Bufflehead In Flight ISO-6400

This article features 15 consecutive images of a bufflehead in flight captured handheld with an E-M1X using Pro Capture H at ISO-6400. I captured these images on a practice day that I had designated as “Pro Capture H day”.  All of the photographs from that outing were created using Pro Capture H at 60 frames-per-second, and utilizing a single auto-focus point.

The  bufflehead in flight illustrated in this article was 49.6 metres away (~163 feet). To capture the images in this article I backed off my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom and M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter to 464 mm, or an equivalent field-of-view of 928 mm. This made finding the bufflehead in flight in my viewfinder a bit easier, as well as enabling me to get a single auto-focus point placed accurately on the bird-in-flight.

Since the first frame locks focus and exposure when using Pro Capture H with an E-M1X it is prudent to consider focal length and distance to subject.

For example, the bufflehead in flight in this article was 49.6 metres away and was captured using a focal length of 464 mm at f/8.9 on a M4/3 camera. This combination of subject distance, aperture and focal length would create a bit more than 3 metres of depth-of-field. This gives a photographer a fair amount of leeway with the bird’s flight path in terms of the subject bird staying in focus.

Photographing this same bird with the same aperture and distance to subject, but with the lens fully extended to 560 mm (efov 1120 mm) would have reduced the depth-of-field by about 1/3.

As discussed in a number of previous articles, fitting ongoing time into our schedules to regularly practice handheld bird-in-flight technique is important as it helps to build and maintain eye/hand coordination and shutter release timing.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3001 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3000 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3001 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 2999 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 2999 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3001 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3001 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3001 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3001 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3001 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3001 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 2999 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 2999 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3001 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 464 mm, efov 928 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3001 pixels on the width, subject distance 49.6 metres

Regardless of the sensor format, brand or model of our camera gear, ongoing experimentation is a terrific way to extend our personal photographic skills and also get the most out of the equipment that we own.

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.  Crops are noted. Photographs were resized for web use. This is the 1,147 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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10 thoughts on “Bufflehead In Flight ISO-6400”

  1. Do you use a super fast [expensive] memory card when shooting pro capture?
    My main camera is a om-d 1 mk ii ,i also have an em-5 ii

    1. Hi Stephen,

      If your camera can use UHS-II SD cards it is a good idea to buy these faster cards if you want better performance from your camera. I’ve been using Transcend UHS-II V90 64GB SD cards. At some point when it comes time to replace my existing cards I would buy UHS-II cards with a faster write speed as I do occasionally have to wait for my buffer to clear when shooting hectic action. Most of the time its not an issue for me.

      Keep in mind that there is no point using a UHS-II card in a standard UHS slot on your camera since it won’t be able to utilize the second row of pins.

      Tom

      1. Thanks very much,
        I have already dabbled with pro-capture high and had no trouble with the buffer on my san disk card.
        Just need to work on my anticipation skills !!

        1. Hi Stephen,

          If your SanDisk cards are performing to your satisfaction there’s no need to replace them. Watching bird behaviour and noting actions that precede them taking flight should prove useful for your anticipation skills.

          Tom

  2. So you focus on the bird while panning ,then press the shutter and bingo you get these great images?
    Obvious skill and technique involved but in theory a good method for photographing birds in flight, is that true?

    1. Hi Stephen,

      You are correct. Pan with the bird, half-depress the shutter to acquire auto-focus on the bird, as soon as the camera beeps when it has acquired focus then follow through by fully depressing the shutter release to write the temporary files to the memory card. Since the first frame locks focus and exposure for the rest of the run, the timing is key.

      Using Pro Capture H can work for birds-in-flight given the right opportunity.

      Tom

    2. Hi Stephen,

      You are correct. Pan with the bird, half-depress the shutter to acquire auto-focus on the bird, as soon as the camera beeps when it has acquired focus then follow through by fully depressing the shutter release to write the temporary files to the memory card. Since the first frame locks focus and exposure for the rest of the run, the timing is key.

      Using Pro Capture H can work for birds-in-flight given the right opportunity.

      Tom

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