Hot Dog Photography with the Olympus OM-D by Bob Patefield

Hey Steve.

I love to shoot my dogs in action and until now I’ve always used the Nikon D3. Lately, the D3 has been gathering dust as I’ve been enjoying street photography using smaller cameras, namely the Lumix GF1 and now the Olympus EM-5.
I’ve has the Olympus for 2 weeks now and today I had the opportunity to try some dog action shots with my favourite Supermodels Molly & Fudge. Molly & Fudge are small whippets who can run at 35 mph flat-out, so they take some catching. I wasn’t expecting the results to be much good, but I have to say I’m blown away with what this little camera can do. The light was pretty bad so I bumped the ISO up to 640. With hindsight I should have gone a little higher for a bit more shutter speed, but I think the results were pretty good for a first attempt. I set the image stabilisation to horizontal panning and the aperture at F/5.6. I was using the Olympus 45mm F/1.8.
Hope you like them.
Best wishes.
Bob

54 Comments

  1. Hi Bob, thanks for your shots! I think that the slight blur in a couple of your shots really conveys that these dogs are fast, and definitely adds impact to the images that wouldn’t be there if they had been caught in crisp detail. Otherwise, they could simply be doing a little hop and we’d be none the wiser.

    I really do love the explosive energy conveyed by the pictures and can just imagine being there and seeing it myself. Well done!

    Mark

  2. A quick update.
    I tried some more shots, this time using the tracking continual autofocus with some head on shots and some wide angle panning shots. Whilst I would get better results generally from the D3, I was still very surprised by how good this little camera did. I’m sure it will take time to learn how to get the best from it. I think for most action situations where the object moving is larger and perhaps a bit slower, say a runner, the results should be quite consistant and more than acceptable. You can see the latest shots, mixed in with a few of a cat taken with the Olympus 12mm that landed yesterday (great lens). The action shots were taken with the Olympus 45mm and the Lumix 14mm.
    Start here http://500px.com/photo/9681491 and use the filmstrip on the right to navigate to the next picture.
    Regards
    Bob

  3. i read a lot of article about how good is the olympus OMD camera, i thought the camera is only good at shooting static object but your picture demonstrate that the camera focus speed is fast enough to handle motion shoot, awesome!

    • hey, it is at least better than my D7000 and my exK5 for low light and action, it just cannot beat the pro Nikon/Canon D4 /D800/5D3/1DX AF but beats almost all others.

      just try it yourself and see how good its AF system really is, I bet you get positively surprised.

  4. Like them all, Bob, with #3 the real standout, IMHO. To pharaphrase Devo: “Whippet good.” I have the same camera and lens but sadly, a dog with a nanosecond attention span so no ball chasing for her. If I could throw squirrels I’d be golden.

    Cheers,

    Rick

    • Hi Rik.
      Thanks for the kind words. My other half throws the ball so I can shoot, but one of the dogs (Fudge) always brings the ball back to me and drops it at my feet. I then throw the ball back to the official ball thrower, only for Fudge to get it first and bring it back to me. Doh! Most frustrating and I get slobber on the camera.
      I did a video using the Devo track here….. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBEehA2PWZ0
      Cheers
      Bob

    • I recently took a similar (albeit soft) jab at Steve on a previous post when backing up another person’s claim that many of the pictures posted here look like he (Steve) did the PP work. And Steve of course made it very clear that he does not tell people how to PP, or even whether to submit B/W versus Color. I replied that because he has certain tastes, there would naturally be a tendency for things posted to be of a style that he likes. It only makes sense that things he prefers are what gets posted.

      After coming across your comment, I thought I’d have a look at just how much more common B/W is to Color on Steve’s site. So I made a count of the previous six or so pages of posts. (very scientific!)… here are the results:

      1. Virtually all of Steve’s comparisons and news posts are in COLOR.
      2. Guest Articles lean slightly toward B/W, but not by much. I counted 14 B/W to 11 Color.
      3. Daily Inspirations lean HEAVILY to B/W. The last 7 have been B/W. Out of the most recent 15, only 4 have been color.

      So ultimately, if you’re writing an article like this one about the dogs, you can go Color or B/W – doesn’t matter, really. If you’re submitting a daily inspiration, it seems B/W is what has the best chance of making the cut.

      But to be statistically accurate – and fair – we’d have to know how many of the SUBMISSIONS are B/W versus Color. If the submissions are heavily in favor of B/W, it’s hard to fault Steve for posting an accurate reflection of what is submitted. Maybe B/W shooters like this site the most, and contribute the most.

      Only Steve would know…

  5. I like Bob’s images. BUt I feel that the camera is there and is crying for some new Nano coated affordable lenses. If any thing I feel Olympus should read this conviction to their product and communicate with this shooter. Good going Bob, and show us some street shooting. In fact Steve Huff should have a street photography competition for Olympus and Nikon1 V1.” Shoot out at high noon”. ONly owners of the two cameras can submit 8 images. Cheers

  6. I have my OM-D since 1 month. Still have to tell my loving wife I bought it while we are running short of money to organize the wedding. These shots show again what a wonderful tool it really is!

  7. Hi, great pics! I too just recently purchased this camera and abs love it! I’m amazed at the quality and pure “funness” of using it.

  8. Great results , considering that all the big review sites claiming that this is precisely the aspect in which the OMD fails ,ie. sports shots and fast action.Can you tell us the PASM , AF,IBIS,FOCUS TRACKING settings?

    • These results are great, but they don’t really do a lot to tell us what the E-M5 can do vs a more traditional DSLR. I can get great single action shots with my E-M5, and even with my GH1, but I have trouble getting good sequences of shots (where you need to be able to track action), where each one is framed properly and in focus. If I shoot the same scene with my GH1 and my old Canon 40D I will get considerably more keepers with the Canon.

      I don’t say this to rip the E-M5 — I am very happy with it, I just don’t think it is quite ready for prime time as an action shooter for folks who are used to using a DSLR for that purpose.

      • Agreed Dean. I’d have more keepers with the D3, but I’ve only had the Oly for 2 weeks. I’ve yet to see what it can really do, but I was very surprised to get these results at all.
        Cheers
        B

      • actually the EM5 has better AF than most of DSLRs I have used (including the D700, the D800, the 5D2 , the D7000, the 50D , the A77,etc), it really has it.

        it can shoot in extreme low light and no problem with focusing.
        when I first used it for my usual night walk with my dog (not as good or smart as his),I was shocked how good it AF might be, it may not be better than the AF in the D800 but it beats all my other cameras in low light.

        also , it is important to note for event or concert it is very important to have some kind of tiltable LCD ,to shoot from above my head angle, with great contrast detect AF , so I think this tiny camera might bet the best street , event camera ever made and it looks cheap so that no one really try to steal it or beat me. imagine what would happen to us if we shoot a Leica or a huge Nikon or Canon FF in a bad area of a big city?

        but all above being said , I just wish some day NEX gets this kind of IBIS+ this fast AF system since I much prefer UIF of my NEX7 and ergonomics of it to that of my EM5.
        anyway, I think the DSLRs are rapidly losing thier place and becoming things of the past.

    • What these shots show is how one deals with the limitations of AF-C on mirrorless cameras. These images could be captured by any camera with reasonable short shutter lag. In every single one, the subject is moving parallel to the plan of focus or is almost stationary. That’s pretty easy for any AF camera.

      The challenge, and where m43 still falls short, is with subjects moving towards or away from the camera, especially when shooting in burst mode or trying to precisely time the shutter release. Try shooting a track event, with half a dozen athletes running at top speed straight towards the camera. In burst mode, my DSLR captures more than twice as many shots while my m43 is struggling to focus in-between shots. The DSLR provides a larger percentage of in-focus shots, too. Same deal shooting auto racing.

      Yes, you can shoot the runners and cars moving parallel to you, like in photos 2 and 4 above, but a good DSLR simply provides more options when shooting action.

      I love my m43 gear, and use it far more than my DSLR, but pretending it doesn’t have problems with C-AF is denying reality.

      • Hi Bob.

        True that they are moving parallel, but the dogs are moving really fast. Here’s a video……

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOY7tsUoLBQ

        Of course a DSLR will do better in most action situations. I’ve yet to try head on shots. The dogs get tired within half an hour so opportunities are limited. I’ll report back when I’ve had a chance to try it.

        Cheers
        Bob

      • Bob 2 ? , from the look of these shots there ARE no problems.The fact that your family car can’t accelerate as fast as a Ferrari isn’t a limitation as you put it. There have been fantastic action photos taken throughout history long before before the introduction of autofocus in cameras and no one seemed to be limited or thought they had problems. Everyone seems obsessed by comparing one camera to another, this one is faster, this one has better low noise.
        SO WHAT? These are great shots, And they were taken on an OMD so who really cares if a DSLR is faster? I’d be perfectly happy to have taken these shots. No way would I be thinking..if I only had a DSLR.

        • By the way, since we are all so concerned about which is faster, I’ll bet those dogs are faster than a DSLR!

          • and eM5 is fster than all DSLRs because it literally has no shutter lag.
            the mirror makes it much slower and louder so that we can not use a FF DSRL for a concert or live or as such.

  9. Congratulations, Great results! how did you setup the af? single, continious or af-tracking with 9 or 4 frames/sec?

  10. Why not a wider aperture ? (say 2.8, for instance)

    The shots you’re showing seem to have the focus spot-on so I can’t see a reason not to trust the AF keeping up with the action and therefor using narrower aperture and larger dof.

    • Hi Cosmin.
      I’m a bit confused by your post. You seem to be saying to use a wider aperture and a smaller one as well. I used F/5.6 as a middle ground and there were plenty of missed focus shots. That would have been the case with the D3 also as these dogs are very small and move very fast. More DOF would be great, but I wanted to keep to as low an ISO as possible. I’ll certainly be trying some wider aperture shots in future.
      Regards
      Bob

  11. Great captures!
    On the other hand I had to smile about the title of this post… one could expect some NY street photography including sausages. 🙂

    • Thanks Elmar. My aim was to confuse when I set up Hot Dog Photography. Sorry if you were looking forwards to a nice picture of a BIG WEENIE : )

      Regards
      Bob

  12. Some very nice images, especially 3 and 5. Well captured, I think your experience with fast SLR’s may be the key but the Olympus is obviously very capable in this genre!

  13. Fun shots! Like the third one especially; your dog absolutely knows where the ball is going to be.

    Question for you as I’m just getting into ‘moving targets’ instead of landscapes: what auto focus settings were you using? Did you half press the shutter first or just press the shutter all the way down hoping it had time to focus as you panned and took the shot?

    • Hi Sheena.

      On this occasion I used S-AF as I was shooting the dogs side on. I locked on focus when the dogs were close to 90 degrees from me and the I’d take a short burst of shots at 9 FPS. I hope to do some more where I will try other settings……if it ever stops raining : (

      Best wishes.
      Bob

  14. Please tell me moré about this litle camera, i want to upgrade my gf1 i hace 6 lentes already but This camera is way to expensive against nikon chep dslr. Between The fujix100 and The d800 i never use The gf1. But sometimos The nikon sistema is just to heavy.

    Greg

    • I love the OMD, I use a Nikon D3s for work and a M9 for candid shoots. For walking around I’ve run the gamut EP-2, GF1, NEX-7, NEX-N and now OMD. I would say the OMD falls in between the Nikon and the GF1. I carry a camera with me 99% of the time, there are times when I don’t want carry a big DSLR and want to be lazy and auto-focus, at the same time maintain some level of image quality. The OMD provides all that and more. The more I use the camera the more I’m pleasantly surprised at it’s image quality and low light performance. Another huge plus is the in body image stabilization, something that I think more people should value. With the help of 3rd party adapters I can literally mount any lens on the OMD and the in body image stabilization ensures steady shots in most situations. This is key especially when you mount any manual lens over 50mm on M4/3, as it roughly equates to 95mm or longer. One feature that has actually made this camera part of my work equipment list is the whisper quiet shutter, coupled that with the black body, the OMD makes for a perfect live event or street shooter, where discretion is required. Finally, if you have small or medium sized hands the OMD (with the batter grip) is a dream to shoot with, I equate the feel to driving a Mini Cooper, the handling is tight.

      All that being said, I’m also discovering that with the added battery/grip, the weather proofed casing, and depending on what lens you have mounted, the weight of the OMD can equal that of a Nikon D700 or D800. Something to keep in mind if weight is an issue. But the camera’s diminutive size balances it out slightly.

      I would say the OMD would be a great replacement for the GF1 (especially if you’ve already invested in M4/3 lenses). The in-body 5 axis IS and low light performance really makes it for me. Think of it as the Nikon’s younger but tough brother.

      • Thanks for answering Greg’s Questions Derek. You did a way better job than I would have and I agree with all you said.
        Cheers
        Bob

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