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  1. #1
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    Question Bird Photography

    I started off in doing some crime scene photography now I'm into birds and I mean really into birds. I am about to spend a lot of money and go on a trip to AZ to photograph birds but I wanted to ask some questions before I go. I use a Nikon D5000 and have been using a 55-200mm lens and photographing birds at normally 10 feet. Yes I am the crazy looking guy in all camo sitting al day to get a picture. However in AZ I will be out of my element. I have a Nikon 55-300mm F/4 on the the way and should be here before the trip. I have noticed so far the brighter the sun the sharper the image. However I would like some pointers on getting sharper images from more than ten feet. Also what happens when you increase your iso. I shoot most of my images at 150. Should I be shooting higher for birds? I also need a fast shutter speed because most birds are moving but should I be slowing it down a little to get sharper images. What if a bird is 40-50 ft how do I make that bird sharper when after I crop the image. Should I resort to photoshop? Thanks for any tips. I just don't want to spend all this money for the trip and come back without any great photos.



  2. #2
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    Flickr: sds888's Photostream Here are some of my photo's that you can see some of my problems. Also some soft edges I would like to get a little sharper.

  3. #3
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    Hate to say it but the 55-300 isnt going to cut it for really sharp images. Im not into Nikon but for birding you really need a longer lens 400+ unless you are after the bigger birds the 300 will be ok. How do you currently shoot? Do you use auto mode, Av, Tv, or what. Usually you will want the fastest shutter speed you can get with the lowest ISO you can. I find myself around 640 to 2000 ISO. If you take the 55-300 lens and put the aperture at F8 it will be sharper than wide open. When you raise the ISO you increase noise. Hope this helps.

  4. #4
    KmH
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    At 300 mm the 55-300 lens will be f/5.6, not f/4. The lens designation of f/4-5.6 indicates the lens is a variable aperture zoom lens. A single aperture like just f/4 indicates a higher quality constant aperture lens.

    Nikon does make a 300 mm f/4 prime lens (no zoom) that retails for about $1500. AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4D IF-ED

    The 55-300 is a DX lens and not as expensive as the better quality 70-300 FX lens. Both are f/4-5.6

    If you can afford the 70-300, I would recommend it over the 55-300.
    . . . . . . Keith . . . . . . .How Do I Use My Digital SLR?...

    * * * * * * * * * * A photograph is a roughly approximate 2-D interpretation of a 3-D reality. * * * * * * * * * *

  5. #5
    I spend too much of my life on TPF!
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    I was going to say the same about the 55-300 f4 which does not exist. The 70-300 VR is a really nice lens for the type of photography you're after and not extremely expensive.

    Hardrock mentioned that 300mm is not enough, however a 300mm lens on a DX body at the telephoto end is the equivalent of a 450mm lens on a full frame sensor and since youre using a DX crop sensor body I think 300 should be alright unless you're into spending lots of $$ for lens.

    In terms of ISO... the higher the ISO the gainer pictures will get, but its all relevant to the amount of light. If you have enough light to freeze action at ISO 150 then by all means use 150, however a more usable ISO will be around 400-800 again assuming there is appropriate light.
    Shooting at such low ISO(150) will give you quite a few blurred pictures as the shutter needs to stay open longer in order to get the same exposure as a higher ISO and smaller shutter time. Personally I prefer to end up with more usable pictures vs a bunch of blurred pictures.

    Here is review on comparing ISO on Nikons from the entry level to the pro level.

    Now to confuse things a little, certain cameras(advanced and pro) can handle higher ISO's much better than entry level SLRS (D5000) and judging by what you're into and the quality of the pictures posted, I would suggest to perhaps think about upgrading to a D7000 body as it is much better good performer in low light situations at a higher ISO; obviously this is if you got the 1000+ to spend on a new more capable body with more advanced options.

    Also I strongly suggest a mono-pod or tripod if you will be waiting for that picture perfect moment which not tire you fast and it will also help with camera shake quite a bit.
    Nikon D90 gripped
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    Held together by a Crumpler 7 million dollar home or a Swiss Army sling bag

  6. #6
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    You want as long of a lens as you can get. Being fast ( aperture-wise ) is not too big of an issue, but you do want something with a decent enough AF speed. Its typically plenty sunny enough in AZ to get a good focus and low enough ISO to get useable shots. You mainly want to get a lens that of the best quality and as long as you can afford. On the flip side, the sun gets pretty harsh out here pretty quickly. I would advise you to try to shoot early or late in the day. I am a Canon shooter so I do not know what to recommend in terms of Nikon's lenses. One thing is sure, you will ALWAYS wish you had a longer lens. I have the 70-200 f/2.8 IS and just picked up the 400mm f/5.6. I was shooting today and was at ISO 200 and shooting at f/5.6 anywhere between 1/1000th and 1/2000th of a second simple because I was shooting hand held with the 400mm. With the 70-200 IS I rarely go above ISO100.

  7. #7
    I spend too much of my life on TPF!
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    I am a member of a Purple Martin forum. There is a guy on there who does awesome work with birds. His name is Ron Vasser from GA. I know I can't post his pics on here but here is a link to some pics he posted in their forum. The one of the martin drinking is one of my all time favorite pics. It is the reason I ended up getting into photography. Click on the link and scroll down to the bottom.

    The Purple Martin Forum=
    Canon 60D
    18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 EF-S IS
    75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III EF
    75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 IS, USM
    28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, USM
    50 mm f/1.8 II
    430 EX Speedlight
    Manfrotto 3021 Pro

 

 

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