Mirrorless cant shoot Sport or action…. (yeah right)


I made a monumental decision about my photography earlier in the year.  I ditched my DSLR system for a Mirrorless System Camera, specifically the Olympus OM-D E-M1 , when i told a few friends who shoot the same style of photography as me that i was going mirrorless, most of them laughed at me and told me id be unhappy with it and going back to a DSLR inside 3 months.

Well, 3 months is now up, and im not going anywhere, I LOVE my OM-D… let me say it again, i LOVE my OM-D!

First things first, let me explain, i shoot sports mainly, with field hockey, the odd game of football (soccer the north americans), motorsport and aviation.  All my friends who shoot the same things as i do, all use DSLR cameras, a couple have even recently upgraded to bodies that are full pro spec and shoot at wickedly fast frame rates, but in saying that, they have also spent a BIG chunk of $$$ doing so.

Why mirrorless i hear you ask, well, ive shot SLR cameras for the best part of 20 years, and they have been my choice since i was a teenager,but years of playing sports have taken a toll on my body, i have back problems and a shoulder problem, so carrying a Pro level DSLR camera with 300mm plus focal length lenses, wide angles, flashes etc etc for a full day on mountain bikes chasing rally cars through forrests, or on airfields at airshows put a big strain on the shoulder and back, my doctor recommended give up photography (i nearly had a cardiac event at him mentioning that) or find lighter gear.  There is no way i will give up taking photos, so lighter gear it had to be.  Thankfully, at around the same time, Olympus had announced the OM-D E-M1 flagship camera.   Reading the specs it looked like what i needed,  the decision was confirmed after my visiting Olympus rep handed me his one with a 4/3 lens attached and it just felt right..

So after a couple of months saving some money i Bought the E-M1, with HLD-7 battery grip,  m.zuiko 12-50mm & 75-300mm lenses, FL600 flash.  Compared to my old Sony DSLR kit, i halved the weight in my camera bag, with the a better coverage of 35mm focal lengths. My old bag had a 35mm equivalent focal range of 28-300mm, my new kit has an equivalent range of 24-600mm.

A couple of my friends wondered why did i not buy a Sony E mount camera, my answer was simple, the E mount cameras dont have lenses beyond 200mm, and they don’t cope with fast sports very well.

My first action covered with the OM-D was some surfing at a local spot, and it was easy, the only problems i encountered were user created, and after figuring out what i was doing badly, no problems.

10325217_10152336280043926_3364062975974748334_nUnfortunately my HDD wit1509319_10152315102483926_1024924350192653453_nh the images from the first 2 or 3 trips with the camera died and so far i havent been able to recover it.  The next couple of trips to test out the camera were busts on the action front due to things like weather not letting airplanes fly.

The biggest test so far for the camera was 3 days shooting at an airshow, and again the only problems were user driven as i am still customizing the camera to my ways of shooting. But on the overall scale, the OM-D copes amazingly well with fast moving subjects like jet fighters.

The Continuous AF system is first class, thanks in a huge part to the 81 point system that can be set to all points, some points or single points.  Me i found running it using the central 9 points worked the best at the airshow, combine it with the telephoto lens using the Olympus MSC motors kept up with the fastest jets.


F4U Corsair

Ive shot some field hockey over the weekend too, and not a problem with that too.So for those who say mirrorless are not as good as a DSLR….  to quote the local tui brewery ads  Mirrorless cant shoot sport… Yeah Right



9 Responses to “Mirrorless cant shoot Sport or action…. (yeah right)”

  1. 1 Mark

    Be interested if you have done the firmware 3.0 upgrade and if it has made a substantial improvement for action shooting.

    • Hi Mark, I have done the v3.0 firmware upgrade, I plan on shooting some sport over the coming weekend to test the CAF upgrades so i should be able to update things over the next week or so.

    • Hiya Mark, I have done the v3.0 firmware upgrade and it has made an improvement when shooting action, the camera just seems to get a better lock on with less hunting. I havent got a 40-150mm pro which seems to have the best improvement with the v3.0 update

      • Good to hear your mastery of the camera. I recently got the 40-150 and the 1.4 converter – a dream set of glass, and the winter rain doesn’t stop the shooting either.

      • Cheers Mark, The 40-150mm f2.8 is a lovely lens, though for what i would be using the focal range for i am pretty tempted by the Panasonic X 35-100mm f2.8

  2. 6 Brian

    Thanks for the article. I’m in the market for a new camera. I have been using a Sony a300 for quite some time. I mainly shoot sports/kids and air shows when I can. I was considering the Nikon d5500 or the Em-1. Have you had much luck with continuous autofocus with indoor sports? The d5500 seems to do well in lower light from what I read. I shoot a lot at my kids soccer games, not inside and out.

    • Hi Brian, The E-M1 i have had absolutely no problems with shooting in low light, i recently photographed a field hockey game at near on midnight using the Oly 40-150mm f2.8 pro lens wide open at 2.8 and ISO 6400 and still managed to get around 1/125th of a second shutter speed.

  3. 8 Brian

    I could of been more clear, I am looking for a camera that can shoot decent indoors and outdoors for sports like kids soccer/volleyball/basketball…in reading, the d5500 seemed to handle that pretty well and excelled in low light but I like the idea of the smaller format Em-1

    • Hi Brian, My apologies for the slow reply, i have only just seen your comments.
      Thats a tough one really, i dont shoot a lot of indoor sports myself, but from what i have experienced, the E-M1 would be ok indoors with a fast lens such as the Olympus m.Zuiko PRO 50-150mm f2.8 would be a good choice inside with its large aperture to let enough light through to the sensor and AF system.
      I have shot my E-M1 outdoors at night on floodlit sports fields and not had many problems

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