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By VivekTanwar
Failed capture of a Purple sunbird...
I thought shutter speed of 1/2000 should be enough Sad
I do not blame the camera or the lens as this was shot in burst mode, hand held....

What do you suggest Tripod? or a monopod?

Also some tips for capturing birds in flight Smile

Tags: Birds in flight Wildlife and nature Fail Purple sunbird

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


8 1.6k 574 United Kingdom
9 Mar 2012 11:00AM

only tips i can give you is patience, great light and consequently the fastest speed possible, or even fill in flash if you can get close enough to have an effect.

i have managed to get ok in flight shots at 1/2000 sec but its barely enough with really nifty birds and i personally find that at those types of shutter speeds, camera shake is less of a problem than retaining focus. from that perspective monopods and tripods may be a bit restrictive unless really heavy construction and fitted with top quality gimble heads.

looking at you example here, the branch in front of the bird is quite sharp and i think your problem lay here. your focus point has picked up that branch and the bird is just behind the focus zone. with long lenses the depth of field is going to be quite shallow in any case so getting everything in this shot sharp , especially with the bird moving towards you was always going to be difficult.

if you were spot metering on the bird and your camera was set to predictive focusing you may have achieved an exposure based on the bird and had focus on that too. if the bird has been sharp and not the branch, the small amount of movement would have been quite nice as its pretty much restricted to the wings. you could also try shooting in bursts of exposures and one may be sharper than the others.

put it down to a near miss, look into the focusing side of your camera better and stick with it,


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Sooty_1 6 1.5k 220 United Kingdom
9 Mar 2012 11:25AM
Using flash will light the bird better (if you use flash compensation to -1 stop it should fill in nicely and use rear curtain sync to freeze motion at the end of the exposure rather than the beginning), as will more exposure. Here it is under exposed due to the bright sky being rendered a mid-tone and the branches and bird are too dark. A stop or two more exposure would be better.
I see you used spot metering, so it looks like you read from a light subject to underexpose like this, so maybe matrix would be better for grab shots, or spot metering from something darker (grass, road surface, mid-toned clothing etc).
The good thing is that now there will be more birds to practice on!

Trev_B 9 151 68 England
9 Mar 2012 3:05PM
Hi Vivek.. you have some excellent advise from Phil and Nick. Another thing that should help is to up your ISO, as the increase in shutter speed has forced you into a small f stop and in consequence a very narrow depth of field. I must admit to not knowing how far the 5100 can push the iso without incurring noise, it's a modern Nikon so you should be able to go to ISO 1600 without any problems. This would enable a smaller f stop and a higher shutter speed.

Give it a go, what have you got to loose. Smile

10 Mar 2012 2:10PM
Thanks Phil/Nick/Trev,

Was able to capture the sunbird today in flight with better results... Grin

Thanks for your tips

Vivek Smile

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