2 Guys Photo followers know that Ed and I have gone ga ga for mirrorless cameras, having moved over completely from traditional digital SLRs, Ed more recently to the Sony NEX system and me shifting between the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Fujifilm X-E1. All of these compact system cameras have their respective pros and cons but in a word, we like. We like a lot.
In my case, my days of shooting action are behind me. The deficiencies of the mirrorless systems in terms of focus tracking, particularly in low light situations, was something I was willing to contend with. Or so I thought.
About a week and a half ago, I had an opportunity to shoot images of friends in an iconic bar. Last weekend, I photographed a ballroom dance competition, complete with alternating light conditions and fast motion. Quite simply put: yikes! Total keepers from both shoots? Zero from the bar, about ten from the competition (out of maybe 250 attempts).
Read on for the gory details.
If you’re thinking, my that’s not a very good photo… exactly. The OM-D E-M5 is described by the marketing execs at Olympus as having the “world’s fastest autofocus”. That may be true as long as the light is bright and nothing is moving. As a landscape photographer, that generally works. On the day of the dance competition, however, the camera struggled mightily to snap onto the moving dancers. Additionally, the smaller size of the micro-4/3 sensor reared its ugly head as shots taken up near ISO 3200 were particularly grainy. Keeping the ISO low necessitated using slower shutter speeds which is an obvious no no for moving subjects.
A few days before, I had the X-E1 in the bar and had wanted to grab some portrait shots (a major personal photographic focus nowadays). The X-E1 does much better in lower light in terms of sensor noise, but the AF struggled. The motor in the lens grinded back and forth and back and forth and I walked away without any decent shots. Sure, I could have used manual focus but even that was a struggle. It ruined my ability to grab the spontaneous shots as each time I saw the smile, the glance worth capturing, my attempt to focus left the moment in the dust.
Either of these two experiences might have left me without the nagging sense that having a proper DSLR in the arsenal makes good sense, but both taking place together, just a few days apart?