Birds: 450d+55-250 (not so good)

Started Dec 9, 2012 | Discussions thread
R2D2
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Some suggestions...
In reply to AnthonyL, Dec 9, 2012

AnthonyL wrote:

I tend to start with a high ISO.

That'll have detrimental effects right off the bat.  If you want to destroy feather detail, apply copious noise reduction to an image.

I'm in the UK and lighting can be variable.

Unfortunately the best path to nicely detailed bird shots is through shooting in good light.

All of the images are 100% crops. I don't resize.

You'll never get detailed images by cropping to 100%, especially at greater than base ISO.  No current DSLR I've seen is capable of that.  I wouldn't crop any further than 50% with the 450D.  The best way to increase detail is to fill the frame more (ie get closer).

All are shot RAW and I keep the originals so there is opportunity to redo as I improve.

Excellent move.  That also helps you squeeze the most out of every image.

At the moment the only PP I do is in DPP and it is on a laptop.

I like DPP quite a bit too.

I use Faithful

My own preference is Standard.

unsharp mask Strength 9 with Fineness 7 and Threshold 5.

Far too high.  Especially noticeable in the Cedar Waxwing image.

I would estimate I was 15 metres away.

You have to expect low image quality at that distance.

A couple of the shots are probably through double glazing windows.

Ouch.  That will degrade the image as well.

I'm not sure about the Swallow as occasionally I've been lucky enough to be able to have the bedroom window ajar.

The swallow was photographed perfectly.  Great light, ideal settings, and perfect execution!  Are you sure this is a 100% crop?  (100% crop meaning that you cut a 940x627 pixel section out of the whole image, and then displayed it as such without resizing).  This image is testament that the lens is indeed up to the task.

Many of my shots are impulse.

It helps to set the camera up beforehand as much as possible.  I'm usually starting at ISO 400, max aperture (my 55-250 is pretty sharp there), and then I watch the shutter speed to see if I need to up the ISO (if blur becomes a problem).  For instance, the finch and the dunnet look like they suffer from some camera shake.

By then usually then the bird has flown so maybe I need to train them more!

LOL.  Birds are tough to photograph, and take a lot of practice (and no small amount of luck).  Optimize the other variables to increase your odds.

But PP is also a weakness and I don't really know what I'm doing.

Really simple actually.  Just adjust to what your eye likes.  You can never go wrong.

I have in mind to make a bit of a hide in the porch as I get a lot of garden birds

Great idea.  That'll get you out from behind the windows AND get you closer.  Keep in mind that if you ever shoot through an open window (esp in cold weather), you need to watch out for heat waves due to the temperature differential.  They'll soften an image terribly.

and maybe then I can try Live View but not many sit and pose for long.

I wouldn't even attempt CDAF.  Your camera's PDAF is the ideal tool.

Adjust your settings a bit.  Get closer.  Shoot in ideal light, and Practice.  Your keeper percentage will go waaay up.

R2

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