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12 posts

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malchew Registered since 18th Nov 2012
Mon 26-Nov-12 11:55 AM

Which is the best focussing and metering modes for photographing birds in flight and at rest.


Springfield, US
416 posts

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#1. "RE: Birds Photography" | In response to Reply # 0

grnzbra Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Sep 2011
Mon 26-Nov-12 04:32 PM | edited Tue 27-Nov-12 12:35 PM by grnzbra

What kind of birds?
Most of the birds I shoot are little guys jumping between a bush and a bird feeder about 3 feet away. I sit in my window about 30 feet away from the feeder with a Sigma 150-500mm lens on a tripod and a D5100 set for 1/4000 sec and lens wide open with ISO 3200. The shutter is set for continuous. Originally, I just pushed the button on the camera, but I just got a cable release. I first go out and set up a focusing target between the bush and the feeder and set the manual focus on the target. (The feeder is slightly forward of the bush so the flight path is at an angle to the camera. The depth of field of that lens at that distance on that camera is slightly less than 3 inches so I'm hoping to split the difference between focus on the feeder and focus on the bush.)
Whenever I see any movement around the bush/feeder area, I fire a burst and hope for the best. In a couple of hours, I'll take about 400 or 500 pix and have nothing in about two thirds of them. Of the rest, most are thrown away due to being out of focus or just a partial bird either coming into the frame or going out of it.
But there are a few that are rather interresting and OK focus (not really all that sharp, but close.) And then are one or two...
I haven't had the opportunity to shoot large flying birds yet.
I have shot birds feeding at the feeder. For those I was outside at a range of about 15 feet with the 150-500 lens. Focus was AF-S with apperture priority and ISO of 100 to 200. I set the lens so that the shutter is in the 1/200sec range.
I just looked at some at rest bird pix and it seems I was using ISO 800 1/100 sec shutter and f6.3(wide open for the 150-500 set at 500mm)
I used single point focus, mostly using the center sensor. The bird pix here were all from a tripod.

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McEwen, US
4168 posts

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#2. "RE: Birds Photography" | In response to Reply # 0

coolmom42 Moderator Awarded for her enthusiastic support of the community and exemplifying the Nikonian mission “Share, Learn and Inspire” Nikonian since 30th Nov 2011
Wed 28-Nov-12 01:46 AM

I use single point focus, and single point metering. I try to get the selected focal point on the eye or very close to it.

If the bird has white areas, especially direct sun, use some negative exposure compensation to avoid blowing out the highlights.

You need a high shutter speed to freeze motion, especially in small birds. 1/1000 second or faster is good and 1/500 is the minimum for small birds, in my somewhat limited experience. Small birds make very fast tiny movements of their heads that will give motion blur at anything much slower. You will need adequate light so that your maximum lens aperture & ISO can give you that shutter speed.

With larger birds you can have slightly slower shutter speeds and many people use center-weighted or matrix metering.

Cruise on over to the wildlife forum, and see what people there are using to take the sort of pictures you like. Ask lots of questions. They are very helpful.

Sometimes you need to manipulate the settings. Most people don't like to have a feeder showing. So you can arrange some attractive perch near the feeder but not so close as to be in every image. Again, look for tips in the wildlife forum.

working on it in Middle TN
Nikon D3100

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18-55 mm Nikkor VR
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