Having now shot the Olympus OMD EM1 at numerous cycling events I thought I would share some impressions. Every time I write stuff like this I recognize that others may have different experiences. This is my experience coming from years of shooting cycling with a Nikon D700. I am also no pro and I am still learning the deep EM1 menus and functions. My primary lenses are the 12-40 pro m43, the 50-200 SWD 4/3 and the incredible Oly 35-100 SHG 4/3 zoom.
Overall I am super pleased with my results. I really like many of the images. If I solely went by the images I have captured it would appear I am very happy. It is true I am happy but for some of my events the EM1 camera is not ideal for super fast paced events like pro cyclocross racing. The one thing missing for me is the quick lock on and the tenacity to lock focus if it misses (like my old Nikon had). As a result, I am adapting my style quite a bit.
The primary change for me is shooting mostly in manual focus mode. I am experimenting with focus peaking, sometimes with just my eyes , sometimes with magnification and sometimes with both peaking and magnification. It all depends on the scene and how much time I had between shots. For several of the shots below I would prefocus with magnification and focus peaking and wait for the shot.
Learning to shoot moving sports in manual focus is a nice skill to learn. Shooting in manual improves your ability to predict shots. It makes you think more. I have also thrown out more out of focus shots than ever before. I am happy about learning this skill and certainly am improving and getting some great shots. I just have not been gettting as many keepers as when I shoot full auto, continuous focus with tracking on my Nikon D700. While I didn't expect the EM1 to perform the same as the D700, one of the best focus systems available, I did hope it would perform a bit better. It certainly works better than any other m43 camera to date but it has a long way to go to compete with the top Canon and Nikon systems. Again, this is not a surprise.
There are two things that would really make manual focus better on the EM1. The first being more accurate focus peaking. I have tried both settings/strengths and neither are perfect. I often ended up racking the focus back and forth to see the peaking zone of the most dense focus peaking and trying to place the subject in the middle of that. The second thing would be to offer color selection (if they do and it's buried in some menu option please leave a comment and point me to it. ). This would allow me to change the color depending on what I am shooting and the levels of contrast. It would help me see.
While things are not perfect, I am pleased enough with the results to keep going forward with this project of committing to the EM1 for all my shooting. So with that, let me share some results. Only the last image was shot using autofocus. So far, so good.
Please ignore the dust spots in this image....I edited on my iPad on the plane. It is a reality of shooting an event and changing lenses often.