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Old Jan 20, 2008, 2:20 AM   #1
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Well I hope they are anyway! From 40-70 feet distance...Shot with a 50-500mm lens and a 1.4 TC! Just trying to get sharper and sharper images.















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Old Jan 20, 2008, 6:18 AM   #2
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Dawg,

That last pic of the woodpecker is looking good.

I know how hard it is to get any shutter speed when the light sucks. Then you bump up the iso and that adds noise. And with the TC on there you lose aboutanother stop of light and their inherit loss of sharpnesswhich doesn't help. It really is a viscous cycle!

I've been experimenting with flash for telephoto shots. In fact, I went to a talk by a local pro wildlife shooter just last weekendand he explained a good bit about using flash from long distance. There is this device called a better beamer that concentrates the light from your flash and extends its range about 3 times.

http://www.birdsasart.com/accs.html#BEAMER

Also, are you using a tripod? Looking at the exif's, some of these are right at the hairy edge of handholding shutter speed. Plus you have to factor the effect of the TC on there for effective focal length.I know I'm at about 30% kind of keeperson a good dayunder these conditions.

What I'm gettng at here is I feel your pain in your endeavour. If we all had 500mm F2.8 lenses life would be good. LOL
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Old Jan 20, 2008, 9:25 AM   #3
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Driver3 wrote:
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Dawg,

That last pic of the woodpecker is looking good.

I know how hard it is to get any shutter speed when the light sucks. Then you bump up the iso and that adds noise. And with the TC on there you lose aboutanother stop of light and their inherit loss of sharpnesswhich doesn't help. It really is a viscous cycle!

I've been experimenting with flash for telephoto shots. In fact, I went to a talk by a local pro wildlife shooter just last weekendand he explained a good bit about using flash from long distance. There is this device called a better beamer that concentrates the light from your flash and extends its range about 3 times.

http://www.birdsasart.com/accs.html#BEAMER

Also, are you using a tripod? Looking at the exif's, some of these are right at the hairy edge of handholding shutter speed. Plus you have to factor the effect of the TC on there for effective focal length.I know I'm at about 30% kind of keeperson a good dayunder these conditions.

What I'm gettng at here is I feel your pain in your endeavour. If we all had 500mm F2.8 lenses life would be good. LOL
All of these were handheld and in very poor light. The Bigma does pretty well as long as you get the ISO up to 800+. Neat image helps remove some of the noise and using a highpass sharpening helps sharpen without making the noise worse...I also use a Lab color sharpen on these too. Not painful just something I try to cope with...As to the tripod...I can use it on the Feeder photos but the ones of them in the branches it is not feasable to do that...These fellows are just too quick. By the time you would rotate the tripod around and elevate and line the shot up they are long gone. Thanks for the above post...At least I don't feel so lonely while doing this now!

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Old Jan 20, 2008, 11:29 AM   #4
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Dawg,

With such small birds the way to get sharper images is to get much closer. 40 feet is way too far away to get sharp results. Think about 15 feet. Then the sharpness will come. Here's a shot with only 400mm. Adding TCs to the Bigma and then cropping won't get you there. That's why small birds are so frustrating to shoot.


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Old Jan 20, 2008, 2:15 PM   #5
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That's a beautiful kingfisher! How did you manage to get that close?
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Old Jan 20, 2008, 2:45 PM   #6
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JohnG wrote:
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Dawg,

With such small birds the way to get sharper images is to get much closer. 40 feet is way too far away to get sharp results. Think about 15 feet. Then the sharpness will come. Here's a shot with only 400mm. Adding TCs to the Bigma and then cropping won't get you there. That's why small birds are so frustrating to shoot.

No cropping involved in these my friend. Can't get closer so the big lens and skill improvement is going to have to do it...It will come.

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Old Jan 20, 2008, 2:56 PM   #7
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JohnG wrote:
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the way to get sharper images is to get much closer.
I can't find the "get closer" button on my DS. Or is that a Photoshop feature?:?

Kjell


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Old Jan 20, 2008, 3:13 PM   #8
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Hi Dawg,

Good info in both answers so far. A poster (Chris Gunn)on another forum has a motto -- something like "Get a bigger lens, and get closer" -- You've got the bigger lens -- now you need to get closer. This is the most important aspect to shooting small birds. Give me an opportunity to shoot at close to minimum focusing distance for my lens, and I'm a happy guy. . . :-)

I like to shoot handheld, and have been pretty successful handholding long lenses (up to 710mm), but I've also come to the conclusion that some kind of support is necessary to get a higher percentage of keepers when shooting at anything over 20-30 feet. It's preferable from a couple of aspects: even shooting with an unlocked head, it's still going to be steadier than handholding since the support is holding most of the weight, and using support reduces fatigue, which will obviously add to camera shake.

There are a few suggestions I might offer:

1. Try a monopod. It'll allow for speed in acquiring your subject as you don't really have to fiddle with anything to rotate or tilt the stick to change direction or elevation. It'll also keep the camera at eye level with little or no fatigue for long periods of time. I like using the Manfrotto 3229 tilt only head as it allows for vertical adjustment, and you can set the friction so that it suits your needs.

The head is this one:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Tilt_Head.html

Here's a very lightweight walking stick/monopod like the one I have, but at about 1/3 of the price I paid:
http://www.leevalley.com/gifts/page....104,53221&ap=3

and here's a good article on monopod use:
http://www.outdooreyes.com/photo5.php3

2. Use good handholding technique. Your shooting background should help here. I've adapted a lot of target shooting techniques (both in stance and trigger control) to my photography, and it's helped considerably. Relaxation, breath control, and stance are all important.

With SR, I've also found that a more relaxed hold on the camera, and allowing the viewfinder image to drift more is better than holding the cam tightly and trying to force the camera to be still. I try to prefocus on the bird's eye, then relax my hold while keeping the shutter button half-pressed to hold the focus, then I try to time the shutter release to get a reasonable framing of the shot as the image in the VF approaches the shot I want to get -- not easy, but nobody said it was going to be easy. . . :roll:

3. Unlike driver3, I don't think that your on the hairy edge as far as shutter speed for handholding at @ 1/500 (. . .well maybe at the distances you were shooting. . .). With both the DS (no SR) and the K10, I usually consider
1/125 the shutter speed where I'm on the edge at 500-700mm, but I've taken shots at 1/80 in a pinch where I've gotten surprisingly good results (mostly at relatively close distances though, and I try to brace against something if possible). Handholding at these shutter speeds is obviously an iffy situation, but if you concentrate on technique, it's possible to get a reasonable percentage of keepers.

4. Not the most economical solution, but probably the best -- get a sturdy tripod and a gimbal head. This will allow you to position your camera almost effortlessly. The best and most compact are the Wimberly Sidekick and the Jobu Designs Black Widow (LW), but the least expensive major brand is probably the Manfrotto 3421. You have to balance the camera/lens combo initially, but once it's set up, the QR will allow you to mount and dismount the camera in seconds. Another option is the Acratech V2 or GV2 ballheads which have a roller bearing on the stem of the ball, and when the stem of the ball is parallel to the ground, it acts very much like a gimbal head (it's also pretty expensive though).

I bought a used Indian knockoff LW gimbal, but it'll take some work to make it serviceable for my use (if it's even possible -- one of my many winter projects), and I'll probably end up looking for a Wimberly or Jobu before next spring.

For a set of legs, I chose to go with a Carbon Fiber model from Amvona on ebay. I opted to bid rather than take the BIN, and got one for under $100 -- unbelievably inexpensive for a good quality product -- not in the same class as a Gitzo or Manfrotto, but definitely good enough for me, and I'm pretty fussy.

5. Not the best solution for me, but Roger has had some remarkable results with his BushHawk shoulder stock system. I'd be the last to argue with success.

6. Try using an external flash. At the distances that you're shooting, a Better Beamer probably isn't necessary, but it might help you by using less power per shot which will reduce the recharging times. If the weight gets to be too much, you can mount the flash on a nearby LW tripod and fire it remotely either using the wireless function or triggering it with a remote hotshoe to hotshoe cord.

For birds, I prefer the corded solution -- it's a touch faster in response (no need for the preflash sequence to transmit the exposure info to the remote) and you can use manual Mode on the flash to eliminate the P-TTL metering preflash which will reserve more power for the main flash -- you can experiment to get the exposure right before the birds arrive, then just maintain the setting. Once you've done it a couple of times, you'll know approximately what settings you'll need, and since you're going to be using manual mode, you can get any number of used high quality, high GN flash units dirt cheap.

Using flash has a number of advantages -- the short flash duration will effectively freeze subject motion and camera shake -- since you control the light, weather conditions and the angle of the sun become a lot less important -- and the additional light will probably allow you to use smaller apertures and lower ISO settings which should increase the resolution of the lens and eliminate noise.

I can post examples of just about everything mentioned here if you want, or you can just click on my nick to go to my profile, then look up some of my posts from the past few years here and see most of them illustrated. . .

. . .and sorry for the long post. . . I just can't help myself. . . :?:

Scott
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Old Jan 20, 2008, 3:27 PM   #9
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JohnG wrote:
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Dawg,

With such small birds the way to get sharper images is to get much closer.* 40 feet is way too far away to get sharp results.* Think about 15 feet.* Then the sharpness will come.* Here's a shot with only 400mm.* Adding TCs to the Bigma and then cropping won't get you there.* That's why small birds are so frustrating to shoot.
Hi John,

Nice Belted Kingfisher shot! The best one I've managed isn't as sharp as yours, but it's pretty good. . . if you're interested, you can see it here:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fo...41&forum_id=80

Scott
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Old Jan 20, 2008, 6:07 PM   #10
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bilybianca wrote:
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JohnG wrote:
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the way to get sharper images is to get much closer.
I can't find the "get closer" button on my DS. Or is that a Photoshop feature?:?

Kjell

I can't find one on my K10D either Kjell! LOL

Dawg

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