C-AF once or twice without a lot of success, the Fuji X-T2 I have seems to be better but I don’t think any are 100% – having said that I have no experience of the Olympus.

    Regarding hand shake, have you considered using a monopod? That would give stability in one axis but still allow you to pan.

    Regarding vignetting I don’t think this is always a bad thing, in fact I sometimes add it to focus the viewers attention and it is easily removed in post. What I really don’t like is chromatic aberration but I guess this can be removed or minimised in post as well.

    I would issue a word of warning regarding third party batteries, I know somebody who used to work for a very large industrial battery manufacturer and there is a lot of technology and quality control in batteries. Also as you probably know the Li-Ion batteries can explode or catch fire when being charged. I tried third party batteries in some of the Canons that I had but now only use the OEM batteries.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for such an I depth reply Jonathan. I will get some branded batteries, I had forgotten about the fires and exploding batteries. Bit daft forgetting that.

      The mono pod is something I’m considering, but not for aircraft. When they are doing aerobatics at a display very little of it is on the horizontal plane, so it wouldn’t work. However, I got some compensation for an injury and have just bought the OMD EM 1 MK 11, so I took it to Bempton at the weekend to photo gannets. I used the same 75-300 lens, and bearing in mind the birds are much smaller than aircraft, their apparent movement at full zoom is quicker. The autofocus and continuous are lightning quick. I couldn’t believe it. It’s incredible. It didn’t produce the vignetting either. My exposure was much better, and that’s because I was shooting in full manual rather than shutter priority. I had no assumption that the camera would adjust settings like I did in shutter priority.

      I’m going to use the em10 for macro, and the smaller lens i.e 25mm or 40-150 and the em1 action (if I’m using two cameras at the same time).

      The chromatic aberration, is that when you get a coloured blur on the edge of s subject?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad you have C-AF sorted, regarding the batteries it really was just a word of caution.

        The EM1 MK 11 looks like a fabulous camera Richard, 60 fps!! My goodness! Even with mechanical shutter it is 15 fps ( I use this site for reference, I don’t know if you know it https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/olympus-om-d-e-m1-mark-ii) but I guess you know the specification off by heart! It should be brilliant for Farnborough.

        Yes chromatic aberration is the fringing that you can get, you often seen purple fringing when for example you have something like leaves against a bright sky. You probably will not have an issue with the Olympus lenses though.

        I guess you are off to Farnborough this weekend, I hope you have a fabulous time and enjoy your EM1!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I travel down on Thursday. Thanks about the chromatic aberration. I had that on my Nikon but not so far with Olympus.

        I’m going to reduce the 15 frames per second down to 10. 15 is too much. With ten I have enough control over the shutter to take a single image, fifteen is to quick, although the quality is fab. I can’t imagine ever needing 60fps.

        I like dp review. I use them and techradar.

        Liked by 1 person

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