Tag Archives: Adorama

Air Shows with my 60D

Recently I wrote about using my Olympus E-M5 at an air show, and I mentioned that I would share my thoughts about using my Canon 60D in another post.  Well, here it is!

I’ve been using Canon DSLR’s at air shows for many years now.  Starting with my Canon XT, then my 40D, and now my 60D.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve used that XT, but going back through my photos I see that the results were mixed, in other words – not that good.  Some of it was due to the XT being very slow.  Slow to focus and a slow frame rate (3 fps approx.).  Most of it was due to my lack of skill or technique.  It was easy to fix the “slow” camera part, I bought the 40D.  The 40D was superior in every way compared to the XT.  And to be fair, I went back to my archives of 40D air show photos, and they were indeed better.  At least most of them.

How do I know they are better?  Good question!  I have a very bad habit of keeping almost all of my photos, good and bad.  Unless they are very, very bad, I tend to keep them.  This may seem like a silly waste of hard drive space, but I actually do go back to them and try to learn what went wrong.  In almost all instances, the fault was with me.  Poor technique.  If I could consistently follow a plane in the air and pan smoothly while firing off a few frames, I’d usually nail a couple of them.  If I was off by just a little, the camera wouldn’t focus where I thought it should and I would miss the shot.  Then it would hunt back and forth trying to lock on.

Fast forward.  The 40D has been replaced with the 60D.  I’ve been to many air shows and other aviation related events and practiced.  My results have been improving and overall I’m pleased, both with my equipment and my technique.  The 60D is perfectly capable of air show photography, within it’s limitations (and mine).

What limitations?  Another good question!  I’ve shot alongside some very talented photographers, and some high dollar equipment.  Hopefully this doesn’t come across as gear envy because I certainly don’t mean it that way.  But being a guy that likes gear (yes, I still do believe that it’s the photographer that makes the photo), I can’t help but notice some of the differences.  It doesn’t really matter what the other guy is using (usually a high dollar Canon or Nikon), I can just tell that they may not have the same limitations with their equipment as I do with mine.  I’m ok with the limitations and try to work within them (just like I do when I use my E-M5).

The Canon 60D isn’t quite obsolete yet.  It is still being sold in many camera stores such as B&H and Adorama.  It is however, at least a few years old now and a generation behind in technology.  Does that mean it can’t be used anymore and it’s time to upgrade?  I’d have to say no!  While the processor and sensor aren’t the latest and greatest, I find the image quality to be more than acceptable.  The 60D has a great auto focus system (phase detection) and in AI Servo mode, does a very good job of tracking a subject.  There aren’t as many focus points available as in the newer models, but I tend to keep mine on the center points anyway.  I’d say the biggest limitation is the frame rate (fps).  The 60D tops out at 5.5 fps.  For fast action photography, that’s on the slow side.  In fact, when the action is really heavy, I’ve missed some shots during peak times because it happened in-between frames.  It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen.  Knowing this and working with this particular limitation means that I need to anticipate the action a little more, and time my shots better.

I’ve been told that my 60D is more of a landscape camera than an action camera.  That may or may not be true.  I’ve used it for Little League games, auto racing, and yes, landscapes.  I think of it more as a very versatile tool, able to be used for more than just special situations.  The same thing goes for one of my main lenses, a Tamron 200-500.  I love the reach of this very large lens, but it is also slow.  It takes it a while to lock focus, especially if it starts hunting back and forth.  Sometimes I’ll switch it to manual and dial it in just to get it back in the game.  Is there a remedy for this?  Probably not with this lens.  I think I’m going to rent a Canon “L” lens for the next air show.  I actually had an “L” lens in the past and there is a difference.  The “L” lens is quiet and lighting fast in comparison to my Tamron.

To sum it up, I’d like to say that both my Canon 60D and my Olympus E-M5 may not be the best tools available for what I am using them for, but they aren’t the worst either.  Each one has its strengths and weaknesses, like all cameras.  To be successful you need to know your equipment and work within its limitations.  If you’re wondering what you may be missing by not having the latest and greatest, then consider renting.  If you can afford to chase technology or want the latest/greatest, then by all means go for it!  For me at least, I’m going to work with what I have.

Here are some of the results from my last air show using my 60D at the LA County Air Show.

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

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!

 

 

It’s New Camera Time!

Uh-Oh!  I did it again!  Another new camera is on the way.  This time I’m adding the Panasonic GX-1, Micro Four Thirds (M 4/3) to the stable.

Panasonic GX-1

I know, I really didn’t need another camera.  And I actually wasn’t in the market for one, well at least not actively in the market (I’m always looking at camera-porn).  The problem is that this one kept popping up on various websites and in Twitter as the “Deal of the Day”.  It seemed like the price kept dropping every day.  I’ve seen this before, a camera company will work to clear out all of the old model prior to the introduction of the latest and greatest.  This is usually the time to score, and that’s why I went for it!

This Panasonic will work well with my existing M 4/3 gear.  I already have the wonderful Olympus E-P3, and an Olympus 14-42mm lens, along with a Panasonic 45-200mm lens.  Olympus and Panasonic M 4/3 lenses are interchangeable, without the need for an adaptor.  So, I’ll be able to use either one of my current lenses with this GX-1 body.

The GX-1 is considered one of the “Premium” cameras in Panasonic’s lineup.  There are quite a few features that have really got me interested including:

  • 16-mp sensor
  • High speed signal processing with 3 CPU’s and Venus Engine
  • 12800 High ISO capability
  • Built in flash
  • Touch control
  • Lots of button customizing

I got the camera from one of my favorite camera stores – Adorama.  When I saw the original “Deal of the Day”, it was $249.  I picked mine up for $239, and when I just checked it was back up to $249.  This is for the body only, it’s $399 if you want it with a lens.

Are there any negatives to this type of camera (interchangeable lens compact, M 4/3)?  To be honest – yes!  I wouldn’t want to be mis-leading, and as much as I love my Sony NEX3, and Olympus E-P3 they aren’t for everyone.  The biggest problem I have with them is the fact that they are definitely not for anything that moves fast!  That could be race cars, airplanes, or kids running up and down the soccer field.  Are the exceptions, yes!  But you have to work harder at setting the camera, and the conditions need to be just right.  You can’t just put it on automatic and start shooting.  If fast action is your thing, do yourself a favor, bite the bullet and buy a DSLR like the Canon T5i or the Nikon D5200.If you want something smaller and lighter, with great picture quality then go for a camera like the Panasonic GX-1 or the Olympus.  Fuji also makes some wonderful cameras in this category as does Sony.  While I’ll always have my big Canon gear, it will see much less use than my M 4/3 gear.  

That’s it for now.  I’ve already got my next post in mind.  It will be my review of the Panasonic GX-1.  Maybe I’ll compare it to my Olympus E-P3.  It might even be fun to compare it to my Sony F-707.  Until next time – Happy Shooting!