Birding

As some of you probably know, my wife and I took a vacation to California just before Memorial Day.  We had a great time and a couple ideas for blogs came up.  Today, I will start with the easier idea.

In the past I have had zero luck getting decent pictures of birds flying.  As many of you know, I shoot Sony.  Some of the naysayers of mirrorless cameras will tell you that you can’t get good pictures of moving wildlife with a mirrorless camera, or at best, it will be very difficult.

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Many Seagulls near Pacific Grove, California

As you can see in the picture above there were lots of birds and it was possible to get reasonably close.  It was a beautiful day and the SeaGull is a good sized bird, so I thought, let’s try this flying bird picture thing again.

The first 8 pictures or so, were disappointing.  Then, I double checked my auto focus settings.  So, I set Zone focusing on the center area.  And set AF on continous.  I don’t believe that I used the lock-on auto focus.  I moved the ISO to 200 and shot in Aperture Priority at 5.6.  Shutter times went from about 1/500 to 1/2500th of a second depending on how many rocks were in the picture.  I also set my panning 70-200mm lens to a panning mode.  I believe it disables the horizontal stabilization when in this mode.

I had the camera set in continuous shooting at 2.5 frames per second.  While it would be nice to have a little more speed.  I assume the pictures below are about a half second apart and does a decent job of showing the process.  My camera can go to 5 frames/sec, but I don’t believe it refocuses between frames at this speed.

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Coming in for a landing, with a greeting committee
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just before touching down

Another Landing, this one was pretty close to me and isn’t cropped real heavily.

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The air brakes are on with a prized catch
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A half second later.  There is some evidence of camera shake.

The last shot was a 1/500th of a second and shows some camera shake.  From the original file, I can see that I moved a ways in that half second, nearly a third to a fourth of a frame.

What about birds in flight?

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Flying over head.  I love the shape of their wings.
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One with food, one without…
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I love this with the breaking wave behind
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Birds near and far

Once I set the auto focus correctly, I was extremely happy with the results.  The camera focused quickly and held the focus on the birds as I followed them through the sky.  Probably a 90% focus hit ratio or higher.  The only real problem I had was what I think was camera shake when the shutter dropped to 1/500th of a second or so.  All shots were at about 200mm.

Considering that there are about about 3 or 4 Sony mirrorless cameras that are better suited for this.  I am very happy with the results.  The only thing

I will be posting these and a few other images in a gallery soon so that you can look at them a little closer.

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