Birds in Flight Settings for Lumix Cameras

Posted Mar. 15th, 2016 by Daniel J. Cox

Birds in Flight Settings for Lumix Cameras

Editorial Note: As of 1/31/2018 I’ve changed a few of the settings, for Birds In Flight Settings for Lumix Cameras,  listed below to reflect the newer cameras I’m shooting including the Lumix GH5 and G9.  Any text shown in GREEN reflects the new changes I’ve made when shooting the newer cameras. 

There’s been a lot of interest in my birds in flight settings for Lumix cameras  that were used for my recent photos from Japan. To answer those questions in a useful manner that many others can also access, I’m posting them here. Keep in mind these settings are nothing different than how I use my GH4, GX8, and G7 virtually 100% of the time, whether shooting birds

Birds in Flight Settings for Lumix Cameras, Leica 100-400mm, Lumix

White-tailed eagle in flight, Hokkaido, Japan. Lumix GX8 with Leica 100-400mm zoom, ISO 640

in flight or not. But there are a couple of key settings that help any kind of fast-moving action whether speedy birds or a child on the soccer field. In other words, these birds in flight settings will also work for junior scoring a goal on

Birds in Flight Settings for Lumix Cameras, Leica 100-400mm, Lumix

Steller’s sea eagle in flight, Hokkaido, Japan. Lumix GX8 with Leica 100-400mm zoom, ISO 500

the soccer field, dunking a basketball, beating defense-men on the blue line, or racing down the sidelines to the end zone in a Friday night football game. All items listed in RED are very important for action photography. If I haven’t changed anything from the way it came from the factory, it won’t be listed.

Birds in Flight Settings for Lumix Cameras, Leica 100-400mm, Lumix

White-tailed eagle in flight, Hokkaido, Japan. Lumix GX8 with Leica 100-400mm zoom, ISO 500

Camera Settings

  • AF switch set to AF-C
  • Focus Mode set to Custom Multi with a medium size group selected
  • Program Mode with shutter speed set to at least 1000th depending on lens I’m using. Remember the age old rule of Shutter speed equal to or greater than the lens you’re shooting to stop action. I use Program to be able to quickly dial in a slower shutter speed if I want to convey motion by PANNING
  • ISO based on light and shutter speed

Custom Menu Settings

Record Tab

  • Photo Style= Standard
  • Aspect Ratio= 3:2 ( I use 3:2 to match the aspect ratio of my Nikon cameras so presentation images are consistent)
  • Quality= RAW+Jpeg Fine (Jpeg is for a backup image as well as to easily load to my iphone if needed)
  • AFS/AFF= AFS ( Don’t confuse this with the SWITCH for AF which should be set to AF-C)
  • Metering mode= Matrix or Evaluative
  • Bust Rate= High
  • ISO Limit set = 2000
  • ISO Increments= 1/3 EV
  • Extended ISO= On
  • Long Shutter Noise Reduction= On
  • Color Space= sRGB

Motion Picture Tab

  • Photo Style= Standard
  • 4K Photo=On when Needed (Manual Exposure)
  • Rec Format= MOV
  • Rec Quality= Depends on every shoot
  • Continues AF= On (Sometimes Off if I’m using Manual focus which is almost never)
  • Metering= Matrix or evaluative
  • Sound Output= Recorded Sound
  • Mic Level Display= On
  • Mic Level Limiter= On

Custom Tab

  • AF/AE Lock= AF On (This is the option for using rear button AF) I sometimes turn this off and just go with front shutter button AF for birds in flight
  • Shutter AF= Off (This needs to be turned off if you have the above option set to rear button AF)
  • Quick AF= Off
  • Eye Sensor AF=Off
  • Direct Focus Area=Off
  • Focus Release Priority=Balanced which is a new option on the G9, GH5, GH5s.  Prior cameras I use “Release”
  • Peaking=off
  • Histogram=On
  • Zebra Pattern=Zebra2
  • Constant Preview=Off
  • Monitor Info Display=On
  • Auto Review Duration Time=Off (Very, very important to turn this off for action photography)
  • Fn Button Set-None other than what is default.
  • Eye Sensor=high
  • Touch Settings
    • Touch Screen=On
    • Touch Tab= On
    • Touch AF=AF
    • Touch Pad AF=OFFSET (This has to be set to move AF sensor around LCD with finger)

Setup Tab

    • Live View Mode=30Fps
    • Battery Use Priority=Battery Grip
    • Menu Resume=On

Add Your Voice!
There are 150 comments on this post…
  1. GotthardOn Jun. 19th, 2021

    When it comes to photographing birds in flight (or any action), it s essential to be in control of the precise moment the camera focuses and captures the image. Most cameras ship with the shutter button triggering both the shutter and AF activation. However, although this is convenient because when you depress the shutter the camera focuses, it also means that the camera won t fire until it perceives the image to be fully in focus. This can hinder your shooting when working with fast-moving subjects.

  2. RuudOn Jun. 17th, 2020

    Reading your setup….why not using AF-tracking?
    Works fine on my Oly EM5/EM1 for following planes/ moving birds and bumblebees in macro….
    On my Lumix GX8 however the ‘focustracking frame’ takes the moving object, holds it in focus but refocusing must be done on the ok button wich is very time-consuming….could that be your reason for not using?
    Besides that, speaking of the panaleica 100-400; panning and IS and sharpness wonderful also telemacro……but zooming…..not smooth!

  3. Tony BellOn May. 17th, 2020

    I have a Lumix 2000 ,I look on You Tube for someone to give me an easy description on how to take simple but quality photos from landscapes to birds in flight. After 3 minutes I have been lost entirely. Please someone ,, I am 77 I just want to switch it on, and yes Icanput iron auto, but please tell me step by step what settings to use for what photos, don’t loose me in the variable options. It’s a bit like a scientist describing how to plant potatoes, I simply want to put them in the ground, water them, weed them, dig them up and eat them, not too bothered about photosynthesis they just have to taste good.

  4. KenOn Mar. 11th, 2019

    Hey Dan – great info – quick question. I am shooting video on a GH4/GH5 (on land and under water) and back button focus is set up – works really well. Sometimes I want to remain shooting but reset focus – but when I am filming and hit the back button it does not refocus. I am always having to stop filming – hit the BBF – then start filming again. It would make a huge difference if we could be filming and then reset the focus with the back button.

    This has been extremely frustrating for us. Any ideas ?

    Thanks Ken

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 11th, 2019

      Ken, my G9 and I believe GH5, do exactly as you are requesting. I just tried my G9. Continues AF set to Off in Menu. I punch the rear button AF and the camera refocuses on whatever I’m pointing it at. I’m confident my GH5 does the same. Not sure about GH4. Will try the GH5 later this afternoon to see if it replicates what I’ve found with G9. Not sure why yours is not doing this but there must be something else set improperly.

  5. DR WinOn Mar. 3rd, 2019

    Reply to Dan’s response to my question(s):
    Thanks for getting back to me. I’m running firmware v. 1.2.
    Regarding installation of the firmware update, I’d like to share this in case anyone has had a problem with installation. If you’re having trouble installing the latest firmware on your G9 or other Panny camera, you may need to remove the lens.
    I downloaded the firmware file and put it on a card, which I inserted into my camera. I got a “No Valid Picture To Play” message. According to the installation instructions:
    “If “NO VALID PICTURE TO PLAY” message is displayed… the firmware of the camera/lens has been updated to the latest version already and no further update is possible.”
    But I got that message; camera firmware was v.1.1 and I was trying to update to v. 1.2.
    Then it occurred to me that the lens on the camera had its own firmware v.1.2. Thinking that perhaps this had confused the camera, I removed the lens and tried again.
    Success! Update installed.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 3rd, 2019

      Thanks for the info Dr. Win. That behavior is very strange. Glad you got it figured out.

  6. william l tyndallOn Feb. 7th, 2019

    Yes,When looking threw the viewfinder, Panning , I will follow a bird flying and the viewfinder would lag or freeze a second while holding shutter button.I have it in SH2 mode.My thought was the IS being on ? IS trying to keep up, I know from a DSLR when shooting birds in flight it was recommended to turn IS off.Thanks for the Link I will look at it! Tried to reply but there was no spot to reply so had to this.Sorry.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 9th, 2019

      I’ve also noticed a lag of sorts when shooting SH2 and SH1. I do most of my Birds in Flight with Mechanical Shutter with AF-C on SET4. I have been experimenting with SH2 with birds taking off of or flying to a particular limb. In other words, I’m not depending on the camera to follow focus. I pick the spot and then let the bird fly off or onto the branch, keep the camera in AF-S and get as many frames as possible.

  7. william l tyndallOn Feb. 6th, 2019

    Hello, I was wondering about birds in flight. I have Pan. G9 and the 100-400mm, When I’m taking Birds in flight shots I get a lot of lag when shooting,I’m wondering if it best to turn the in body IS off and or the power O.I.S off?


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 7th, 2019

      William, I’m not sure what you mean by “Lag”. Are your referring to the image in the EVF or are you referring to the lag of the focus to catch and stay with the subject? I leave all in body IS and lens IS on. These should not create an issue based on my experiences. Are you aware of the official Lumix AF Guidebook? Let me know if any of this helps.

  8. DR WinOn Jan. 24th, 2019

    I hope it is not too late to ask a question – well, maybe two questions.
    Your settings include:
    Record Tab
    • AFS/AFF= AFS ( Don’t confuse this with the SWITCH for AF which should be set to AF-C)
    Motion Picture Tab
    • AFS/AFF= AFS
    • Continuous AF= On
    QUESTION: Does the AFS under “Motion Picture Tab” mean the switch?
    QUESTION: What does the camera do when you have the switch set to AFC but the custom settings set to AFS?
    This has me confused.
    I found your site because my new G9 is slightly hunting for focus when shooting video, even in very simple environments. The camera starts in perfect focus, then defocuses and refocuses for no reason. There was almost no movement toward or away from the camera, and the distance was close to infinity anyway. The video starts in focus, then arbitrarily moves out of focus and back a couple of times – all in a very short time. This is not a total defocus, more like extremely soft but not as bad as real bokeh. But it ruins what otherwise would be a tack-sharp video.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 25th, 2019

      Never too late Dr Win.

      The answers to your questions,

      1). “Does the AFS under “Motion Picture Tab” mean the switch?”
      No, the switch seems to have no input when in the Motion Picture Mode.

      2). I presume you are referring to the Motion Picture Tab settings again? If so, once again the switch does not affect the AF settings you have int he custom menu.

      I agree the Motion Picture Tab settings and the AF settings, in general, are confusing. From my experience, If I want AF-C with video production I turn it on in the Motion Picture Tab (the second of the two, the one without the Movie Camera+M). You can find the AF-C On/Off on Page 1/4 in this menu. When AF-C is set to on, if the camera detects the subject has moved OR if the composition has changed and the AF sensor is now on a different part of the frame, the camera will refocus.

      Another little trick I use when shooting with either MOtion Picture AF-C or AF-S is Back Button AF. If I have the AF/On and the camera is not focusing, I can “kick it in the butt” so to speak by pushing my Back Button AF to start the AF process. Technically you shouldn’t have to do this but that’s not always reality. If I want the AF-S to Lock onto a specific subject in front of the camera, say for example me, I turn the AF to Off in the Motion Picture Tab.

      Finally, you mention that you found my site due wanting to correct the issue of the G9 constantly hunting for focus when shooting video. That has been a problem across all Lumix cameras from the beginning. However, Panasonic is making great progress in solving that issue. In fact, the most recent Firmware Update Version 1.2 has helped this problem dramatically. Have you installed Firmware Update Version 1.2? If not here’s a link

      I hope this helps. If not let me know and we’ll try to clarify. Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation

  9. ellie kahnOn Dec. 15th, 2018

    What a great article, though I confess that I’m a bit confused. Anyway, I have a lumix FZ70 and will be going to Costa Rica in January. I have a very good eye, but am not great on all the settings and as I get older, I get more confused. Would you suggest the settings you have above for a variety of wildlife shots? ( i.e. monkeys moving as well as monkeys sitting still?) Or do I need to change settings for those different situations? I use my iphone 7 plus for some of my photos (and when I don’t have my Lumix with me), but for distance shots I love the zoom on the Lumix. Thanks so much.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 17th, 2018


      Unfortunately, I’m not sure the FZ70 has the same sophisticated settings as the higher end Lumix cameras. If it does it would be under the Manin Menu system. I’ve written a blog post on the best settings for action and moving subject, mainly bird, but they would work great for fast moving monkeys as well. You can find the settings I suggest for the higher end Lumix cameras, mainly the Lumix G9 and Lumix GH5 here. Let me know if you camera has these options.

  10. Ian WaltonOn Aug. 27th, 2018

    I am fascinated with the help and guidance. I am quite new to photograph but quite old!! I take photos of railway locomotives, some stationary and some moving but not too fast. I am hoping the settings you list will help. I am going to try anyway. However, I only have a Lumix GX 7. I am able to change most things you list but the figures in ISO limit nearest 2000 are 1600 or 3200. Is the lower or higher figure better? Also the option for Long Shutter NR is “greyed out” and set to off, so I cannot turn it on. Will this matter. I really have no idea what most of the terms mean but I am willing to accept they may improve my photos.

    Would exchanging my GX7 for a GX8 be a wise move for what I am doing? Apologies for my lack of knowledge and Thanks.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 1st, 2018

      Ian, to get the additional ISO settings you need to go into the Menu and Turn Extended ISO to On. You should have that option though I’m not positive since I don’t have a GX7. That will give you more ISO possibilities between 1600 and 3200. As far as the Long Shutter Noise Reduction being grayed out, I’m not sure but it may be due to you shooting JPEGs. Do you have your camera set to capture RAW files? Let me know and I’ll do more digging if needed.

  11. Patrick GrinterOn Jun. 2nd, 2018

    Daniel J. Cox
    On May. 31st, 2018 (1 day ago)

    Pat, MP4 format suggests you were in 4K or 6K photo Mode. Which camera are you shooting?

    Hi Daniel
    Panasonic DC FZ 80

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 2nd, 2018

      Yes, the FZ80 does shoot 4K Photo Mode. I’m guessing you had this mode turned on. You can edit this video in any video editor as well as Lightroom.

  12. Patrick GrinterOn May. 31st, 2018

    All my burst photos are in MP4 format. Have to figure out how to edit them now. I think the camera was on default settings and I didn’t set anything else, should I have?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 31st, 2018

      Pat, MP4 format suggests you were in 4K or 6K photo Mode. Which camera are you shooting?

  13. Colin BentOn May. 28th, 2018

    Hi Daniel,

    I notice you definitely keep off the constant preview. I cannot understand why you would on any occasion where you would need to be sure your exposure is ok. What is your reason for doing so?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 29th, 2018

      Colin, I don’t use Constant Preview for exposure. I only pay attention to the Histogram for a proper exposure. But I will tell you, I’m questioning my original answer due to your question. My biggest concern is for Auto Review which I’ve more than once mistaken for Constant Preview. I should have emphasized Constant Review. Sorry for the confusion.

  14. Steve GreenOn Apr. 20th, 2018

    Daniel – thank you for your interesting article. Yesterday in south England was THE most glorious early summer day with excellent light not seen that often here. I took my G80 and new 100-400 lens off to the local wildfowl sanctuary and spent some time photographing cranes. However, even in yesterday’s unusually good light conditions I still found that the shutter speed the camera gave in P mode (1/640th) wasn’t quite enough to freeze the BIF action. I see you recommend “Program Mode with shutter speed set to at least 1000th” – but how do you achieve this in P mode? I can see how this can be preset in S mode, but the Pan G80 manual doesn’t appear to give a method of pre-setting shutter speed in P mode. Grateful for your advice!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 20th, 2018

      Steve, if you’re having an issue getting your shutter speed up to at last 1/1000th you will need to UP your ISO. You would have to do the same with Shutter priority to get a proper exposure. What many photographers don’t realize, when they are shooting in Shutter priority, is that even though they may select a specific shutter speed, they must make sure the meter is not showing underexposure or overexposure for that shutter speed. In Shutter priority, you can choose any shutter speed you want but if there is not enough light, it will underexpose the image. It will still let you TAKE the photo but the Shutter Speed and Aperture value will be blinking at you in the EVF or on the rear LCD. Many shooters miss this warning system. The camera is basically telling you, “hey you can go ahead and shoot but you won’t get a proper exposure”.

      Sandhill cranes on flight over Bosque del Apache NWR. Lumix GX8 with Leica Vario-Elmar 100-400mm lens. ISO 320

      One of the reasons I prefer to shoot in Program is so I can quickly go from stopping action to more artistic things like panning. Sample below. Birds in flight, sample above, are wonderful when they are tack sharp but so are more esoteric views like a long pan.

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any further questions.

  15. David GoodellOn Feb. 4th, 2018

    Daniel – Please explain why you use program mode for birds in flight rather than shutter priority or manual? Thanks, David

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 5th, 2018

      David, that’s a great question. Quite simply I use Program to maintain the ability to choose a fast shutter slow shutter speed on the fly so to speak (no pun intended). Why would I want a slow shutter speed? The ability to convey motion by PANNING.

      Panning is a great technique for adding motion to a still image. With Program Mode I can easily go from 1/30th of a second up to 1/1000th or 1/2000th or whatever I have enough light for, just by quickly dialing the back thumb dial to the right for more speed or to the left for less speed. Below is an image I shot last month using the Program mode to convey action.

      The opposite of this technique is a faster shutter speed to stop the action as I did in the image below.

      Thanks for the great question and I stopping by to add your voice.

  16. DennizOn Nov. 14th, 2017

    Hi Dan,

    I am currently owner of a GX8, however during the last couple of days I got very curious about the Lumix G9. Great specs and I am quite certain that you were one of this lucky ******* that already got to shoot w it.

    Any plans on posting your experiences and pics? I assume that it will be part of the Panasonic’s marketing …but plz just feed us 🙂

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 16th, 2017

      Hi Denniz, Unfortunately, I’ve not had a chance to shoot the G9 yet. The folks from US Panasonic contacted me a month before the G9 was announced and wanted me to partake in preliminary trials as well as an ad campaign. I had to turn them down since I’ve been out of the country for the past three months and there was no way I could promise them the type of images they were requesting. So, in short, I missed out but I’m told I’ll have one soon. Can’t wait to let you all know what I find.

  17. Simon KnightOn Sep. 21st, 2017

    Dear Daniel, Thank you for posting your set up guide for shooting birds in flight and other fast moving subjects. I have started on what feels like a quest in an attempt to learn how my new camera works and also to decide on which splash proof lens I should buy for walk about photography.

    While I have been using mft for a number of years I have generally stayed away from C-AF and fast moving subjects. However, the other week I went to an air show and proved that I really need to learn how to use my camera’s C-AF and burst modes. I’m using a Panasonic G80 (G85) coupled with various lenses including the mk 1 version of the 100-300 f4-f5.6 and the 35-100 f4-f5.6. I am fortunate to have a useful moving target in the shape of my dog Charlie and have been taking hundreds of pictures while out on our walks. I have a number of questions that are not answered in the camera manual. So if you don’t mind I would welcome the benefit of your experience.

    First am I correct in thinking that the aim of your settings is to free up as many processor cycles as possible for the prediction of where the focus should be when the shutter next fires?

    My recent test shots have been a crude attempt to determine how the size and/or number of focus points alters the success rate. My initial very unscientific results suggest that 49 multiple points are next to useless when attempting to capture a moving subject in a farmers field and normally results in a blurred dog and sharp foreground of stubble. I have had more success with a single focus point and believe that the smallest size is better when the background is cluttered. I imagine that a medium, four click, sized focus point works with birds in flight as the sky is generally uncluttered.

    I estimate that Charlie, my dog, runs at 10 or 11 m.p.h. which is roughly 5 m/s or 1 c.m. every 1/500th of a second. Unfortunately he has a low contrast head and a high contrast back. The result when shooting him running towards the camera with the 100-300 in AFC or AFF is a plane of focus running through his back or roughy half a meter behind his now blurred head. I have not used burst shooting as the viewfinder black out makes tracking hard and I don’t understand what is meant by the focus release options (page 116 of the manual): AFC + Focus = Normal Focusing and page 91 describes the Normal focusing as constant focus including predicting the subject position when the subject is moving; whereas AFC + Release is described as “Predicted focusing where burst speed takes priority, and focus is estimated within possible range” perhaps something was lost in translation but I don’t find it helpful as its “as clear as mud”.

    My view of my 100-300 is mixed. I am pretty confident that much of the bad press it receives is through user error with people like me waving it about like it was a 25mm and expecting wonders. However, I do question if the speed of the autofocus is causing the problem I mention above with the plane of focus being in the wrong place.

    Lastly, do you have any views on the Auto Focus sensitivity settings which range from -2 to +2 (pg211 of manual)? I have set mine to +2 (I think) but others have suggested that -1 might be better as it reduces hunting.
    Example of missed focus:
    Rare example of correct focus:
    I feel I have rambled on for long enough and please feel free to ignore my comments,
    best wishes


  18. Mark JamesOn Aug. 15th, 2017

    Hi Daniel,

    I’ve recently tried my hand at BIF’S using my GH5 and Panasonic 14-140mm lens, and I’m beginning to understand that this requires a lot of practice. I’ve been thinking about purchasing the 100-400mm Panasonic for surfing and would like to know from you whether the AF on the 100-400mm will be an improvement on the 14-140mm. I can’t find info on this anywhere. Hope you can help? and hanks for all the helpful info you have on your site.

    Kind regards,

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 15th, 2017

      Hi Mark, Thanks for stopping by the Blog. Yes, Birds in Flight (BIF) is an acquired technique but as you suggest, with practice it can be very productive and a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I’ve never tried BIF with the 14-140mm lens although I’m surprised it isn’t’ doing a decent job. However, the 100-400mm is definitely up to the task and as good as any lens on ANY system being made. The 100-400mm for surfing would be a slam dunk. You won’t have any issues keeping up with even a super fast Hang Ten Surfer Dude?. Hope I got that right. I suppose a guy from the mountains of Montana shouldn’t be trying to speak surfer slang. Hope this helps. Stop back with any other questions. I’m happy to try and get you on the right track. Buying the Leiace 100-400mm is a great start.

    • Mark JamesOn Aug. 18th, 2017

      Thanks for the quick reply Daniel.

      I definitely think it’s more about my technique or lack thereof than the equipment, and I think I am definitely going to get the Panasonic 100-400mm as I’ve seen some great work done with this lens and it appears to be a great all round lens too.

      Once again thanks, and keep well.


  19. MaheshOn Aug. 8th, 2017

    Hi Daniel, Its very basic question. I bought gx85 couple of weeks ago and I want to set it for bird photography. But as you suggested “AF switch set to AF-C”, it does not have that switch for this camera. Would I need to do something else equivalent 😛 ? Thank you in Advance.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 10th, 2017


      The process for changing your GX85 to AF-C is explained on page 95 of the manual. To set AF-C you much first go into the camera’s Menu and select Rec>Focus Mode where you will see AF-C. You should also to set the camera on High-Speed Burst. The explanation for setting High-Speed Burst is found on Page 134. This will set the camera to shoot multiple frames per second which is necessary for fast moving subjects. Hope this helps.

  20. Ken HawkinsOn Jul. 25th, 2017

    Thanks Daniel for the info ref burst mode etc. Having now got my head around the terminology I do see that (FZ2000) has three burst modes: L, M and H – the High mode knocks out the ‘preview’ – with the Medium and Low modes ‘preview’ is available if selected – well, that’s how I read it?
    After a lifetime of Nikon SLR’s and large lenses I am very, very happy with the FZ2000 , great for everything I do – but the terminology of these ‘electronic’ cameras takes a while to come to terms with!
    Keep up the good work – we appreciate it.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 26th, 2017

      It’s my pleasure, Ken. Part of the confusion and some might even say is a problem, is the fact there are so many more options with the mirrorless cameras. For some that can be confusing. The good news is that Panasonic is working very hard to make their Menus easier to navigate and understand. In fact, a big part of their recent visit to my studio in Montana was to discuss the coming Menu UI for coming products.

  21. John MillspaughOn Jul. 21st, 2017

    Hi, Happy to find your site and all the interesting comments. I find myself feeling like a deer in the headlights with all the different settings that can be made. I sometimes think back to my college days when I took a photography course using a Pentax SLR but have forgot most of what I knew then. I strive to get a good sharp image no matter the subject but really enjoy birds as well. After much thought and anticipation, I bought a FZ2500 and have had my moments with it. I sometimes think I made the wrong choice but I haven’t given up on it completely yet. The manual for it is designed for someone that is familiar with all the different settings and what they do. One of the things that confuses me is the focus settings. On this camera, I have AFS/AFF, AFC and MF. I understand the MF is for manual focus only and there have been times I have used it as there are times, I just can’t get focused on the wildlife through the trees or bushes. Then, along with those settings, there is a little button that says AF/AE LOCK. Can you explain these to me and what the ramifications are for using each? What would you use for birds? Thanks for any help!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 23rd, 2017

      John, glad you’ve written to try and learn more about getting better results with the AF on your FZ2500. I’m guessing you’ve already gone over the Birds in Flight Settings in this Blog post? These are exactly the same for any kind of action as well.

      I’m sorry you’re having trouble deciphering the manual. I hear this from lots of my students. Amazingly, the current manuals are light years of what Panasonic put out just five years ago. I personally think the current manuals are acceptable but I must admit I’ve been using this technology for a long time and may just be used to it.

      You mention that you’ve had a difficult time getting AF to work through the trees and bushes. Are you familiar with the Pin Point AF Mode option? Here’s a photo of the options, the last one being the one you should try.

      You can find this info on page 91 of the FZ2500 manual.

      Hopefully, this info will help. I have to admit that I’ve never shot the FZ2500 so I’m working a little blind but I can tell you that based on the manual, the camera is very similar to the many other Lumix cameras I have shot. Let me know if you have any further questions.

  22. Ken HawkinsOn Jul. 20th, 2017

    Interesting reading Daniel. Although I’m using the bridge camera FZ2000 your settings for BIF will be much the same (I believe) for my interest, aircraft in flight. There is one point I cannot get my old head around – auto review. On my first outing at Duxford last week I appeared to have a problem with burst (continuous) shooting in that I did not appear to follow the movement of the aircraft after the 1st shot. I eventually put this down to the auto review setting which I found to be at 2 secs. I had thought that setting to the burst mode possibly negated the auto preview – BUT, does it?
    I would very much welcome your comments on this feature – burst mode and auto preview (which should be at off) and I understand that I may have the wrong idea about this.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 23rd, 2017

      Ken, the burst mode does affect Auto Review but until you set Auto Review to OFF an image will pop up as you shoot. To get to the OFF setting is a bit confusing since when you look at Auto Review it’s default setting is 2 Seconds which is at the bottom of the screen. What is not obvious is there are two more options you’ll see if you scroll down from the 2-second setting. If you don’t scroll down you don’t see the option to shut it OFF. This is a very important feature for shooting action. It must be turned off. Hope this helps. Thaks for the question.

  23. Karl PitwonOn Jul. 19th, 2017

    Hi Daniel

    Great site, I have just purchased a Lumix FZ-82 would a lot of what is said here apply to my camera , I was wondering what is the best focus /tracking method for photographing in flight birds on it.

    Thank you


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 23rd, 2017

      Karl, thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I’ve never shot the FZ-82 but I recently reviewed the manual and many of the features I set for my larger Lumix cameras are in the FZ-82 manual. To be sure you would have to go through my settings and see if the same exist in your menu system. That’s the best I can offer at this point. My guess is the FZ-82 will have many but possibly not all the same settings. Hope this helps.

  24. Graham GottOn May. 11th, 2017

    Hi Daniel

    Have just found your site and have spent far too long reading your posts… 🙂

    On May 18th last year you mentioned ” I have used Olympus lenses on Lumix cameras and there are some downsides to that combination”. I am considering buying the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 to go on my G80 & GX8 as I need the extra reach. What would I need to be aware of?

    Also, I know that single AF is pretty good on the Lumix cameras but I get shutter lag when using continuous AF. While I do use burst mode occasionally, I prefer to get the shot in one hit – like I can do with my DSLR. I do for professional equestrian photography and timing is critical. Would the Olympus lens be any better than the Panny 35-100mm f2.8?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 13th, 2017


      The downside to using the Olympus 40-150mm is you won’t have any Image Stabilization in the lens. You will have some In Body IS with both the G80 and GX8, G80 being much better than the GX8. But Dual IS will be missing. That said if you shoot at a shutter speed equal to or greater than the lens you will be fine. The 40-1500mm is a spectacular lens.

      I’m not sure what you are referring to when you mention you have “Shutter Lag” when using Continues AF. I don’t have that issue at all. You mention that you do equestrian photography and that suggests to me you need quality Predictive AF. Both the G80 and GX8 should work fine for the normal speed of a show horse in an arena setting. You might be referring to choosing a spot where the horse jumps a setup fence and you fire as it jumps. Would this be correct? If so I would personally use Back button AF, choose my spot (the fence) wait for the rider to approach and fire without having to refocus again. You may not know what Back Focus Button AF is all about and if not let me know.

  25. David BOn Apr. 25th, 2017

    Daniel – I note that some of your sweetest shots here are from Hokkaido. As luck would have it, I will be spending about 10 days in Hokkaido this summer (late June-early July). We will be doing the flower gardens & lavender fields (at my wife’s insistence) and after that I’m hoping to get out to the eastern end and the parks around there – looking for BIF practice and other wildlife/scenery. Any tips for good shooting locations?

    And to keep it on topic, I plan to bring along a new GH5 with my PL 100-400. 🙂 I am noting your settings here for BIF and will give them a try as soon as the new camera arrives.

    Thanks for all you share.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 27th, 2017

      David, unfortunately, all my work in Japan has been during the winter season but I would guess you will find similar eagle opportunities around the fishing ports on Hokkaido, even in the summer. I’ve heard great things about the Lavender fields and hope to see them myself someday. Lake Kushiro is one of my favorite areas for photography and I’m guessing it will be equally photogenic in the summer. Hope this helps. Let me now ho it goes.

    • David BOn Jun. 15th, 2017

      Hi again Daniel. Was wondering if you might be willing/able to update your list of suggested settings for BIF for the options now available for the GH5. I have a new GH5 (along with the PL100-400 zoom) which I’m very much still learning (and making slow progress on BIF attempts). I believe the settings you provided above were for the GX8, and although I don’t have that camera, I’m pretty sure there are newer/different options on the current GH5. I’ve tried to follow your suggested settings but some of them don’t map to options available on the GH5 and in some cases I’ve been left scratching my head. Any chance of an update? Thanks!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 18th, 2017

      David, you’re right. I need to update BIF settings for the GH5. Will do that shortly. I may wait for the next test I[‘m planning for a reshoot of the GH5 and the Olympus OM-D Markll which I hope to do sometime in early June. Stay tuned.

  26. DavidOn Apr. 17th, 2017

    Thank you for the very interesting article. My question: With AF mode you do not talk about the Tracking Option. Why is that? Thanks, David

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 18th, 2017

      That’s a great question, David. I need to do further testing with the Lumix AF Tracking option but my reluctance comes from my Nikon days, admittedly 5-10 years back, when Tracking AF was terrible. I’m finding that a middle sized sensor pattern or square is all that I need, which potentially takes computer processing power out of the equation. With the older Nikon’s the more you relied on a group of AF targets as well as Nikon’s version of AF Tracking they call 3D Focus Tracking, the more computer power the camera needed to use. At the time, any additional processing power taken away from the camera’s ability to Predict Focus produced fewer in focus action images. In other words, the 3D Focus Tracking competed with plain old Predictive AF and did not work as well. Based on what I hear from Nikon shooters today, that may have changed. I need to do some more work with AF Tracking on my Lumix cameras and see how it’s doing. It has to be the right situation so it may be awhile. Stay tuned to the Blog for further info.

  27. David Van BouwelOn Apr. 8th, 2017

    Hi Daniel,

    very interesting page ! have been crawling several times overhere 🙂

    i just got a Leica Lumix 100-400 on my Lumix G7.

    my passion is aviation and specialy helicopters

    so i am trying out my new lens

    still not sure wich AF settings i should use

    i use the AF button on the back

    for fast a fast moving helicopter should i use AFS or AFC ?
    still not sure zich are the best presets in the menu on the camera for these fast moving objects

    thnx in advance for maybe a hint !

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 9th, 2017

      Hi David, for anything moving you most certainly want to use AF-C. To make this happen you have to continually hold the front shutter button down, half way, so the AF system is activated and moving with the subject, in this case, the helicopter. You might want to review my Lumix settings for Birds in Flight at As far as the settings in the camera are concerned. I’m not totally familiar with the G7 but I do believe it has to options for AF-C. One should be Focus Priority and the other should be Release Priority. I would start with Focus Priority but would also try Release Priority and see how each works for you.

  28. LynnOn Mar. 18th, 2017

    Hello I am new to this sight. I just bought myself a FZ300 Panasonic Camera. I am interested in photography and taking photo’s of birds flying or any subject. Also still birds. I am wanting to no the settings to take action birds in flight for this camera. Need advice should i get a bigger lens to attach to my Panasonic camera 300. Someone said yes and another person said no cause i already have up to 600 lens. I am also trying to take a photo of my budgie flying inside my house light is the problem what should i set the shutter speed to and the ISO. Sorry for so many questions. But most of all what is a good setting to take a bird in the grass. Everyone talked me into buying this camera did i do the right thing in buying it. I use to have a sony cyber shot camera and it cracked up only 3 years from a faulty lens i had to wait 9 months last year for a new camera as the old one was under warrenity. I was so dissappointed in the camera for not lasting. So everyone at the camera house said go for a FZ Panasonic 300 Camera. Last question do i need a attachment for the camera and what should i buy if i need one. Everyone says i don’t need one I just need the right advice. Please help. Lynn

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 19th, 2017


      Great to have you stop by the blog and ask your questions. There’s a lot here but I’m happy to help as best I can. You ask about Birds in Flight settings and thankfully the settings I list on this Blog post are the same for the FZ300 as many of the other Lumix cameras. If you set your camera up the way I describe in the blog post you will have the best settings for all action including Birds in Flight.

      Something you my not know, there are no additional lenses for the FZ300. This camera is designed to have one lens and one lens only. However, it’s a high quality zoom and goes from wide angle of 24mm all the way out to 600mm telephoto. Therefore, you really don’t need any other lenses. You have it all in the one that’s built into the camera.

      Ok, so now you’ve stumped me. What the heck is a Budgie that you’re trying to photograph flying in your house

      You also ask about what is the best settings for a bird inthe grass. The best rule of thumb is to shoot a shutter speed equal to or greater than the length of the lens you are shooting. If you have the len all the way out to 600mm you want a shutter speed of 1/600tof a second or faster.

      Let me know if I can add any further info for you.

  29. Luc LonguepeeOn Mar. 6th, 2017

    Very interesting as information. I have a Panasonic Lumix FZ300 / 330 and I wonder if I can apply, on my camera, the settings proposed in your blog even if it is for cameras GH4, GX8, and G7.

    Thank you


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 7th, 2017

      Unfortunately Luc, I don’t have a FZ300. But if the settings are there they should work the same.

    • Luc LonguépéeOn Mar. 7th, 2017

      Hello Daniel,

      Thank you for taking the time to re-answer my questions.

      -You use focus mode on AFS. In my book of the FZ300, the AFS mode is mainly used for an immovable subject like for example a landscape. While focus mode on AFF (flexible) is just for an unpredictable moving subject like eg animals, children, birds. The AFC mode is for a moving subject but rather a linear one like a train.

      – About the bust rate you used high, but personally I find that the medium mode is better because we have the live view that is available while on high it is not. Anyway on the FZ300 it’s like that.

      -Why use Focus Release Priority = Focus instead of release? What is the difference between the two?

      – I do not understand : – AF/AE Lock= AF On (This is the option for using rear button AF) I sometimes turn this off and just go with front shutter button AF for birds in flight. What is it used for?
      – Shutter AF= Off (This needs to be turned off if you have the above option set to rear button AF)

      Sorry for my many questions, but I am a beginner in photography so I try to understand.

      Thank you and sorry for my english. I’am a french Canadian.


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 15th, 2017


      In your first paragraph, you mention that I use AF-S but I believe you’re confusing a setting I have implemented in the menu for the times I do us AF-S. However, for Birds In Flight, under the Camera section, the first item lists AF Switch set to AF-C. I mention the AF-S menu setting to cover all the settings I have in my camera. That said, I do understand how that could be confusing and I think I will remove it.

      You are correct about burst rate set to High eliminates the ability to see Live View. From what I’ve experienced, even though I set the camera to High, if I’m in AF-C the camera automatically brings the FPS down to the Medium setting.

      I show the Focus Release Priority=Focus since, in theory, we want to make sure the camera fires when the subject is in focus. I must admit, with my Nikons, I used to always shoot this setting on Release Priority. But I’ve found the Lumix to do a better job with this setting. The way this is supposed to work is the camera won’t fire unless the subject is focused properly. But with my Nikons I used to get better results since the camera wouldn’t fire at all. Because of that, I would shoot my Nikons in Release Priority. The Lumix cameras seem to do a better job at seeing the subject in focus and firing quickly enough to capture the subject before it’s flown out of focus. That’s not to say the Lumix did a better job in getting more frames than my pro version Nikons such as the D4, but it just required a different setting.

      The AF/AE Lock=AF ON is the setting for what we call Back Button AF. I mention that sometimes I turn this off and I do that since using Back Button AF is not as necessary with fast moving action. Back Button AF is most useful for with stationary subjects.

      No problem with all the questions. Happy to help.

  30. ReynaldOn Jan. 31st, 2017

    Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for the great blog and post, it’s been very helpful !

    I just don’t get one little detail, you using the program mode,maybe I’m missing something !

    I’ve got a G85 and when I am in P mode, the control wheels both only adjust aperture and not the shutter speed at all. I also had to turn off the exposure in the control wheels settings to be able to do this.

    I’m a little puzzled that you say both shutter and aperture can be adjusted in P mode.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 2nd, 2017


      I’m not sure why your adjustment of the back dial is only adjusting the Aperture. Are you sure you’re in Program Mode? I use this feature almost exclusively and when I turn the back dial to the left, the Aperture goes down and the shutter speed follows. The same happens if I turn the dial to the right, shutter speed goes up and the Aperture comes with it. Keep in mind that all of this is based on what the maximum and minimum aperture of the lens is. I need to shoot a video and add it to this post to show you what I’m talking about. Will do that and get back to you.

    • ReynaldOn Feb. 5th, 2017


      On the mode wheel i’m on P, both front and back wheels when rotated left (clockwise), the aperture is lowered up to F16, then if turned right (counter clockwise) the aperture is raised up to F4.0, i’m using the pana leica 100-400 by the way.

      Of course the shutter follows either way, but cannot be directly adjusted via the wheels. That’s why i used to shoot in M mode because then each wheel adjusts its own settings, though i’d love something more intuitive.

      I’m wondering if I should reset the camera to factory, I’ve never used anthing else than Olympus and panasonic, but in my experience the menus sometimes get pretty buggy in M43 and i had to reset cameras many times, for things to works normally again !

      It’s very kind of you to help on this matter thank you !

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 5th, 2017

      Reynald, Based on your very detailed description above it seems as though we may be talking about the same thing but not knowing it. I have my front wheel setup for Exposure Composition. But the Rear dial is setup to change the Aperture/Shutter speed combination. You mention above that turning the wheel left it allows you to go to F/16. In the second paragraph you mention that “of course the shutter follows either way, but cannot be directly adjusted via the wheels.” But that’s exactly what you are doing if the shutter is following the Aperture as you turn the wheel, you are effectively adjusting the shutter by “adjusting the wheel” If you had both wheels setup for one to adjust Aperture only and the other to adjust Shutter speed only, you would then be replicating Manual Mode. In Program, adjusting either wheel to the left, gives you a smaller aperture for better depth of field. Go right and you get faster shutter speed.  It doesn’t matter that only one wheel is adjusting both shutter speed and aperture, you still have control over both. It sounds like your camera is working as intended but you’re just not grasping the concept. Unfortunately, I don’t know else I can explain it. Could probably do a better job in person but aside from that not sure how else to proceed.

    • ReynaldOn Feb. 8th, 2017

      Okay Daniel, I understand what you explain, so my camera behaves normally.

      But I’m affraid I don’t see the point, honestly with rather small to medium birds, there shouldn’t be any need to go above F6.3 @400mm, it’s allready quite a lot of FOV with M43 and though i shoot in good light situations, I try to avoid extreme ISO too. So I don’t see any advantage over shooting in A mode, it would give exactly the same control, that’s why i thought my camera didn’t function as intended.

      Or am I still missing something here !?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 8th, 2017

      You’re basically right Reynald. Believe me I don’t dial the aperture down for almost any action. I always go for the fastest shutter speed I can get and in the case of the 100-400mm, that lens is already comparatively slow, even wide open, so I shoot it wide open. My reason for using Program is because I use Program for almost everything. Program is basically a combination of Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority all in one.

  31. DennisOn Jan. 5th, 2017

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos and advice. You commented that there are downsides on using Oly lenses on Panasonic bodies. I have a G85 and the Oly 12-40. I know I lose dual i.s. but I don’t see it as a big downside at these focal lengths. I also lose DFD. Not sure that’s a big deal for me. Anything I’m missing?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 19th, 2017

      Hi Dennis, you mentioned both things that are a potential downsides to using Oly lenses on Lumix bodies but as you suggested for that focal length, not a big deal. Sorry for the delay on this comment. Been on the road a great deal. Thanks for stopping buy to add your voice.

  32. Rod CheungOn Dec. 8th, 2016

    Hi Daniel,

    I read your post with great interest while searching for a lens for my Omd em1 for wildlife and bird photography. The obvious choice is the Zuiko 300mm.

    The IQ and stabilisation are the 2 critical factors for me. Judging from your photos, the Panasonic lens performs very well. Do you think the Panasonic 100-400 and the em1 are a good match, and if the lens and om1 IBS could work together?

    I think the Panasonic would be more versatile than the Zuiko 300mm.

    Thanks and kind regards,

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 8th, 2016

      Hi Rod, glad you found us in your search for a lens for your EM-1. Unfortunately, I’ve not had enough experience using the Lumix lenses on the Olympus bodies to give you an educated opinion. I have used Olympus lenses on Lumix cameras and there are some downsides to that combination which makes me think there may be similar issues with the Lumix on an Olympus. The good news however, is I have the new OM-D Em-1 Mark-ll on order and hope to have it by next week. I plan to start testing the new Olympus with the Lumix and Olympus lenses. Wished I could be more help but it will take some time to get a good feel for the new camera and it’s ability to use the Lumix lenses.

  33. Calvin PhungOn Dec. 5th, 2016

    Hello Daniel,

    Thank you for your help and great appreciation.
    Please allow me to share this photo to you.

    White-tail Kite


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 7th, 2016

      Thanks Calvin. The Kites are beautiful. Nice image.

  34. Calvin PhungOn Nov. 29th, 2016

    Hello Daniel,

    After bird setting under your instruction.
    The flash not active, please advise which function need to be turn on if I need to use flash. Thank you for your help.


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 29th, 2016

      Calvin, I don’t use the on camera flash or any other flash for birds in flight. You could in theory use flash but it would need to be very powerful, which the on camera flash is not, and it would give you many less frames since flash recycle times are relatively slow for fast action and you would not get the multiple high Frames Per Second you can use without flash. Thanks for the question and adding your vice to the conversation.

  35. Richard SternOn Nov. 20th, 2016

    Excellent post and advice. I recently traded my Oly. OM-D EM-5 for a Panasonic GX85, and I’m using the Panny 100-300 lens, with good results for birds at rest, but not so good yet for BIFs. I’m trying to pluck up the courage to trade the lens for a Panasonic-Leica 100-400, which i understand is better and sharper in many ways. But I keep comparing the results to my big, heavy dSLR (Nikon D7100) and long lens, and I am reluctant to spend the money on the 100-400 unless I can get as good results as the dSLR. One question at the moment – There is no AF-C button on the GX85, just the choice of AFS, AFC or AFF in the menu. So how do I deal with the first point in your Camera Settings?

    Thank you for any advice,


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 21st, 2016

      Richard, Yes, the new Leica 100-400mm is a much better lens than the 100-300mm. In fact I don’t even consider them in the same league. The Leica is not only sharper, but equally important is it’s ability to focus quickly. The 100-300mm was one of Panasonic’s first lenses for the MFT cameras and they’ve come a long way in getting their lenses up to the capabilities of both Nikon and Canon. Focus speed in particular is now equal and in many cases faster than the Nikons I used to shoot.

      Interesting and disappointing to hear and the GX85 does not have a manual AF switch like other Lumix cameras for changing to AFS/AFF, AFC and Manual focus. I use this switch constantly on my GH4, GX8 and now the G85. However, if I had to shoot without one I would select the AFC in the Menu and then set the camera up for Back Button AF. Back Button AF pretty much eliminates any need to with the camera to AFS. Let me know if this all makes sense and if not I’ll try to clarify.

  36. Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

    Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 16th, 2016

    I had a reader send me a direct question via email that I felt would be good to share here on the blog pertaining to Birds in Flight. Here’s the question and my response below.


    So glad to have found you and especially this BIF info! I’ve been trying to photograph both static and BIF for a while now with my Panasonic G7 and Panasonic 100-400mm lens. I’m using 4k photo mode and usually P mode since the camera almost always shoots the shutter up to at least 1/1000 in 4k photo mode. One thing you said, though, jumped out at me, and that is that you don’t use electronic shutter, which is a default of the G7 in 4k photo mode. Should I change my whole approach from 4k photo mode to regular burst mode with BIF? I’m having a lot of trouble getting decent sharpness with this long lens. I’m not someone who can just change systems real easily…that lens was expensive and I need to get good use of it. Thank you VERY much in advance! I appreciate what you do!

    Dear Linda,

    I highly recommend you switch to normal burst mode when shooting birds in flight since when the Lumix cameras are in 4K Photo Mode they do not have as fast and accurate auto focus. The only time I use 4K Photo Mode is when the animal or subject is staying in one place. For example if a bird was diving to catch a fish and I knew the spot he was going to dive at. This is a perfect situation for 4K Photo Mode. However, if that same bird is flying and diving in an unpredictable way, it’s far better to use normal stills AFC Auto Focus. If you follow the list of Menu items I changed for Birds in Flight you should have very good results with the new 100-400mm lens on a G7. Let me know how it goes.

  37. WayneOn Nov. 13th, 2016

    Hi Daniel….just curious about taking video with the GH4 and using autofocus when many professionals that use the GH4 for video production do not use AF. Can you share why you use autofocus for video? Thanks.
    From Wayne in Nova Scotia. Please email me Daniel because I don’t know if I’ll get a notification with regards to my comment.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 15th, 2016


      I use auto focus by using the Back Button AF activation. It works like this. I use Back Button AF to focus on my subject. I then hit the Record button start shooting the video. If the subject moves out of the plane of focus, I stop recording and refocus with the Back Button AF then start recording again. So in short I do use AF but not while the camera is recording. This keeps the camera from searching if it misses focus but still gives me the quick AF capabilities the Lumix has. As you say, many serious video shooters never use AF and I understand why. I prefer to use somewhat of a highbred system, using AF when not eroding to quickly and accurately acquire focus, then shutting it off by way of Back Button AF, before I start recording again. Hope this helps. Let me know if you understand what I’m talking about.

  38. PS RamanOn Nov. 12th, 2016

    Dear Dan

    I just came across your article recently. Your images of BIF are exceptional. Are you able to share the images that could be used for printing to appreciate them better?
    I have been trying to take up bird photography for several months. Recently I purchased the Panasonic GX8 with the Leica 100 to 400 mm lens. I want a system that I can hand hold and take photos. There appears to be a lot of settings that one can do and I sometimes don’t understand what do they mean.
    You mentioned in your excellent article several things and I hope you could help me further:

    1 Set Camera Settings AF switch to AF-C but the Record Tab AFS/AFF= AFS with the comment “Don’t confuse this with the SWITCH for AF which should be set to AF-C”
    How does this work? Is the camera focusing continuously or fixed?

    2 You mentioned you would set the Aspect Ratio= 3:2. Wouldn’t that reduce the use of the full sensor in the camera since it is four thirds sensor?

    3 Why do you choose to set Quick AF= Off? Would it not if set to On help to focus faster?

    4 Why do you choose to set Constant Preview=Off? Doesn’t it allow you to see through the eye finder continuously without being interrupted by the images taken?

    I understand some of these questions sound rather basic but I would like to tap on your immense experience with this camera combination to get the extra steps earlier in my own photography. I have seen some unfavourable comments made in this blog about this camera. I have also seen pictures taken by DSLR with long lens not coming as close as to this camera. Thus, I feel it is more important to listen and learn.
    I sincerely feel that all equipment will have their limitations. Such exceptional sharing sessions by yourself will help us raise our photography to the next level. Unfortunately, the tech guys at Panasonic are not likely to help since they are not bird photographers.
    Finally, in my own person non-scientific assessment using real images, the Panasonic Leica 100 to 400 lens produces sharper images up to 300 mm compared to the Canon 100 to 400 mm lens (V2) and equivalent sharpness images at 400 mm. With that ability this camera combination needs to be developed further.


    PS Raman

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 15th, 2016

      PS Raman, glad you enjoyed the BIF Blog Post. Unfortunately, I don’t supply full size originals for people to download. I’ll try to answer your questions.

      1). The Record Tab AFS/AFF=AFS refers to what is listed in the Menu. The “Switch” is on the back of the body directly to the right of the EVF. You need to set the Menu-Page 1 to AFS. The switch needs to be set to AFC. The Menu setting only effects the switch if the switch is set to AFS. If you set the switch to AFC you don’t have to worry about the AFS setting. This is difficult to explain but the AFS is not used when shooting birds. I only mention it due to the fact this is the setting I have it on whether shooting birds or not. By keeping the switch set to AFC it will always be focusing as long as the front shutter button or back button AF button is being pushed.

      2). Yes, having the camera set to 3:2 does cut out some of the sensor but the 3:2 size is the same as my Nikon digital and 35mm transparency proportions I shot for nearly 30 years. It’s easier to combine my photos for projects if they are the same dimensions. Interestingly, the GX8 still records the full size image in 4:3 so if you crop a wing or other body part, you can adjust the crop in Lightroom or Mylio. In other words the full 4:3 images size is always there.

      3). Good question. From my experience the Quick AF starts to focus on things I don’t want it to focus on. By turning it off, I’m able to tell it when to start AF. If it picks something way off in the background I don’t want it trying to focus on that.

      4). Constant preview is essential to turn off. When it’s on it will continually try to show you the image you just shot. If you are trying to follow a moving subject, that Preview keeps blocking your view. This is one of the downsides to Electronics Viewfinders and has been a challenge for camera makers to make this work in a manner that is equal to what we had with a traditional DSLR’s optical viewfinder.

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any further questions. Sorry for the delay on this post but I was out of the country until just recently. I’ve found this lens to be extremely effective and many of our Explorers have purchased it and are loving the results. Thanks for your questions.

  39. Calvin PhungOn Nov. 11th, 2016

    Hi Daniel,
    This is first time I purchase Panasonic GX8 and 100-400mm for birds. I always missed a lots of shot when they pickup to flies.
    After resetting my camera under your instruction, it is fantastic shooting. Now I didn’t missed much, but I still need to build my skill. May I have a question, very time I moved a different spot, I feel it was out of focus. But I keep press and shot, it capture they fly. Is it the way like that. Thank you so much.


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 15th, 2016

      Calvin, you need to make sure your AF is to AFC which means as long as you push the button it will continue to focus. If it’s set to AFS the focus locks and w=when the birds flies the focus stays where the bird was, not where it is going.

  40. Ben TaylorOn Oct. 31st, 2016

    Intrigued about this 49 point auto focus. I haven’t used it much. With 49 point auto focus, it starts off with the middle 9 points selected. How does this differ to one-area auto focus with an area the same size as those middle 9 points?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 1st, 2016

      Ben, You are right about the 49 AF being somewhat similar to a larger box in 1-Area AF. Both work and I used to use the larger 1-Area AF. But I started playing with the 49 AF which looks at the entire viewfinder and found it to work extremely well for flying birds. It gives use an even larger area for AF to look for the target in.

  41. Zhou HangOn Oct. 28th, 2016

    Dear Dan

    I am a nature photographer from China. I am using Olympus mirrorless for macro photography for quite a few years and am now start to shoot birds with GX8 and Pana Leica 100-400mm. I am happy with the outcome but always have problems with flying birds.

    And I came across your wonderful website. I set my camera exactly same as your recommendation. However I have a question. When I set my AF/AE Lock to AF on, and Shutter AF to OFF as you recommended here, my camera cannot auto-focus. I have to set the Shutter AF to ON in order to photograph.

    Can you tell what is wrong here?

    Thanks & rgds

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 28th, 2016

      Dear Zhou, Something that I don’t mention in the information about setting up the AF/AE Lock to AF/On is that you have to push the AF/AE button to ingage focus. I shoot my Lumix cameras in this manner pos of the time. this separates the AF from the front Shutter button so you can concentrate on AF on the back which allows you to more easily compose. I’m planning to do a video of this feature in the near future to better explain.

      OK, now that I’ve explained how to do it, I should tell you that for bids in flight BIF, I often don’t use the back button AF. I kind of made a mistake listing that for birds in flight. I plan to go back and change that. For BIF it’s not a problem to keep the AF on the front shutter button since the back AF button is mainly beneficial when you have time to accurately compose an image. With BIF there is no time to compose, it’s just a matter of getting the bird in the viewfinder and then letting the camera focus as quickly as possible.

      Just make sure you have your AF switch set to AF/C and use the 49 Point AF setting and you should have all the advantages the GX8 can give you. Let me know if you have any further questions. I’m happy to help you try and get this figured out.

    • Zhou HangOn Oct. 29th, 2016

      Dear Dan, thank you for your advise. I shall wait for your video.
      The focus of GX8 is indeed than Olympus body in my opinion, and it is better built, more reliable.
      I am happy with my pictures I took in Yala, Sri Lanka recently. As I tried, Olympus 300/f4 is indeed a better lens but the Pana Leica 100-400mm is already more than enough for me, and is much more flexible in the field to compose. I bought the lens most because of your great review. Thank you once again.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 30th, 2016

      Thanks for your kind words Zhou. I’ve found the LUMIX equipment to be very relatable myself. I also agree that the Olympus 300mm is slightly better in sharpness to the 100-400mm but I seldom notice any issue when shooting the Leica lens. And as you mentioned, the convenience of having zoom capabilit s is just too positive to overlook. I actually like them both and shoot them both but 90% of th time, I reach for the Leica 100-400mm. Thanks for stopping by to join the conversation.

  42. jordanOn Aug. 31st, 2016

    great bird shots and thanks for the tips. i just jumped into m43 and got the gx85 and oly 75-300 (100-400 was too heavy on the wallet :)).
    comparing the GX85’s afc to my nikon d7000 and nikon V2, i think GX85’s AFC is pretty fast but i’m having a more difficult time keeping the subject in the viewfinder. seems easier with the DSLR and nikon V2

    i’m shooting AFC, medium burst with live updates to be able to see if the camera is still with the bird.

    you did mention that you use single pt af and expanding it to 1/10 size and sometimes 49 point.
    can you expound on when you switch to 49 points?


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 31st, 2016

      Jordan, having trouble keeping a moving bird in the viewfinder does not surprise me when shooting the GX85 which is a rangefinder style camera. Here’s my theory. I too have found it more difficult to stay with fast moving subjects and I’m convinced it’s due to the off center/rangfinder position of the EVF, which is on the far left side of the camera. This is only an issue when shooting lenses in the 150mm and above range. I first noticed this problem while shooting birds and Jaguars in the Pantanal in 2015. In my opinion stems from Parallax. Basically, the EVF being rangefinder style and off center from the lens, makes it difficult to properly align your subject and camera. Shooting at long distances which is typically the case using telephoto or long range zoom lenses, parallax comes in to play.

      As much as I love the GX8, a camera similar to the GX85, I typically only use the GX8 for my travel photography and most the time with a lens no longer than the 35-100mm F2.8. That’s not to say I’ve never shot the GX8 with a longer telephoto, I have. I actually shot the original assignment to produce the promotional images for the new Leica 100-400mm zoom with a GX8. But since I own GH4’s and they have the more traditional DSLR EVF, directly over the lens, the GH4 is my go to camera for action photography.

      Interestingly, the Nikon V1 cameras, though mirrorless, also placed the EVF directly over the lens. That’s why I believe you didn’t notice any issues with this camera either. Hope this helps and thanks for stopping by to join the discussion.

    • jordan pawOn Sep. 1st, 2016

      thanks for your reply. that parallax is indeed a very interesting theory.
      i’ll need to reprogram my brain to compensate for that.
      i’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 1st, 2016

      Jordan, I forgot to mention why I change between AF pattern options. Actually, when I wrote the piece on Birds in Flight Settings I was using the Single AF option most the time. But currently, I’m now using 49 Point AF for my birds flight opportunities. 49 Point AF makes is much easier to acquire focus on a bird that is ANYWHERE in the viewfinder. I used to be concerned about 49 Point AF not being as fast as single AF to acquire focus but that’s to a problem with any of the current Lumix cameras. The AF speed of these cameras is astonishing.

    • jordanOn Jan. 19th, 2017

      i’m still trying out the AFC and the best AF points option. for BIF against a clear background, i enlarge the AF point to be able to grab the bird in the frame. this i guess is similar to using all 49 pts.
      this works with a clear background, but if the background is rather busy, the AF seems to prefer the background and not the bird.
      what do you do in this situation?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 19th, 2017

      Jordan, which camera are you referring to. Is it a Lumix body?

    • jordanOn Jan. 19th, 2017

      yes, a GX85.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 19th, 2017

      OK, I thought that might be what you were referring to. I also use a larger single point AF but also often will use the 49 point AF option. I’ve not had enough experience with the G85 and the 100-400mm with flying birds. Hope to do more of that in the future. Thanks for your input.

    • jordan pawOn Feb. 3rd, 2017

      I’ve been playing around with my GX85 and oly 75-300 and getting some decent success in BIF.
      Biggest issue still is keeping the bird in the frame.

      What i’ve done:

      1. scaling back to a shorter focal length
      2. a cheap $10 rubber hood
      3. AFF, high shutter speed, f8
      4. AF point size, sized to fit. sometimes smallest size, sometimes 9 squares
      5. holding the dang light setup steady and panning from the hip
      6. practice, practice, practice

      sometimes the light weight of the setup is not ideal. my d7k and 150-600 tammy OTOH, was a tad heavy 🙂
      not sure how to embed photos, but i have some shots on my blog


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 3rd, 2017

      Thanks for the great input Jordan. Will take a look at your photo samples.

  43. Ian SwarbrickOn Jul. 31st, 2016

    Thanks for the post, especially for highlighting the important stuff in red.
    Under camera settings, you really mean shutter priority mode not actually program mode, yes?
    And you mean auto-iso yes?
    Neither are clear to me from what you`ve written. Thanks

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 31st, 2016

      Ian, Sorry this is confusing to you but just as the text states, I don’t use Shutter Priority, I use Program. I also prefer to make my own decision regarding ISO so I choose that myself as well. Many photographers are unaware that both Lumix and Nikon have a very powerful “Variable Program” mode which means you can actually change whatever the camera is suggesting. For more info you might want to read the following Blog Post titled: Photography Using Program Mode Hope this clears things up for you and thanks for the question.

  44. TRENT ANDERSONOn Jul. 25th, 2016


    I was copying down your settings (again) so that I could laminate the sheet to put in my travel bag. I happened to go deep and read all of the commentary and I came across a sentence from you.

    “I do use Back Button AF for most of my shooting but birds in flight I move the AF back to the front button since with fast moving subjects I’m just concentrating on getting the subject in the viewfinder.”

    Because of my small hand size I’ve had a hard time keeping my thumb on the back button while pressing the shutter, especially with the GH4 and not as much with the GX8. What would be the settings to get it back to the front shutter button?

    All the best,


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 28th, 2016


      The option you need to turn the Shutter AF back to on is listed in the Custom Settings tab. It’s on page 1/9, at the bottom of the list and you need to turn that back to ON.

  45. Les. CraneOn Jul. 16th, 2016

    Thanks you so much for this article. I now have the gx8 and will have the lens as soon as my credit card can handle it!

    I have questions on the shutter setting.
    Do you stick to mechanical to avoid motion/panning distortions?
    Would you use electronic at all in certain situations like shooting a static subject with a low s.s.?
    Finally, have you experienced so called shutter shock with the gx8 -pl.100 400 combo?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 17th, 2016


      I almost never shoot electronic shutter and I’ve not noticed any issues regarding so called Shutter Shock. That said, I’ve not done any specific tests either. Why? Because I’ve not seen results that make think there’s an issue. I have heard of some photographers thinking they see shutter shock but quite frankly, the way I typically use the 100-400mm, hand held, I can’t see how you could blame the camera when it could have been just a day of too much coffee and jittery hands. Personally, I think shutter shock is overblown and one of those issues that takes on a life of its own on the web. I’ve shot great results with this lens at shutter speeds as slow as 1/15th of a second and saw no problems with any softness.

      One last note. Though I began shooting the 100-400mm on the GX8 I’m now most often using it with my GH4s. The GH4 with a battery grip gives me just a bit more to hang onto thats beneficial for a longer heavier optic. You will still find it very much worthwhile on the GX8.

  46. Sadhu GovardhanOn Jun. 29th, 2016

    I thought that someone out there may be interested how my experience with the GX8 and the 100-400mm PL lens continued:

    Meanwhile, I have taken over 15,000 shots – almost exclusively of birds – and I have studied all essential features of the menu. Although a good photographer can do something great with almost any equipment handed to him, I am more convinced now than when I bought this camera + lens that it is barely suited for bird photography.

    The first fundamental problem that comes to mind is the fact that the AF problem is serious. I have lost countless shot opportunities because no matter the AF setting – the camera/lens simply were not able to focus on the object. This does not happen all the day, very often when birds sit on thin branches: the AF locks in at everything in the surrounding, except the bird. The only solution I see here is to change several settings to get into manual AF. Very time consuming but at least it works.

    The second fundamental problem I have are BIF (birds in flight): the lens is slow, and its almost impossible to get a crisp shot, except if the bird is very large and flies very slow.

    The third fundamental problem I have is the drop off in image quality under challenging/poor light conditions. The image quality is so poor that its practically a waste of time to even attempt to get a decent picture.

    That said, I did manage to get some good shots in, but without exception all of them were under near optimal conditions.

    Since I did not return the equipment, I am determined to continue to get the best possible out of it.

    If I were to challenge my own posting here, I would argue that professional photographers (who are regularly used to promote pretty much any camera or lens) like Dan could produce some really nice images. This may be true to some extend but I have not seen one excellent shot yet with the GX8/100-400PL. Take a close look at the 3 Eagle images above: Image #1 is very good, but not excellent. I don’t know how much post processing went into the images, but some parts of the bird are very soft compared to similar Eagle shots with better equipment. Image #2 is similarly soft and shows no detail in the white part of the feathers. Image #3 is soft, and the main striking feature is the posture of the bird, but without a doubt not the image quality. This, I think, is by far the best anyone can get out of this equipment. Anyone who studies bird photos closely, will have to admit that the above images are all good but not excellent.

    The change of settings under different conditions is very challenging, and certainly not easy for any photographer who is not a pro.

    I made my commitment to work my way around all the quirks and weaknesses of this equipment, but I think its unfair to people who consider to buy it, to not be made aware of the serious challenges with this camera/lens. I think it is fair that all sides are heard, so that people can analyze the pros and cons more carefully before they spend $3k on a camera + lens + basic paraphernalia.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 2nd, 2016

      Sadhu, First of all I apologize for this very delayed response to your post. I’m not sure why, but your comment had somehow been moved to the Trash folder. Yours was not the only pone, I actually found seven other comments I had not noticed, all of them in the Trash. So please accept my apology.

      Now to get to your comments and concerns about the 100-400mm and the GX8. Some of them are fair and some are not. Let’s take a look and I’ll give you my thoughts. I’ve copied your text and put it in italics.

      AF issues with birds not moving:

      The AF problem is serious. I have lost countless shot opportunities because no matter the AF setting – the camera/lens simply were not able to focus on the object. This does not happen all the day, very often when birds sit on thin branches: the AF locks in at everything in the surrounding, except the bird. The only solution I see here is to change several settings to get into manual AF. Very time consuming but at least it works.

      I agree with you on this. I have mentioned this problem to Panasonic several times. It doesn’t happen a great deal but it does happen and I’ve not been able to figure out why. It seems to have something to do with the AF sensor seeing the background that might be brighter, but not always, even though the AF sensor is place on the subject. Have has the same issue with birds, macro subjects and others. This is very frustrating and something I’m hopeful they’re working on.

      Birds in Flight

      BIF (birds in flight): the lens is slow, and its almost impossible to get a crisp shot, except if the bird is very large and flies very slow.

      You are partially right here. First I will say that getting a bird in flight is very difficult for any camera and at least part of the reason is due to the photographer not being able to follow such a fast moving subject. As you know, since you’ve been trying this, keeping any bird, large or small, in the viewfinder is not easy. However, if you do have the ability to keep the bird in the viewfinder, I’ve found the 100-400mm and the GX8 to be extremely fast. I actually find this lens and camera combination to be faster at picking up a subject than any of my Nikons including the D4 though I’ve not shot the new D5 or D500. That said, being fast is not the only key to quality inflight images. The cameras ability to “Predict” where the subject is going to be in the next frame is the real challenge for ANY camera. The higher end Nikon Pro cameras did this better than the less expensive non pro Nikon bodies. Consistent, accurate Predictive AF is still a challenge for all MFT cameras I’ve tried, but so far, Panasonic is doing better than Olympus though still not up to the standards of Nikon or Canon. But it’s getting close. As far as any camera doing well with small birds? I’ve never seen any camera that can consistently keep up with smaller birds like sparrows and finches. If that day ever comes I will be a virtual miracle.

      Poor image quality in bad light

      The third fundamental problem I have is the drop off in image quality under challenging/poor light conditions. The image quality is so poor that its practically a waste of time to even attempt to get a decent picture.

      Once again you are partially correct with this comment. My first question would be what do you consider “challenging/poor light conditions”? I regularly shoot my GH4’s at 1600 ISO and have even gone as high as 3200 ISO. These are ISO settings that suggest poor quality light but I’ve actually seen some very good results even at these high ISO’s. To get acceptable images from ISO’s of this range, I take the RAW image into DXO Optics Pro 11 which has the best noise reducing tool I’ve found to date. Do I get results as good as my Nikon D4 at 3200 ISO? No I do not. But they do have enough quality to publish as prints up to 16×20 inches, in magazines and books, not to mention social media. It just all depends on how you plan to use the image as to whether it’s good enough or not.

      Not so great birds in flight in Blog post

      Image #1 is very good, but not excellent. I don’t know how much post processing went into the images, but some parts of the bird are very soft compared to similar Eagle shots with better equipment. Image #2 is similarly soft and shows no detail in the white part of the feathers. Image #3 is soft, and the main striking feature is the posture of the bird, but without a doubt not the image quality.

      I do very little post processing to any of my images, including the ones in the Blog you’re unhappy with. But I can tell you, it is impossible to make a sound judgement related to quality, by viewing the images I use in my Blog posts. The largest images I post are 1200 pixels long at 72 dpi. You should not be making judgements regarding image quality by reviewing that image in a post on a web site. An exception to that would be if you access to the original for download to your computer. I don’t typically post the original since these images are how I earn my living and I don’t make a habit of giving access to original images. Keep in mind that I’ve made a reasonable living, doing nothing but photography, for the past forty years. This alone does not necessarily make me an expert but I certainly didn’t accomplish this length of career by sending poorly focused images to my clients. I’m not trying to be arrogant, I’m just stating a fact. you mention image #2 has “no detail in the white part of the feathers”. My question right back at you would be, is your monitor calibrated?

      I think that covers most of your concerns and maybe you agree, maybe you don’t. Either way I appreciate you adding your voice to the ongoing conversation.

  47. Don McVeeOn May. 21st, 2016

    The only thing missing from your suggested setting is the AF mode you use. What do you recommend?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 22nd, 2016

      Don, great equations and sorry I missed this. I use the 1-Area AF spot most of the time with it enlarged to about 1/10th the size of the screen. However, I also shot many of the bird images in this post with the 49-Area AF. Both worked very well.

  48. Sadhu GovardhanOn May. 15th, 2016


    It is very disappointing that my follow-up post was removed instead of being responded to.

    If legitimate criticism can’t be acknowledged, there’s something seriously wrong. The least you could have done would be to respond in private.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 15th, 2016

      Sadhu, you’re comment wasn’t “Not Approved” I just hadn’t gotten to it yet. I’m currently traveling in Scotland and just got online this morning to check these comments. I did approve it though I think many of your criticism are unfounded but I’ll address those when I have more time. Thank for adding your voice.

  49. Sadhu GovardhanOn May. 14th, 2016

    Dan, I wish I could agree with you re. ease of use of the GX8. I printed out your setting recommendations for BIF: 1.5 pages! I used all your settings and two things happened: 1) the lens was not able to focus at all – neither in A, M, P or S mode. 2) To make matters worse, many menu options were all of a sudden blocked. I was not able to make any of the changes I wanted to inside the menu, no matter what I tried. The only mode I was able to shoot in was iA (intelligent Auto), a mode I usually don’t use at all. Some of the still photos came out ok, BIF was impossible.

    I have been shooting with Sony for years and never had any of these problems – not even remotely. The menu on the a6000 is very simple and even an entry level photographer can figure it out in less than an hour. I have looked at the GX8 menu for hours and I am still back to square one because so many features get disengaged for no apparent reason whenever one makes changes. Again, the main change I made was using ALL the settings recommended in your blog here.

    My last resort before returning the GX8 + 100-400mm lens is to ask a professional photographer friend of mine to take one more look at the menu options and also at the focusing problem of the lens.

    I don’t think this is in the category of “to each their own”. The GX8 is a complex camera, and only easy to use for advanced/very experienced photographers. As I mentioned, I have had Sony cameras for years, and never experienced any of these problems. The only reason I changed to Panasonic was their 100-400mm (200-800mm) lens. Sony’s best telephoto zoom lens is still only 70-300mm (105-450mm). It looked good on paper to have 350mm more range, but so far, the results are very discouraging.

    Your promotion of the GX8 + PL 100-400mm may inspire many people to get this set up, but I can guarantee you that this camera will have more returns than any other mirrorless cameras on the market.

  50. Sadhu GovardhanOn May. 13th, 2016

    I recently received the GX8 and PL 100-400mm, after reading Daniel’s reports of shooting with this equipment. My previous camera was a Sony a6000.

    The first thing I noticed with the GX8 is that this camera is not for casual photographers or entry level users. Its complex and requires significant photographing experience and understanding.

    After a week of tests, my main impressions are:

    There is a definite focusing problem with this lens. At 8-10 feet, it often refuses to focus on a bird sitting on a branch in clear view. No matter the setting, no matter what you do, the lens simply can’t focus on it. I experienced the same problem occasionally with my Sony a6000 before, but not as often as now.

    The lens is sharp – but I would say exactly corresponding to the price of the lens – not more, not less.

    If Sony would have come out with a 100-400mm lens for their mirrorless cameras, I would have stayed with Sony. They just released a 100-300mm prime lens, but that’s simply not enough for most bird photographers. This means that I will have to bite the bullet and learn to master the complex and challenging GX8. If Sony would come out with a 100-400mm lens today, I would return the Panasonic GX8 + 100-400mm lens immediately – not because they are not good, but because they are challenging to work with.

    That said I am grateful to Dan for helping lesser experienced photographers by sharing his knowledge and realizations, especially this blog about shooting birds in flight. It would take an entry level photographer months to figure out his recommended settings. So, thank you Dan, for making it all a bit easier for those who chose to use this brand/equipment.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 13th, 2016


      I can’t disagree strongly enough about your thoughts the GX8 is difficult to use. Can’t imagine anything easier. But to each their own. I to have had the issue of my Lumix cameras not focusing on things that are very close and the lens is clear out at infinity. I’ve discussed this with Panasonic. To be fair, I’ve had similar issues with my Nikons at times. This is not an issue with just the 100-400mm but I’ve seen it on other lenses too that are at the infinity mark and something needs to be focused on that is close the the minimum focus distance. I’m glad you found this information helpful.

  51. tmjOn Apr. 21st, 2016

    I been shooting with the GX8 + 100-400mm for over a week now and I got mixed result. Some images are very good, many are not so good since the focus at time seems to have it’s own mind. The bird would be right there 6,8 feet away and the camera won’t focus. I have to point it around somewhere (on the ground, up the tree ..ect) and then it would focus and I guide it back to the bird to shoot. Many time my bird would flew away because of this redundant stuff I have to do. Just wonder what you think
    of something that I may set or do that can improve this. Note that I normally shoot with a Canon 7D Mark II + 500mm F4 and use to that quick autofocus setup. Thanks in advance!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 21st, 2016

      TMJ, I have also seen this issue at time. It typically doesn’t happen very often but when it does it seems like it’s with subjects at very close distance. I will report this to the proper people at Panasoinc. Hang in there.

    • BillOn Apr. 22nd, 2016

      Is it possible the FULL, 5M-infinity switch is set to 5M-infinity and the birds were too close?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 22nd, 2016

      Not the case Bill. I’ve seen this same issue myself. I recently received a response from my technical contact at Lumix here in the states and Osaka explained it this way:.

      · For a zoom lens the minimum focusing distance is usually spec’d at “1X”. As the focal length is increased, the minimum focusing distance may increase.
      · As the F stop varies the minimum distance also varies with the DOF. I’ve been able to duplicate this shooting the 25 mm wide open, where the DOF is very shallow.

      To be honest this is a bit hard to understand. Do you get what they mean. I’m working on more info on this.

    • RobertOn Apr. 23rd, 2016

      I’m seeing this as well. I thought at first a Contrast Detect AF error, or simply not finding anything of contrast for the AF system to home in on—–so I’d do like you’ve been doing and try to get it to focus on anything close then go back to the original intended target.
      I’m hoping a firmware update will address this issue.

  52. BillOn Apr. 13th, 2016

    Daniel, when you say “ISO based on light and shutter speed” are you using the histogram to set the ISO or are you using auto ISO?

  53. horsthOn Mar. 19th, 2016

    cause you wrote
    “Keep up the great work on stumping the NE Corkboard host I love a good debate.”
    Me too, so, let’s go on:

    Yes, in high-speed-mode (Burst-Rate H), using AFC the camera drops from 8fps to 6fps,
    Therefore -as you can read in their review- in order to get Live-View and not “PLAYBACK IMAGES BETWEEN SHOTS” the DPR testers switched from high-speed Burst H to medium-speed Burst M.
    Only with medium speed (Burst-Rate M) or low-speed (Burst-Rate L) Live-View is active !!!!!
    That’s what I’m writing since my first post and that’s what the user-manuals tell us undoubtful too.
    As I wrote already in one of my former comments, that GX8 Burst-Mode-icon with the letter H behind could be the confusion.

    I’m fairly sure that you shot your wonderful Japan images with burst-speed medium together with a smooth Live-View.
    Keep on with your excellent, dedicated work.

    • horsthOn Mar. 19th, 2016

      I forgot to stress the most important problem (quote from the DPR-review):
      “the high speed drive mode only shows you playback images between shots, SO YOU DON’T GET TO SEE WHERE THE FOCUS POINT IS”
      Means in other words -you can check that easily by yourself- with high speed burst-rate you have not any longer a Focus -Frame after the first shot of a burst !!!!
      How to follow anything than?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 24th, 2016

      Again I’ve not found it to be a problem. My biggest problem with BIF is keeping the bird in the viewfinder. As long as I can keep the bird in the viewfinder most of my images are just fine. I think sometimes splitting hairs on this autofocus stuff does nothing but require us to type a lot

    • horsthOn Mar. 20th, 2016

      Meanwhile I found out, that the letter after the Burst-Mode-icon changes according to the speed setting (Burst-Rate) between L, M and H. Therefore my suspicion was wrong, it can’t be the reason for any confusion.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 24th, 2016

      Horst, I will test Setting the camera to the medium burst mode and see if I notice a difference. All I can tell you is that is that in AF-C I’ve nothad any problems as long as I have auto review turned off. Will do some more tests thanks for your updates

  54. Mark WashburnOn Mar. 18th, 2016

    Hi Dan,

    Having not used a MFT, or panasonic body, I was wondering about the focus mode…are you using center spot with back button focus, or is there a range or zone of focus points you can work with? I’m using a sony 77ii and it’s got a lot of AF options which, once dialed in and set right, are quite amazing…however no matter how good the technology, it seems focus systems can still get fooled by busy backgrounds and such. Fortunately I can switch quickly to center spot if needed with the sony.

    I’m really intrigued by this lens because I just want to lighten things up. If it can work well on birds in flight and some distant wildlife subjects as well as my current long lenses, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be worth switching. Or at least justify renting a system to try out.

    Thanks by the way for sharing your experiences here…they are not only interesting but quite valuable for those of us looking for something different to try.

    • RobertOn Mar. 18th, 2016

      Mr. Washburn,
      I don’t know if Daniel has this blog set up with the mindset of open discourse on other platforms (Sony) but I too have the Sony a77ii. I use the Tamron 150-600 A-mount with it and it is a BIF machine. In some ways it is too easy with the a77ii…BUT as you know it is a weighty machine and whether I’m using the Tamron or the SAL 70-400gii it’s just quick order that I know I’m again (I use Canon too) under quite the burden.
      This is why I love mFt, the GX8, and am salivating for the Leica 100-400mm.
      Further, every time I look at Daniel’s work I know it is possible to eliminate the burden of the heavier Sonys and the EOS kit.
      I don’t have the years of experience Mr. Cox has but after countless hours of study/comparison between the capabilities of mFT and the larger bodies (whether APS-c or FF) I’ve concluded that the difference only matter if/when you plan to print huge 4 foot x 6 foot prints—-and even this Mr. Cox has shown is quite the moot point (reference his blog post on printing large.
      I’ll add this. I have a Sony A7Rii and with its huge sensor I am given the ability to crop and crop a lot. When using mFT I’m forced to be a better photographer=getting closer to my intended target. There are lots of ways to do this and again this blog may or may not be set up for this type of discourse (I’m just a visitor here) so google is your friend 🙂 But suffice it to say that when using mFT simply get it right in camera and in frame!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 19th, 2016

      Robert, no problems with speaking the truth here. We take all comers, every opinion is appreciated unless one gets belligerent which you obviously are not. I do agree with all you say regarding the Sony’s ability to crop and make images long after the original was shot. Yes, this is a great option but as you state, MFT is every bit as capable if you practice good photography. I remember back in the day when I had only the Nikon DX format, at that time they had no full frame sensor and I could not understand what the excitement of a FF sensor was all about. At the time I was reading all the amazing comments on DPREview forums about how people loved Canon’s Full Rame sensors and then one day a lightbulb went off, it finally hit me, after reading one comment after another about the joys of cropping the image in software. Shazam…… a bolt of lightning hit and there was an ah ha moment. Photographers loved FF because they could shoot sloppy, not get close, not compose properly etc. Yes, that can be an advantage but if you are sick and tired of carrying all that heavy gear around AND paying huge prices for that full frame equipment, the time is right to make the switch. MFT can do an amazing job if you truly become a competent photographer! Thanks for your input and your inspiration to tell my story of what put me over the edge. All opinions are welcome here.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 19th, 2016

      Mark, the Lumix system has six different AF options, several you can customize. All can be changed within seconds with the phenomenal Touch Screen technology of the Lumix cameras. This little video discusses how quickly you can change the position of the AF sensor but the same ease of use extends to switching the Type of AF you are using. It’s without a doubt the best AF switching technology of any camera I’ve ever used or looked at, including the Sony cameras. I do use Back Button AF for most of my shooting but birds in flight I move the AF back to the front button since with fast moving subjects I’m just concentrating on getting the subject in the viewfinder. That said, 98% of the time I have all my Lumix cameras set to Back Button Focus. However, I will admit, part of the reason I shoot BBF is due to habit coming from my Nikons. The speed and precision of the Lumix Touch Pad AF makes back button AF almost unnecessary anymore.

  55. horsthOn Mar. 17th, 2016

    I understand. Maybe I wasn’t clear. This note comes if you go into the burst-rate setting through the “On-monitor recording information” (see GX8 manual page 54), not if you go through the normal Rec-menu. Yes, there is only H, M or L, strange. By the way, I set the burst-rate by means of a function key and get this note as well if I chose H. O.k. I’m talking GH4, but there should be no difference.

    As to Live-View, a better expression would be Real-Time-View i.m.o, meaning what you are (real time) seeing in the EVF during actually shooting a burst. Not before or after.

    CameraLabs give a good explanation of the problem with high speed bursts in their current Sony A6300 review:
    “when shooting bursts at the top speeds, an electronic viewfinder or screen would be unable to show a live image and instead play back the last image captured. This looks a little odd and makes it harder to follow unpredictable subjects like tennis or football players, as you’re seeing what’s just happened, not what’s happening right now.”

    That’s also the problem with BIF shooting with a high frame rate. It becomes hard to follow without a real-time view.
    Maybe you should update your GX8 BIF-recipe at the burst-rate point.

    Regarding Sony, yes, I’ve heard they have an issue with this kind of problem. I’m not having it with the GH4 and GX8.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 17th, 2016

      Horst, I don’t have this problem. I did before I figured out how to shut off Auto Review but once I turned that off, two or more years ago on the GH4, following BIF has not been a problem in Burst High. Maybe others have this issue with Burst High but with Auto Review off and Constant Preview off, as I mention in my Menu settings info, I don’t have trouble following birds in flight. I think the images I’ve posted prove I’m not having trouble following birds flight.

    • horsthOn Mar. 17th, 2016

      One additional remark.
      With a high frame rate without Live-View it is of course possible to follow and shoot with AFC a subject with predictable movement to a certain degree (number of frames) if one subsequently anticipates or guesses where the action is headed and tries to stay ahead with her/his view in the finder. Also no problem if the subject approaches head on.
      Maybe that’s what you did. Not recommended for beginners of course.

    • horsthOn Mar. 17th, 2016

      maybe you did what I wrote in my last post: Movement anticipation.
      Believe me that’s not a Sony problem. I have a GH4 and a E-M1 and either show no Live-View at all with frame rate set to high. That’s what I know from my practical experience and what the manuals clearly state. Did you have a look at those pages? A good solution for this behavior is the Olympus Dot Sight EE-1 by the way. I will use that thing with one of the new teles for exactly that high speed case.

    • horsthOn Mar. 18th, 2016

      I don’t give up easily, but his is my last attempt to convince you.

      The guys over from DPR tested the GX8 a few days ago.
      From the “Autofocus & Performance” section:
      “Although the camera can shoot at 8 fps, it drops to 6 fps if you use continuous AF. The latter is also the maximum speed of the camera’s medium speed continuous drive mode (which continues to provide live view). We got our best results by switching to this mode – partly because it allowed us to see what the camera was trying to focus on (the high speed drive mode only shows you playback images between shots, so you don’t get to see where the focus point is).”

      So either you shot really in high speed drive mode without live view or you are confusing something.

      Another thought from me after having a look into the GX8-manual is:
      The GX8 has no drive mode dial like the GH4. One has to go by means of a cursor button into the drive-mode-menu and there strangely the Burst-Mode has the letter H after the Icon. Maybe that’s what you mean.
      But first after pressing this icon you see the Burst-Rate menu where you can choose the burst-speed between SH, H, M, L. And that is exactly the menu where by pressing H the GH4 brings that note (w/o live-view) in question!

      I’m eager to see comments from others(GH-, GX-users) on this topic.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 19th, 2016

      Horsth, Well it looks like you’ve got me. If the GX8 does drop to 6fps when in C-AF, which is the slower frame rate that does include Live View then I stand corrected. That’s why I’ve been stating I’m shooting in High Burst, but if the camera automatically corrects me, then I’ve been confused. Thanks for not giving up. I’m semi technical about these things but once I got around the issue of getting Auto Review of the images shut down, so they didn’t block up the viewfinder, I didn’t pay much attention to whether I was getting 6fps or 8fps. Six has been working very well. Keep up the great work on stumping the NE Corkboard host:) I love a good debate.

  56. horsthOn Mar. 17th, 2016

    sorry for appearing smart-alecky
    but as to Burst-Mode=High, I think we are talking about the same thing.
    Both User-Manuals tell me that in Burst-Mode=High with AFC there is no Live-View available, only in medium- or middle-speed (GH4 medium-speed 7fps AFC, GX8 middle-speed 6fps AFC) is Live-View active.
    Have a look here yourself:
    GX8 Manual page 175
    GH4 Manual page 113

    With my GH4 I can prove it myself. The image you see with Burst-Rate=High is always the immediately preceding exposed frame in a burst, not a Live View.

    • horsthOn Mar. 17th, 2016

      To be clear, BURST-MODE means BURST-RATE of course and also in the camera-menu you will get the message “w/o Live-View” with the Burst-Rate=H setting.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 17th, 2016

      I just checked my GX8 and in the Burst Rate window I see nothing about “w/o Live View”. I just see H,M or L.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 17th, 2016

      Thanks for the manual page numbers. I must be confused what Live View is apparently. For me it means you can see through the viewfinder as you shoot. And with Burst set to High I can see through the EVF just fine. I looked up Live View in the manual and all I can find relating to Live View is Monochrome Live View. All I know is that when I’m shooting in AF-C in the Burst Mode High, I can see through the EVF with no issues.

  57. David GaronOn Mar. 16th, 2016

    I’ve never associated IBM with photography, yet you have them listed as #15 here. What’s the connection?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 16th, 2016

      Dave, the IBM example was used to show where some of the biggest companies are listed on the Fortuen 500 World manufacturing and engineering list. My point in giving these examples is to show how large Panasonic is #16 in the world. They have a huge engineering staff and manufacturing capabilities and I it’s their size and ability to share technology between all parts of their company that I believe will put them in the game of serious photography in the not too distant future.

  58. horsthOn Mar. 16th, 2016

    I am a little bit confused, because at least the GH4 has in BURST RATE=HIGH no Live-View with AF-C. But I don´t know the GX8. Are you shure, your setting was BURST RATE=HIGH ?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 17th, 2016

      Horsth, yes, without a doubt I was in AF-C, Burst Rate set to High, which is 6FPS. And regarding your comment about no live view in the GH4 with it in Burst Rate High, I’ve not seen that either. Are you referring to Super High? Do you have a reference page in the manual to show me the settings you’re referring to? We may be talking about two different things.

  59. Dan OhOn Mar. 16th, 2016

    Dear Dan, can you explain to me Full / Limit focus switch on 100-400mm lens? Most all the bird shots are close to infinity and I was wondering if this witch minimizes auto focus hunting. When does one use Full versus Limit.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 17th, 2016

      Dan, the Focus Limiter switch is made to help the lens adjust itself more quickly if it misses focus. The way AF works requires the lens motor to hit a stop of some sort. That stop triggers the lens to reverse whatever direction it was going. On the 100-400mm, the Focus Limiter puts a stop point at 5 meters or about 15 feet out from the closest point the lens can focus. We all know that a flying bird most likely will not come closer than 5 meters, so by setting the lens to the AF Limiter point of 5m-Infinity, if the lens misses focus and starts searching, it doesn’t have to cover the entire distance the lens can focus. It only has to cover from 5 meters to infinity. This helps the lens correct itself much more quickly and hopefully lock on to the target it missed. Flying birds are touch to keep the focus point on so it’s not uncommon for the lens to mis focus, rack all the way out to infinity and then come back trying to require the subject. I use the focus limiter on all my flying bird shoots.

  60. horsthOn Mar. 16th, 2016

    excellent pictures. I´m wondering whether you shot everything in AFS and why ?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 16th, 2016

      Nope, it was AF-C with Focus Priority. AF-C is essential to track the subject and the Lumix does an admirable job doing that.

    • BobOn Apr. 11th, 2016

      Question using AF-C. I use back button focusing. Should I keep the focus button held down as I continuous shoot? That’s the way my Nikons work.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 11th, 2016

      Bob, yes, Back Button AF it works identical to your Nikons.

  61. RobertOn Mar. 15th, 2016

    Just beautiful bird word! And awesome tips! Thank you very much for the play-by-play in the menus for BIF/Sports.
    Did notice ‘Battery Use Priority=Battery Grip’ and I know that’s for the GH-4.
    How I wish it was also true/that an OEM battery grip existed for the GX8.
    I bet with chagrin the GH5 will be out before there will be a GH8 grip extant.

    I know this isn’t the thread but I’d love to hear your prognostications for the GH5.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 16th, 2016

      Unfortunately Robert, as close as I am with Panasonic, they’re desire to keep the competition guessing, by being very secretive about what’s coming, keeps me in the dark as well. But I can tell you that if the leap in technology from the GH4 to the Gh5 is even close to the leap in technology we got from the GH3 to the GH4, the GH5 will be absoluyetly astonishing. And I believe it will. This is why I’m betting on Panasonic. They are a technology company first and foremost. I have a very detailed Blog coming about my recent trip to Japan and a tour I was given of the Panasonic Center in Osaka. I’ve heard more than one photographer speak negatively about Panasonic not being a real camera company, that they make microwaves, TVs, shavers and the like. But I can tell you, all of the items they do make are almost exclusively electronics and today’s cameras are nothing BUT electronics and quality engineering. Here’s a list of of the world’s largest manufacturing companies, ordered by revenue in millions of U.S. dollars according to the Fortune Global 500. Panasonic is listed as #19 in the world in engineering, IBM is listed as #15. Canon is listed as #71, Nikon, is listed as #29 under Mitsubishi Industries. I think you get my point. Panasoinc is committed to the world of stills and video capture and with a steep history of already being a world leader in video, (virtually all cameras are now video cameras) I predict they will one day be considered one of if not THE best camera companies.

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