Grey Fox Photography with Low Illumination – 300mm & 600mm SS – 1/3 to 1/10 second.

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drj3 Forum Pro • Posts: 10,606
Grey Fox Photography with Low Illumination – 300mm & 600mm SS – 1/3 to 1/10 second.
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Various types of wildlife regularly visit my yard, but the visits are often in the late afternoon/evening, too late to use a high shutter speed to stop movement blur. I decided to see the minimum handheld shutter speeds that could be used with the E-M1.3 with the 300mm and still get acceptable images without excessive camera/lens/target movement. I photographed a Grey fox that regularly visits (sometimes with a friend) the area around my bird feeders looking for seeds/chipmunks/mice/squirrels.

I knew that I could fairly easily handhold the E-M1.3+300mm f4 at 1/10 second and handhold it with the MC20+300mm at 1/10 second, when I am very careful with my technique. However, the location for this test allowed me to stabilize my body by leaning on a wooden fence gate where I could not be seen by the fox. I expected this to add at least one stop to my ability to handhold the camera/lens by preventing body movement.

The first image is of the fox using the 300mm at 1/10 second. This shutter speed was fast enough to obtain a reasonably high percentage of images unaffected by camera/lens/target movement with both the 300mm alone and with the MC20+300mm.

At 1/5 second there were fewer sharp images due primarily to the fox movement, but as long as I shot a short burst as the fox moved, I was able to get good images as the fox paused briefly to survey the environment. Images #2 (300mm) and #3 (600mm).

Dropping the shutter speed to 1/3 second resulted in even fewer sharp images, the fox was less likely to completely stop movement for this amount of time. However, I had no trouble getting acceptably sharp images at this shutter speed with both focal lengths. Images #4 (300mm) and #5 & #6 (600mm).

Shutter speeds below 1/3 second were too slow to obtain any images without some camera/lens/target movement.

The last image is a composite of three images taken at 1/3 second. The two 600mm images are downsized to the equivalent of the 300mm focal length. The downsized 600mm image (center) was shot at two stops higher ISO (1250 vs 320) than the 300mm image on the right. The detail of the center image taken with the MC20 is much smoother and better than that of the 300mm image. The same is true for the downsized 600mm image on the left shot at ISO 500. This is consistent with my experience with the MC20 TC. If you can get closer, then the 300mm alone will always give better IQ than images taken with the TC. If you cannot get closer, then using the MC20+300mm will always result in better IQ (up to at least two stops higher ISO) as long as camera/lens movement is not a problem.

Images #1-#6 handheld uncropped.

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

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drj3

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