I’ve had my Nikon 1 V3 for about a week and a half and finally got the opportunity to go out and shoot with it with a bit of sun in the sky. Not much mind you…but at least it wasn’t totally overcast. I took about 45 minutes out of my rather hectic schedule to experiment shooting birds-in-flight (BIF) at Grimsby harbour. I ended up making some changes to my Nikon 1 V3 BIF technique this morning and got a lot more keepers with these adjustments.
Note: Click on images to enlarge.
I like using gulls as practice subjects as they are more erratic flyers than large birds like geese, and tend to take flight and land much more frequently, creating more test image opportunities.
Some things didn’t change. I still used AF-C with subject tracking.. I switched from shooting at 20 fps down to 10 fps. I found that this frame rate was still fast enough to yield a good assortment of wing positions with the birds.
Obviously my buffer filled at half the speed and I found that I was able to shoot in short to medium bursts without having to worry about missing shots due to a full buffer.
I used Manual settings and shot using Auto-ISO160-3200, letting my ISO float as needed.
I’m quite used to extending my 1 Nikon CX 70-300 out full and picking up incoming birds using a focal length of 300 mm when shooting with my Nikon 1 V2s.
I noticed today that the Nikon 1 V3 seems to have a little bit of difficulty picking up a bird and acquiring focus on it when the CX 70-300 is fully extended. And, when my V3 misses a bird…it really misses and hunts for a while, causing a lost image opportunity.
I decided to back off my CX 70-300 mm to about 200 mm to 220 mm as I was trying to pick up approaching birds in the V3’s EVF. I wanted to see if having the bird a bit smaller in the frame would help the V3 better acquire initial focus.
The V3’s auto-focus worked quite a bit better when more of the subject was showing in the frame using the 200 mm-220 mm zoom starting position.
Once the V3 acquired initial focus I would then zoom in (at a moderate speed) to fill more of the frame with the incoming subject bird.
To help ensure that I wouldn’t lose focus while adjusting my focal length I lightly tapped the shutter once or twice during the zoom adjustment.
The shutter taps worked quite well and in the vast majority of cases I didn’t have any issues holding auto-focus while zooming in.
Going from about 200-220 mm out to 300 mm on the Nikon 1 CX 70-300 is only about a 1/8th rotation of the zoom ring so it was quite easy to do.
I know a few readers have mentioned that they have also been experiencing a lower keeper rate when using their Nikon 1 V3 compared to a V2. Hopefully this modest BIF technique adjustment will work as well for you as it has for me.
All of the images in this article were captured hand-held in available light using a Nikon 1 V3 and 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens. All images were created from RAW files using my standard process of OpticsPro 11, CS6 and Nik Suite.
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