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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Bird Talk
Thread started 20 Feb 2014 (Thursday) 17:47
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How Far is too Far with a 100-400mm w/1.4x

 
Larry ­ Johnson
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Feb 20, 2014 17:47 |  #1

I'm shooting the 60D with a canon 100-400mm lens. Just bought the canon 1.4x extender, but haven't used it yet. I also have a bogen 3021 tripod from years and years ago when I tried film photography and did some birding. Recently bought a monopod. I'm certain I have the right equipment to get some incredible bird shots. I mainly interested in shooting the larger birds such as ducks and geese, hawks, but wouldn't hesitate to shoot songbirds; warblers and such. I've taken lots of shots (primarily hand held) learning the camera, but still have more schooling to do. I'm wondering if part of my problem is that I'm shooting at too far a distance. I'm cropping in 80 to 90% on most pics. Is this much cropping typical. Is there as rule of thumb to help guide me on how close I should be with a certain focal length lens.


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Duane ­ N
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Feb 20, 2014 18:12 |  #2

I try to shoot at the minimum focus distance of the lens I'm using at the time...sometimes it works out, most of the time the birds don't cooperate...lol.

Seriously...there's really no right distance to shoot at. Obviously the closer the better and the less cropping you have to do the better the image quality will be. I photograph my backyard birds at 16' (MFD of my lens) and I've photographed Snowy Owls at 150'...you take what they give you but try not to make a distant shot a close one with cropping...it shows.

To answer your question...80%-90% is some serious cropping and not normal (for me at least). I would work on trying to get closer to your subject as long as they allow you to.


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hollis_f
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Feb 21, 2014 04:18 |  #3

Duane N wrote in post #16705046external link
To answer your question...80%-90% is some serious cropping and not normal (for me at least). I would work on trying to get closer to your subject as long as they allow you to.

I couldn't agree more.

Oh, and prepare for disappointment when you try the 60D : 1.4x TC : 100-400 combination.

Oh (MkII), if you've got a UV/Protective filter on your 100-400 then remove it. This lens is famous for hating filters.


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res
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Feb 21, 2014 04:52 as a reply to hollis_f's post |  #4

You have gotten great advice from Duane. I personally have found that for my goals in photography, cropping more then about 50% reduces my quality more then I want in a print. Again, personal choice not a rule of photography. That said, it does not stop me from shooting the longer distance shots since deleting is very easy once I see them in the computer and it gives me great practice learning to see in the camera what i want to put on paper. Some good advice I received from a member here several years ago was to remember that not every photo is a close up. When a subject are at a significant distance, and tight cropping is not going to be an option, shooting an environmental or landscape shot can make for some stellar pictures. Having birds or wildlife in a landscape help add to the interest of the picture. You have a combination that has captured many great images, Practice will help you get the most out of your equipment.




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larrycumba
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Feb 21, 2014 07:14 |  #5

I agree with respect and Hollis. Practice will let you know what will be a waste of time with the smalls but that is part of the adventure. Hollis is right on about the filter. The one thing that has really helped on my bird shots is patience and letting the birds come to me rather than seeing some and trying to get closer.




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Larry ­ Johnson
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Feb 21, 2014 07:21 |  #6

hollis_f wrote in post #16705906external link
and prepare for disappointment when you try the 60D : 1.4x TC : 100-400 combination.

Oh (MkII), if you've got a UV/Protective filter on your 100-400 then remove it. This lens is famous for hating filters.

I certainly understand that shooting closer is better. That's a given. What I need to understand is the limit of the lens I'm shooting so that I don't "waste" a morning standing on a viewing platform shooting an eagle's nest that's far to far away, so that I can make the decision to move on to something or somewhere else. Thanks.

Hollis, What type of dissapointment should I be expecting, qualty? I realized that the autofocus wouldn't work on the 60D with the 1.4x attached before I bought it, so I don't expect to use it for BIF shots, but I figured I could use it for longer, stiller shots. And one day I might just upgrade? to a full platform camera which will allow autofocus, as I understand from canon tech support.

As luck would have it, I bought a $100UV filter for the 400 lens after not finding the snowy owl at springfield mall. What does the lens do wrong with the UV filter on?


_______________
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hollis_f
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Feb 21, 2014 08:23 |  #7

Larry Johnson wrote in post #16706106 (external link)
Hollis, What type of dissapointment should I be expecting, qualty? I realized that the autofocus wouldn't work on the 60D with the 1.4x attached before I bought it, so I don't expect to use it for BIF shots, but I figured I could use it for longer, stiller shots.

I suggest you try it yourself. That's the only way that I really accepted that it's a non-starter in most situations. I really wanted to believe the people who said that it was a great combination (even calling it 'the birder's choice') because it would save a lot of money. It wasn't and it didn't.

Larry Johnson wrote in post #16706106 (external link)
As luck would have it, I bought a $100UV filter for the 400 lens after not finding the snowy owl at springfield mall. What does the lens do wrong with the UV filter on?

This -

Filterless, Hoya HD, Nameless Crud

IMAGE: http://www.frankhollis.com/temp/Filter%20Comparison%20100-400.jpg

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Lowner
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Feb 21, 2014 08:26 |  #8

Larry Johnson wrote in post #16704989external link
Is there as rule of thumb to help guide me on how close I should be with a certain focal length lens.

Very odd question. Just go out and play with it, its the only way to learn.


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Scrumhalf
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Feb 21, 2014 08:29 |  #9

It's hard to put a number for distance, isn't it? It depends on the size of the bird. After all, you can be farther away photographing an ostrich compared to a hummingbird to get satisfactory results. I think the cropping rule of thumb that Duane provided is your best metric.


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daleg
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Feb 21, 2014 09:07 |  #10

hollis_f wrote in post #16706211 (external link)
I suggest you try it yourself. That's the only way that I really accepted that it's a non-starter in most situations. I really wanted to believe the people who said that it was a great combination (even calling it 'the birder's choice') because it would save a lot of money. It wasn't and it didn't.

This -

Filterless, Hoya HD, Nameless Crud

QUOTED IMAGE

yikes.

I'll stick with my 400mm f5.6.

Those shots are astounding.




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Larry ­ Johnson
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Feb 21, 2014 10:11 |  #11

Lowner wrote in post #16706214external link
Very odd question. Just go out and play with it, its the only way to learn.

It's not an odd question at all. In fact, I'm surprised that I wasn't able to find a discussion about this very topic. How is a beginner suppose to evaluate their own work and make adjustments if they are shooting at distances that even professionals know are beyond the limits of the equipment. Don't expect a beginner to learn anything if the reason they're not getting good results is because the subject is just too far away, but they don't realize it.

I'm absolutley certain that experienced bird photograhers know when a subject is too far away to get a quality shot with their specific lens. And some may even put the lens to their eye to see how much of the viewfinder the subject covers, then decide if it's too far a shot based on what they see in the viewfinder. They might have a rule of thumb such as, if the subject doesn't touch two of more focus points, for example, then it's too far a shot. Others might have a rule of thumb based on estimated yards or meters to the subject.


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Shooting 7D2 with Canon 400mm, f/5.6.
60D, canon 18-135 EFS, and 1.4 extender in the bag.
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Larry ­ Johnson
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Feb 21, 2014 10:16 as a reply to hollis_f's post |  #12

Wow. Thanks for the info Hollis. I''ll start shooting without the UV filter to see how this changes my results.


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60D, canon 18-135 EFS, and 1.4 extender in the bag.
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hollis_f
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Feb 21, 2014 10:59 |  #13

Larry Johnson wrote in post #16706434external link
They might have a rule of thumb such as, if the subject doesn't touch two of more focus points, for example, then it's too far a shot. Others might have a rule of thumb based on estimated yards or meters to the subject.

You do get used to guessing what is likely to be too far away, but it did take me a long time to stop taking shots at stupid distances just in case it turned out OK.

As for rules of thumb, they depend on the bird, the situation, the intended shot, and loads of other stuff. I have some shots where the bird is a tiny spot; rubbish photo, but it reminds me of when I saw a particular rarity.

For a shot 'of the bird' I reckon it's not even worth trying unless it occupies one third of the viewfinder. For a shot 'of the bird in its environment' then it can be smaller - but not too much smaller.

However, Richard was right - the only way to actually learn all this stuff is to practise.


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Larry ­ Johnson
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Feb 21, 2014 12:35 as a reply to hollis_f's post |  #14

Thanks Hollis. That's very helpful....and be re-assured that I'm practicing as often as I can.


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Shooting 7D2 with Canon 400mm, f/5.6.
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Scrumhalf
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Feb 21, 2014 15:17 |  #15

If you are very far away, try to get artistic with your shot. I agree that it doesn't necessarily work for a passerine perched in a tree, but a wading bird can often be photographed in the context of the background to tell a story or in other artistic ways.

See this shot I took for example. I was pretty far away from the heron, but I was struck by how it was all alone in this large lake covered by aquatic vegetation. I was reminded of the Solitude of Alexander Selkirk and I named the thead "I'm the monarch of all I survey," or something like that lol....

IMAGE: https://v4s.yimg.com/sk/3811/8939410099_755404dfcc_b.jpg
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IMG_0830 (external link) by Scrumhalf (external link), on Flickr

Sam
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If I don't get the shots I want with the gear I have, the only optics I need to examine is the mirror on the bathroom wall. The root cause will be there.

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How Far is too Far with a 100-400mm w/1.4x
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