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.

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.

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

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

The air brakes are on with a prized catch
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?

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