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Updated September 6th 2004

Action Photography with Olympus E-10 Digital SLR

While not a dedicated action camera, the E-10 does well photographing action.. The trick to sucessful action photography is without a doubt knowing the camera. Keeping in mind what it does well, and what it rather not do.

The photograph on this page was photographed with the 1.4X "short" teleconverter in place, giving the camera a efective focal lenght of about 210mm, for Skim Boarding which is a sport where the surfer runs from the sand on the beach to meet the wave as it is comming in 200mm is a very comfortabe focal lenght. however it is just as possible to get great photographs with the build in lens along, that just means having to go a bit closer to the water. (I typically end up standing in the zone where the weaves crash, because it gives me more contact with the surfers.)

The picture on top of the page was photographed at ISO 320, 210mm 1/500th f.3.2 Flash at full.
Does that sound like a strange combination..? Well it kind of is. It was sunset, and I wanted to prevent the surfer from becomming a solid black blob, so I fired my flash at full power, setting the f.stop for a dark flash exposure. (The flash suggested f.1.4 at that distance) Then I used the shutterspeed to control the sunset exposure. This was done by turning the build in display on and facing the camera into the sunset, while changing the exposure time until I was happy with the result... Finally I asked Johnny to please make me a real nice "fantail" splash of water right about "there"... To my amasement, he said OK, waited for the next wave and placed himself perfectly where I had asked for it... Over the years I have learned that most athletes are more than delighted to pose for a picture, and typically they are very capable of delivering just the thing you are looking for... Just ask, next time you come back bring a couble of prints, and I guarantee, they will allow you to photograph anywhere you like.

Click here to see more SkimBoard surfing images captured with my e-10

This series ISO 320 1/200th f.10 210mm
Late afternoon at Aliso beach south of Laguna Beach California.

One problem with living in Southern California is that afternoon pictures towards the Pacific always is backlit, this would be much nicer on the Atlantic side of America, Oh Well, such is life.

The E-10 an put 4 frames in the buffer durring a burst, and I tend to take advantage of this. It works best by following / panning the camera with the action, then when I feel stuff starts to happen I fire my 4 frames while continuing to keep the action in the viewfinder. This works well.

The thing to keep in mind with the E-10 is, not to get excited and start clipping a frame or two right before the action starts, because the camera do not allow you to shoot again right away, there will be about 2 sec delay after snapping a frame even when in continues mode. So hold on and fire the series when it look good.

It takes about 5 sec a pop to put the frames away on the storage card, this means that there are going to be 20 sec of writing again before you are ready for a full series. However it is possible to fire less frames if something happens in front of you earlier. Looking at the top of the camera you can see the bars indicating how many frames are in the buffer waiting to be saved.

When you are photographing make sure you have a appropiate shutterspeed, remember the old rule of thumb "shutter speed should equal 1/focal lenght" so if you are photograhing at max zoom with no converter 36mm is the same as 140mm on a 35mm camera, and the shutterspeed should then be 1/140th or faster. Anything slower than 1/140th will be hard to keep from getting blur from handshakes. This is a pretty accurate rule, unless you are uncommenly smooth, chances are that you will get some kind of motion blur at a slower shutter speed.

Motionblur from hand-shake does not become streaks, but rather tends to manifest itself as slightly soft/out of focus images, even when you was positive you had perfect focus. Using the right shutterspeed will help you put that little "extra" pop into your action pictures.

Another Action challenge is focusing, ocationally you can use the autofocus, but I find shooting at a f.8 or better and prefocusing helps. I find objects which give a good target for the typical distances I'm photographing at, and focus on them before shooting. I find that with a little prectice it is easy to use the E-10 manual focus ring to make minor addjustments to the focus as needed, but I prefer to use prefocus to get me in the ballpark before starting.

Click here to see more SkimBoard surfing images captured with my e-10

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