The Great Journey in Photography

The Perfect Moment

Sandhill Crane TouchDown

800mm f5.6 250iso 1/320sec

The other day someone saw one of my photos and exclaimed “you chose the perfect second to take that picture”. Yeah that was true but I also had about nine different images in that second from which to choose. Even today in the age of high rate digital photography most people, including many photographers, still have the sensation that a photo takes time to make. Time to compose, pose, light and snap, and why not, that is the way it was done from the beginning and still done most of the time today. Not so much with bird photography. Here it is really about frame rate. One of those things that makes wildlife photography an inherently expensive task because it really does help to have a fast frame rate. Maybe you are wondering what frame rate really is or thinking it is shutter speed. Frame rate is simply the number of times a camera can take a picture in a second. Most DSLR’s have a maximum frame rate of five. That is not bad and anyone interested in bird photography should be looking for at least that much in their camera. The fastest, most expensive camera bodies have eleven to twelve frames per second and that is really fast, about as much as you would ever need. In addition to cost, fast frame rates also have other expenses, you are going to fill up your buffer really fast and in no time, if you are not careful, will not be able to take any pictures for a few moments. You also need the fastest, most expensive memory cards to store all that data.

In my opinion it becomes more complicated to make great photos with super high frame rate don’t believe that will ever make up for inexperience. So lots of practice is needed. You will want to make sure you are not killing the shutter button, a soft touch is still in order, and a good working knowledge of the limits of your cameras buffer. I use high frame rates for both birds in flight and portraits. It is obvious for the BiF’s but also for the portraits it is nice to have that last detail in place, the exact turn of the head,eyes completely open, etc so it is nice to have more than one image to choose from.

Some Nikon shooters are blessed with a miracle in the race to high frame rate. The D300 series and D700 come from the factory with a hi-speed frame rate of 6fps but with the addition of the Nikon factory vertical grip and the big battery jumps up to a respectable 9fps. Yes those two cameras are getting long in the tooth but that one performance boost justifies keeping those bodies a while longer.

Hey gang, thanks for stopping by and looking at the pretty pictures. Remember if you own an iPad you still have time to download my new iOS application Wildlife HD. It is free for a limited time.

Until next week –Be good.

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