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D4 as a Birding camera

KnightPhoto

Alberta, CA
4954 posts

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"RE: D4 as a Birding camera"

KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006
Tue 24-Jul-12 12:13 AM

>Hi Steve, These are simply fantastic! Can you say how you
>set focus? You've obviously 'nailed' it! I assume AF-S but
>what were the other focus settings (e.g. area mode?,
>3D-tracking?, auto area AF?, viewfinder view or LV?, etc.).
>Did you lock forces with the AF button or with the shutter
>release button?
>
>Sorry for all the questions but you've achieved some great
>images and I'd love to learn just 'how'!
>
>Thanks, Joel

Hi Joel,

I use AF-C, 9-point dynamic as my standard setup and use viewfinder (phase detect) autofocus. I also use Long Len Technique when on tripod, which basically just means my left arm is outstretched and left hand is pressing down on the lens hood to dampen vibration. I'm using a gimbal not a ball head as reaction time must be very swift. I'm also generally trying to achieve a decent shutter speed even for non-flying birds (1/320 up to much preferably 1/800) - I'm a bit of a high shutter speed advocate because I see such a large difference in percentage of keepers in my own results if I can get the shutter speed up. For example I have a 20 or maybe it was even 30-shot burst of a different Golden-crowned Kinglet at 1/60 (sort of a hail-mary attempt) and had a 0.00% keeper rate Birds are always moving their heads and that of course is the one area that must be sharp on a bird photo!

I use the shutter button, but now that AF-ON implements VR, I may make some small inroads in using AF-ON, but I expect shutter will continue to be my standard way to engage AF. The reason is that I need my thumb to move the AF point, I am constantly moving the AF point to be placed exactly on the birds head. On those occasions where I want to lock focus I use the AF-ON button which is programmed to perform AE/AF-Lock instead, but this is rarely needed since I normally move the AF point to the birds head and using AF-C have no need to lock AF. In fact I generally don't want AF locked, I want the camera constantly to refocus with each movement however small by the bird. Because all of this is such low tolerance, I consider AF-fine tune a must. I will say that so far, the D4 AF is a step up for me coming from D700, 7000, 300. D4 just nails it, nails it, nails it all day long.

In my case I always use VR, even with high shutter speeds, and in this lens case I have to remember to switch it from tripod-mode VR to normal VR and back as the situation permits - I seem to forget this a lot! (but it doesn't have a large impact from what I can see when on tripod and when not well then I don't get as energetic a VR so I need to try and remember better)

Best regards, SteveK

'A camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.' -- Dorothea Lange
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This is a hot, active topic! D4 as a Birding camera [View all] , KnightPhoto Gold Member , Sat 21-Jul-12 06:34 PM
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