This article shares a run of Pro Capture H photographs of a woodpecker taking flight. All images were captured handheld using an Olympus OM-D E-M1X. This posting also describes some of the camera settings used.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
When using Olympus Pro Capture H mode it is important to estimate the number of frames that will occur before a subject bird leaves the frame. It is also helpful to determine the frequency of repeating wing positions. This was discussed in a previous article.
In the case of this specific Pro Capture H image run of a woodpecker taking flight I was able to capture eight useable frames. These started with the woodpecker in a static position and ended just before the bird exited the composition.
To capture these eight images of a woodpecker taking flight I set my Max fps in Pro Capture H to 60 fps. I used the highest fps possible as my goal was to capture as many precise body and wing positions as possible. Larger birds like this woodpecker typically have somewhat slower wing movements than smaller birds. That means there will be a greater number of photographs in a Pro Capture H run before a repeating wing position occurs.
To limit the overall number of photographs in the Pro Capture H run I set my Pre-Shutter Frames to 15 and my Frame Count Limiter to 15. This meant that my E-M1X would spool a total of 15 full resolution images in temporary memory when my shutter release was half-depressed. When I fully depressed my shutter release those images in temporary memory would be written to my memory card. It also meant that once I pressed my shutter, the E-M1X would not capture any additional new images after my shutter release was fully depressed.
As we can see with the photograph above, not all of the individual photographs in a Pro Capture H run will be ‘keepers’ in terms of a bird’s head and eye being visible. This largely depends on the launch position and flying angle of the bird.
Using Pro Capture H does make capturing action photographs like the ones in this article significantly easier to do. Shutter release timing is still critically important. It is important to remember that my E-M1X would capture 15 Pro Capture H images in a total of only 1/4 second, when shooting at 60 frames per second.
It also takes some practice and discipline to learn to fully depress the camera’s shutter release after the bird has left the composition. Our natural instinct as a photographer is to press our shutter release as soon as some action starts… not after it has already occured.
The final critical factor when using Pro Capture H is to anticipate the flight path of the bird being photographed. Since the first frame of a Pro Capture H run locks in auto-focus and exposure, a subject bird can quickly fly out-of-focus if not travelling at a 90 degree angle to the focal plane of your camera. When all of the factors come together properly with a Pro Capture H run, the results can be amazing.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. All photographs are displayed as 100% captures without any cropping.
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