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Old Jun 19, 2005, 11:51 PM   #1
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Sorry but for all my stumbling over myself through the bushes, this was all I could capture. At least I got the critter in the frame, and well, that's about it. My prosumer has a miserable manual focus, for this type of shot, I'd still be twisting the rubber focus ring, the EVF is that muddy. I want to catch a shot of my magpie friend in flight, bluring the backfround. I accomplished half of that. But I also got a blurry magpie. Any suggestions? This shot happens with no warning, and I have practically no time to adjust settings. Any good ideas? Thanks, and best regards,

KennethD
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Old Jun 20, 2005, 9:51 AM   #2
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You need to find somewhere with lots of birds to practice on. A park or seaside full of pigeons or seagulls.

Birds in flight are hard with professional kit, with your Minolta it's going to be extra hard. It's no accident that the bird guys drop more cash on their kit than anyone else even thinks about.

First off I'd try to set to sports mode and use the AF, if the AF is too slow you're going to have to pre-focus and trip the shutter when the bird goes through that distance. This is all very tricky stuff if there's only one bird about. MF on a moving bird is very tough - if you're using the LCD display you can forget it - the lag will simply be too great, the LCD won't update quickly enough for you to adjust focus in real time on a bird in flight.

To freeze birds in flight you're going to need shutter of 1/500 at least, and if you have to pre-focus you're going to want a small aperture to try to get decent DOF. This means you're going to need very good light because your camera isn't great at high ISO. If you want to get the background blur then I suggest you head over to www.dofmaster.com and play around.

You could try for maximum zoom @f8 - that will give you a DOF of about 30-60 feet from you. If you set your shutter at 1/125 or so then a panning shot should be able to give you some background blur. But the bird will be small in the frame at that distance. Anyway - all this is going to require experimenting with your camera, so you're going to need lots of birds to practice on.

Under the conditions you describe and with your camera I think even Normcar might struggle a bit.
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Old Jun 20, 2005, 12:36 PM   #3
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peripatetic wrote:
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Birds in flight are hard with professional kit, with your Minolta it's going to be extra hard. It's no accident that the bird guys drop more cash on their kit than anyone else even thinks about.
Ah, YOU D O have an accurate insight into my problems. I happen to love the magpie for it's color, and cheeky behavior, and the fact that it's an unpredictable and acrobatic flier. But these rascals in my neck of the woods are not easy to catch in their antics. The basic fast shutter speed is a good place to start, but I don't want to just freeze the motion, I want to do a little arsty fartsy background blur too. I will chew over your remarks as I sip my tea and probe the manual one more time. To master the Minolta is the real trick, as you accurately point out. I've run the gamut with this thing, and have come close (but no cigar) using the multi shot high speed setting, but unfortunately the image quality is lacking with that setting, not enough pixels. With the preset manual focus, only prayer and an inside line to the big guy can get the bird where he's in focus, at the right distance. You must have been down a similiar path at one time. Seagulls have been kind enough to allow me to do lots of practice with them and led me to think I was ready for a magpie, but shooting the gull is easy compared to this con artist. It may just be that I've waited too long to buy my new camera. I'm off to the mountains right after I send this, and when I get back I'll post whatever I'm lucky enough to capture. My thanks for your insight and suggestions. Best regards,

KennethD
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