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2020-12-09 A Morning in Corrales New Mexico

Sandhill Crane - Grus canadensis
Corrales NM is a community a few miles north of Albuquerque, with several open fields where Sandhill Cranes have found reliable food supplied by local residents. 

A friend of Jerry’s advised him that there were many cranes grazing in his Corrales neighborhood, so we drove there on Wednesday to investigate for ourselves. Jerry’s friend was right! However, cranes were not the only digital prey we captured. We also found an American Kestrel, American Robins, Eastern Bluebirds, Say’s Phoebes, a Spotted Towhee, and Western Meadowlarks.

I am travelling with three cameras, all Nikons. The D5, a dSLR, has been my most used camera, but I also have a D500 (also a dSLR). The D5 has a full-sized sensor, while the D500 has a cropped sensor. Both cameras are quick to find the proper focus, and can fire 10 and 12 frames per second. Last year I bought the Nikon Z7, a mirrorless camera. Mirrorless technology is intriguing, with some capabilities that dSLRs lack, but I haven’t used it enough to master its features. I decided that on this photo-shoot I would try to get better acquainted with its features. It isn’t the action camera that my dSLRs are, but it’s sensor captures more than twice as many pixels.

I learned that I must improve my skills to get the most from this camera. It is much smaller and therefore doesn’t fit in my mitts like the D5 does, so that is one hurdle I must overcome. The controls were unfamiliar, and I could not respond quickly to changing conditions. I wasn’t able to achieve a consistent focus on my subjects like I can with the dSLRs. I missed an awful lot of images because of soft focus. When I achieved proper focus, the images were quite nice. I believe I can get better at focusing if I practice more with the camera. I doubt the Z7 will ever be as responsive as the D5, but I hope to try it out again soon and see if I can narrow the gap. For landscapes or macro photography, the Z7 stands head and shoulders over my dSLR cameras, but I’m not ready to give up on it yet for bird photos.

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