Since my return from spending a month in South America, mainly Patagonia, I’ve had a chance to really look at some of my bird images. I was shooting Nikon D850s and both Z mirrorless cameras while I was there. I have been experimenting with the Z system and still learning what it can do in the field. I focused on birds in flight using my Z7 with 500mm 5.6 PF lens with adapter. Here is what I learned;
First, I had the best luck using the ‘small wide area’ autofocus pattern. This is similar to group area autofocus on a DSLR, which is excellent. Next, I used back button focus with AF-C mode, just like I would with my DSLR. And finally, I set my drive mode to Continuous High…meaning 5.5 frames a second with limited delay/blackout. While shooting 9 FPS can be done at Continuous High Extended* on the Z7, I still haven’t gotten used to the EVF lag as the frames are rattling off. But on CH it feels much more like my DSLR.
How does setup perform. If birds are flying against a clear sky, the autofocus is snappy and gets the shot. Even using the adapter on my 500mm 5.6 PF I had good results. When birds fly in front of objects and the background gets more cluttered, then the autofocus will search more. That’s why you invest in a D5 which seems to instantly focus on any subject no matter what the situation is.
Here is something that the Z7 does that is really cool. I will use my Z7 with my 300F4 PF lens (using the adapter). This setup is so ridiculously small and lightweight you won’t believe it. Next, I change the image size in my Z7 to 1.5x. This gives me an angle of view of 450mm and a 20MP file (just like a D500 or D5). But what is really nice is how the EVF will now change to fill the entire viewfinder with the 1.5x view…no blacked out borders like on DSLRs. That bird just gets bigger in the frame, but just remember it is 20MP and not 45MP.