13 April 2021

For new Birds in Flight Photographers

For the new Birds in Flight photographers
Pied kingfisher in Flight - Canon EOS 6D 
For the new Birds in Flight photographers / anybody else interested

This is a post I published on Birdlife South Africa's Facebook Group on 13 April 2021.

The pied kingfisher is one of the fastest and smallest birds here at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town and generally the photographers here will by default use the 'fastest' camera (frames per second / Autofocus) and longest lens (reach) in their camera bags. Same as anywhere else I suppose...

For this exercise I used the 'slowest' camera and my shortest long lens in my bag to see what could be done - if that is all that’s available in a new / developing photographer’s bag.

The four images = a consecutive burst at a relatively slow, but maximum fps for the EOS 6D @ 4.5 fps with an 80 MB/s SD memory card. View all four images here

Canon Equipment / Settings used:
  • Canon EOS 6D Full Frame body (4.5 fps / basic 11-Point AF System)
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens
  • Manual Mode: f/5.6 / 1/4000s / Auto-ISO 500
  • AI Servo (for continuous focus / movement)
  • 300mm focal length
  • Single Point AF
  • Image Stabilasation (IS) turned off

Succeeding in Birds in Flight photography does not necessarily mean the fasted frame rate / best AF-System on the market, but rather the mindfulness of a range of environmental factors that contributes to the ‘overall workflow’/ skills in getting satisfactory results.

Other considerations to keep in mind when developing skills for Birds in Flight Photography


Questions / My Response on this post - on the Birdlife South Africa Facebook Group

Question "Interested to know why the IS was off? Always thought IS to be important for handheld shooting and especially for wildlife and birds.

My Response "In my opinion not required above 1/1000s - I give the camera and lens as little as possible 'to think about" My 400mm lens does not have IS - and is not really required for Birds in Flight photography using shutter speeds between 1/3200s - 1/4000s. Even in testing done for Canon South Africa on the EF 100-400mm f/4.6-5.6L IS II USM lens (Birds in Flight) I turned the IS off. It works for me - every photographer should test / experiment over an extensive period to so see how it 'pans' out for him / her."

"IS is globally debatable in application for action photography. It can become a hot topic, because people pay up to R120K+ for a prime lens with IS. You posed a very good question - and my answer to your question, like hundreds like yours I receive, is I don't use IS for fast action photography (ito the equipment I use). My main reference is Birds in Flight photography where I use 1/3200s - 1/4000s. I use different cameras for different genres - and there will be many time where IS = NB. My motto = anything that moves - no IS required if I use a high enough shutter speed - just have to watch your ISO - if using Auto-ISO (on modern DSLRs)."

Birdlife South Africa Facebook Group Reference

Vernon Chalmers Photography Popular Posts