How about some A6000 AF-C birds-in-flight!?

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zackiedawg
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How about some A6000 AF-C birds-in-flight!?
7 months ago

This past weekend, the light still wouldn't completely cooperate - it wasn't rainy this time, but the sun was spotty with a mix of clouds and overcast, and then occasional bursts of sun breaking through.  That made for some better environment for birds-in-flight this time from the A6000 - though I still can't wait until I can get some consistently attractive blue skies for backgrounds instead of overcast blown out looking white and grey!

Had lots of fun and really getting the hang of the A6000 - it's made BIF shooting pretty downright effortless now...at least as good and as easy as with my DSLR - actually, I give one advantage to the A6000, and that's having memory banks to store settings, which I don't have on the DSLR - so I can very quickly and easily switch from static targets to moving targets by just changing from bank 1 to bank 2, and not having to change all the various focus and drive settings.

I am truly impressed at how fast this camera can acquire a moving target - I've already known how well continuous focus can follow along with a moving subject, but I've been very impressed at just how quickly I can take a sudden shot with no warning...I catch something in my peripheral vision, realize a bird is coming straight at me and less than 20 feet away, pull up the camera to my eye and jam at the shutter while trying to frame the bird, all in less than 1 second, and even if I didn't get the bird in frame or cut off the wings, the focus system has properly acquired the bird - I've got a bunch of shots of perfectly focused bird torsos and partially-cut-off heads in perfect focus, because I had no chance to get the camera up and frame the subject in time but still tried to get the shot, and the focus nailed it...it's shockingly good at that first grab.  I venture to say, better than my DSLR at this - but the main caveat there is that my DSLR is using a screw-drive lens, so if I'm not at the right end of the focus, it may take that extra 1/2 second to dial in the bird...once I get it, the DSLR can track no problem.  The A6000's initial acquisition at least with the shorter 55-210mm lens is actually faster.

Anyway, here are some bird-in-flight shots, taken with the 55-210mm lens - this time I was shooting without the DH1758 extender - since I knew I was mostly shooting birds in flight, and would have the birds generally within 70 feet, I knew I could get away with the 210mm max focal.  I also didn't use lock-on AF this time - I stuck strictly with AF-C mode, wide focus area, 6fps drive mode.  I was shooting not only empty-sky backgrounds, but also birds against very busy greenery backgrounds - however, I've become confident that the PDAF system defaults to the subject closest to the lens in wide mode, and indeed it acquires the bird flying in front of the background rather than the background quite effortlessly...I think having a longer focal length with shallower depth of field helps the PDAF system easily discern proximity, as it works quite reliably, over and over again.  Here goes:

Here, a lovely ibis was flying around me.  Cloudy sky at the time, and he was flying in front of the grasses - wide focus area picked up the bird nicely.

I picked a few shots to show some 100% crops from the originals...these are 1600 pixel long cut-outs from the full shot - you can see the shot I posted above was a crop from the original.  Detail's not too bad at all for overcast skies and a moving target from about 30 feet away (look at the large size photo)

A tricolor heron flies across a busy tangle of trees - very overcast here, so I ended up underexposing a tad since I had tracked him from the open grey skies into the trees.

Here's a 3 shot tracking sequence of a cattle egret coming in past me - he covered about 40 feet from left to right, and closed from around 30 feet distance to around 20 feet, all within 1 second...he was really booking!

All of these are crops from the original.

Last shot as he started banking away

Here's another 100% crop from that last shot - this is a 1600 pixel cut-out from the full sized original again, when viewed in the original size.

Here comes a big boy!  Great blue heron, flying on low approach

Darn those overcast cloudy skies - not the most attractive backgrounds, but the bird is large and graceful in its awkward way!

Here, another great blue heron makes a banking maneuver around a tree full of nesting cormorants

A cattle egret was flying right off the water, then pulled up at the last minute to go up over the boardwalk I was standing on

All shots were taken in JPG mode, with Vivid settings, at contrast 0, sharpness -1, and saturation -1...most shots cropped from the original and resized for web (except the 100% crops, which are not resized).

Comments, questions, critique welcomed as always.

Hopefully you enjoyed a look at some of Florida's graceful herons and egrets and ibises in flight!

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Justin
galleries: www.pbase.com/zackiedawg

 zackiedawg's gear list:zackiedawg's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A580 Sony Alpha NEX-5N Sony a6000 Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony E 16mm F2.8 Pancake +24 more
Sony a6000
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