After some field experience using Pro Capture L with Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking to photograph birds-in-flight, I’ve decided it will be my primary BIF setting. While this technology combination did require some adjustment to my technique, it was worth the effort to make the change.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
Quite simply I love having the dual advantages of using the ‘time machine’ of Pro Capture L to store images in temporary memory, as well as the subject tracking and auto focus performance available with Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking.
Using this combination requires me to be more disciplined with my technique in terms of shutter timing. Shot discipline is always a good thing of course. One benefit is that I don’t have to commit saving frames to memory unless the BIF action that I wanted to capture actually happened.
For this approach to be effective I needed to up my game in terms of staying aware of the auto focusing status alerts provided by my E-M1X. When I’m ‘in sync’ with my E-M1X and I do my part, the resulting images have consistently more than met my needs.
One of my challenges with using Pro Capture L with Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking was remembering to keep shooting after I fully depress the shutter. With my standard Pro Capture H settings (i.e. 15 Pre Shutter Frames and Frame Count Limiter set to 15) it has become second nature for me to fully depress the shutter release once the subject bird has left the frame… and not to expect the camera to capture any additional images.
As strange as it may sound, with Pro Capture L I now need to consciously concentrate on continuing to pan with a bird after I fully depress the shutter. With more field use, I’m sure it won’t take too long for this to feel completely normal.
During my last bird-in-flight photo session I captured several thousand images. I ended up deleting the majority of them without a thorough review simply because I had more than enough keepers. I didn’t want to spend the time to go through all of the images in detail.
I’m still playing around a bit with my Pro Capture L settings. For the time being I’ll be using 9 Pre Shutter frames with no frame limiter. I think this setting will give me sufficient time when shooting at 18 frames-per-second to respond to the actions of birds-in-flight. If not, I can always increase the Pre Shutter frames as needed.
During my field tests I pushed my gear to see how it would perform in a range of scenarios, including birds rapidly approaching my camera.
I also did some testing with my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS and M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter combination fully extended to 560 mm (efov 1120) with subject birds flying less than 20 metres away.
Other test images involved capturing birds-in-flight proximate to potentially confusing backgrounds. These were a bit more tricky but usually still quite doable.
Standard fly-by photographs have become very routine and capturing decently long image runs is not an issue. Given the effects of rhythmic motion, I often only need the Pro Capture L Pre Shutter portion of the image run anyway.
It should be remembered that the choice of camera settings is a very personal decision. What works for one photographer may not be a good fit with another.
One of the field tests that I haven’t been able to do with Pro Capture L and Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking yet, is photographing small birds like swallows in flight. Hopefully as the spring birding season advances I’ll be able to assess this specific scenario. As noted in a previous article Pro Capture L and Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking has proven very capable in other challenging situations.
For my needs, Pro Capture L with Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking is my primary BIF setting. Unless I need more light, or more reach, I always shoot using the M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter with my E-M1X and M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom. When it comes to camera gear and technology to use for birds-in-flight… I’m a very happy camper.
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 for each photograph.
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