Question Tips for wildlife shots (especially birds)

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by JDR82, Jun 15, 2015.

  1. JDR82

    JDR82
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    I took a lot of Red Kite, Buzzard and Heron shots the last week while on holiday, found a lot of them to be very soft / unfocused.

    Any tips for this subject appreciated, my equipment and settings are below:

    Camera - Nikon D5300
    Lens - Tamron SP AF150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD

    My main settings were:

    Focus Mode - Auto-servo AF
    AF Area Mode - Dynamic Area AF 39 Points
    Metering - Matrix Metering

    Other settings:

    ISO - 125 - 320 Shutter - 1/800 - 1/2500

    I was always shooting with my aperture wide open to try and keep the ISO as low as I could, I realise as I reach the extreme end of my lens I need to start stopping down to F8 perhaps and up my ISO to compensate.

    Being new to the DSLR world I keep trying to avoid ISO grain but need to start thinking about it more.
     
  2. snerkler

    snerkler
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    From the previous thread for BIF I would recommend a shutter of at least 1/1000 and shooting at f8, assuming light is decent enough that ISO isn't 'too high' (this will depend on your camera and level of acceptance as far as noise is concerned).

    I would recommend never ever using Auto AF. Use AF-S for static subjects, AF-C for moving subjects. For most things I normally suggest using single point AF, but it is very hard to keep a single point on a BIF and so matrix or group AF would be easier.

    For other wildlife I tend to shoot wide open (unless I'm really really close) as I'm happy with the sharpness wide open and prefer subject isolation, but stopping down to f8 usually results in sharper shots.

    Are you going to post the soft shots you were referring to or have you figured out why they're soft now?
     
  3. shotokan101

    shotokan101
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    ...and last but not least a sharp lens
     
  4. snerkler

    snerkler
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    Yeah but you have to careful not to cut your fingers :facepalm:
     
  5. rocknjazz

    rocknjazz
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    D5300 doesn't have optical filter, so your image should result as sharp like D7100..
    Guess should be an issue with lens!!


    As Snerker stated, posting your shots help to clarify!
     
  6. GaseousClay

    GaseousClay
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    Are you shooting RAW and what post processing are you doing if any?
     
  7. JDR82

    JDR82
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    Yep shooting 12bit RAW, post processing is mainly just some cropping and some slight adjustments to highlights etc using Adobe Lightroom, haven't been messing around with sharpening at all.

    I think I'm maybe over thinking things too early, looking again at the samples attached I'm probably most likely just out of focus, in need of stopping down and improving my panning.

    Will try out the auto-focus recommendations, but for now the Tamron is as sharp a 300-600mm lens as I will have :)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. snerkler

    snerkler
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    The pics are marked as private so can't view them at full size. On here a couple do look like missed focus, but I'd like to see larger images to confirm. Isn't the Tammy 150-600mm? ;) :p
     
  9. JDR82

    JDR82
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    Oops should be fixed now and yep meant 150-600 :p
     
  10. shotokan101

    shotokan101
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    shooting at 600mm on APs-C which is EFL of approx. 900mm at 1/1000th sec - need faster shutter speed for moving subjects I think....
     
  11. snerkler

    snerkler
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    Maybe, depends how good the panning skills are ;) Plus has VC which should help, but if in doubt can always ramp it up.
     
  12. shotokan101

    shotokan101
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    Sure does and FTFY
     
  13. newbie1

    newbie1
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    A couple of other thoughts

    I have the other type of camera ;) with that I can have the autofocus points used showing when previewing the pictures. The function is called "AF point display". Its pretty handy as it helps me improved my aim by seeing how close or not I was to what I thought I was aiming at.

    Second shooting in bursts gives more chance of getting one on target than single shooting.

    Hope this helps
     
  14. snerkler

    snerkler
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    Proper cameras do that too, although I don't think it's available on the entry level ones. Can always get the plug in for Lightroom which shows you.

    Forgot to mention this, pretty important thing to miss ;)
     
  15. GaseousClay

    GaseousClay
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    Is there an option to make lens micro adjustments on the d5300?
     
  16. snerkler

    snerkler
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    Don't think so.
     
  17. JDR82

    JDR82
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    Cheers for the tips, will have a look at the plug in for Lightroom.

    I was shooting in bursts for the Kites, Herons etc think it was the main thing which let me get some images in focus.

    Was eyeing up a Nikon D7200 in Jessops yesterday but considering I have only had the D5300 a few months think I would have been jumping the gun a little.

    However I definitely know taking wildlife pictures is something I will continue to enjoy more and more, will see how long before it starts to irritate the other half, basing our holidays / trips on what I can get a picture of :p

    Cananda next year, doubt she will moan about that :D
     
  18. GaseousClay

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    Looking at the EXIF for the kite pics I would say your going to expect lower quality images when shooting over a distance of 150m. As jim says the ratio between shutter speed and focal length is against you, the lack of micro adjustment and not fully processing your RAW images will all have an impact on quality. You can address the shutter speed, distance and processing in the future. For current images I would look at adding a touch of clarity and adjusting the sharpness in lightroom, all RAW images need processing don't be afraid to use it or think it's a cheat. Just don't overdo it, and while you're there look at checking the "Remove chromatic aberration" in the lens correction tab, as it is very prominent due to the heavy cropping you are applying to these particular shots.

    good luck :)
     
  19. Faldrax

    Faldrax
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    The other thing to consider is the limited DOF - you are shooting 600mm on APS-C, even at 20-30m subject distance, DOF is not huge, so if the AF fails to compensate for subject movement, it will be off.
     
  20. shotokan101

    shotokan101
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    Good points - and remember to enable the lens profile corrections and set them to be for the lens you are using in LR
     
  21. snerkler

    snerkler
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    Do it, you know you want to :devil: ;)


    Joking aside there's 2 trains of thought on this. The first one is that there's no point going out and spending a fortune on gear as you may find that you get bored quickly and give it up, and/or getting your technique right is far more important than having better gear.

    These points are completely true, and I don't think anyone would argue with that. However, having a 'better' camera can make life easier and give you a higher success rate. Take for example the D7200 you mentioned. It has a much better and more sophisticated autofocus system meaning that AF-C and tracking will be quicker and more accurate, and it has more settings that you can apply. This (in theory) should mean that you will more likely get a higher success rate and possibly sharper shots. Also, it has micro adjustments meaning you can compensate for flaws in the lens focussing should it have any front/back focus, again making your images sharper.

    However, all this is irrelevant if your technique is pants as 'you' (general 'you' not you personally ;)) will still get rubbish shots :p
     
  22. den9112

    den9112
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    Hi quite a lot already been said and pointed out and some good info and advice, I have always loved my wildlife and bird photography to the point were one particular bird as become a passion(obsession),with me having limited equipment ie,a 400mm 5.6 and a 300mm f4 I have had no option but to learn a lot about my subjects and the use of good field craft with each individual subject ,leading me to get a lot closer ,your equipment is fine it just takes time and a lot of practice ,just take one subject at a time and practice as not all BIF shots need a fast shutter speed,yes its a good rule of thumb to match your focal length with your shutter speed, but I have found that certain birds need different settings ,ie I can get away with a barn owl at 1/640 sec as they are not a fast moving bird but a kestrel or a red kite needs in my opinion at least 1600sec the faster the better if conditions allow,it also depends on what shot you are looking for,good panning with a slowish shutter speed with nicely blurred wings to show motion and a sharp eye can look pretty good ,practice and more practice and enjoy photographing your subject ,as for processing I always look at field guide books in comparison to my shot for checking colours etc....please feel free to send a PM if you need anymore info ...
     
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  23. snerkler

    snerkler
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    ^^^ OP listen to him (Dennis), his bird shots are truly superb.
     
  24. shotokan101

    shotokan101
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    I disagree - all his wildlife stuff is great ;)
     
  25. snerkler

    snerkler
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    Only seen the bird stuff :p
     
  26. shotokan101

    shotokan101
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    You should follow him on Flickr then and check out his website.... :)
     
  27. snerkler

    snerkler
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    Been in the website and following on Flickr, just not looked at anything other than birds. Will do now though ;)
     
  28. rocknjazz

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    His Pics are exceptional:clap:...
     
  29. JDR82

    JDR82
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    Thanks again for the tips and extra info Den, one thing I have been doing is shooting everything by hand as it seemed like the only option with BIF above my head, I did stupidly just grab a cheap tripod when I started out which I never bothered using as it was massively unstable.

    Have replaced it with with a Manfrotto 055XPROB and 322RC2 head which I got for a very nice price used on eBay, this arrived today so should hopefully help, or am I heading down the wrong route here and should be hand shooting wildlife.
     
  30. newbie1

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    I'm looking forward to the reply too :)

    In my experience so far only ducks with a fairly predictable flight path were helped with tripod. For birds of prey in the air I found a monopod more flexible but have ended up shooting mostly hand held especially if they are not soaring.
     

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