I just got in this morning from a great trip to Alaska with ANPW. We were on a roll with wildlife shooting; bears, whales, puffins and even a wolf. Some of the most memorable moments were photographing puffins in flight. Any bird flight photography is challenging, and puffins are even more erratic than other birds. My camera system of choice was the D500 and the F4 300 PF lens. With the crop factor of the 1.4x sensor using an FX lens, I have an angle of view of 420mm, close enough to get some tight shots, but not so close I can’t find the birds in flight. This system is amazingly portable and focuses very fast as you would expect from a prime lens setup.
My shooting mode was Aperture Priority, Group Area Autofocus and AF-C for the focusing. Group Area Autofocus is amazing, and what I use for most of my moving shots.
Another way to bump your autofocus performance is to use the focus limit switch. Since the wildlife I was shooting was more than 3 meters away, I set the switch on my 300mm lens to 3m-Infinity instead of ‘Full’. By limiting the range of autofocus I was able to increase my autofocus speed.
Another amazing feature is ‘Sport’ VR mode. Combined with the D500, there is no shutter delay caused by VR and the image remains steady during burst sequences (easier to pan moving subjects). I was amazed at my ratio of sharp images. I shot 90 percent of all my images using the D500 and 300mm PF F4 during this wildlife trip. There were a few times I would have liked my 500 F4, but the portability and quick response using the D500/300mm combo captured way more images that I have ever gotten before on this trip.