Ducks In Flight at 1600 MM

As a follow up to an earlier posting, this article features images of ducks in flight at 1600 mm (efov). All photographs were captured handheld using an E-M1X with its Bird Detection AI subject tracking. The rest of the gear set-up included an M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS and an M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2500, ISO-5000, subject distance 34.4 metres, cropped to 4380 pixels on the width

Photographing ducks in flight at 1600 mm equivalent field-of-view (efov) is an interesting challenge. Simply finding a subject bird in one’s viewfinder can begin as an exercise in frustration.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, -0.3 EV, 1/2500, ISO-3200, subject distance 38.3 metres, cropped to 4017 pixels on the width

With patient practice it took me over an hour of regularly failed attempts, before I could develop the basic level of hand/eye coordination required to use a lens/teleconverter combination of this efov to a modicum of proficiency.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, -0.3 EV, 1/2500, ISO-3200, subject distance 38.4 metres, cropped to 4707 pixels on the width

The physical aspects of hand/eye coordination are important… but so too is staying calm emotionally and focusing mentally on the task at hand. It takes a good amount of concentration to stay focused on a bird that is flying rapidly only 30 to 40 metres away.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2500, ISO-6400, subject distance 34.2 metres, full frame capture

I did manage a few good, full frame captures where the subject bird was nicely framed in my photographs. If you look at the feather details around the eyes in the photograph immediately above, and below, you’ll notice that these are different birds.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2500, ISO-5000, subject distance 29.6 metres, full frame capture

Most of time I ended up clipping wings or part of a bird’s body as I tried to frame the bird in my composition as it quickly closed in on my position. As you can see from the following images, patience paid off, and I was able to get some reasonable photographs that didn’t require crops that were overly aggressive.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2500, ISO-5000, subject distance 29.5 metres, cropped to 4417 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2500, ISO-4000, subject distance 58.1 metres, cropped to 3783 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2500, ISO-5000, subject distance 59.9 metres, cropped to 3649 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, -0.3 EV, 1/2500, ISO-3200, subject distance 35.7 metres, cropped to 3975 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2000, ISO-4000, subject distance 52.2 metres, cropped to 4426 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2500, ISO-5000, subject distance 33.8 metres, cropped to 4449 pixels on the width

Some photographs, like the one above, were of special interest. I don’t recall ever seeing the details on the feet of this species of duck before. It was almost as if these ducks are wearing black and white saddle shoes from the 1950’s! My favourite photograph from my “ducks in flight at 1600 mm” adventure is illustrated below.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, -0.3 EV, 1/2500, ISO-4000, subject distance 35.6 metres, cropped to 3867 pixels on the width

I love the body position of this bird and how its tail is dragging along the surface of the water. This photograph was captured from a distance of 35.6 metres (~116.8 feet) as estimated by my E-M1X.

I really appreciate that from this shooting distance my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter could deliver sufficient image quality that reveals skin details on the duck’s feet and legs, as well as with the bird’s lamellae (i.e. fringe like structures on the sides of its bill). That’s with the lens fully extended and used with a 2X teleconverter for an equivalent field-of-view of 1600 mm. Plus, the image was cropped to 3867 pixels on the width. Suffice to say that I love this lens!

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. Crops are noted where applicable. The DxO PhotoLab 4 lens module for the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom was used for these photographs.

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