I have been itching for some more practice with wildlife and my D800. Since I don’t have the Nikon expensive vertical grip, my frame rate is limited to 4 fps (frames per second) in FX mode, and the camera can do 5 fps in DX mode. The vertical grip would give me up to 6 fps. With moving wildlife, I know one frame can mean the difference between a keeper and a throwaway, but I have been hesitant to add bulk and expense with the extra grip without getting some more trials in with the native speeds.
I went back to one of my old favorite spots a couple of times over the past few days, Kensington Metropark near Milford, Michigan. This place always seems to have something to offer up, especially in spring time where herons are nesting, swans, sandhill cranes, turtles (not a good test of frame rate ), and generally very acclimated wildlife to people. It is the go-to spot for area nature photographers. I used to spend a lot more time there, but have taken up exploring other spots over the past few years. I was reminded that Kensington remains pretty special when it comes to wildlife encounters.
The first day was quite overcast, meaning I had to use high ISOs to get any type of decent shutter speed to stop motion. A mute swan had made a nest just a short distance from the main boardwalk there, providing for very comfortable access shooting platform. I spent a good part of the morning testing out various crop modes of the D800 so that I have a decent feel for it now. Going to DX mode definitely helps, and a majority of the time it is eliminating unnecessary pixels anyway. So I will take the extra frame per second when needed.
As you can see in the picture above, I was caught in some significant rain. It has been awhile since I have photographed in rain, and I ended up liking the different type of image it offered. The swans didn’t seem to mind it at all, and I like that portrayal of a less than ideal environment. The image also held up well at ISO 3200.
I returned back again a couple of days later to entirely different conditions. Clear skies, and morning sunshine. I was happy to see all 5 cygnets still around as they are known to succumb to the snapping turtle population in the lake. I was able to get higher shutter speeds and practice some flight photography also.
All in all, not a bad couple days at one of my old stomping grounds, and a bit more experience under my belt with the wildlife capabilities on the D800. As for right now, 5 frames per second I think will be just fine.