Bif's and bird tips / technique with MF long lenses. Long and boring

Started May 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Bif's and bird tips / technique with MF long lenses. Long and boring
May 10, 2013

Just something came to mind reading another post in here, so thought I would try this. Had a few questions about it lately is all.

Those that already know how to shoot MF lenses for birds, click back and return to normal viewing

First off as most know, shoot with the sun at your back, use fast shutter speeds and a lowish ISO so that when you crop in, noise is not such an issue

When on a static subject use the magnified EVF view and focus until you see those sharp feather details pop up.

BUT, BUT, take nothing for granted and take several shots because wide open to get those higher shutter speeds, we end up with very a slim focus field and no DOF to play with. Stopping down helps sure, but you will also sacrifice the shutter speed or ISO. So if the bird does take off, you will be stuck with a slow shutter speed because you have stopped down. Catch 22.

So what you need to do is set the camera on a low burst, not fast and take around 4 shots, focusing backward and forward very slightly as you go. One shot will be focused on just one of these birds, one should be sharp and then one will be focused on the other bird. Take the shot with boht sharp and use it, delete the rest, no good keeping them if you have better shots around it IMO.

Example before it goes into the bin ......

So what we have here for me personally is complete rubbish. Its the starting of the sequence as we very slowly focus forward, very slowly !! using a small burst of around 4 shots.

Because DOF and focus is so critical the next shot got both birds in focus. The one after this had the back bird in focus, but the not the front. Those photos go right into the bin. We keep this one and work on it to suit.

Next we have the take off mode. Here's what happens with this shot and the thousands of others.

Don't focus on the bird in the water, focus in front of it and this is where we can now use that fast 9-10 FPS burst (love it)

So we now have a pre-focused point in front of the Cormorant. As it takes off and starts to come into frame, we use the machine gun burst........... brrr.....brrr...brrr (bad sound effects going on) and out of around 5-6 shots, I would expect two to be in focus...........

So pre-focused in front of the Cormorant, it comes into frame, click, click, click !! with a fast burst.

Exactly the same method pre-focused on the branch, sit back and wait for the bird to come in, fire off that fast burst

Enter the world of BIF's. Tough work for sure. I shoot with mates that use everything from Canon 1DX to 7D's using 300 F/2.8's and 500 F/4's. Gavin uses a 600 F/4.  Trust me they miss a lot of shots as well. Bif's are what every bird shooter wants and you have to work at it no matter what system you use. I miss a lot of shots they get and I get a lot they miss because their AF won't lock on quick enough. The closer the bird, the harder it is even for PDAF. So its all swings and rounabouts with BIF's

We all shoot high shutter speeds, no such thing as too fast for BIF's. The huge bonus they have with the FF cameras is that they can shoot much higher ISO's to keep that shutter speed up and still crop like mad.

Come on the focus peaking No its not perfect but this is where it all changes. Remember that hint on focusing backward and forward, here it enters the frame again. We spot the bird, we start to MF, we see a yellow (my focus peaking colour of choice) tinge on the wings or body, with a slow burst, (forget fast bursts on Bif's waste of time) as we fire off a burst we focus in and out at the same time. One of those shots if not more, will be sharp. It gets easier with time and the hit rate goes right up if you practise the method.......

Same method again. Out of this burst 2 keepers from 4 shots

Only the 800mm lens is tripod mounted, the 300 and 500 are all hand held, so anything around that range, get those shutter speeds up and try it. A monopod is excellent if you walk a lot, easy to carry and helps stability for sure.

Personally I like the range finder style camera with the EVF on the left. I shoot with my right eye, but keep both eyes open so I can see easily anything coming from my left into the frame.

Think that's about it really and will save me having to start a blog

All the best folks and just a few thoughts on it all and only IMO and what suits me, everyone is different.

Danny.

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