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Nikon D300 "Birds in Flight"

Anthony Polk , Jun 10, 2008; 01:34 p.m.

Hello, When taking pictures of birds in flight, using a Nikon D300, what would you suggest for camera settings? I figure that since the D300 has been out for a while and based on the number of incredible bird pictures here at photo.net this seems the best place to pose the question. Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!


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Sanford Edelstein , Jun 10, 2008; 02:24 p.m.

Last time I used release+focus priority with the motor drive cranked up and manual exposure, about 1/1000 sec at F8, ISO 200 and the 18-200 mm zoom. I think this type of photography produces the lowest percentage of "keepers" of anything I've tried yet, including street photography. Too much stuff for the AF, or me, to figure out where to focus.

Jerry Litynski , Jun 10, 2008; 02:26 p.m.

It may be more of a question: with what lens do you plan on shooting?

If you are in a position to catch the bird flying towards or past you, you should have a better chance of getting a decent image. Luck has some bearing on your results, too.

Shun Cheung , Jun 10, 2008; 02:28 p.m.

Add an MB-D10 with either 8 AA batteries or EN-EL4(a) battery to get 8 frames/second.

I use continuous AF (AF-C) mode, Dynamic AF with 21 AF points. You might want to experiment with 9 and 51 AF points and see what works best for you.

Arthur Yeo , Jun 10, 2008; 05:33 p.m.

You'd need a fast focusing lens in addition to the D300 + MB-D10.

Danny M , Jun 10, 2008; 05:59 p.m.

FPS is key. 51 3D tracking or 51 points. Even 21 points.

Panning is key. Anticipation of the bird. Active D-Lighting to high for direct sky shots. Or at least normal. And RAW.

Bruce Margolis , Jun 10, 2008; 06:00 p.m.

I begin with 1/1000 shutter and go higher if possible. Also, I use DXMODE3 but if you shoot RAW and process in NX, this can be changed. Active-D is off and ISO Sensitivity based on what you are shooting.

And yes, you sure do need a fast lens.

Bruce Margolis , Jun 10, 2008; 07:10 p.m.

One more thing to add..... if you shoot RAW, use 12-bit. RAW 14-bit is much too slow.

Alastair Moore , Jun 10, 2008; 07:24 p.m.

Slightly unrelated but slightly related. I was shooting the Vancouver triathlon this weekend and it required a similar technique I suppose to one for shooting birds. I'm shooting with a D300 and I had my 18-200mm VR and my 80-200 f2.8 D lens (old-ish push-pull zoom). I was moderately successful on a few shots and was experimenting with continuous focusing although I've only had this camera for a few weeks now so am still learning how it all works. Would AF-C and dynamic AF be suitable for shooting moving bikes/cars etc.?

Jerry Litynski , Jun 10, 2008; 08:55 p.m.

...it is still a matter of luck and timing.

This was taken with a lens that cost < $80, in bright sunshine.

A Great Blue Heron. Camera: Nikon D80; AF 70-300mm G Nikkor lens; ISO 640. On 5 June 2008.

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