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Old Sep 13, 2005, 6:45 PM   #11
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:G I'm not exactly a newbie, but with in-flight birds I also have a ton of practicing to do.
Especially with hand-held longish lenses.

I also have a blackened fingernail from a wack I gave it, trying to follow a bird with a heavy ballhead mounted long lens. :whack:
Got to get me that wimberly for next summer:lol:

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You are right NHL and picture look beautiful but a enthusiastic newbie still has a lot of practice to do,and a lot of things to learn.
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Old Sep 13, 2005, 10:38 PM   #12
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tjk3052

I have a few pieces of advice.

If you're having trouble with the 20D against a clear sky (not even a tree sticking up behind the bird), which it sounds like is your situation, then the problem is almost certainly you.

Flight photography is hard. If the bird is close it is easier... and harder. If they are closer, then they go by you faster... which makes it even harder.

The center AF point on the 20D is noticably smaller than on the 10D, and smaller than the center circle that you see through the view finder. It takes a lot of practice to photograph birds in flight because of this. You really, really have to keep it in the center. I would suggest you buy some bread and bait seaguls to come fly around you. Spend an hour shooting them. It isn't exactly loads of fun, but it is very good practice.

I assume you are using one shot when shooting the stationary subjects, but AI Servo when shooting moving objects? This is why it works better; One Shot seems to work much better for me and for many avian photographers that I've talked to. Personally (wild conspiracy theory warning here) I think Canon crippled it so it wouldn't complete with the 1D MkII.

I know some really good avian shooters who shoot flight shots by manually focus to get close and then shoot single shot to get it right. Except for slow moving birds, I really don't understand how this works. I shoot short eared owls in flight and their head it going back and forth all the time. I need the focus to track them until the head angle is "just right" and then take the shot. Having to wait for focus to be achieved via one-shot would cost me the shot. But I've seen the results, it does work for them.

Both the lenses you name are commonly used flight shot lenses. They are very good, and you should be able to get good results with it, but you'll need to practice.

As a side note, what I've seen with my 20D is what I think that NHL is hinting at. That it locks on the background when the background is complex (trees, for example.) It works great for consistant things like sky, but with trees it always shifts focus away from the bird (that it was locked on and tracking just fine) and locks on the background. Even when the background is a 1/4 mile away and the bird is 50 feet away. I truly don't understand, but it drives me absolutely nuts. And I even have shots where the bird is clearly in the middle of the center focus area, yet it still shifted focus to the background.

Eric
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Old Sep 14, 2005, 6:38 AM   #13
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... 1 minor difference

Another technique I use is that I tend to zoom out for the search (especially at 600mm), and zoom in once the bird is located :idea:

I can imagine taping my zoom fix at the tele position for in-flight shot, but it would definetly take more practice :G



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Old Sep 14, 2005, 11:45 AM   #14
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Here is a series from Jim Neiger, one of the best birds in flight shots that I have seen. He is using 20D for all his flight shots.

http://www.naturescapes.net/phpBB2/v...ic.php?t=34850

This is part 1, go to that forum to read rest. You may need to register.
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Old Sep 14, 2005, 1:18 PM   #15
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Nice link :!:

Peter.
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Old Sep 14, 2005, 5:08 PM   #16
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I have exchanged comments in a thread on that forum with Jim about flight photography. I have read some, but not all of the articles in this series.

He is also able to achieve flight shots using the 100-400 with a teleconverter. He must be really, really good at manual focus to achieve this. I am not very good, and I can't do it.

In the end, flight photography is hard. You really need to practice.

Eric
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Old Sep 14, 2005, 5:16 PM   #17
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bobbyz

... so I'm not alone in handholding this 'monster'
but an 8.5 lbs 500mm??? - I need to go back to the gym and exercise some more then! :G
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Old Sep 15, 2005, 9:12 AM   #18
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eric s wrote:
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He is also able to achieve flight shots using the 100-400 with a teleconverter. He must be really, really good at manual focus to achieve this. I am not very good, and I can't do it.
Eric

That's the other plus going for one-shot AF - you can visually overide the AF manually with the full-time USM/HSM lenses overide once they locked... if you hold the shutter down
Also is it really one-shot AF if you press the shutter release 1/2 way repetitively while following the bird? :idea:
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Old Sep 15, 2005, 9:35 AM   #19
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I really like Jim Neiger's holster idea:!:
I figured out what would make the holster part, can't quite figure out what he is using for that belt.
Guess I'll have to break down, show my duff-us-ness, and ask him.:homey:

The long safety neck strap is interesting too, so far anything I can find is way to short.

Peter.
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Old Sep 15, 2005, 9:47 AM   #20
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NHL,
I have been know, on occasion, to hand-hold my 600mm. 8.5lb is for wimps. You gotta hand hold 11.8lb to really be a man!

I can't do it for long (5-10 minutes) and I prefer using a tripod... but I have produced some really good results doing it. Near full frame red-tail hawks flying overhead.

Eric
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