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Last week I was in Flatanger to photograph sea eagles and not least I was looking forward to testing Olympus' new 150-400 4.5 on sea eagles diving for fish. I've been using the lens for a while now and am just getting more and more fond of this lens. With a super zoom from 150-400 with fixed aperture 4.5 and the option to use a built-in converter of 1.25 which gives a 500 mm aperture 5.6, you really have everything you need for animals and bird photos. Also on the trip were two good photo friends Pål Brenne and Arild Hareide. With three grown men in a car, it was very nice to have a relatively light and small lens to handle. When you are on a trip you always look for motives, we stopped and looked for barn owls, but it did not appear. But the consolation is that I got to a panning that I was very happy with. This is a known technique where the camera is either waved around during a long shutter speed, or up and down. Depending on what expression you are looking for. There will be many attempts before you get one that sits. After an overnight stay in a tent, the road to Flatanger was straight.

 

 

While my hiking buddies were sleeping in tents and cars, I strolled for a walk and got this picture of the first sun hitting the pine forest.

 

In Flatanger we are greeted by a smiling Ole Martin Dahle, the eagle man himself. With over twenty years of experience, Ole Martin is without a doubt the world's best sea eagle guide, which has also given him the nickname the eagle man. We are going out three times by boat, so there is good hope for some flash shots. But the eagle comes quickly so some mistakes must be reckoned with, both by the photographer and the equipment. With fully charged batteries and empty memory cards, we get ready for the first night. Almost windless, sunny and with well over twenty degrees on the degree scale, it will be a really beautiful evening on the fjord in Flatanger.

 

The camera settings are not very advanced, aperture priority at full aperture. That is, aperture 4.5. if I need faster shutter speed, I increase the iso values. On the three trips, iso 1600 gave me sufficient shutter speed for sharp images of eagle dives. What is important in such photography is to follow the eagle with a camera, and continue the movement even after the dive. I use follow focus and electronic shutter with 18 frames per second. You often want shutter speeds of 1/2000 part second, but when that is not possible I gamble on slightly longer shutter speeds. With a little practice, it can often go very well.

 

 

 

 

A new setting on the E-M1X is center-priority focus, this is recommended to use. This setting is used on objects that are quite predictable, such as an eagle dive. You can find the settings on A1-C-AF Center Priority, press ok and tick the groupings where you want to use center priority. I use 9 focus points, with C-AF Center Priority enabled, the camera will prioritize using the center focus point. This also applies to other groups with autofocus. Only when it loses focus will it switch to one of the surrounding points. Eye-guided focus works brilliantly on birds that move around the feeding area I have. There I use it all the time, on birds in flight, however, it should be used with a little care. With the few seconds an eagle plunge takes, you will quickly lose the whole opportunity if the eye focus loses the eye on the eagle and has to re-focus. So here I chose the safe over the unsafe, namely nine points.

 

 

 

The picture above is from the first night in Flatanger, with nice light a willing eagle and Olympus E-M1X and 150-400 4.5 I got the picture I wanted for the trip already the first day. It gives some peace for the next two days. The shutter speeds for the image are completely at the limit of what is allowed, 1/1250 sec is actually a bit small, but with a good technique you can get away with sharp images here as well. When it comes to iso, you will lose dynamics, colors and contrast if you go too high, in combination with more noise it can affect the image quality, so therefore I wanted to stay on iso 1600. And as you can see, it was sharp as just that.

 

 

In the picture above I have gone down to iso 1250, when there is good light iso will not play as much in the picture, so here I have a comfortable 1/5000 second. The picture was taken at 400 mm, there is a section corresponding to 800 mm in full format.

 

 

 

 

You can also play with longer shutter speeds, I did that on day two. Here I have used 40-150 2.8 with converter MC 14. This gives a nice flexibility, the shutter speed of 1/60 second is long enough for me to get a nice effect. There is no final decision on what is right or wrong, you just have to know if the image works or not. A tip is to set settings with longer shutter speeds on, for example, Custom 2, and then dedicate a button to Custom 2. Then you can easily switch between fast and long shutter speeds.

 

 

In the picture above, I have used 150-400 and even longer shutter speeds, namely 1/15 sec. Now you start to approach quite abstract eagles, and that's cool too.

Day three was the last day in Flatanger, the first picture is a bit playful in a long shutter speed of 150-400 in 1/30 sec. Then even seagulls can become an exciting photo object.

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