This article discusses the benefit of custom modes and illustrates this with 18 recently captured consecutive handheld images of a kingfisher in flight.
A few days ago I went to Hendrie Valley early in the morning to see if I could capture any images of birds-in-flight. This season has not been particularly productive so my level of optimism was modest.
I arrived before 7 AM and was met by a very quiet environment that was almost totally devoid of birds. After checking out an area that sometimes has some small birds I hiked back to the road bridge. I heard the call of a kingfisher but initially couldn’t discern its location. As I scanned the trees I spotted it on the very top of a tree that was about 40-50 metres in the distance.
A benefit of custom modes with my E-M1X is being able to quickly change camera settings based on the photographic opportunity at hand. I anticipated that the kingfisher was going to take flight. A quick click from C4 to C3 put my E-M1X into my typical Pro Capture H settings.
Since the kingfisher was pretty far away I had my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter fully extended to 560 mm (efov 1120 mm).
Rather than taking flight in a horizontal manner the kingfisher dropped almost straight down from its perch and disappeared from sight. There were a number of shorter trees that obscured my sightline and I had no idea where the kingfisher may reappear.
As mentioned, the benefit of custom modes and being able to instantly change camera settings. Without having to look down at my E-M1X I quickly made two clicks on the top dial and put my camera in C1 mode. These are the settings that I typically use for birds-in-flight.
The only photographic opportunity that I was going to have was if the kingfisher was flying towards me. Not wanting to miss this potential opportunity I backed my zoom lens off and kept my eyes peeled for any bird-in-flight emerging from behind the trees.
A split second later the kingfisher emerged in view. Using my C1 Custom Mode I was able to very quickly acquire auto-focus on the subject bird and grab the following run of 18 consecutive images. You will notice some unusual white plumage on the head of the kingfisher. Since this was its natural colouration I did not remove it in post. These images were aggressively cropped.
The benefit of custom modes in terms of being able to instantly change the settings of a camera to capture an immediate photographic opportunity cannot be overstated. All of the images illustrated in this article were captured in a total of 1 second. There is no doubt in my mind that without the benefit of custom modes I would have missed this opportunity completely.
If you have an Olympus/OM System camera and have not yet set up your Custom Modes I would encourage you to do so. This is especially true if you enjoy photographing birds. All of the 4 Custom Modes on one of my E-M1X bodies are all dedicated to bird photography.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard approach in post. Images were resized for web use. This is the 1,187 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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