Photographing Wildlife

Started Jul 7, 2012 | Discussions
jbettis
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Photographing Wildlife
Jul 7, 2012

I "inherited" a lightly used 7D and 100-400 lens, lucky me! I am off to Africa later this week and in preparation, I went to the dog park today to practice. In the past I have always shot in AV mode however in my practice session I was unable in many cases to get it tack sharp, I don't think the shutter speed ever got over 250. I played with it a little and in TV with AI Servo and shutter speed at 1250 I got mostly crisp shots. Is it just me or how does anyone shoot moving wildlife in AV mode? Any tips? Thanks.

Canon EOS 7D
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Peter too
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to jbettis, Jul 7, 2012

I use a 7D and 400 5.6 for wildlife and generally set the aperture at 5.6, aim for a shutter speed between 1/1600 and 1/2500 and then set ISO accordingly or set it to automatic ISO.

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nrb32049
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to jbettis, Jul 7, 2012

I want to control my depth of field therefore AV is my preferred setting. With the 7d, the ISO can be cranked up easily to 1600 and the results will be quite acceptable. I shoot stopped down to about f/5.6 but if necessary open it up all the way. Centerpoint focus with expansion turned on is my preferred setting. Usually shoot with IS on. Always shoot a 8 fps in relatively short bursts.
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jbettis
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to nrb32049, Jul 7, 2012

Thanks for both of the responses. I must be doing something very wrong. At 5.6 my I can't get my shutter speed past 250. In AV mode how do I manipulate the shutter speed that high? I am able to get the ISO to a reasonable setting. Thanks again.

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TTMartin
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to jbettis, Jul 8, 2012

Was the pop-up flash up?

Or do you have anything in the flash shoe, like a buble level or a cover etc.

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Peter too
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to jbettis, Jul 8, 2012

The 400 5.6 is sharp wide open so I usually shoot in TV mode at 5.6 and make sure the shutter speed is at least 1/1600sec. Most of my wildlife pictures are shot between ISO 320 and 800. If there is too little light for 1/1600sec I will push the ISO up to 1600. If I can easily get a speed of 1/2500sec I will drop the ISO to 200.

Alternatively just set F5.6, 1/2000sec and auto ISO.

This picture was post processed with DPP and Photoshop Elements, it could probably be improved with better noise reduction software.

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jbettis
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to Peter too, Jul 8, 2012

Wonderful photo of the goose, I would be ecstatic with photos that clear.

No, the flash is disabled. Again, my issue is not being able to crank the shutter speed up were it should be. I just went outside and had my dog run around. If I cranked up the ISO to 2000, the shutter was clicking up to 1000 but I got a little more noise than I want. Also, if I shot in AV mode at 3.5 I wasn't able to blur the background. When I switched back to TV mode I was able to get much better results at a lower ISO. Net, net I know it is operator error/inexperience. I will keep practicing but I am stumped how I can get AV mode to work while shooting moving animals.

I appreciate the assistance. Thanks so much.

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PhotoguyCanada
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to jbettis, Jul 8, 2012

Getting blurry images is probably typical when using a new camera for the first time. You really need to learn how to use it.

Having said that .. i don't know why it won't go over 250 ... if this was me ... i would reset the camera to factory settings and start form there. Who knows what the other person changed before giving it to you.

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Michael Kilpatrick
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to jbettis, Jul 8, 2012

The camera behaviour you are experiencing is very odd.

You don't get a free lunch in terms of higher shutter speed by using Tv - if you select a higher shutter speed than the camera was selecting in Av at f5.6, the image should be under exposed.

In the same situation, when you can't get the camera to go to a shutter speed faster than 1/250 in Av at f5.6, when you switch to Tv and select 1/1000, what aperture is the camera choosing?

Regards

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TimR32225
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With a slow lens like the 100-400...
In reply to jbettis, Jul 8, 2012

jbettis wrote:

I "inherited" a lightly used 7D and 100-400 lens, lucky me! I am off to Africa later this week and in preparation, I went to the dog park today to practice. In the past I have always shot in AV mode however in my practice session I was unable in many cases to get it tack sharp, I don't think the shutter speed ever got over 250. I played with it a little and in TV with AI Servo and shutter speed at 1250 I got mostly crisp shots. Is it just me or how does anyone shoot moving wildlife in AV mode? Any tips? Thanks.

Unfortunately with a slow lens like the 100-400 f5.6 lens, you are going to have to increase the iso in order to get enough shutter speed to freeze any moving animals. Shooting in bright light is the exception.

Bear in mind that Av mode meters for ambient light, assuming it is the only souce of light, so it will always result in a slow shutter speed if you are not in bright light. Your solution is to increase the iso until you get a shutter speed high enough to freeze the motion. As long as you do not underexpose the image, you should not have much trouble with noise up to around iso 1600. Watch your histogram and expose to the right and you should be ok.

You would probably be better off shooting in manual mode and watchig the light meter in the viewfinder ot get the proper exposure. You can set the shutter speed high enough to freeze motion, then increase the aperture and/or iso until your exposure meter is in the middle of the scale at zero. You are limited in the aperture, since the lens is reliatively slow at f5.6 at the long end of the zoom. Wide open, you would have to increase iso to get any higher shutter spreed.
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jbarber
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to jbettis, Jul 8, 2012

Turn on auto-iso, manual mode, f8 with 1/1000. This will hold and the iso will float according to the light. Beware if you have safety-shift on for it will change your settings to get the right exposure-this may be one of your current problems.

I use this set-up all the time with my 7D/100-400 and just adjust the shutter speed as I see fit. Static scenes you can drop it to 1/500 and get a lower iso.

James

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riknash
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to jbettis, Jul 8, 2012

Forget the dog. In Av mode at F/5.6 are you able to get the shutter speed up to 1600 by tweaking the ISO? You're going to observe noise over ISO 400 that you have to remove in post. Are you shooting RAW or JPEG as noise is most effectively removed with RAW photos.

Slightly exposing to the right also helps reduce noise but shutter speed will suffer.

jbettis wrote:

Wonderful photo of the goose, I would be ecstatic with photos that clear.

No, the flash is disabled. Again, my issue is not being able to crank the shutter speed up were it should be. I just went outside and had my dog run around. If I cranked up the ISO to 2000, the shutter was clicking up to 1000 but I got a little more noise than I want. Also, if I shot in AV mode at 3.5 I wasn't able to blur the background. When I switched back to TV mode I was able to get much better results at a lower ISO. Net, net I know it is operator error/inexperience. I will keep practicing but I am stumped how I can get AV mode to work while shooting moving animals.

I appreciate the assistance. Thanks so much.

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John Sheehy
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to PhotoguyCanada, Jul 8, 2012

PhotoguyCanada wrote:

Getting blurry images is probably typical when using a new camera for the first time. You really need to learn how to use it.

Having said that .. i don't know why it won't go over 250 ... if this was me ... i would reset the camera to factory settings and start form there. Who knows what the other person changed before giving it to you.

The camera may believe a flash is still attached, due to a crash, or the pop-up flash may be broken and indicating that it is up when it is not.

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John Sheehy
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to jbarber, Jul 8, 2012

jbarber wrote:

Turn on auto-iso, manual mode, f8 with 1/1000. This will hold and the iso will float according to the light. Beware if you have safety-shift on for it will change your settings to get the right exposure-this may be one of your current problems.

I use this set-up all the time with my 7D/100-400 and just adjust the shutter speed as I see fit. Static scenes you can drop it to 1/500 and get a lower iso.

That's exactly how I operate my 7D in limited-light situations (I will use Av-pri at base or low ISO with ample light and/or static subjects). I only wish that fill-flash worked with auto-ISO, and an EC (ISO bias) control would be nice, too.

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Keith Z Leonard
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to jbettis, Jul 8, 2012

+1 for auto ISO, this is where it's useful. In daylight you should get very good images to ISO 1600 and acceptable to 3200 with the 7D, I would think. I've even had a few ISO 6400 shots turn out nicely.

Av doesn't afford the control you want. In the end shutter speed is paramount in shooting wildlife, and you are under pressure to get the shot in the moment. Knowing how to use your metering (spot for the subject, for instance) and using M with auto ISO isn't a bad way to go in my opinion.

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TTMartin
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to jbettis, Jul 9, 2012

Actually, before you do anything else.

Do a reset camera settings and a reset custom functions from the menu.

You have no idea what the previous owner had set in the camera. Take the camera back to its default settings and see how things are then.

Do not change any custom functions or camera menu settings unless you know for sure what they do. Test the camera before and after making the change so you are sure you are making the change that you expect.

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old age adventurers
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Re: Photographing Wildlife
In reply to jbettis, Jul 9, 2012

First have a wonderful trip.

you have good equipment with a lot of potential. My problem with the 7D is the noise at higher ISO values. Shooting in Africa and its bright light allows low ISO values a lot of the time & still high speed for action shots.

Problem is of course the golden light at sunrise & sunset . I see much more noise with the 7D than my 1DIV at ISO levels above 400. So if possible rather open the aperture wide open in low light. This becomes a problem of course if need depth of field plus speed when e.g. 4 cubs play fighting at sunrise. decisions decisions, but that is what makes wildlife photography such a wonderful & beautiful challenge. We will also have another go at in the next 4 months .

Examples of our low light successes & failures with the 1DIV & 7D are shown in our over 500 mammal, bird, & landscape photos on http://www.africaraw.com
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