Flying In To A Crowd

Attempting to photograph a bird that is flying in to a crowd of other birds can often be an auto-focus challenge for our camera gear. This article shares a selection of 15 consecutive photographs of a drake Black Duck flying in to a crowd of other ducks situated on a frozen harbour.

The more that I have been using my OM-D E-M1X’s Bird Detection AI subject tracking, the more comfortable that I am using this technology in these types of challenging situations.

The photographs featured in this article were captured handheld using an OM-D E-M1X fitted with an M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom along with the M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter. All images were captured at an equivalent field-of-view (efov) of 1120 mm, using Bird Detection AI subject tracking..

Let’s have a look at this series of 15 consecutive photographs. It starts with the drake Black Duck flying by itself, then slowing down and flying in to a crowd of other ducks. The subject bird was approximately 50 to 56 metres (~164 to 184 feet) distant from my shooting position.

Our thanks to one of our readers (Glen Fox) for identifying the duck in these photographs as a drake Black Duck. We made a correction to the original article.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

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-1250, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3189 pixels on the width
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-1250, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3537 pixels on the width
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-1250, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3533 pixels on the width
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-1250, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3857 pixels on the width
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-1250, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3618 pixels on the width
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-1250, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3665 pixels on the width
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-1000, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3534 pixels on the width
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-1000, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3537 pixels on the width
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-1000, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3520 pixels on the width
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-1000, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3535 pixels on the width
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-1000, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4571 pixels on the width
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-1000, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4530 pixels on the width
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-1000, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4511 pixels on the width
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-1000, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4626 pixels on the width
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-1000, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4628 pixels on the width

The bird photography settings that I use were outlined in a previous article. Another earlier article provided some Bird Detection AI tips.

For my style of handheld bird photography the OM-D E-M1X along with my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 zoom and M.Zuiko teleconverters (i.e. MC-14 and MC-20) have proven to be perfect for my needs. I am continually amazed at the flexibility and performance that this equipment provides. Technology like Pro Capture and Bird Detection AI further expands ‘what is possible’ when I’m out photographing birds.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear and technology as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted as appropriate.

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4 thoughts on “Flying In To A Crowd”

  1. Awesome article. When i first loaded the 100-400 on my EM1X, I was disappointed. Then I went back out and tried again, not using the Bird AI. I had a better keeper rate. However, I still needs lots of practice with this setup and the Bird AI. Thank you for the read!

    1. Hi Randy,

      Bird Detection AI does take some time, technique and patience. My first attempt with birds-in-flight did not go as well as I was hoping. The main issue was my lack of skill and understanding on how to use it.

      Tom

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