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Old Mar 23, 2010, 8:17 AM   #1
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Default Tips on BIFs using a slow lens

I posted this on another site and got a tip from a great photographer but he has the 300mm F2.8 which isn't apples to oranges. I use the 70 300 and find I end up using Ap mode for BIFs as I'm not fast enough to adjust from say water to treeline to the sky in manual and don't know anyone that even attempts manual for this kind of shot. He said if you want sharper you need to use shutter at 1/2500 but my lens just won't handle that shutter speed and get enough light. I have trouble seeing exif with oly master 2 but I'm guessing I end up probably in the 1/250 range using Aperature.
Are there any tips or ideas that anyone here uses that would help beyond getting a faster lens. Don't get me wrong, I'm not disapointed in the shot, I like it, but I would like to take it to the next level in detail and sharpness. Possibly a panning issue with me and not the cameras fault, or I just need a faster lens.
Eric
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 11:33 AM   #2
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Hi Eric,

I'm, by no means, an expert on the subject but I've used the 70-300mm in trying to track a bird in flight enough to know the following:

Aperture mode is the right choice in trying to capture a BIF.
The lens, for me operates best at an Aperture setting of f7 to f11.
While I generally don't get a shutter speed of 1/2500sec., I can't disagree with that setting as the faster the better. I think that a minimum of 2x focal length shutter speed is a good starting point.
The lens needs light, light and more light! which means that you will probably have to increase the ISO to give you the shutter speed you want, at the aperture your looking to use.

Other things I've found that help increase the chance of getting a good image.

Use single, center point AF ,multiple shots setting

As the 70-300mm has an frustrating tendency to rack through the entire focal range when trying to focus, I try and anticipate where the flight of the bird will track, then find an object about that same distance that you can focus on. This will prefocus the lens to an approximate setting and the lens will focus quite a bit faster since it has less to travel.


Zig
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 12:36 PM   #3
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Which camera are you using to shoot these?

The image posted looks to be shot in bright enough light that you should be able to get up to a 1/2500 shutter speed. I would try it. Set your camera's shutter speed to something like 1/2000 second using shutter speed priority and set you ISO to AUTO.

I ask what camera you are using because I know some older models will only use auto ISO up to 400, where I can set an auto ISO range up to as fast as 3200 using either an E620 or E30. I would bet if you can set the auto ISO up with a ceiling of something like 800, you'll easily achieve a 1/2000 shutter speed in broad daylight, even using the 70-300.
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 1:46 PM   #4
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Which camera are you using to shoot these?

The image posted looks to be shot in bright enough light that you should be able to get up to a 1/2500 shutter speed. I would try it. Set your camera's shutter speed to something like 1/2000 second using shutter speed priority and set you ISO to AUTO.

I ask what camera you are using because I know some older models will only use auto ISO up to 400, where I can set an auto ISO range up to as fast as 3200 using either an E620 or E30. I would bet if you can set the auto ISO up with a ceiling of something like 800, you'll easily achieve a 1/2000 shutter speed in broad daylight, even using the 70-300.
I think with ISO boost on with my e-500 (and I assume it'd be true of other older E series as well) the auto ISO will go up to 1600 (or at least 800) but really i find anything over 400 unusuable on my camera.

You might want to try manual focus as well, I've had better luck that way with my Sigma but having never shot the 70-300 i don't know how easy MF is with it, the Sigma is quite easy to use that way.

John
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 2:50 PM   #5
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Some interesting answers here. Looks like Zig and I are pretty much on the same plane as far as how we shoot these. I have a 510 and with the 3 focus points if you're off a little on the moving subject the 70 300 goes through the entire focus range and you miss whatever shot you're after. I find CAF helps some but it starves for light so shooting at ground or water level even on a bright day can at times be tough.
I shot this at 400 ISO at around 5 in the afternoon.
Greg I've never tried setting the ISO to auto and that may be something I would like to try but I did try shooting in Shutter mode at 400 ISO and even at 1/1200 it was very dark at water level in good light with a swampy background the geese were very dark. In the sky they were better but I don't think shutter mode with this lens is feasable under most conditions but bright sky only. The other thing I haven't tried is ISO 800 because I was concerned with noise and image quality but then I didn't try setting the F stop to 8 or 9 which might help considerably, again worried about light I kept it down at 5.6 and 6.3 most of the time.
John, forget manual focus for me at this time, if I had a faster lens I might give it a go but auto focus is about 10 times faster than I am : )
Thanks for the input guys, I appreciate it and you gave me a couple ideas to work with.
Eric
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 3:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jelow1966 View Post
I think with ISO boost on with my e-500 (and I assume it'd be true of other older E series as well) the auto ISO will go up to 1600 (or at least 800) but really i find anything over 400 unusuable on my camera.

You might want to try manual focus as well, I've had better luck that way with my Sigma but having never shot the 70-300 i don't know how easy MF is with it, the Sigma is quite easy to use that way.

John
Ditto with the E1. ISO 800 is OK, but that's the upper native limit for that sensor and you have to go to boost to get ISO 1600 and it's not very good.

They've come a long way with image quality above ISO 400 on Olympus DSLR's since the E1 and E500.
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 3:41 PM   #7
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Greg I've never tried setting the ISO to auto and that may be something I would like to try but I did try shooting in Shutter mode at 400 ISO and even at 1/1200 it was very dark at water level in good light with a swampy background the geese were very dark. In the sky they were better but I don't think shutter mode with this lens is feasable under most conditions but bright sky only. The other thing I haven't tried is ISO 800 because I was concerned with noise and image quality but then I didn't try setting the F stop to 8 or 9 which might help considerably, again worried about light I kept it down at 5.6 and 6.3 most of the time.
Eric
I gave my E510 away so cannot verify, but I believe auto ISO with the E510 only operates up to ISO 400, so if you want to shoot at a higher setting you have to set the ISO manually like you are already doing. The reason you were seeing such a dark image at 1/1200 second at ISO 400 is, you have to go to at least ISO 800...possibly even 1600, in order to use a 1/1200 shutter speed. You definitely need to stay in the f5.6-6.3 aperture range no matter what else you do if you are trying to up the shutter speed as much as possible.
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Old Mar 24, 2010, 7:27 AM   #8
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Eric, you raised concern regarding using the E-510 at ISO of 800 and above. When I had the E-510 I used that camera at settings of 800 and above quite often with satisfactory results IMHO. I, frankly, wouldn't be too concerned as the noise can be fairly readily cleaned up in PP.

Granted, these are not examples of BIF, but they were taken at ISO800. You can judge for yourself.

While I have used the 70-300mm to take BIF with the E-510, the ISO used was quite a lot lower. So, I didn't post any here. If you interested, you can see some off them using this link.http://www.pbase.com/zig123/zuiko70300mm

Please note, that I don't have many images posted with the 70-300mm as I use the 50-200mm for just about all of my BIF shots-It's faster and simply produces better results.
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Old Mar 26, 2010, 6:46 AM   #9
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Hi Eric,

Based on your post, I went out yesterday with the 70-300mm lens mounted to the E-30. The purpose, to shoot BIF and evaluate the results. I know it's a bit like comparing apples to oranges, since your using the E-510 while I'm using the E-30. But the lens' performance should be about the same.

I went out to a local boat ramp/fishing area where I'd seen a wide variety of shorebirds. The word must have been spread that I was coming, because on this morning, all the birds stayed a far distance away. I managed to get one shot of an Osprey. But he didn't really come in close and this is the result.
I do have to add that I did get an attempt to shoot a Pelican who flew directly overhead. But the 70-300mm racked thru the entire focal range and the bird was long gone.

I think I'll stick with the 50-200mm
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Old Mar 26, 2010, 9:02 AM   #10
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Hi Zig,
Yeah you gotta stay on target with the 70 300 or if it misses it goes through the entire cycle which of course drives you crazy : ) I sometimes feather the shutter activation while focusing to eliminate some of that but it's a pain for sure. I tried 800 ISO the other day and to be honest it was no better for me than 400, it increased the shutter a little but no great improvement and probably actually lost a little in IQ.
Now I've got to get my exposure figured out, my whites are always overexposed and I believe I've got everything pretty much set up as per Wrotniak with maybe a couple tweaks here and there. Anyway here's the goose at 800ISO, F8 in Aperature and a swan at 400ISO and a little exposure issue.
I'm considering the 50 500 next, the 50 200 has great IQ but I've seen some great shots with the bigma and I want the extra reach since I'm into wildlife and birds.
Eric
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