BIF Practise at 1120 mm

This article shares some new images that I captured yesterday while doing a BIF practise session at 1120 mm equivalent field-of-view. It also provides some details on the parameters that I used for this BIF practise session at 1120 mm efov.

I set some simple rules for myself when doing this BIF practise session yesterday.

  • After selecting my shooting location I had to remain stationary for the duration of my BIF practise session.
  • I had to select one focal length and keep it constant throughout the BIF practise session.
  • If the birds flew in close to me I had to keep on shooting even if the bird more than filled the frame.
  • No chimping was allowed. I had to maintain my focus on photographic opportunities at all times.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge. All photographs are displayed as full frame captures without any cropping.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 45.4 metres, full frame capture

I took my photographer’s stool with me and selected a spot along the shoreline of the harbour. The sun was at my back and my vantage point gave me about a 45-60 degree view of the most likely flight path that incoming birds would use. I remained seated at this location for the entire BIF practise session.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 28.9 metres, full frame capture

I fully extended my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom and affixed my M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter. This gave me a focal length of 560 mm, with an equivalent field-of-view of 1120 mm. I used this focal length throughout my BIF practice session.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-500, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 26.8 metres, full frame capture

Since the harbour is completely blocked in by ice the ducks, geese and gulls have a lot of surface area on which to land. There were a number of occasions when the birds flew in close enough to me that they more than filled the frame of my camera.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-500, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 20.2 metres, full frame capture
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-500, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 49.6 metres, full frame capture
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-500, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 47.5 metres, full frame capture
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1250, ISO-320, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 15.5 metres, full frame capture

When we’re out with our cameras many of us have a bad habit of chimping after we’ve taken a few photographs. Often we end up missing other photographic opportunities as we look at images on the rear screens of our cameras.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-500, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 30.1 metres, full frame capture

The other risk with chimping is that we break our concentration in terms of scanning for incoming birds. By not allowing myself to chimp, I was able to maintain my concentration and continue my visual scanning to identify potential subject birds.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-400, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 20.4 metres, full frame capture

Forcing myself to use a long focal length of 560 mm (efov 1120 mm) was designed to strengthen my eye/hand coordination when working with this long focal length. As we all know, it takes ongoing practise to maintain good eye/hand coordination… especially when using long telephoto lenses.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1250, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 24 metres, full frame capture

I used my E-M1X’s Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking for all of the images in this article. I am now sufficiently comfortable with this technology that it is definitely my preferred auto-focusing choice for all of my bird photography, including birds-in-flight.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 19.7 metres, full frame capture

Over the past couple of months It did take a little bit of time to adjust my technique with Bird Detection AI. Now that I’m familiar with using it, the technology feels quite natural. I’m looking forward to other AI Subject Tracking that OM Digital may introduce in the future.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1250, ISO-320, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 27.3 metres, full frame capture

I find using Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking allows me to better concentrate on getting birds-in-flight properly framed in my composition, rather than worrying about acquiring focus.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-500, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 27.7 metres, full frame capture

Setting specific parameters for myself when doing a BIF practise session helps to develop specific skills and build muscle memory with my camera gear. Although I plan to do more field work and practise using my M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter… the MC-14 really feels like a perfect partner for my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5.-6.3 IS zoom.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. All photographs are displayed as full frame captures without any cropping done to them.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 33.4 metres, full frame capture

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4 thoughts on “BIF Practise at 1120 mm”

  1. Excellent information!

    Just curious, what are you using as your “photographer’s stool”? I’m looking for something with straps that I can tote on my back in an easily-collapsable or fully set-up position (for rapid deployment).

  2. Hi Some great photos there, what I noticed was that the ISO and shutter speed change from shot to shot. Do you set shutter speed and use auto iso.
    Just really wondering how you nail the exposure so well.
    I have the same gear, minus the mc2.0, but find the greatest difficulty is actually finding the bird in the frame in the first place! So much so I’ve gone back to using the 300f4, wider fov.

    Regards 3

    1. Hi Neil,

      Thanks for your comment and questions!

      I shoot in Manual mode with Auto-ISO. The shutter speed changed as I was doing a bit of experimentation in that regard. I typically shoot larger birds-in-flight using a shutter speed of 1/1600 or higher.

      My most common metering is ESP, which is what I used for all of the photographs in this article. All of the Custom Modes (C1-C4) on the E-M1X that I use for bird photography are all set up using this metering mode. I use DxO PhotoLab 4 as my main RAW processor as I really like the auto camera/lens corrections. PhotoLab has the DxO Smart Lighting Spot Weighted tool which I use with every one of my photographs to help balance out the exposure. Perhaps it is a combination of the ESP metering and the PhotoLab 4 DxO Smart Lighting Spot Weighted tool. I try very hard to get as much of a subject bird in my frame as possible, which could also help with exposures.

      I agree that finding a bird in the frame can be a challenge. After I sold all of my full frame gear in July 2015 I used the Nikon 1 system exclusively for 4 years. During this time I shot extensively with the 1 Nikkor 70-300. This zoom has an efov of 189-810, so I became very used to shooting with that lens fully extended with an efov of 810 mm in terms of eye/hand coordination. Developing my eye/hand coordination to go from an efov of 810 mm to 1120 mm did take practise… although it wasn’t as hard as I initially anticipated.

      I periodically force myself to shoot with my M.Zuiko 100-400 fully extended with the MC-14 teleconverter (efov 1120 mm) for several hours at a time to keep developing and reinforcing my eye/hand coordination. During the pandemic lock-downs I have regularly gone into my backyard to practice my eye/hand coordination with the 100-400 mm/1.4 teleconverter combination. I pick out different subjects in the backyard, then quickly put my camera up to my eye to try to find that item in my EVF. At the end of the day it just comes down to practising eye/hand coordination and muscle memory.

      I’m still working on developing my eye/hand coordination when using the M.Zuiko 100-400 with the MC-20 teleconverter. This will take a lot more work than when using the MC-14!

      If you’re having difficulty finding a bird in the frame, you can start with your 100-400 only partially extended. In situations where I may have limited time to pan with a bird, I sometimes shoot this lens with a starting focal length of about 200-250 mm. Once I acquire the bird in my frame I can quickly use my thumb to extend the focal length as needed. When possible, my preference is always to shoot birds-in-flight with my zoom lens fully extended as it helps me maintain eye/hand coordination and muscle memory.

      Hope this has helped.

      Tom

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