The Attack!

In Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, we saw a Leopard eyeing a lone Baboon from 200 meters. We positioned ourselves so we could still see the Baboon but not interfere with the route the Leopard would need to take to get to it. The Leopard moved swiftly and silently through a ditch until it was near the Baboon. I focused on the Baboon, not the Leopard, and within a few seconds the Leopard with incredible speed crossed the 20meters from the ditch and hit the Baboon at full force. Unfortunately, I had my camera set on low rather than medium speed and missed the moment of impact but got this shot a split second later when the velocity of the Leopard caused it to swing around as it clamped down on the poor Baboon.

Specific Feedback Requested

Any pointers on photographing very fast-moving scenes like this (other than setting my camera for higher speed! :slight_smile: ) would be appreciated.

Technical Details

Sony a1, Sony 200-600mm lens at 303mm, manual exposure, f/6.3, 1/2000th, ISO 640. 80% crop in PhotoShop.


What an exciting thing to watch, if just a little bit sad, too. Of course we’d like a face in full view here, but that isn’t always possible. I don’t have any experience with big game like this, but hummingbirds are pretty fast and hard to catch. I’ve started using a custom-multi focus point pattern instead of all of them or a single point. I find if I keep it centered and the subject centered, the camera usually has an easier time finding the subject and locking on. Combined with Autofocus continuous, I think I’ve upped my keeper rate slightly. Maybe other wildlife photographers who have big game experience can chime in.

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Hi Kris,
the Sony has a “wide” focal point selection, which I have used very successfully for birds. A very good idea to use it for such fast moving scenes as this one. Thanks for the tip.

It is always very exciting to witness action like this, never mind if you missed the peak of action. We all learn this way!
Your shutter speed was good enough for any kind of mammal action, focus is spot on and frame, which is 80%, also sufficient. In such conditions, when action is very fast and you are expecting the subject to enter the frame very fast, it helps to shoot with both eyes open. (I mean the eye, which is not on viewfinder). It gives you vague idea and you can begin to fire the shutter, just before the animal enters the VF.
I’m sure you will be able to nail the action, next time :call_me_hand:

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