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New to bird photography (1 Viewer)

ScoobieDoo

Lookin' for a Scooby Snack
I've been doing professional photography for several years now with food, weddings, and other commercial jobs, and with my recent move to the country I have been looking at getting more into nature and bird photography for fun.

This is my first crack at it, and I know the images have a long way to go, but I was hoping you guys could look at these and give me some tips on improving. Here are two photos, and the third is at 100% crop. They are both pretty soft at 100%.

I'm using a Canon 5D Mk II with a 70-200mm IS lens along with a 2x extender. I think the largest problem I had was getting a sharp focus since the hawk was flying straight toward me. Do you guys have to manually adjust the focus when they are coming at you?

These were shot at 1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 800
 

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Robin Edwards

Well-known member
I'm not familiar with the 5D or your lens but with my 7D with 100-400 IS there are settings that aim at tracking focus on a moving subject such as a bif.
I'm also not sure how a 2x performs with your lens? For me, converters have the effect of impacting image quality and on my lens, slowing the auto-focus.
 

ScoobieDoo

Lookin' for a Scooby Snack
I'm not familiar with the 5D or your lens but with my 7D with 100-400 IS there are settings that aim at tracking focus on a moving subject such as a bif.
I'm also not sure how a 2x performs with your lens? For me, converters have the effect of impacting image quality and on my lens, slowing the auto-focus.

Hello Robin,
That's a great suggestion, I think I remember seeing something about that a while back now that you mention it, but I've never used it and kind of forgotten about that feature.

I haven't used the 2x extender much, but it does seem to make the lens feel a bit slower at focusing. I also notice a difference in the quality of the photo. I guess it's a bit of a trade off for getting a shot that's a bit closer up for the time being.

I would love a longer lens, and while I'm sure it's in my future, the recent move has drained most of our savings account! Gotta get a few more freelance projects to pay for such toys :)
 

kitefarrago

Well-known member
I haven't used an extender myself, but the received wisdom is that a 2x converter often is just too much, in terms of image quality and slowing the auto-focus. A subject moving towards the camera is going to tax any auto-focus sytem, and using the extender on top may make this impossible. I think a 2x extender for birds in flight is going to be problematic on any system.

You may get a better quality by using you lens at 200mm and cropping after - it's worth experimenting with. Alternatively, try a 1.4 extender which gives less reach than your 2x, but will degrace image quality less, while you're saving up for a longer lens.

Bird photography is great fun - you've discovered a hobby that can be very rewarding!

Andrea
 

ScoobieDoo

Lookin' for a Scooby Snack
I haven't used an extender myself, but the received wisdom is that a 2x converter often is just too much, in terms of image quality and slowing the auto-focus. A subject moving towards the camera is going to tax any auto-focus sytem, and using the extender on top may make this impossible. I think a 2x extender for birds in flight is going to be problematic on any system.

You may get a better quality by using you lens at 200mm and cropping after - it's worth experimenting with. Alternatively, try a 1.4 extender which gives less reach than your 2x, but will degrace image quality less, while you're saving up for a longer lens.

Bird photography is great fun - you've discovered a hobby that can be very rewarding!

Andrea

Ok that's great, I will give that a try as well. I can definitely see how it can be a very rewarding hobby. Thank you for the help!
 

fenboy1969

Registered User
A friend uses exactly the same outfit and I am often impressed with the high quality results she gets. If the light is good enough you should get much better results stopping down somewhere between f8 and f11 with a 2x converter.
 

ScoobieDoo

Lookin' for a Scooby Snack
A friend uses exactly the same outfit and I am often impressed with the high quality results she gets. If the light is good enough you should get much better results stopping down somewhere between f8 and f11 with a 2x converter.

That's great to know thanks. I've been shooting at f/5.6 with it to try and get the shutter speed as fast as I can to freeze them in motion. I'll take this into account and try to find the right balance between the shutter and the ISO.

Thanks!
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
If the bird was 'coming at you'....you are going to have a tough time anyhow, regardless of what lens or camera you have. With a bird flying right at you (as your third picture looks to be), you camera never has enough time to focus as focus is constantly changing.... jim
 

ScoobieDoo

Lookin' for a Scooby Snack
Makes good sense Jim. I'm going to try the servo focus where it's constantly focusing like someone else suggested and see if I have better luck with that.

As you've suggested, I've had much better luck with birds flying sideways rather than straight toward me, but I will keep practicing. I've seen some amazing photos of owls flying at the camera man and would love to get something like that someday. Although that is a full on pro with better gear and lots of knowledge/talent in this area, but lots of practice and a little luck goes a long way.

I haven't been out taking many photos lately but am looking forward to deer season being over when I can be a little more relaxed out in the wild.
Thanks,
Joel
 

Neil

Well-known member
I've been doing professional photography for several years now with food, weddings, and other commercial jobs, and with my recent move to the country I have been looking at getting more into nature and bird photography for fun.

This is my first crack at it, and I know the images have a long way to go, but I was hoping you guys could look at these and give me some tips on improving. Here are two photos, and the third is at 100% crop. They are both pretty soft at 100%.

I'm using a Canon 5D Mk II with a 70-200mm IS lens along with a 2x extender. I think the largest problem I had was getting a sharp focus since the hawk was flying straight toward me. Do you guys have to manually adjust the focus when they are coming at you?

These were shot at 1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 800

Welcome to the challenging hobby of bird photography. You picked one of the toughest tests to start with. A raptor coming straight at you. As mentioned by others the 2x could be the weak leak. Also the 1/1250th second is a bit slow for a fast approaching raptor.
For raptors and bigger (egrets/herons) I like a 300/4 plus 1.4x as my walk around choice.
Neil.
 

CyPhil

Active member
Especially for birds in flight I never use a converter on the lens. Also I prefer to switch image stabilisation off, and set the autofocus on the lens to 10m+ (unless its abird I know I can have in a range of less than 10m).
 

Jaime74

Active member
I had a converter, and after the first shots....I decided to keep it in the box, and get me a larger lens.

Anyhow the picture is very good, I wish I had the same hide that you have, I´ve never taken a front picture like that.
 

dikkeduif

Member
As fenboy said, I found that stopping down to f8 produces better results. Of course that means that in most cases you will have to increase ISO to get a fast enough shutter speed.

I know it's not ideal, but I'm adapting a tamron 150-600 lens on my sony and I have to use manual focus, since autofocus is just too slow. Luckily the camera has focus peaking, so after some practice you get the hang of it. Maybe give it a shot, might be faster for birds that are flying towards you. It certainly is a challenge! Good luck!
 

dave598

Getting Back Into the Zone.
A friend uses exactly the same outfit and I am often impressed with the high quality results she gets. If the light is good enough you should get much better results stopping down somewhere between f8 and f11 with a 2x converter.

Thank you I will have to try that my time out with my X2 convertor.
 

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