For the past few years I was using a Nikon 1 V3 mirrorless camera for all of my birding photos. While I loved that camera when I had plenty of light, I was always let down with any photos I took that were in low-light conditions. The sensor in the camera just couldn’t handle low light, high ISO conditions.
So recentlly I purchased a new camera. An Olympus OMD EM1 Mark ii (could they have come up with any longer of a name??!!). This new camera is a micro 4/3 camera. It has a better sensor for low light and it has much better in-camera stabilization. I got a birding lens to go with it that has a reach of 800mm.
Of course, I just had to take it out right away to see how it performed birding. So I planned a whole day of birding in different locations and light conditions. When I shot with my Nikon, I mostly used shutter priority. So that’s what I set the new camera to. I was less than pleased with the first photos I took that day.
I headed over to Owlville in Los Lunas. I had heard there were lots of Burrowing Owls nesting there this year. I wasn’t disappointed either – I saw lots of owls. They are located right next to the road, so you can get pretty close sitting in your car. I played with the settings in my camera and my results were better. It was a lot of fun watching these little owls. It was early in the morning and the owls were very sleepy still.
They seemed to be having a hard time waking up. 🙂
I just never seem to be able to get enough owl photos to satisfy me. They just make me smile.
Then I saw one on a bush. I think this made for wonderful photos. I really like the bokeh with my new setup.
I then headed to Belen to the Taco Bell marsh. When you shoot there, you are looking toward the sun – always a challenge to get good photos in those conditions. I was pretty pleased with how the camera performed though still disappointed in the end results. I just couldn’t figure out how to set this camera. It has a very complicated menu system that is not intuitive.
As I was leaving the marsh, I saw someone had created a track that goes to the other side of the marsh. Seeing as I own a Jeep Wrangler, I was pretty confident I could drive on this sandy track and be ok. I knew if I got to the other side, the sun would be behind me making more perfect conditions for photos. And I wasn’t disappointed! I saw this Cinnamon Teal right away. Beautiful!
I then saw this Morning Dove fly in looking for nesting materials.
I then headed to a rookery I had recently heard about (thanks to my friend Joe!). Here the lighting was low due to all the shade trees.
As soon as I got there, I saw a Cattle Egret in the tree right above me trying to get just the right stick for its nest. I was amazed at how well this bird balanced itself on that skinny limb.
While photographing this egret, the owner of the home came out. We visited for a while, and then he invited me into the yard to get a closer look. Wow! He was very kind and you could tell he enjoyed having the annual visitors.
The owner told me about a Sharp-Shinned Hawk next door. It was deep in the canopy and my camera was struggling to get a focus. So I put the camera in manual focus and was pleased with how easy it was to change the settings and focus on the bird.
I was still trying to shoot on Shutter Priority. While I like these images, I still think this camera could do much better. I know it’s all user error.
My next stop was in Santa Fe. I had to deliver some supplies to a job site there, so I visited the Randall Davey Audubon Center. I walked the trail behind the center that follows a steam in the woods. I immediately spotted warblers! I love warblers but they are a big challenge to photograph – especially with a new camera!
I spent a little time in the gardens of the center. I was really challenged trying to focus on my subjects. I just couldn’t figure out the settings for center focus.
I could see I still needed to practice and learn this camera.
My next outing I went to check on the owls at Academy School. I haven’t been there in weeks. I figured that baby might have left the nest by now. He had, but he was still hanging out in the same tree. I think he needs to grow into those feet!
At my home I got more practice with my camera. Lots of good stuff showing up this spring!
Remember that Mountain Bluebird I saved last December? Well, he’s doing fine and is nesting with his lovely lady this spring. I love the photo I got of her, but I just couldn’t get a decent photo of him.
I made a brief stop at Kit Carson park to find the owls there. I had heard about them, but hadn’t had a chance to go by. I found one adult and one baby. The baby had left the nest and was way up high hiding well within the canopy. So well I couldn’t get a decent photo. But one of the parents was nicely out in the open.
My last outing was to the Cienega Trail on the east side of the Sandias. It was a cold and cloudy morning. Very low light conditions. By this time I had switched to Aperture Priority. I was much happier with the results. I also learned I can set a maximum ISO when on Auto ISO. This is great because I know I can control the amount of noise in my low-light photos. I think these low-light photos are much better than what I would have gotten with my Nikon.
So all in all I’m much happier with my new gear. I know I have lots to learn, but I think I’m off to a good start!