I recently made a couple of changes to my photography gear which resulted in me adding a Nikon 1 V3 to my kit and selling my J4 with WP-N3 waterproof housing. I wanted to put my new acquisition to the test and decided to photograph some water birds. So, I headed off to La Salle Park in Burlington Ontario as I had heard that there was over a thousand birds at that location. While the winter is often drab and dull, photographing birds can still be a very enjoyable outing.
There is a good population of Trumpeter Swans at La Salle Park, making for numerous still image opportunities, and if one is lucky some photographs of birds-in-flight as well as some water landings. The juvenile swan above looked quite humorous landing tail first, feet up.
Ducks are even more abundant at LaSalle Park and photographing them landing can be a bit of a challenge as areas close to shore can be densely populated.
While the continuous auto-focus on my Nikon 1 V3 can struggle somewhat in overcast, low contrast lighting it does quite a good job under decent lighting conditions. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to use it to shoot birds-in-flight under bright sunlight conditions.
Even though I was focused on capturing birds-in-flight I also specifically looked for more static image opportunities, especially when some lighting caught my eye.
I shot quite a bit using AF-C with subject tracking at 20 frames per second. This helped to produce some nice photo runs that allowed me to be more selective with image choice.
Even common sea gulls provided some interesting image opportunities under the right conditions such as softer looking water and nice, dispersed lighting. (Note: gull images were captured at Grimsby Harbour later on in the afternoon).
Capturing swans in flight is always a treat and getting two in unison made it even better. Most of the swans at La Salle Park are tagged so they can be tracked during migrations. I heard today from one of the bird watchers at the park that one of the tagged swans was recently seen in Nova Scotia.
The continuous auto-focus with subject tracking on my Nikon 1 V3 did a good job staying on subject even when the birds landed on crowded areas of the bay.
I captured a few nice AF-C runs of swans landing on the water. I couldn’t help but imagine that the one above was waterskiing behind an invisible boat.
While not captive, many of the birds at La Salle Park are very used to being around humans and you can get quite close to them. This allows for some nice detail images.
Comparing the two images above you can easily see the difference in plumage between an adult and a juvenile bird.
Ducks, of course, are commonplace but they still make excellent subjects to test the image sharpness of your kit.
I not only pay attention to feather detail, but also like to examine the sharpness of a bird’s beak and eye in an image.
I do my best to resist the temptation to press the shutter on my camera too early when photographing birds-in-flight. I’d rather miss a shot than end up with a subject that is very small in a series of frames and waste shutter actuations on images I have no hope of ever using.
I often shoot birds-in-flight using Manual settings with my V2s, but since I’m not yet familiar with my V3 I chose to shoot using Shutter priority and letting my ISO float. Overall, I was pleased with the results of my short three hour outing this morning.
All of the images in this article were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro 11, CS6 and Nik Suite.
Article and all images are Copyright 2017 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, adaptation or duplication of any kind including electronic is allowed without written consent. Photography Life is the only approved user of this article. If you see this article, or any portions of it, or images reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use.
Thank you for the beautiful photographs of the Trumpeter swans at LaSalle Park in Burlington.
The swans have started their winter migrations and two days ago approximately 30 arrived. The numbers will build as we get closer to Christmas. There will be young cygnets that will still have their pink beaks, legs and feet. The photographers like that. The pink will fade as winter passes. The Trumpeter Swan banders can be identified by the white buckets with swan decals on them. Also sometimes blue vests with Swan Bander on them. Hope you get back to LaSalle soon Bev
Thanks for adding to the discussion! I’m hoping to get out to LaSalle Park in early December.
I’m planning to try the adaptor on the 200-500 and the Tamron before I buy. It’ll probably be a bit before I can try them out since I live in a small town without a camera store. I’m buying the lens for a D500 but Nikon 1 compatability is still very important to me and could sway my choice. There are times when a 1350mm focal length would be very useful. Thanks everyone.
I just noticed that you mention the G2 version of the Tamron. I can’t say to that, but Tamron was very helpful regarding the older 150-600…
The Tamron 150-600 worked fine with the V3 until I installed a firmware update. The Nikkor 200-500 works fine with the adapter on the V3. I even throw on a TC 1.4 and almost have as much reach as my P900!
Thanks for sharing your experiences Chuck!
Oh. My. Someone actually using and promoting the Nikon 1 system! I think it is the best kept secret in photography, and I am bitterly disappointed that Nikon seems to have dropped the line completely. They don’t even sell the V3 any longer but won’t give us a version with the new sensor. I sprung for a J5 just to see what the new sensor was like (no noticeable difference in my opinion) but it is unusable in bright light without an EVF. Plus, it won’t accept my Nikkor 200-500 with the FT-1 adapter! Boogers.
Thanks for an excellent post and some pretty wonderful images!
Thanks for the supportive comment about the images – I’m glad you enjoyed them! The availability of the Nikon 1 V3 must vary by market, since I just bought mine within the last 2 weeks. I know that Nikon Canada still gets shipments of Nikon 1 gear, but it doesn’t seem to last long before its all bought up. It’s too bad that the J5 isn’t compatible with some of the longer Nikkor glass…it would be an interesting combination.
I’m looking at the Nikon 200-500 and the Tamron 150-600 g2. I was hoping they’d be compatible with the Nikon 1 system with the adaptor. I wonder if the issue with the Nikon 200-500 is just outdated software. You would think at least the Nikon lens would work.
I agree that most folks found it rather surprising that the J5 was not compatible with the Nikkor 200-500mm. I had a look at the Nikon site today and it is hard to tell if a V-Series is compatible with the Nikkor 200-500mm. I know that I could never get the Tamron 150-600 I used to own to work with any of my Nikon V2s.
I always enjoy your posts. But you haven’t shaken me off my Nikon D7100 and 300mm/f4D with 1.4TC for wildlife work (I find that this is noticeably sharper than the 80-400G at 400mm). Like you I use single point autofocus. What’s tricky for me is that my regular haunt is the Somerset Levels (UK), and there cormorants are alongside swans and egrets, and one needs +1EV and the others around -1EV (depending on distance), but you never know which are going to be flying at any given time!
Looks like we both need to be a bit careful about cost, as it would appear that we each have a guitar habit to feed too …
I’m glad you’ve been enjoying my meanderings! I’m also glad that you are still shooting with your Nikon D7100 and 300mm f/4 with 1.4 TC! It’s never been my objective to encourage folks to change their gear. If what you own is doing a great job for you – then keep using it!
I’ve found cormorants are very predictable during nesting season. Whenever I see one floating on the surface of the water with a twig in its mouth…I know it will be taking flight within a minute or two. I haven’t had the opportunity to photograph egrets and swans sufficiently to detect any ‘signals’ they may give off prior to taking flight.
I’ve been able to keep my guitar purchases in check for a number of years now…likely due to my lack of real musical ability!
“I’ve been able to keep my guitar purchases in check for a number of years now…likely due to my lack of real musical ability!”
You and me both then!!
But it doesn’t half get tempting because they are such lovely things.
Thanks for the tip on cormorants.
Yes…it is always tempting…then I just remember how badly I butcher any song I try to play and the temptation subsides!
Excellent article and insightful comment! I too love my N1V3 and 70-300mm lens (especially when traveling as light as possible with my wife who won’t accept long periods of nature photography).
Discounted 70-300mm lens: it is possible via an Amazon return when a purchaser experiences financial buyers remorse. That’s how I got mine for $800 2+ years ago. It looked unused and Nikon accepted the warranty registration.
I do a lot of traveling for wildlife photography and successfuly used the V3 70-300mm combo in Africa but only in good light. When the critters are in shadow I relie on my Olympus M1 Mark I/II + 300mm f4 (& 1.4x) and a D500 plus 80-400mm AF-S VR. MBoth the Nikon D500 and the N1 V3 excel in keeping focus for birds in flight.
Thanks for the supportive comment and sharing your experiences photographing wildlife! Sounds like you were quite lucky to have found a ‘deal’ on the CX 70-300!
I am a regular reader of these blogs. Very informative and the practice of giving exposure details of each photograph provides specific details. Is it possible that to these details we add the mode too that us whether auto focus, or manual.
Thanks and regards,
As far as my Nikon 1 images go my focusing practices are very simple and consistent. I never use manual focus at all. For all still subjects including landscapes, I always shoot my Nikon 1 gear using single point auto-focus. For birds-in-flight I use continuous auto focus with subject tracking almost all of the time. On very rare occasions I may experiment with single point auto-focus for birds-in-flight.
Excellent pics Tom, thanks. The yellow ‘aerofoils’ in the first trumpeter pic confused me until I saw the entire tags in the second pic. They appear about the size of the ID tags punched onto both ears of cattle in Europe – to be sure to be sure as the Irish would say. Over here plastic ELSA (European Laser Signed Advanced Ring) rings are used for large birds, these are readable up to 200m with a decent scope or an 810mm equiv lens such as you use. Another reason to go Nikon 1 V3 or maybe 4!
Thanks for adding some information about the ELSA tags! There are many Nikon 1 owners that have been patiently waiting for a V4…whether their hopes will be realized is still anyone’s guess at this point. I recently bought a V3 and have gone out a few times with it. I’ve yet to shoot it under ideal weather conditions. I’m hoping next week may bring better weather.
I’ve been using a Nikon V1 primarily with a Nikon 300mm f/4 afs via the ft1 adapter. It’s an amazingly good combination but lacks vr and the adapter restricts me to just the central focus point. When the Nikon 1 70-300 came out I expected to buy it when the price dropped. It never has. From your article I see why it hasn’t dropped it’s a much better lens than the fx 70-300.
Given the ‘fire sales’ that were common with Nikon 1 gear when the system was initially introduced many people had that same thought about price reductions. I think Nikon did a much better job managing their inventory with later product introductions which likely enabled them to hold their pricing levels. That, plus the great performance of the CX 70-300mm lens. Since its introduction I have never seen that lens discounted at all in Canada.