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Birds in Flight Photography – My Favourite Camera Settings and Images of 2020

My favourite camera settings, locations and birds in flight images of 2020. This video includes photography tips for beginners and advanced wildlife and bird photographers.

Mark Galer:
Mark Smith:


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  1. Some great tips, thanks Phil. I’m going to switch from wide to zone as I always seem to get a wing in focus. I’m going to try a bigger DoF too. Your 2020 BiF pictures are awesome; something to aspire to. Take care and I look forward to more great hints and tips.

  2. Awesome. The channel I yet stumbled into, showing the best and widest variety of species BiF . To me totally interesting, to see that in other places of the world, owls also are active during day and in open range. Where I live (Principality of Liechtenstein, Rhine Valley, in the centre of the Alps), you’ll find the (partially) same species only in the forest, mostly night active, sometimes dusk or dawn activity and almost impossible (at least to me) to find them between the branches. E.g. the long-eared owl, it’s plumage looks almost identical to the bark of the trees it’s sitting, as close to the tree trunk as possible, best camouflage ever. And photographing them in flight remains a dream in the middle of the woods.

  3. Hey Phil………….greetings from across the pond. Thanks for all the great info. Very helpful as I'm in the middle of a switch from Nikon to Sony soon as I can get my hands on an a1. If you're interested (

  4. Great video!! I'm a professional wildlife guide in Denali, Alaska. I have never shot manual mode with auto ISO. To be truthful I never even thought about it. I can't wait to give it a try!!!

  5. Great video Phil and striking images. Can I ask for a little more info about the location Hey Wood? Is that near Chippenham in Wiltshire? I live quite close so could you advise directions to the best shooting area? Many thanks. Paul

  6. Love heavy metal but I like to watch these videos at night as I learn more when there are no interruptions. Loud music at night is not what I want but loved the information though. I also switched from Canon to Sony and I am doing pretty decently but it's nice to see what other more talented photographer can get with slightly different settings. Thanks very much for sharing!

  7. Fantastic photos Phil. I find it interesting that I setup my A7R3 nearly identical to your setup. One small thing in this video I really found interesting is that you keep your lens mode at "1" for BIF… I was always told set it to 2, 3 or off however since I walk-around also shooting perched birds I often forget and thought maybe that was why I get a fair deal out of focus BIF shots. Apparently your experience isn't of that and you're also using a combination (A7RIV and 200-600) that purportedly has known focusing issues yet your shots are spectacular and in focus. Curious if you have any updates on the stabilization modes since this was made. TIA – rob

  8. Hi Phil, Looking through the real amazing photos you have taken and included information. How do you determine to use wide or zone focusing? Reason for asking is that the photos of the various birds are all in flight, thanks Tony

  9. Thank you for the sharing. Suddenly all the focusing makes sense to me. I have tried many different settings but none work like yours. Soon I will go out to the field to try.

  10. Wonderful video…. your candid yet concise presentation is really a treat for the viewers.. May I take the liberty to say that you look very Indian to me.. affable and homely too….I have Nikon D7200…So I was mentally translating your settings suggestions compatible for my Nikon….
    Love from India

  11. Phil I have been looking at Videos about settings yours is the best – but I wonder about IS ? – I'm using A7111 and Sony 70-200 I have seen in other videos to leave IS on and use Mode 2 for Panning and others say turn it off , but looking at your images I think I will leave it on and experiment I am very new to this so your Channel a great help

  12. Thanks for the useful discussion of your settings and I enjoyed seeing your fine images at the end with their respective settings. Nice work. If I may offer some constructive feedback on the production value of the video though, two things I found interfered with my concentration on your content. First, the loud music during the section titles between topics was a bit annoying, particularly because I watched later in the evening and I was constantly turning the volume down and then back up once you started speaking again. Second, the long extended transitions between many of the images in the slide show at the end were distracting and grew a little tiresome. I hope this doesn't come across as too negative because I too have an A7R iv and FE200–600 so I was glad to hear about your settings/experiences and I appreciated the video overall. (Unfortunately, I have been among those experiencing focus issues with this camera/lens combo, as discussed in other forums, so I am eager to identify any helpful settings.) Hopefully, you will find the feedback useful for the future. Best regards.

  13. i always thought, expand flexible spot is the best focus mode I can get to shoot birds in fly… but I see u have very greats results on zone or wide …
    Can u explain me quick, are the IBIS mods 1,2 and 3 very different to each other for the 200-600?

    Greetz from Germany

  14. Very well done. Thanks! You're right… Mark Galer and Mark Smith are two excellent Sony resources. I just found your videos today and they are spot on as well. Excellent photos as well! Thanks!

    I have a Sony A9 and my settings are very similar to yours with a couple of exceptions. I found the registered focus area to be annoying because of the silly blinking area constantly reminding me that the second focus area is there. Instead I use one of the 3 registered custom hold settings and only select AF On and the focus area that I want, then I assigned this registered custom hold setting to the AEL button. The only downside to this vs. the registered focus area is that you can change the registered focus area faster using the Fn button, however mine is always set to the same setting anyway so this is a non-issue for me.

    The other area that mine is different is that do have the medium spot tracking set as one of my primary focus areas. Instead of using the joystick to move the regular non-tracking spot area to a different part of the screen, I find it much easier to use the tracking spot with the AEL button, then reframe while continuing to hold down the button which keeps the focus spot on the original location.

    p.s. I'm going to Mark Smith's eagle photography workshop in Washington State in June. I'm sure I'll learn a LOT!!

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