The SX50 doing what it does best

Started May 22, 2014 | Discussions thread
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VisionLight Veteran Member • Posts: 4,500
The SX50 doing what it does best

From the end of my driveway I saw a small patch of red bobbing up and down over an old rotted stump on my neighbor's property. I ran back to my home to get my SX50 because I was pretty sure it was going to be worthwhile. And I was rewarded as I made my way around the bushes to get below it. There I found a Male Pileated Woodpecker enjoying a late afternoon meal in the bright yellow sun. These large birds (14-16 inches long) are very shy, so I knew I wouldn't be able to get closer than 25-30 feet from it. But I did have the ingredients of the great strengths of the SX50: the sharpness of the 1200mm (equiv.) lens focused from about 30 feet in bright sunshine for a high hand held shutter speed.

The woodpecker was bobbing up and down very fast and the first couple images had sharp body feathers but a little too much subject movement in the head and eyes. I was already at 1/500th second and ISO 200, but I did not want to go to a higher ISO because I'm rarely happy with the results over ISO 200 in bright sunshine. ISO 400 to 800 do usually work for me, but only in the shade. So I was happy the bird was intent on its meal and ignoring me, which gave me time to notice that its head hesitated for a consistent fraction of a second at the top of each peck. I was able to time it to the delay of the shutter press and was elated to see sharp all around results for both body and eyes on the magnified LCD. It's a good thing since the bird never stopped moving. Some people may suggest using the continuous drive, which, by the way, the camera was set to. But I feel from years of experience that taking the time to spot meter, precisely pick your focus point, fully compose your image in camera and then pick your moment of exposure still give the best results. If your subject is willing, that is. I was lucky and today's subject was.

So here is a portrait of a Male Pileated Woodpecker using the SX50 doing what it does best:

Male Pileated Woodpecker

Some technical notes. As usual for me, the image was captured in raw. Because the late afternoon sun was very yellow, the Kelvin temperature had to be corrected in the process. Fortunately the under wing feathers of the Pileated Woodpecker are a very clean white and those showing in the above image gave a good basis for the correct color balance. A bit of the noise from using ISO 200 was removed, followed by a minor tweak in lower level sharpening to restore the fabulous detail captured by the lens. The image is mostly right out of the camera raw file.

And another note for those interested. That the red head feathers come all the way down to the beak indicates that this is a male. On a female, the black mask around the eyes would extend all the way around the front of the face. These are beautiful birds and always a treat to see when one or a pair comes to visit. I hope you find this one as much a pleasure to see as I did.

As always, comments are welcome.


 VisionLight's gear list:VisionLight's gear list
Samsung NX1 Canon EOS M5 Samsung 16-50mm F2.0-2.8 Samsung 50-150mm F2.8 S Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM +5 more
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