Testing the E-M1 Mark II’s AF with updated FW v3.0

Back in 2017, I covered the first Let’s Rock mini concert here and when the gang returned for Let’s Rock 2 this year, I was privileged to be invited to shoot the dress rehearsal. The timing could not have been better, as the date of the shoot coincided with the release of the new firmware. I took the opportunity to test out the new and improved AF algorithm on the new Olympus E-M1 Mark II’s (as of firmware 3.0) while immersing myself in some awesome rock music. I equipped myself with the E-M1 Mark II, 45mm F1.8, 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens and 12mm F2 lens but mostly used the 40-150mm PRO lens for this shoot.

Unlike in 2017, Let’s Rock 2 had a different lighting design. Overall, it was dimmer and I expected this to be problematic, since I was shooting with the 40-150mm F2.8 PRO instead of the 75mm F1.8 like last time. I was asked to deliver shots immediately after the shoot and I needed to work very fast, making sure my exposure was as accurate as possible while shooting to minimize post-processing work.

The biggest improvement in Olympus’ latest firmware update for the E-M1 Mark II is the AF algorithm for both stills and video shooting. The AF algorithm should be the same one found in the E-M1X, a newer camera released earlier this year. Olympus claims better AF in low light, as well as improved speed and accuracy for both Single AF and Continuous AF shooting. I only managed to test Single AF for this mini concert and as this was a photography assignment, I didn’t test video AF either. I can comment solely on stills, S-AF improvement after the Firmware 3.0 on the E-M1 Mark II.

I was quite impressed with the AF enhancements; despite the lighting being dimmer this time and me using a F2.8 lens instead of F1.8, I managed to get away with a much higher hit rate than in 2017. I inspected my full set of images and there was about a 2-3% AF miss rate which could entirely be user error (assigning the focusing point to the wrong location). The camera just locked focus a lot more confidently even in very dark corners of the stage. Even without a side by side comparison, experienced E-M1 Mark II shooters (I have been using this camera for over 2 years now ) can notice the improvement.

I don’t use continuous AF, or shoot video often, so I will let others do the testing and reporting. Meanwhile, if you use Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II for still and especially in S-AF, make sure you update your Firmware to the latest 3.0!  I see no reason not to and applaud Olympus for constantly improving their products.

Below are some highlights from the Let’s Rock 2 mini concert.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is available from B&H

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Images and content copyright Robin Wong 2019 onwards. All rights reserved

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing Robin. In my experience AF-C in video and photos improved drastically. Even with the small aperture 75-300mm II (f6.7 at telephoto end), tracking performance improved quite well (talking about birds). Now the camera can lock faster and track smaller birds more confidently.
    I also see faster lock with 12-100mm f4 Pro in AF-S, both in low light and good light.

  2. Richard S says:

    Wow, those are crisp and colourful shots, I thought when I saw this post. I saw it was Robin and of course he was using an Olympus and it just shows yet again it is the photographer, not the gear. I went to a department store in London years ago and was interested in the Pen-F (i bought one 3 years later…) and the sales people referred to it as a toy and the sensor was a joke. You go to gearhead sites like DPReview – full of macho techie hoorays – and Olympus and M4/3 is dismissed as old tech. But you come to a photographic art site like this and you appreciate the quality in a small portable package. I don’t hink my Pen-F can compare to my Sony in low light or really fast moving kids, but in all other respects, it is more pleasurable to use in every way and creates stunning OOC images.

  3. Robin Wong says:

    Hi John,
    I shot everything in RAW, and did quick post-processing, this time with Olympus Workspace, using the USB Raw Data Edit feature. I have written about this here: https://robinwong.blogspot.com/2019/06/olympus-usb-raw-data-edit-new-feature.html

  4. Hi Robin

    “I was asked to deliver shots immediately after the shoot ….”
    Were these SOOC JPEGs or shot in RAW + processed in C1 Pro?

  5. Nice work. I think a lot of people underestimate how difficult it can be to photograph stage performances under theatrical lighting.
    That difficulty is greater when you have dancers moving rapidly under sometimes complex and psychedelic flouro coloured light.
    I love it and find this type of photography challenging and very rewarding.
    http://www.gallery1studio.com

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks Steve, and I agree with you, I do find this type of photography challenging and rewarding at the same time!

  6. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I love it! One of my passions is available light photography at night – despite the problems artificial lighting of varying colours keeps throwing at me, when I indulge my interest in it. These photos are magnificent, Robin.

    And I love the idea of a mini rock concert – the ones I’ve been to have been anything but “mini”, and it’s often difficult to get within range of the actual concert, rather than merely at the other end of the paddock.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Ah the full scale concerts, those are not easy to shoot, unless you can get relatively close to the stage!

  7. richard lavender says:

    Terrific pictures with the subtle suggestion of movement – excellent

  8. Nice work as always Robin. Camera body aside, I have noticed a huge difference in the autofocus speed and accuracy between the 75mm f1.8 and the 40-150mm f2.8. The pro lens is way faster and more accurate while the 75mm is the slowest of all of my Olympus lenses.

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