A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated

Started Jun 21, 2013 | Discussions
myosotis
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A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
Jun 21, 2013

Hi Again Everyone,

I have A77 + 70-300mm.

After lots of testing I have found that i like

1)ISO no higher than 400 (otherwise a bit noisy)

2)At 300mm which I am shooting mostly I think image sharpest at F8

3)I always use tripod

4)I like to use shutter speed 1/320 or quicker for sharpest image.

This is fine (when taking nature - birds in the main) if light sufficient.

But what can I do if light not sufficient and Ii want to keep above parameters

Must I use flash (I don't really like taking birds with flash, as it scares them)

Is there any other way?

All help most appreciated

Chris

Sony SLT-A77
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Sonyshine
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to myosotis, Jun 21, 2013

Sharpness is always preferable to a bit of noise. Shoot at higher ISO Up to 1600 is usually fine and easily dealt with if you shoot RAW and then PP.

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myosotis
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to Sonyshine, Jun 21, 2013

I'm not used to pp, how do you get the noise out.

Regards

Chris

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John Waine
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to myosotis, Jun 21, 2013

On my next payday I will be buying an A 77 myself and a few lenses. Most of my future lens collection will likely be manual focus lenses, such as a telescope I am going to order and also the Samyang lenses. The main reason is the cost is so much lower and I don't mind MF considering focus peaking will work great with these. With that being said, most of my shooting I will have the mirror out of my a 77. This will allow more light through and therefore allow lower iso  for the same shooting situations.

This is one option but of course it will stop you from using auto focus. I wouldn't recommend anybody swap the mirror in and out on a regular basis as I have read they are very hard to clean. But if you like manual focusing and you don't mind keeping that little mirror safe, it's a good way to steal a half stop or so. in fact from what I have been reading, and I say reading because I I am still waiting on my first Sony camera, with the mirror out of the way the Sony cameras are actually on par with every other brand. Considering they have focus peaking and magnification I don't see them at a disadvantage at all like some people claim.

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splashy
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to John Waine, Jun 21, 2013

AFAIK when you take out the mirror there won't be any focus peaking, or any focus at all.

@OP

You can regain alot of a dark picture with Lightroom.

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thebustos
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to myosotis, Jun 21, 2013

If you're shooting something at 300mm it's probably not close enough for the flash to help. shooting at a higher ISO and just doing some PP is probably your best bet. how you do the PP is going to depend on what software you use...

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woonwoon1
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to myosotis, Jun 21, 2013

You have fixed the maximum aperture, minimum shutter speed and maximum ISO. And no pp. There is nothing you can do expect to get a different camera or faster lense.

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Michael Fritzen
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to myosotis, Jun 21, 2013

myosotis wrote:

Hi Again Everyone,

I have A77 + 70-300mm.

After lots of testing I have found that i like

1)ISO no higher than 400 (otherwise a bit noisy)

2)At 300mm which I am shooting mostly I think image sharpest at F8

3)I always use tripod

4)I like to use shutter speed 1/320 or quicker for sharpest image.

This is fine (when taking nature - birds in the main) if light sufficient.

But what can I do if light not sufficient and Ii want to keep above parameters

Must I use flash (I don't really like taking birds with flash, as it scares them)

Is there any other way?

All help most appreciated

Chris

Hi,

some thoughts:

1) From what can be gathered from reviews and many user comments the A77 may not be a high ISO monster but up to ISO1600 it should produce pretty good results. Perhaps you're pixel peeping a bit too much on screen. The look on the screen does not represent what the shot would look like when printed.

2) A limiting factor for better high(er) ISO performance on most Sony cams is the mostly mediocre in-camera JPG engine. So processing yourself yor shots from RAW and when needed some additional noise reduction is an option for getting better results at higher ISO levels.

3) Perhaps you should realize some testing with your lens comparing HOW MUCH better/sharper is your lens at f/8 against a wider opening. Shooting under less light means a stretch, getting closer to the limits and I'd suggest to include the lens in this process. When the whole shooting situation is less than ideal then there's no point in keeping the lens at its sharpest f-stop. Same for the exposure time given that you shoot with tripod support. At some point subject movement may become the relevant factor so again no point in keeping the f-stop when it means a too long exposure time.

4) A faster lens would be a way to improve things - or a lens which provides acceptable sharpness fully open. Again, stopping down in order to possibly work at max sharpness only makes sense if other factors allow for such optimized shooting parameters.

5) You could add light, of course. If this is doable in practise is another question. And for flash usage you have to consider its limited range. Again you could set up multiple flashes but if this is a practical way is not sure. BTW in overall low lighting conditions a single flash most probably won't produce a pleasant lighting for bird shots.

I'd suggest some experimenting to find your work around. Good luck.

-- hide signature --

Cheers,
Michael Fritzen

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Ed at Ridersite
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to myosotis, Jun 21, 2013

Don't let higher ISO keep you from shooting birds & wildlife.  If you learn to process RAW images (like with Lightroom), you can use ISO-800 and even ISO-1600 and still get acceptable results.  The key to keeping noise to a minimum is to nail the exposure and look for even lighting.  I even use ISO-3200 in a pinch.

ISO-800

ISO-800

ISO-800

ISO-800

ISO-800

ISO-800

ISO-1600

ISO-1600

ISO-3200

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John Waine
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to splashy, Jun 21, 2013

Heya splashy. From what i have seen in videos and sites the peaking is a function of the LV system, IE the same contrast used for CDAF. AFAIK the only thing the mirror is used for is PDAF, even metering is done on sensor. I have even heard some people talk about the mirror feeding the EVF and LCD but of course thats not true.

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Amateur Sony Shooter
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to myosotis, Jun 21, 2013

You are given some good advices from others (shooting RAW, raise ISO and PP, etc.), I just want to add one more thing which might be what you need: make sure your lens is in perfect focus. This sounds simple but it takes time to really know your lens. Can you actually use it wide open, do you need micro adjustment? Most of "my lens is not sharp" complains are related to less than ideal focus.

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dlkeller
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to myosotis, Jun 21, 2013

Most PP programs have a specific noise reduction tool and there are also very good noise reduction tools that are specific to that process.  Are you currently doing ANY PP and if so, what program are you using?  This would let us give specific advice.

Overall you have been given very good advice from what I've read.  Don't be afraid to go to higher ISO, Learn PP, Shoot RAW, even shoot wider open when necessary.  Ultimately spend the major money and get a faster lens with quality that will let you shoot at larger apertures.

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Dave

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steelhead3
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to John Waine, Jun 21, 2013

There is no cdaf with the 77.

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myosotis
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to Amateur Sony Shooter, Jun 22, 2013

Hi Again,

Just got up to find all your great replies.

I have just bought lightroom and I also have elements 11, but very little experience of raw and pp.

Please could you let me know where the noise reduction facilities are on each of these programs

Loved the birdie pics bye the way.

kind Regards

Chris

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myosotis
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to myosotis, Jun 22, 2013

Hi,

Its me again - I've found the noise reduction tool on lightroom so that a good start.

First off though want to show you a couple of shots of Matchbox (taking this as it has lots of detail and is small - figure if I can get this right first, before taking moving objects)

Both are identical ISO 1600, 1/320 sec, F8 and cropped to similar dimensions

First Matchbox  is  raw converted to jpeg, but with no other alterations.

Second Matchbox is jpeg straight from camera

What would be common practice in lightroom for improvements to this image?

Focus point is little red blob with man in measures 7 x 8 mm in reality - do you think focus is ok.

Grateful thanks for all help

Looking forward to hearing from you all

Chris

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OldClicker
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to thebustos, Jun 22, 2013

thebustos wrote:

If you're shooting something at 300mm it's probably not close enough for the flash to help.

You don't shoot little birds, do you.

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dlkeller
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to myosotis, Jun 22, 2013

Looks very sharp to me.  RAW definitely looks better also although that may just be due to a little darker and maybe more contrast in the image.  I generally find my RAW converted to JPEG look better than my our of camera JPEGs--but then I'm using an A700 so it really isn't relative to your camera.

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Dave

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Lelly
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Re: A Conundrum - Advise most appreciated
In reply to myosotis, Jun 23, 2013

Have you experimented with MFNR for STATIC images at least, though on my A55 MFNR is not applicable to RAW. (I wonder if it can be applied to RAW these days or PP work can produce similar results?)

I've been impressed obtaining smoother images from high ISO, 1600+, jpgs

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myosotis
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MNNR - Experimenting soon
In reply to Lelly, Jun 23, 2013

Hi Again,

Thanks for your comments, I am hopefully doing some more experiments today/tomorrow so will report back then for your comments

Kind Regards

Chris

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myosotis
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Help with processing required
In reply to myosotis, Jun 30, 2013

Hi again,

Apologies for delay in revisiting.

I have taken two identical shots, exactly same exif, except one was shot raw and immediately converted to jpeg as it is not possible to upload raw, and the other is jpeg extra fine - standard colour and zero contrast sharpening and saturation.

Just bought lightroom 4 and also have elements 11 and neatimage. Very little experience with pp, so lots of help required.

I have not made any alterations, these are straight from camera, apart from jpeg conversion from raw.

The focus point was the little red square with man in. Raw file is the one full of noise.

I know it would be better is I could learn to pp raw files, so let me know your thoughts and what would be your raw recommendations.

Thanks in advance

Kind Regards

Chris

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