When Photographing Birds at 60 FPS Becomes the New Normal on PL

As regular readers will know I’ve been spending a lot of time during the past 5 months photography birds for my upcoming eBook. Our friends at Photography Life have just published a new article that I wrote the website, “When Photographing Birds at 60 FPS Becomes the New Normal.”

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

This new article features three different image runs, all of which were captured using 60 frames-per-second with Nikon 1 gear.

The objective of the article is to demonstrate how using a fast frame rate can help capture small, incremental movements of birds in motion, and increase our chances of getting usable images.

It also demonstrates how using a frame rate that locks the first frame of an image run, may actually generate better photographs than using continuous auto-focus in specific situations.

Readers interested in viewing this new article can use the link provided at the start of this short announcement.

Technical Note:
All photographs were captured hand-held in available light using Nikon 1 gear. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection.

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Article and all images are Copyright 2018 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent.

5 thoughts on “When Photographing Birds at 60 FPS Becomes the New Normal on PL”

  1. Hi Tom!

    Saw this in Photography Life and as always, incredible images and selfless sharing of information from you. Looking forward to your next Bird Photography e-Book.


    1. Thanks for the supportive comment Oggie – much appreciated! I just finished the final draft of my New Zealand photography eBook on the weekend. We are just doing a final detailed review, then we will need to test the download etc. I should have this up for my readers within a day or two. So… my focus is now finishing my eBook on bird photography!


  2. Hi Tom,

    over the last weeks I mainly shot 30fps series of small birds in flight. These songbirds are fast: one image has the wing upwards, the next downwards. Your suggestion to press the shutter only when the bird fills half of the frame requires some modification, as such a situation almost never occurs. Including vegetation into the frame helps. Main subjects were migrating Chiff chaffs hunting insects close to bushes, or over the water.

    Presently I visit places with starling “murmurations”. Hard not to get confused when ten thousands of starlings are around. It helps a lot when a raptor appears on the scene. I focus my V2 on that raptor, and the camera shines, rarely distracted by all the starlings swirling around.

    Another visitor with a Nikon D850 and Sigma 150-600 C, set up on a tripod, shot the same event, catching the impressive flock “as a whole”, instead of tracking the sparrowhawk. Later we compared results. He zoomed in until the sparrowhawk was almost as large, but lacked some detail vs the V2’s shots. Different gear, different strategy. Results can be similar. Each approach has its pros and cons.

    Another website testing fast cards: https://www.cameramemoryspeed.com/canon-77d/fastest-sd-cards/ The non-micro version of the Sandisk Extreme Pro is only 0.3 MB/s faster than the micro version.

    Stefan (Germany)

    1. Hi Stefan,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences shooting at 30 frames-per-second! I haven’t used this frame rate very much to this point… but certainly may play around with it in the future for specific types of shooting situations. As your comment notes, “Each approach has its pros and cons”. Cameras are simply image creating tools and each of us brings our own objectives and techniques to their use. One of the great things about reader comments is it enables people to share their experiences and learn from each other!

      I agree with your comment that small birds in flight are particularly challenging, thus requiring shifts with the technique that each of us uses. I will likely spend more time next spring photographing smaller birds, and I’ll give 30 frames-per-second a try. I have a few thoughts about how I will try to do a better job photographing small birds in flight… but I will need to do lots of field work to see if some of these planned changes to technique actually work as well as I’m hoping.

      I’ll be taking a hiatus from bird photography by month’s end. I’m in the final review of my New Zealand photography eBook (it will be published before the end of October), then I’ll be working hard to finish my first eBook on bird photography. Plus I have some client video project looming. So… limited shooting time for the next while.

      I’d also like to say that I really appreciate the support that you have given my work!


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