We finally had some decent sunshine that coincided with my schedule so I was able to go out and capture some Nikon 1 V3 images of birds-in-flight during the last couple of days.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
I spent some time at Grimsby Harbour as well as a visit to La Salle Park in Burlington Ontario.
The first two images of Canada Geese in this article were part of a good AF-C run of over 15 images. You can tell from the focal length used that the bird flew in reasonably close to me.
During this time of year in Southern Ontario the most abundant species are Canada Geese, gulls, and ducks so there isn’t a huge selection of species in this article.
While gulls are commonplace, they can still make for some decent images if interesting wing and/or beak positions are captured.
I decided to capture most of my images at 10 frames per second in AF-C with subject tracking. This gave me a sufficient assortment of wing positions while not filling the buffer in the V3 too quickly.
As I expected the Nikon 1 V3 performed better under good light conditions. I was able to capture a number of long AF-C runs with the camera holding focus for the entire run, the longest was about 40 images as it filled the buffer. The subject bird was a solitary Canada Goose which I photographed at 10fps.
This large, high contrast subject no doubt helped the camera hold AF-C focus for about 4 seconds. I didn’t have any AF-C runs where the V3 simply dropped focus as was the case under very dull, overcast conditions. The image above was towards the end of the AF-C run.
Many of my images at La Salle Park were a bit more challenging with ducks flying up against quite busy backgrounds. The Nikon 1 V3 did a good job holding focus.
Given the large number of birds at La Salle Park and the close quarters most of my AF-C runs captured there were much shorter bursts as the opportunities for images popped up quickly and required very fast reaction time.
I did miss a number of these opportunities, but many of them were due to ‘operator error’ with me pressing the shutter too early before the camera had locked on focus.
The next four photographs are consecutive images from a very short AF-C run.
Quite a few of my duck images at La Salle Park incorporated busy backgrounds and I wasn’t expecting to get many keepers. I ended up being surprised with the number of usable images.
I continued to find that the Nikon 1 V3 wasn’t quite as good focusing when compared to my V2s. The difference was very slight under good light conditions and not of any real concern. I’m sure the V3 will meet my nature and birding needs.
While I wouldn’t usually use an image with the bird so small in the frame as in the photograph above, I just couldn’t help myself…the duck is just so darned cute!
While I did miss a few images due to the AF-C performance of the Nikon 1 V3, these were mainly limited to birds approaching from a distance when I tried to acquire focus too early. This caused the V3 to miss the bird and then go on a focus-hunting journey. This taught me to allow approaching birds to come in much closer before trying to acquire focus on them.
The additional resolution of the V3’s sensor, 18.4MP compared to 14.2MP with my V2s, comes in very handy when shooting birds-in-flight as it allows for more cropping potential. In many cases after I did some crops I still ended up with images that would equal the native size of those coming out of my V2s. You’ll notice in the EXIF data that I photographed some birds-in-flight at f/8 or so. This was to experiment with a potential trade-off between increased depth-of-field and a risk of some diffraction. I will continue to experiment with this and may use f/8 at air shows.
Every piece of camera gear comes with some sort of trade-off. With the Nikon 1 V3 the trade-offs are somewhat inconvenient detachable EVF and grip, along with auto-focus performance that’s just a hair behind the V2 in good light. That is counterbalanced by DSLR-like handling, more resolution and slightly sharper images due to the absence of a low pass filter. All things considered I’m pleased with my purchase of the Nikon 1 V3. It will meet my birding needs, while helping to extend the life of my trio of V2s for my client video business.
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