Just The Facts
Sample Camera Rigs
Lumix G9 with 100-400mm f/4-6.3 lens (net 800mm equivalent)
Canon 7D with 100-400mm f/4-6.3 lens and 1.4x converter
Nikon 850D with Sigma 150-600mm f/5.6-6.3
My baseline setup for shooting birds is Aperture Priority with the minimum f-stop my lens can give me, high speed continuous mode, evaluative exposure metering, single point focus in single shot mode, and Auto ISO with the minimum shutter speed set to 1/1000th of a second. If working with birds taking off and you have good light, bump that minimum shutter speed to 1/4000th instead, these critters are super fast when they flap.
If you’ve been following my site in the last 12 months you’ll know I’ve been making the most of the new Lumix G9. It’s been a game changer for my experience with wildlife photography and I’ve been trying to find the limits of this camera system. I recommend anyone who is keen on bird photography to look seriously at this camera model. Unlike the micro four-third cameras that came before it, the G9 has a generous viewfinder which allows you to properly drive the superb autofocus with precision and confidence. It can also shoot RAW files at 60fps, has dual SD slots for storage and many other features. It’s top of my list for performance, with the added benefit of convenience.
Read more here:
AF for DSLR
* Use the central focus points that have dual plane focusing
* In most situations you want a single AF point, instead of letting the camera pick from a set of points, so you know exactly which part of the focus system is pulling the focal plane. You need to be in control, not the camera.
* Only use tracking modes or advance AF modes if you understand exactly how they will perform in your particular situation. If you don’t know the boundaries of the tracking mode then you wont know when you’re outside it’s operational limits.
* Use ‘single shot’ instead of continuous focusing. Get a lock with a half shutter and commit the frame when the moment is right
* Use the highest speed continuous mode available. Anything over 5fps is very useful. Anything over 10fps is potentially a headache back on the laptop, or can fill your buffer too quickly. More speed does not always mean better bird photography.
AF for Mirrorless
* AF works differently on mirrorless systems compared to DSLR
* Pick a single square but match the size of that square to our subject
* Normally that means the smallest square possible, but you may wish to make it larger if you’re struggling to find a contrasting edge for it to grab focus. Start small, go wide if performance is an issue.