Photographing birds in Cuba with Nikon 1

Photographing birds in Cuba with Nikon 1 is by Thomas Stirr (photography website | general website | YouTube):

While on vacation I always enjoy wandering around the resort with my camera and capturing a variety of images.

During our recent, return visit to the Rafael Freyre area of Cuba I had the opportunity to capture a number of images of birds in the marsh area that is adjacent to the resort, as well as on the resort property itself.

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While we experienced a week of perfect, cloudless skies for our vacation it had rained quite heavily for a number of days before our arrival. This resulted in the water level in the marsh area being much deeper than it was last year and there were far fewer birds in the area, notably egrets.

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I had to rely on my Nikon 1 V2 and 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 to deliver results when sporadic opportunities for bird images presented themselves.

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This was especially true with birds-in-flight images. I often had to watch an individual bird for some time and be prepared to fire of an AF-C burst as it left its perk.

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I found the AF-C with subject tracking on my Nikon 1 V2 worked very well and I was able to capture images even in situations where the background was quite busy.

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I shot most of the time in Manual mode at 15 fps with subject tracking and Auto-ISO.

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My Nikon 1 V2 was able to acquire and hold focus for some fairly long bursts, some in excess of 20 images.

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The reach of the Nikon 1 CX 70-300 certainly came in handy as most of the small access paths to the marsh bank were far too wet to use and I had to do most of my shooting from the causeway that crosses the marsh.

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I spent some time trying to capture images of birds fishing and I had some success. The striking motion of the blue herons was so fast that I wasn’t able to get an image of their heads in motion, but did get a few good ‘splash’ photos…

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along with some images of blue herons with their catch.

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The green herons were particularly challenging to find but I did manage to capture a few decent images.

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Timing my shots enabled some interesting captures of blue herons launching themselves into flight from treetops.

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The odd time I lucked into a majestic pose by an egret…

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and one appearing to be directing traffic.

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I found that there were very few egrets around the area during the day and towards the end of our stay a few could be seen returning to the marsh area in late afternoon. Unfortunately this meant that the birds were flying with back lighting.

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The reach of my 1 Nikon 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 allowed me to get a variety of decent images of individual birds.

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I’ve owned and shot with both Nikon DX and FX gear in the past and I must admit that I love using my Nikon 1 CX gear for this type of photography because of its portability, lightweight, responsiveness and reach.

Article and all images Copyright Thomas Stirr. No use, duplication of replication of any kind is allowed without written permission. Nikon Rumors is an approved user.

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  • Spy Black

    Wonderful stuff as usual Thomas. I’m curious, do you know how many images you can shoot before you max the buffer on the V2? The J4 fills at 20 frames, and then appears to take an eternity to write out to my Sandisk Extreme Pro card.

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hello Spy Black,
      Always good to hear from you – glad you enjoyed the images! The V-series buffer is typically twice as deep as J series, i.e. 40 images. The write-out time with the J-series also seems much slower than with the V-series in my experience. I mentioned this in my J5 review.
      Tom

  • Aldo

    Awesome images… a pleasure to view them. They serve as testament of how capable the nikon 1 system could be in the right hands…. that being said, I think you have outgrown what it could do for you on some of the images… where subject isolation or better out of focus rendering could have put your photos over the top.

    • Andy Aungthwin

      When was the last time you went on vacation with your D4s and 400, 600 and 800mm f4 lenses?

      Lightweight and fun vs “subject isolation or better out of focus rendering”. You know, it’s a choice.

      • Aldo

        If portability is what’s important… there are many options out there… better options. His pictures illustrate both the strength and limitations of the nikon 1 system. Google p900 birding and you will see what I mean if you didn’t get it before.

        • Andy Aungthwin

          No, you specifically mentioned subject isolation or better
          out of focus rendering.

          If you think that the P900 has better what you said, then we will have to agree to disagree.

          • stesk

            You can’t compare the Nikon 1 V1..V3 with the P900. Two different cameras.
            However isolating the object on a long distance is not done with a 600mm F4. It all depends on the surroundings.

            • Aldo

              It’s not just the subject isolation… it is the transition between what’s in focus and what’s not… this is an important part of an image… not how much ‘bokeh’ the image has.

              As for the comparison… They are both ‘portable’ cameras…. different yes… both portable.

            • stesk

              I like portable 🙂

          • Aldo

            I said both out of focus rendition or subject isolation… (re read if needed) You don’t need a FF for these… I used the p900 because it gives you both better out of focus rendition and subject isolation. I will stand by my comment… his skill is well above what this system can offer him.

            • Andy Aungthwin

              You can stand all you like.

              If the choice is of taking either a V2 + 6.7-13mm, 32mm f1.2 and 70-300mm CX or the P900 on vacation, I know which one I would take.

              You also know which system Thomas prefers to take, right?

              Maybe you should re-read the bit where the author says “While on vacation I always enjoy wandering around the resort with my camera and capturing a variety of images.”

              A variety of images!

            • Aldo

              okay… so you are disputing ‘portable’ and then want to carry a mirrorless and THREE lenses? lol… I will say no more.

            • Andy Aungthwin

              When I am on holidays (with kids), and say I plan to spend the day at the beach, I put the 6-13mm on my j5 (or V1), leave the other two lenses and have a fun day.

              In the afternoon/evening let’s say we go around town, I take the 32mm for some portrait stuff. (Would love to see some comparisons between the 32mm f1.2 CX with the equivalent focal length on the P900)

              If I plan to spend the day on my own in the forest chasing birds then I could take just the 70-300.

              This is not portable?

              Are you still lol and will say no more? Let’s see.

            • Aldo

              birding and holidays with kids ? good trolling there. We have different ideas of what’s portable when spending quality time with kids.

            • pedantic_brit

              That’s the point isn’t it? “We have different ideas….”.
              I happen to agree with Andy – I can bring my V3 and 70-300 on an evening walk with my wife in case we see the bald eagle ( or ospreys, herons etc) much more comfortably than my D800 and 80-400. With the N1 I don’t turn our walk into a photo expedition.

            • pedantic_brit

              Andy’s kit with the 32mm would be about 30% heavier than a P900 but as he points out he would have the option of only carrying a subset. With the 18.5 1.8 instead of the 32mm the weight difference woul be negligible.

            • Aldo

              It seems we agree to disagree… It’s good reading your points of view. It’s safe to assume that an owner of this system will do anything to make it work… at the same time it is important to remain objective and aware as to what other options are out there. If one treats any system as the ONLY way possible to get results… or better results… the system itself becomes less of an advantage and more of a limitation.

            • pedantic_brit

              Well I’m fine with agreeing to disagree but you seem to be making some unwarranted assumptions. I do think the N1 system has a lot of good points under certain constraints and I find it a very useful adjunct to my other camera but I’m not sure how you get the idea that I’m advocating it as an only system and I very much doubt Thomas Stirr is either – I believe he uses m4/3 gear for his commercial industrial video work.

              I doubt Galen Rowell was under any illusion that the 75-150 e series lens he used for many photos was the best lens available in those focal lengths but he obviously did feel that it was often the most suitable tool for him. Different tools for different jobs.

            • Aldo

              What do you think I’m assuming? People have different views of what’s ‘portable’ … interesting you say “different tools for different jobs” … especially because the author is supposed to be vacationing… and the images aren’t an outcome of a job… although the images produced require some ‘effort’ to produce… they are not shot mindlessly… Thus a vacation to someone may be ‘work’ for others. Carrying a dx body with a single lens maybe more portable and convenient for some people rather than taking a nikon 1 with 2-4 different lenses. Again it is subjective. I don’t think I’m assuming anything but rather expanding on the notion of ‘what could have been’ if some of the shots were taken with a different system… That is all.

            • pedantic_brit

              “It’s safe to assume that an owner of this system will do anything to make it work… ”
              Not me. I enjoy the N1 system but see plenty of room for improvement and I simply hope enough other people support it so Nikon doesn’t orphan the system. I have no interest in persuading others to see my point of view and less in being browbeaten by theirs.

            • stesk

              I enjoy it too and my D800 rests in the cabinet.

            • Aldo

              I have no system that can take these photos… my suggestions are simple common knowledge. If that’s the assumption you say is unwarranted? You go to the store and buy a nikon 1 and a few lenses to shoot birds and you wouldn’t do anything in your power to make sure it works?

            • stesk

              I works if you know how to handle the Nikon 1 gear.
              However there is too much snobbery about the photo-gear and too little about being a photographer.
              Who sets the standards for IQ and texture.
              In this thread it’s about nature and vacation photos.
              In nature you have 1 shoot and the moment is gone. Forget about setting up the gear unless you want to sit and wait 2 weeks in the hope the bird/animal will come back.

            • dclivejazz

              FWIW, for my kind of photography, I do find an XT1-1 with two or three primes more “portable” (at least less fatiguing) to carry around than my D810 with a 24-70.

              The image quality from the Fuji lenses prompts me to consider getting and using more wide-angle primes with my D810, too, but it definitely wouldn’t be as portable to bring along a few FX choices.

              I don’t do birding or much other fast-action photography though.

            • Thomas Stirr

              Hi Andy,

              As I noted in an earlier reply to Aldo, I now shoot with Nikon 1 gear exclusively, for both my client video business as well as on a personal basis.

              I’m certainly not suggesting that Nikon 1 would be the best choice for other folks, but having shot with a range of formats in the past I came to the conclusion that is the best gear for my specific needs and as a result sold off my D800 and all of my FX glass last summer.

              Tom

            • neversink

              Then you have fools for clients….

            • Thomas Stirr

              We all have taken note of your blatant gear snobbery.

              If Nikon 1 is not your thing then perhaps moving on and not wasting your time here would be in order.

              Tom

            • neversink

              We have all taken note of your disregard of what a good photograph is….. unless of course you like lack of detail, lack of texture, lack of clarity and lack of sharpness and a total disregard for the art of photography… But don’t let that rock your boat….
              I will always defend a good photograph, which I have done many times on Nikon Rumors, but I will always criticize a poor photograph….
              One has to have standards!

            • Thomas Stirr

              LOL…makes no difference to me. You can keep hiding behind your screen name and pretend to be whoever you like.

              Tom

            • neversink

              Lots of screen names you don’t mind giving positive accolades to if they like your shots… People have screen names for a variety of reasons. I have nothing to prove to you.
              Look at the quality in the pic I posted earlier on this thread. The photo is cropped by at least 150%. It is 388K and if you only focus on the bird, It would be cropped more than CX size. It has much more clarity and image quality than any of the photos you have posted on this thread. And that has been my point all along. I don’t care how well your image is composed, if the camera cannot pick up the detail, then the photos fail terribly. I get more clarity and IQ and sharpness from a pinhole camera than I can from my Nikon 1….

            • TR

              I am curious, can you shows us some shots of birds in flight at equivalent focal lengths beyond 600mm from the P900 that beat the Nikon 1? I haven’t really looked much at the P900, so I am curious to see what it can do!

            • stesk

              The P900 is not for birds in flight.
              It’s similar to the Canon SX60/50.

            • TR

              I never thought/said it was, but as Aldo suggests that Thomas could take better photos with a P900 I’d like to see some examples.

            • Thomas Stirr

              Hi TR,

              Having shot with the P900 and doing a review on it I can say that other than taking some shots at extreme efov that the P900 offers that I would not be able to take images with it that would be superior to those I capture with my Nikon 1 gear.

              The P900 certainly has its place in the market, but it does not meet my needs at all.

              Tom

            • neversink

              Some people may think my following words are harsh, and I apologize in advance for that. But when one critiques one’s own work, or publishes a review and is not honest or critical one risks becoming mundane. Honest criticism is tough, but that is what is taught in art school. And when I taught photography, I insisted my students be observant and analyze their work and each other’s work with a fine-toothed comb. If you are after mediocrity, that is fine. But mediocrity is not acceptable in the world of photography that I have worked in.

              So, you saying this — The choice is to take inferior images with the Nikon1 or to take extremely inferior images with the P900. Some choice. Look closely at your photos. They are great examples of poor IQ, particularly in sharpness, texture and color. Please be honest when you review equipment. Just because you have blogged a review does not mean your review is all-encompassing. If you can’t see the faults with your Cuban bird photos, and the severe limitations of the NIkon1, then you should quit writing photo reviews and give up photography. Is your client Nikon by any chance???
              I use the Nikon1 for fun. Mostly for water sports. There are severe limitations with it. The RAW image in the Nikon1 is not much better than the jpeg image from the Nikon1.

            • Thomas Stirr

              Hi neversink,

              Without doubt cameras with larger sensors have the capability of producing better images than those captured by cameras using smaller sensors. Dynamic range, colour depth and low light performance will all be significantly better.

              For folks who make a living shooting wildlife/nature their preferred gear would likely be larger sensor cameras along with dedicated telephoto lenses as this gear would produce superior images.

              We all have different needs with our camera gear, and I’ve never suggested that the Nikon 1 system would be the best choice for other people.

              I do disagree with your view that the RAW files with Nikon 1 aren’t much better than jpegs. My experience is that they provide much more latitude in post. Some of this, of course, will be dependent on software and the type of work done in post.

              As a point of clarification, Nikon is not one of my video clients, nor do I have any kind of ‘paid relationship’ with Nikon.

              Tom

            • neversink

              You make sense. Here is where we diverge.

              1. I use Capture One Pro as my raw editor and see little difference between the RAW and JPEG in post production with the Nikon 1. But I will retest that.

              2. More importantly, I fail to understand why you would use inferior equipment for your clients, like a Nikon1 where the IQ is so obviously inferior on many levels….

              Sure, I would use portability, but never, ever at the expense of image quality. NEVER. Its just not a compromise I would make. I don’t like flat images with lack of detail. And neither do my clients. I am just scratching my head in bewilderment….

            • Thomas Stirr

              My client work is all video…with my speciality being safety and training videos. I regularly have to shoot in extremely cramped quarters and position my cameras in very tough spots. The small size and lightweight of my Nikon 1 gear is ideal. I can also get the depth-of-field I need using more wide open apertures as compared to shooting with the D800 that I used to own.

              Tom

            • neversink

              Why don’t you use an Arriflex???

            • Thomas Stirr

              Because I love shooting with Nikon 1.

            • Thomas Stirr

              Hi neversink,

              I can’t comment on Capture One Pro as I have never used it. I use DxO OpticsPro 10 as my main RAW processor, with additional work done in CS6 and Nik Suite.

              Tom

            • neversink

              Thomas…. An aside…. Capture One vs DxO… I think the algorithms in CO are much better and the results more natural. I think CO is a more advanced processor than DxO, but may not be much of a difference. I have Nik but rarely use it and try not to go into Photoshop…. Both CO and DxO are much better than Lightroom, in my opinion….

            • Thomas Stirr

              Thanks for the additional perspective on Capture One. I find that OpticsPro 10 does a great job on my Nikon 1 files…especially the PRIME noise reduction which is important when shooting with a smaller sensor camera.

              Tom

            • Thanks for your comment, Tom. I have been following your adventures with the Nikon 1 with much interest. I am not considering the P900, but I am currently debating on whether to get a 200-500mm for my FX body or buy a used V2 and the 70-300m. As I expect I’d mostly shoot in decent light the smaller set-up is very tempting, although I am still leaning towards the bigger lens (and a comfortable rucksack to carry it!).
              Cheers!

            • Thomas Stirr

              Hi Torsten,
              Another option is to buy the 200-500 for your FX body…then get a used V2 along with an FT-1 adapter and use the lens with both camera formats.
              Tom

            • Would it even be remotely possible to handhold this combination, Tom? Heavy lens, tiny body and 1350mm equivalent… I suspect that this will need a tripod under all circumstances, which makes for a rather heavy combination – so rather against the idea of a Nikon 1 system, at least for me. Could still be fun to explore though!

            • Thomas Stirr

              Hi Torsten,
              A tripod or monopod would be the preferred choices. I have shot a little bit hand-held with a Nikkor 80-400 and a Nikon 1 V2 and it is ‘ok’ for a little while but I wouldn’t recommend it for any length of time.
              Tom

            • Thanks for sharing your experiences, Tom. Considering size and reach of the 200-500mm I think some support is probably a must; anyway, let’s see how I get on with it!

            • Thomas Stirr

              Hi Torsten,
              I recently purchased a Benro A48FD video monopod. I appreciate that you likely don’t shoot too much video, but this is quite a beefy monopod that could handle a DSLR, large lens, and tripod head. It has three small flip-out feet on the bottom which adds stability for slower shutter speed shots or for video. It has clip locks which make it very fast to adjust height. If you are looking for this type of support it is one monopod to consider.
              Tom

            • Hi Tom,

              Thanks for the suggestion, I will check it out. I think I’d first like to get a feel for the lens and how much support I think it needs, but a good monopod may be a useful addition to my tripods.

              Cheers!

            • Thomas Stirr

              Hi Torsten,
              Rather than have Aldo comment on my capabilities with various cameras I thought I could comment directly for you – I cannot take better images with a P900 than I can with my Nikon 1 gear – I’ve shot with both btw.
              Tom

            • Aldo

              you can google them.

            • TR

              You stated there are many options, so I think you should be able to name some of them. I am well aware there are several bridge cameras that reach to and beyond 800mm. I am not aware of any that beat the Nikon 1 on image quality and match its focusing abilities.

            • TR

              Ah, sorry, I thought “google them” referred to the camera models, but I now think you meant BiF shots! Seems there are indeed a few decent ones out there, although hard to review from down-sampled JPGs. Anyway, I hadn’t registered the P900 as BiF capable – thanks for mentioning! [added the comment to the wrong post first, hence the deleted comment above]

            • Thomas Stirr

              Hi TR,

              The P900 uses an older generation AF system and as such is challenged with moving subjects. I was not able to capture very many usable BIF images when I was doing my field work in advance of my review of the P900. Other folks may have had better luck than me of course. The P900 is not a camera I would ever recommend to others for BIF images.

              Tom

            • Aldo

              beyond 800mm? is this the standard for vacationing with a portable camera?

            • TR

              Thomas’s article is about his use of the Nikon 1 70-300mm for birding. You said he has outgrown that system and that there are many better options. If these many mysterious options do not reach as far as the N1 then they are not better options, are they?

            • Aldo

              I missed the part where you said ‘equivalent’ if you said that at all… plenty of other systems cover that range.

            • Aldo, this is a discussion about reach, so I am a little confused that you, as a veteran of these forums, need a reminder about crop factor and pixel density of the Nikon 1.

              Even so I have referred to equivalence a few times in comments on this post, for example “equivalent focal lengths”, “go up to 800mm equivalent” and “equivalent maximal focal length of the 70-300mm is 810mm”.

              To repeat my question again: which are the systems? And which of these systems are about as portable as the Nikon 1 and match its AF?

              Let me think… In no particular order:

              DSLRs: match the reach, beat AF, but a complete failure on portability in comparison.

              EOS M: fail on reach and AF

              Fuji: fail on reach; possibly on AF too

              Samsung: not sure about AF, but definitely fail on reach

              m4/3: fail on reach, at least until the 100-400mm becomes available; even when it does it is much bigger (same for the 300mm); not sure the AF matches the Nikon 1 (it may well do now, I just don’t know)

              Leica etc: do we even have to discuss this?

              Sony: no suitable lenses

              And yes, one could mount other lenses on the systems above, but then the size advantage is gone and the AF may suffer. So what other systems (I note the plural) can match the Nikon 1 for the type of photography that Thomas has shown here?

            • neversink

              The type of photography that Thomas has shown here is mediocre at best. Poor image quality, softness, loss of color and clarity and lack of texture. Just a bore. I only care about good images. and the Nikon1 is very limited. I’d rather crop with a D4 or D800 than use a Nikon1 for serious photography.

            • As has been said before there is a choice between portability and image quality. There is no arguing that the Nikon 1 wins on portability. Whether the IQ is suitable depends on the specific requirements. I’d say that if portability is a key factor it is a compromise worth making. I don’t make the compromise – I shoot Nikon FX – but as I haven’t really done much wildlife I am not an authority here. Either way, I think your criticism could have been expressed a little more softly.

            • neversink

              I have shot wildlife professionally, although most of my professional work deals more with human subjects and their environments. I could never sell any of these shots posted in this link, because editors and creative directors are very critical and they are never soft with their opinions. I’m sorry if I offended anyone’s sensibilities. That is not my intention. My intention is to have an honest discussion, but I am not one for mincing words. I’ve seen so many people claim the are pros, when in fact their photos looks like average student work. If an editor is polite to you, you will never hear from that editor again… :–}

            • I am fine with having an honest discussion, but I think language like “fail dramatically” is only called for in, well, dramatic situations.

            • TR

              Ah, sorry, I take it “google them” referred to the camera models, but I now think you meant BiF shots! Seems there are indeed a few decent ones out there, although hard to review from down-sampled JPGs. Anyway, I hadn’t registered the P900 as BiF capable – thanks for mentioning!

            • Thomas Stirr

              Hi Torsten,

              The P900 uses an older AF system and is challenged with BIF images. While doing a reasonable job with static subjects the P900 is not a camera I would recommend for BIF.

              Tom

        • TR

          I’d be interested to hear what the many *better* options are that beat the Nikon 1 and 70-300 and yet score on portability. You mentioned the P900, but what are the many others? How many systems exactly reach out to 800mm, have decent options and great tracking capabilities – and better subject isolation and out of focus rendering?

          • Aldo

            panasonic and sony come to mind… look into their systems … if portable is priority. Of course when you plan to bring an arsenal of lenses as Andy suggests… then it becomes a bit ridiculous.

            • TR

              Panasonic and Sony are manufacturers, but I am curious to hear which of their models reach to 800mm and beat the Nikon 1 optically while matching its focus capabilities.

            • TheMeckMan

              A6000 for one. I rented a V3 and an a6000 from LensRentals and wasn’t as happy as Ii was with the a6000. If you’re going to argue over the extra ~9fps then I’d say the 6000’s far better image quality (at base ISO the v3 is muddy and looks like ISO 800 on the a6000 and like ISO1600-3200 on a compact DSLR like my wife’s d5500) and price with standard evf negate any advantage. At 11 fps the Sony will capture all sorts of moments and in fine detail for $$$ less. The fact that I can optionally mount all my old Canon L lenses is a great plus. Nikon 1 is nice kit but I’d rather stick with APS-C. I’m waiting for the next iteration before I bite the Sony mirrorless bullet and I’m sure it will increase FPS and quality.

            • TR

              I won’t dispute the image quality of the A6000, but which lens exactly are you going to use to go up to 800mm equivalent with AF that can match the Nikon 1 and that is as portable? 😉 That’s what the discussion is about…

            • Aldo

              The discussion isn’t about 800mm as you presume.

            • TR

              If it isn’t then you will no doubt concede that for long reach there are no better options than the Nikon 1 when portability is a factor? If not, what use would your comment be that Thomas has outgrown the system? Also, if you read the thread you will see that Andy and myself specifically referred to the long focal lengths. Now it looks like you cannot substantiate your comments and so you try to change the topic. I agree that it isn’t exclusively about 800mm, but again what use would a “better” system be that doesn’t allow Thomas to get his shots at all?

            • stesk

              The N1 70-300mm combination with the V3 is about focus points and fast frame rates.
              There are no other system to compete with Nikon.

              (you also know that).

            • TR

              Exactly. That’s why I think Aldo’s point about Thomas having outgrown the system was not very helpful – as there is no system that could be an alternative (where portability is also a factor).

            • Thomas Stirr

              The vast majority of my bird images tend to be taken with the 1 Nikon CX 70-300 fully extended, and providing an efov of 810mm. So, this is a relevant issue.
              Tom

            • neversink

              And if you used a 300 on an Fx and cropped the photo you would get better image quality in so many ways!!!!!

            • Thomas Stirr

              As I have stated a number of times already…I have shot with full frame cameras in the past, and I much prefer using the Nikon 1 system. I am well aware of the advantages and disadvantages of various formats.
              Tom

            • neversink

              To me the discussion is about the results of a Nikon1 image, and they fail dramatically in this case. This post shows the limitations of this toy camera and how much hype is out there. My photo salesman who is a walking encyclopedia , and who I have been buying from for more than 30 years even told me Nikon reps admit this is not a great camera.

            • stesk

              There are so many who use the title photographer
              however there are very few to deserve this title.

              It seems you are the God here, earned a living as a photographer for 30 years.

              This must have been a life without butter on the bread.

              If you were a real photographer you would be open to new products.

              It seems you live in a world where it’s only the best IQ and texture etc. (the
              hardware) to make the photo.

              It’s not – it’s the man behind the toys who makes the photo.

            • neversink

              I am open to new products, but good products. I own a Nikon 1. I also shoot with pinhole cameras that I make for nearly nothing, except for the gold leaf that I put the pin through. I have also shot with nearly every camera on the block. The Nikon 1 is fun, but that is where it ends. Not every new camera is great. In fact, with digital, there is a lot of junk out there.

            • Considering how Nikon often fails to articulate clearly what its cameras are for and how they also seem to misjudge demand I am not sure I give much on hearsay about Nikon reps. Either way, I think “fail dramatically” is unwarranted for Thomas’s work.

            • Thomas Stirr

              Hi Aldo,
              An ‘arsenal’ of lenses isn’t required. Three fairly small, and comparatively light Nikon 1 lenses (6.7-13, 10-100 non-PD, and 70-300) provide owners with an efov of 18-810mm.
              Tom

        • Thomas Stirr

          Hi Aldo,

          I have shot with the P900 and did a review on this camera. It does a reasonable job with static subjects but the older generation AF on the P900 creates some challenges for birds-in-flight.

          Many folks will enjoy this camera but it is not something I would purchase as it does not meet my specific needs. It does provide great reach because of its zoom lens and that really is the camera’s primary strength.

          In my experience the P900 does not come even close to my V2 with a CX 70-300 in terms of performance or image quality.

          Tom

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hello Aldo,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the images – thank you for your positive comment about them.

      As far as choice of equipment goes, this is a very personal decision that we all make. I have shot with Nikon FX and DX bodies in the past as well as briefly with M4/3. Of the various formats that I have used, I like and enjoy the Nikon 1 system the best.

      I have no hesitation telling folks that, having sold my D800 and all of my FX glass (Nikkor primes and zooms, as well as the Tamron 150-600) last summer, that I am now shooting exclusively with my Nikon 1 gear. I currently have three Nikon 1 V2’s, a J4, and a dozen 1 Nikon lenses. I use this gear for both my client video business as well as for my personal needs.

      There is no such thing as a perfect camera or lens and everything has some kind of trade-off. It could be weight, size, price, frame rate, dynamic range, colour depth, low light performance, AF performance or some other factor.

      I think the key for every photographer is to find gear that resonates with them, they enjoy using, and meets their specific needs. For me that is Nikon 1.

      In terms of my use of the Nikon 1 system I appreciate that everyone is entitled to their opinion on gear and you are certainly entitled to express your view.

      You seem to have a viewpoint that shooting with Nikon 1 is holding me back in some regard. Having shot with a range of formats over the years I have a completely different experience and viewpoint. My Nikon 1 gear enables me to capture images that I was not able to get with the other gear I owned. It has also allowed me to be about 30% more productive with my client video business. I am certainly NOT suggesting that it would be the best format for other people, nor am I suggesting that other people would have the same experience with Nikon 1. Again, finding gear that works for each of us is an intensely personal decision.

      I am completely happy with my choice of gear and the performance that it generates for me.

      Tom

  • stesk

    Nikon 1 + 70-300mm N1 is perfect for this kind of photography.
    Before I used the V1 + N1 70-300mm it worked great. After I now got the V3 it’s even better. The focus is very very fast. Using the camera with 20fps is so fantastic. This will get you shots you can only dream of with an DSLR.
    However you need a viewfinder to get the best results.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/steenheilesen/23180157644/in/album-72157661625297971/

    • neversink

      @ stesk – This image lacks complete texture and is so monotone. There is absolutely no detail in the feathers. With this much sunlight hitting the bird you should have much, much more detail. So, the Nikon 1, despite what you state, is NOT the perfect camera for bird photography that you say it is.
      To say that you can’t get shots like this with a DSLR is living in denial and pretending that all the great photos of birds taken with an Fx DSLR don’t exist. Perhaps you have never used a DSLR for such photography.

      • stesk

        I have used DSLR with the Nikkor 300mm F2.8 VR.
        I don’t agree in what you are writing.
        At this distance you can’t get much details. This shot is not about details. It’s a moment.
        Who will look for details in this kind of shot???
        Using a Nikon 1 is an alternative and I know the limits-
        This post is what the Nikon 1 can be used for (travel light photography).
        However what is the joy of having a 600mm or 800mm if you can’t walk around with it. You will also need a heavy tripod for the lens.
        Post some of your shots taken with a 600mm or 800mm and show us your moments!!!

        • true

          I bet though you’d get more details with a 150-600 zoom than with 70-300 CX lens or 300 f2.8

        • neversink

          I have made my living from photography for more than 30 years. I stand by what I say. The photo attached is only 388K and it is cropped from the original image about 150%. This was taken with the Nikon D800 and the Nikon 500mm/f4 lens (the las generation lens – not the new fluoride and fluorite version.) I purposely chose this photo to show that you can take photos of birds with a D800. I also chose it to demonstrate that even cropped so much there still is much more texture and IQ than any Nikon 1 camera can offer.
          By the way, i usually pair my 500 with the D4.
          PS – I have not corrected this photo for dust…. Sorry.

          • VanHoff

            Did you noticed the macroblocking texture on this photo?

            • neversink

              I saw macroblocking on the egret photo, catching the fish that “stesk” shot. The photo above of the lilac-breasted roller that I downloaded has some noise (because of the crop. It’s quite cropped and I was lazy when I downloaded it here – I had put the photo up on some social media site and downloaded it from there. So it went through some kind of compression when I uploaded it to the social media site and then some other compression and algorithms when I downloaded to my desktop and then probably some more compression when I downloaded it from my desktop to Disqus. Next time i won’t be so lazy. I’ll go back to the original.

          • stesk

            I have a D800 too but can’t carry heavy lenses.
            Also I don’t find it worth to spend so much money with gear which can only be used for those special events. However a BIF is not the same than capturing a bird catching a fish.
            If you talk about texture and IQ then use a Hasselblad – LOL.
            However this is not what this thread is about.
            Of course there is a difference in IQ there are also a difference in price and weight.

            • neversink

              stesk, On this I agree. I only bought my 500mm f/4 because I needed for an assignment that lasted two weeks of shooting over a one month period. In the long run, it has paid for itself and was cheaper than renting it. And now I have this lovely lens in my arsenal.

          • stesk

            You talk about pro shots. HA HA
            Show us some more.
            With your arguments you say that Thomas is not a pro because he is using toy camera.
            I have been reading his articles and seen some of his other works. I can’t put a finger on what he is doing. He is doing a great job.
            You bla, bla, bla, bla,….
            If you have something great to show, show it.

            It’s not worth to spend more time on you.

            • neversink

              Stesk – You have only shown one shot. And although it is a lovely capture it lacks so much in IQ. And haven’t even commented on mine. I’ve put this shot up to show that even incredibly cropped, this bird as much more IQ than anything taken with a Nikon1. And once you shoot past ISO 400 with a Nikon 1, your quality goes down even further. I certainly don’t need to prove anything to you. Intelligent conversation and debate is what I am striving for. I am not saying that Tom is a horrid photographer. I never said that. What I said is that I question the quality of the photos posted here; and they prove that the Nikon 1 is no more than a toy in most situations. Yes, it can be fun, but, in most cases, don’t take those photos seriously.
              Yes, you can shoot with the Nikon 1 vs a full frame body, but is the compromise in image quality worth it. I don’t believe it is, in most cases. Why? Because you are giving up too much in dtail and image quality.
              And since you have asked for another photo, here is one.
              D4 — 500m F/4 lens (generation before the most recent fluorite / Fluoride lens) (cropped at about 37 percent of original) This is a 1.8 mb file as 2 mb is the limit for Disqus.

            • neversink

              Here is a slightly better version of the photo in my previous post:

        • neversink

          Who will look for details in this kind of shot, you ask…. My photo editors. That is who.

        • Like the college Neversink already stated, the detail is poor on that shot.Just my 2 cents, here is one heavy crop from a fair distance (more than 30m) from my D7000 and 300mm 2.8 VR.

      • Singani Mamiya

        Wow, you would spend like 25.000 Euro on a D5 + 800/5.6 to get some “better” results when shooting some birds on vocation, because this isn’t good enough for you?

        • stesk

          Even he spend those money he couldn’t make it. The success rate is very poor with this gear on a tripod.
          When I used my Nikkor 300mm F2.8 I gave up because I couldn’t move fast enough. Those birds capturing fish are very fast and with the gear setup it’s too slow.
          What is not mentioned is that the V3 at 20fps capture the moment before you press the shutter. This makes a difference.
          Further details in feathers at this speed and distance is not possible.
          Next time I will ask the bird to wait until I get my details 🙂

        • neversink

          First of all, when I am on vacation, I am on vacation. Since I make my living from photography, I shoot what I have to with the best equipment for the job. Simple.

          • stesk

            There are many ways to earn a living.
            However – because I drive a Bentley this doesn’t mean I’m a good driver.
            Simple.

            • neversink

              Mr or Ms Stesk – I began my photography with an early 1950s Exacta vxiia with Zeiss lenses that my father gave me. I learnt how to make my own developers and dilute them for different results. I have used all sorts of cameras and formats in my career in photography — all the way up to 8X10 view. But I would never use a camera that couldn’t get the job done. That’s why I would never use a Nikon1, although I have actually taken one or two shots with the Nikon1 that I sold. But that is quite the exception.
              Sorry that you can’t drive your Bentley. I drive a Defender Land Rover….

  • pedantic_brit

    Thank you! These are really inspiring. I have owned the 70-300cx since soon after it was announced and for me it is the raisin d’etre of N1. There are other nice CX lenses but such portable reach with excellent AF and high frame rates really brings something different to the table.

    Your photos are superb and show what this lens is capable of in the right hands.

    I’m inclined to disagree with Aldo that a larger format system would give better results overall. Obviously the right FX, DX or even m4/3, gear could give better resolution, DR, subject isolation etc but there is no free lunch and the added weight – and slower frame rate – could easily have resulted in you missing some of the shots you got.
    Thanks again for setting a high bar for me to aspire to with much the same gear!

    • neversink

      I’m inclined (talk about pedantic) to disagree with the “pedantic_brit.”
      There is no doubt that the same pics would look so much better taken with a full frame camera. If 10fps is too slow for you on the D4, I suggest you give up photography. More detail will show up on the FX photo. Fx IQ is so much greater than Nikon 1 there is no comparison. By the way, I use the A1W1 Nikon 1 but it is very limited. Yu need to know and understand the Nikon 1’s limitations, and not make excuses for it, or pretend it is something that it isn’t.

      • TR

        If you re-read the post it clearly says that FX for example would give better “better resolution, DR, subject isolation etc” – but I think the point is about how many good shoots you come away with at the end of the day. And if you give up after two hours because your gear is too heavy…

        • pedantic_brit

          Thanks TR! It is quite evident that Thomas Stirr uses and appreciates other formats and the suggestion he had outgrown his gear struck me as something of a backhanded compliment.

          • TR

            Having followed Thomas’s posts on PhotographyLife it seemed to me he has very carefully assessed the options and found what worked best for him. As someone who still schlepps around FX gear I am only too aware of the disadvantages, and that’s how I read your comment. I’d still like to understand why Aldo thinks there are many better options out there though. Either way, Thomas’s work really showcases what the Nikon 1 can do, so I am grateful for him sharing his photos. He is a better ambassador for the brand than Nikon, I think.

            • pedantic_brit

              I totally agree TR.
              Interestingly Thomas posted a review of the P900 on his site about 9 months ago – I tried to post a link but I guess that is pending review by Admin. The P900 clearly has a remarkable lens and enormous reach and Thomas posted some great shots taken with it. He gave it a qualified recommendation – he had reservations about the law of RAW and the tiny sensor among other things.

            • pedantic_brit

              Should read “lack of RAW….” – damn spell “check”

            • Aldo

              When I said ‘better’ options.. I never said anything about 800mm and beyond… I mentioned the p900 as a sample of better out of focus rendition and reach. The pictures in questioned are taken with a lens that is 300mm? That focal length is met by competitors and other systems both portable FF and smaller sensors. You are free to believe that ‘only’ the nikon 1 can give you what you want… but the pictures speak for themselves… and some of them (as I pointed out) although they are beautifully shot… they lack the background renderings of better systems.

            • TR

              The equivalent maximal focal length of the 70-300mm is 810mm. That length is only met by FX/DX system (much more weight/bulk) and soon the new Panasonic – unless I missed a system (apart from the aforementioned bridge cameras)? Again, what point is it to say Thomas has outgrown the system if you cannot offer an alternative that has enough reach for him to take his shots? This is not just about 800mm equivalent, it also goes for 600mm and other focal lengths.

              No one would doubt that a Zeis Otus and a D810 give better rendering, but it just won’t be of use for birding. So again, apart from the P900 I’d still like to know what the many options are? I find it hard to believe that you really think a 300mm FF system is equivalent to the Nikon 1 70-300mm in reach, or that m4/3 can match the N1 tracking of moving targets (leaving aside that the new 100-400mm weighs about 2x as much as the N1 70-300mm).

              From what I have seen now I agree that there are people out there who can do good stuff with the P900 that I hadn’t seen before, but that is still only one alternative, and not many, and I believe it doesn’t shoot raw?

            • Thomas Stirr

              Hi TR,

              Thank you for your supportive comment about my work – most appreciated! You are completely correct in your comment that I took some time to assess my gear requirements. As a result of that assessment I sold my D800 and all of my FX glass last summer as I found that the Nikon 1 system was a better overall fit for my professional and personal needs.

              I’m certainly not suggesting that this would be the case for other photographers. I’m now shooting with Nikon 1 gear exclusively and I’m totally happy with my decision. The key is simply to find what each of us needs/likes.

              Tom

            • stesk

              You are a brave man, however I agree about your choice. The only problem could be that the Nikon 1 is not supporting all elements needed – lack of a commander flash system and using flash at high speed. But for most kind of photography this is the system that I like too.
              I still have all my pro Nikkor lenses and my D800 which I also like but seldom use. Grabbing the small cameras is a joy.
              Nice work!

            • Thomas Stirr

              Thanks stesk – I’m glad you liked the images.

              I agree that the Nikon 1 system may not have all of the options that many photographers need for their work, and as such is likely not the best choice for them.

              I never use flash for my work so the limitations of the Nikon 1 system in this regard is a non issue for me.

              Like you I was finding that I was using my D800 and FX lenses less and less as time went on. I keep a shot log for all of my client video projects. This document details the camera, lens and any video gear used to record individual scenes for a particular client production. After reviewing my shot logs I really couldn’t justify keeping $$$ tied up in full frame gear that was being infrequently used – so I sold all of it in July 2015l. My only regret is not selling it sooner.

              Tom

            • stesk

              In fact I bought the V1 the day it came out.
              At that time I only thought I would be using it for digiscoping. The camera worked very well and I could attached it within 30 seconds.
              However taking the camera on a walk in the city I found it was a better choice than the bulky D800.
              Getting the shot is what counts.
              I have also done some videos on long distance with the scope but many times the airpollution is a problem here, but it can be done.
              What counts is getting most out of the tool with the best workflow.
              I have been waiting for the V4 but found I couldn’t wait any longer. The V3 surprised me.
              I hope Nikon will solve the flash problem on the V4.
              Hope to more from you in the future.

            • Thomas Stirr

              Thanks stesk…I plan on doing some additional articles here in the future if my schedule permits.

              If you are interested you can visit my blog to view my latest article that was just published today. It has a range of pelican images…both in-flight and stationary subjects.

              Tom

            • Not at all, you are really an inspiration. As mentioned in the other comment I will probably stick to my FX gear for my soon to start exploration into wildlife, but due to seeing your photos I am now looking at the Nikon 1 again. Keep up the good work!

        • neversink

          I never give up and I rarely miss my shot…

          • TR

            Well, I also carry my FX gear around all the time when I am “seriously” out shooting. It is a matter of personal preference though. Some days I didn’t pack my telezoom and could have made good use of it. In those cases the Nikon 1 can be superior because it is so much smaller. That’s what the Pedantic_Brit meant, I think. For image quality I’d always pick FX (medium format and wildlife does not strike me as a good default solution); but as Thomas’s photos show CX may be good enough.

            • neversink

              If poor Image quality – and I’ve said it elsewhere here – resulting in softness, lack of clarity and texture is your cup of tea – then be my guest and drink your poison.

            • As noted above I don’t shoot CX as for me so far CX isn’t good enough. I wouldn’t dare to make that judgement for others though.

            • neversink

              Not a judgment call. It’s a observant call on the poor quality of these images. Yes, they are well composed, but after that they fail miserably. That’s why the Nikon1 is a toy. Having taught photography and worked full time in the field, I know that one must never accept mediocrity, because you will never go anywhere. One always has to be critical, whether it is positive or negative. Sorry if that isn’t nice. Personally, I think it is cruel not to be honest and critical.

            • It seems we disagree on the appropriate language then. I would never call “well composed” images with interesting subjects and accurate focus miserable failures because of (actual or perceived) lack of detail, contrast etc.The quality of the sensor and lens may not be up to what you want, but that’s only part of an image and in my view not the most important one.

            • stesk

              Poor image quality can be better than poor photography Mr. Louis.

            • neversink

              Who is Louis….

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hello pedantic_brit,

      Thank you for your positive comment about the images – I’m glad you enjoyed them. Having shot extensively with Nikon FX and DX gear in the past, I can say that I much prefer my Nikon 1 CX kit.

      As other posters have noted, there are trade-offs of course in terms of dynamic range, colour depth and low light performance. As photographers we all pick the best gear to meet our specific needs. For me, that is the Nikon 1 system.

      Tom

  • Aldo

    I’ts not my fault you are working even when you are spending ‘quality’ time with your family… and your foul language only serves as to support how much I hit the nail… oh and let me add that your attitude is little intimidating and more laughable… carry on.

  • saywhatuwill

    Your photos are so much better than what I’ve gotten with my Nikkor 400mm f/5.6 EDIF and a D810. I’m sure a lot of it is the photographer but the gear seems to be top notch.

    The photo of the blue heron taking off from the tree reminds me of a pterodactyl. Makes me wonder if those prehistoric animals actually had feathers?

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hello saywhatuwill,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the images – thanks for your positive comment!
      Tom

  • Thomas Stirr

    Hi Andy,

    I certainly wouldn’t recommend that other people do what I do in terms of their choice of camera gear. It really depends on our individual needs. The new 20.8MP BSI sensor in the J5 is a nice step up from the Aptina sensors in previous Nikon 1 models and I’m hoping we see something similar, or better, with a future V4.

    The D800 is a great camera with a ton of dynamic range and colour depth so I can understand why you are hesitant to part with it.

    Tom

  • neversink

    Yawn

  • KnightPhoto

    We photographers get into trouble when we go down these ‘either or’ paths. I like having both a D800E and a Nikon 1 V3. Those of us who follow Thomas know he is a great photographer and post-processor too, something for the rest of us to aspire to!

    Quite often I’ll bring both on a family vacation and just pull out whichever one is appropriate for the day… as a birder I do have the serious gear for when I’m out birding and the 1 system when I want to go light like when travelling with the fam.

    • stesk

      I will not say we get into trouble.
      This is about innovation. There are too much snobbery out there and too little about what is photography.
      For the photography artist Nikon has developed a tool we can use or not use. Photography has no borders. We all see the world with different eyes.
      Yes the D800 gives you lots of detail and the D810 even more. The best Nikkor lenses gives you the top of the iceberg.
      But this is not the case in the this thread.
      I understand Thomas and his choice. Making videos with DSLR is IMO not a good choice.
      Traveling with big lenses is not possible anymore when flying.
      With the Nikon 1 you can use the pro lenses and get great results.
      The N1 is like drugs – the more you use it the more difficult it is to get rid of it.
      Criticism I have seen in this thread is very unprofessional.
      As I always say – a great painter don’t only use 1 brush.

      • neversink

        Your photo of the egret fishing shows how unprofessional your shot is.
        I don’t see any snobbery. Being critical is not snobbery, it is facing reality and being honest.
        I travel with big lenses when I fly all the time. It’s not as easy as it used to be, but it is doable.
        The Nikon 1, you state, is like drugs… Sorry if you are hooked on inferior photo equipment. (I own a Nikon 1 and it is a toy (as New York Nikon sales reps admit) that I sometimes use for fun… but that is it. It is very limited when it comes to producing good image quality.

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi KnightPhoto,
      Thanks for the supportive comment – much appreciated!
      Tom

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi KnightPhoto,
      You can drop by my photography blog to see my newest article that was just published today…pelican images – both in flight and stationary.
      Tom

  • Nikoniser

    I see a lot of criticism of the color, quality and and bokeh of these shots, I have waited until I can have a proper look at them on the computer and they are not bad at all for a compact camera system, and pretty amazing for something that has a zoom. I shoot a lot of Heron’s with a a D810, a D71000 and 600mm f4 lens and TC 1.4. I don’t have the advantage of so much light, and some of these are very large crops, but here are some of my shots for reference and to compare.

    • Nikoniser

      Images :

  • Nikoniser

    Wow, that is a pretty low figure…I had to compress mine down to 2.0mb, and even then I could see I was affecting the colour and contrast. I think they are great pics for something that weighs about 1/30th of my rig.

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Nikoniser,

      Taking individual images down to 250K or smaller does affect image quality a lot as can be expected.

      Tom

  • Thomas Stirr

    Hi Patrick,

    My favourite Nikon 1 model is the V2 – I shoot with three of them. I hope that Nikon will return to an integrated EVF and grip with a future V4.

    At a minimum I’d like to see the new 20.8MP BSI sensor that is in the J5. It is noticeably better in terms of dynamic range and colour depth than the Aptina sensors used in early Nikon 1 models.

    Funny you should mention buying a V1 as a ‘poor man’s’ TC…I bought my first V2 for that reason, as well as a second camera for my video business.

    I originally had no thought about using the Nikon 1 system as much as I do now…but after discovering what this much maligned and poorly understood system can do I fell in love using it.

    Tom

  • Thomas Stirr

    Hi Patrick,

    I just published a new article on my photography blog today. It features some pelican images, both in-flight and stationary subjects.

    Tom

  • Nikon products are really amazing.

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