Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Whiskered Tern in flight with a non-DSLR

The Sony RX10 IV is an excellent camera in for filming, macro work and bird photography, but capturing birds in flight (BIFs) is not its strongest suit. 

It has great phase detect AF with numerous points, a blazing 24 fps ARW with deep buffer, and a 600 mm (equiv.) lens which is sharp even wide open. However, its EVF stutters after a short burst, causing disorientation to my eyes when acquiring and tracking the moving subject. Worse, its viewfinder is much darker than the OVF of DSLRs (the latter always have the lens wide open during tracking regardless of exposure settings).

Those said, with persistence, the RX10 IV can still catch BIFs, albeit not at the success rate of a DSLR + a good prime, like my Canon 7DII + 400 f/4 DO II. I'd still opt for the latter combo when the birding sortie is primarily intended at BIFs.

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus, migrant, non-breeding plumage)
Habitat - Bays, tidal flats to ricefields.

Shooting Info - Sto. Tomas, La Union, Philippines, October 16, 2018, Sony RX10 IV,
600 mm (equiv.), f/5.6, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, 9 MP crop resized to 800 x 450

  
Click the larger 1920 x 1080 version for more detail




Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus, migrant, non-breeding plumage)
Habitat - Bays, tidal flats to ricefields.

Shooting Info - Sto. Tomas, La Union, Philippines, October 16, 2018, Sony RX10 IV,
600 mm (equiv.), f/4.5, 1/2000 sec, ISO 200, manual exposure in available light, hand held, 9 MP crop resized to 800 x 533



The RX10 IV is the best BIF camera when it's the only gear available, especially at times when accidental birding happens and it's conveniently packed in the car's trunk. Also, it's the only BIF rig that I can safely pack in my bike's luggage box when riding (Kit A below, kit B needs a bigger vehicle for carriage).

Click for the larger image


And here's my birding bike whose top box can easily accommodate the RX10 IV bag, some drinking water and other small stuff.

Kawasaki Versys X 300, with Givi E19N top box and Oxford M4R tank bag
Shooting info - Sony RX10 MIV, 24 mm equiv., 1/60 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, manual exposure, fill-in flash (in-camera), near full frame resized to 1500 x 1000.


A good DSLR + a fast focusing prime lens is still the best BIF system on the planet, as long as you have this available when a BIF shooting opportunity materializes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Brush Cuckoo (a video lifer)

This individual is an immature, and may easily be confused with the hepatic female of the larger Oriental Cuckoo. I saw it for three straight days along the banks of Bued River, after which it was gone. Solitary and secretive, it has a total length of 9 inches. This was the first time I got some video footage of this species.

Many thanks to Rob Hutchinson (www.birdtourasia.com) for confirmation of the bird ID. 

_____ 

Brush Cuckoo (Cacomantis variolosus, resident, immature) 

Habitat - Coastal mangrove to montane mossy forest.
 
Shooting info - Bued River, La Union, northern Philippines, September 21-23, 2018, Sony RX10 Mark IV + Uniqball UBH45 + Manfrotto 455B tripod, 600 mm (equiv.), various ISO and aperture settings, 1/60 sec, manual exposure, 4K/29.97p capture processed to 1080/23.976p.


Monday, September 24, 2018

Full framing a Red-keeled Flowerpecker


I managed to get quite close to this micro-dynamo of a bird, possibly within 3 meters. The RX10 IV's superb continuous AF, close focusing ability and the 24 fps RAW bursts made it quite easy to capture the decisive moments, as the bird was actively feeding on some Kerson fruit (locally called mansanitas or alatires). Total length of the bird from tip of tail to tip of bill is about 4 inches.

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Red-keeled Flowerpecker (Dicaeum australe, a Philippine endemic)

Habitat - Canopy of forest, edge and flowering trees.


Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, September 25, 2018, Sony RX10 Mark IV + Uniqball UBH45 + Manfrotto 455B tripod,
600 mm (equiv.), f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, manual exposure, ARW capture, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.



Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, September 25, 2018, Sony RX10 Mark IV + Uniqball UBH45 + Manfrotto 455B tripod,
600 mm (equiv.), f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, manual exposure, ARW capture, uncropped full frame resized to 800 x 533.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Scratching a kingfisher's itch (240 fps slomo)

It's amazing to see some details that are only visible when things  are slowed down to 1/10 of real life speed. 

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis, resident) 

Habitat – Clearings, along large streams and rivers, and in open country. 

Shooting info – filmed in natural habitat on September 24, 2018, Bued River, La Union, Philippines, Sony RX10 IV + Uniqball UBH45 + Manfrotto 455B tripod, 600 mm (equiv.), f/6.3, ISO 200, 1/500 sec, manual exposure in available light, Steadyshot off, 1080p/240p capture processed to 720/23.976p. 

Music - "Hyperfun" by Kevin MacLeod, www.incompetech.com (RF)


White-throated Kingfisher in low key

This bird was perched in a shaded area under some trees along Bued River, but small parts of it were lit by the morning sun.

I exposed manually for the sunlit portions of the bird, consequently turning the environment very dark. The resulting low key scene presents an interesting and mysterious footage of this beautiful kingfisher.

_____

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis, resident) 

Habitat – Clearings, along large streams and rivers, and in open country. 

Shooting info – filmed in natural habitat on September 23, 2018, Bued River, La Union, Philippines, Sony RX10 IV + Uniqball UBH45 + Manfrotto 455B tripod, 600 mm (equiv.), f/8, ISO 100, 1/60 sec, manual exposure in available light, Steadyshot off, 4K/29.97p capture processed to 1920 x 800/23.976p (cinematic 2.4:1 aspect ratio).


Monday, September 17, 2018

Long-tailed Shrike (Full HD)

A short clip of this predatory species, a common resident of the Philippines, filmed in natural habitat. The total length of the bird, from tip of long tail to tip of bill, is about 9.5 inches. 

Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach, resident) 

Habitat - Open country and scrub. 

Shooting info - Bued River, La Union, northern Philippines, September 17, 2018, Sony RX10 Mark IV + Uniqball UBH45 + Manfrotto 455B tripod, 600 mm (equiv.), f/5, ISO 100, manual exposure, 4K capture processed to 1080p.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Escape from the raging Bued River (Supertyphoon Mangkhut)

At the tailend of supertyphoon Ompong (Mangkhut) on September 15, 2018, heavy rains fell non-stop for at least 5 hours over the tributary area of Bued River. This river lies at the boundary of Pangasinan and La Union (Philippines) and it was along its banks where Kennon Road, one of the major routes to Baguio City, was built. 

Enormous quantities of storm water raged down river from the Cordillera mountains. I was staying in an industrial facility near the river at that time. When the water level passed a certain threshold, it triggered an evacuation of men and equipment to higher grounds. The danger of our area being overrun by the swollen river was a distinct possibility. 

This footage was taken with my Transcend DP200 dashcam as I was driving my Mitsubishi Montero 4x4 to a safer spot. The only route out was through a narrow concrete road near the bank of the river, but the turbulent flowing water had started to erode the road's base. 

I've sent several vehicles through the route ahead of me, and I was the last one that managed to get through before the road was totally destroyed. 

Radio IDs: 
0-1: Myself 
0-4: Our assistant plant manager 
S-1: Safety and security officer 
S-2: Security officer 

Late in the afternoon, the rains weakened and another route which was under water earlier in the day became passable. We used this route to return to the facility later.




Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Portrait of a Dragonfly

Barely 2 inches long, this tiny dragonfly fills the frame, thanks to the close focusing distance of the Sony RX10 IV at the long end that results into some decent magnification. I must've unintentionally touched the zoom lever a bit - the EXIF data reported only 595 mm equivalent focal length, instead of 600 mm. 

The focus magnifier and peaking level make precise manual focusing a breeze at such a static subject, rendering the head area and both wingtips sharp.  I positioned the camera such that the foliage at the back is a good distance away - the outcome is a wonderfully blurred background that imitates what can be achieved with a DSLR and a telephoto lens.


Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, September 5, 2018, Sony RX10 Mark IV, 595 mm equiv., f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/60 sec,
manual focus, manual exposure in available light, Uniqball UBH45 + Manfrotto 455B tripod, uncropped full frame resized to 800 x 533. 


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