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Migration

Migration. ISO100, f/5.6, 1/640s, 276mm.

Migration. ISO100, f/5.6, 1/640s, 276mm.

Spring is here, white stork going back home. Picture Shot with Panasonic G85 + Lumix 100-300 mm f/4-f/5.6 lens.
By Franc Peret

Living in Burgundy in France for a while after so many years in China, getting back to nature and wildlife environment is a blessing.
I am always carrying a camera with me to record whatever happens in the countryside.
I am used to driving on a very small road and I spotted an area where migrating birds were used to take a rest.

Full Frame was not the best tool for this shot

That day I was carrying my Nikon D750 and an old 80-200 mm f/2.8 zoom, but the reach was not long enough and anytime I tried to get closer to the bird, they were flying away, in the wrong direction from my point of view.
At home, I am having a 300 mm Nikon lens, but according to my initial shots, I knew it would not be long enough.

M43 for wildlife

The next day, I came back with my Panasonic G85 and my longest lens.
Panasonic or Olympus are M43 type camera and with their smaller sensor (compare to APS-C or Full Frame) actually “crop” the lens internally by 2 compare to Full frame.
Thus, a 100 – 300 mm M43 zoom lens delivers an image which is equivalent to a 200 – 600 mm FF zoom lens.
This is a big advantage for wildlife photography as you can be 2 times further away from your subject + the lens is at least 2 times lighter (less tiring without monopod) than its Full Frame equivalent.
Another advantage is the fact that @ f/4, an M43 sensor delivers the equivalent depth of field @ f/8 on an FF sensor.

Therefore, I am using a lighter (also much cheaper, and surprisingly good) lens, with a long reach and plenty of depth of field.

Last but not least, my Panasonic G85 combines both stabilizations on the sensor and the lens to allow the use of slower shutter speed.
This is a great feature if you are shooting something steady.
However, here, as the birds are flapping, I have to shoot at around 1/500s – 1/1000s shutter speed.

Here are my settings:

– Aperture priority mode
– Continuous focus
- ISO 100: I should put ISO 200 (which the base ISO on this camera) but I was shooting something steady just before this one and I had no time to switch.

Spotting the stork

Higher ISO would give me a little bit more speed or allow me to close down a bit more the Aperture for more sharpness and less motion blur.
- Aperture f/5.6: Zoom was at 276 mm and its max aperture at this range is f/5. It is very important on such a zoom lens to never zoom in completely as image get less sharp at the longer end of the zoom.
Also better to never work at its max Aperture. Closing a little bit will always deliver a sharper image.
- Resulting Shutter speed: 1/640s. 1/1000s would have been better and ISO200 would have help on this.
Still, that speed was ok. Actually bigger the bird, less shutter speed you need as they are flapping at a slower frequency than smaller birds.
- Exposure correction: +0.7.
Another great feature of the M43 camera is their electronic viewfinder with histogram constantly visible in it.
Thus, on this Panasonic G85, I can immediately correct under or overexposure by turning a wheel under my thumb without pressing any button. This is immediate and very useful when “magic finger” is not possible (like in this case).
As I am shooting against the sky, close to the source fo light, I had to force my camera to shoot a brighter image to not get the bird as a silhouette.
- Post processing: Some people like (and promote the idea) to correct this kind of exposure compensation in post processing (by pushing brightness in shadows), but M43 sensors have their limit (weakness) and this is one of them.
Correcting too much in post create lots of noise.

As I am “old school” I am used to set my camera at the exact right exposure while shooting as with slides, they were no way to correct mistakes later on.

Hope this was informative!

Former photo journalist, Film maker and ELC Shanghai Photography teacher, Franc Peret is teaching Essential Photography Classes, Advanced Photography Workshop and Film Making Classes in Shanghai, for the last 13 years.
If you wish to contact Franc, just drop an email to francperet@hotmail.com