ProCapSH1 @ 120 fps
Nature,  Olympus / OM System,  Photo Gear

Photographing Bees with OM System OM-1 Pro Capture SH1 – Do you Really Need 120 Frames per Second?

The OM System OM-1 has a super high 120 frames per second (fps) in SH1 mode.  In SH1 mode, the camera does not autofocus in between frames.  The OM-1 also has an SH2 mode that does focus in between frames, and has a still really fast 50 fps.  However, there are certain limitations when shooting in SH2 mode.

I’ve been looking for a subject to take advantage of the 120 fps in the high speed Pro Capture mode (SH1) of the OM-1.  Bees in flight are a terrific subject to test out ProCapSH1 on the OM-1.

I had previously photographed bees in flight with good results using the Pro Capture High mode (60 fps) on the Olympus OM-D E-M1X.  With the fast moving, erratic flying bees being a difficult subject to capture, I was interested in how the faster frames per second would work with this subject.

Equipment

I conducted multiple tests and shot thousands of images using the OM System OM-1 and the Olympus 40-150mm f/2 pro lens.  I also used a fast write speed SD Card, the Lexar Professional 250 MB/s (1667x) UHS-II SDXC Card, which is important so the buffer doesn’t fill up as fast. 

OM-1 Camera Settings

  • ISO: 1250 – 2000.  The ISO varied based on the lighting conditions.
  • Shutter Speed: 1/2000 – 1/4000.  The higher the shutter speed, the better in order freeze the fast moving wings of the bees.
  • Aperture: f/8 – f/10.  Since SH1 mode only focuses at the beginning of an image sequence, a smaller aperture (bigger number) increases the depth of field and improves your chances of shooting in focus photos.
  • Single AF.  Continuous AF is not available in the SH1 and ProCapSH1 shooting modes
  • Single Focus Point
ProCapSH1 Settings
ProCapSH1 Settings

Pro Capture Settings

The Pro Capture SH1 Settings are located in the Sequential Shooting Settings menu under the 7th tab (Drive mode) in Shooting Menu 1.

  • Pro Capture Shooting Mode: ProCapSH1
  • Max fps = 120 fps.  I also tested ProCapSH1 at 50 fps.
  • Pre-shutter Frames = 28
  • Frame Count Limiter = 50.  I limited the frame count to 50 frames to reduce the number of images that I need to cull through at the end of the shoot. 

Results of Shooting ProCapSH1 for Bees in Flight

I took the OM-1 out for several photo shoots for bees in flight.  I also did another test using the Olympus OM-D E-M1X using Pro Capture High for comparison purposes.

Number of Images

In a couple of short photo shoots (@12 minutes) using the OM-1 in ProCapSH1 mode, I shot over 1,500 images during each photography outing.  The 120 fps created a lot of images to cull through.

Shooting with a lower fps in SH1 reduced the total number of images.  You can also reduce the number of images by lowering the number for the frame count limiter.  But, be careful not to lower it too much that you miss the shot.

Pro Cap SH1 @ 120 fps, ISO 1250, f/9.0, 1/3200 of a Second
Pro Cap SH1 @ 120 fps, ISO 1250, f/9.0, 1/3200 of a Second

Keeper Images

It is difficult to talk about keeper images when so many conditions besides the Pro Capture settings that come into play when photographing bees in flight.

The keeper rate can be affected by:

  • Lighting affecting shutter speed and ISO settings
  • Erratic flight of the bees
  • Speed of the flying bees
  • Bees flying out of the area of focus
  • Bees facing away from the camera

That said, I did see an increase in the numbers of keepers between using the The OM-1 with ProCapSH1 @ 120 fps and ProCapSH1 @ 50 fps. I also thought the number of keepers was higher than using the E-M1X using Pro Capture High (60 fps). 

It was also nice to get more photos to select from during a shooting sequence (shutter button press) while using 120 fps.  But, this also generated a lot more images to cull through and uses more space on your hard drive.

What Pro Capture fps to Use for Bees in Flight

What fps to use for Pro Capture is really dependent on your tolerance for culling through thousands of photos.  If you hate culling thru unprocessed photos or are worried about hard drive space, you may want to use the slower 50 fps.  I still got quite a few keepers images @ 50 fps.

If you are more concerned with not missing the shot and don’t mind culling thru a larger amount of photos, why not shoot at 120 fps.  There is also a 100 fps setting for ProCapSH1 that might be a nice compromise.

Written by Martin Belan

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