BY TESNI WARD
The Olympus system is highly capable when it comes to capturing intimate images of wildlife, but sometimes it can feel like a bit of a minefield when you’re new to the system. Here’s a basic guide to get your camera wildlife ready!
C-AF or C-AF with Tracking?
To track or not to track? It can be difficult to know which option is best when photographing wildlife. The tracking feature has improved significantly since initially introduced, and with the addition of profiles it has improved it further still, but it’s important to know where it shines and when it’s worth turning it off. For non erratic subjects with relatively clean surroundings, tracking can work extremely well: this includes birds flying across the sky. If you’re working with more cluttered surroundings however, it’s best to turn the tracking off and keep the AF points fixed on the subject.
Custom Menu > A1 > C-AF Sensitivity
If you speak to 5 different photographers, you might get 5 different responses when it comes to what the best C-AF sensitivity is when shooting wildlife. It helps to understand what it actually means in order to decide what will work best for you. +2 means that the AF will instantly react to any changes, such as an animal entering the focus points. With -2, there will be a delay before the AF re-evaluates. What does this mean when you’re out in the field?
If you’re working with erratic, fast subjects such as a flying bird, a higher sensitivity will mean that the AF instantly reevaluates when that bird enters your AF points. If there’s a risk of obstacles moving in front of your subject, such as other animals or foreground objects, a lower sensitivity means that the AF will ‘stick’ with your subject longer before re-evaluating.
Custom Menu > A3 > AF Limiter
This is such an undervalued feature, which arguably is a game changer with wildlife photography. Historically, telephoto lenses will have a focus limiter switch, restricting how far the lens will focus and therefore speeding up how quickly you can lock onto your subject, however these ranges are often quite restrictive. With AF Limiter, you can set a fully customised range, essentially telling the camera to ignore backgrounds and any foreground. It’s important to note that these are ‘average’ ranges and are not 100% accurate, but you’ll quickly learn what the range is for your camera.
Customise those Buttons
Custom Menu > B1 > Button Functions
As standard, the camera comes pretty well set in terms of buttons, but there’s additional customisations you can make to ensure it’s optimal for your style of shooting. Many Olympus lenses have a lens function button (L-FN) which is AF-lock as standard for people who don’t back button focus (BBF), or it can be changed to something like AF Limiter if this is a feature you’ll use often. You can also change which button is responsible for BBF, assign magnification or peaking guides or even assign a preset focus point or focus drive mode.
Custom Menu > D2 > Frame Rate
If you’re doing a lot of panning work or photographing fast paced scenes, it helps to increase the viewfinder frame rate to minimise any lag. You will see a logo appear in the top centre of your viewfinder (FPS) when activated, but be aware that this will drain your battery faster than a normal frame rate.
Silent Sequential Mode
With some cameras, silent shooting mode actually means ‘still loud, but just less so’. With the Olympus system, silent means silent. This means the risk of disturbing wildlife is reduced significantly from the sound of your shutter and you’re more likely to be able to photograph more sensitive subjects. You can also achieve up to 18 FPS with the EM1mk2, EM1mk3 and EM1X, meaning those high action moments are even easier to capture.
Every photographer has experienced that annoyance of just missing a shot because you didn’t react quickly enough. Pro Capture eliminates this risk. When you half press the shutter button the camera captures up to 35 pre frames which are only saved if you fully press the shutter. With Pro Capture Low, you can capture 18FPS with AF active. Pro Capture High is 60FPS, but this doesn’t have AF between frames.