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James River Eagles, Herons, Osprey and more

Discussion in 'Nature' started by agray88, Mar 13, 2016.

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  1. agray88

    agray88 Mu-43 Regular

    30
    Mar 3, 2016
    Richmond, VA USA
    Adam
    I went on a tour of the James River this morning a little east of Richmond near River's Bend with some friends. We saw upwards of 10+ bald eagles, many osprey, a great horned owl, and a blue heron, among others. These were all taken with my Oly EM1 with 40-150/2.8. I must say I was a little disappointed at the keeper rate and C-AF. I had many runs where the bird was dead center in the frame and not a single pic was in focus. Keep in mind, we went out at 7:30 this morning and it was overcast so there wasn't great light. But, my friend with a Canon 5D Mark III was nailing them without too much difficulty, even the first shots of the morning before the light got better. I did find I got more success by pegging the ISO at 1600 early and then 800 later and keeping the aperture wide open to keep the SS over 1000. So some of these are taken at the extremes of the 40-150 lens - wide open and at 150mm. In poor light. Also, there were many shots of birds with trees behind that confused the autofocus. Then I resorted to manual, which is not easy! Still, I did get some nice shots. I did learn that I need to really close crop the bird in flight as best I can, not only to maximize resolution, but also to greatly improve focus. My keeper rate got better towards the end, but I still think the EM1 is just OK for BIF. Hopefully the EM1 Mk2 will be much better. I hope you guys enjoy them! P3130406. P3130436. P3130898. P3130965. P3130379. P3131285. P3131238. P3130725. P3130728.
     

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  2. burdickjp

    burdickjp Mu-43 Veteran

    235
    Feb 25, 2013
    My wife and I just moved to Richmond. She's never gotten a picture of an eagle in the wild. Now I know where to look!

    Sent from my SM-G900M using Tapatalk
     
  3. agray88

    agray88 Mu-43 Regular

    30
    Mar 3, 2016
    Richmond, VA USA
    Adam
    She needs to take the Bald Eagle Tour done by Discover The James. The guide, Mike Ostrander is great. I'd recommend getting a few others and doing your own private tour. I'd also recommend doing it now before the leaves come in since it is so much easier to see the birds.
     
  4. burdickjp

    burdickjp Mu-43 Veteran

    235
    Feb 25, 2013
    My wife and I did the tour this morning. It was amazing. Thank you VERY much for the recommendation. We had tried to rent a pair of Pana 100-400s, but they were not available soon enough, so we grabbed a 40-150 f/2.8 and 1.4 teleconverter. If you don't yet have the teleconverter, it's a great addition to an already awesome lens.
     
  5. nuclearboy

    nuclearboy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    850
    Jan 28, 2011
    USA
    Great shots!
     
  6. vbi

    vbi Mu-43 Regular

    77
    Apr 15, 2014
    Cape Town
    It seems to me the EM1 suffers from only using vertical lines to focus vs the typical cross-type AF points of DLSRs. This makes it particularly difficult when there are branches sticking up behind a bird - particularly if it is small in relation to the background branches.

    The 5D Mk3 has a very sophisticated focusing system with multiple cross-type AF points which work very well in this situation. Hopefully the EM1 II will also include at least one cross-type AF point.
     
  7. grog

    grog Mu-43 Rookie

    19
    Apr 30, 2015
    Nice pictures.

    May I ask how close you were to the trees for the pictures with the Bald Eagles that are perched? 150mm isn't the longest reach out there but it looks like it did a great job here.
     
  8. Danny_SWE

    Danny_SWE Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 30, 2013
    Sweden (Gothenburg)
    amazing photos! I especially dig the attack position eagle
     
  9. m4/3boy

    m4/3boy Mu-43 Veteran

    306
    Jul 21, 2013
    I'd say your results were very good. You should see the pile of throw aways we used to have in the film days. BIF and bird photography in general requires practice and lots of observation to take queues from bird behavior to predict what they will do.
     
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  10. agray88

    agray88 Mu-43 Regular

    30
    Mar 3, 2016
    Richmond, VA USA
    Adam
    I was in a boat and probably about 20 yards away when I took those photos. The guide said that eagle, in particular, (Bandit is her name, if memory serves) tolerates close passage since he sees the guide so frequently and is fed by him. Frankly, I couldn't believe we were getting that close. It was quite the experience!
     
  11. agray88

    agray88 Mu-43 Regular

    30
    Mar 3, 2016
    Richmond, VA USA
    Adam
    Cannot agree more. The more I do BIF, the more I realize I don't know and have to refine my technique. I have a long way to go, honestly. I missed so many good shots due to sloppy technique that I realized after the fact.
     
  12. agray88

    agray88 Mu-43 Regular

    30
    Mar 3, 2016
    Richmond, VA USA
    Adam
    I'm so glad you liked the tour!! You need to post some pictures. I'd love to see them and compare notes. I absolutely am getting the 1.4 teleconverter soon. It's a no-brainer!
     
  13. Excellent shots, many congratulations, love the owl but the eagles are so impressive!
     
  14. m4/3boy

    m4/3boy Mu-43 Veteran

    306
    Jul 21, 2013
    I have no bird shots made with m4/3s.
     
  15. maritan

    maritan Mu-43 Veteran

    388
    Oct 30, 2014
    Fun stuff. I love the picture of the eagle that's sideways. One day, I'll be able to witness them in person, and if everything lines up even come away with a couple photographs.
     
  16. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    agray88, loved what you got. Being able to get that close is a privilege few get, congratulations.

    Surprised no one has asked given your report about poor AF performance from the 40-150 Pro (which I do not own) but what AF settings were you using? From the info you've provided, you were using f2.8 much of the time & probably C-AF Release Priority=On? What else? All AF points? Sequential Rate=H? C-AF Lock=Normal or Off? EVF Frame Rate=Normal?
     
  17. agray88

    agray88 Mu-43 Regular

    30
    Mar 3, 2016
    Richmond, VA USA
    Adam
    I honestly think part of my problem was not waiting for autofocus to lock on a lot of the time. I had a little itchy trigger finger, apparently. I used C-AF with release priority on. No tracking with 9 central AF points. C-AF lock normal, EVF frame rate normal. I also didn't manually pre-focus on similar distance subject before acquiring the birds and snap ring back to autofocus, which I've been told helps a lot. I think it was more the archer than the arrow in this situation, honestly. I'm looking forward to giving it another go soon.
     
  18. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    Sorry I've been delayed replying - the site stopped working for me for a few days.

    Anyway you're on the right track but let me add some AF settings info that will help you in the future. I use the old 43 ZD300mm f2.8+Ec14 lots for BIF. Would love to be able to get as close as you got but that's rarely possible here.

    I suspect all of your AF problems (after successfully getting a critter in the frame) were caused by using any On setting for C-AF Lock. For BIF it has to be Off.

    Based on snippets of info I've read & my own experience, turning on C-AF Focus Lock causes the E-M1 to first try to find something to focus on close to the distance where it last had focus lock. The time the camera will spend looking in the vicinity of the last successful focus lock increases as you go from Low-Normal to High settings. After many milliseconds the camera will eventually search the entire focus range for something to focus on.

    In my experience w/ the 43 lens, all C-AF Lock On settings are counter productive for any subject that is changing location substantially. For wildlife, these settings (especially Low) are helpful when shooting say a critter moving about its nest/den site or something like a wood pecker working a tree - small distance changes. I'd been hopeful the C-AF Lock setting might actually be useful for BIF on m43 lenses w/ their much faster AF motors but sounds like not.

    The problem of locking on a busy background rather than the subject in front & tracking a moving subject is a problem w/ all cameras but a bit more so for mirrorless (except the Nikon 1 apparently). W/ the 425mm FL of the 43 lens+TC, I try to solve this by setting the Fn1 button to switch from my default all AF sensors on to single large AF sensor. I find that 9 targets is no more selective than using all targets but getting the single target on the subject is of course a major challenge. If I have a sky behind the bird even w/ clouds, having all AF targets on makes is more likely I can get the AF on the bird. And if I can successfully acquire focus on the bird while its still in front of the sky, the camera usually maintains focus even if it flies in front of a busy background.

    And you're right pre-focus is a big help w/ BIF but of course the trick is guessing the right distance to use. I try to pick a spot on the ground/water below where I expect the bird to be.

    As for shutter/aperture settings, always use the most DOF you can get for BIF. ISO 3200 is always going to look much better than something out of focus. I use 1/2000" SS for really fast birds & will drop to 1/1000" on non-diving large birds if it gets me more DOF. I try for f8.

    I've seen a report that C-AF Release Priority On increases the speed to acquire focus after a couple blurry captures but I've found the reverse. A lot of the camera's micro processor power gets used to take images & it seems logical that using those processor cycles to acquire focus rather than store an out of focus image to memory will be faster. In theory, setting the EVF refresh rate to High should speed AF but I can't detect an improvement w/ my slowish 43 lens.

    Last but not least, always practice an important technical skill before departing on a trip you'll spend money on. Hope these are helpful.

    Cheers
     
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