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Nikon D500 what mode do you advise for bird photography? (1 Viewer)

Andy Hurley

All nations have the right to govern themselves
Opus Editor
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Scotland
Please advise the best set up for a D500 when walking rather than static (hides) photography to catch those smaller and faster birds that just won't sit still?
I currently use P and auto iso as my left hand is useless for fine motor function, but is ok for holding the lense fairly still.

Thanks very much
 

DJ ODonnell

Registered User
Supporter
Manual, shutter at 1/2000 or faster, lens wide open and auto ISO, minimum at 100 and max at 6400. I can then adjust the shutter speed and aperture with the thumb and forefinger wheels as needed. AF-C focus with back-button focus.
 

Andrea Collins

Former member, no longer active
Supporter
England
I'd second the above. Manual mode with auto ISO which unintuitively is effectively an auto mode. Good video here on Steve Perry's YouTube channel showing how to set up Nikon cameras for this -


Also, if you aren't already familiar with back button AF, the same YouTube channel has a good video on this. I thought my fingers and thumb would get horribly muddled with back button AF but they don't and I really wouldn't want to go back to shutter release focus now. Everything you need to do with this set up can be done with your right hand. Your left hand just holds the lens barrel.
 

Oldnintheway

Well-known member
Agree with above, except for shutter speed. The lens are you shooting with will be relevant. I walk around with my D500 & Tamron 150-600 G2 and usualy have my shutter speed set at 1000. It can be adjusted lower for static subjects or 2000+ for BIF. I've just started using auto ISO and so far it seems to be working OK. I have had some over exposures in bright light. Before changing I used AP with same range of shutter speeds and adjusted ISO as needed.
 

Andy Hurley

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Scotland
I had a go using DJ's recommendations and found that some of my shots were horribly overexposed. Remembering to adjust the shutter speed will come with practice, I think. IQ was not perceptably better than using P. I did have my ISO maxed before, so that might explain some of the graininess issues I was having. I still have to see what effect the new settings will have in the high light intensity of the African sun, or how dawn and dusk shooting will change. I suppose it is just a matter of getting used to working with manual. I use the AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm I 5.6 ED lense with the switches set to M/A, Full and usually Normal mode, but sometimes change to Sport for when I'm trying to capture the VisMig at migration hotspots. Getting those dates spot on is another story.

Thanks again for your recommendations!
 

Ian Byrnes

Well-known member
I read many expert articles from bird photographers & watched many videos on the same. I have a D500, Sigma 150-600 Contemporary & use a Sigma 1.4 TC which stays on. The following article did it all for me & now I'm able to get some pretty good results from close up, to BIF & long distance shots. The only thing I tweak is exposure while I'm photographing.

If you go on to this site & search for D500 settings for bird photography.
 

Andy Hurley

All nations have the right to govern themselves
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
I read many expert articles from bird photographers & watched many videos on the same. I have a D500, Sigma 150-600 Contemporary & use a Sigma 1.4 TC which stays on. The following article did it all for me & now I'm able to get some pretty good results from close up, to BIF & long distance shots. The only thing I tweak is exposure while I'm photographing.

If you go on to this site & search for D500 settings for bird photography.
Thanks very much Ian. I've spent the morning so far setting my camera up "as per" and I've seen a reduction in some of the greyness fully zoomed in on the back of the camera already.

Do you set your F stop at the smallest number?

I didn't realise that single point was more desirable than small area focus for jumpy small birds. I would have thought that as DoF narrows with increased zoom, it wouldn't make that much of a difference. At longer distances it does sharpen the focus onto the target in what I've seen from the few birds I have photographed since setting up my camera this morning. (We have an abundance of House Sparrows on the roofs and bushes on our street.)
 

Ian Byrnes

Well-known member
Hello Andy

I set it at 7.1 and because the Teleconverter takes the 'f' stop down I allow the camera & lens to automatically sort it - which it does.

Believe me I'm no expert with cameras but the settings recommended have worked beautifully. As I say though, I use the exposure compensation wheel constantly - changing settings from 0.3 to 0.7 to 1.0 according to the dullness of the day or darkness within the trees. If you have a look at my recent photos on gallery, you will see that the settings & exposure compensation work well together. Scroll down from the photo & my settings are given in the caption and in the photo info below. That will show you how the camera in AP takes over.
I also spoke to a Nat Trust photographer & he recommended to shoot in AP mode.
All the best....Ian
 

jafritten

Well-known member
I'd like to add some ideas to what has already been said. In order to avoid unnecessary graininess I limit ISO to 2000. The D500 is invariant to ISO, that means that you can always give more light in post procession with no loss of image quality if necessary. In order to avoid blown highlights (loss of detail in plumage) I usually underexpose by about 1 EV using the dedicated button. Make sure you shoot Raw, or else what I say won't work. Some people might say that underexposing was detrimental to image quality but that's not the case if you are in M auto ISO because you are still in control of the absolute amount of light that reaches the sensor. Things are different when you operate in Av. Another idea is to use Group AF with Single Point AF on the PV button. This way you can switch to Single Point focus if the bird happens to sit still for a second. Single Point is more precise, naturally.
 

Andy Hurley

All nations have the right to govern themselves
Opus Editor
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Scotland
By the way Andy, are you on Twitter? I post most of my 'decent ??' stuff there......#IanByrnes2
No Ian, I'm not. I hardly ever carry my mobile phone about. It is on my desk as an alarm. It does have various bird apps on it though, so I take it with me, if I remember to, when I go birding.

PS. I'm sure I answered this already. I must have forgotten to press send!
 

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