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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Bird Talk 
Thread started 20 May 2014 (Tuesday) 07:01
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In pursuit of maximum reach

 
2slo
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May 20, 2014 07:01 |  #1

The old question, 'How much is enough reach?' I think a lot of bird photographers would contend that there isn't any such thing as enough reach. So with that in mind I decided to see what I could get with what I had.
I used a target distance of 14 meters at the back of my house and set up a lens box on my wall as a target. The first shot below was taken at 50mm using my 5DIII + 24-105mm lens and is uncropped. Nothing done to this one, other than convert to JPEG and resize to 1600px max on the long side:

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'image/gif' | Redirected to error image by FLICKR
Max reach test 1 (external link) by 2slo7 (external link), on Flickr

A 100% crop of the same image, minor sharpening and NR etc, just to show the target box in a bit more detail. Sorry about the cat, he wasn't invited, he just gets his nose into everything as cats do :) :

IMAGE: https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2904/14229078985_ef3e9b67fb_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/nFnK​s2  (external link) Max reach test 2 (external link) by 2slo7 (external link), on Flickr

So then I looked at my gear and wondered what I could use to get the maximum reach. Up to now I'd used my 1D mk IV (APS 'H' sensor so a 1.3 crop) in conjunction with my 500mm f/4 lens and 2x TC III which effectively gives 1300mm @ f/8 and will AF with no problems. Now I also have the 1.4x TC III but the s III TCs wont stack together so I turned to a set of 3 extension tubes I recently acquired. When used between the TCs, these extension tubes allow the TCs to be stacked. This then gives 1820mm (without considering any adjustment for the tubes - not sure how that would work - they are 12, 20 and 36mm respectively, anyone know how that would affect the focal length?)
Anyway, this was what the set up looked like:

IMAGE: https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2915/14042515547_a362f6b148_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/noTy​D2  (external link) Max reach test 3 (external link) by 2slo7 (external link), on Flickr

So with MF and using liveview, I aimed at my static subject (the lens box) and took a shot. The result was better than I expected, allowing for the fact that this was at 1/1000 sec, not stabilised as it was tripod mounted and ISO 5000 (typical overcast English day):

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'image/gif' | Redirected to error image by FLICKR
Max reach test 4 (external link) by 2slo7 (external link), on Flickr

Is this any use for birds? I think it could be, especially for a very distant subject where getting a reference shot rather than a competition standard image is needed. I really just wanted to show what could be done to get a bit more reach. I hope it was useful :)



  
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packerfan1968
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May 20, 2014 08:38 |  #2

As soon as you get 200 mm you want 300.
As soon as you get 300mm you want 500.
Then you want a 1.4x TC
The a 2.0, etc. etc. etc.
Never enough reach, always a bird just too far away.

I think it boils down to how much money you can spend for the extra reach vs. what you are willing to give up in image quality with teleconverters. At certain points, the image quality really becomes a 'for record only' of confirming sight of a certain bird and less about good image quality, even when using a tripod and doing everything possible for a sharp image. The depth of field gets mighty shallow, too.

That being said I am at 500mm and next will get a 1.4 TC!


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butterfly2937
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May 20, 2014 12:58 as a reply to  @ packerfan1968's post |  #3

At some point you just have to figure out how to get closer.


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2slo
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May 20, 2014 13:39 |  #4

packerfan1968 wrote in post #16916944 (external link)
As soon as you get 200 mm you want 300.
As soon as you get 300mm you want 500.
Then you want a 1.4x TC
The a 2.0, etc. etc. etc.
Never enough reach, always a bird just too far away.

I think it boils down to how much money you can spend for the extra reach vs. what you are willing to give up in image quality with teleconverters. At certain points, the image quality really becomes a 'for record only' of confirming sight of a certain bird and less about good image quality, even when using a tripod and doing everything possible for a sharp image. The depth of field gets mighty shallow, too.

That being said I am at 500mm and next will get a 1.4 TC!

True, I started with 200mm and it never seems enough.

butterfly2937 wrote in post #16917496 (external link)
At some point you just have to figure out how to get closer.

That's true as well carol. Well, either that or get a 600mm ;)




  
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Duane ­ N
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May 20, 2014 14:23 |  #5

butterfly2937 wrote in post #16917496 (external link)
At some point you just have to figure out how to get closer.

I have to agree with this and what I try to do. I'm also fortunate that where I photograph wildlife they see a lot of humans and tend to get used to us being around them although they're completely wild. When I find a cooperative subject that doesn't leave as soon as it sees me I will spend as much time with it while it's at this one place.

I did something similar as you with my 500mm but I used a 2X and 2-1.4 extenders and extension tubes and I think it came out to about 2100mm or something like that....it's a set-up I would not normally use but I had some spare time with a cooperative subject so I tried it.


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MajesticMomentsPhoto
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May 20, 2014 16:18 |  #6

butterfly2937 wrote in post #16917496 (external link)
At some point you just have to figure out how to get closer.

There will never be a lens long enough to beat getting closer.

With that said I'm at 600 + 1.4 next going for the 800 😎


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artyman
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May 20, 2014 16:33 |  #7

I'm sure the birds read the focal length on the lens ring and move just far enough away :)


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butterfly2937
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May 20, 2014 17:01 |  #8

MajesticMomentsPhoto wrote in post #16917991 (external link)
There will never be a lens long enough to beat getting closer.

With that said I'm at 600 + 1.4 next going for the 800 😎

At this time the 600mm II is the better lens. Don't forget you can use a 2x III on it if needed. I am sure when the redo the current 800mm it will be awesome but I am sure the price will make the 600mm II look cheap. LOL


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2slo
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May 20, 2014 17:33 |  #9

artyman wrote in post #16918038 (external link)
I'm sure the birds read the focal length on the lens ring and move just far enough away :)

Yes, or even worse they perch on the end of the lens hood, this once happened to me when trying to photograph LTTs. I gave up and stood there laughing :)




  
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May 20, 2014 18:18 |  #10

2slo wrote in post #16918184 (external link)
Yes, or even worse they perch on the end of the lens hood, this once happened to me when trying to photograph LTTs. I gave up and stood there laughing :)

I have had a similar problem when photographing LTTs with my Canon 800mm, they were just too close! The 800 has an MFD of 6 meters, however I had my 300 F2.8 + extenders handy - got the little Bu****s!
It is a lot of kit to carry though - nearly 50lbs!


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CamFan01
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May 21, 2014 08:35 as a reply to  @ johnf3f's post |  #11

Fascinating test Mark!
As everyone else has said and I'm sure you already know, closer is better. That especially applies to little birds. I don't think increases in focal length can ever outperform decreases in camera-to-subject distance. That being said, my experience indicates that the larger the subject bird is the further away one can be and still obtain "show quality" images. Sorry, I haven't worked out the magic formula yet :)
I do believe photographers and golfers share the belief that "I've got to have the latest greatest" to achieve the best results. It's a shame that both hobbies are so expensive! I recently purchased the 600mm f/4L II and I like everything about it's performance other than MFD. So I also opted for the alternate approach of a 300 f/2.8L II with teleconverters. Testing is still in progress, but I sure do like the shorter MFD of the 300mm.
I'd love to see some real world results of the stack you show above on avian subject material. I think you and Duane both have addressed questions we birders all have. Best to you my friend!


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teekay
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May 21, 2014 11:48 as a reply to  @ CamFan01's post |  #12

I hesitate to mention this in a forum where almost everyone seems to have birding equipment that would barely fit in my car, but why not consider a compact superzoom such as the SX50 with an optical zoom equivalent of 1200mm?

I enjoy birding and photography but have no ambition or need to produce exquisite portraits of birds suitable for 16x20 prints and exhibitions. I have a 60D, but my carry around camera is the SX50 which I use for bird ID purposes, as a substitute for binoculars, and for producing images quite acceptable for most purposes.

As an example of its use in quick handheld shots of distant birds through foliage, here are some test shots just taken from my window. Apart from resizing, they haven't been tarted up at all.

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: 404 | MIME changed to 'text/html' | Byte size: ZERO


IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: 404 | MIME changed to 'text/html' | Byte size: ZERO


IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: 404 | MIME changed to 'text/html' | Byte size: ZERO



  
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May 21, 2014 11:58 |  #13

On a side note, Just FYI, the 5D3 puts 13 MP into the 1.3x crop area of the 1D, while your 1D4 is obviously all 16 MP.


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2slo
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May 21, 2014 13:58 |  #14

CamFan01 wrote in post #16919565 (external link)
Fascinating test Mark!
As everyone else has said and I'm sure you already know, closer is better. That especially applies to little birds. I don't think increases in focal length can ever outperform decreases in camera-to-subject distance. That being said, my experience indicates that the larger the subject bird is the further away one can be and still obtain "show quality" images. Sorry, I haven't worked out the magic formula yet :)
I do believe photographers and golfers share the belief that "I've got to have the latest greatest" to achieve the best results. It's a shame that both hobbies are so expensive! I recently purchased the 600mm f/4L II and I like everything about it's performance other than MFD. So I also opted for the alternate approach of a 300 f/2.8L II with teleconverters. Testing is still in progress, but I sure do like the shorter MFD of the 300mm.
I'd love to see some real world results of the stack you show above on avian subject material. I think you and Duane both have addressed questions we birders all have. Best to you my friend!

Hey Steve, long time, hope you're doing well :)

Quite right re the distance comments, and i'm not trying to re invent the wheel, just seeing what I can get out of what I've got :). Congrats on the new glass, the 600mm is a fabulous lens, one on my wish list for the future. The 300mm is superb, I got one last year and its a walkaround 300, 420 and 600mm which I use a lot.
Anyway, as per your last comment about the real world result, see below. 1820mm MF on liveview f/8 using my 1D mk IV @ ISO 1600. 1/5000 sec to try to offset any movement at such a focal length. The subject goose was about 120 yds awayand the image below is a 50% crop. As you can see IQ has suffered despite my best efforts so I'll be putting this test to bed here, the combo is only really good for reference shots under extreme circumstances so far as I'm concerned. Having said that, I always carry the TCs and the extension tube set weighs very little so no harm in having it in my bag for the odd occasion when I might use it.

IMAGE: https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2929/14052623687_65f4078b5d_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/npMn​ri  (external link) Canada goose @ 1820mm (external link) by 2slo7 (external link), on Flickr

teekay wrote in post #16920042 (external link)
I hesitate to mention this in a forum where almost everyone seems to have birding equipment that would barely fit in my car, but why not consider a compact superzoom such as the SX50 with an optical zoom equivalent of 1200mm?

I enjoy birding and photography but have no ambition or need to produce exquisite portraits of birds suitable for 16x20 prints and exhibitions. I have a 60D, but my carry around camera is the SX50 which I use for bird ID purposes, as a substitute for binoculars, and for producing images quite acceptable for most purposes.

As an example of its use in quick handheld shots of distant birds through foliage, here are some test shots just taken from my window. Apart from resizing, they haven't been tarted up at all.

No worries, I know how good the SX50 is, some great images on here. A very useful lightweight solution.

CyberDyneSystems wrote in post #16920075 (external link)
On a side note, Just FYI, the 5D3 puts 13 MP into the 1.3x crop area of the 1D, while your 1D4 is obviously all 16 MP.

Thanks.




  
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jefzor
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May 21, 2014 16:19 |  #15

teekay wrote in post #16920042 (external link)
I enjoy birding and photography but have no ambition or need to produce exquisite portraits of birds suitable for 16x20 prints and exhibitions.

I do have the ambition to make prints. If your focus is on birding, then I'm sure a bridge superzoom is the perfect tool, but my focus is on photography.


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In pursuit of maximum reach
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