Sat 19-May-12 12:28 AM | edited Sat 19-May-12 12:39 AM by Ferguson
First, program the birds to flow slowly and in a straight line.
Try to program them to fly upwind, toward you, kind of hover as they get closest, turn their eye toward you.
But if you must program the camera instead of the birds...
I find somehting that yields about 1/1000th, faster if longer than the 200. I find AF-C, focus+release priority best. The more busy the backgroup the less focus points I use as I find it grabs the wrong thing at times. I have had no luck with full auto or 3d at all.
White balance I ignore as I shoot raw.
I try for low ISO and trade F-stop for it as I mostly am after one bird, and so F4 or so is where I end up, so I usually try for 400 or so. Feather detail and shadows are often a challange in flight especially if it is sunny. A bright but cloudy day is best as the shadows are not as harsh.
I use a 70-200 or 200-400 mostly. For BIF I do it by hand, not on a tripod.
If birds are more rare and want to practice see if there's a RC airplane club near you and visit them; it's also fun and a bit more predictable.
Here's F4 at 1/4000th, ISO 400 with 400mm:
F4, ISO 400, 340mm, 1/2000th:
These are really, really hard. I have a LOT of pictures of where they were (as opposed to are). ISO 250, F2.8, 200mm (70-200).
Here they are in a 200-400 lens, at ISO 560, F4, 260mm.