FZ WILDLIFE Photography & Retaining DETAIL

Started Sep 20, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Stevie Boy Blue
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FZ WILDLIFE Photography & Retaining DETAIL
Sep 20, 2012

Those forum readers experienced in photographing wildlife – especially in respect of shooting small birds – may wish to skip the following points, which will surely already be obvious to them.

I submit this thread mainly for the benefit of an increasing number of beginners and visitors to this forum, who clearly feel that their own photographs are falling short of the levels of quality attainable by experienced users of FZ cameras.

The basis for success is relatively simple. No matter which model you own, if detail retention is to be maximised, I can assure you that the closer you can get to your subject, the better your images will be. That’s assuming, of course, that filling the frame with the subject to a greater degree is your main aim. That said, shots taken at longer distances can make for good examples of your subject and its habitat, if kept at full frame or shown with minimal degrees of cropping. Here though, I refer generally to shooting for maximum subject detail.

So, if it helps, I adopt the following principle wherever situations allow, not forgetting that ideal situations can be created and the levels of available daylight optimised by being in the right place at the right time, weather permitting!

For the record, more often than not, I shoot with the FZ150, which I believe has the same focal length of the new FZ200. Obviously I refer to the FZ200, simply because it is the model of the moment and examples from it are currently dominating the forum.

Working at maximum telephoto (600mm) with no additional magnification (teleconvertor) added when photographing robin/nuthatch-sized birds and small mammals, I prefer to be no more than 10ft from the subject. Around 8ft is even better if the need to crop the final image is to be minimised and the fur/feather detail maximised.

Going by some examples that are being posted, however, it is clear that some of you are shooting at a distance of at least 18ft from those relatively small feathered subjects, in which case the application of a teleconvertor is a must from a detail perspective. A good quality TC can double your focal range with no real noticeable drop in subject detail. But depth of field within the image will be reduced, and sometimes considerably, emphasising the importance of accurate focus and the increased need to steady the setup when shooting those photos.

A tripod then becomes an option, but in all honesty I’ve yet to utilise one since I began using FZs in 2004. I prefer to minimise the amount of equipment I carry and have adopted good technique in respect of shooting free-hand, even if that occasionally requires a supportive fencepost, tree-stump, etc.

Minus a teleconvertor, however, the image stabilizers in FZ cameras are excellent, meaning I can shoot completely unaided 100% of the time, and occasionally using only one hand! That’s the beauty of the motorised zoom, and yes, FZ stabilizers really are that good. I therefore leave mine on all of the time!

In truth, successful wildlife photography comes only with practice in my experience. Preparation and lots of patience are absolute necessities, as is a good understanding of the subject’s behavioural patterns. Then of course, the photographer’s familiarity with the camera he or she is using comes into play too. Practice may not ensure perfection but it is sure to help where one gets out as often as possible with camera in hand.

All in all, I’ve found wildlife photography to be the most challenging of all the types I utilise. In my experience, it is by far the most rewarding in terms of results, too. Photographing people and scenic views (which I also count amongst my passion), is an absolute doddle compared to general wildlife, and there’s always something the next animal, bird or reptile will teach me in terms of my methods and how they respond to my presence, which of course is absolutely key to the whole affair. Hence it’s always better when subjects either don’t have a clue we’re there or that they’ll at least tolerate our being around at the time.

It may not be easy by any means, but often the most satisfying and rewarding things in life rarely are.

In closing, I’ll leave you with five examples of my OOC FZ150 Jpeg shooting and throw in a single FZ28 image shot with the aid of a teleconvertor. I've merely cropped and resized each Jpeg photo prior to uploading to my DPR gallery and this thread. (Exif data obviously shows the importance of maintaining reasonably fast shutter speeds whenever available light levels allow. If not, the job becomes much more difficult than it already is!)

Best wishes and kind regards to all FZ fans,

Stevie Boy.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28
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