BIF shooters, please help

Started Mar 15, 2014 | Questions thread
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dzba Senior Member • Posts: 1,294
BIF shooters, please help

I recently was given a Canon 70-300 1.4/5.6 ISA USM by a friend who said it only locks on focus 50% of the time.  I use this lens on my Canon t4i.

Depending how you look at it, I've been blessed, or cursed, with a chance to photograph bald eagles at distances varying from 20 yards to 300 yards.  I'm posting pics to show what my results have been.     These birds are surprisingly quick for their size and when the action happens I'm not quick enough to get everything right.  I have improved a great deal in the last 6 days of shooting these magnificent birds.

SS- 1/1328 sec,  FS- 7.1,  ISO 200 @ 255 mm

SS-1/1000 sec,  FS- 7.1,   ISO 200   @260 mm

SS- 1/500,  FS- 7.1,   ISO- 200  @280mm

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

 dzba's gear list:dzba's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 Canon EOS Rebel T4i Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM +1 more
Canon EOS Rebel T4i (EOS 650D / EOS Kiss X6i)
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