Category Archives: baseball

Testing My New OM-D

Today was a good day!  I got to have breakfast with a friend, see his son play in a baseball tournament, and finally use my new Olympus OM-D E-M5 in some action!

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve been trying to shrink my camera gear footprint.  Looking for alternatives to my large DSLR’s started with the addition of my Sony NEX3.  The NEX3 has many nice features, good image quality, and I still use it today.  It is not however, a replacement for my DSLR.  It’s too slow!  It’s actually ok to use  for static subjects, but lousy for anything that moves quickly.

Next I moved to the Olympus E-P3 and Panasonic GX-1.  These are both Micro Four Thirds (MFT) format camera.  I love the features, size, and image quality, but they are not suitable replacements for my DSLR.  Same story, too slow for any type of action.

There have been some advancements in the MFT world.  The introduction of the OM-D E-M5 (OM-D) really made some noise in the world of cameras and photography.  This was back in the early part of 2012, and I wasn’t able to jump on the bandwagon and buy one for myself at the time.  So, I bided my time and watched my favorite camera stores, waiting for a deal.  And finally last month, I was able to take advantage of one that presented itself at Adorama.

It was love at 1st site when I took my OM-D out of the box!  I loved the size, look, and feel of this little jewel.  But, was it the DSLR replacement/alternative that I was looking for?  By the way, if you’d like to read a review, click this link – OM-D.

The answer to that question is yes, and no.  Yes, because it is fast.  Much faster to use than any of my other non-DSLR cameras.  It can focus quickly, and can fire off 9 frames per second (fps).  And no, mostly because of user error and a little having to do with the way this camera achieves focus.  I don’t want to get into all of the techno-babble regard autofocus, but if you want, you can read about it here – Autofocus.  I’m sure as I get used to my OM-D, I’ll become more comfortable with it’s many features and settings and be able to confidently use it for any type of action.

And now, the results!  The action on the baseball field was lively.  For the most part ,the OM-D did just fine.  At 9 fps I was able to catch some great action sequences.  I was also able to capture what would have been some great action sequences, if they had been in focus.  To be fair, that could have happened with my DSLR.  I noticed a couple of times that my focus point was off (I usually set it to center).  Focus accuracy improved greatly once I reset it.

One of the other things that I discovered was that I had better luck setting the OM-D to single autofocus, rather than continuous autofocus or continuous tracking autofocus.  I’d pick a point on the field where I anticipated some action to take place and focus on it.  Once the players moved into view I’d press the shutter and fire away.  That may or may not be the best way to catch the action, but it seemed to work well for me today.

Here are a few shots from the game:

Baseball action, Olympus OM-D E-M5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baseball action, Olympus OM-D E-M5
Baseball action, Olympus OM-D E-M5

All of the shots above were converted from the original RAW file format to jpeg, and resized for viewing on the screen.  There was no other post processing performed.

While I’m not much on pixel-peeping, I have looked pretty closely at these images.  Overall I’m very pleased with the image quality.  My seat-of-the-pants review is by no means scientific,  but I think it does demonstrate how the OM-D works in a real life setting.  To my eyes, the image quality from my OM-D is on par with my Canon 60D.  While the 60D has a slower frame rate (5.5 fps to 9 fps), it does seem to do a little better tracking fast moving subjects than my OM-D.  Not by much mind you, but it is something to think about.  In every other area I think the OM-D is equal too or greater than my 60D.  I’ll need more photo opportunities such as the one I had today to make up my mind.  There will definitely be more to follow!

That’s it for now, until next time – Happy Shooting!

 

 

My Latest Addition

I’ve been gone for awhile, enjoying a family vacation in the motorhome with my wife and 3 little dogs.  It was also a time where I could experiment with my latest addition to the camera family, the Olympus OM-D E-M5!

This camera was 1st introduced last year and received many great reviews.  Here are a couple in case you’re interested:

Steve Huff – OM-D Review
DP Review OM-D Review

The E-M5 is classified as a mirrorless camera, and not a DSLR.  While it does resemble a DSLR with it’s viewfinder, it really is a different camera.  The viewfinder is electronic (EVF), and works extremely well.  I really like this feature and is the one thing I have missed on my other mirrorless cameras.  Each of the others is equipped with a display on the back of the camera, and it can be difficult to use in certain conditions such as very bright sunlight.  The E-M5 also has a nice large display on the back on the camera, and it articulates, making it much more useful!

I’m one of those guys that jumps right in with cameras, spending very limited time with the manual.  It didn’t hurt having owned another Olympus (the E-P3) because the menu system is very similar.  One of the biggest improvements over my E-P3 is all of the external controls.  The E-M5 has a lot of buttons and dials (makes for faster setting changes).

One of the things I’ve been looking for in a mirrorless camera is better performance with fast moving subjects (airplanes, cars, kids).  As much as I love my E-P3, it really is lousy for this kind of photography.  The E-M5 on the other hand is amazing!  I’ve found the autofocus to be very fast, and having 9 frames per second doesn’t hurt either.  Will this replace my Canon 60D for airshows?  Only time will tell.

There is one other thing worth mentioning, and that is low light performance.  This is another area with my E-P3 struggles.  The E-P3 does work, but requires a tripod and careful handling.  The E-M5 is simply amazing in low light.  With the right lens and settings, this little camera can see better in the dark than I can.  I was very impressed with it’s low light performance.  In a real world example, I was standing near the Imperial Beach Pier after sunset.  The light was low, but beautiful and I thought I’d give it a try.  I used the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens set at f/2.8 and pressed the shutter.    The ISO was set at 1600 for this handheld shot:

Imperial Beach Pier, Olympus OM-D E-M5

The original image was a RAW file, converted to jpeg and resized, no other adjustments were made.

I was also able to use my recently acquired Rokinon 7.5mm Fisheye lens.  What a find this was!  The Rokinon is a manual focus lens, but that really wasn’t a problem.  For most of my shots, I had it set the aperture to either f/8 or f/5.6 and the focus to infinity.  I rarely had to make any other adjustments with these settings.  Here are a couple of photos from the E-M5 and Rokinon:

OM-D E-M5 and Rokinon Fisheye, Imperial Beach Pier

OM-D E-M5 and Rokinon Fisheye, Imperial Beach Pier

I have a couple of thoughts in closing this post.  The 1st is that there are some very good deals out there on equipment that is about to be superseded by the latest rendition or already has been.  The OM-D may be last years model, and although it has been superseded by the OM-D E-M1 it has proven to me that it’s an extremely capable camera!  There are some that must have the latest and greatest every time it is introduced, but that’s not the way I work.  If you can fight the urge to resist every little change in features, you can have what you want and save some $$$ too!  This really goes for anything (cars, bikes, cameras, phones…..).

And my final thought goes back to the E-M5 replacing my Canon 60D.  So far my testing is saying yes!  There are a couple of things I still want to try before selling the 60D, one of those being a kids baseball game!  If I can get similar results with my E-M5, I might just have to put the 60D up for sale.

That’s it for this post.  Until next time – Happy Shooting!

 

Baseball Action

I had a chance to go to my friend’s son’s baseball tournament yesterday.  It was in the middle of the day and quite warm out, with a nice breeze.

Going to these games is a treat for me.  Having given up on professional baseball with all of the commercialization and high prices, I prefer this level of the game.  The kids on these teams really love the game and while some are exceptionally good, most seem to give it all they have.  I find it refreshing.

One of the other reasons I like these games are the photo opportunities.  There can be a lot of action, and I really enjoy trying to capture it.  Here’s an example:

Diving to 1st

Lately, I’ve been trying to keep an eye on the action around the field.  While there certainly is a lot of action at home plate, there are other things going on around the bases.  In the shot above, I was able to capture this player diving back to 1st from a long lead, just before the pitcher threw the ball to the 1st baseman.

Here’s a sequence of shots that I was able to grab when a player tried to steal 2nd:

Stealing 2nd, 1

Stealing 2nd, 2

Stealing 2nd, 3

All of the shots above were taken with my Canon 60D, and Tamron 200-500mm lens.  My settings were Aperture Priority mode, f/6.3, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec., and -0.3 on the exposure compensation.   The camera was set to AI Servo and to 5.5 fps.  All images are from RAW files, converted to .jpeg format using Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop.

I really enjoyed watching the game, and getting in some photography at the same time.  If you know someone who has a kid playing on a team, check it out.  You may enjoy the game and even get a few good shots.  If you do, be sure to share them with the parents!

That’s it for now, until next time – Happy Shooting!