BIF Fast Response Practice

This article discusses a BIF fast response practice exercise that I do on a periodic basis as well as sharing some recent images captured during one of these practice sessions.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 234 mm, efov 468 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-640, Pro Capture L, cropped to 4728 pixels on the width, subject distance 10.1 metres

As regular readers know, I’m a firm believer in ongoing practice to develop and maintain the physical skills associated with handheld photography. This becomes increasingly important as we age.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 200 mm, efov 400 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-400, Pro Capture L, cropped to 4644 pixels on the width, subject distance 13.1 metres

The BIF fast response practice exercise featured in this article has one primary goal… to increase the speed at which we can locate a bird-in-flight in our viewfinder and quickly capture images of it.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 179 mm, efov 358 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-1000, Pro Capture L, cropped to 4056 pixels on the width, subject distance 10.4 metres

Since I almost never use my wife’s E-M1 Mark III and accompanying M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II zoom lens, I decided to use that equipment combination for this practice exercise.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 156 mm, efov 312 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-500, Pro Capture L, cropped to 4512 pixels on the width, subject distance 9.1 metres

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this camera gear so I decided to use Pro Capture L set at 10 frames-per-second with the Frame Limiter turned off. I used Continuous Auto-Focus (C-AF) with sensitivity set to +2, along with a 3×3 AF grid. I kept the AF grid positioned in centre frame.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 156 mm, efov 312 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-640, Pro Capture L, cropped to 3468 pixels on the width, subject distance 11.7 metres

I popped a couple of my 64GB UHS-II SD cards in the E-M1 Mark III and set a goal of filling the two cards as quickly as possible, while attempting to capture as many usable photographs as possible.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 194 mm, efov 388 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-500, Pro Capture L, cropped to 3900 pixels on the width, subject distance 13.1 metres

To conduct an effective BIF quick response practice exercise it is important to have a plentiful amount of subject birds-in-flight that are proximate to your shooting position for a good duration of time.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 179 mm, efov 358 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-640, Pro Capture L, cropped to 5064 pixels on the width, subject distance 10.6 metres

It was a blustery morning with a stiff wind coming out of the west which suited my purposes. So, I headed off to Grimsby harbour hoping that I’d find a good population of gulls. Lady Luck smiled down on me and I was greeted with a plentiful selection of gulls in flight.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 179 mm, efov 358 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-640, Pro Capture L, cropped to 4260 pixels on the width, subject distance 12.4 metres

After watching them for a few minutes I decided to sit on a park bench close to the shoreline as it gave me a good shooting angle on the most common flight path being used by the gulls.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 179 mm, efov 358 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-1600, Pro Capture L, cropped to 3300 pixels on the width, subject distance 13.2 metres

Once properly positioned I began firing off Pro Capture L image runs as quickly as I could as the gulls flew past my position. When my first card was full, I momentarily stopped and switched it out for a fresh UHS-II SD card in slot 1 so I could take advantage of its faster writing speed.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 179 mm, efov 358 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-1000, Pro Capture L, cropped to 4584 pixels on the width, subject distance 11.4 metres

As could be reasonably expected when shooting at such a torrid pace there were a few times when the E-M1 Mark III struggled a bit to clear its buffer. I ignored those struggles and just kept firing away and missed a few photographs.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 179 mm, efov 358 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-500, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 10.9 metres

It took me 32 minutes to fill both of my 64GB UHS-II SD cards with a total of just under 4,500 photographs. That meant that I averaged about 140 photographs per minute during my BIF fast response practice exercise.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 179 mm, efov 358 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-320, Pro Capture L, cropped to 4488 pixels on the width, subject distance 11.8 metres

When shooting at this kind of continuously fast pace it can be difficult to maintain proper technique for the duration of the exercise. I kept focused on my primary goal of quickly finding birds-in-flight in my viewfinder and grabbing as many photographs as fast as I could. Obviously I missed a number of photographs as my technique would best be described as ‘variable’. 🙂

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 187 mm, efov 374 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-1250, Pro Capture L, cropped to 4728 pixels on the width, subject distance 10.2 metres

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the number of usable images generated during my BIF fast response exercise. The E-M1 Mark III performed quite well in terms of acquiring auto-focus. I ended up capturing a wheelbarrow full of images that were surplus to my needs.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 187 mm, efov 374 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-1250, Pro Capture L, cropped to 4160 pixels on the width, subject distance 10.2 metres

Doing this exercise reinforced my previous experience in terms of the comfort and ergonomics of the Mark II and Mark III cameras. Quite simply I do not find either of these cameras the least bit comfortable to use for any decent duration of time.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-640, Pro Capture L, cropped to 4956 pixels on the width, subject distance 10.4 metres

I have large hands and there isn’t enough room on the grip for my little finger so I have to tuck it underneath the camera body. I find this very uncomfortable. When using heavier lenses like the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 or M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS I quickly get painful cramps in my forearm when using those lenses with either the Mark II or Mark III.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-1000, Pro Capture L, cropped to 2748 pixels on the height, subject distance 17.5 metres

For a consumer grade lens the M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II performed well. I stopped the lens down slightly to f/8 to give me a bit more depth-of-field as the gulls were flying in fairly close to me. I also assumed that many owners of this lens would likely stop it down a bit in order to increase sharpness slightly.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-1000, Pro Capture L, cropped to 4188 pixels on the width, subject distance 13.8 metres

When buying lenses it is critical to have realistic expectations. As a consumer grade lens costing about $800 in Canada, the M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II can not be expected to perform as well optically as the M.Zuiko 100-400 or the higher end PRO nature lenses like the 40-150 mm f/2.8, 300 mm f/4 IS or the 150-400 mm IS. These lenses cost between 2.5 to 12.5 times more money.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-1250, Pro Capture L, cropped to 5076 pixels on the width, subject distance 11.3 metres

The M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II is quite a capable, small and lightweight lens. It is ideal as a telephoto zoom for travel or for photographers who occasionally like to photograph sports, birds and wildlife in good light… but don’t want to break the bank with a more expensive option.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-640, Pro Capture L, cropped to 4356 pixels on the width, subject distance 14.8 metres

As is the case with any telephoto lens, for best results it is important to get as many pixels on a subject bird as possible, and to use a fast enough shutter speed.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-1250, Pro Capture L, cropped to 4728 pixels on the width, subject distance 11.4 metres

Overall, my recent BIF fast response practice exercise was a successful experiment. I was pleased with the quantity and quality of the images that I was able to capture during a very compressed timeframe, and my wife’s E-M1 Mark III and M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II both performed well. As time permits I’ll be doing a few more bird photography experiments with this equipment combination.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-800, Pro Capture L, cropped to 4825 pixels on the width, subject distance 13.5 metres

I brought an extra battery with me but did not have to use it. I put in a freshly charged battery in the E-M1 Mark III before leaving home. After capturing almost 4,500 images in 32 minutes of total shooting time, I still had 72% battery power remaining after completing my BIF fast response practice exercise.

Regardless of the camera gear that we may happen to use, periodically challenging ourselves with speed-related exercises can help to build and maintain our handheld photographic skills.

E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-800, Pro Capture L, cropped to 3060 pixels on the height, subject distance 8.3 metres

Technical Note:

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.  Photographs were resized for web use. This is the 1,151 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-800, Pro Capture L, cropped to 2916 pixels on the height, subject distance 13.5 metres

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6 thoughts on “BIF Fast Response Practice”

  1. Regarding being uncomfortable shooting with the EM 1 ii/iii would just adding the battery grip make the handling the same as the EM 1 X ?

    1. Hi Stephen,

      Adding a grip may help alleviate the cramping/pain that I experience with the Mark II/Mark III but it would not make the camera handle in the exact same manner as the E-M1X as the button/control placement with the E-M1X is identical in landscape and portrait orientations.

      Since I already own two E-M1X bodies I have no need to use my wife’s Mark III for the work that I do. She doesn’t need or want a grip, so there’s no point in us investing money in a grip for the Mark III. The only reason that I’ll likely use her Mark III is to occasionally produce some articles using that camera body for my readers from time to time.

      Tom

      1. Thanks, i am the same as your wife in that do not want or need a grip for my EM 1 ii .
        I am interested in the new OM-1 purely because i have seen the EVF’s on recent cameras like the leica SL2 and panasonic equivalent which have amazing clarity.
        If the new OM-1 is half as good as those EVF’s it will be twice as good as my EM-1 ii
        Sorry off topic.

        1. Hi Stephen,

          Never a need to apologize… readers determine the topic with their comments. From what has been publicized in the camera industry press it appears that the new EVF should be of excellent quality.

          I only use an EVF when photographing wildlife and birds-in-flight. For pretty much everything else I use the rear screen of my camera. I guess it is a habit that I developed over time shooting with the Nikon 1 J5 for many years.

          Tom

  2. Hi Thomas,

    Long time reader, first time commenting.

    I am giving mft a serious try with the m1x and a couple pro zooms. Really enjoying it, reminding me of my old Nikon D2H.

    I have been reading you site for articles on Olympus equipment. Your posts on BIF have been very helpful.

    Thank you
    Tony C.

    1. Hi Tony,

      I shot with Nikon gear for a number of years, finally ending up with the D800 full frame camera which I sold back in July 2015 along with all of my F-Mount lenses. I used the Nikon 1 system exclusively for about 4 years, then made the switch to Olympus in June 2019.

      I’m glad that you’ve been enjoying the site and that the articles have been of benefit.

      Tom

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