Birds can be tricky to photograph since they are often small and fast. This makes it difficult to get good images with conventional cameras as their focusing and shooting speeds may not be able to keep up. To remedy this, the Nikon D500 offers speed, accuracy and superb image quality all in a single package. Read on to check out some features of the D500 that might just help you get that beautiful shot. (Photo and report by Isabelle Lee)
Nikon D500/ AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR/ FL: 300mm (equivalent to 450mm in FX/35mm format)/ Manual exposure (f/4, 1/250 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto
I was able to get a good shot of this Collared Kingfisher when it decided to perch onto a railing next to me. Despite already being quite close to it, the 1.5x crop factor of the D500’s DX sensor allowed me to achieve a 35mm equivalent focal length of 450mm, and let me get even closer to the Kingfisher. The extra reach on a DX body is extremely useful for bird photographers, Allowing us to fill up the frame using a lens with a shorter focal length, which also means a lighter and more portable package without losing optical quality.
Nikon D500/ AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR/ FL: 300mm (equivalent to 450mm in FX/35mm format)/ Manual exposure (f/4, 1/2000 sec)/ ISO 360/ WB: Auto
Blue-tailed Bee-eaters often take off from their perches and chase after their prey in flight. Getting photos of these notoriously fast birds in flight requires not only a great deal of skill, but also a top notch autofocus (AF) system and as well as a very fast continuous shooting speed. The D500’s advanced AF system and 10 frames per second shooting speed allowed me to easily catch what other slower cameras might have missed, and enabled me to capture this photo.
Nikon D500/ AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR/ FL: 300mm (equivalent to 450mm in FX/35mm format)/ Manual exposure (f/4, 1/100 sec)/ ISO 500/ WB: Auto
Measuring at 14cm in length, the Brown-throated Sunbird is one of the largest sunbirds we have in Singapore, and generally love to feed on Scarlet Spiral Flag ginger flowers found in parks. The multitude of colours on the Sunbird contrasted well with the warm and vibrant pink of the flower, and the D500’s sensor managed to reproduce these colours richly and vividly.
Nikon D500/ AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR/ FL: 300mm (equivalent to 450mm in FX/35mm format)/ Manual exposure (f/4, 1/250 sec)/ ISO 2000/ WB: Auto
While on holiday in Japan, I decided to take an early walk around the local park near my hotel. Due to the early arrival of summer, most plants had very thick foliage, which made it challenging to photograph birds hiding in the dark undergrowth. Although I used a higher ISO sensitivity in order to capture this Great Tit fledgling feeding, the resulting image still had an acceptable level of noise while retaining good details.
Capturing photos of birds around Singapore and overseas is a very rewarding experience. On one hand, it requires much patience as you have to wait for the bird, but on the other hand, you also need fast hands and camera with fast continuous shooting speeds to capture the details and action. This is where D500 shines, as its 10 frames per second shooting speed allows me to take continuous shots of birds moving around and increases my chances of getting a better shot.
The D500’s rubber handgrip made it comfortable to hold the camera for a long periods of time, seeing that bird photographers are usually out in the field for quite long. The tilting touchscreen LCD screen also enables me to take shots of birds in more challenging and inaccessible angles, such as when they are moving around in the undergrowths of the forest. Mounting the camera on a tripod, I can shoot from a low angle and just touch the screen to release the shutter.
As most bird photographers already know, the times when most birds are active are early in the morning and in the evening – timings where light can be scarce, especially in dense forests. The impressive dynamic range of the D500 allows me to reproduce details and colour accurately during post-processing even if I captured the subject darker than I intended, something that occurs easily under backlit conditions. The astounding native ISO sensitivity range up to ISO 51200 also lets me shoot in dark conditions and still maintain a fast enough shutter speed to capture birds. In addition, the illuminated menu buttons on the D500’s body also makes it easy to navigate in dim conditions, without being too glaring.
Bird photographers looking for a fast camera to get beautiful shots of our avian friends should definitely consider the Nikon D500. I did, and have not regretted ever since.
Isabelle started taking photos of birds in late 2016 after a friend introduced her to bird watching. Since then, she has been taking photos of birds in Singapore during her free time and recently started shooting overseas. It has since become a new hobby, and she greatly enjoys observing the habits of birds and capturing their beauty. She posts photos of her work on social media platforms such as Instagram to share them with like-minded people.