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Another "Camera Advice Needed Thread" (1 Viewer)

Classick

Active member
Germany
Dear all,

Please excuse that this thread might seem a bit redundant, as there are many similar threads out there, but still ... here's another plea for help concerning a photo camera for birding.

I do currently have a camera: a Lumix DMC-GH2 with a first generation Panasonic 14-140 superzoom lens. I've been able to take relatively nice pictures of birds at the feeder where the distance is not that big, but when outdoors this combination has its limits. I've been able to capture birds of prey like Buteo buteo or Milvus milvus which were sufficient for IDing the birds, but the circumstances (lighting etc.) have to be right and of course the quality is only so-so. One issue is that I have not yet grasped how aperture and so on work together. I am sure that I could get better results out of the GH2 if I did understand and employ these photography basics and applied them with appropriate settings on my GH2, but I also somehow feel that this camera model dating to 2010 might be a bit ... outdated. At least it has been surpassed by many successor generations of digital cameras.

Still: one option might be to better grasp the aforementioend photography basics and get a used (first generation) Panasonic 100-300 tele (the 100-400 is out of my financial league). Or maybe this is not a good option after all?

I recently had the opportunity to shoot with a DSLR and a 150-600 lens. I could of course immediately feel and see the difference to my GH2 setup. But the price of such a combo and also the weight to be lugged around are off-putting. When birding, I have 8.5x42 binos attached to a harness as my primary optical device. Below the harness I have the GH2 in a bag or, when visiting my parents, their Lumix TZ71 (which has been o.k. for taking photos to ID birds but of course also has its limitations -- but the low weight is a plus of course). Sometimes I would also have the option to use a Apo-Televid 77 spotting scope (so far, though, I have only used it from a static position but never lugged it around "in the field"), so a DSLR with a large lens would simply be too much.

Also, I am not looking to win any bird photography contests. I do want to take relatively nice pictures, but I am not a photographer first but a birdwatching person who also likes to take pictures. Also, I usually roam around when birding; I might peruse an observation hut in the future, but I am not planning to get a tent and wait in a single locale for hours on end to take "the perfect shot".

So, naturally, I have come across bridge cameras and the usual suspects as a possible route to take, one of them being the Nikon P950 (or P900 as a used option -- the P1000 might be too heavy) of course. It has a large zoom which would be, I guess, helpful to take pictures of more far-away subjects like birds of prey (I like to take photos of birds of prey circling their way up or sitting on trees and the like looking for prey). But it seems that the price to pay for the large Nikon zoom -- a smaller sensor -- comes with diminished low-light capabilities and also problems to catch moving targets. As I also like to watch, and take pictures of, central European songbirds who are known to be quite agile at times, I wonder if the Nikons are the way to go? Concerning light: I will not go out birding during a downpour, but Germany is known for often being overcast -- also, dusk and dawn are also not always sunny. I recently held a P900 in my hands but that was in the parking lot after birding, so my hands-on experience concerning this camera is very limited.

I've also come across the various Lumix bridge cameras, but they seem to play a bit of rock paper scissors, each with their PROs and CONs, ranging from a better sensor to a larger zoom. Of course, as with almost everything in life and in this case with optics or photo cameras specifically, any choice would be a compromise and to the detriment of one or more capabilities -- which does not make the choice easier ...

And then there's of course other companies too. I've read quite often that people are happy with the Sony RX 10 M 4 for birding, but that camera is out of my financial ballpark.

Well, as we say in Germany, maybe I am looking for the elusive "Eier legende Wollmilchsau" (similar to the jack of all trades in English) -- but I am well aware that there is no cheap camera that can do it all perfectly. But maybe your comments could be of help? Thanks so much in advance for your replies!

P.S.: I am well aware that I should eventually test any possible candidate prior to a purchase.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
For here and now, your best option for improving your photography is the lens you yourself mentioned, the 100-300. Even as new, it would still be cheaper than one of the Nikon bridge cameras you mentioned. I used that camera-lens combo for a long time and got results I could live with. I have since changed to the g85 with the PL100-400 lens that you feel is out of reach for you. To see some of my photos with that combo, check out my birdforum gallery and go back about three years. Media added by njlarsen - scroll down to the bottom and click e.g., page 13.

My settings with this camera were using shutter priority at 1/400, which in all but the brightest lights resulted in the camera choosing the most open aperture. Then set iso to allow auto-iso up to 3200. Take images in RAW or if you insist raw+jpg and use a decent raw converter/editor. I use ACDSee where i feel the workflow is exactly the same either way and the results are clearer with raw.

On my newer camera the settings are quite similar most of the time except that I can go higher on the iso for the same level of noise.

Niels
 

Classick

Active member
Germany
For here and now, your best option for improving your photography is the lens you yourself mentioned, the 100-300. Even as new, it would still be cheaper than one of the Nikon bridge cameras you mentioned. I used that camera-lens combo for a long time and got results I could live with. I have since changed to the g85 with the PL100-400 lens that you feel is out of reach for you. To see some of my photos with that combo, check out my birdforum gallery and go back about three years. Media added by njlarsen - scroll down to the bottom and click e.g., page 13.

My settings with this camera were using shutter priority at 1/400, which in all but the brightest lights resulted in the camera choosing the most open aperture. Then set iso to allow auto-iso up to 3200. Take images in RAW or if you insist raw+jpg and use a decent raw converter/editor. I use ACDSee where i feel the workflow is exactly the same either way and the results are clearer with raw.

On my newer camera the settings are quite similar most of the time except that I can go higher on the iso for the same level of noise.

Niels
Dear Niels,

Thank you so much for your advice! And the results of your previous camera-lens combo seem like something I could more than live with!
 

Classick

Active member
Germany
Oh, and there's another option (or maybe not): a Sigma 500mm mirror tele my dad used on his Pentax during the analog days ... which would mean finding the appropriate adapter and definitely honing my photography / manual settings skills.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
Another issue: the photos taken with a mirror lens takes on a special quality with doughnut-shaped highlights. This is not for everyone.

Niels
 

WoodpeckerMaster

Well-known woodpecker
United States
I am looking forward to your reply, whether it be a short story, a novel, or ...
i just realized though, the thing never posted. i actually did have an answer and it was that i have no idea. i'm not kidding, and i'm not trying to sound rude... i just generally don't know because i only started photography last week
 

jafritten

Well-known member
One issue is that I have not yet grasped how aperture and so on work together. I am sure that I could get better results out of the GH2 if I did understand and employ these photography basics and applied them with appropriate settings on my GH2, but I also somehow feel that this camera model dating to 2010 might be a bit ... outdated.
I don't know your camera and your lens, but I am sure a great new camera won't teach you the nuts and bolts of bird photography. Bird photography is never easy but with respect to aperture in particular, it is much easier than say portrait photography. If your lens is sharp wide open, shoot wide open. If not, stop it down a bit. That might be necessary with your lens. Zoom lenses tend to be a bit soft at the long end. You may also like to reduce the focal length a bit and retain the open aperture. A wide open 140mm zoom lens on a 4/3 sensor will always give you enough depth of focus.
ISO and shutter speed: Set the ISO to Auto ISO and use much faster shutter speeds for flying objects like your kite, for instance. I usually shoot birds in flight at 1/3200th of a second.
The autofocus settings also play a role. But I can't say anything about your camera and lens. I use back button AF and continuous focus on a DSLR.
As you can never be close enough to a bird, a zoom lens seems pointless to me. Why not sell your lens, stick with your old camera and go for a 300mm f4? I know there's a great Olympus lens for your camera but it's quite expensive...Might actually be cheaper and better value for money to buy a used DSLR (e.g. Nikon D7200) and a used 300 f4 Nikkor. But that's too heavy for you, isn't it?
 

Classick

Active member
Germany
I don't know your camera and your lens, but I am sure a great new camera won't teach you the nuts and bolts of bird photography. Bird photography is never easy but with respect to aperture in particular, it is much easier than say portrait photography. If your lens is sharp wide open, shoot wide open. If not, stop it down a bit. That might be necessary with your lens. Zoom lenses tend to be a bit soft at the long end. You may also like to reduce the focal length a bit and retain the open aperture. A wide open 140mm zoom lens on a 4/3 sensor will always give you enough depth of focus.
ISO and shutter speed: Set the ISO to Auto ISO and use much faster shutter speeds for flying objects like your kite, for instance. I usually shoot birds in flight at 1/3200th of a second.
The autofocus settings also play a role. But I can't say anything about your camera and lens. I use back button AF and continuous focus on a DSLR.
As you can never be close enough to a bird, a zoom lens seems pointless to me. Why not sell your lens, stick with your old camera and go for a 300mm f4? I know there's a great Olympus lens for your camera but it's quite expensive...Might actually be cheaper and better value for money to buy a used DSLR (e.g. Nikon D7200) and a used 300 f4 Nikkor. But that's too heavy for you, isn't it?

Dear jafritten,

Thanks for your input. You are of course totally right that a new camera won't automatically give me great -- or "the best" -- results; eventually, to get the most out of any camera, one has to do the settings oneself, which of course entails knowing the nuts and bolts of photography.

I definitely have to play around a bit more with the settings for the GH2 + 14-140 F3.5-5.6. Since I started this thread, I got some of the same suggestions e.g. from njlarsen here in the forum (auto ISO / set maximum auto ISO; faster shutter speed for moving objects; use spot focus / change the focus size; burst; AFC; ...) but have not yet really gotten around to test it in depth with the GH2 due to time constraints / less than ideal weather / no suitable objects ... One finding so far, though, is that with maximum focal length, the aperture is rather small and pictures can come out quite dark during low light conditions; also, the auto focus is not that "strong"(?).

I have been able, though, to apply some of the aforementioned hints more with the TZ71 (when I can use the TZ71, I usually prefer it over the GH2 because the former's reach is simply longer, enabling me to get closer to the birds), resulting in better images than I took before.

In other situations, the 14-140mm can take o.k. photos, so I would rather not sell it (besides, it's the first generation of that lens ...). Still, I'm not sure if an upgrade to the GH2 would really be worth it.

Of course one can never be close enough to a bird, but there are situations where you can't get closer -- a buzzard, already some distance away, circling higher and higher; a songbird perched on a pole in a vinyard where the training wires between you and the bird serve as a formidable obstruction you could only circumvent quickly if you were a limbo dancer who could go really low or if you had a background in World War I trench warfare crawling ...

Sure, the long reach of a Nikon superzoom seems tempting (I take it, though, that you, jafritten, are not really a friend of that kind of camera?) -- but the 720mm (is it really 720 or somehow artifially "enhanced"? ) of the TZ71, especially when looking at the photos on the big screen, would seem to be possibly "enough" for me. I've also had the chance to test a Lumix FZ300, but it has the same sensor and MP as the TZ71, and that at "only" 600mm (the digital zoom already made everything too blurry; I did not get a chance to test the longer reach of the FZ300 at smaller image sizes); the FZ300, though, felt more like my GH2 (sans the manual zoom, which feels more natural to me than the slower digital zoom). Still, I have the slight (but perhaps very wrong) feeling that the FZ300 might not be that much of an "upgrade" at least vis-à-vis the TZ71 I sometimes use. On the other hand I've seen nice photos taken with the FZ300/330 ... And the "test" I did was definitely not conclusive.

Concerning size and weight: my GH2 + 14-140 weighs about 930 grams, and I've been o.k. to carry it alongside my 8.5x42 binoculars.

Thank you, jafritten, for suggesting the D7200 and the 300 f4 Nikkor (which one exactly?) -- as you seem quite knowledgeable, I take that this would be a good entry-level setup (and perhaps, as we say in Germany, an "Einstiegsdroge" to DSLR)? How heavy would that combination be?

And if it helps you to help me: attached you will find some photos of "typical" birding situations I find myself in. Please excuse me if I can't "talk the talk" correctly.

Photo 1: Red kite shot -- I think -- with most settings on automatic but with manual focus. GH2 + 14-140mm, F/7.1, 1/640, ISO-160, focal length 140mm, multi-spot focus

Photo 2: Black kite -- I think -- with most settings on automatic but with manual focus. GH2 + 14-140mm, F/6.3, 1/500, ISO-160, focal length 140mm, multi-spot focus

Photo 3: Common kestrel shot with iA on the TZ71. 129mm (1600 at 35mm), F/6.4., 1/125, ISO-125, multi-spot focus.

Photo 4: Sorry, only have the cropped version at the moment -- juvenile cirl bunting shot with the TZ71 in S mode, 129mm (720 at 35mm), F/6.4, 1/160 (not sure why I chose that one ... I guess I was fiddling with the settings), ISO-400, single spot focus.

Photo 5: Common kestrel, cropped version again, TZ71 in S mode, 129mm (720 at 35mm), F/6.4, 1/500 (I was too slow to change to 1/1000), ISO-80, single-spot focus.

Photo 6: Young(?) song trush (?), cropped, TZ71 in S mode, F/6.4, 1/800, ISO-400, single-spot focus.

Photo 6: Common buzzard, once more cropped, TZ71 in S mode, 129mm (720 at 35mm), F/6.4., 1/500, ISO-250), single-spot focus.
 

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PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Hi Classick,

I think you're expectations are similar to mine in that you're looking for decent quality images and to enjoy what you're doing with the camera. When I say 'decent quality', I think it's reasonable to assume that for the price paid, and with the camera handheld, you (general you) are never going to achieve the quality of some of the pictures posted on this forum: a combination of expense and people with years of experience/hard work in photography and being around birds.

I noticed you mentioned photography basics. It is absolutely essential that you understand the relationship between ISO/SS/aperture, but it's pretty simple really. Don't be like me and make a meal out of something that should have taken a couple of hours reading! You (general you), don't need to look at all of the charts and graphs out there, and the convoluted explanations in order to achieve 'decent images'. As I say, a couple of hours reading, at the very most, will do it.

In fact, all you really need to know is that smaller sensor cameras will generate a better image in good light and will allow you to keep the ISO low and shutter speed will be fairly high, and then just use those basics to practice, adjust and take note of the results. Ideally, you're aiming for low ISO and high SS. I always just put mine on aperture mode, 200 ISO on a sunny day, and that will give me SS of around 1250 to 2000. As you say, we're not professionals and don't want to be and the beauty of it for me is trying to get some interesting images as opposed to being a technical genius. I'd imagine this doesn't apply to the more expensive equipment on a tripod where high ISO can still generate decent image quality.

I wouldn't write the bridge cameras off in low light. It depends on what you have in the background. As an example, the camera I have, Nikon P950, really doesn't like a hazy or cloudy sky in the background and it doesn't matter how bright it is over your shoulder and what ISO and SS you have: it simply does not like it. But, in the same conditions take a picture of a bird perched on a branch with some nice green leaves in the background, and the camera likes that even at a much lower shutter speed.

Once you have the technical basics, you'll just get into some nice habits, such as: stepping to the side a bit to try and get some more light in; instinctively noticing what is in the background and moving to see if you can get a bit more blue sky in or flowers in the background or whatever. I posted two pictures of a song thrush on here recently and it looks like a beautiful sunny day when in fact it isn't and I found the only bit of blue sky in the background that was there. When I first used a camera I'd have just taken pictures from any angle and the image would have been nowhere near as good. That just comes with a bit of practice, however, and all of these things quickly become ingrained to the point you just do it naturally rather than have to think about it.

The best bit of advice I could give is something you don't read much on forums or anywhere: you have to keep the camera as steady as possible if you're like me and you have a bridge camera. It takes practice to do that. Don't tense up, rest the camera on your head, hand underneath the lens but not gripped too firmly. I take most of my pictures lying down with my arms resting on the ground or sitting down with my arms resting against my knees: this gives you a lot of stability. I am not bad standing up but from my perspective it is infinitely more difficult to keep the camera steady in that position and pulling your arms/elbows in only helps to a certain extent.

Another point that I always bear in mind is having reasonable expectations. On a nice day, I'm out from 7 in the morning til 7 at night, with the longer days at the moment 8 at night. If I get three decent images of three different birds in that timeframe, I'm happy with that. 5 decent images and that's a very good day for me.

I'd imagine it boils down to what sort of enjoyment you take from it. I'm not a 'proper' birder and definitely not a photographer. I like the walks in the countryside, or by the coast, or by a stream/river on a nice day watching the birds enjoy themselves and just look to take some interesting, decent images. I can't imagine having an expensive set-up on a tripod because it's just not what I'm in it for. As I say, I'm not a proper birder so waiting around to see what turns up is just not me, I'd much prefer to go on the walks. That said, I am pretty patient if there are a few birds darting around in a nice environment and I think you have to be in order to not scare them away.

The final thing I would say about bridge camera choice is your best policy may be to look at some of the pictures posted on the internet. I've seen some beauty images with the Nikon P950, much better than mine, which means it ain't the camera that's holding me back but something I'm not getting quite right and that's something to work towards!

'Hope some of this is useful, Classick. If you'd like any more details, happy to help.

Cheers,
Paul
 

Classick

Active member
Germany
Dear Paul,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply!

As I wrote in an earlier post, I am now trying to apply those photography basics. Of course, as with almost anything, one cannot expect revolutionary changes overnight but has to practice, practice, practice. And when one comes home, naturally not every picture is necessarily "presentable."

You are totally right in your assessment: my plan is not to become a "pro bird photographer" and wait in a hide with a tripod-mounted heavy camera setup for the perfect shot that shows every feather detail (please excuse my use of hyperbole). I am usually wandering, with binoculars being my primary optical device and a camera on the side for taking photos of birds for, on the one hand, recording purposes and, on the other hand, for getting an interesting shot once in a while (which are often not planned, as for example when a bird starts off from its perched position). I do not need to see every feather detail (but I would like more detail than I can see now), though I would like to see later how this one common buzzard's morph differs from that of another common buzzard, just as an example. I also "react" more to where the birds are and what they do than me planning to get a specific shot of a certain bird. An "ulterior motive" of mine might be to also tell a little story afterwards -- that I was there and there, saw such and such, that one bird did this little interesting thing -- but it is nature that dictates this (or my snapshots) and not a pre-conceived concept of mine.

So, yes, "decent" quality. I want to be able to capture that hovering common kestrel but am aware that the same kestrel diving down might not come out as sharp on the next picture. I need to be able to take a photo of that kite flying over me that I just spotted and which will be gone quickly -- but I do not need to be able to count each and every single one of its's feathers. I do not need to see every water droplet crystal clear but I want to be able to take "decent" photos when the sky is overcast. I want to get "closer" to that perched songbird but I also know that a raptor a kilometer away is simply too far. And all that at an image quality that is definitely an improvement over what the "stuff" I handle now can do but of course not in the way (and weight) of a dedicated "pro birding photographer's" setup. Hopefully that kind of sums up the span of my expectations ...
 
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PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Dear Paul,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply!

As I wrote in an earlier post, I am now trying to apply those photography basics. Of course, as with almost anything, one cannot expect revolutionary changes overnight but has to practice, practice, practice. And when one comes home, naturally not every picture is necessarily "presentable."

You are totally right in your assessment: my plan is not to become a "pro bird photographer" and wait in a hide with a tripod-mounted heavy camera setup for the perfect shot that shows every feather detail (please excuse my use of hyperbole). I am usually wandering, with binoculars being my primary optical device and a camera on the side for taking photos of birds for, on the one hand, recording purposes and, on the other hand, for getting an interesting shot once in a while (which are often not planned, as for example when a bird starts off from its perched position). I do not need to see every feather detail (but I would like more detail than I can see now), though I would like to see later how this one common buzzard's morph differs from that of another common buzzard, just as an example. I also "react" more to where the birds are and what they do than me planning to get a specific shot of a certain bird. An "ulterior motive" of mine might be to also tell a little story afterwards -- that I was there and there, saw such and such, that one bird did this little interesting thing -- but it is nature that dictates this (or my snapshots) and not a pre-conceived concept of mine.

So, yes, "decent" quality. I want to be able to capture that hovering common kestrel but am aware that the same kestrel diving down might not come out as sharp on the next picture. I need to be able to take a photo of that kite flying over me that I just spotted and which will be gone quickly -- but I do not need to be able to count each and every single one of its's feathers. I do not need to see every water droplet crystal clear but I want to be able to take "decent" photos when the sky is overcast. I want to get "closer" to that perched songbird but I also know that a raptor a kilometer away is simply too far. And all that at an image quality that is definitely an improvement over what the "stuff" I handle now can do but of course not in the way of a dedicated "pro birding photographer's" setup. Hopefully that kind of sums up the span of my expectations ...

Hi Classick,

I'm just on my way out so will come back to this, but one thing struck me in your first paragraph:

'Revolutionary changes' seems to me that you're expecting to have to go through a lengthy, organic process to arrive at your desired results. You may have to in the event you make it more complicated than it needs to be and you spend more time focusing on the technical aspects at the expense of getting out there, taking pictures and learning from experience; but going off my own experience I don't think anyone needs 'revolutionary changes'. I think you may be surprised at how quickly it all falls into place if you get the balance right between theory and practice.

As I say, I'll come back to this tonight. I'm not bad at getting close so I may have something useful to add on that.

Cheers,
Paul
 

jafritten

Well-known member
Classick, a crop sensor DSLR (APSC sensor, crop factor 1.5 or 1.6) paired with a 300mm f4 prime lens will weigh in at about 2kg.
Any 4/300 prime younger than 20 years or so will be a very good lens. Those with no image stabilization (Nikon calls it "VR") are cheaper and just as good if you shoot at faster shutter speeds. Canon and Pentax (DA*300) offer lenses of similar quality.

A good quality lens is more important than the camera. With cameras it is mainly the sensor size and its pixel density/size ("pixel pitch") that matters. A large sensor is usually better than a small one because its pixels will be bigger and thus will gather more light.

Also, ergonomics and autofocus performance are very good with a DSLR + 4/300 kit. So, if you don't mind the weight and the bulk, this could be an option for you. When I wander about I carry my 2.3 kg kit (DSLR + 5.6/500) in a normal rucksack. And a pair of binoculars around my neck.
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Hi Classick,

In terms of birds in flight, I reckon it could be an idea to leave that alone for the time being. There's a bit to learn in terms of far easier perched birds, so you could be setting yourself up for a lot of frustration. If BIF is really important to you, then an option is to buy a second hand camera (that will still get you decent images) to get you used to the basics in the short term, and when ready get the equipment that you will get you those sort of BIF shots. Were I interested in BIF, that's what I'd do. One step at a time; steady progress.

In terms of the technical aspects: as beginners, I think it's wise to aim for a beginner level knowledge of the technical aspects. That will be enough to get you a beginner's decent image providing you do the other things right. Assuming there are beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, then I'd say there are perhaps two parts to the beginner level: firstly, having the all-round basics, including being able to get close to birds and hold the camera steady, that will deliver a decent beginner's image; and secondly/thereafter going back to the technical aspects in an attempt to get sharper images. I feel I'm at the end of the first half of the beginner level and I need to learn more of the technical aspects of the camera in order to get sharper images.

On the weather, I come from North East England: there is no way on this earth that you don't have more sunny days in South West Germany than we do here! Don't worry about that, you'll get enough nice days.

As for getting close to birds, you will hear it said often that you need to be patient and wait for birds to come to you. In my limited experience, that holds true for just about all picture taking situations. Most of what I'm about to say will be obvious and doesn't assume a level of knowledge but it sort of helps towards the bigger picture. You mentioned a perched bird on a fence. Well, in the event you're out in the open then you're unlikely to get close by walking towards him/her, no matter how much you avoid eye contact, crouch down or walk stealthily. I posted a picture of a grey wagtail yesterday. I tried edging closer to grey wagtails in the early days, a bit ridiculous on my part really thinking that a species that has evolved to collect fridge magnets and toilets can outwit a wild creature hard-wired with survival instincts and on the look-out for potential problems. I'd sat down by a stream before that picture was taken with no cover whatsoever and I didn't wait long before he popped up in the stream and he wasn't the only one. I would never have gotten that picture by trying to edge closer. That said, some birds are more obliging, such as pied wagtails, so it will help to get used to which birds are bolder and with whom you can maybe chance your arm a bit by edging closer: in my limited experience the vast majority of birds won't allow you to edge closer, however. Your best bet is to find places that are teeming with birds and get yourself a nice spot, with a nice background and setting and wait and be ready. They do come to you when you're not walking towards them. The other thing I do is go to a place where there are a lot of bends and trees on the walk and so you have natural cover for what is 'round the corner. One other thing I do is that when a bird has come reasonably close to where I'm sat, I avoid zooming the lens into their eyes as much as possible; I do most of the zooming with the camera pointed downwards and the minimal remainder as I'm focusing on the bird. My logic is that a big thing coming towards their faces is hardly going to make them feel comfortable.

If it helps, in what I call the first half of the beginner phase I broadly made steady progress as follows: firstly, learned the technical absolute basics and put these into practice as well as making sure the sun was behind me; secondly, got used to aiming for the bird's eyes until it became second nature and got better at changing the settings quickly if needed (but we're talking basic settings here, so nothing complicated); thirdly, took more notice of what was in the background and put a lot of effort into keeping the camera steady. Over time, these things become ingrained.

You sound a bit like me in that you think it's going to be more difficult than it actually will be. Don't worry about it and enjoy it. You'll be taking beginner level pictures you're happy with in no time!

Cheers,
Paul
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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