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Will the Olympus OM-D E-M5 work for Birds In Flight Photography?

I had previously written a blog post where I did not recommend the Olympus OM-D E-M5 for Bird and Wildlife photography.  Well, now its time to eat my words.  While the Olympus OM-D E-M5 wouldn’t be my first choice for birds in flight, I found out that it will certainly work in a pinch.

Black Kite, India

While in India, I was photographing the Golconda Fort in Hyderabad, India when several Black Kites started circling around the fort.  Due to space restrictions, the Olympus OM-D was the only camera body that I brought on the trip. 

I switched to the Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm Lens on the Olympus and climbed to the top of the fort to attempt to photograph the Kites. To my surprise, I got several sharp images of the Black Kites in flight. 

The keeper percentage was less than what I get with my Canon 7d or Canon 5d Mark iii, but I was still happy with the results.  I would have otherwise missed the photographing these cool raptors.

Black Kite in Flight

Here are some birds in flight tips using the Olympus OM-D

Light.  Good light is important.  At this time, there are no fast long lenses available for micro four thirds.  These slower lenses do much better in good light.

Autofocus.  I used single focus to capture the birds.  Continuous autofocus on the OM-D is not ready for birds in flight.

Sequential High Shutter Mode.  Use sequential high shutter mode to give yourself a better chance of in focus images.  Sequential high mode will give you 9 frames per seconds but will not focus between frames.  Make sure you periodically release the shutter and refocus.

Focal Length.  Start with a shorter focal length and zoom in to the bird.  Focusing hand held at 300mm (with a 2x crop factor) can be a challenge.

Image Stabilization.  If you are using a Panasonic lens, make sure you turn off the image stabilization.  The Olympus OM-D E-M5 has image stabilization bult in the camera.  Having both image stabilization systems turned on could lead to blurry photos.

Related Posts
Using the Olympus OM-D for Wildlife and Bird photography
Using the Olympus OM-D E-M5 for Sports Photography?
Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm f/4.0-5.6 Lens for Nature Photography

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