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Best setting for SL2 shooting Bird in Flight?


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Hi everyone! 

Just want to get some tips from you all about shooting birds in flight. What are your favourite settings? IBIS off ? IS on? AFc ? zone focus? 

I've picked up the SL2 and the panasonic 70-200mm f4 to start shooting birds. But I find it extremely difficult even with AF. Ive tried to stay in f4 and pump up the shutter speed to around 1/1000 but the ISO would jump to 3200 sometimes. And even with that shutter speed, most of my shots are still out of focus. Is there anything I could do to make this easier? 

Any help will be appreciated !

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+1 Just to expand on the excellent advice in this and prior posts... The more time one spends observing the subject ahead of time studying their behavior, flight patters, lighting, background improves the chances of getting the shot. Also there is no substitute for perseverance and willingness to invest the time just to get the single shot one is visualizing in minds eye. By way of example the attached owl in flight images were taken with painstaking planning, a lot of patient waiting,

Overall I've still been far more successful in capturing birds in flight with my manual focus telephotos when compared to AF lenses. There's the issue of the AF lens hunting for focus, as well as the fact that when trying to use AF lenses in MF mode, there's no stop on the focus ring. This was taken recently in the Okavango Delta in Botswana -White Winged Tern  (Chlidonias leucopterus)   -SL2 & Carl Zeiss 300mm f2.8 APO-Tessar & Novoflex C/Y-L adapter. Hello guest! Please reg

I’m so happy with this shot! Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden content. Hallo Gast! Du willst die Bilder sehen? Einfach registrieren oder anmelden!  

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On 10/23/2020 at 7:56 AM, celticursa said:

The SL2 is NOT the tool for BIF...the AF system speed is not even in the same vicinity of BIF requirements. You may have occasional success with stationary, or nearly so, birds but for consistent BIF success I recommend considering a Nikon D500 or D850 paired with a Nikon 500mm f5.6 PF.

That is only your opinion. I have been successful in using my SL2 w. 90-280mm lens on BIF for years since using SL. 

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On 10/23/2020 at 9:42 PM, helged said:

Wait for @sillbeers15 to chime in...:

 

For BIF, if the background is the sky. Avoid shooting into strong backlight on auto exposure creating an underexposed subject as Camera’s contrast detection cannot work well tracking underexposed subject (due to lack of contrast) and let the camera prefocus till subject is bigger than focusing box before pressing the shutter release button to focus track ( it improves success rate to box turn green). Therefore setting it to APSC mode and keeping the aperture to f5.6 and small aperture helps keeping subject in focus for BIF. 

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5 hours ago, sillbeers15 said:

For BIF, if the background is the sky. Avoid shooting into strong backlight on auto exposure creating an underexposed subject as Camera’s contrast detection cannot work well tracking underexposed subject (due to lack of contrast) and let the camera prefocus till subject is bigger than focusing box before pressing the shutter release button to focus track ( it improves success rate to box turn green). Therefore setting it to APSC mode and keeping the aperture to f5.6 and small aperture helps keeping subject in focus for BIF. 

Thanks for the tip! I'll try that out tomorrow. 

I finally got one today! This is the best BIF I've got so far with the SL2.  I've used AFi with field focus with shutter priority at 1/800 auto iso 

 

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Birds in flight can be done with the SL2 and the 90-280, and for static birds that allow photographing from less than 20 meters, it works quite well.    For large birds that you want to have with a image cropped to about 2000 pixels, the maximum range is about 30 meters.  The yield of good images won't be high, but good images can certainly be taken.   The depth of focus of a 280mm lens on a 47 Megapixel sensor at maximum aperture at these ranges is much smaller than the bird, I suggest f8 or even f11 to preserve feather detail and sharp eyes.  

The attached image is 2552x1703 pixels, 280mm, f8, 1/1250 second, ISO 320.  An adult brown pelican's wingspan is typically about 2 meters.  

 

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6 hours ago, Manicouagan1 said:

Birds in flight can be done with the SL2 and the 90-280, and for static birds that allow photographing from less than 20 meters, it works quite well.    For large birds that you want to have with a image cropped to about 2000 pixels, the maximum range is about 30 meters.  The yield of good images won't be high, but good images can certainly be taken.   The depth of focus of a 280mm lens on a 47 Megapixel sensor at maximum aperture at these ranges is much smaller than the bird, I suggest f8 or even f11 to preserve feather detail and sharp eyes.  

The attached image is 2552x1703 pixels, 280mm, f8, 1/1250 second, ISO 320.  An adult brown pelican's wingspan is typically about 2 meters.  

 

 

Wow thats so sharp! 

The thing I dont understand is, when I bump my shutter speed up to 1/1000 even at f4 my iso is jumping over 1600 sometimes 3200. So if I put the aperture to f8 it will just get underexposed by alot.....

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I've gat an SL (601) + 90-280.

All of the advice I've had from colleague experts and You Tube is to use a shutter speed above 1/2000 sec.

I now use manually set: 1/2500s, f4, medium speed drive, single point dynamic, AFc, iso set 2 stops under ambient light for birds with light coloured plumage - gulls and gannets

Advice above regarding the direction of light is helpful - the camera won't lock onto the subject, especially if it has light coloured plumage,  if the background is bright and the bird small.  

Birds travelling across the field of view are easier to lock onto than those coming towards the camera - attempting the latter situation was frustrating!

For birds at rest switch to AFs static, 1 point - placed on the eye.

I posted some images on the nature forum of some Gannets.  Here are a couple of successful ones.  A success rate of 5% is good!!!!!

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4 hours ago, graeme_clarke said:

I've gat an SL (601) + 90-280.

All of the advice I've had from colleague experts and You Tube is to use a shutter speed above 1/2000 sec.

I now use manually set: 1/2500s, f4, medium speed drive, single point dynamic, AFc, iso set 2 stops under ambient light for birds with light coloured plumage - gulls and gannets

Advice above regarding the direction of light is helpful - the camera won't lock onto the subject, especially if it has light coloured plumage,  if the background is bright and the bird small.  

Birds travelling across the field of view are easier to lock onto than those coming towards the camera - attempting the latter situation was frustrating!

For birds at rest switch to AFs static, 1 point - placed on the eye.

I posted some images on the nature forum of some Gannets.  Here are a couple of successful ones.  A success rate of 5% is good!!!!!

@sillbeers15 recommends setting the format to APs-C. Haven't tested it, but worth a try! 

 

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On 11/1/2020 at 7:07 PM, graeme_clarke said:

I've gat an SL (601) + 90-280.

All of the advice I've had from colleague experts and You Tube is to use a shutter speed above 1/2000 sec.

I now use manually set: 1/2500s, f4, medium speed drive, single point dynamic, AFc, iso set 2 stops under ambient light for birds with light coloured plumage - gulls and gannets

Advice above regarding the direction of light is helpful - the camera won't lock onto the subject, especially if it has light coloured plumage,  if the background is bright and the bird small.  

Birds travelling across the field of view are easier to lock onto than those coming towards the camera - attempting the latter situation was frustrating!

For birds at rest switch to AFs static, 1 point - placed on the eye.

I posted some images on the nature forum of some Gannets.  Here are a couple of successful ones.  A success rate of 5% is good!!!!!

Birds travelling across the field of view are easier to lock onto than those coming towards the camera - attempting the latter situation was frustrating!’-

Follow the subject and keep it in the focus box without triggering the shutter release until the subject is bigger than a single focus box then press the shutter release to lock focus & track.

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1 hour ago, Ktsa5239 said:

I'm getting better at this! The difficulty of this is making it very interesting!

👍 From experience with eg Nikon D5, D500 (among the most advanced af systems), the best tip is to be a little patient. Follow the bird, try to get it somewhat centered in the viewfinder, wait a little before pressing the shutter. For AFc, start focussing as soon as you have the bird somewhat steady in the viewfinder. It's fun, it requires patience and test&trial. I have now sæleft Nikon, hopping for a long Sigma prime... 

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Getting back to the initial poster's question of can he or she get birds in flight pictures with a SL2 and a Panasonic 70-200 f 4 lens. The answer is sure he or she can.   After tweaking a few settings on the camera/lens combination, the issue is choosing subjects and settings that are compatible with the gear.   After choosing the equipment, settings and subject the next issue is learning how birds behave in the chosen setting, what time of day lighting, wind, and feeding patterns yield a favorable combination in the current season of the year.   I find figuring all that the fun part of bird photography.    After that follow the old saying of how you get to Carnegie Hall (a famous music venue in New York City) Answer: practice, practice, practice. 

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14 minutes ago, Ktsa5239 said:

I feel like I'm getting better at this! Quite like this one, the focus is still abit off though, its so difficult to put the focus point on the head of the bird !

Try shooting on BIF subject w. the sun behind your head. It improves in focus rate and keeps your subject in correct exposure.

[url= Dollarbird - 1000923[/url] by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/93747940@N04/]sillbeers15[/url]
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8 hours ago, sillbeers15 said:

Try shooting on BIF subject w. the sun behind your head. It improves in focus rate and keeps your subject in correct exposure.

[url= Dollarbird - 1000923[/url] by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/93747940@N04/]sillbeers15[/url]

Lovely photos ! I would be so happy if I could get my photos to look like that one day.

Unfortunately the bay thats near my place faces west so I would always have to shoot towards the sun as I go after work in the afternoons.

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It is normal that we all progress through different phase of experience and that is why we share. 
It is normal we try to shoot whatever BIF that comes into view fearing to loose the opportunity. After sometime you will start to lookout for the direction of the sun and observe the common routes of flight in anticipation of potential subjects appearance and that helps to improve success rate.

In the photo I shared above, I took notice of the same bird that peach on the same branch over a repeated period of time after it took off a short flight. The scene was at the rear of my yard, so I patiently waited for the opportunity to take place again when the late afternoon sun became my natural spot light and I waited no longer to take the shot even my 90-280 was kind of too short in focal length for this case ideally.

Edited by sillbeers15
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