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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Bird Talk 
Thread started 04 Oct 2011 (Tuesday) 08:22
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Tripod Techniques / Advice for birds???

 
zamami
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Oct 04, 2011 08:22 |  #1

Hi all. Was wondering if anyone can give me some pointers regarding the use of tripods when photographing birds. I shoot almost exclusively birds and i use a Canon 300mm F.4. I nearly always hand hold but part of me always thinks could i get sharper pictures if i use a tripo? I often shoot with high shutter speeds i.e 1/2000 but recently I have been thinking I would get more feather detail if I used slower shutter speeds.......something like 1/200 or 1/300. To do this I should use a tripod. Recently I tried using a tripod and by the time I got into place the bird had gone and i had missed the shot. For big stationary birds maybe its a good idea but for small song birds hoping around in bushes and trees it's difficult to get focus on the bird before it moves. I have a fairly inexpensive Slik tripod which is a bit fiddly and i seemed to miss lots of shots. At the moment I can't really afford an
expensive tripod! Any thoughts or pointers would be greatly received. Thank you


Richard Cook
7D / 300 F4L / Canon 1.4 Extender
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Chuck ­ Nakell
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Oct 04, 2011 09:31 |  #2

I use a monopod almost exclusively for my birding work (handheld as well, of course). Using a 300mm 2.8 IS, with the IS on, and employing a good tripod-ish posture (your legs make the third leg of the mock tripod), I've managed to get some very sharp images over the years. I'm often shooting at 300-400 for birds that are relatively still.

Although a real tripod is the ultimate in stability, I find it too cumbersome for a lot of the "on the move" birding tactics I use. Such a course may offer you a good compromise between the cumbersome drag of a tripod and having nothing. Good luck.


Chuck
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 14mm 2.8
Canon 35mm 2.0
Canon 200mm 2.8

  
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Muteki
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Oct 04, 2011 13:49 |  #3

For a light-weight lens with some kind of lens stabilization, a tripod/monopod is not needed. Also note that birds can be a fast mover, a tripod, monopod, and/or stabilization system will not stop motion blurs, which can affect the feather details. The best way to retain sharpness and details is to crank up the shutterspeed. In good lighting, I usually shoot between 1/1000 sec. to 1/2000 sec., at f/7.1 to f/8 depending on the subject's colour and the scene. In bad lighting, I can usually get away with about 1/500 sec. at widest aperture, but may have some motion blurs in one or few frames. For stationary subjects that hardly move like owls in the woods, you can probably go even slower. Because my 400/5.6L doesn't have IS, I would use a monopod to stop any camera/lens shake at slower shutterspeed.

As for shooting with tripod/monopod, consider using a Gimbal head, which gives fairly good flexibility in tracking birds, but still not as great handheld though.

Regards,
Raymond


Raymond

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Duane ­ N
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Oct 05, 2011 05:23 as a reply to  @ Muteki's post |  #4

I use the Canon 500mm f/4L for bird photography and I use a tripod about 90% of the time. For larger birds in-flight I hand hold the lens.

I think a lot of it is knowing your subject, predicting where they're going to move to and having some luck.


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hollis_f
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Oct 05, 2011 07:49 |  #5

zamami wrote in post #13203076 (external link)
I often shoot with high shutter speeds i.e 1/2000 but recently I have been thinking I would get more feather detail if I used slower shutter speeds.......something like 1/200 or 1/300.

I'm not sure why you think this, but I'm pretty sure it's not going to be correct.

I use a 300 2.8 and it's almost always used handheld. To get good feather detail you need, in order of importance -

To fill the frame as much as possible.
To have good light, preferably from the side.
To have a fast shutter speed to prevent blur caused by you or the bird moving.


Frank Hollis - Retired mass spectroscopist
Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll complain about the withdrawal of his free fish entitlement.
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5Dmaniac
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Oct 05, 2011 08:09 |  #6

Well, a tripod with a Gimbal head is the ultimate solution for wildlife photography. I use a 500L for my bird photography and hand holding it for longer periods of time is a non-starter for me. So, I use a gimbal head, leave the IS on and shoot away. I agree that hand holding the lens allows for faster reaction times, but I try to predict where a bird will be coming or going.




  
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Larry ­ Weinman
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Oct 06, 2011 08:11 |  #7

I use a tripod with a full Wimberly head most of the time with a 500mm f4. A Wimberly sidekick will also work with the 500. Although some photographers hand hold this lens and I have done it myself on occasion, hand holding this rig becomes a painful experience when doing it for any length of time.


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Tripod Techniques / Advice for birds???
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