Seeking ways of tracking birds in flight with 500mm lens

Started May 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
Barry Pearson
OP Barry Pearson Veteran Member • Posts: 7,656
Re: Seeking ways of tracking birds in flight with 500mm lens

brandrx wrote:

For shooting at the BIF's with the Sigma 500mm f4.5 from a heavy tripod and gimbal you need to make sure you have perfect balance in such a way that all of the lock downs can be completely loose and you have the ability to manuver your lens as easy as moving it with one finger. It should be balanced in such a way that even with the lock downs completely loose that the lens stays wherever it is pointed if you let go of it with your hands.

For BIF's in the sky use AF-C, Auto 5 or Auto 11, Continuous High, and then pray.

If the BIF's are surrounded by vegetation in the background then use AF-C, Center Point focus, Continuous high, then pray.


I have now balanced the 500mm on the gimbal at home, and wrapped tape in 2 places round the tripod bracket so that the Arca clamp of the gimbal just fits between. This makes it easy to rapidly get perfect balance in the field. (As you say, one finger movement with no tendency to move by itself. My Pentax lenses are really too small for the gimbal and perfect balance can't be achieved, but it can with this lens).

The rest of what you say is like airplanes at airshows. (But when panning cars and bikes I have sometimes used a selected AF point to the left or right so that I can aim at the center of the subject but ensure that the front of it, to one side of the center, is sharpest).

ps: If I am walking a lot I leave my heavy tripod in the car and use a light-weight 4-section tripod! Aaaarrrggh! No one will take me seriously again! But I'm either using a fast shutter speed or panning, so carriability is more important than rigidity.

 Barry Pearson's gear list:Barry Pearson's gear list
Panasonic LX100 Pentax K-3 II Pentax K-1 Pentax smc DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM Pentax smc DA 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 ED (IF) Fisheye +20 more
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