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Best mirrorless camera for sports photography

Frank Dernie

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Not going to get into a discussion about AF systems, No AF system is 100% but used correctly it's really good. (Still no mind reader)

Deer in bushes, single point 3D AF tracking. The old D3X have a really old AF system made in 2007, better than my crappy D90 but a lot worse than the new AF systems from Nikon/Sony/Fuji/Pentax
Problem is that no AF, as far as I know, is point and shoot, but need practice and training to get it right.
Yes autofocus is brilliant for snapshots but technical skill still hasn't been entirely replaced by the technology yet. I only used the D3X as an example of viewfinder blackout btw, not autofocus. I mainly used it with manual focus and old lenses, like the 200mm f4 macro.
My Olympus OM-D E1 has pretty well instant autofocus with the modern lenses, certainly faster than I ever was manually focusing, but yes, I still have to use my knowledge to force the issue to get what I want in some situations autofocus can't deal with.
Autofocus has got better and, particularly, faster since my first autofocus camera (Canon EOS 620) but still haven't tried anything perfect for portraits with fast lenses or wildlife.
Good for landscapes and kids though.
 

mi-fu

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Haven't narrowed it down yet. Just started looking in my spare time like 48 hrs ago. I like the IBIS that Olympus and Lumix have. If you have any more specific thoughts and suggestions then spill the beans. :)
Actually I just took a look for you, I found it a bit difficult to find a good M43 choice for your need. The problem is (which I didn't realize): for M43 cameras that have good AF for sports actually are not that cheap. Models like OM EM-1 Mk II will require $1500. Panasonic G9 probably is the closest one that fits your bill, but it still needs $1200.

I know incline to M43 system, but probably Sony A6400 is still worthwhile to be considered? (The body actually is not big, but the lenses will be bulkier than M43's) :)
 

Blumlein 88

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Actually I just took a look for you, I found it a bit difficult to find a good M43 choice for your need. The problem is (which I didn't realize): for M43 cameras that have good AF for sports actually are not that cheap. Models like OM EM-1 Mk II will require $1500. Panasonic G9 probably is the closest one that fits your bill, but it still needs $1200.

I know incline to M43 system, but probably Sony A6400 is still worthwhile to be considered? (The body actually is not big, but the lenses will be bulkier than M43's) :)
Spent some time looking and see about the same thing. Maybe the OM EM 5 mkiii if it is released at the same price as the mkii.
Or maybe spring for the G9 or wait a bit and see what is released.
 

amirm

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In addition, whilst anti shake provision in cameras/lenses has been the biggest gain in photography in the digital age IMO if you want to achieve the full potential of high resolution lenses and sensors a heavy solid tripod is necessary
A tripod is enemy of creativity. It limits me hugely when I have to use it. It is also very time consuming to use, heavy to lug around, etc. High ISO and Image stabilization has allowed me to eliminate its use by a fair bit.
 

Frank Dernie

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A tripod is enemy of creativity. It limits me hugely when I have to use it. It is also very time consuming to use, heavy to lug around, etc. High ISO and Image stabilization has allowed me to eliminate its use by a fair bit.
Well yes, it is very limiting, but if you want the best technical quality, essential.
I don't often use one, but I have several. I know I am wasting the potential of my lenses and cameras when I don't, though as you write they limit spontaneity. The increased sharpness stands out massively when I do use one though, which will normally be landscapes and architectural pictures since what with wind and person movement extreme sharpness ain't going to happen anyway in many other situations.
I carry a Leica tabletop tripod and small ball head in my bag. It is small, very rigid and for interior shots and landscapes there is almost always a table or wall to put it on. They haven't made them for years but they come up used from time to time. Maybe not worth it with most zoom lenses, but with a top quality prime on a good body worth its weight in gold IME.
 

LTig

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A tripod is enemy of creativity. It limits me hugely when I have to use it. It is also very time consuming to use, heavy to lug around, etc. High ISO and Image stabilization has allowed me to eliminate its use by a fair bit.
This is true for your personality and your photographic needs, but one should not generalize here. The best landscape photographs I have taken are those taken with a tripod. There are several reasons why this is the case:
  • Better visual quality:
    • You need more time to set it up but this time is not wasted because it forces you to think about what you want to show. It improves the composition of the photograph.
    • It frees you from concentrating on too many things at once (keeping the camera straight, making sure nothing is in the frame which should not be in the picture, preventing camera shake, checking light and focus, ...).
    • It's easier to detect things which should not be in the final photograph.
  • Better technical quality:
    • You can use the aperture you want without needing to increase ISO if the exposure time gets too long.
    • The resulting photograph has the maximum possible sharpness
At the end you come back with a smaller number of photographs but the failure rate is very low.

Here is a photograph I shot in 2010 with a Nikon D200 and a Tokina AT-X 12-24 AF PRO DX @ 24 mm. Last month I had it printed at 80x60 cm and the mountains are tack sharp even when viewed at a distance of 20 cm (not the grass in the foreground though) which is excellent for 10 MP and a zoom lens.

a10_1217_1_web.jpg


Or this one, where I waited until the cloud was where I wanted it to be (D200 and Tokina 12-24 @ 12mm):

a10_2991_v2_3k.jpg


Or my "attacking transformer monster" taken with D200 and Nikkor 18-200 mm @ 27 mm, very close to sundown (I had to walk back in the dark):

a10_3009_1k.jpg
 

LTig

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Thanks for all the good information folks. I've not paid much attention to the camera worlds offerings for about 5 years. So all your input and suggestions kind of get me up to speed about where to look further. The micro 4/3 looks like what would work for me. I've three Canon lens. Pretty good, but not their top of the line stuff. So not necessarily married to something that can re-use those.
My main camera is a D800 and the longest lens is a Sigma 150-500. This thing is very heavy and difficult to handle without at least a monopod.

My "always present" camera is a Panasonic GX7 with the 1.7/20 mm fixed lens. However I got me the Panasonic/Leica 100-400 mm lens which is really good. It is not tack sharp at the very long end, but the image stabilizer is fantastic and the short distance limit of 1.3 m even at 400 mm makes it a perfect lens for taking pictures of butterflys, flowers and insects. But it's far from being a cheap lense, I payed 1700 € when it finally came into the shops (got the very first one).

Here is a demo photograph of an insect on a flower, taken at 400 mm, open aperture (f6.3), speed 1/500s @ ISO 320. It's a cut from the original file out of cam (not downsized):

a17_p1110927-cut400.jpg


Here is demo photograph of a vulture in flight, taken at 400 mm, open aperture (f6.3), 1/2000s speed @ ISO 1600. It's a cut from the original file out of cam(not downsized). You can also see the problems: I had to use a high speed due to the bird moving fast (IS doesn't help much) which costs sharpness. A bigger sensor would have been better.

a17_p1110883-cut100.jpg
 

LTig

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This is true for your personality and your photographic needs, but one should not generalize here. The best landscape photographs I have taken are those taken with a tripod. [..]
One more taken with tripod: Hommage to Elliott Erwitt (Nikon D200 with Tokina 12-24 @ 24 mm, in a museum). I had just setup the cam when the pair came into view. While waiting for them to disappear I took this photograph and, after they left, the one I had planned to take. But this one wins hands down. Just see the look of the dog - as if it's alive!

a11_4130_2-25.jpg
 
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mi-fu

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I think the most important function of using a tripod, apart from sturdiness, is that it gives you a different mindset – a much slower process which requires a lot more thinking. The problem of digital photography today is not the lack of image quality, but the lack of contemplation. It is too easy to shoot too fast, too careless, too instant. Using a tripod, hopefully, is a little bit like using large format cameras. It slows you down a little bit, giving you a bit of space to think. Most of the time, using a tripod gives different kinds of images. It is like using a different paint brush to paint.
 

amirm

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This is true for your personality and your photographic needs, but one should not generalize here. The best landscape photographs I have taken are those taken with a tripod. There are several reasons why this is the case:
  • Better visual quality:
    • You need more time to set it up but this time is not wasted because it forces you to think about what you want to show. It improves the composition of the photograph.
    • It frees you from concentrating on too many things at once (keeping the camera straight, making sure nothing is in the frame which should not be in the picture, preventing camera shake, checking light and focus, ...).
    • It's easier to detect things which should not be in the final photograph.
  • Better technical quality:
    • You can use the aperture you want without needing to increase ISO if the exposure time gets too long.
    • The resulting photograph has the maximum possible sharpness
I have shot a ton with tripods. I have I think 6 carbon fiber Gitzo tripods alone. And almost all of my wildlife shots are with tripods although I have had decent luck hand-holding my 500mm F4 lens.

On your points, with high megapixel cameras, you no longer want to stop down. The image starts to soften from F8 and on with many lenses due to diffraction.

I now have image stabilization with wide-angle zooms which renders tripods essentially moot. Here is an example in Yellowstone during winter (24-105 IS):



In the span of time it takes you to set up one shot with a tripod, I can take many, from different vantage points, shots that are impossible with tripod, etc.

And composition suffers, not improves from use of tripods. Most tripod-shots are done at eye level for example. Do away with it and it takes just a second to kneel down and take a shot at lower angle. Or collapse all the way to the ground.

Tripods also block people's paths. And in some venues like the temples in Japan are not allowed. Taking one the tulip fields around here always gets me grief from the ticket counter, with them assuming I am a "PRO" and hence need a commercial contract with them to take pictures.

They can also be dangerous. I was by the beach at the border of US and Canada (south of Vancouver) taking pictures of snowy owls. I was carrying my camera on the tripod on my shoulder when I slipped and fell flat backward into water and muck. This was in winter so not fun at all. I got my shot but I curse having to hike with a tripod:



There was a time that I could not dream of going without tripod, shooting Kodachrome 64 slides with non-IS lenses. Today, vast majority of the pictures I like to take are doable without one, giving me incredible freedom.

I am not about to sell my tripods and will take them on any serious photography trip. But more and more they get left behind in the car as I hike to the location....
 

amirm

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I think the most important function of using a tripod, apart from sturdiness, is that it gives you a different mindset – a much slower process which requires a lot more thinking. The problem of digital photography today is not the lack of image quality, but the lack of contemplation. It is too easy to shoot too fast, too careless, too instant. Using a tripod, hopefully, is a little bit like using large format cameras. It slows you down a little bit, giving you a bit of space to think. Most of the time, using a tripod gives different kinds of images. It is like using a different paint brush to paint.
Nothing stops you from stopping to think without tripod. On the other hand, A tripod adds weight and bulk which slows you down. In the precious early morning light, you have a short window to cover the target area. Setting up a tripod takes time and slows the heck out of you should you have picked the wrong spot.

Just getting them in and out of the car on location slows me down. With a camera and image stabilization, I can literally shoot out of the window. I am able to stop for a second, take my image and run. A tripod requires finding parking, taking the gear out, taking pictures, then hiking back. Again, all of this causes you to lose light.
 

maxxevv

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Tripods are not perfect but they are essential for quite a few specific photography areas.

Fireworks is one area I shoot where its impossible without a tripod. Unless you absolutely just want to try your luck. They don't come round often, so, most won't.

Night sky photography, not necessarily astrophotography, is another where tripods are fundamental.

Greater than 1X macro photography, when one has to rely on focus stacking too.
 

Blumlein 88

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I have shot a ton with tripods. I have I think 6 carbon fiber Gitzo tripods alone. And almost all of my wildlife shots are with tripods although I have had decent luck hand-holding my 500mm F4 lens.

On your points, with high megapixel cameras, you no longer want to stop down. The image starts to soften from F8 and on with many lenses due to diffraction.

I now have image stabilization with wide-angle zooms which renders tripods essentially moot. Here is an example in Yellowstone during winter (24-105 IS):



In the span of time it takes you to set up one shot with a tripod, I can take many, from different vantage points, shots that are impossible with tripod, etc.

And composition suffers, not improves from use of tripods. Most tripod-shots are done at eye level for example. Do away with it and it takes just a second to kneel down and take a shot at lower angle. Or collapse all the way to the ground.

Tripods also block people's paths. And in some venues like the temples in Japan are not allowed. Taking one the tulip fields around here always gets me grief from the ticket counter, with them assuming I am a "PRO" and hence need a commercial contract with them to take pictures.

They can also be dangerous. I was by the beach at the border of US and Canada (south of Vancouver) taking pictures of snowy owls. I was carrying my camera on the tripod on my shoulder when I slipped and fell flat backward into water and muck. This was in winter so not fun at all. I got my shot but I curse having to hike with a tripod:



There was a time that I could not dream of going without tripod, shooting Kodachrome 64 slides with non-ISO lenses. Today, vast majority of the pictures I like to take are doable without one, giving me incredible freedom.

I am not about to sell my tripods and will take them on any serious photography trip. But more and more they get left behind in the car as I hike to the location....
Assuming you used the tripod on the owl shot, it is sharper than the one without in Yellowstone. Two different photos with more distance in one than the other. Just saying..........

Obviously IS helps you not use a tripod many times. There might still be times when nothing will do better than having one. I like IS binoculars I have for looking at the night sky without a tripod or parallelogram mount.

Was helping a friend sight in a new rifle yesterday. Normally a scope on a tripod is what I'd use, but my IS bincoulars were able to do it and much handier to grab and carry with me. But if we'd moved on out with targets further away a tripod would have been needed.
 

Rja4000

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I have tripods too, and I use one when needed.
But I agree with Amir here: most of the time, I don't want to.

For inside shots in dark environment, I sometimes use just a ball head (Arca Swiss P0), without the tripod.
That's enough, most of the time, even to hold my 5DSR with the 11-24. I just find a support and I push the head down with 2 fingers on the bottom.

But stabilization is my preferred option, since it gives me greater freedom and allows more creativity.
Capturing photos, that's like music: there is not just one way to appreciate it.
 

Blumlein 88

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Anyone every used a monopod? I have one someone gave me, and I tried it out in the back yard, but somehow it never makes the trip. Handheld or on the Manfrotto tripod.
 

mi-fu

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Monopods can be great for portraits, particularly medium cameras. Using it with a ball head, it gives me enough flexibility without burdening me with the weight and bulkiness.

I think it is very useful for sports photography and taking pictures in events, like concerts, too.
 
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