RX10iv Birds in Flight (my first time out)

Started Oct 30, 2017 | Discussions thread
OP Horacecoker Senior Member • Posts: 2,194
Re: RX10iv Birds in Flight (my first time out)

edform wrote:

Horacecoker wrote:

edform wrote:

Horacecoker wrote:

edform wrote:

Two points...

1. These are absolutely great.

2. They look very like they have substitute backgrounds.

Surely you are jesting with 2) ?

I wasn't actually. The quality of separation between the brides and the background, particularly in the downward facing shots against the sea is just so stupendously good that I was totally thrown by it.

You realise that no one has posted bird shots from the new Mk 4 that are anywhere near this for quality - I'm not saying these are the cream of a good crop, I'm saying these are spectacular and the rest of what's been posted are mediocre.

I do not doubt your word if you say they are as captured and that has serious ramifications for the birding fraternity in particular. You have just proved the RX10-IV does birds to professional standards. I know gulls are easy, it's often mentioned - I even managed to get sharp shots with my original RX10 fitted with the big tele-extender I adapted to it - 300mm @ F/2.8 equivalent, but these shots of yours are as good as anything I've ever seen.

This is one of mine...

As you can see, your images are way, way better than this.

Your post has persuaded me that I shall have to buy myself an RX10-IV.

I know what you are saying Ed, but I'm not allowed to blow my own trumpet. Thanks for the compliments. Unlike a lot posters I will only post bird images that have seriously good image quality to show what's achievable with the RX10iii and now the iv. I aim for perfection, if that's a fault of mine it's a good fault to have. There are one or two others like me but they are few and far between, Speedy is one of them for sure. His shots with the Panasonic FZ1000 are a bit special to say the least.

Now I'll explain exactly how I achieved those images. All my camera setting are included in my initial post but that's just the start of it. The quality I achieve is due to shooting RAW and post processing. Nobody will get similar results from ooc jpegs with the RX10iv including me. Most folk know about general post processing such as lifting shadows, bringing down highlights, using the clarity slider etc, etc to improve photos but I go one step further. My goal is to make the images look like they've been taken with a full frame camera and to do this takes time and experience. I've got both, loads of time and twenty odd years experience of using Photoshop, I first started with the program when scanning my 35mm slides before digital cameras even made an appearance! I've explained exactly what I do in other posts in the past, it's no secret but here goes again.

Even at low ISO you will see noise in 1" senor images when viewed at 100% and a lot less than 100% in some cases. That's why I have maximum ISO set to 800 but I don't really like going above 400 ISO with birds. If that means I can't shoot a Blackbird in a coal cellar - so be it, I don't take the shot or I take the shot anyway then bin it. The exception to that would be a rare bird, then quality isn't priority and anything would do as a record shot.

So getting rid of noise is a must for me, I use Topaz DeNoise as a plug-in to Photoshop although it can be used as a stand-alone program. I'm told quite frequently there are better programs for eradicating noise but I'm not interested, Topaz does it for me, perhaps because I never go beyond 800 ISO. Getting rid of the noise is usually enough to get silky smooth noise free backgrounds and separation/subject isolation is usually adequate when shooting at 600mm equivalent at F4. But I was shooting at 300mm on most of these images and a couple were even at 135mm. So the subject separation wasn't as good as I wanted. In these cases, when there's a fairly uniform background like the sea (it was a lake actually) or sky, it's fairly easy to use the Magic Wand selection tool in Photoshop to select all the background around the bird then I use a blur tool to blur the background to increase the separation by roughly two or three stops to equal the separation achieved by full frame on the same F stop! Even better is the next bit, It's just a case clicking Inverse selection, the bird itself is now selected not the sky and I apply sharpening to the bird only. You finish up with a pin sharp bird against a creamy smooth full frame like background. Of course, there's other ways to achieve exactly the same thing using layers.

Perhaps folk think I'm cheating? But if I can take bird images with the RX10iv and make them look as good as if I'd taken with very expensive full frame gear, I'd be daft not to, wouldn't I?

So please Ed, don't rush out and get yourself a RX10iv on the strength of my BIF images, they are far from typical as you have said yourself.

As soon as you asked if I was jesting, I knew you had processed the images within an inch of their life, and I knew that it had consisted of the three phases of work that you described above, there is no mystery about it, and to say it's cheating, as I agree, some do, is senseless. But my image has had the same treatment and doesn't get near yours because the core sensor data isn't good enough. There are two things added together here: you are very good at PP, and the images were good to begin with. In other words, the camera can do the job.

You haven't put me off buying.

Forgot to comment on the photo you posted due to getting carried away with that long-winded explanation. If I'd been able to take a BIF shot like that with my RX10iii, I'd have been very pleased indeed but with the RX10iv I'm sorry to say it isn't a even keeper for me. This is the difference between the RX10iii and iv with BIF. To watch the little green dancing PDAF boxes peppering a bird as it flies by with the shutter going at ten to the dozen is immensely satisfying. You just know you are going to get some good shots and the only problem you have is deciding which to keep!


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