Seeking ways of tracking birds in flight with 500mm lens

Started May 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
miles green
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Re: Seeking ways of tracking birds in flight with 500mm lens
In reply to Barry Pearson, May 23, 2013

Congrats on the 500!!!!

I don't have a 500 (i'm jealous!), but i can share my experiences with my 70-200 f/2.8 + 2xTC, and with my 400mm f/5.6 manual focus. Neither are as long or as fast, but some things apply to all. I use the 400 a lot more than the zoom+TC combo, as the IQ is not comparable.

Getting focused and sharp shots out of such a lens takes practice, and surely more so with the 500 than with my 400s. My pictures are getting better with practice, and if i get distracted and sloppy, it's immediately visible in the output..

Like a 500mm, a 400mm will still make a bird invisible if focus is at the opposite end, even if said bird is in the middle of the frame. So it's important to pre-focus on something at about the same distance as the bird, otherwise you'll never find it!

One trick i found to get the bird in the frame (which i use a lot at 800mm with the TC on the 400) is a little like your 2-eye technique: While keeping my right eye to the viewfinder, using my left eye, I try to align the bird with the axis of the lens. The right eye takes over again when i see the bird in the viewfinder. As i said, the lens needs to be pre-focused.

After that, with the 400, i try to keep the bird centered and rely on CIF while trying to keep the bird in focus. Obviously AF makes life easier, but i still try to keep the bird in the middle and worry about composition later (=cropping, streaching the background, etc). Maybe this will change as i get better.

Handheld is easier that with the gimbal imho.

I hope this helps!

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Miles Green
Pentaxian with chronic LBA
Corfu, Greece

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