Low Angle Photography with Bird AI

This article discusses low angle photography with Bird AI and shares a selection of images where this technology was used. I’d like to thank area photographer Brian Floyd, for sharing his experiences with low angle photography with Bird AI, and providing the creative spark for this article.

There are different approaches to bird photography. In the past my focus was mainly on birds-in-flight. Perched birds, and those on the ground or in the water, also represent interesting photographic opportunities that I had been overlooking to a significant degree.

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, 1/1600, ISO-2500, cropped to 4923 pixels on the width, subject distance 6 metres, Bird Detection AI

Capturing images of birds at eye level increases the feeling of intimacy with the subject and creates a more natural feel with our photographs. This is easy to accomplish with birds perched in trees, but can be a challenge with birds at ground level.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-1250, cropped to 3797 pixels on the width, subject distance 4.7 metres, Bird Detection AI

Holding our cameras on the ground and using an articulating screen or flip screen allows us to create images that make us feel like we are a part of the action. Unfortunately birds are erratic and move quickly when hunting and foraging for food.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 276 mm, efov 552 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-1250, full frame capture, subject distance 4.6 metres, Bird Detection AI

This can make it very difficult to acquire focus as we try to compose our images from the rear screen and adjust our auto-focus point manually as the bird moves around. Using long, heavy telephoto lenses compounds the challenges associated with low angle photography.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-1600, cropped to 3971 pixels on the width, subject distance 4.6 metres, Bird Detection AI

The E-M1X’s Bird Detection AI is simply an incredible technology to use for low angle photography. It frees up a photographer to concentrate on keeping the bird properly positioned on the rear screen of their camera, and not worry about moving an auto-focusing point around.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-1250, full frame capture, subject distance 4.6 metres, Bird Detection AI

It is hard to describe the feeling of using the E-M1X to capture the images in this article, and not having to worry about whether they will be in focus.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-1250, full frame capture, subject distance 4.8 metres, Bird Detection AI

I suppose the best way to describe it would be a combination of confidence, liberation, inquisitiveness, creativity and awe.  Low angle photography with Bird AI opens up a plethora of bird photography opportunities.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-1250, cropped to 4236 pixels on the width, subject distance 5.3 metres, Bird Detection AI

The fact that my E-M1X’s Bird Detection AI could nail the focus with the image above impressed the heck out of me. I seriously doubt that I could have accomplished this by manually adjusting an auto-focus point given how much the cardinal was hopping and bobbing around as it was foraging.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-1600, full frame capture, subject distance 4.6 metres, Bird Detection AI

I should mention that I am still not fully recovered from the knee injury that I sustained in the early summer. So all of the photographs in this article were captured while I was still under some physical restraint. I can only imagine the amount of additional photographic opportunities that I will be able to capture once I am fully mobile.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-1250, full frame capture, subject distance 4.8 metres, Bird Detection AI

Since it was launched the E-M1X has faced all kinds of criticism from people about its weight, physical dimensions, and sensor size. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t judge a camera on what really matters… the photographs that it makes possible when the camera is in your hands.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-1600, full frame capture, subject distance 4.6 metres, Bird Detection AI

Having owned full frame equipment in the past I do understand some of the benefits like low light performance and image resolution. These potential benefits disappear if your camera gear is too large and heavy, and ends up getting in the way of capturing photographs, or otherwise limits your photographic potential.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-1600, cropped to 4611 pixels on the width, subject distance 4.6 metres, Bird Detection AI

When fitted with the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS, my E-M1X combination weighs about 2.1 KG (~4.6 lbs.) and delivers an efov of 800 mm. Using the MC-14 teleconverter adds 170 grams of weight and increases the efov to 1120 mm at f/9.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-2000, full frame capture, subject distance 4.8 metres, Bird Detection AI

Compared to other camera formats this makes my kit lightweight and extremely portable. Add incredible technology like Pro Capture and the E-M1X’s Bird Detection AI and my bird photography possibilities increase dramatically.

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-2000, full frame capture, subject distance 5.9 metres, Bird Detection AI

Low angle photography with Bird AI can also be used to capture some of nature’s more beautiful creations. My bird photography GAS is gone. I have exactly what I need.

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 where appropriate.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 359 mm, efov 718 mm, f/8.7, 1/2000, ISO-5000, full frame capture, subject distance 3.9 metres, Bird Detection AI

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