Can Lumix Shoot Sports and Wildlife?

Posted Jun. 6th, 2016 by Daniel J. Cox

Found your website and really, really enjoy it. Thank you! Okay so I am a Canon user and my photography has evolved from nature landscapes to more and more sports and wildlife photography. I have a 6D and it works wonderfully for landscape work. Later I purchased the Tamron 150-600mm lens to facilitate sports and wildlife work. I would call the combination adequate. Image quality is excellent, but autofocus and fps is just okay, buffer is sometimes limiting and the lens is BIG. At your typical sports event, there are folks who I suspect think I’m compensating by carrying such a big lens (haha). I’m tempted by the GX8 as a second camera with the Panasonic 100-400mm. That would be quite an investment, but I would sell the Tamron to help defray the cost. Sounds like FPS, buffer, telephoto reach would all in line. I’m wondering if the continuous autofocus would work ok, performance under low light (Northwest here, lots of gray days), and if I would be disappointed by noise under high ISO (I am always shooting at 1/800th of a second or faster). My main alternative I’m considering is to by a used Canon 7D. This option would be much cheaper, and I think solve most my fps and autofocus issues. But since I would still be using the Tamron, it would not do anything to lighten the weight of my bag!

Thanks for listening,

Bill

Bill,

This is a tough call. Unfortunately I have no experience with the Canon 6D, although I do know it’s a full frame sensor. Full frame sensors are always going to give you a better image at higher ISO’s which is typically what you would be shooting at  sporting events. The Canon 7D is a different story. Based on my limited experience with the Canon 7D, I feel either the Lumix GX8 or GH4 with the new Leica 100-400mm zoom would compete with the 7D very well. The Lumix Micro Four Thirds sensors are very close— and in some situations better—than many APS-C size sensors which is what the Canon 7D has. AF-C (Continues AF) is superb on the both the GH4 and GX8. That said, I’ve never tried the Canon 7D in fast moving situations. I wished I could be more help but I’m not going to tell you things I’m not knowledgeable about.

In short, the new Lumix MFT cameras have many benefits, but there are a few areas they still need some work. One  is high ISO, and although the AF-C is excellent, Nikon’s flagship D4 is still better than any of the Lumix bodies I shoot. Not by much, but it is better. I predict the next upgrade of the pro level Lumix will catch Nikon and Canon and possibly surpass them in AF-C.

Hope this helps. Something you might want to try is renting the Lumix system before you buy. If you do, make sure you read my blog post titled: Birds in Flight Settings for Lumix Cameras and set all the menu items I suggest. These settings are good for all action photography with Lumix bodies.

 

 

 

 

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There are 9 comments on this post…
  1. onald crabtreeOn May. 27th, 2017 (7 months ago)

    i went from nikon d 750 to olympus omd10 mk2 camera and find it good, i switched systems, because of age ,im 82 and weight issues, the mf/3 when using my olympus 75 f 1.8 lenses for portraiture i can easily match full frame quality, but not for sports even when using the leica 100 400 lens, i am dissapointed with the oly because i cant get the focussing point to stay put, it moves about all over the place, has any body any advice, on the focussing delema i have encountered, i have just orderd a new pano gx8 camera i hope it will be better for fast moving objects?.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 27th, 2017 (7 months ago)

      Unfortunately, I’m unsure of how you lock the AF point on the OM-D10. Maybe there are others here on the Blog with the proper information.

  2. don crabtreeOn May. 7th, 2017 (7 months ago)

    at present i am using an omd10 mk2 camera and having great results, i have bought a pano 100 to 400 lens and want to tackle wild life and sport photography which would serve me best, panasonic g8 or a nearly new mi mk 1 i have been a photograpner for over 60 years but am fairly new to digital

  3. SereeOn Aug. 20th, 2016

    Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for your great posts. I’ve read through almost of your posts on wildlife photograph and very very enjoy since I’m also using m4/3 gears too. 🙂

    Now I’m finding a way to get the most out of my current gear and I’ve a few questions to ask your opinions as I’m looking for GX8. 🙂

    My current gears for wildlife is…
    – OMD E-M1
    – M.Zuiko 300/4 + TC14 (always attached)

    I moved from…
    – Nikon D810 + Tamron 150-600
    – Canon 7D ii + Sigma 150-600C
    – Sony A7Rii + Sigma 150-600C + Sigma MC-11 adapter

    I decided to move back to m4/3 because portability + toughness of OMD series.

    My questions are…

    – Do you feel a new 20mp sensor of GX8 have better capability to crop especially for bird photography compared to E-M1? (I really miss the day of D810 and A7Rii)
    – Does GX8’s AF system is superior to E-M1 especially on C-AF? (I heard Panasonic’s DFD is so good on this)

    Looking forward to hear from you soon. 🙂

    Thanks and will keep reading your future content.

    Take care,

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 20th, 2016

      Seree,

      Great to hear from you. I’m not convinced the GX8’s larger sensor will be a substantial benefit. It’s true you would have more to crop from but the downside is that more pixels can cause issues in low light when needing to use higher ISO’s. I actually prefer the files from my Lumix GH4 which is also 16 megpixels and I believe is the same sensor of the OM-D. I’ve found shooting birds with the Olympus 300mm with a TC-1.4X attached is most often quite enough, even for small birds, but then I’ve never met any photographer who doesn’t want more reach no matter what they’re using.

      If I were you I would wait a couple of months to hear what will come out of Photokina. I’m very hopeful that any new camera body from either Olympus or Lumix will have a much better, next generation, sensor. The MFT companies really need to up there game on the sensors currently available and I believe they will. Without a doubt, there is no beating the sensors in the full frame Sony or Nikon cameras, but then again the size and wight advantage of my Lumix gear as well as the lower cost of lenses makes up for the disadvantages of our smaller sensors. Photograph has alway been a game of compromises and right now the MFT equipment provides enough advantages to out weigh the disadvantages. Thanks for adding your voice and stop by anytime to join the conversation.

    • SereeOn Aug. 20th, 2016

      Hi Dean,

      Thanks for your promptly response. 🙂

      I agreed that now is the compromise game and I’m very satisfied with my Olympus gears.

      Just to confirm a little bit about the C-AF capability of GX8, does it perform better than E-M1 v4?

      If it does, I will buy GX8 for BIF to gain a higher keeper rate. 🙂

      BTW: yeah, would love to look for the next generation of E-M1 and GH5. Hope it will be the beasts!

      Thanks,

  4. Rich BallOn Jun. 10th, 2016

    Bill – I’d like to venture some thoughts as a longtime Canon user and more recent Panasonic user. When I was buying my 5D mark III I remember having the 6D and 5D in front of me on the counter at Kenmore camera. I was vacillating between the two – weight or auto focus points. I finally decided I wouldn’t be happy with the limed AF in in the 6D and bought the 5D. I wasn’t and haven’t been disappointed. It’s only drawback for sports or action photography is a fairly slow burst rate. The AF is quick and accurate even for small objects.

    For various reasons I added the micro 4/3 stuff to my my camera capability. The GX8 being the latest. one of my favorite lenses is the 14-140. It is a fun walk around lens with good (but not great) image quality. Much to my chagrin I got some very poor results. I attribute them to the fairly well documented “shutter shock” issue with the GX7 and GX8. There is an option in the menus for the camera to revert to the electronic shutter at shutter speeds that experience shutter shock. While not ideal it does a lot to address the problem. For sports and action you might not like the electronic shutter due to the rolling shutter effect. I have since added the 100-400 lens to my collection. I have found it to be an exceptionally sharp lens. When combined with the dual AF it produces great results handheld at low shutter speeds. This lens also works well on the GH4. As an aside the Panasonic 100-300 lens is a good lens capable of fine results as well. The price is considerably lower than the 100-400 and it weighs less.

    I’ll close this off with a couple of thoughts the micro 4/3 system is capable very fine results when well used. Unless your requirements include very large prints or very shallow depth field to isolate subjects you won’t be disappointed. The AF on the Panasonic is much improved from their earlier cameras. I don’t think it is quite as good as a DSLR in lower light situations or with fairly small subjects. Finally the EVF does require some adjustment time – It isn’t the same as looking through the lens.

    By the way my Canon just doesn’t get used all that often now.

    Rich Ball

    P. S. Dan it was your photos that helped me decide to purchase the 100-400. Thanks

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 11th, 2016

      Thanks for your great input Rich.

  5. Portrait of Fred Kurtz

    Fred KurtzOn Jun. 6th, 2016

    Bill, please read the blog post a couple down from this one where I just used the Panasonic GH4 with the 100-400 lens at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (road course) this past May. Talk about sports and very fast moving subjects and autofocus – this was a huge test of the Panasonic system and I could not have been more pleased. I have the Nikon D4 (and love it) and in my opionion, the shots with the Panasonic GH4 and the 100-400 are the best action shots I have taken. Hope this helps. Fred

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