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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Bird Talk 
Thread started 07 Feb 2014 (Friday) 20:59
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Focusing small birds

 
orion4211
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Feb 07, 2014 20:59 |  #1

I bought a 400mm 5.6 today and took it out for its first tests. How far away from birds perched in trees should I be to get a sharp image. I took some today but failed to get sharp images even shooting at 1/2000+ looking for some help in using this lens as its my first jump into birding/wildlife. I am currently using a 40D, waiting to upgrade to the 70D later this year.

Thanks.


Flickr (external link) Canon 70d | Canon 40d |17-40mm L | 70-200mm L f/4 | 400mm L f/5.6 | Sigmalux 50 1.4 |

  
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dasher108
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Feb 07, 2014 21:19 |  #2

post a few photos with exif


T3i |70D |70-200L| 400L | 100-400L | 24-105L | 50 1.8 | sig 10-20 | sig 150-500

  
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orion4211
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Feb 07, 2014 21:23 |  #3

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

Flickr (external link) Canon 70d | Canon 40d |17-40mm L | 70-200mm L f/4 | 400mm L f/5.6 | Sigmalux 50 1.4 |

  
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orion4211
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Feb 07, 2014 21:26 |  #4

This one was from about 80ft away. 1/3200 at iso 400 f5.6


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karobinson
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Feb 07, 2014 21:33 |  #5

On my ipad it looks like your focus point is the tree branch, not the bird. And the tree branch looks pretty darn sharp.


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HuskyKMA
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Feb 08, 2014 03:10 |  #6

karobinson wrote in post #16672576 (external link)
On my ipad it looks like your focus point is the tree branch, not the bird. And the tree branch looks pretty darn sharp.

Agreed 100%


Canon 40D w/ BG-E2N Grip| 400mm f/5.6L | 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II | 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS | 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 | Gitzo GT3541LS w/ RRS BH-55

  
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HuskyKMA
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Feb 08, 2014 03:18 |  #7

Here's the EXIF for that shot: EXIF (external link)

Shot at 1/3200 sec so camera shake shouldn't be an issue.

At 76.6ft and f/5.6 your depth of field only extends 13" in front or behind your focus point. The bird looks like it's more that 13" in front of that large branch behind it. So if your auto-focus missed the bird and got the branch, the bird isn't going to be in focus.


Canon 40D w/ BG-E2N Grip| 400mm f/5.6L | 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II | 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS | 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 | Gitzo GT3541LS w/ RRS BH-55

  
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orion4211
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Feb 08, 2014 06:57 |  #8

Ah. Ok. Looks like I got a lot of learning to do.


Flickr (external link) Canon 70d | Canon 40d |17-40mm L | 70-200mm L f/4 | 400mm L f/5.6 | Sigmalux 50 1.4 |

  
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Nighthound
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Feb 08, 2014 08:26 |  #9

I agree with the observations above. This type of shot is best done using manual focus. AF can be hit and miss through this kind of obstruction. It appears that if you had lowered your vantage point you would have had a clear shot at the bird. Congrats on the new 400, great glass.


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CDMOOSE
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Feb 08, 2014 09:49 |  #10

Interfering branches aside, 80' from a small bird is a long way; strive for less than half that distance. Also, there is no need to shoot at those high shutter speeds for a stationery bird; using the one over the focal length rule, try 1/400 sec.
Al


Al
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Duane ­ N
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Feb 08, 2014 18:16 |  #11

orion4211 wrote in post #16673182 (external link)
Ah. Ok. Looks like I got a lot of learning to do.

Keep at it and try to have fun doing it...makes it less frustrating in the long run. Try to isloate the bird from clutter so your camera isn't fooled into focusing on something else...of course, the bird has to cooperate.


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Philihase
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Feb 09, 2014 02:59 |  #12

Being a total beginer myself I hope this is correct but it helps me in situations like the above shot. Use back button focus so that when you have latched on to the bird you can take the finger off and it stops the AF bouncing around all the branches.
Oh and as its my first post I´d better say Hi there and thanks to the people who are posting some inspirational shots that keep me lurking the forums :)


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orion4211
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Feb 09, 2014 10:26 |  #13

I had a little more success on the focusing after trying again. I'm wondering, anyone still use or have used a 40d? I am going to upgrade my body later this year. Still deciding on a 7d or 70d. What 40d settings do you use?


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Tom ­ Reichner
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Feb 11, 2014 10:44 |  #14

Orion,
I have had a 40D in the past, but actually have much more experience with the very similar 50D. Both are fine cameras, and I have sold and published many hundreds of photos taken with it. At this point in your bird photography pursuits, I don't think that "upgrading" to a different camera will be of much help. What you want to focus on is setting up better situations, not on gear and settings.

For 1.6 crop sensor bodies, such as your 40D, with the 400 f5.6 lens, the settings I would use for most bird situations are:
Aperture Priority, with the aperture set at f5.6 for most situations
ISO 400
White Balance: stick with auto for now, but start experimenting with the K setting. Take a shot at 5800K, then take another shot of the exact same thing at 6500K, then another at 4800K, etc. Then compare the different photos to the object you photographed, and determine which one looks most similar to the "real thing".
Shutter speed: I would just shoot at f5.6 and ISO 400, and let the shutter speed fall where it may. But, of course, use compensation to add light as needed (this will give you a slower shutter speed).
USE A TRIPOD! If you get in the habit of shooting birds at close distances, on a tripod, you will become accustomed to excellent, sharp, highly detailed images. After becoming accustomed to such great results, you will wonder why you ever bothered to shoot without a tripod. You will also wonder why you ever bothered to shoot small birds that were 80 feet away.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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Focusing small birds
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