Join Date: Feb 2016
So, more practice on Common Redpolls today, which will be migrating north any day now. These were all hand-held, about 5m away, no window, at 300mm, S-IS 1, full silent mode, speed priority, with the smallest possible single focal point. Images are 100% crop, no resizing, from L-SF jpeg files. I took shots at the same speed, bracing the camera against a wall, and there wasn't a significant difference, so I've only posted the hand-held shots. There was no wind, so the feeder was still, only movement was birds, or my hands.
Shot #1: 1/250, f6.7, ISO 1000
Shot #2: 1/160, f6.7, ISO 500
Shot #3: 1/80, f7.1, ISO 320
What am I learning to get this improvement, for small birds? First, and most important, that this lens needs a lot of light, so I just can't expect great results early morning, evening, or overcast days. I was used to f2.8 on my Stylus 1, even at max zoom with TCON (500mm equivalent focal length). Guess I'll have to dream about the 300 f/4 lens.
Second, that I'm learning to hold the camera better, with left hand cradling lens, and left elbow resting against my ribs.
Third, that IBIS really does work - I took these shots with and without IBIS, and it clearly helps. When the bird was still, IBIS was effective down to 1/80s, and my hands are not all that steady. Using the reciprocal rule, without IBIS, I would need 1/600s, so I seem to be getting 3 stops of stabilization. I was seeing noticeable camera shake in photos without IBIS at 1/250s. I think that turning "Halfway Rls with IS" off has helped.
Fourth, small birds like this (12cm) are tough for this camera to focus on - even with the smallest focus point sometimes the camera would not lock on to the bird. When it did, it was pretty good, when it didn't, it was way off, or wouldn't lock at all, so I'd need to MF. Using S-AF+MF makes this easy to do when necessary, along with zoom and focus peaking.
Fifth, the lower the ISO, the better (obvious, I suppose) - ISO was quite good up to 1000, and still OK at 1600. When I tried to shorten shutter speed to 1/1000s, to prevent all bird motion blur, there was a noticeable drop-off in sharpness at 3200, so I've set the max to 3200, and try to keep the speed low enough so it won't go above 1600. The sweet spot with today's light was 1/250. Fast enough to prevent most bird motion blur, unless they did a quick movement, but with a burst of 3, I'd get at least 2 good shots. I took a few shots through the window, with everything else the same, and quality difference was pretty small, though the lens was only a few cm from the window. My earlier posted shots I was 1-2m away from the window. I'm still not sure how much of a difference silent mode makes, but it seems to be working well for me.
I think that's about it. I sure appreciate all the suggestions and critiques, they've helped me understand the camera more, and improve my technique. Probably still have a lot to learn!