Beginner Avian Photography Help

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Orangetang, May 26, 2009.

  1. Orangetang

    Orangetang TPF Noob!

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    Hello everyone, this is my first post here.

    The weather here has been great lately so I have been bringing my camera with me to the little lake down the street. First of all, I understand that my 70-300 VR is a fairly low-end lens, but the results I have been getting seem to be excessively soft, sometimes having a slight halo around the subject.

    I am shooting @ ISO 800-1000 at F5.6 to achieve 1000-2000/s shutter speeds for these quick little guys. That might sound high, and maybe it is (let me know), but I find anything less to give bad hand-held results for bird in motion, or on windy days, which is almost everyday.

    Is the halo and softness a characteristic of this lens and my high-ISO, or could it be camera shake? I always use a Hoya UV filter and sometimes a Hoya CPL and factory lens shade.

    Here are a few examples. I'll probably start by uploading a few of my sized-touched up photos. I have not even read the max file size yet... So, the artifacts I am talking about might not even be visible... I can always crop a full-size later on...Any help or comments are welcome. I went out and bought a bird book the other day, so this is quickly turning into a bit of a hobby. Shoot the bird, figure out what it is, trying to get a pair together, etc...

    Thanks in advance for your help!

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  2. Orangetang

    Orangetang TPF Noob!

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    Here is a 100% crop... Soft, noisy and free of any sharpness. Is this normal, even at ISO ~1000 in daylight? Any tips, other than buying a faster lens? The camera was held still against a post, and the bird was at moving at all. It almost looks out of focus to me.
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  3. farmerj

    farmerj TPF Noob!

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    I can't help you.....

    All I can say is that now I don't feel so bad. I thought I was going nuts with my 70-300VR thinking it was me or my camera giving me soft or noisy images.

    Enough so that I want to trade my Nikkor glass in on a Tamron 70-200 f/2.8.

    I have found that if I turn off Active D-Lighting, I get a slightly better image.
     
  4. Orangetang

    Orangetang TPF Noob!

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    I found the in-camera sharpening does not help. I'll try no D-lighting, though I think I had it OFF.

    It might not be the lens, maybe we are both using it wrong, or maybe it is the lens.
     
  5. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    300mm is about the shortest you want to go for shooting birds. 500mm or longer is ideal. The ideal lens is a 300/2.8 (to which you can add a 2x teleconverter to make it a 600/5.6), 500/4 or 600/4. As these are hideously expensive, Sigma has a number of XX-500 zooms that are much more affordable.
     
  6. sburatorul

    sburatorul TPF Noob!

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    what camera you are using? these just seem like noisy to me...plus that any lens has a sweet spot where it is sharpest. a certain focal length and an f number. cheap telephotos tend to be soft at the long end... i know mine is...
     
  7. Orangetang

    Orangetang TPF Noob!

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    Sorry, I thought I posted my camera... It's a D90, and I'm using the 70-300mm VR.
     
  8. NateS

    NateS TPF Noob!

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    Is your filter a standard Hoya UV lens or is it the HMC or S-HMC version? If it's the standard version then I'd guess that it is your culprit. Remove all filters and re-shoot....post your results. I've seen some incredibly sharp photos from that lens, even at 300mm, so something isn't right here. Maybe try setting up a tripod and shooting a few static objects at 300mm (say some flowers or something) to see if it is camera shake or missed focus (you might be moving a little after getting focus and before snapping the shot.)
     
  9. farmerj

    farmerj TPF Noob!

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    hmmm,

    I use the same set-up.

    D90, 16-85 VR, 70-300 VR and 50mm f/1.8

    I have stopped using any UV filters on my lenses. I do on occasion us a CPL.
     
  10. Orangetang

    Orangetang TPF Noob!

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    I will give that a try. Reading some reviews of this lens, it is soft at 300mm but not this bad.
     
  11. Josh220

    Josh220 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    3 things will help when photographing birds:

    1. Tripod
    2. Tripod
    3. Tripod
     
  12. NateS

    NateS TPF Noob!

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    That would be one sturdy setup....9 tripod legs would be hard to setup though..:lol:

    Something isn't right with the OP's setup though. I've seen a thread (this forum or another...can't remember) and somebody was using the 70-300VR with a Kenko TC....(don't know if it was 1.4 or 1.7) and they were getting very, very acceptable shots. I also did a quick flickr search and saw many nice photos at 300mm....in particular a hawk/eagle (don't remember) at 300mm that was stunning and sharp.
     

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