During a recent trip to South Carolina I had the opportunity to photograph pelicans with my Nikon 1 gear.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
The number of birds was significantly reduced from our last visit in 2015, likely due to us visiting South Carolina much earlier this year. Even though I had far fewer image opportunities than in 2015 my Nikon 1 gear proved very reliable and I was able to capture a reasonable number of acceptable images.
I made a number of visits to the Murrells Inlet area to create the images in this article. All were captured hand-held using a Nikon 1 V2 along with the 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens.
Since I was much more familiar with my 1 Nikon CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 lens than I was during our last visit in 2015, I was better able to capitalize on the image opportunities afforded to me by these magnificent birds.
Due to the reduced number of birds I had far fewer chances to capture images of pelicans in flight. The reliability and speed of my Nikon 1 V2 when shooting in AF-C with subject tracking at 15fps did not let me down.
Late one afternoon there were only a few pelicans in the area. They were flying low past various harbour posts and moored fishing boats. I was surprised that I was able to capture some usable images as the pelicans quickly appeared from behind posts, then disappeared just as rapidly.
One afternoon a pelican surprised me by dropping straight down from the top of a harbour pole, making a huge splash in the water beneath it. Although I missed it catching a fish it did stay around long enough for me to capture an image of it swallowing its prize.
As I was photographing one pelican at 15fps in AF-C using subject tracking it kept flying straight towards me and I ended up capturing the frames above with the bird more than filling the frame. Luckily I had my 1 Nikon CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 set at “full” so the lens was still able to focus at the shorter distance.
Sometimes pelicans don’t have to be airborne to make interesting images. The bird above was slapping its wings against the surface of the water creating quite a scene. The photo above is one from a nice AF-C run that I was able to capture.
I also enjoy capturing images of stationary pelicans, either full body or profile images. I love the prehistoric look of these wonderful birds.
Like most photographers I usually avoid taking photos of birds flying away from me.
The pelican in the image above was flying up from the surface of the water to land on a railing and I couldn’t help grabbing a quick AF-C run, yielding the image above with its interesting wing positions.
The final three images that I’d like to share with you are from the same AF-C run shot at 15fps with subject tracking. They are consecutive captures as the pelican was taking off. You will notice a slight change in ISO in the EXIF data, caused by shooting with an Auto-ISO setting.
I certainly appreciate that professional wildlife photographers would prefer to shoot with larger sensor cameras and fast, long focal length telephoto prime lenses.
Having said that, I do think that the Nikon 1 system is capable of producing acceptable quality images for many hobbyists and enthusiasts. Especially when used in good lighting.
The Nikon 1 V2 that I used to capture these images was purchased as a used camera (along with a 10-30mm non-PD lens) and cost me less than $350. The 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 is currently the most expensive Nikon 1 lens and sells for about $1,100 in Canada. This is not an inconsequential investment but given the capability it delivers, it is a lot of fun for the money!
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Article and all images Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication of any kind, or adaptation is allowed without written consent.