This article shares an image run of 15 consecutive photographs and discusses various Pro Capture settings with some emphasis on Pre-Shutter Frames. One of the technologies that I find indispensable with my E-M1X is Pro Capture. I use both Pro Capture L and Pro Capture H on a very regular basis when photographing birds-in-motion as well as flying insects such as bees, wasps, butterflies and dragonflies.
The 15 consecutive photographs in this article show an egret making a fishing strike in one of the ponds at Hendrie Valley. This series of images was captured handheld in a total of 1/4 of a second. I used a frame rate of 60 frames-per-second, a single auto-focusing point, Auto-ISO, and 15 Pre-Shutter Frames with my Frame Limiter turned off. This posting explains my rationale for these settings.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
When using Pro Capture a photographer must have a clear idea of the purpose of their image run, as well as the shooting conditions, and the dynamics of the subject bird. For example, the objective of the image run featured in this article was to capture an egret’s fishing strike from a standing position through to it creating a surface splash.
Since the egret was in a stationary position there was no necessity for me to use Pro Capture L. This mode provides a photographer with continuous auto-focus up to a maximum frame rate of 18 frames-per-second.
My goal was to capture as many subtle differences between my photographs as possible so the maximum frame rate of 60 frames-per-second available when using Pro Capture H was ideal. The two big differences between Pro Capture L and Pro Capture H are frame rate and the ability of the technology to provide continuous auto-focus.
When using Pro Capture H the first frame locks focus and exposure for all of the frames that follow. I almost always use Pro Capture H when photographing birds or insects taking flight since I want the fastest frame rate possible. This mode captures images with small, incremental differences in body and wing positions, as seen with the sample image run in this article.
While I most often use Pro Capture L for birds-in-flight so I can take advantage of continuous auto-focus, there are times when Pro Capture H can be effectively used for birds in free flight. For example, if a bird is flying parallel to a camera’s focal plane there is little risk that it will fly out-of-focus.
Once a photographer decides whether they need continuous auto-focus or not, the next consideration is frame rate. With the E-M1X Pro Capture L can be used with frame rates of 10 fps, 15 fps or 18 fps. I use 18 frames-per-second and seldom change this setting. If I find the wing beat speed of a specific species of bird is creating rhythmic motion issues, I will sometimes adjust the frame rate. Implementing pulse shooting can also help reduce rhythmic motion issues.
Pro Capture H can be used with frame rates of 15 fps, 20 fps, 30 fps and 60 fps. I have tried some of the slower frame-per-second rates and was not happy with my results. I typically want small, incremental differences between images so I have a better chance of photographing just the right wing position. My standard Pro Capture H frame rate setting is 60 fps.
Determining the number of Pre-Shutter Frames can be tricky as it can vary depending on the objectives of the image run, photographer eye/hand coordination, and shutter release response timing. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to Pre-Shutter Frames. Each photographer will need to experiment to determine what number of Pre-Shutter Frame setting works best for them.
When I first started using Pro Capture H I used 25 Pre-Shutter Frames and a Frame Limiter setting of 35. This meant that I would capture 25 images in temporary memory as I half-depressed my camera’s shutter release. When I fully depressed my shutter release those 25 images in temporary memory would be written to my memory card, plus an additional 10 images would be captured after I fully depressed my shutter if I held it down.
It didn’t take me too long to figure out that I was capturing far more photographs than I needed so I pared them down over time. I now use 15 Pre-Shutter Frames with my Frame Limiter set to 15. That means that once I fully depress my shutter release the 15 images that are stored in temporary memory are written to my memory card, but no additional images are created.
When shooting with a frame rate of 60 fps those Pro Capture H settings given me a 1/4 second response time which works very well given my current age and reflex response. If my reflexes slow over time I will need to increase my Pre-Shutter Frames.
As a photographer experiments with their Pre-Shutter Frames they need to watch for some telltale signs. If they find that their image burst of a perched bird taking flight is missing the actual launch positions of the bird, their shutter release timing may be too slow. To capture more of those early stages of the bird taking flight they will need to increase the number of Pre-Shutter Frames, or practice their bird observation skills and shutter release timing.
It is also possible that a photographer may be too quick on the draw, and their shutter release timing is too fast. This will result in very few of the images showing the bird in flight. Adding Pre-Shutter Frames or increasing the Frame Limiter setting can help solve this issue. The Frame Limiter on the E-M1X can be set as high as 99 frames. The maximum number of Pre-Shutter Frames is 35.
When I use Pro Capture L I have my Pre-Shutter Frames set to 10 and my Frame Limiter turned off. This means that I will be able to store 10 images in temporary memory when I half-depress the shutter release. Then, once I fully depress my shutter release and hold it down, my camera will keep firing additional frames for as long as I have it fully depressed, or my buffer runs out.
As a photographer is focused on a bird with their shutter half-depressed their camera will store images in temporary memory. If the shutter continues to be half-depressed Pro Capture will begin to add new temporary images and discard the oldest ones.
My favourite setting for birds-in-flight is to combine Pro Capture L with Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking. The combination of these two technologies enables me to wait for a specific bird behaviour to be demonstrated before I fully depress my shutter release. It also gives me the added benefit for Bird Detection AI auto-focus performance.
I always use a single auto-focus point when using Pro Capture L or Pro Capture H as I like the control that it provides. It is important to remember to re-acquire auto-focus with Pro Capture H if a bird is very active and moving around on its perch or changing branches.
Pro Capture camera settings are found under the Gear Icon in C1. L Settings contain Pro Capture L adjustments, while H Settings have Pro Capture H adjustments.
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. This is the 1,121 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
How you can help keep this site advertising free
My intent is to keep this photography blog advertising free. If you enjoyed this article and/or my website and would like to support my work, you can purchase an eBook, or make a donation through PayPal. Both are most appreciated.
If you click on the Donate button below you will find that there are three donation options: $7.50, $10.00 and $20.00. All are in Canadian funds. Plus, you can choose a different amount if you want. You can also increase your donation amount to help offset our costs associated with accepting your donation through PayPal. An ongoing, monthly contribution to support our work can also be done through the PayPal Donate button below.
You can make your donation through your PayPal account, or by using a number of credit card options.
Word of mouth is the best form of endorsement. If you like our website please let your friends and associates know about our work. Linking to this site or to specific articles is allowed with proper acknowledgement. Reproducing articles, or any of the images contained in them, on another website or in any social media posting is a Copyright infringement.
Article is Copyright 2022 Thomas Stirr. Images are Copyright 2021 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. If you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. Posting comments on offending websites and calling out individuals who steal intellectual property is always appreciated!