On 14th Feb 2022 I visited Otterbourne Hides & Studio to shoot images and videos of the 3 female Common Kingfishers (Alcedo Atthis).
As can be seen from the photos below - the set up at Otterbourne arranges a clear perch over a circular container / bucket within a wider pond into which Pete (the owner) places a few dozen small/young british river fish. The birds nest reasonably close-by and with luck they are attracted to feed at this station regularly through the day. We have 8 dives between 07:30 and 14:30.
The Common Kingfisher is a small quick moving bird. The perch is located about 3 feet / 1m above the surface of the pond. This means that their drop takes approximately 0.3 seconds. The fastest shooting DSLR in my collection (Nikon D5) was able to shoot 12-14 20mp images a second -- so if I was quick I could capture about ~4 images as the bird dives and its bill hits the surface of the pond.
I took my new Nikon Z9 and an AF-S 400/2.8E-FL lens to this shoot. The Z9 is BOTH very familiar to the previous Nikon PRO bodied DSLRs and very very different (much much better) !! The Z9's fastest Constant High-speed frame rate is 20 frames per second and each image is a 45.7MP lossless raw 14-bit file (typically 50-60mb). As a result the Z9 would produce ~6 frames per dive. I did not achieve this because it takes a little time to react to the bird starting each dive. Most of the close up shots shown below used this setting -- I went to Otterbourne to try the various Autofocus and shooting settings and to continue to learn and refine my abilities with this camera.
The Nikon Z9 has 2 further and faster shutter speed options while both produce smaller file sizes than the normal shooting options the extra speed/frames can be special. The fastest one is 120 frames per second. This produces 11mp JPEG images each of which are approximately 4.5MB.
The adjacent image is an example of this - it is one of 147 image burst that recorded almost the whole of a dive, catch and flight away. At 120fps I could select the image that showed the impact of the bird's bill with the surface of the pond.
Video created from the images of a Common Kingfisher fishing - one part is from one camera video the rest was created from a 146 shot burst taken at 120 frames per second.