01 April 2020

Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Vernon Chalmers Photography Copyright
Cape teal duck in crisp Cape Town / Woodbridge Island light with my Canon EOS 7D Mark II and EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens

Short bursts for three to four images
For the captures below I just pre-focused, panned slightly and press the shutter for two short burst of three to four images each. The three consecutive images are in my opinion all of consistent focus and sharpness.

Lightroom Post-Processing
All images processed in Adobe Lightroom 8. Converted from RAW to JPG. Lens profile correction. Minor colour correction. Sharpness and noise reduction applied.

Cape Town Location
Milnerton Lagoon Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Equipment (Birds In Flight / Action Photography)
  • Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR camera body
  • Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
  • SanDisk Extreme 64GB 120MB/s CF Card

Manual Mode Settings
  • Shutter speed: 1/4000s
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Focal length 400mm
  • Auto-ISO (ISO 500)
  • Continuous shooting mode (10 fps) / AI Servo
  • AI Servo / AF Mode Option (Large / Wide Zone AF / Case 1)
  • Lens AF On / No IS / Handheld

(Click to enlarge)
Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark III Vernon Chalmers Photography Copyright
Frame 1 / 3 (10 fps) Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark III Vernon Chalmers Photography Copyright
Frame 2 / 3 (10 fps) Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark III Vernon Chalmers Photography Copyright
Frame 3 / 3 (10 fps)Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Birds in Flight Photography Gallery View

Birds in Flight Photography Training Cape Town View

Birds in Flight Photography Training Gift Vouchers View

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Zone AF and AF Point Expansion Options

Understanding the Canon EOS 7D Mark II Zone AF and AF Point Expansion Options
Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Zone AF Selection
Understanding Zone AF & AF Point Expansion Options
The advanced Autofocus System of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II could be significantly challenging for new and experienced photographers keen to master its AF area selection options.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II’s AF Area Options defined / explained
  • Single-point AF 
  • Spot AF 
  • AF Point Expansion (4 Points) 
  • AF Point Expansion (8 Points) 
  • Zone AF 
  • Wide Zone AF 
  • Automatic AF point selection 

Official Canon Article by Rudy Winston from Canon USA

Difference between Zone AF and AF Point Expansion

Download Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR AF-Settings PDF Guidebook
Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR AF-Settings PDF Guidebook

Image Credit: Vernon Chalmers Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens

Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Birds in Flight Photo Gallery View

Canon EOS 7D Mark II : Automatic Selection Autofocus Testing View

Canon EOS 7D Mark II : Wide Zone Autofocus Testing View

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town View

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Long-Term Use and Experience

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Long-Term Use and Experience
From a Birds / Birds in Flight Photography Perspective
Predominately with Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens

In the beginning: Entry-level body and zoom lenses
During 2013 I became seriously interested in photographing birds in flight around Woodbridge Island, Cape Town. With the very close proximity to the Milnerton Lagoon and relative close access to most bird species I started out with the Canon EOS 700D and a variety of Canon 70-300mm lenses, eventually settling with the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM super telephoto lens.

Also Read: Canon EOS 7D Mark II for Birds in Flight Photography

Deciding on a longer Canon telephoto lens

I did a few months of extensive research before purchasing the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens with a decision based on; Autofocus speed, image quality, weight and lack of Image Stabilization. This lens served me very well through four EOS bodies and I still use this lens for my Birds in Flight Photography - exclusivity paired with the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. Its probably my best long-term purchase (ROI) and will keep it for any future body upgrade pairings.

Common Starling in Flight: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Upgrading from the Canon EOS 70D
During 2014 I started shooting birds in flight around Woodbridge Island with the very responsive Canon EOS 70D paired with the EF 400mm f/5.6L lens and for all in-flight purposes I was more than satisfied with the results (ito Auto-focus, larger viewfinder, image quality, tracking and the EOS 70D's 7 fps).

I also purchased a second EOS 70D for maintaining an exclusive Birds in Flight pairing while using the second EOS 70D and the Canon EOS 6D for my low light, landscape and macro / close-up photography workshops and projects.

Early 2015 my Birds in Flight Photography at Woodbridge Island was recognized by one of our local Cape Town retailers and they provided me (via Canon South Africa) with a Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens for a week of testing and writing an article - of which I published shortly after the test period on my Canon Camera News website. The weather was not great, but I managed to do various shoots at two Cape Town locations. The Canon EOS 7D Mark II article is now available here on my new Vernon Chalmers Photography website: First Impressions and Test Shoots Cape Town

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town Image Gallery / Samples

Pied Kingfisher in Flight: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Birds in Flight Workshops with Canon EOS 7D Mark II
During this time I also arranged  for the facilitation of my first Birds in Flight Photography Workshop Cape Town (which was sponsored by Canon South Africa via the Canon retailer). I traded one of my EOS 70D's for a new Canon EOS 7D Mark II, studied and practiced the 65-Point AF System for a few weeks and I was good to go for the workshop and to facilitate private training for Canon photographers who started upgrading to the Canon EOS 7D Mark II from the older Canon EOS 7D and EOS 70D's.

The First Impression and Test Shoots Cape Town article will have all my personal views and findings of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II as the current Canon flagship APS-C body. I still maintain the same views and impressions and although Nikon (as one other brand) became very competitive with the Nikon D500 I still believe the Canon EOS 7D Mark II (also as part of the EOS system wrt lenses et al) is still one of the best Birds in Flight / Action Photography APS-C bodies on the market today.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon Zoom vs Prime Lens (Birds in Flight)
I've used the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM zoom lens on Canon South Africa's own Canon EOS 7D Mark II and during my field review of one of my workshop delegate's Canon EOS 80D and I can in all objectivity say that the AF and tracking speed of the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens is just (by a small margin in my opinion) more responsive than the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens.

Globally reported Canon EOS 7D Mark II AF issues
After the launch of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II in September 2014 there were a fair amount of complaints with the AF-system under certian conditions (ito sharpness and focus issues experienced with various lenses). I've read countless real world test articles, blog posts and comments on various websites. Some photographers really struggled and in some cases had their cameras exchanged. For some its still an ongoing challenge and the online discussions about the AF focus accuracy (under certain conditions) with some of the bodies are still active.

From the first Images: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II Out Of The Box Shooting
Straight out of the box my copy of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II performed as expected (on many of the factory default-settings).

Up to today, more than two years later, the camera and AF-System is performing exactly the same it did when I captured my first 10 fps high-speed burst with this camera - Egyptian goose taking flight.

My Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens pairing is still  exclusively used for Birds in Flight photography and my other two EOS bodies are used for everything else.

I still have great pleasure going out to Woodbridge Island shooting the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and I still use this body (and AF-System) as benchmark for all my Birds in Flight Photography training and workshops - as it is in many ways the same as the Canon two 65-Point AF-systems Deployed on the Full Frame Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EOS 5Ds (R) and EOS-1D X. Now we also have the upgraded 65-Point System in the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV / Canon EOS-1D X Mark II.

Perced Birds: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Perched Birds with Canon EOS 7D Mark II
I capture a fair amount of perched birds with this pairing and am quite comfortable to use the same Manual and AF-settings I will for my Birds in Flight Photography. From time to time (depending on the opportunity) I may use Av mode for a few captures, but the majority of the time I don't change anything - just to keep it simple and quick - and to always have my preferred Manual settings as the primary default  setup when going out for a shoot.

I have no immediate plans for replacing this body, but are keeping my eye on the possible release of a Canon EOS 7D Mark III. I prepared a Canon EOS 7D Mark III Wish List - from a Birds in Flight Photography perspective. I will probably replace my Canon EOS 6D with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV before year-end, but am still more than satisfied with the EOS 6D for low light,  landscape and some portraiture / fashion work. The Canon EOS 7D Mark II will replace my EOS 70D whenever we see a future Canon EOS 7D Mark III DSLR body. Looking forward for some macro and close-up photography projects once the EOS 7D Mark II is semi-retired from Birds in Flight.

Red-Eyed Dove in Flight: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
In conclusion
Birds in Flight Photography is in many ways a skill to be mastered irrespective of the camera body used. When I acquired the Canon EOS 7D Mark II I knew what my requirements where; more responsive AF-system, faster fps, two memory card slots, a more robust and configurable EOS body than the Canon EOS 70D - to be used with the same Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens.

The EOS 7D Mark II is without any doubt one of the most advanced high-performance and action-orientated Canon EOS DSLR body. It most definitely met most of my requirements and expectations. Today it is still Canon's highest performing action photography EOS APS-C body in Canon's DSLR range. Its not perfect, I personally would have preferred a stop or two better low light / ISO performance for my Birds in Flight photography, but its not really a major issue,  I just shoot in good light (as I live right next to my Woodbridge Island shooting environment).

Yellow-billed duck: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
With a 300mm+ lens pairing (considering individual good light shooting conditions) and adequate photography skills the Canon EOS 7D Mark II Birds in Flight photographer will perform very well against most Canon EOS Full Frame DSLR offerings on the market today.

Towards the future...
The Canon EOS 7D Mark III will have to be another game changer for the Canon engineers to match / exceed the high expectations and shooting standards of most current Canon EOS 7D Mark II photographers. I'm personally looking forward to the release of the Canon EOS 7D Mark III - even it is just for more dynamic range and improved low light performance.

Article and Image Copyright: Vernon Chalmers 2018

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New Canon EOS 7D Mark III Rumors & Announcement Updates View

Canon EOS 7D Mark III Wish List for Birds in Flight Photography View

Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Birds in Flight Photo Gallery View

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town View

Hadeda Ibis - Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Hadeda Ibis - Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens

Diving Pied Kingfisher at Woodbridge Island

What is interesting here is that the kingfisher in flight was captured with my 'slowest' camera and lens combination (Canon EOS 6D @ 4.5 fps and EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens).

Focal Length 300mm: ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/4000s

The image is about a 60 to 70% crop (from the original frame). What made this image worth posting is perhaps the fact that the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens is IMO the best in the 70-300mm focal length class (wrt image quality),

Canon body: EOS 6D ( 20mp Full Frame body)

Cape Town Location
Diep River, Woodbridge Island


Diving Pied Kingfisher at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Diving Pied Kingfisher at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town  (Canon EOS 6D)
Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town View

Diving Pied Kingfisher - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

I still maintain my fascination for the hard working, diving pied kingfisher. This kingfisher was captured on a windy morning diving into the Diep river close to Woodbridge Island, Cape Town. With the Canon EOS 70D Mark II / 400mm lens.

(Click to Enlarge)
Pied Kingfisher at Work - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Pied Kingfisher Diving - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town 


Pied Kingfisher at Work - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Pied Kingfisher with fish - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town 


Pied Kingfisher at Work - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Pied Kingfisher with fish - Woodbridge Island , Cape Town


Pied Kingfisher at Work - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Pied Kingfisher with fish - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town View

Small flower photography with macro lens

Small Flower Macro Photography Cape Town
Canon EOS 70D / 100mm Macro Lens
Macro Flowers - Cape Town

In preparation for a Macro / Close-Up Photography Workshop at Intaka Island Century City, Cape Town I've captured a few small flowers with the Canon EOS 70D / 100mm Macro lens and Canon Speedlite 430EX II flash. 

The last image was done with Canon EOS 6D / 100mm Macro lens and Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT flash.

Note: Photos are on tripod in Av mode with a Canon Speedlite 430EX I / 430EX III-RT Iflash with diffuser.  Slight processing Photoshop Lightroom 6 / 7.

Shooting Location
Arnhem Milnerton, Cape Town


Canon DSLR / Flash / Tripod
  • Canon EOS 70D DSLR camera body
  • Canon EOS 6D DSLR camera body
  • Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro lens
  • Canon Speedlite 430EX II flash
  • Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT flash
  • Manfrotto Tripod

Av Mode - Aperture Priority Settings
  • Aperture f/8 - f/22
  • ISO 400 - 800
  • Manual Focus / Lens Autofocus off
  • Shutter speed: various (auto in Av mode)

Small Flower Macro Photography Cape Town - Canon EOS 70D
Canon EOS 70D / EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens ISO 800 f/22

Small Flower Macro Photography Cape Town - Canon EOS 70D
Canon EOS 70D / EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens ISO 800 f/11

Small Flower Macro Photography Cape Town - Canon EOS 70D
Canon EOS 70D / EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens ISO 400 f/11

Small Flower Macro Photography Cape Town - Canon EOS 70D
Canon EOS 70D / EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens ISO 800 f/11

Small Flower Macro Photography Cape Town - Canon EOS 70D
Canon EOS 70D / EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens ISO 800 f/8


Canon EOS 6D / EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens ISO 400 f/11
Canon EOS 6D / EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens ISO 400 f/11

Canon Extension Tube vs Macro Lens Decision
Canon Extension Tube vs Macro Lens Decision

Swift Tern Rock n Roll - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Swift Tern in Flight Photography
An early morning hike along the Diep River, Woodbridge Island provided a close-up opportunity for capturing this little swift tern rocking and rolling after an unsuccessful feeding dive. 

Herewith three consecutive images of the Swift Tern during and after a dive shaking the excess water from his feathers.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Continuous Shoot Mode (10 fps)

Images by Vernon Chalmers with Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens ISO 800 f/5.6 1/5000's, AI Servo AF Mode (Handheld). 10 fps High-Speed continuous shooting mode.

Credit to the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and EF 400mm f/5.6L lens pairing for fast and effortless focus and tracking (using AI Servo Case 1 and the Large Zone AF selection).

Cape Town Location
Woodbridge Island, Milnerton


(click to enlarge)
Swift Tern in Flight Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Swift Tern in Flight Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town 

Swift Tern in Flight Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Swift Tern in Flight Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town

Swift Tern in Flight Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Swift Tern in Flight Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town

Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Birds in Flight Photo Gallery

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town

Using Auto ISO for Birds in Flight Photography

As Posted on the Birdlife South Africa Facebook Group

Herewith shared an unusually low flying yellow-billed duck at Woodbridge Island photographed at Auto ISO 1250 with my Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens. Granted, the shutter speed was perhaps a tad high at 1/4000s (setup at the time was for faster flyers in poor sky light), but I was still happy with the 'noise' outcome.

Aperture was f/5.6 on a Crop / APS-C body at 400mm focal length. With a full frame body at the same focal length the noise level would probably be a stop or so better.

It is recommended with Auto ISO (in low light) to bring the shutter speed (for in-flight birds) down to 1/2000s / 1/3200s. I never go less than 1/3200s - and sometimes dare to go 1/5000s in very good light (with Auto-ISO).

Best is to experiment quite a bit before jumping to conclusions that you need to upgrade body and / or lens for low light shooting. 

Bird in Flight: Yellow-billed duck at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Yellow-Billed Duck in Flight : Birds in Flight Photography and Auto ISO
Yellow-Billed Duck in Flight : Birds in Flight Photography and Auto ISO

Source / more camera and Autofocus detail View 

The humble 50mm f/1.8 lens "Nifty Fifty"

The humble 50mm f/1.8 lens "Nifty Fifty"
Almost all delegates and clients attending my photography training will have a 50mm lens in their camera bags. A 50mm lens is often bundled when a new entry-level DSLR camera is purchased.

Many photographers never use them as the fixed focal length (50mm) is a perceived challenge compared to the 18-55mm / 18-135mm / 24-70mm / 24-105mm focal length lenses.

One key specifications of these lenses is the fact that it offers a super-wide aperture of f/1.8 and it can be used up to f/22. Most of these consumer 50mm lenses are very sharp ito image quality across the aperture range.

All Canon 50mm lenses are compatible with both Full Frame and APS-C (Crop) bodies and will be effective in low light between f/1,8 - f/5.6).

The lens focal lenght is useful for people and animal portraits, close-up flowers and some narrower landscapes.

Various brands of consumer 50mm lenses (as cheap as +- R1 850) should be available for Canon / Nikon mount.

Herewith some examples: The first image images are from my workshop demonstration series and will show the lens used at f/1.8 / f/5.6 / f/16. Body Use Canon EOS 70D (APS-C). 50mm lens used: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. Full series of images are available here.

On the crop body the lens becomes an effective 80mm lens. The focal length of lens is still 50mm, but the crop sensor provides for am 1.6x magnification. Hence the 80mm (1.6 x 50mm). Exif data in post processing will still show 50mm.

The Depth of Field (background blurriness effect) will become less and less shallow as the aperture is adjusted from i.e. f/1.8 to f/16. Most 50mm lenses will produce a very shallow depth of field between f/1,8 and f/5.6. Note: f/1.8 is not always the most effective aperture to use - it will depend on the area(s) the photographer want in focus.

The f/1.8 to f/5.6 range provides a very effective background blur (depending on distances between photographer, subject and background).

The fourth image was captured with the full frame Canon EOS 6D in rainy / poor light conditions at f/1.8. 50mm lens used: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM,

The last image was captured with crop body EOS 700D and the older EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens at f/5.6 and quite a large crop from the original image).


Aperture testing with Canon EOS 70D / EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens
Aperture testing with Canon EOS 70D / EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens

Aperture testing with Canon EOS 6D / EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens
Aperture testing with Canon EOS 6D / EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens

Aperture testing with Canon EOS 700D / EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens
Aperture testing with Canon EOS 700D / EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens

Close-Up Photography: Canon EOS 6D / EF 50mm STM Lens View

Bird watching in the Table Bay Nature Reserve

Helmeted guineafowl - Table Bay Nature Reserve
Peekaboo! Helmeted Guineafowl - Table Bay Nature Reserve
On a glorious and crisp morning I went on my routine short walkabout around the Table Bay Nature Reserve Diep river, Woodbridge Island.

Normally, I'm out looking out for birds in flight, but on this particular mid-morning most birds were settled in their feeding and 'doing-nothing' routine.

I was very pleased to see a few helmeted guineafowl jogging along, at times, precariously close to Otto du Plessis Drive (on-route to the Reserve).

Making my way through the Reserve, and highlight of my morning, was a close encounter with a nesting / perched pair of pied kingfishers. I was fortunate enough to capture at least one of them.

Towards the end of the gallery below are two birds in flight images captured of a Cape teal duck, Egyptian goose and Darter flying over the Diep river (flowing past the Table Bay Nature Reserve and the adjacent Milnerton Golf Course).

My 'Bird Species Index' around Woodbridge Island / Table Bay Nature Reserve

Images by Vernon Chalmers with Canon EOS 7D Mark II and Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens.

Thoughts on my settings used for Birds in Flight / Perched Birds
Exposure settings (maily aperture and shutter speed)  will depend on birds in flight and / or perched birds. With so many birds flying up and down the Diep river, Woodbridge Island / Table Bay Nature Reserve area I rarely change my exposure settings. Shooting with the Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 400mm f/4.5L USM lens since early 2015 I've tweaked my settings alike for fast and slower birds. One of the only settings I will change is the shutter speed (to support the lighting conditions).

For perched birds I generally use the same settings in good light conditions for providing a decent exposure. With enough time (and perhaps more so in less light) I may adjust from Manual to Av (Aperture Priority) Mode for decreasing shutter speed and ISO. What I do try and change is the AF Mode, but it is rarely achieved as my main focus is to keep things simple and to enjoy the outing (if setup for birds in flight).

I could also use the Full Frame 6D for perched birds, but prefer the reach of the Crop / APS-C body. Sitting, say for instance, in a hide for perched birds I will use a different combination of body / lens and settings, but in my local shooting environment I prefer one body / lens paring and one set of settings for both flying and perched birds.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Lens Settings
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Auto-ISO 400-1200
  • Shutter Speed: 1/4000s
  • AF: Large Zone (Case 1)
  • 10 fps / handheld
  • AF on
  • FL: 400mm (prime lens)
  • CF Card: Lexar Professional 800x / 120MB/s 32GB

Canon EOS Setup and Tips For Birds in Flight Photography

(Click to Enlarge)
Grey Heron in the Table Bay Nature Reserve - Diep River / Woodbridge Island
Grey Heron in the Table Bay Nature Reserve (overlooking the Milnerton Golf Course)

Close Encounter with Pied Kingfisher in the Table Bay Nature Reserve Image 1 / 2
Close Encounter with Pied Kingfisher in the Table Bay Nature Reserve Image 1 / 2

Close Encounter with Pied Kingfisher in the Table Bay Nature Reserve Image 2 / 2
Close Encounter with Pied Kingfisher in the Table Bay Nature Reserve Image 2 / 2

Little Cisticola on guard in the Table Bay Nature Reserve
Little Cisticola on guard in the Table Bay Nature Reserve


Cape Spurfowl in Fight over the Table Bay Nature Reserve
Cape Spurfowl in Fight over the Table Bay Nature Reserve

Southern Masked Weaver (ringed) overlooking the Table Bay Nature Reserve
Southern Masked Weaver (ringed) overlooking the Table Bay Nature Reserve

Cape Teal Duck in Flight over the Diep River / Table Bay Nature Reserve
Cape Teal Duck in Flight over the Diep River / Table Bay Nature Reserve

Egyptian Goose in Flight over the Diep River / Table Bay Nature Reserve
Egyptian Goose in Flight over the Diep River / Table Bay Nature Reserve

Darter in Flight over the Diep River / Table Bay Nature Reserve
Darter in Flight over the Diep River / Table Bay Nature Reserve

The Hadeda ibis was from a previous walk back from the Table Bay Nature Reserve. Quite tame and minding his own morning breakfast routine.

Hadeda Ibis with breakfast - close to the Table Bay Nature Reserve
Hadeda Ibis with breakfast - close to the Table Bay Nature Reserve

Small birds in the Table Bay Nature Reserve

Small Birds with Birds in Flight Photography Settings

Photographing perched smaller birds with Birds in Flight Settings
Photographing perched small birds 
With all the questions I get with regard to my perched small bird photography technique (with my standard Bird in Flight photography settings), I thought it was about time to provide more detail regarding settings et al.

For many new and experienced photographers this is a different way of shooting perched birds. Generally one will assume that perched birds will be photographed with a long lens (with Image Stabilization) and / or on a tripod (or some other form of stabilization).

During my own skills development process with Birds in Flight photography I would at times encounter a few smaller perched birds (in the Table Bay Nature Reserve close to Woodbridge Island). I used to ignore them at first, as I was on a mission for fine-tuning the Canon EOS 7D Mark II's AF and to master my Birds in Flight photography techniques. The smaller birds around Woodbridge Island are rarely perched for more than a few seconds at a time - I quite like this unpredictability, as its making the capturing more natural (as in the the true wild).

Early one morning in the goodness of our local summer light I captured a few smaller birds without changing any settings on my camera - with the understanding that the fast shutter speeds that I generally use - 1/4000 - 1/5000s - should work to stop (any) motion and the good light should keep my Auto-ISO in manual mode down. My lens does not have Image Stabilization and I'm quite experienced in its application for Birds in Flight photography. These days I rarely change any settings for the perched birds as I don't really see any real advantages over using any other settings (i.e. Av Mode with lower ISO's),

The images posted here are generally all with the same settings without any changes to my Birds in Flight photography settings. The only exception is, when I have enough time, I would change my standard large Zone AF mode to one of the smaller AF areas.

Canon Gear / Memory Cards
  • Canon EOS 7D Mark II camera body 
  • Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens 
  • Lexar Professional CompactFlash UDMA 7 32 GB 
  • Sandisk Extreme Plus SDHC™ UHS-I Card 95MB/s 32 GB 

Exposure / Other Settings: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens

  • Manual Mode 
  • Aperture: f/5.6 
  • Auto-ISO 500 - 1600 
  • Focal Length: 400mm 
  • Shutter speed: 1/4000 - 1/5000 seconds 
  • AF On - Case 1 [Various Zones] 
  • No IS (None-IS lens)
  • Lens Autofocus on 
  • Handheld

(Click to Enlarge)
Photographing perched smaller birds with Birds in Flight Settings
Perched Birds Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town

Photographing perched smaller birds with Birds in Flight Settings
Perched Bird Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape town

Photographing perched smaller birds with Birds in Flight Settings
Perched Bird Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town

Photographing perched smaller birds with Birds in Flight Settings
Perched Bird Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town

Photographing perched smaller birds with Birds in Flight Settings
Perched Bird Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town

Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town View