Seeking ways of tracking birds in flight with 500mm lens

Started May 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
Barry Pearson
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Re: Seeking ways of tracking birds in flight with 500mm lens
In reply to KentG, May 24, 2013

KentG wrote:

You need to read how-to BIF articles from Art Morris (Birds as Art). The longest lens that can comfortably be used hand held for shooting BIF with a FF camera is a 400/5.6. That takes into account AF speed, how fast you can pan it, weight, keeper ratio, and the size of the FOV so you can keep it in the frame. That means due to the APS-C crop that with a smaller sensor it tends to be 300/4 due to the reduced FOV. People say that with APS-C "they just can't seem to get big shots with a 300/4" so they look for something bigger and longer. Invariably it is more of a lack of technique and knowing where to be with a given lens.

I've just had a quick look at some of his photos on-line. Beautiful!

But I have enough experience with my 300mm f/4 to know that I am not going to get what I want with that lens. I'm not Art Morris. Hence my "leap" to 500mm.

With a 500/4.5 it is like you are trying to hand hold a shot with a 750/4.5. And if you mount it on anything, including a Wimberly head you can't move it fast enough. BIF shots are almost 99% handheld. If the lens is too big and heavy for that you will seldom get anything. Anything longer and heavier than a 300/2.8 is just impossible to use very well (APS-C) and even that requires some good upper body strength.

I am going to have to try to defy those statistics! If I can't, I'll at least have fun trying. (I can fail without going broke because I'm an amateur).

Experience with non-bird photography suggests that a longer lens enables greater distance, which in turn reduces the panning speed. But perhaps I've made a serious mistake and I've headed off in the wrong direction!

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