How to photograph – Bird In Flight (BIF)

December 7, 2015

Photograph of a Bird in flight (Typically called as BIF) images are considered to be most difficult as a genre of photographing motion. It involves a perfect combination of an experienced photographer and his gear. Both are subjected to a challenge by the flying Bird to get a super freeze during his flight.

White Throated King Fisher

White Throated King Fisher

Green Bee Eater

Green Bee Eater

When shooting a bird perching or sitting on a branch, probably you get time to adjust your Camera and position yourself with respect to light and camouflage.  But when the same bird is flying over the top or in front, what you do not have with you is – Time to react!


Tips for BIF shots using a DSLR

  1. Use a Faster Shutter Speed – more than 1/1000 or 1/1600 depending on bird’s movement.
  2. Use an Aperture good enough to stop down your lens by at least one-stop. Faster the lens better is the light available at higher shutter speeds. Recommended lenses are with max. Aperture f2.8 and f4.0. However, some super zooms are also used in Birding having Apertures as narrow as f6.3.
  3. Use a telephoto lens. At least 300mm should be the focal length available with you to capture birds and BIF shots successfully by your camera. For some reason, even 600mm is not enough at certain moments. But anything between 300mm and 600mm is a decent reach for capturing the BIF shots.
  4. For Birds in Flight – you have set your Camera for a continuous focus mode where the camera is continuously trying to adjust focus on the target subject. For Nikon users this is AF-C mode and for Canon gear this is Servo mode for AF. You may refer to the manual of your Camera to learn the settings required.
  5. Last but not the least, Be Ready to shoot the flying bird with the Camera’s AF screen holding the flying bird in your view. Your speed is very important for clicking and trailing the bird with your viewfinder.

    Bar Headed Geese

    Bar Headed Geese

Post Production Processing is almost inevitable in such shots.

The success is defined by Sharpness of the feathers and details in the wings. Bird’s eye should be also sharp enough and if you are lucky, you may get a twinkle of Sun’s reflection to add life in your image.

Bar Headed Geese

Bar Headed Geese








Recommended Gear


Any DSLR with Shutter Speeds up to 1/2000 or more with AF enabling Continuous focussing during the capture.


Typical lenses are –

Tamron 150-600 f5.6-6.3

Sigma 150-600 f5.6-6.3 Contemporary & Sports

Nikon 300mm F4.0 , 200mm-500mm , 500mm f4.0 etc.

Canon 300mm F4.0L, 400mm f4.0L etc.


Please avoid for BIF shots

So Happy Birding! Select your gear @ www. Camveu.com or Write to us with queries in this page.

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