Individual Birds in Flight at 1200mm? Not Possible! Or is it with the 1DX Mark II? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Individual Birds in Flight at 1200mm? Not Possible! Or is it with the 1DX Mark II?

What’s Up

It is way early on Friday morning, May 27. I am working on Saturday’s blog post as I head over to St. Pete today to meet private client and blog regular Joel Eade for a full day on Saturday. That will give me busman’s holiday sessions on Friday afternoon and Sunday morning.

This just in: much to my surprise, the fabulous diving pelican and tern show at DeSoto continues. If you own the Fort DeSoto Site Guide–or if you purchase it on Monday–and send me an e-mail that includes a cut and paste of the first page of the guide, I will be glad to let you know the details of the currently hot location.

Galapagos 2017

If you would like to join me on the August 2017 Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a lifetime, please scroll down and see the details below. Please e-mail for couples or repeat customer discount information.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks an insane 204 days in a row with a new educational (and fun) blog post. And I still have dozens of new topics to cover; there should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. Please remember that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.


This image was created on the next-to-last afternoon of the Fort DeSoto IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Premium Kit with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop as framed: 1/2500 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. Daylight WB.

One AF point below the center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected point just caught the back of the gull’s hood. Click on the image to see a larger version.

AF Micro-adjustment: +4

Image #1: Laughing Gull kiting above a pelican that was at the bottom of the original frame.

Individual Birds in Flight at 1200mm? Not Possible! Or is it with the 1DX Mark II?

In the original Astounded By 1200mm Flight and Action Images… here, I mentioned that I was easily able to get on single birds in flight at 1200mm thanks to the amazing AF system of the new Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. Here, I present two of my favorites from that remarkable afternoon. I have so many good keepers from that session that it is absolutely silly. Soon I will be sharing some of my diving pelican images from that next-to-last IPT afternoon.


This image was also created on the next-to-last afternoon of the Fort DeSoto IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Premium Kit with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 3200. Evaluative metering + 2 stops off the light sky: 1/1250 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. Daylight WB.

Center AF point/Expand Shutter Button/AI Servo AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was well above the bird’s head; two of the assist points fell on the tern’s right wing. Click on the image to see a larger version.

AF Micro-adjustment: +4

Image #2: Sandwich Tern after emerging from the water after a dive

Why Individual Bird Flight Photography Action Success at 1200mm?

Three reasons:

#1: 1DX Mark II AF is far faster (in terms of initial focusing acquisition) and surer and more accurate by far than with any previous Canon camera body.

#2: At +4 micro-adjustemt, this combination–the 600 II, 2X III TC, & 1DX Mark II–has been perfectly LensAligned/FocusTuned.

#3: I used an advanced pro technique that involves the Lens Drive When AF impossible setting. This technique is covered in detail in all recent Camera User’s Guides including the 1DX AF Guide, the 5D Mark III User’s Guide, and the 7D Mark II User’s Guide. With all of the action at relatively consistent distances from the lens, this trick really helped. Note that the info on this feature in the Canon camera manuals and the info that is available on the camera itself is 100% confusing. Doubt me? Try to figure it out yourself.

Lens Drive When AF Impossible Guide Offer

If you are one of those rare photographers who shoots Canon and does not own one of the Camera User’s Guides mentioned above and would like to learn this very specialized technique, you can send us a Paypal for $10 to with the words Lens Drive When AF Impossible Guide cut and pasted into the Subject Line and I promise to get you the info by Tuesday. Folks who do not use Paypal are invited to call Jim at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand to order. For the phone orders, please note that this coming Monday is a holiday.

The 1D X II

If what you read today on the blog inspires you to purchase a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR Camera Premium Kit with 64GB Card and Reader please use the active link or click on the logo-link above. Doing so will be greatly appreciated. Many who used our link right off the bat already have their 1DX Mark IIs.


Tame birds and wildlife. Incredible diversity. You only live once…

GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience. August 8-22, 2017 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $12,499. Limit: 13 photographers plus the leader: yours truly. Openings: 4.

Same great trip; no price increase!
This trip needs nine to run; in the unlikely event that it does not, all payments to BAA will be refunded in full.

My two-week Galapagos Photo-Cruises are without equal. The world’s best guide, a killer itinerary, a great boat (the Samba), and two great leaders with ten Galapagos cruises under their belts. Pre-trip and pre-landing location-specific gear advice. In-the-field photo instruction and guidance. Jeez, I almost forgot: fine dining at sea!

The great spots that we will visit include Tower Island (including Prince Phillips Steps and Darwin Bay), Hood Island (including Punta Suarez, the world’s only nesting site of Waved Albatross, and Gardner Bay)—each of the preceding are world class wildlife photography designations that rank right up there with Antarctica, Africa, and Midway. We will also visit Fernandina, Puerto Ayora for the tortoises, Puerto Egas—James Bay, and North Seymour for nesting Blue-footed Boobies in most years, South Plaza for Land Iguanas, Floreana for Greater Flamingoes, and Urbina Bay, all spectacular in their own right. We visit every great spot on a single trip. Plus tons more. And there will be lots of opportunities to snorkel on sunny mid-days for those like me who wish to partake.

It is extremely likely that we will visit the incredible Darwin Bay and the equally incredible Hood Island, world home of Waved Albatross twice on our voyage. The National Park Service takes its sweet time in approving such schedule changes.

We will be the first boat on each island in the morning and the last boat to leave each island every afternoon. If we are blessed with overcast skies, we will often spend 5-6 hours at the best sites. And as noted above, mid-day snorkeling is an option on most sunny days depending on location and conditions. On the 2015 trip most snorkeled with a mega-pod of dolphins. I eased off the zodiac to find hundreds of dolphins swimming just below me. Note: some of the walks are a bit difficult but can be made by anyone if half way decent shape. Great images are possible on all landings with either a hand held 70-200mm lens and a 1.4X teleconverter or an 80- or 100-400. I sometimes bring a longer lens ashore depending on the landing. In 2017 I will be bring the Canon 400mm IS DO II lens. In the past I have brought either the 300mm f/2.8L IS II or the 200-400mm f/4 L IS with Internal Extender.


Do consider joining me for this once in a lifetime trip to the Galapagos archipelago. There simply is no finer Galapagos photography trip. Learn why above.

An Amazing Value…

Do know that there are one week Galapagos trips for $8500! Thus, our trip represents a tremendous value; why go all that way and miss half of the great photographic locations?

The Logistics

August 6, 2017: We arrive in Guayaquil, Ecuador a day early to ensure that we do not miss the boat in case of a travel delay.

August 7, 2017: There will be an introductory Galapagos Photography session and a hands on exposure session at our hotel.

August 8, 2017: We fly to the archipelago and board the Samba. Heck, on the 2015 trip some people made great images at the dock in Baltra while our luggage was being loaded!

August 22, 2017: We disembark late morning and fly back to Guayaquil midday; most will overnight there.

Most will fly home on the early morning of July 23 unless they are staying on or going elsewhere (or catching a red-eye flight on the evening of the 22nd).

$12,499 includes just about everything: all transfers, guide and park fees, all food on the boat, transfers and ground transportation, your flights to the archipelago, and three nights (double occupancy) in a top notch hotel in Guayaquil. If you are good to go, a non-refundable deposit of $5,000 per person is due immediately. The second payment of $4,000 is not due until 11/1/16. The final payment of $3449 per person will be due on 2/1/17. A $200 discount will be applied to each of the balances for couples or friends who register at the same time.

Purchasing travel insurance within 2 weeks of our cashing your deposit check is strongly recommended. On two fairly recent cruises a total of 5 folks were forced to cancel less than one week prior to the trip. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services and strongly recommend that you do the same.

Not included: your round trip airfare from your home to and from Guayaquil, beverages on the boat, phone calls, your meals in Guayaquil, personal items, and a $600/person cash tip for the crew and the guide—this works out to roughly $40/day to be shared by the 7 folks who will be waiting on us hand and foot every day for two weeks. The service is so wonderful that many folks choose to tip extra.

Please e-mail for the tentative itinerary or with questions. Please cut and paste “Galapagos 2017 Tentative Itinerary Please” into the Subject line.

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To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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2 comments to Individual Birds in Flight at 1200mm? Not Possible! Or is it with the 1DX Mark II?

  • I have a question. I left a post on another page about back button focusing. An a man named Bryan Snook said you no longer use this setting for birds in flight …. is this true?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      True. I switch back and forth between rear focus and shutter button (for flight and action).

      You should subscribe to the blog 🙂