Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Flight Shot Technique

One of my blogger buddies asked a question on my flight shot technique and what equipment I use. My equipment is a Nikon D300 DSLR Nikon Lenses with one Sigma. My prime lens is a 300mm f2.8 Nikon lens, this lens is extremely fast allowing the user to achieve high camera shutter speeds which is crucial when attempting to freeze movement. I used this lens when I photographed the Wood Sandpiper in flight in a previous post, a fast flying Wader and also for the Buzzard shots. Generally for flight I will use apertures up to f8 depending on the available light but the critical factor is a shutter speed of at least 1/1250th of a second or above, and to achieve this when using the camera on aperture priority you may have to crank the aperture wide open. Depending on light conditions the ISO settings I use range from 200 to 1000, I will push the ISO but the consequence is grain in the image especially when cropping . I also use shutter priority, setting the shutter at 1/2500th with ISO and white balance set on auto. In built image stabilisation is an excellent aid but I sometimes turn this off when using a tri-pod or high shutter speeds. The auto focus can sometimes be frustrating when it grabs the background and not the subject, I alternate the settings from 9 point focusing to 51 point and 51 point with 3D tracking, my preferred is 9 points concentrated around the centre of the view finder for the more distant flight shots and the closer shots I sometimes use 51 points. When the camera grabs the background instead of the subject I release the the shutter release/ focus button and press again, this action asks the camera to try and focus again and I find this works reasonably well. Finally when tracking the subject don't stop the camera when you press the shutter release follow right through the action. Light metering is generally set on centre weighted. All I can say is, get out there and do it, my success rate is 10% if I am lucky.


  1. That was very informative. Thank you for sharing. I have eye-balled the Canon 300 f/2.8 prime lens, but can't justify it just yet. Your photography is really good, and a fast lens really helps.

  2. 10% Sam I am sure it is better than that?

  3. Learned a lot from this post. Many thanks!