My settings for photographing local birds.


The last week I have taken over 2000 photographs of birds around my  Apartment. I bought a bird feeder, and hung it up in front of my patio door that has a window for most of the door.  I placed a chair in front of the door, and with camera in hand, mounted with my Nikon 100-300mm f/5.6 AiS Marco, I was ready. Oh, I should mention, be sure to spread some bird seed around the tree and grassy area. You will find many more birds will eat seeds on the ground,, then the Bird Feeder. And that will lead to a more natural bird photograph.

The camera settings needed for good depth of focus, and high enough shutter speed will determine the ISO needed. You can’t be shy here. The E M-5 can handle high ISO just fine.

  •  f/11-32 (contestant aperture zooms are best to hold the exposure from moving  as you zoom). Keep a small opening for the f/stop, this helps with providing a depth of focus of a few inches at 300mm, and a little deeper at around 200-250mm. I found f/11, a minimum when you focus around the 10 -12 foot mark.
  • ISO: 800-6400. This depends on f/stop used, and keeping the shutter speed. You need to keep the shutter speed at 1/125s or faster. 1/25os is better. If you use a larger opening f/stop like f/8, you will have a depth of focus zone that is very narrow. and unless you can “Nail” getting the eyes in focus and the bird doesn’t move at all until you take a photograph (RARE), you will get a lot of Out-Of-Focus birds.
  • If you are using a manual focus lens, you can use “Auto ISO”  in full manual mode. But, if you need Exposure Compensation (EC) you can’t use it in full manual mode. You will have to use “Aperture” priority mode instead.
  • Don’t make sudden  moves while sitting, this will scare the birds.
  • Be sure to cradle the lens with the left hand.
  • Practice focusing on near by objects, if you have a manual focus lenses. Do take a few photos to check how good you did. This will help you with your stance, focus ability and what shutter speeds you can hand hold.
  • I would also set your camera on “Motor Drive” mode. Birds are always moving, and it’s better to pop off a few in a row, then try to get one at a time.
These are my starting points, your style, and equipment may need 
different parameters to be more successful.

Here are a few from my Blog posts.

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