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Black Skimmer with fish

More Reasons to Switch
to Olympus
Part 3


The images below were taken in two days of shooting at some nesting colonies of Common Terns, Black Skimmers, and big waders. In Texas, I had a fairly good test of the AF capabilities of the M1X, but I did not have extensive shooting. That wasn't the case in NJ, where in two days of shooting I probably shot over 5,000 images! Pixels are cheap!

Of that, I've kept about 120 shots of the Terns and Skimmers, and less than 100 of the waders. I had a lot of mis-frames, especially with the terns and skimmers as they fly fast and erratically, and a lot of 'boring' shots of more distant birds that were sharp but ... eh ... nothing exceptional. So I edited hard. .

Check out the following shots and I'll provide some explanations!

Black Skimmer - this is cropped, mainly because of mis-framing.
The original capture only had the bird's elbows (less than half
the wing span) in the frame.

Glossy Ibis, Common Egret, Yellow-crowned Night Heron,
and Black-crowned Night Heron
Coastal NJ

For AF, I usually used the center 9 focusing points, although for distant birds that flew in towards the Heron rookery I sometimes used a single AF point, since with herons I had a bigger target that flew straighter and slower than the terns and skimmers. The latter were crazy! Only rarely did some of the terns hover and present an easy target, and when they did, that shooting was actually pretty boring. I enjoyed the challenge of fast fliers.

Common Terns, Willet, and Black Skimmer harassing a Willet.

Honestly, I know I could not have made these shots with my old Canon system. In my old system, to use 600mms would have required a tripod and either a Wimberley gimbal head or my RRS 350VH video head to support a heavy lens. Maybe I'm not as skilled as some, but I know I'd have found it extremely challenging to follow birds whipping by, fast and in erratic patterns, with a tripod-mounted big lens. I carried a RRS monopod and pro monopod head onto the beach for the Terns and Skimmers, but found I was far more flexible, and needed to be, when I was hand-holding than trying to use a monopod.

I've always been a fanatic on tripod/monopod use to insure sharpness, but with the IS of the 300mm and the camera, I didn't need one. Revolutionary1

Little Blue Herons often flew in low, appearing above the nesting trees just seconds before they'd land. No problem.
This detail is cropped to about 1/3 the original capture.
About 1/2 cropped.
I only had one chance at American Oystercatchers flying fairly close by. Their whistling call alerted me that a bird was in the air, but I still had to find one, and get it in the frame before it flew on by.
Using ProCapture, I caught Common Terns harassing nesting Black Skimmers.

In my last installment, I discussed ProCapture, which I didn't have an opportunity to use at the colonies. But I did with Dragonflies ... I'll get to that in a later posting.

I used Continuous Low for my drive mode, as this mode is supposed to best keep up with a moving subject, and it certainly did. I was very glad I used this mode, too, as otherwise I may have had 10,000 shots, instead of ony 5,000 to go through. You might be thinking ... man, this guy over-shoots, and maybe you're right, but I can tell you I was having enormous fun, without pain or frustration, and I could have kept going for hours more.

Olympus has just made a software upgrade for their original flagship camera, the OM-D E Mark II. Previously the Mark II only had 14 frames in ProCapture, but with the upgrade it now has 35, just like the M1X! AF capability has been upgraded, too, bringing it up to near M1X capabilities, but I haven't tested that out yet for myself. At any rate, as the backup camera for the M1X, the Mark II is perfect.

One last point for now. If you've shot with me in the past, you should remember I rarely discussed gear except for suggestions on what lenses to use, what ISO, etc. Mary and I never cared whether someone shot Canon (as we did) or Nikon -- the gear didn't matter. That's not the case now, as we're just so enthused and psyched by the gear we're using we have to share it. We're not alone, either. My buddy Sam, when he's at the rookery, feels compelled to show people the system, too, and I've heard the same from other new shooters. This system has brought the fun back into our photography like never before, and as we see people hauling heavy tripods and monster lenses we just want to say 'wake up!'

You'll see more reasons shortly as I explore more features.

If you found this useful, and you're ready to switch, please click on the links below to the Olympus store. Honestly, if you buy from these links, we'll get some credit, but even if you don't -- make the switch, it's the best thing Mary and I have done for our photography since ... ever!

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