Nikon D300 "Birds in Flight"

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by anthony_polk, Jun 10, 2008.

  1. 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 this seems
    the best place to pose the question. Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    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.
  5. You'd need a fast focusing lens in addition to the D300 + MB-D10.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. One more thing to add..... if you shoot RAW, use 12-bit. RAW 14-bit is much too slow.
  9. 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.?
  10. is still a matter of luck and timing. This was taken with a lens that cost < $80, in bright sunshine.
  11. You shot this at 95mm, Jerry? That bird was almost close enough to poop on your head. Neat shot.

    And yes, sometimes it is a matter of luck and timing but this is also a nice reminder that good light is a helpful neutralizer for a lens that might not be very fast. Thanks.
  12. Thanks for all of the input! I will give it a try and see what works. Any thoughts regarding AF Lock? Short, Normal, Long or Off?
  13. If your birds are against the bright sky, spot metering helps
  14. I use a 70-200 2.8. Very sharp lens! Rent one if you can and try it out. I set shutter to about 1000 in S mode. You don't need the MB-D10. Six fps is fast enough for the fastest birds. I shoot air shows at 6 fps and the plans are going over 600 mph, faster than any bird. 21 AF points seems to work well. I don't have very good luck with 51 or 3D tracking with birds in flight.
  15. I also use AF-C

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