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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Wildlife Talk 
Thread started 05 Sep 2011 (Monday) 19:15
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Do you use monopod or do it handheld ?

 
Amamba
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Sep 05, 2011 19:15 |  #1

I have been trying to learn to use my tele lens to take, well, tele photos ;). Most of time, until recently, I've been using it to zoom in on faces for portraits, so the distance wasn't all that great.

I did use it at a zoo, sporadically and with variable results. I am now trying to work out a consistent approach to using the tele at long FL, long distances, and still get photos with no or little blur.

Doesn't seem to be working out that well. :( Went to the zoo yesterday, and I did manage to get a few useable photos - but all had some degree of blur. Just low enough that it could be taken care of in PP. But still not even close to the few great shots that I was able to land in the past without really knowing what I was doing.

So, I am looking for tips on using tele, and it seems that the Wildlife is the place to ask.

Here's a couple - I think in this one, I used too low of shutter speed (1/200 at 100mm, probably should've been at least double that to avoid motion blur):


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But then there's this one - it's not very sharp, and the bear wasn't really moving, my shutter speed was 1/800, so I assume I just wasn't steady enough


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Both are processed photos. Already sharpened etc.

So, what do you do ? I keep seeing people in the zoo with monstrous lenses and no tri/monopods. I have a very light 55-250 IS, surely I should be able to achieve decent handheld photos if they can do it with their Bigmas and 70-200/2.8 IS and what not. So it must be in technique.

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Sep 05, 2011 19:26 |  #2

In my experiences I did find that using a tripod (in my case a cheap £15 one) does help somewhat with zoo based photography if simply because one is often remaining in one spot for longer durations, or maybe just around one or two animals. A tripod then can help as it takes the weight, and even a light setup will droop and slip away as the time passes.

A monopod would give similar weight easing support, whilst also allowing a bit more mobility. I also experienced sharper shots when I was using my sigma 70-300mm when I had it tripod mounted and was going for the slower shutter speeds. When you're slipping below 1/400sec with a long telephoto lens the stability of support (or IS) helps with regard to countering handheld shake, you are then purely trusting on the animal not to move too much.

However if you've got 1/800sec and only 200mm then you should not be getting any motion blur from your handholding unless you have a more extreme amount of bodyshake than is typically average. The typical rule for min shutter speeds is:
shutter speed = 1 / (focal length of lens * crop factor)
so for a 100mm lens at least 1/160sec - so the 1/200 should have been more than enough.
This of course assumes good posture when shooting - eye up to the viewfinder; elbows tucked into your sides; body straight not bent over.

I think that what you are more experiencing is one of a few possible factors:

1) Sharpness native to the lens itself. I've not used the lens you are using, but its native sharpness might be less than desirable - esp if you're comparing it up to some of the more expensive setups.

2) Sharpening process - good sharpening won't "save" shots but it does best present them and many times you do need to sharpen for a second time after resizing a photo, since resizing is directly removing pixels from the photo.

3) Aperture too wide - kind of tied into the native sharpness issue, but I'm putting it out separate to draw attention. Most lenses are not their best when wide open, often one can get much improved image quality by stopping down one or two stops from wide open.


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gembobs
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Sep 06, 2011 15:58 |  #3

I either hand hold or use my monopod for my wildlife shots, but having said that, I haven't used my monopod in a couple of years and been happy just to hand hold (it seemed more convenient to me, though I have had the monopod with me in case I changed my mind or felt I needed it). I tend to use a Tamron 70-200 with either a 1.4x or 2x TC for wildlife.

Looking at the two photos you have posted, the top one the focus seems to be on the rock behind the tigers knee joint; what focus mode did you use? I am wondering if you used one shot and between you focussing and taking the photo the tiger may have moved? If this is the case, use AI Servo as this will continually focus while your shutter button is half pressed (likewise if you use back button focus, hold the button until you are ready to shoot)

In terms of the sharpness of the bear, were you shooting through glass, as this will affect your overall sharpness. Similarly do you have a filter on your lens (eg a UV / Skylight filter) as this can impact on sharpness if it isn't a good quality one.

The best thing I have found is to practice really - get used to proper holding techniques and this will make a big difference - I got a sharp shot from my non stabilised 70-200 at 200mm and 1/80 and f4 a couple of weeks ago which I am surprised by!

Hope that helps.


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Nomofica
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Oct 16, 2011 16:59 |  #4

It seems to me that the foliage below the bear is especially sharp relative to the rest of the photo. Seems to me your focus was slightly off.


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Methodical
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Oct 24, 2011 03:46 |  #5

While at the zoo, I typically use a monopod with the 300, but use it handheld at times, and use the 70-200 exclusively hand held. I use Ai Servo and low speed shutter (i.e. not high speed), jack up the ISO when needed to get a high shutter speed, use whatever focus point needed to get the shot (mostly center point), and I take at least 2-3 shots.

I have not used a tripod since a 500mm would be pretty much overkill at the National Zoo, although there is always other bird species that breed at the zoo.


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mn ­ shutterbug
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Jan 08, 2012 11:13 |  #6

The only time I use a tripod is if I'm in a blind for awhile. I've been able to handhold my 100-400 at 400mm as slow as 1/100 second and get a tack sharp photo. It can be done, but it takes a lot of practice and it doesn't always work at this extreme.




  
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Jan 08, 2012 18:36 |  #7

I handhold.




  
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chris_holtmeier
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Jan 08, 2012 18:58 |  #8

When I read "do it handheld" in the title, I thought this thread was about my marriage.



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PINNACLE
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Jan 10, 2012 11:15 as a reply to  @ chris_holtmeier's post |  #9

Always handheld. I went out with a friend a while back taking photos of deer he used a tripod and got next to nothing I took my two dogs on leads and got some real good keepers I have even won comps with 2. I take my camera on most dog walks and try to take at least one photo of something wild. Hand held gives me the freedom to move and get up close even with dogs in tow. If you look at my Flickr most (90% plus) of the wildlife was taken with a Lurcher or 2 in tow.

Good rule above from "overread" focal length x crop more than shutter speed and use your IS if you have it.

Bugs 1/800 or over unless flying as they are usally on flowers or plants that sway in a breeze.

Saying that my 70-300L has very good IS and now after practice I can usually pull off 1/60 at 300mm. I shoot in Av unless I want to shoot at slower shutter speeds for panning so use ISO to increase shutter speed if needed. I also mainly use center focus point unless its something moving and always Al servo. Always focus on an eye, eye contact is good and makes the shot. Use the buttons or toggle on the back to move to focus point to frame the shot.

Your lens might also have a sweet spot for sharpness usally not wide open but I never really bother with this and shoot for DOF so wide open usually to get Bokeh round the subject.


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Jan 22, 2012 23:13 |  #10

500mm f4L IS on a 1D3 hand held all day long, only use a tripod when out shooting sunset shots or when laying down on the ground for long periods of time and need the gimbal head for swiveling and what not. Hand held gives you the option to be ready much faster then a tripod over your shoulder or a monopod. You have to get if off your shoulders and open the legs then take the shot, by then the birds had flown away...............DUH​!!!

Plus when moving close to the birds or wildlife there is nothing large to spook them away, with the gear tight by your side and your creeping on them down low it works out a lot better and they don't get spooked as fast.

I use this to carry my lens around
http://www.kirkphoto.c​om/Kirk_Security_Strap​.html (external link)

I have the kirk photo replacement foot for my 500mm
http://www.kirkphoto.c​om …late_for_500mm_​f4_IS.html (external link)

both together make hand holding a breeze and much more secure then the BlackRapid straps

As for your shots, 1/200 is way to slow turn up the iso if you can to get a higher shutter speed. Also if using a monopod slap it against something sturdy like a wall for added stability. Do you turn your IS off when shooting on a monopod? You can still use it on a monopod usually on tripods you might need to turn it off. Looks like you just need to hone your technique down a bit. Sometime a deep breath before shooting will clam the nerves down.

Sevan


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Jan 23, 2012 08:03 as a reply to  @ S.E.V.'s post |  #11

Tripod whenever possible/practical as I can never hold a long lens as steady as a good ballhead and legs.




  
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Jan 24, 2012 14:04 |  #12

Hey S.E.V how is balancing the lens on the gimbal with kirk replacement foot with a flash and flash bracket? I ask because I use a 7" plate so that I have enough sliding space to get the lens balanced on the gimbal. My flash bracket slides onto the lens plate. Here's the Flash Bracket (external link) I use so it would have to mount on the kirk foot.

Thanks...Al

S.E.V. wrote in post #13751431 (external link)
500mm f4L IS on a 1D3 hand held all day long, only use a tripod when out shooting sunset shots or when laying down on the ground for long periods of time and need the gimbal head for swiveling and what not. Hand held gives you the option to be ready much faster then a tripod over your shoulder or a monopod. You have to get if off your shoulders and open the legs then take the shot, by then the birds had flown away...............DUH​!!!

Plus when moving close to the birds or wildlife there is nothing large to spook them away, with the gear tight by your side and your creeping on them down low it works out a lot better and they don't get spooked as fast.

I use this to carry my lens around
http://www.kirkphoto.c​om/Kirk_Security_Strap​.html (external link)

I have the kirk photo replacement foot for my 500mm
http://www.kirkphoto.c​om …late_for_500mm_​f4_IS.html (external link)

both together make hand holding a breeze and much more secure then the BlackRapid straps

As for your shots, 1/200 is way to slow turn up the iso if you can to get a higher shutter speed. Also if using a monopod slap it against something sturdy like a wall for added stability. Do you turn your IS off when shooting on a monopod? You can still use it on a monopod usually on tripods you might need to turn it off. Looks like you just need to hone your technique down a bit. Sometime a deep breath before shooting will clam the nerves down.

Sevan


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Jan 24, 2012 23:24 |  #13

Methodical wrote in post #13761018 (external link)
Hey S.E.V how is balancing the lens on the gimbal with kirk replacement foot with a flash and flash bracket? I ask because I use a 7" plate so that I have enough sliding space to get the lens balanced on the gimbal. My flash bracket slides onto the lens plate. Here's the Flash Bracket (external link) I use so it would have to mount on the kirk foot.

Thanks...Al

Hi Al

It balances great, I have a custom made flash bracket I made myself that screws into the hole at the front of the foot, but they have an adapter.

http://www.kirkphoto.c​om …_Quick_Release_​Plate.html (external link)

This screws into the same hole at the front of their foot that allows you to attach any arc-swiss bracket to it and this will set the bracket clear of the gimbal plate.

I just noticed that adapter on their web-site right now.

Sevan


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Jan 25, 2012 10:04 |  #14

Thans SEV. One more question. What's the difference or benefit of installing the Kirk foot over the stock unit?

Thanks...Al


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Jan 26, 2012 00:25 |  #15

Methodical wrote in post #13765824 (external link)
Thans SEV. One more question. What's the difference or benefit of installing the Kirk foot over the stock unit?

Thanks...Al

Nothing really Al, just makes one less part on the lens. I can't really think of any benefit over a lens plate other then with the lens plate you get a bit more length to balance on a gimbal if needed, but that's highly unlikely I think. It looks clean is the only benefit I can think of LOL.

Sevan


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Do you use monopod or do it handheld ?
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