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FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Birds
Thread started 28 Feb 2004 (Saturday) 22:15
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Gulls in flight (Tips needed)

 
Scottes
Trigger Man - POTN Retired
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A Little North Of Boston, MA, USA
Feb 28, 2004 22:15 |  #1

Since today was beautiful in New England I decided to take a trip up to Gloucester to practice capturing birds in flight with the new 100-400 IS. Gulls are big and slow, don't mind humans too much, and there are a gazillion in Gloucester, MA. Seemed like a good way to practice.

While many people consider sea gulls to be trash-feeding flying dump rats, I find them pretty interesting, and there aren't too many animals I don't like. I've also read "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" about a dozen times, so they mean something to me, crazy as that seems. So off I went.

The best pics - OK, my favorites - are hereexternal link. I put the 9 images in a slideshow - I didn't want to post them all here to save people some bandwidth (about 400K). These are all 50% crops to make them worthwhile to look at. Just about all were ISO 200, and somewhere between 1/500-1/1000.

I took 142 pictures, not counting the dozenish I deleted immediately. When I got home, I deleted 46 more, leaving less then 100 in some form of keeper. Of these, many where still not tack-sharp, or had some part of the bird OOF. Some of the ones I posted exhibit some of these problems, but I like them for some reason or another.

Questions:
In the end, I'd say that about 20 are solid keepers. Are those decent odds for the first time? 20 real keepers out of 160? (I'm so glad I went to digital!)

I played with a mix of IS in modes 1 and 2. I tried 1-shot, AI Focus, and AI servo. It seemd that I had the best rate of keepers with AI Focus and mode 1. I *thought* that AI Servo and mode 2 was the preferred mode for stuff like this?

I had a tough time initially getting the bird in focus unless I was pretty close to being focused before I touched the shutter. I know it's best to pre-focus, of course, but there were times when a bird fully covered 3 sensors and the camera wouldn't focus. Does this seem right? Note that it was just about always solid bright whitish-blue sky for a background.

I tried all sensors and center-only. I had better luck with center only. Again, this doesn't seem right to me.

Any comments, tips, or advice welcome. I'll be back tomorrow afternoon armed a little better I hope.

PS: One thing I did learn today - get out there early or late to get the sun under them!


You can take my 100-400 L away when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.
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PacAce
Cream of the Crop
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ABE, PA USA
Feb 28, 2004 23:08 |  #2

Scottes, you had some pretty good shots there, buddy. And a good variation of "poses", too, which adds to the interest.

I can't answer all your question but I will give some a try, at least from what I've experienced (and this could be very much different from yours).

Re the Mode 1 vs Mode 2, I'm surprised you did better with mode 1 than mode 2. For shooting birds flying all over the place overhead, neither 1 nor 2 are good but I would have thought 2 would give you less tracking problems than 1 would. I usually turn the IS off when trying to shoot birds that are flying overhead because the tracking with IS on gets very annoying very quickly for me. (I'm trying to track a moving bird and the lens with IS on wants to keep the image where it was last so it seems like the bird is going backwards for a split second and then rushes forward and then goes backwards again and so on! :x )

As for the AI Focus vs. AI Servo, AI Focus psychologically seems best because you get the comfirmation beep when the focus is locked in. But when the bird is flying in the air, the camera has a harder time locking in very quickly. For me, it seem like the AI Servo mode locks in much more quickly. And besides, even if the focus isn't achieved yet, you can release the shutter and go into burst shot mode and the camera does gain focus lock within a frame or two. In AI Focus mode, you won't be able to release the shutter until focus is confirmed and by then the bird could be long gone or a little farther away.

I think that the more you play with the lens and the different settings, the more you learn it's quirks and what works for you and what doesn't.


...Leo

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CyberDyneSystems
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Feb 28, 2004 23:21 |  #3

For a first try,. you did great,. you actually HAD keepers!

(and very good ones at that!)

I would use AIServo and Mode 1 ... I think Mode two is for panning on a tripod... no.. I may have it all muddled..

AI Servo is good when it works with you...

Theoretically all 7 AF points and AI servo should be great as it will track the subject from point to point,. this DOES work .. agaist sky,. but it can get all muddled when something else hits the scene.. (background,. trees,. another bird..)

A lot of people for this reason stick with center only.

I use both,. If I have a clear sky I use all 7.

If your close enough though,. it may be back to the single af point so that you aren't trying just to get the bird in focus... but you are close enough to try and get the bird's EYE in focus....

//yep it does come down to the eye eventually! :shock:


Only 130 in the recycle bin?

You did well!


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Chris1le
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Feb 29, 2004 00:18 |  #4

Yeah getting the eye is the important part. I had all kinds of problems getting focus with my G3. The 10D is much better in this regard. I'm trying to get comfortable using the AI Servo mode. I miss the confirmation beep. I tried using all 7 points witout much luck. The center point seems to work pretty good for me.

Good shots though. Still learning myself.


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Chris1le
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Gig Harbor, WA
Feb 29, 2004 20:38 |  #5

I tried using the Sport custom preset today while shooting some birds and a swimming dog. They actually came out pretty good. :o Something to think about.


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Scottes
THREAD ­ STARTER
Trigger Man - POTN Retired
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A Little North Of Boston, MA, USA
Feb 29, 2004 20:59 |  #6

Thanks for the comments and tips.

Pacace, for some reason I never thought of trying it *without* IS. I was so hooked on having an IS lens... I will try next time, as I did see that "going backwards" stuff every once in a while. And I didn't know about that shutter-without-focus thing, so I'll try that more to make sure I'm doing a valid test.

CDS, yes, I did have keepers. I think that if I were as picky as a pro I may have had no keepers. But being picky as a newbie I found a few. As to AI getting muddled with background, I was aware of that so I tried to keep clear sky, and I still didn't have much luck. Practice, I guess. And focus on the eyes of a flying bird - it can be done but it may be awhile for me!

Chris, the 10D manual says the following about Sports mode: "The AF mode, continuous drive mode, evaluative metering mode, “Auto†ISO speed, and automatic white balance will be set automatically." I'm *very* curious about the "Auto ISO" - sounds like it could be handy.


You can take my 100-400 L away when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.
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Chris1le
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Gig Harbor, WA
Feb 29, 2004 21:16 |  #7

Well you saw my dog shots using "Sport" here is a seagull.

IMAGE NOT FOUND IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'image/gif'


Seems to work pretty well.

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Scottes
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Trigger Man - POTN Retired
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A Little North Of Boston, MA, USA
Feb 29, 2004 21:17 |  #8

Sweet!!!

Yeah, I'll be trying that and checking EXIF to try to figure out what it does. Thanks.


You can take my 100-400 L away when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.
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Bruce ­ Hamilton
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Joined Feb 2004
USA
Mar 01, 2004 07:39 |  #9

Loved the rear end shot for IanD. :lol:


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Gulls in flight (Tips needed)
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