American Football with M 4/3

Common wisdom on the Web regarding the M 4/3 cameras is that they are not good for shooting sports. The frame rates are too slow, it is said. Up to a point that is true. Even in my limited arsenal of out-of-date, obsolete cameras, there is a better choice for sports. For a number of reasons, my Nikon D200 is unquestionably a better choice than the Lumix G1.

I’m a bit contrary. I don’t always trust the common “wisdom”. I like to put things to the test. Early on a day when I was going to go shoot an afternoon football game, I was playing with the G1. I loaded it with the very fast SD card that my son gave me for my birthday, set it to .jpeg only and burst mode, and mounted the manual focus Tokina 70-210mm f/4, then pointed it toward the cars rolling by on the two-lane blacktop at the end of my residential street. I wanted to see how it would handle fast moving objects. I was immediately surprised at the frame rate and the length of the bursts. I figured that the fast memory card, a SanDisk Extreme (30MB/s), was largely responsible for the relatively quick, sustained bursts. I played around with the settings for a few minutes, then returned to my office to review the images. The images were quite acceptable, only blurring slightly when I stopped the lens down beyond f/16.

I decided to leave the Nikon at home in the afternoon and shoot with the G1. The images below are typical of what I ended up with that day. There’s no question that the Nikon would have been better suited for the purpose, and I’ll shoot the season’s remaining games with it, but I now know that if the Nikon suddenly died and I only had the G1, I could still get acceptable sports images.