Smaller Birds at 1200 mm EFOV

This article features a selection of images of smaller birds at 1200 mm efov, and reinforces the importance of practicing eye/hand coordination.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO-4000, cropped to 3736 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 16.3 metres

As regular readers know, a few months ago I added the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS to my kit as my primary birding lens.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO-2000, cropped to 3130 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 21 metres

This zoom lens increased my reach by 50% when compared to my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS lens. To get the maximum performance from the 150-600 it is critical for me to improve my eye/hand coordination so I can comfortably shoot handheld at the 600 mm (efov 1200 mm) focal length.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO-2500, cropped to 2133 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 26.5 metres

In order to put in some important practice time, I decided to go to Hendrie Valley on what started out as a somewhat misty and overcast morning. Typically larger birds like ospreys, blue herons and egrets are not too active under those conditions.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO-2000, cropped to 3108 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 14.4 metres

I was hoping to find a selection of smaller birds flitting around some of the shorter trees as they would serve as ideal subjects to practice my eye/hand coordination.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/4000, f/6.3, ISO-1250, cropped to 3974 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 14.4 metres

After observing bird activity in a few areas at Hendrie Valley I found one shooting location that gave me access to a reasonable population of active birds.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO-3200, cropped to 2976 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 27.1 metres

I fully extended my M.Zuiko 150-600 and began practicing my eye/hand coordination, photographing smaller birds at 1200 mm efov handheld.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO-2000, cropped to 2920 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 19.6 metres

Developing the required muscle memory to shoot handheld at 600 mm (efov 1200 mm) does take some time and patience. Given the shooting conditions that morning I knew that I wouldn’t be tempted to photograph larger birds-in-flight as they likely wouldn’t be too active. As it turned out, I didn’t see any larger birds at all.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO-1000, cropped to 3339 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 10.6 metres

I used my C3 Custom Mode settings (i.e. Pro Capture H) for most of my images of smaller birds at 1200 mm efov. This is my favourite approach to capture photographs of smaller birds taking flight or jumping from branch to branch.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO-250, cropped to 3372 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 7 metres

I always use a single, small AF point for all of my photography, regardless of the shooting mode or technology that I may be using.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/800, f/6.3, ISO-800, full frame capture, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, subject distance 17.9 metres

When a green heron emerged from between some fallen logs along the edge of the pond, with a fish it had caught, I quickly switched to my C4 Custom Mode. This enables me to shoot individual frames while using Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO-1250, cropped to 3439 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 13.9 metres

I then quickly reverted back to my C3 Custom Mode (Pro Capture H) and continued photographing smaller birds taking flight at 1200 efov.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO-1600, cropped to 2844 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 28 metres

There were a good number of birds taking flight from branches and other foliage in a somewhat confined area. This provided me with a pretty constant stream of image opportunities with which to practice.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO-640, cropped to 3084 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 15.2 metres

After about an hour and a half of constantly practicing my eye/hand coordination at 600 mm (efov 1200 mm), I began to get quite comfortable shooting at that extended focal length. Finding subject birds in my EVF at that focal length became easier, and felt more natural, the more I practiced.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/2000, f/6.3, ISO-400, cropped to 2886 pixels on the width, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, subject distance 61.5 metres

Before leaving for home I noticed a couple of terns flying over the pond, looking for their morning meal. I changed my shooting position with the hope that I could photograph a tern in action. One bird did catch a fish about 61.5 metres (~202 feet) away from me. Even at this distance, I was able to quickly get it framed up in my EVF and grabbed the above image. Practicing eye/hand coordination pays dividends.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO-2000, cropped to 3825 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 23.4 metres

Photographing smaller birds at 1200 efov was a great way to practice my eye/hand coordination with the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS lens. While I viewed this outing as nothing more than a practice session, I was able to capture some interesting images. The photograph above was one of my favourites from that morning.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld with the camera equipment and technology noted in the EXIF data. All images were created from RAW files using my standard process in post. This is the 1,384 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 600 mm, efov 1200 mm, 1/4000, f/6.3, ISO-1250, cropped to 4335 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 14.4 metres

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2 thoughts on “Smaller Birds at 1200 mm EFOV”

  1. Beautiful photography Thomas. I enjoyed this article a bunch!
    On a side note, I sent my 100-400 to Olympus as the photos were just that bad. Not like the 100-400 I owned before.
    It looks like the lens needed much repair and am awaiting it to be sent back to me. It’s the first used lens I have bought that needed repair, not a bad record.
    Cheers,
    Randy

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