Back to the Nest

For some reason I never posted this portrait of Auric the American Goldfinch in flight…

I shot this last summer and procrastinated my post, saving it up for the right moment, until eventually another bird grabbed my attention and, well, you know…

So here is Auric, speeding from a snacking session back to his nest —via a thicket of  Euonymous trees to disguise his destination from predators. And I would end my comments here, except…

WARNING: Nerd-Speak Ahead

I shot this with a favorite wildlife rig—my Olympus EM1 MkII micro four-thirds camera, together with its wonderful 300mm f4 lens plus 1.4x teleconverter. This camera used to be Oly’s top-of-the-line flagship until a few weeks ago, when an intriguing but very costly newcomer snatched the spotlight.

The new Olympus EM1X is huge by m43 standards, and boasts a two-battery grip PLUS a built-in vertical grip in addition to its customary horizontal array. It also has not one but two new joystick controls—a welcome addition to the old EM1MkII array of buttons and dials, which has no joystick at all — and a knock-you-over price tag of $2,999, which not only gives me pause but makes me wonder if I’m going to stick with my Olympus system at all, since their prices in general seem headed skyward. However, the EM1X has so many cool new features that I keep finding myself checking out the spec sheet one more time.

Thing is, my EM1MkII has a bunch of cool features that go unheralded in this era of full-frame madness. And one of them is an incredible blessing to bird photographers. It’s called Pro Capture—and it lets you shoot a bird in flight after he’s already disappeared into the shrubbery. So all I needed to do to capture this image of Auric was to focus on one of my feeders, then point the camera a couple of feet to the right—and wait for a customer to appear.

When he flies off, my reflexes could never catch him in midair, but I just shoot as if I could. Pro Capture does the rest—and transports you back in time, to when he really was at this spot. It manages this by maintaining a 15-frame buffer at all times. When I press the shutter, instead of capturing the image in front of me, it sends the buffered images to my SD card and voila! 

So maybe I don’t really need the new hotness? The EM1MkII with Pro Capture is still hot enough to keep me warm over the winter.


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