Brutus Östling is a father of four (Alice [born 2000], Eddie , Isak  and Theodor ), a book publisher and a photographer specialising in bird photography, but also in wildlife in general. Recovering alcoholic, sober since 1990 Brutus Östling is currently working on a number of major projects. His first book "Mellan vingspetsarna" (US: "Between the Wingtips", UK: "Life on the Wing"), with photographs of birds from the arctic to the Antarctic with texts by ornithologist Magnus Ullman, was published in Sweden in 2005, won the WWF Panda Prize 2006 as the best nature book in Sweden. A book about penguins was published in Sweden 2006, in the UK and US 2007. His most recent book about the white-tailed and the Golden Eagles, Örnarnas rike (The Kingdom of Eagles), was also honored with the WWF Panda Prize as the best nature book of the year.The Eagle book is available in Finnish under the title "Kotka", and it will be published in the English during autumn 2008 with the title "The Kingdom of Eagle". His recently published book are "Birds with an attitude", Swedish ttle: Kaxiga fåglar, and "Surviving the Day" (Att överleva dagen), bith are only available in Swedish. For "Surviving the Day" Brutus Östling and wildlife writer Susanne Åkesson won the Swedish Publishers' Association August Award (the Swedish equivalent of Man Booker Prize) for non-fiction 2009.
During 2006 he was appointed as "Nature Photographer of the Year" in Sweden, in November 2007 he was appointed as "Nordic Nature Photographer 2007", a title which is received by a Nature Photographer in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway or Iceland every second year.
Camera equipment, film, the question of digital photography, etc.
Cameras: Since May 2004, when Canon’s fast (8 frames per second) EOS 1 D Mark II came on the market, I only work with digital photography using from 16 to 600 mm optics with 1.4x and 2x converters on land. These days, I primarily use Canon’s new and fantastic EOS 1 Ds Mark III (I have two houses) Before going digital, I worked with Canon’s analogue top of the range models EOS IV and EOS 3.
Tripods: Two Gitzos, one heavier and one light-weight as well as a selection of heads such as a Wimberley for the longest lenses. Also some cheaper but well-working Manfrotto tripods with heads for videos (a good and cheap alternative also for cameras and long lenses).
My favourite film before switching to digital photography was Kodak 100 VS or Provia 100 F. I normally used the fine grain Provia 100 F for pushing.
This article was written after I had been photographing birds with my first digital pro camera, the Canon EOS 1 D Mark II, for a few months. From 2004.
“For me as a bird photographer, the Mark II has finally made me switch completely to digital photography. The Canon 1Ds, which I had been using for eighteen months, was good, but it was not fast enough, especially not the multiple frames function, which is essential in bird or sports photography. The cache filled up too fast, which meant that some pictures were lost. As a result I took slides in parallel to shooting with my Canon 1Ds. After getting my Mark II, I only use my analogue camera for shooting landscapes.
I have neither tried nor had the time to analyse the picture quality of the Mark II and compare it with other cameras (this has already been thoroughly investigated by Christian Nilsson at Foto magazine), but I have been able to establish that the quality of the 8Mb raw files I get is good enough for my purposes, and that the noise level at high exposures seems to be lower than with the 1Ds. I have taken quite a few pictures at ISO 640 and 800, and the noise level at 800 is not at all as disturbing as it was in pictures taken with the 1Ds. (But it is, as always, a question of what you are going the use the pictures for – I have no problem printing pictures taken with my Mark II at ISO 800 as a book-quality A4).
he smaller sensor and the 1.3x focal length it entails present no great problem for a bird photographer. I now do less cropping than with my 1 Ds – bird photographers are seldom bothered by getting too close to their subject.
What is most important to me is that I have finally got hold of a camera that meets most of my requirements for photographing birds. The digital technology allows me to use settings I would never have used when working with film. With 8 frames per second, the Mark II is able to capture most action situations, 15 frames per second would of course be even greater, but I will have to be content with what I have.
And, above all, I have finally got a Canon with an auto focus fast enough to capture if not all at least many more birds in flight than before. Even with a 500 mm lens and 1.4x converter, the AF is surprisingly fast on the Mark II. If my pictures are not sharp it is because of me, i.e. that I have failed to detect the right part of the bird with the middle sensor (the fastest and most reliable of all the AF sensors).
With the Mark II, Canon has achieved an AF system that satisfies even the most discerning bird photographers. The next step will have to be to improve picture quality yet another notch.
Written in the summer of 2004
After using the new Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II – previously published in the magazine FOTO.
“A dream camera …?
Better and faster. These are, in brief, the criteria that I, as a bird photographer, use when selecting a new camera. After I had purchased Canon’s previous flag ship, the 1 Ds, I tested it for Foto magazine in the cold and humid climate of the Antarctic and South Georgia, and I was basically happy with the result. I continued, however, to work with film. One of the reasons for this was that the 1 Ds model only took three frames per second, and I missed the crucial moment more than once. Another major drawback was that I often found the noise levels at ISO 640 and above rather disturbing.
When the Canon 1D Mark II arrived in May 2005 – with 8 frames per second – there were no longer any good reasons to continue using film and I went digital. But that camera also turned out to be inadequate when it came to designing a couple of book projects. The camera’s resolution of eight million pixels was not quite high enough. So when I got the chance to photograph White-tailed Eagles from a hide-out with the new top of the range model, the 1 Ds Mark II, it was a great feeling to return and hand over the pictures to the designer. The light in mid-January at our northern latitudes is insufficient, and eagles normally turn up at dusk. Many of the pictures were taken at ISO 800 and 1600. One picture that we immediately decided would work for a whole spread was taken at ISO 800. The noise was almost imperceptible and certainly not disturbing. Four frames per second instead of three may not sound revolutionary, but in reality it does make quite a difference. When you photograph birds in action, it is that small improvement that may allow you to capture a particular wing beat just the way you want it.
This is a dream camera when it comes to picture quality and speed of, for example, auto focus. But why does Canon not introduce some kind of joy stick for selecting active AF detection point? Nikon did with the F5 in 1996.