Low budget birds in flight - how to improve keeper rate?


Mu-43 Veteran
Dec 11, 2014
Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel, Netherlands
Real Name
Thanks for the suggestion but there is no back button on a GX800 :hmmm:
There was also a question about e shutter. The GX800 can only use a mechanical first curtain until 1/500. Anything faster is automatically e shutter only.

Some first test results after a bit frustrating test session.

AF beep is wonderful! Now I know exactly when focus is achieved and a photo was taken (in s-af).

Weather was bad: warm and hazy. There were hardly any birds so testing was not very effective.
Setting ss to 1/2000 was a very good suggestion, iso was still at 200.
I first tried c-af with continuous drive. Initial aquisition is quite good but focus lock was lost quite often. When reviewing these frames it appeared that my tracking when using the dot sight is not so good. Explains a lot of my problems! I don't think using the screen for this kind of photography is possible so I have to practice more an see if I can improve this.
Results with c-af were disappointing anyway, even when I had the bird framed in the center. No really sharp frames and a lot were out of focus.
I also tried s-af with custom af (5 af areas around the center, camera decides which area has best contrast) and a large single af point.
Not enough frames to judge which method works best but both give quick af lock. Birds were too far away to say anything about differences in sharpness. I will test more with these settings.

What I forgot to test was af tracking. I had not thought about it because reviews always mention that af tracking in low end cdaf cameras is bad.
But when back at home I tried to follow swallows flying quite far off and tracking seemed to work well. Not too difficult when the rest of the frame is blue sky I suppose.
Something to investigate further, maybe it will compensate for my own bad tracking? :biggrin:

All of this was done in bright early evening light, I think it helps the af quite a bit. No problem because I only expect to use it in such conditions.



Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Apr 24, 2018
SF Bay Area, California, USA
Trick tip:
To learn tracking, go to a park that is next to a road.
Practice by tracking the cars moving on the road, L to R, and R to L.
The closer you are to the road, the faster the apparent motion/speed of the cars.
The farther you are from the road, the slower the apparent motion/speed of the cars.

This is easier than waiting for a cooperative bird.


Mu-43 Veteran
May 31, 2017
Brampton, Ontario
Your c-af would be as bad as your s-af. Both uses CDAF on that camera if I'm not mistaken. So not surprised by the results. Smooth panning and a more left-right direction of the bird will help as a better chance to stay in dof as it moves.
Practice large birds first. Seagull are the best to practice and they are everywhere.
The fact is you don't have an action camera, so it's going to be a lot more difficult getting decent shots. PDAF C-AF is what really is needed.
But learning to pan and track the bird is key.

Little Fish

Mu-43 Regular
Mar 9, 2021
Depending on the speed of the BIF the right shutter speed(s) in conjunction with your hand holding skills is critical in getting the optimal shot. Also factor in the direction and speed of the bird and the focal length you can best manage. Practice and more practice is the only way to get better shots. Also, there is no one trick that works best for everyone, and no one technique that works best for all situations. Thus, tryout as many techniques that you can, learn them, and you'll find the ones that work best for you and your style of shooting.

Also, that having the best light and background can create more dynamics and increase the quality of a picture. Those pics of the birds are technically good, not much else you can do to get better exposure and focus. And the movement was captured to show no blur. Thus, the only possible improvements would be the initial capture of light and composition. Nevertheless great job with the conditions you had to work with.

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