Many peo­ple call the OM‑1 the cam­era that breathed new life into the Micro 4:3 for­mat. Pho­to: cined.com

Sports cam­eras are a sep­a­rate genre of pho­to­graph­ic equip­ment, and most often the prices for them just go through the roof. But just recent­ly OM Sys­tem (Olym­pus) released an inter­est­ing high-speed Micro 4:3 for­mat (MFT) cam­era, and one of its advan­tages is the low price for this class.

We com­pared the cheap OM Sys­tem OM‑1 with Canon’s full-frame mon­ster EOS R3. Both cam­eras are posi­tioned as sharp­ened for fast con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing. We fig­ure out which cam­era is best for shoot­ing sports, wildlife and action.

Format Limitations: MFT vs Full Frame

Of course, the Micro 4:3 for­mat can­not direct­ly com­pete with the full frame (which in our today’s mate­r­i­al rep­re­sents the Canon EOS R3 cam­era). A larg­er sen­sor, by def­i­n­i­tion, gives full-frame mod­els many advan­tages:

  • wider cov­er­age of the frame;
  • improved detail;
  • Bet­ter pic­ture qual­i­ty in low light con­di­tions.

But if you study the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the OM Sys­tem OM‑1 and Canon EOS R3, it becomes clear that in some impor­tant para­me­ters they are very close. So, both cam­eras use mul­ti­lay­er sen­sors, which pro­vide excel­lent oppor­tu­ni­ties for high-speed shoot­ing with an elec­tron­ic shut­ter. And the elec­tron­ic shut­ter allows you to get rid of the lim­i­ta­tions in burst pho­tog­ra­phy speed that exist for a mechan­i­cal shut­ter.

And if the Canon EOS R3 was orig­i­nal­ly announced as a pro­fes­sion­al cam­era for sports and action shoot­ing, then the OM Sys­tem OM‑1 is still a “dark horse”. Let’s see if the OM‑1, despite all the lim­i­ta­tions of its for­mat, can com­pete with the “charged” EOS R3?

High-speed continuous shooting: OM System OM‑1 vs Canon EOS R3

Canon EOS R3 inher­its the tra­di­tion of pro­fes­sion­al sports cam­eras — a pow­er­ful ver­ti­cal grip with an addi­tion­al bat­tery pack makes it look like a pro DSLR. Pho­to: newsbeezer.com

In order to get the max­i­mum speed, the cam­eras must be in elec­tron­ic shut­ter mode. And, of course, for shoot­ing mov­ing objects, we need con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing with aut­o­fo­cus.

High Speed ​​Continuous Shooting OM System OM‑1

In con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing, the cam­era has no prob­lems with white bal­ance and expo­sure — bright­ness and col­ors remain con­sis­tent and do not jump. There is also no “flick­er­ing” effect, which can be a real scourge of a sports pho­tog­ra­ph­er. What it is? When shoot­ing with an elec­tron­ic shut­ter, elec­tron­ic screens and score­boards (com­mon in sports are­nas) can show band­ing — the OM1, thanks to its high read­out speed and small sen­sor size, eas­i­ly copes with this arti­fact.

The OM‑1 can shoot at up to 50 fps with aut­o­fo­cus. This speed is only avail­able with six Pro Series lens­es: 12–40mm f/2.8 PRO and PRO II, 12–100mm f/4 PRO, 40–150mm f/2.8 PRO, 300mm f/4 IS PRO and 150–400mm f /4.5 TC IS PRO. With the rest of the “glass­es”, the speed of con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing with aut­o­fo­cus is 25 fps, which is also very good. And with­out aut­o­fo­cus, the cam­era accel­er­ates up to 120 fps.

Shoot­ing at 50 fps is good for short bursts, as the cam­era needs some time to clear the buffer, and it will peri­od­i­cal­ly “slow down”. There­fore, for long shots with­out much devel­op­ment (for exam­ple, when you shoot from the lev­el of the field, and the ath­lete moves towards you) — 25 fps is a more prefer­able choice.

If you want to use the old trick of pro­fes­sion­al sports pho­tog­ra­phers, then you can reduce the speed to 15 fps and “shoot” at that speed all the time, with­out any restric­tions.

OM‑1 has Pro­Cap­ture spe­cial mode, which no oth­er cam­era man­u­fac­tur­er has. In this mode, the cam­era starts record­ing images when you half-press the shut­ter but­ton. After you press the but­ton com­plete­ly, it saves the last 70 shots. With this, you can fine-tune the num­ber of frames tak­en before and after you press the shut­ter but­ton. Thus, you will always be ready and the cam­era buffer will not clog at the most inop­por­tune moment.

This is a very cool fea­ture for sports and for wildlife when you want to cap­ture the “right” moment. For exam­ple, you saw a bird out of the cor­ner of your eye, pressed the but­ton halfway and began to turn in its direc­tion. By the time you’re ful­ly turned and the bird is fly­ing away, you’ll have some cool shots ready.

High Speed ​​Continuous Shooting Canon EOS R3

This full-frame mon­ster, as expect­ed, also has no prob­lems with white bal­ance, expo­sure or “flick­er­ing”. To com­bat flick­er, the R3 has a spe­cial Anti-flick­er mode that auto­mat­i­cal­ly syn­chro­nizes the shut­ter speed and the flick­er rate of the elec­tron­ic scoreboard/screen.

At the same time, its con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed is low­er than that of the OM‑1: 30 frames per sec­ond. This is due to the larg­er frame size, which takes longer to read than the minia­ture Micro 4:3 sen­sor.

How­ev­er, most often 30 fps will be too much, so you can safe­ly reduce this fig­ure to 25 fps, sav­ing space on the mem­o­ry card.

Ver­dict: when com­par­ing high-speed shoot­ing, you can give vic­to­ry OM‑1. It shoots faster and has a handy Pro­Cap­ture mode.

Autofocus: OM System OM‑1 vs Canon EOS R3

Autofocus OM System OM‑1

Track­ing aut­o­fo­cus has nev­er been Olym­pus’ strong point. To be hon­est, he was a real man­u­fac­tur­er’s prob­lem. What has changed in OM‑1?

The new prod­uct has a very sim­ple track­ing aut­o­fo­cus sys­tem with­out any pro­fes­sion­al fea­tures. You can cus­tomize only the most basic things, such as sen­si­tiv­i­ty.

The track­ing itself only works well in the most basic sit­u­a­tions — when you have only one object in the frame that needs to be tracked. At the same time, in pur­suit of the play­er, the aut­o­fo­cus zone can­not “stick” to the face in any way, more often remain­ing on the chest. How­ev­er, the large depth of field char­ac­ter­is­tic of the Micro 4:3 for­mat allows you to main­tain suit­able sharp­ness on the whole per­son.

As soon as the sec­ond fig­ure appears in the frame, the track­ing starts jump­ing around — the focus jumps from one per­son to anoth­er. If this is shoot­ing a match at the sta­di­um, then the focus may even be in the stands. The sys­tem works very unpre­dictably and some­times miss­es.

Youtube chan­nel DPRe­viewTV test­ed the OM‑1 at a hock­ey game, and the cam­er­a’s track­ing aut­o­fo­cus sys­tem per­formed quite well in sim­ple sit­u­a­tions. Pho­to: Youtube chan­nel DPRe­viewTV

You can solve the prob­lem using a more clas­sic zone track­ing aut­o­fo­cus: you man­u­al­ly set the area for track­ing aut­o­fo­cus to work and you can move it with the joy­stick or touch­screen. Here you will no longer have the advan­tages of automa­tion, when the focus itself fol­lows the play­er, you will have to inde­pen­dent­ly mon­i­tor that the play­er enters the frame.

This is a tech­nique inher­it­ed from the DSLRs still used by many pro­fes­sion­al sports pho­tog­ra­phers. It is more com­plex, but if you mas­ter it, you can get cool results. In gen­er­al, in this mode, a very good hit rate.

Autofocus Canon EOS R3

When work­ing in the track­ing aut­o­fo­cus mode with track­ing (track­ing) of the object, every­thing works quick­ly and effi­cient­ly, aut­o­fo­cus is tena­cious and pre­dictable. But the main thing that is nec­es­sary for the pros is that it can be con­fig­ured in great detail to suit your needs.

Can choose:

  • what object you are work­ing with (people/animals/motorcycles and cars);
  • sce­nar­ios (for exam­ple, aut­o­fo­cus con­tin­ues to con­tin­u­ous­ly track the sub­ject and ignores any new objects in the frame, or vice ver­sa, instant­ly focus­es on new objects enter­ing the frame).

The Canon R3 has an Eye con­trol sys­tem. Aut­o­fo­cus fol­lows the move­ment of your eye in the viewfind­er — where you look, there is focus. Although for some users the mode does not work very effec­tive­ly for some rea­son.

As for the zon­al track­ing aut­o­fo­cus, after such a cool auto­mat­ic track­ing, it already seems like some­thing from the last cen­tu­ry. But on this cam­era it is also very con­ve­nient to use it — the entire frame is avail­able for select­ing the zone, and the per­cent­age of “hits” is very high.

Ver­dict: con­fi­dent lead­er­ship Canonalthough if you get used to a more “man­u­al” shoot­ing mode, with Olym­pus you will also have an excel­lent result.

Image quality: OM System OM‑1 vs Canon EOS R3

It is time to dis­cuss some of the obvi­ous weak­ness­es of the Micro 4:3. Let’s start with depth of field. In a Micro 4:3 for­mat cam­era with the same aper­ture, there will be a greater depth of field — all oth­er things being equal, the space behind your object will be sharp­er. There­fore, it will be much more dif­fi­cult for you to visu­al­ly iso­late the object (play­er or car) by blur­ring the back­ground, com­pared to a full-frame cam­era.

That does­n’t mean you’ll always have soft blur­ry back­grounds on the Canon EOS R3. If you want a sharp pic­ture, you just need to stop the aper­ture and increase the ISO. So with R3 you have a lit­tle more cre­ative free­dom.

In terms of detail, the dif­fer­ence between the mod­els is not very big, although it is: 20-megapix­els for Olym­pus ver­sus 24-megapix­els for Canon.

Oth­er things being equal, Canon R3 demon­strates a bet­ter pic­ture at high ISO. Pho­to: Youtube chan­nel DPRe­viewTV

But this is not the main dif­fer­ence. The Canon R3 has a larg­er matrix, which gives more oppor­tu­ni­ties to col­lect light. And this means a bet­ter pic­ture at high ISO. And if you’re shoot­ing indoors, such as shoot­ing hock­ey or bas­ket­ball, or pho­tograph­ing in the evening, as is often the case with foot­ball match­es, you will inevitably have to raise the ISO.

ISO 1600–2000 (at f/2.8 and shut­ter speed 1/2000 sec.) is com­mon, and here the dif­fer­ence in image qual­i­ty is vis­i­ble to the naked eye.

So in poor light­ing, OM‑1 prob­lems show up. You imme­di­ate­ly become lim­it­ed in the choice of lens­es — only fast aper­tures are suit­able (for zooms, this is f / 2.8). In gen­er­al, the qual­i­ty will be quite decent for social net­works, but for more pro­fes­sion­al tasks this becomes one of the rea­sons to take a more expen­sive full-frame cam­era.

On the street dur­ing day­light hours with good nat­ur­al light, there will be no such dif­fer­ence. So OM‑1 is an out­door and day­time option.

Ver­dict: full frame Canon R3 again bypass­es the impu­dent appli­cant.

Which camera to choose

Still, the OM‑1 is a great cam­era for trav­el and wildlife, and sports pho­tog­ra­phy is already in the appendage. Pho­to: getolympus.com

But of course, we left the main “zest” for last. It’s about the price dif­fer­ence. Con­sid­er a set of a cam­era and a zoom lens for sports pho­tog­ra­phy (after all, this is a sig­nif­i­cant part of the cost of the kit):

  • OM Sys­tem OM‑1 with 40–150mm f/2.8 pro zoom for $3,799;
  • The Canon EOS R3 with a 70–200mm f/2.8 pro zoom will cost $8,798.

With OM Dig­i­tal, you get a qual­i­ty cam­era with fast burst shoot­ing and decent (if not per­fect) aut­o­fo­cus that can com­pete with the super-expen­sive top-end solu­tion for pro­fes­sion­als. And all this for more than dou­ble the price.

The set from Olym­pus weighs 1360 grams ver­sus 1892 from Canon — you save not only mon­ey, but also 500 grams of weight. In terms of dimen­sions, the OM‑1 is more com­pact, so there will always be room for one more lens in a back­pack.

So what’s the bot­tom line? If you’re a pro­fes­sion­al look­ing for uncom­pro­mis­ing image qual­i­ty, the Canon EOS R3 is def­i­nite­ly the one to go for. If sports and action pho­tog­ra­phy is more of a hob­by for you, or if you want to save $5,000, the OM Sys­tem OM‑1 is more than a wor­thy option.

* when prepar­ing the arti­cle, mate­ri­als from the resource dpreview.com were used


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