Q: I read your review of the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II and its ability to shoot high-speed sports. Unfortunately, as much as I would like to have one, its $1,999 price tag is far outside my budget.
I do have Olympus' affordable EM-10 Mark II camera, and I like it a lot, but I am having trouble getting sharp sports images. Can you give me any advice to improve my results?
A: Start by setting your camera to the sport scene mode (SCN), and then borrow a technique used by professional sports photographers: Before the action takes place, pre-focus on the most likely spot for it to occur. (Granted, this is easier with, say, baseball, where you know you can focus on the batter's box than with a sport like soccer.)
Set the camera on its highest speed (8.5 frames per second, in your case) and press the button as the players approach the area. High shutter speeds are a must. If you are not getting at least 1/500 second turn up the ISO. A speed of 1/1000 or 1/2000 is even better. Try to keep the ISO at 800 or under, but don't be afraid to go up to ISO 1600 if necessary. If you don't crop too tightly when you take the image, you can use software later to get more dramatic images cut from the larger frame.
Your camera also has a continuous autofocus tracking mode (C-AF+TR), although it does not perform in the same league as the E-M1 Mark II. Don't be afraid to experiment. The beauty of digital is you don't pay for each frame like you do with film, and you get instant feedback by looking at your images on the screen.
The athletes on the field have spent a lot of time practicing; do the same with your photography.
Also keep in mind that the new cameras of today are the used cameras of tomorrow, so even if you can't afford an EM-1 Mark II now, that likely won't be the case forever. This has always been true, of course, but prices are changing much faster than they used to.
Back in the film days, the best cameras often held their value, and some even appreciated over time. People bought something like a Hasselblad or a Leica M rangefinder intending to use it for years, if not for a lifetime.
But digital cameras are a lot like computers and cellphones, where technology is advancing quickly and causing a steep rate of depreciation. Though these older cameras take the same excellent pictures they did when they were new, some people always want the latest and greatest.
Using Olympus as an example, their first digital Micro Four Thirds camera was the PEN E-P1, one of my all-time favorites and still very good for taking photographs, although its video has focusing and low-light limitations.
An E-P1 kit with lens was $799 when it was introduced in 2009. Today, you can get a body with battery and charger for as little as $88. Add a new 14-42 kit lens (often on sale for $99), and you have a first-class setup for not a lot of money.
So somewhere down the road, you probably will be able to pick up an E-M1 Mark II at a very affordable price. It won't be as good as the future Mark III or IV or whatever version we're up to by then, but it still will do everything it can do today.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.