To capture images of wild birds in flight in the great outdoors I've traveled all over Japan and the world. The destinations for this trip were the Malaysian islands of Langkawi and Borneo. In Langkawi I was mainly looking for birds of prey such as the White-bellied Sea Eagle and the Brahminy Kite, and the kingfishers that dwell in mangrove forests. And in Borneo, the Indigo Flycatcher in the foothills of the Kinabalu mountains.
A super telephoto lens is necessary for wild bird photography and the 800mm F5.6 lens is considered to be "the standard." When combined with a high-end full-frame SLR camera system it weighs nearly thirteen pounds, and with a tripod it tips the scales at twenty-two pounds. With that in mind, I combined the OM-D E-M1 with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4.0 IS PRO and a 1.4x teleconverter to achieve 840mm and F5.6 with a weight of only four-and-a-half pounds. With six steps of image stabilization I didn't need a tripod, making my equipment significantly lighter.
Actually, all of these shots were captured hand-holding the camera. When photographing the Collared Kingfisher, I approached it slowly, over uneven ground without using a tripod so as not to scare it away. Even though the forest is dark and the likelihood for a shaky image was high, the silent shutter dampened camera shake for excellent image stabilization performance, letting me capture the perfect shot at a speed of 1/30 sec. Despite the difficult, dark conditions, I was amazed at the image quality that resolved each and every feather in sharp detail even at the widest aperture setting. The feeling of the bird's life force and its environment are perfectly captured in the shot.
Because the M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4.0 IS PRO possesses such amazing mobility in outdoor shooting, handheld shooting was possible even in the dark forest, making it a key piece of equipment in drastically changing shooting style for future wild bird photography.