Alpha Universe Story Detail
Alpha 1: Capturing Birds in Flight
with Howard Yap

A speeding vehicle, an active animal, a playful child—moving subjects are undoubtedly a challenge to photograph. So what more can be said for capturing soaring, darting, and flapping birds in the sky?

Howard Yap relies on the Alpha 1 to capture birds in flight.

This is second nature for bird photographer Howard Yap. After all, he has been doing this for years and years.

“I love nature,” he said, swelling with excitement. “And every time I see raptors hunting, I get an adrenaline rush while capturing the moment.”

The Alpha 1 has a high megapixel count for detailed shots with fast performance to capture flying birds with clarity, easily.

Alpha 1 | FE 600 mm F4 GM OSS | 600 mm | 1/3200 s | F4 | ISO 1600

Aside from having a keen eye to pinpoint these winged creatures, Howard has to rely on a dependable shooter. He shared how previously he had to use two camera bodies, both of which compromised on certain aspects. For instance, one camera had a high megapixel count for detailed shots, but was not as fast as the other, with superb autofocus and high FPS. The latter, however, lacked the desired image quality. He lamented how switching cameras would sometimes lead to missed critical action shots.

This all changed when Howard picked up the Alpha 1. 

The Alpha 1 is Howard’s go-to shooting buddy.

Merging of true speed and resolution with Alpha 1

The ideal camera for bird photography has to be fast, accurate, and boast reliable autofocus with high resolution that allows better flexibility for editing, Howard specified. To his delight, the Alpha 1 checked all the boxes on his list.

For starters, the Alpha 1 offers the remarkable combination of high resolution and blazing speed. This is perfect for some fast-flying birds with unpredictable movements. Thankfully, the camera’s 50.1 MP sensor can accommodate the continuous burst of up to 30fps, freezing any bird action moment in high quality. Some users have pointed out that it is almost equivalent to shooting a video at a frame rate of 30 frames a second, which means photographers have all the freedom of choosing the most impressive moment and most impactful shot of the bird’s trajectory. Such action moments include how eagles’ talons touch the surface of the water when they nose-dive to hunt fish. 

“In the past with a lower fps camera, I was able to capture such shots occasionally,” Howard compared. “At 30fps, my chances increase substantially.” 

Shots captured by the Alpha 1 retain tack sharp details after being cropped.

Alpha 1 | FE 400 mm F2.8 GM OSS + 1.4X Teleconverter | 560 mm | 1/5000 s | F5.6 | ISO 800

After cropping

Shots captured by the Alpha 1 retain tack sharp details after being cropped.

Alpha 1 | FE 400 mm F2.8 GM OSS + 1.4X Teleconverter | 560 mm | 1/5000 s | F5.6 | ISO 800

Before cropping 

Some other benefits of the Alpha 1’s high megapixel count include its excellent noise control that does not compromise on image quality and speed when Howard shoots with a fast shutter and teleconverter. Its remarkable ability to crop also left an impression on Howard, especially when shooting small and fast birds. Howard said he can retain tack sharp details of a cropped shot. 

The Alpha 1 boasts Real-time Eye AF for birds to track and accurately focus on birds’ eyes.

Alpha 1 | FE 600 mm F4 GM OSS + 1.4X Teleconverter | 840 mm | 1/5000 s | F5.6 | ISO 640

Fast and focus 

The Alpha 1’s autofocus is truly a force to be reckoned with. The camera not only covers and detects 90% of the frame, but it also boasts Real-time Eye AF for birds. It tracks and accurately focuses on birds’ eyes, from wide-angle shots of birds perched on a branch to fleeting captures of them taking flight that demand frame changing. The focus point intelligently and instantly locks onto the bird even if there are other objects in the surrounding area or foreground, completely removing the need to adjust the focus manually and saving precious time. Furthermore, the autofocus performs brilliantly in low light situations.

The Alpha 1 shoots with 30 frames per second, plus its blackout-free shooting captures every single moment of a flying bird.

Alpha 1 | FE 600mm F4 GM OSS | 600 mm | 1/4000 sec | F5 | ISO 800

What about those once-in-a-lifetime shots? Howard shared that he’s having luck with getting those nailed down, thanks to the Alpha 1’s blazing 30 frames per second, plus its blackout-free shooting which allows an uninterrupted view of the bird. This way, he is able to follow the bird’s movement in real time and predict where it will go next.

Rugged for bird shooting 

Howard has had a lot of contact with the natural elements. This serious bird photographer always does his due diligence of researching the geographic locations and weather conditions, all for the perfect shot. 

Howard often pairs the Alpha 1 with the fast and reliable FE 400 mm F2.8 GM OSS and FE 600 mm F4 GM OSS lenses to equip him for all shooting scenarios.

Alpha 1 | FE 600mm F4 GM OSS + 2X Teleconverter | 1200mm | 1/3200 sec | F9 | ISO 400

A handy and durable camera like the Alpha 1 is ideal for these kinds of photographic excursions. Howard often pairs the camera with the fast and reliable FE 400 mm F2.8 GM OSS and FE 600 mm F4 GM OSS lenses to equip him for all shooting scenarios.

The Alpha 1 comprises dual media slots supporting CF Express Type A and SD card to reduce the hassle of switching cards. Furthermore, the camera boasts an improved dust- and moisture-resistant design, sealing all the body seams and battery cover. A lens lock button and mount cushion also prove to be helpful too.

“With the Alpha 1, I now worry less about the gear and more about nailing the shot,” Howard concluded. “And I look forward to raising my game.”

Watch the Alpha 1 in action!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of Howard Yap. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Sony Singapore.

Howard’s Gear
ILCE-1
Alpha 1

ILCE-1

SEL600F40GM
FE 600 mm F4.0 GM

SEL600F40GM

SEL400F28GM
FE 400 mm F2.8 GM

SEL400F28GM

SAL20TC
2.0x Teleconverter lens 

SAL20TC