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Old Oct 31, 2012, 2:54 AM   #1
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Default Birds at 300mm

As I asked in http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...ens-birds.html I want a better 300mm.

I shot all these at full 300mm with my K20D and Pentax DA 55 - 300 ED hand held.

I have post processed these to try and get the best out of them. I had to use between 400 and 800 iso and 5.8 aperture.

No 1 is a Willy Wagtail
No 2 is a Bar-shouldered Dove
No 3 is a female Red-backed Wren
No 4 is a male and female Red-backed Wren
No 5 is Buff-banded Rail

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Old Oct 31, 2012, 7:52 AM   #2
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I like the compositions and exposures of your shots but agree they could be closer and sharper. I have found that my DAL 55-300 is best at f8 but agree for small birds it is a little too short, I have been thinking of something in the 500 to 600mm range but they are out of reach cost wise for me. I have been searching the estate and garage sales for something old and manual. Also the small birds around here don't sit still long so manual focus and tripod could be an issue. I like to hand hold and never carry a tripod. I like the look of Mole's 135-600 but as he said it's hard to lug around. For as often as I get into the mood of shooting small birds maybe a feeder and blind would be the best solution for me.

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Old Oct 31, 2012, 2:56 PM   #3
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G'day Rodney

A pleasant series of images here mate ~ the 'but' is that I can see what you mean about wanting 'more' and 'sharper'.... I have the same wish-list too, and about 8-days-a-week

In my case, I have found that it doesnot matter where I am, I can never get close enough - the birds see me and fly away ... nothing unusual in that. So I use the car as a bird hide and park somewhere close to where the action is. It sometimes works, but as Hans says "little birds don't sit still..." > so in my case, I find a success/ keeper rate of 10% maybe

For BIF pix, even my 450mm is not long enough either > so there's no qwik fix answer either

Regards, Phil
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 3:09 PM   #4
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The only solution I have found to date is to shoot larger birds. I have had great luck on golf courses as people ignore the wildlife and the birds seem to expect to be ignored. I will have to try some of the smaller birds on my next time out. I agree with Phil, I find the golf cart also acts as a bird blind.

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...It is better to burn a roll of film than curse the darkness. Equip. K30, Q7, DAL 55-300, DA 35 f2.4, DA 50 f1.8 DA 18-135, SMC-M 28 f3.5, SMC M 50 f1.4, Canon P&S S100 w/CHDK Beta, Panasonic DMC-GM5, Flickr:
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 5:45 PM   #5
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The solution is to just get closer. Really at 300mm its a waiting/stealth game(and by stealth I mean camouflage mostly).
Part luck, part patience. It's not really about 'sneaking up on them' as much as it is just hunkering down at a spot and waiting.


When I go out, I try to wear earth colors and forest green light jackets, often use the hood. When I first go out I see them all scatter but give it 20-30 minutes they come crawling back to test the waters so to speak. After a few of them get comfortable, others will follow suit and next thing you know they're straight ignoring you're even there.




In my kit, the afa 1.7x was a huge asset as it let me get enough reach to get birds to take up as much as 75% of the frame without scaring them away.

As far as sharpness is concerned, its hard to make recommendations on gear when Im not sure which lens you're using. I highly recommend a 2.8 lens as it will allow you to maintain sharpness with the fastest possible shutter speed and correct aperture.

Hope that helps
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 5:47 PM   #6
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Rodney -

A fascinating assortment, highlighting your wonderful and diverse bird species! I can see your frustration as well, the photos are so well-composed and well-exposed, but sharpness not quite there...

If this lens is anything like my Sigma 70-300, perhaps smaller aperture might help a bit. Mine is only sharp at F 8 or 11.

Then again, even at its sharpest, the 70-300 is not all that sharp with distant subjects.

I will post more thoughts in your lens question thread...
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Old Nov 2, 2012, 12:51 PM   #7
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All very nice shots - but as you say you need something better/faster/sharper/longer than the 55-300.

The Rail has great light and I love the two Red Backed wrens.
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Old Nov 2, 2012, 5:33 PM   #8
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Exciting to see the Rail. All the other birds were great as well. Somehow we are always looking for a lens that is either longer or faster.

Your variety of birds in Australia is remarkable and I really enjoyed them during my stay there.

Lou
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Old Nov 3, 2012, 8:11 PM   #9
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Nice photos, but I can see your frustration. I think I would be inclined to go with the DA300 because you would get a noticeable bump in sharpness, and you can use smaller f stops without loss of sharpness. And perhaps you could add a TC later on, if you want more reach. But on the other hand, I'm still thinking seriously about the Sigma for myself.
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Old Nov 3, 2012, 9:09 PM   #10
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Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts and ideas.

I think I shall go with the Pentax 300 as I can carry it hand held, even though it's twice the weight of my 55-300, although I don't mind using my tripod when needed, and as I have shown I can get the shots just not the quality.

What TC would be best, all you seem to see is 2x's and I know they kill the IQ.

Rodney
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