A Great Birding Lens

By Vicki Uthe

I recently purchased a new lens for my Lumix GX-8 micro 4/3 camera body. It’s an Olympus 100-400 mm zoom which translates to a 200-800 mm given the crop sensor on my camera. It. Is. Amazing.

The images are sharp, it’s not too heavy to lug around for 2-3 hours and it hangs nicely on my sling so my hands don’t cramp holding it while not in use.

Here are some recent images from my first outing with it. These were all shot at a local wetland near where I live south of Flagstaff, AZ.

I can now officially consider myself a Bird Nerd! It is SO MUCH FUN collecting images then going home and identifying them with the app Seek. I pull up the app and point my phone camera at the image on my computer and it does a great job of identifying the birds. It works with animals, plants, and insects as well.I wasn’t sure what this little guy was so I posted it on FaceBook and asked the birding community to identify. They were quick! It’s a vesper sparrow.

Catching birds in flight is challenging. I set the camera at 400-800 ISO, in full sunlight which gives me a shutter speed between 2,000 and 6,000.
Perched birds are easier but you still have to be quick. They don’t always hang out for a photo! This is a red-winged blackbird.
Coming in for a landing!!
I’ve seen as many as four ospreys hunting the ponds of these wetlands.
This looks like a shorebird to me. It’s a killdeer. On another day I caught one with a worm in its mouth!
They are so dramatic when they sing!
The first goslings of the season!

This one was tough to capture. It didn’t hang out for long so I had to be quick. Luckily, with the length of the lens, I don’t have to get too close and the birds tend to not skitter away quite as quickly as when I tried to capture images of them with my 28-300 mm lens.

Turns out it’s also a reptile lens! Set your camera to burst mode, hold down the shutter, and expect to trash a LOT of images. In my first two-hour outing I think I took over 800 images. I tossed probably 700 of them.

Every time I’ve been to the wetlands I see a new bird or capture a bird in a different way. Also, as I get better, I find myself giving permission to toss previous images of the same bird. Don’t forget, pixels are free. Load up those memory cards and only keep the exceptional ones. The first ones may not be exceptional but with practice, they will come!

Happy Shooting!

Vicki Uthe is a Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes