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davebreal
11th of April 2009 (Sat), 06:59
Do you guys find it necessary to keep the 1.4 teleconverter off to get flights shots of small birds?

I'm having a hard time to get my 40D to pickup moving small birds in the viewfinder as is (using tc). Recently tried to get flight shots of Tree Swallows and also a bat and even pre-focusing wasn't helping too much.

Thanks.

gymell
11th of April 2009 (Sat), 07:10
It's very likely you'll want to leave the TC off because you'll need that extra boost in AF speed. Plus the field of view will be larger without it, making it easier to find your subject. I've tried tree swallows with the 500 with no luck at all. I'm planning to try again here this spring but using the 400 f/5.6 instead. It's easier to hand hold, very fast AF and a wider field of view.

This is the smallest BIF I've gotten with the 500, and I definitely had the TC off for this one!
http://www.pbase.com/gymell/image/108568472/original.jpg

davebreal
11th of April 2009 (Sat), 07:12
It's very likely you'll want to leave the TC off because you'll need that extra boost in AF speed. Plus the field of view will be larger without it, making it easier to find your subject. I've tried tree swallows with the 500 with no luck at all. I'm planning to try again here this spring but using the 400 f/5.6 instead. It's easier to hand hold, very fast AF and a wider field of view.

Thanks Liz, I'm glad it's not just me!

gymell
11th of April 2009 (Sat), 07:20
When I was on Jim Neiger's Flight School workshop a few months ago (which is where I got that pileated woodpecker) we tried tree swallows. That was an exercise in frustration. However Jim says it's possible, so with enough practice I suppose it is. I know I good spot here near my house where I can stand out on a boat dock and tree swallows swarm all around. I think it will be a great opportunity to try it with the 400/5.6 - I'm not going to bother with the 500 again on them!

davebreal
11th of April 2009 (Sat), 07:23
When I was on Jim Neiger's Flight School workshop a few months ago (which is where I got that pileated woodpecker) we tried tree swallows. That was an exercise in frustration. However Jim says it's possible, so with enough practice I suppose it is. I know I good spot here near my house where I can stand out on a boat dock and tree swallows swarm all around. I think it will be a great opportunity to try it with the 400/5.6 - I'm not going to bother with the 500 again on them!

Do you find the AF faster on the 400/5.6 or is just the portability and field of view that makes flight shots easier?

I'm also wondering if the AF on a more powerful full frame camera would make a difference (as compared to my 40D). Right now I completely agree with the "exercise in frustration".

andrewhuxman
11th of April 2009 (Sat), 07:51
I have tried these birds also with the 500....... almost impossible............. they are just too fast and too small to track with or without the 1.4. I would give praise to someone that can accomplish this task.

artyman
11th of April 2009 (Sat), 11:10
Is this just using the centre focus point? I have more success using manual as I find it impossible to keep the bird in the centre point, I guess it would be OK if they were filling the frame, finding them is the first problem :)

gymell
11th of April 2009 (Sat), 12:05
Do you find the AF faster on the 400/5.6 or is just the portability and field of view that makes flight shots easier?

I'm also wondering if the AF on a more powerful full frame camera would make a difference (as compared to my 40D). Right now I completely agree with the "exercise in frustration".

People say that the 400/5.6 is faster, but I don't know if the difference is enough to really be noticeable. Of course if you have IS turned on the 500, then you'd notice the difference. But at such high shutter speeds you wouldn't really need it. The Mark III definitely has faster AF, since it's made for action it's ideal for BIF.

Is this just using the centre focus point? I have more success using manual as I find it impossible to keep the bird in the centre point, I guess it would be OK if they were filling the frame, finding them is the first problem :)

I only use the center focus point for any BIF. Just works best for me. Never tried focusing manually on BIF!

davebreal
11th of April 2009 (Sat), 12:36
Is this just using the centre focus point? I have more success using manual as I find it impossible to keep the bird in the centre point, I guess it would be OK if they were filling the frame, finding them is the first problem :)

I think it's safe to say that 99.9% of experienced wildlife photographers use Autofocus when it's available, and shoot with center point focus when pursuing a solitary animal.

That's simply how it's done.

davebreal
11th of April 2009 (Sat), 12:37
Of course if you have IS turned on the 500, then you'd notice the difference. But at such high shutter speeds you wouldn't really need it.

Is the AF much quicker with IS turned off? I hadn't tried that approach lately.

davebreal
13th of April 2009 (Mon), 10:48
well i did finally get one!

http://drbphoto.smugmug.com/gallery/7745856_hfYrx#511107276_SNUoh

even w/o the 1.4tc on the 500mm f4, this was still a very lucky shot. i was prefocusing on the water and it took me quite a whie to track a bird at all AND get the autofocus to pick up the little bugger at all.

Tom Reichner
13th of April 2009 (Mon), 14:36
I only use the center focus point for any BIF. Just works best for me. Never tried focusing manually on BIF!
Why only the center point? If a bird is flying from right to left, isn't it better to use a point just off center to the right? And vice versa for a bird flying from left to right. This way you leave a little more sky in front of the bird. It allows for "implied motion". I feel composition is better if I give more sky/background in front of the bird than behind it.

gymell
13th of April 2009 (Mon), 15:03
Why only the center point? If a bird is flying from right to left, isn't it better to use a point just off center to the right? And vice versa for a bird flying from left to right. This way you leave a little more sky in front of the bird. It allows for "implied motion". I feel composition is better if I give more sky/background in front of the bird than behind it.

Because usually there isn't enough time to be switching back and forth between different focus points, and I'm rarely so close to a flying bird that there isn't space to crop as needed for composition.

Tom Reichner
13th of April 2009 (Mon), 15:09
Because usually there isn't enough time to be switching back and forth between different focus points, and I'm rarely so close to a flying bird that there isn't space to crop as needed for composition.
Liz,

Often times I chop off part of the bird because I was just too close . . . a "great shot" is ruined.

But if I take the 2x off, then the next opportunity will be at a distance, and the image will be no good because the bird didn't fill the frame.

BIF are truly a difficult challenge.

gymell
13th of April 2009 (Mon), 15:51
True, I've chopped off parts of the bird too, many times trying to get those close flight shots. However if I've got it in the center of the frame, then I have a better chance.
http://www.pbase.com/gymell/image/110577607/original.jpg

CyberDyneSystems
13th of April 2009 (Mon), 16:07
As mentioned, it is certainly easier with the TC off,.
It can be done,. here's a Kingfisher taken with the 2X mounted,..

http://images.fotopic.net/?iid=yozk3b&outx=600&noresize=1

But the camera and lens AF faster and more precisely with no TC,.. especially with the X0D bodies.

Tom Reichner
13th of April 2009 (Mon), 16:19
Jake, that's a great pose on the Kingfisher!

Liz - what wonderful light on the Sandhill! I stalked these last week. A coupel hour stalk came to nothing, as they had some sentries located in an area when they coule see me about 90 yards away. There was no other direction from which to approach, so I simply struck out - several hundred yards of sliding thru the dust and stubble on my belly, and not even a single image worth taking. Another day "paying my dues". Too many of those lately, it seems.

gymell
13th of April 2009 (Mon), 16:39
Jake, that's a great pose on the Kingfisher!

Liz - what wonderful light on the Sandhill! I stalked these last week. A coupel hour stalk came to nothing, as they had some sentries located in an area when they coule see me about 90 yards away. There was no other direction from which to approach, so I simply struck out - several hundred yards of sliding thru the dust and stubble on my belly, and not even a single image worth taking. Another day "paying my dues". Too many of those lately, it seems.

I guess I had an unfair advantage, I spent 2 nights in a blind out on the Platte river so was right in the midst of thousands of them. ;)

Tom Reichner
13th of April 2009 (Mon), 19:57
I guess I had an unfair advantage, I spent 2 nights in a blind out on the Platte river so was right in the midst of thousands of them. ;)
Liz,

Did you have to do overnights in the blind so that you would already be in place come morning? I've heard that thsi is how one must go about photographing grose when they're displaying on leks, but have not yet heard of doing this for waterfowl.

-Tom

gymell
14th of April 2009 (Tue), 14:43
Tom,

The blinds are right out on the banks of the river, and one is on a sandbar practically in the river. They take photographers out in the late afternoon before the cranes come in, and let us out after the cranes leave the next morning. This is so the cranes don't flush prematurely and you can get good sunset/sunrise shots. Check out http://www.rowesanctuary.org/photo%20blinds.htm for more details about the blinds. Also more of my photos (including pictures of the blind itself) at http://www.pbase.com/gymell/rowe_sanctuary .

Jim Neiger
15th of April 2009 (Wed), 17:24
http://www.flightschoolphotography.com/POST/BKSTACK.jpg
The above image was made using a 1D2N and a 500mm+1.4xTC+2xTC stacked, The wide open aperture was F11 and the effective focal length was 1720mm. The image was made using handheld technique and a well thought out plan. Was it difficult? Yes. Was it impossible? Of course not! Small birds in flight can be very difficult. I think that is one of the best reasos to try to do it. With lots of practice Tree Swallows against the sky are easy with the 500mm. It's a bit harder with a 1.4x and a lot harder with the 2x. It's VERY difficult against a varied bg. The key to it all is proper technique and lots of practice.

highcountry
25th of April 2009 (Sat), 16:46
There was a lull while photographing sandhill cranes and geese when this magpie appeared to give a little aerial demonstration. It was about a 100 yds out so I took the opportunity to test my combo's ability (1Ds2/500mm/1.4x) to capture this guy. Came out better than I thought they would. This is the smallest bird that I have attempted to photograph in flight.

http://i239.photobucket.com/albums/ff29/highcountry_photo/Wildlife/Alamosa/Magpie1.jpg

http://i239.photobucket.com/albums/ff29/highcountry_photo/Wildlife/Alamosa/Magpie2.jpg

These guys are more my speed.

http://i239.photobucket.com/albums/ff29/highcountry_photo/Wildlife/Alamosa/Crane22.jpg

http://i239.photobucket.com/albums/ff29/highcountry_photo/Wildlife/Alamosa/Crane-Print-SuperA3.jpg

http://i239.photobucket.com/albums/ff29/highcountry_photo/Wildlife/Alamosa/Crane7.jpg

Hawkman
4th of May 2009 (Mon), 19:59
It's tough at 700mm to keep the subject in view. I mostly shoot eagles in flight and a gimbal mount on a tripod helps. I don't think that work well for smaller birds.

I would try a bushhawk for smaller birds. It wil lgive you the extra stability you need for tracking smaller birds.

Gene

evorgsumaf
7th of May 2009 (Thu), 16:25
The above image was made using a 1D2N and a 500mm+1.4xTC+2xTC stacked, The wide open aperture was F11 and the effective focal length was 1720mm.


WOW 1720mm and a great shot.

CyberDyneSystems
7th of May 2009 (Thu), 16:34
Jim's math is wrong,. it's 1,820mm !!! :shock: !!!

evorgsumaf
7th of May 2009 (Thu), 16:42
Jim's math is wrong,. it's 1,820mm !!! :shock: !!!


Good Laws!

RikWriter
7th of May 2009 (Thu), 19:22
Definitely not impossible, but it is like trying to see the world through a soda straw.


http://www.pbase.com/rikwriter/image/108207205.jpg

CyberDyneSystems
8th of May 2009 (Fri), 11:19
........like trying to see the world through a soda straw.


Quoted because it's so damn quotable!