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09-22-2016, 09:18 PM - 1 Like   #1
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K-3 vs E-M1 (Mk I) - tracking AF

Hi all,

did anyone compare these cameras in sports/wildlife? It would be non-professional sporting events, dogs, maybe an occasional bear in a national park.

I never take pictures of moving subjects, frankly because I never had a camera that was capable of doing so. I did some sports photography in college with a Nikon D2hs + 70-200 + 400mm F2.8 and I remember it being a lot easier than on the K-3 or the Four-thirds bodies. On pentax I ended up shooting a college soccer game with a manual focus lens and zone focusing, which worked ok with maybe 40% keeper rate.

Extended context:
I think my skills in sports and wildlife lag behind landscapes and I would like to expand my skill set. I might be limited by the tracking AF, however. I carry two systems, MFT and Pentax APS-C. I do street photos, portraits and casual landscapes on Olympus E-Pm2, and I use the K-3 whenever I need to get the best image quality and where I don't mind playing with RAW, mostly landscapes. I found pentax to be not the best when it comes to AF accuracy at large apertures (on Sigma 50-150 F2.8, 50mm F1.4 FA, 50mm DA F1.8) and I found the tracking AF to be somewhat mediocre. I am thinking of either upgrading the MFT system to E-M1, or getting an older canon/nikon body (D300, 1D Mk II) for tracking AF, perhaps better AF accuracy. E-M1 can use very good and inexpensive lenses, in particular a 50-200 F2.8-3.5, 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 and 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, so that's a major pro. Olympus has a very good JPG engine. I will end up with an E-M1 Mk II sooner or later, because it looks like it's going to be an excellent camera. Or maybe I should just abandon sports/wildlife since they take a lot of time and get an A7 or a K-1 instead after saving up a few more months.

Regarding shooting style, Pentax shots:
Landscapes:
Spring in california by Jerzy Szablowski - Photo 148982503 / 500px
Orange and teal by Jerzy Szablowski - Photo 153106941 / 500px
Good way to get your feet wet by Jerzy Szablowski - Photo 107413423 / 500px
Crystal cove, sunset by Jerzy Szablowski - Photo 158865665 / 500px
Venice Fishing Pier by Jerzy Szablowski - Photo 96548963 / 500px

Sports, critters:
Closing window of opportunity by Jerzy Szablowski - Photo 103211347 / 500px
Predicament by Jerzy Szablowski - Photo 161322093 / 500px

And FT shots:
Landscapes with less quality:
Ying and Yang by Jerzy Szablowski - Photo 153513715 / 500px

Street:
Equality by Jerzy Szablowski - Photo 75104673 / 500px

critters:
Negative space by Jerzy Szablowski - Photo 88352253 / 500px
King of the hill by Jerzy Szablowski - Photo 45244690 / 500px


Last edited by rrstuff; 09-22-2016 at 09:26 PM.
09-22-2016, 10:00 PM   #2
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Your Pentax shots are excellent.
09-22-2016, 11:07 PM   #3
Tas
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QuoteOriginally posted by rrstuff Quote
I never take pictures of moving subjects, frankly because I never had a camera that was capable of doing so.
I'm sorry I can't compare the two system syou're referring to, but I think a few people around here will dispute this point.

There's plenty of Pentax AF discussions around here as you probably already know but suffice it to say most people will acknowledge the advantage that Canon/Nikon have in this aspect. Don't assume though that having either will make you better at capturing moving subjects. I suspect your error rate would drop by buying into one of those systems, but not by a lot if your technique doesn't improve to get the best out of the kit.

There's also a lot of people doing birding with Pentax cameras in the forums. To me birds in flight are probably one of hardest moving subject to capture well on a regular basis. Yet there are Pentaxians doing that.

I post in this thread https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/38-photographic-technique/275291-sports-p...le-images.html along with a number of other forum members. If there was a big focus on sports in the Pentax world it would probably be a much busier thread. But you won't find people saying you can't do sports/action photos with Pentax, they just use what they have.

I plan to rent a Nikon D500 at some stage as I'd like to do a back to back with the K-1 for sports shooting. I won't be buying one, I'm just curious and want to know what it's like to shoot with the benchmark camera for sports/action photography as of 2016. Of course it's a moot point in the end as I'll be sticking with the K-1 and making the most of what I can do with it for sports/action images. My reasoning is because my main preference is landscapes and I'd much rather have an excellent camera for that role, even if there's better out there for moving targets. I do have a higher than 40% keeper rate with the K-1, maybe ranging between a lowest of 60% to a highest of 85%. I would have to declare though that at least 50% of the losses are tecnique not the camera. This is my folder for sports/action images on Flickr if you're interested: Action, Sports, Motorsports & Events | Flickr I'd recommend clicking on the expanding arrows in the top right then pressing F11 to see the details the K-1 can capture. And if the K-1 is on the table as an option I'd have to say that unlike the K7 and K5, I only shoot manual with it when I'm mounting a manual focus lens. The AF may not be the fastest out there, but it is the best Pentax has and it is good. It even works great for AF confirmation with manual lenses.

Looking at your images I'd have to say you have some really good shots there and those bird images look really good. No one makes bad cameras anymore, no system is perfect and no camera is the best for everything. Whichever way you go I just hope you find what you're looking for.

Good luck mate.

Tas
09-23-2016, 01:54 AM   #4
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Well, at the scientific level the M43s will have an advantage due to the smaller sensor size and therefore narrower depth if field.

The K3 and E-M1 are what I call all rounders. They can do everything but won't be the the best some things.

I shoot sports in earnest once a year at the Australian Open tennis. For infrequent sports use I categorize the K3 as good enough. For dedicated sports use, not really.

09-23-2016, 01:49 PM   #5
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Pentax AF isn't up to the same standards as other manufactures. I understand Micro 43 systems are quite good. The new EM-1 mkII is supposed to be amazing.

I think we all know the weakness of M43 sensors in low light. But the new crop of cameras seems to promise wonderful results. I have high hopes for the system and tip my hat to its advantages.

If money isn't an object, go for one of the newer M43 camera coming out, buy solid lens for the job you need it to do and get going. Don't need to get a full kit yet unless you have the money or are considering switching primary kits.
09-23-2016, 01:57 PM   #6
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Your Pentax shots are excellent.
Thank you. Much appreciated.

---------- Post added 09-23-16 at 02:04 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Tas Quote
I plan to rent a Nikon D500 at some stage as I'd like to do a back to back with the K-1 for sports shooting. I won't be buying one, I'm just curious and want to know what it's like to shoot with the benchmark camera for sports/action photography as of 2016.

Looking at your images I'd have to say you have some really good shots there and those bird images look really good. No one makes bad cameras anymore, no system is perfect and no camera is the best for everything. Whichever way you go I just hope you find what you're looking for.

Good luck mate.

Tas
Thank you for help and the comments. I would like to get a D300 or an E-m1 to see how much better they would be than my K-3. One of the problems is that my telephoto options are DA-L 55-300, Sigma 50-150 and an old tamron macro. Out of these only the Sigma has a decent autofocus, albeit a bit inaccurate at F2.8. I remember that an olympus E-3 with a cheap 40-150 zoom was doing a better job on moving subjects than the 55-300 and I am curious if there is a cheap combination in canon or nikon world that would be better. For aroun d1k I could buy an E-M1 and a 50-200 F2.8-3.5 which is very good optically. Probably about as good as the 60-250.

---------- Post added 09-23-16 at 02:07 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by howieb101 Quote
Well, at the scientific level the M43s will have an advantage due to the smaller sensor size and therefore narrower depth if field.

The K3 and E-M1 are what I call all rounders. They can do everything but won't be the the best some things.

I shoot sports in earnest once a year at the Australian Open tennis. For infrequent sports use I categorize the K3 as good enough. For dedicated sports use, not really.
I categorize it as mildly frustrating . But then I never had a modern top-autofocusing body, so maybe they are mildly frustrating too. The D1H and D2H I shot have few megapixels so the autofocusing was probably a lot easier on those. With photography being my hobby, the top priority is something that's fun to shoot, so I am ok if image quality is a bit worse than a modern body.

---------- Post added 09-23-16 at 02:10 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Blacknight659 Quote
Pentax AF isn't up to the same standards as other manufactures. I understand Micro 43 systems are quite good. The new EM-1 mkII is supposed to be amazing.

I think we all know the weakness of M43 sensors in low light. But the new crop of cameras seems to promise wonderful results. I have high hopes for the system and tip my hat to its advantages.

If money isn't an object, go for one of the newer M43 camera coming out, buy solid lens for the job you need it to do and get going. Don't need to get a full kit yet unless you have the money or are considering switching primary kits.
That's what everyone says... I would really love to compare it side-by side with a good performer. I wonder if for example a Nikon D300, which everyone raved about a few years ago is indeed better than the K-3, or did our requirements increase because of the higher megapixel counts and because of availability of 7D Mk II and the D500.

And yes the E-M1 Mk II looks amazing. I was planning on getting a Sony A7, but I might stick with the MFT for that camera. There is so much good four-thirds glass out there at reasonable prices: 35-100 F2 for $1000, 50-200 F2.8-3.5 for $350, 11-22 for $200, 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 for $100 (which is a steal).
09-23-2016, 09:21 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by rrstuff Quote
Thank you. Much appreciated.

---------- Post added 09-23-16 at 02:04 PM ----------



Thank you for help and the comments. I would like to get a D300 or an E-m1 to see how much better they would be than my K-3. One of the problems is that my telephoto options are DA-L 55-300, Sigma 50-150 and an old tamron macro. Out of these only the Sigma has a decent autofocus, albeit a bit inaccurate at F2.8. I remember that an olympus E-3 with a cheap 40-150 zoom was doing a better job on moving subjects than the 55-300 and I am curious if there is a cheap combination in canon or nikon world that would be better. For aroun d1k I could buy an E-M1 and a 50-200 F2.8-3.5 which is very good optically. Probably about as good as the 60-250.

---------- Post added 09-23-16 at 02:07 PM ----------



I categorize it as mildly frustrating . But then I never had a modern top-autofocusing body, so maybe they are mildly frustrating too. The D1H and D2H I shot have few megapixels so the autofocusing was probably a lot easier on those. With photography being my hobby, the top priority is something that's fun to shoot, so I am ok if image quality is a bit worse than a modern body.

---------- Post added 09-23-16 at 02:10 PM ----------



That's what everyone says... I would really love to compare it side-by side with a good performer. I wonder if for example a Nikon D300, which everyone raved about a few years ago is indeed better than the K-3, or did our requirements increase because of the higher megapixel counts and because of availability of 7D Mk II and the D500.

And yes the E-M1 Mk II looks amazing. I was planning on getting a Sony A7, but I might stick with the MFT for that camera. There is so much good four-thirds glass out there at reasonable prices: 35-100 F2 for $1000, 50-200 F2.8-3.5 for $350, 11-22 for $200, 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 for $100 (which is a steal).
I have shot along side the E-M1 and very amazed with how well it handled action, most of it was at the bmx track and it had a hit rate very high better than what I would expect from pentax with a very high frame rate. Where is see the E-m1 falling behind is in the shots with several targets moving within the frame. but if you are able to track the target with the camera then AF speed and accuracy is up there with very few missed shots.

Its not hard for the E-m1 to track a biker with several frame 4-6 as they come towards you in a jumping scenario and have only one OOF image

It maybe worth while seeing what the II is like
09-23-2016, 09:36 PM   #8
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Ian Stuart Forsyth Quote
I have shot along side the E-M1 and very amazed with how well it handled action, most of it was at the bmx track and it had a hit rate very high better than what I would expect from pentax with a very high frame rate. Where is see the E-m1 falling behind is in the shots with several targets moving within the frame. but if you are able to track the target with the camera then AF speed and accuracy is up there with very few missed shots.

Its not hard for the E-m1 to track a biker with several frame 4-6 as they come towards you in a jumping scenario and have only one OOF image

It maybe worth while seeing what the II is like
Thank you! I was hoping someone would have an experience with both cameras. I am assuming the E-m1 had a firmware 3.0 or newer, and you were using 6FPS?
Which lens were you using? I am thinking of getting a 50-200 F2.8-3.5, preferably without SWM, unless it's a lot better. The other ones I would be using are 17 F1.8 and 45 F1.8.

09-24-2016, 03:42 AM   #9
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I have seen the test done by Ian Burley in fourthirds-user.com when the EM1 first came out and the results were great. As a matter of fact he was using the old 4/3 12-60 with an adapter and had no miss on a horse rider moving towards the camera. I think it has better AF tracking than Pentax. I'm just talking about EM1 and not the other models.
09-24-2016, 08:02 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by rrstuff Quote
Thank you! I was hoping someone would have an experience with both cameras. I am assuming the E-m1 had a firmware 3.0 or newer, and you were using 6FPS?
Which lens were you using? I am thinking of getting a 50-200 F2.8-3.5, preferably without SWM, unless it's a lot better. The other ones I would be using are 17 F1.8 and 45 F1.8.
I have used the Em1 under limited situations ( the camera was already setup) and I just tried it to see how the tracking was. But what I have seen from 2 or 3 people shooting them beside me they are no slouch when it comes to tracking moving targets.

Following some BIF photographers on Flicker you are starting to see a lot of challenging action work being taken with the E-m1 and the lens that everyone is raving about is the 40-150 F/2.8 here is some taken by


horst someone I have been following on another forum

P8130851 | OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA | horst_h | Flickr












For a lot of conditions mirror less is nocking at the door of the DLSR
now if they can decrease the EVF lag they would have my attention.
09-24-2016, 10:28 PM   #11
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I doubt the EM1 is better than a K-3 for tracking. Many people sabotage the camera with poor AF settings. Here are my current recommendations for action with a K-3:
- TAv mode:
- Set aperture for sharpest MTF - Probably f5.6 with your Sigma 50-150 F2.8, but f4 may be OK
- Shutter speed according to conditions. I find 1/1000s works most of the time. Never go below 1/500s unless you intentionally want motion blur. Don't be afraid to push ISO. Noise is correctable, motion blur is not
AF-C, Hi-Speed continuous burst:
Center AF point, with point expansion (25-point for BIF, 9 point for sports)
Center-weighted metering, add 0.5EV compensation for BIF, fine tune in p-p
Shake reduction off

Custom Menu Parameter Settings:
16. 1st frame action in AF-C - Focus priority (make sure focus is on the target before shooting, or you'll have a string of misses)
17. Action in AF-C Continuous - Focus Priority
18. Hold AF status - Medium, bump up to High if required. IME, AF Low allows focus to drift to the background too readily.

Last edited by audiobomber; 09-25-2016 at 08:40 AM.
09-25-2016, 05:45 AM   #12
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It often depends on the lens....

I had an E-M1 and unless you use fast lenses on it, it wasn't all that for tracking for me. I tried the K3II with the 16-85mm and it is pretty damn good, at least for motorcyclists pulling stunts in reasonable light, but with the Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 it was hopeless, more the fault of the lens than the camera, it just took too long to adjust. I personally would not recommend the E-M1 for track focusing, it can be done but be prepared to pay for the best lenses to make it work effectively. I also tried the 55-300mm (not PLM) on the K3II and despite the noisy focusing it actually worked quite well, I'd expect the PLM version to be even better and behave like the 16-85mm.
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