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Why I Chose OM SYSTEM For Bird Photography

I have shot with OM SYSTEM exclusively for the last 5 years and spent a few of those as an OM SYSTEM Ambassador. My work focuses on creative bird photography and storytelling driving conservation through work with non-profits, local businesses, and regional groups that protect birds and wildlife. I am thrilled to say that I am now a part of the OM SYSTEM team and work in our marketing department. It is truly a full circle moment to transition from hobby photographer, to pro photographer and OM SYSTEM Ambassador, to working for the brand I love and the cameras that have shaped who I am.

OM-1 • M.Zuiko 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO

The number one reason bird photography with OM SYSTEM is so unique is being able to have a 600+ mm equivalent focal range that can be easily shot with no tripod and is lightweight enough for the backcountry. Getting into remote locations to photograph birds is already hard, add a heavy lens into the mix and it creates a big problem.

I like to be mobile when I photograph birds as it allows me to find interesting compositions that I likely would not be able to find by setting a heavy lens on a tripod and waiting for something to happen. This is especially the case when trying to shoot creative backlight compositions when birds are constantly on the move. With OM SYSTEM it is easy for me to achieve the mobility that I require when photographing birds.

OM-1 • M.Zuiko 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO

What's In My Bag?

  • OM-1 Mark II
  • OM-1
  • M.Zuiko 150-400mm
  • M.Zuiko 150-600mm
  • M.Zuiko 300mm
  • MC-14
  • MC-20

The versatility of the M.Zuiko 150-400mm F4.5 PRO Lens is astounding. With how lightweight that lens is, getting into position for interesting compositions is so simple. Carrying the lens is easy and such a contrast to my previous gear. My go-to kit is the 150-400mm F4.5 PRO paired with the OM-1 Mark II. This set up gives me up to 1000mm equivalent field of view when using the built in teleconverter and it's astonishing that I can hand-hold that even down to half a second shutter. It has completely changed the way I photograph birds.

OM-1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-600mm F5.0-6.3 IS

OM-1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-600mm F5.0-6.3 IS

Another great lens is the all new M.Zuiko 150-600mm F5-6.3. This lens comes in at a more entrance friendly price point and yields fantastic image quality and exception low light capabilities. I put it to the test with a screech owl after sunset and was blown away by the lens and its stabilization at over a half second in the dark. Another great lens for birds is the M.Zuiko 300mm F4 PRO and it is where my love of birding flourished as I paired it with the MC-14 teleconverter for extended reach.

E-M1X • M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4.0 IS PRO

OM-1 • M.Zuiko 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO

When I am in the field, my favorite function of the OM-1 Mark II is the AI Bird Auto Focus mode and the near nonexistent buffer. I have missed so many shots in the past not being able to track as well as I should. With OM SYSTEM, tracking has become easy. I don’t have to worry about losing focus on a bird when it flies from its perch, flies behind branches, or even flies directly at me.

Without worrying about buffering and slow write speeds to my SD card the OM-1 Mark II is ideal when there is special bird behavior happening that I do not want to miss. Low light has increasingly become a bigger part of my photography as I focus a lot of my work on backlight and longer exposures of owls. Handholding at half a second and producing a usable image at 20,000 ISO has got me hooked on OM SYSTEM for years to come.

OM-1 Mark II • M.Zuiko 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO

OM-1 • M.Zuiko 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO

Instagram: @keithw3

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