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Want to photograph planes, trains and automobiles? Follow in-store support specialist David Smith’s stepby-step guide for shooting with the OM-D E-M1X

Last issue we discussed how to use some of the OM-D E-M1X‘s keyfeatures, such as High Res Shot mode, live ND shooting and focus stacking. This issue, I’ll be looking at features for shooting fastmoving subjects.

With the addition of some fantastic subject detection features on the OM-D E-M1X, shooting action and sports photography has become a whole new game. However, as with all advanced and powerful features on any equipment, calibration and set-up are key!

I’m going to guide you through a few of the ways you can set up the OM-D E-M1X and take advantage of the deep learning, programmed subject detection. Of course, there are hundreds of possible ways to set up any type of focusing method, but these are the basic ways that I and the technical team here in the UK will show people as we travel around the country. The final settings you choose will of course be determined by the factors and environment that you are shooting in.

Image by Mike Inkley

WHERE TO START?

Firstly, we need to know what you will be photographing. In this instance, we have chosen motorsports. Let’s go ahead and start setting up the camera.

We need to tell the camera to look for motorsports vehicles and we can find that option in the menu, through the cog icon and into A3, and then Tracking Subject.

Inside the Tracking Subject option we can choose Motorsports, Airplanes or Trains. So, let’s select Motorsports.

Now we need to decide on how sensitive the CA-F, (Continuous Auto-Focus), is going to be around our subject. Back in the A1 menu you will see CA-F Sensitivity. In here, we can choose either a high or low sensitivity over five levels.

A lot of people ask me how to recognise when this needs changing, and it’s actually really easy. All we have to do is consider the subject matter combined with the environment. If we have a very erratic subject with the potential to change direction quickly, then we pick a higher sensitivity – perhaps +1 or +2. If the subject might have other objects pass between us and it, for example trees when shooting birds or lamposts when shooting cyclists, then we use a lower sensitivity, such as -1 or -2.

In the instance of motorsports here, let’s say there may be the potential for posts or fences to pass between us and the cars as we pan. So, I’ll use -1.

Now, let’s set the general options from the Super Control Panel (SCP). Pressing OK will bring up the SCP. This option is ideal for when you are actually in a shooting environment due to its ease of access and multitude of options. The first thing we will select is the focus points and we will use a 3×3 grid for this.

Next, back in the SCP, we will be choosing our focusing mode. In order to take advantage of the subject detection, we need to select C-AF TR or tracking.

We should also remember to switch off Face Detection to ensure the camera uses all of its processing on the correct subject. Incidentally, whilst being able to track the vehicles, this detection mode will also be looking for a driver within the vehicle and further lock on to him as a point of focus if he is clearly visible. This will be more prominent in motorcycle photography.

It’s important to remember to set the correct sequential burst mode. The E-M1X is a very fast camera and is capable of up to 60 frames-per-second bursts. However, this is in S-AF or Single Focus Lock mode, so if you want to use C-AF and burst mode, you should select the L or Low Speed burst.

Depending on your choice of mechanical or silent burst (the icon with the heart), you will still achieve ten or 18 frames-per-second respectively. It’s easy to tell if you are accidentally in H mode as your first shot in the burst will be sharp and every subsequent one will be out of focus.

Image by John Sterling Ruth

TIME TO SHOOT!

So, we’ve pretty much set the camera up in terms of telling it what we are shooting and how sensitive to be. Now is the time to get to the subjects. The first thing that you will notice when you switch your camera on and point it towards the cars is that without pressing anything at all, the camera will tell you that it can see vehicles. It does this by putting a fine white box around anything that matches its subject database.

The really clever thing about this feature is that the camera can detect up to eight subjects at once within its view. Now, I can hear you asking: how does it know which subject to focus on and track?

To answer this, we have to go back to which Focus Point grid we chose – we selected the 3×3 grid. Whilst the camera will white box subjects from its entire field of view, it will only lock on to and track whichever of those subjects are within the 3×3 grid at the time of half-pushing the shutter. This gives you complete control over which vehicle to track. After all, the one at the back might be your favourite!

Image by Mike Inkley

I should also point out that you have a frame limiter at your disposal. This can help stop you collecting hundreds of shots per burst, only to have to go through them all at the end of the day.

To enable this, navigate to the cog icon in your menu and find C1. In here, go into the L settings and the burst icon menu. Now you can choose your frame limiter. This will restrict how many images the camera takes on each squeeze of the shutter button before releasing and shooting again. Here, I’ve set my camera to ten frames.

Combine these settings with either the fantastic M.ZUIKO 40- 150mm F/2.8 PRO or M.ZUIKO 300mm F/4 IS PRO lenses and you will be well on your way to achieving amazing action shots! Don’t forget to keep an eye on our Image Space page for events where you can try these settings out for yourself!

Image by John Sterling Ruth

Article featured in Olympus Magazine Issue 63 – to see the latest copy of this free digital magazine click here.