BIF shooters, please help

Started 4 months ago | Questions thread
AndyMulhearn
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Re: BIF shooters, please help
In reply to dzba, 4 months ago

dzba wrote:

These are SOOC in raw format, then resized and converted to jpeg, so post here.

OK, so you shoot raw and post process. Just to be clear on what you're saying...

A local pro advised me to shoot to open up my lens to 5.6 and bump the ISO up to attain a minimum of 1/2000 shutter speed. He feels that even though the sweet spot on the lens is between f7 and f10 I'd be better off opening up the lens so I can gain shutter speed. In the past, when I've used ISO over 200 I start to see noise and don't like what I'm seeing above 400.

I would say that's a good starting point but some modification may be needed. I suspect you can get away with somewhere between 1/1000 and 1/2000 depending on the bird. Bigger birds flap their wings more slowly so 1/1000 may be enough. He's also correct about opening up to f5.6 but a) the lens may be soft at that aperture and b) the shallow depth of field may not help with focusing issues.

I also think you're going to need to accept some noise because you have no option. For these birds I would start at 1/1000, f8 and use Auto ISO with the upper limit set to ISO 3200. Whatever post processing software you use will have noise reduction tools, you'll just need to learn how to use them. If you get really good light and can go to 1/2000 then by all means do but you can vary it depending on the size of the target.

It occurred to me that I could gain a lot more in the way of sharpness if I went into the picture style editor. I've been shooting in Faithful style and had the sharpness set at 1+ out of a possible 7+ max setting.

Sorry, this does't mean anything to me. Are they camera settings or something in the software you use? They'e certainly not something that I think will impact raw images out of a Canon camera. Honestly you should shoot raw and put the sharpness in during post processing.

I've been shooting in raw format and continuous burst when I can keep the subject in the frame. I get green confirmation dot after pre focusing for a couple of seconds and then shoot.

Ah, no that's not going to work. Yes, use raw but unless I've misread your post, you're using single-shot AF. What happens there is that the camera focuses where the target is and then stops focussing. The by the time you've reacted fired the shutter, the target has moved. You need to switch back to AI Servo and work with it. BIF, IMHO, is about the hardest discipline to master. It needs lots of practice.

I switched from continuous focus because I had trouble locating the bird in the viewfinder when the focus was way off. They can, and do, change directions on a dime, and give you 5 cents change. I'm too slow to capture their sudden moves. When I can anticipate, I have a chance.

You really need to do two things. One, practice following birds and two, take lots of shots. Only if you practice can will you get better. While the Eagles are spectacular birds, I practice on seagulls. They let you get closer, there are a lot more of them, you can attract them with bread and they can be a little more predictable in flight.

All have been hand held attempts at this point. I have a good tripod, with a ball head and intend to try using that in spite of their quick movements. Since the location is 10 away and I have plenty of time, I go a lot. I'm a glutton for frustration at this point.:-(

I've never used a tripod for BIF and can't see how you would. Unless the bird is so far away it's movement across the field of view is relatively slow at which point it's far enough away that you'd need a 800mm lens to shoot it. I shoot handheld...

I would welcome suggestions and ideas on how I can get my efforts much sharper before I attempt any post processing. Thanks, Mike

I think you need a longer lens but there's not much you can do about that.

It's also worth looking at the bird's behaviour. Stuff like they prefer to take off and land into the wind so if you have the wind at your back they will fly towards you to land. Do they come back to a perch? If you see them landing somewhere consistently you can pre-focus on the perch and get the coming into land and taking off. For example:

Coming in to land on a roof top

Taking off into the wind

Both shot with a 7D and EF 400mm L.

And switch to back button focus, it's a far better way to control the AF than the standard shutter/AF on the one button.

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