Sallie Playing with a Feather, f/6.3, 1/1000 Second
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Testing the OM System OM-1’s Dog and Cat Subject Detection on Dog Action Photography

It has been a long cold, wet winter here in the Midwest United States and my dog Sallie was ready to run and jump.  Now that the back yard has dried out, it was a perfect time to test Dog and Cat Subject Detection on the OM System OM-1 camera.

OM Digital Solutions introduced Dog and Cat Subject Detection with the release of the OM-1.  The Olympus OM-D E-M1X is currently the only other camera in the OM System / Olympus line up with Subject Detection technology. 

Dog and Cat detection was only new subject added with the OM-1. There has been no announcement from OM Digital Solutions that Dog and Cat Focus Tracking will be added to the E-M1X via firmware update.

Subject Detection in Olympus / OM System Cameras

SubjectOM-D E-M1XOM-1
Cars & MotorcyclesXX
Planes and HelicoptersXX
TrainsXX
BirdsXX
Dogs, Cats, & Similar ObjectsX
Sallie All Four Legs in the Air, f/6.3, 1/1000 Second
Sallie All Four Legs in the Air, f/6.3, 1/1000 Second

Dog and Cat Subject Detection Equipment and Test Set Up

Conditions: It was a cloudy evening with not the best light.

Equipment: OM System OM-1, Olympus 100-400 f/5.0 – f/6.3 lens, handheld

Camera Settings

ISO: 800

Aperture: f/6.3

AF Mode: C-AF-TR. Dog and Cat Focus Tracking works with S-AF, C-AF, and C-AF-TR.

C-AF Sensitivity: 0

AF Target Mode: Mid Sized Square.  I used the Mid Sized Square AF Target Mode.  Working with Bird Detection AF for birds in flight, I found the hit rate to be higher when I used a smaller target area than all AF Points.  I either keep the subject in the center of the viewfinder or move the Target Area with the Multi Selector (joystick).

Drive Mode:  I shot half of the photos in Sequential Mode (10 fps) and half in Silent Sequential Mode (20 fps).  I didn’t see any signficant difference in the In focus keeper rate between the mechanical or electronic shutter.

Tracking Kept Focus on Sallie Running Behind a Tree. f/6.3, 1/800 Second
Tracking Kept Focus on Sallie Running Behind a Tree. f/6.3, 1/800 Second

Dog and Cat Subject Detection Test Results

Observations on Dog and Cat Subject Detection

Overall, Subject Detection did a good job tracking Sallie as she ran around the yard.  It continued to track her as she ran behind trees in the yard.  It kept tracking her horizontally as she ran and vertically as she jumped to see over the fence at a Turkey Vulture that flew low over the yard.

Photograph Keeper Percentage

This was not a scientific test.  I shot around 330 photographs of my dog Sallie running and jumping in the yard.  I used Adobe Lightroom to cull the images and mark the keepers.  For the purposes of this test, a keeper is defined as an image I believe I can successfully post process and feel good about posting on social media.

I culled thru the images twice and got close to the same results, around an 80 – 85% keeper percentage.  I didn’t think those results were too bad at all given the lighting conditions.  I did process all of the images in this blog with Topaz DeNoise AI to remove the noise and sharpen the images.

Subject Detection Selection from the AF Menu
Subject Detection Selection from the AF Menu

How to Set Up Dog and Cat Focus Tracking 

Subject Detection is located in the 2nd AF tab in the OM-1 menu.  Here you can select a Subject to be Tracked or turn Subject Detection Off.

With the OM-1, OM Digital Solutions has made Subject Detection much more accessible by allowing you to assign Subject Detection to a Button.  This can be done using the Gear icon in the right side of the Super Control Panel.

Subject Detection Selection from a Button
Subject Detection Selection from a Button

I have assigned Subject Detection to the AF-ON button on the rear of the camera. 

  • If you press and release the button, Subject Detection will be toggled on or off. 
  • If you press and hold the button while turning the Front Dial, you can select which subject to detect.

There is also a small symbol towards the upper left of the viewfinder and LCD that indicates whether Subject Detection is active and what subject has been selected.

Sallie on the Run, f/6.3, 1/800 Second
Sallie on the Run, f/6.3, 1/800 Second

Summary

Dog and Cat Subject Detection was a terrific addition to the OM System OM-1’s tracking capabilities.  In my back yard test, it worked really well with an 80-85% keeper rate.  It’s been reported in several other blogs and videos that Dog and Cat Subject Detection works on other animals as well.  I’m looking forward to testing this out.  I’ll update the blog with these results.

Written by Martin Belan

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