There’s nothing quite like the electric blue thrill of a kingfisher on the wing but I doubt I’ll ever capture it in a pin sharp image. State of the art kit is required: not just £15k lenses but cameras where ISO can be pushed high yet still deliver low ‘noise’ images, to allow fast shutter speeds while getting sufficient light to the sensor. Even then you’ll have to know the bird’s habits well enough to predict her moves. Plus you need the reflexes of a teenager.*
With none of these things going for me, I was thrilled to get even these static images with my Canon 7D and f2.8 70:200mm UMS IS II lens. A 2x converter extended focal length to 400mm but reduced my widest aperture by two stops to f5.6 – which in turn lowered available shutter speed – as well as adding weight, both factors necessitating a tripod.
That last, together with the kingfisher’s characteristic stillness prior to a dive, allowed low (-ish) shutter speeds and ISO levels which, while higher than I’d have liked, gave images I’m not too proud to post here. In any case, seeing a kingfisher at all is a rare treat, never mind having one return day after day to pose for you!
* Two days later I’d revised my opinion on this. See Kingfisher 2