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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 25 Jan 2018 (Thursday) 18:35
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100-400mm basic questions

 
BigAl007
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Feb 09, 2018 13:53 |  #31

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18559974 (external link)
It's only fair to point out that you shot this at f9.

If your goal had been to create more creamy bokeh, the lens would have been very capable of doing so if you had used different settings and positioned yourself a bit differently. . That choppy, "nervous" bokeh is not a fault, or a characteristic, of the lens.


.


Tom Reichner wrote in post #18559985 (external link)
No, it is a result of the type of background you chose to put behind the subject, and of the ratio between the camera-to-subject distance and the subject-to-background distance. . And also a result of the aperture you chose to use. . Not a fault or characteristic of the lens.


If you do everything you possibly can to make bokeh look bad, and then it does look bad, how can that be blamed on the optics? . That's like missing a target at 50 yards by 20 feet, and then saying that the firearm was to blame for the inaccuracy.


.


Archibald wrote in post #18559988 (external link)
The Mark I and II versions of the 100-400mm are known to produce this kind of ropy bokeh at times. They are not the only ones. Other lenses do the same.

Anyway, it's silly to say that it doesn't produce the bokeh that it produces.

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I'm with Archibald on this one. I can't see how anyone can say that shooting a lens at one stop down from maximum, well 1 and 1/3 stops to be precise in this case, is a recipe for bad bokeh. Most lenses produce best results, at least at the subject, at about one stop down from maximum aperture.

Also sometimes it is not possible to predict where a subject may decide to "perform" for you, and moving to make a better composition is not possible. You position yourself where you think you will get the best possible shot of your desired subject, but they don't always co-operate. In those situations it would be nice if lenses were better behaved in the bokeh department. Of course branches and twigs can be very difficult when they are just out of focus, since you have the potential problem of opposing blurred edges overlapping and creating artificial hard lines for the interference produced. A big tree will probably have enough range of sizes to make problems over quite a wide range of distances.

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CyberDyneSystems
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Feb 09, 2018 17:29 |  #32

I can get crappy busy backgrounds with the 500mm f/4 too.

Just saying.


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Feb 10, 2018 10:50 |  #33

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18559985 (external link)
No, it is a result of the type of background you chose to put behind the subject, and of the ratio between the camera-to-subject distance and the subject-to-background distance. . And also a result of the aperture you chose to use. . Not a fault or characteristic of the lens.

Could elaborate on this a little, please? I sometimes do get this type of “nervous” bokeh with this lens under the same conditions and the same background, and I still do not know how to fix the problem.


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Tom ­ Reichner
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Feb 10, 2018 12:20 |  #34

Lbsimon wrote in post #18560709 (external link)
Could you elaborate on this a little, please? I sometimes do get this type of “nervous” bokeh with this lens under the same conditions and the same background, and I still do not know how to fix the problem.

Lbsimon,

Could I elaborate? . Why yes, of course! . That is what I love to do - to elaborate. . I am a hopeless elaborator!

There are several things that you can do to get much better bokeh in these situations.

- . Once your subject appears, immediately start thinking about the different backgrounds that are available to you. . Look all around the scene and ask yourself, "what is it that I would most like to have behind my subject?" . One of our jobs as photographers is to maneuver ourselves into the position that will place the most complementary background behind our subjects.

If the background behind your subject is one that you suspect will not look that great in the photo, then of course the first thing you should be doing is to seek a new position to shoot from so that you will have a nicer background behind your subject.

- . If you absolutely can't reposition yourself to get a pleasing background, and the background that you are forced to use is not pleasing, and you want to blur it out as much as possible, then you'll need to get as close to your subject as possible in order maximize the difference between the camera-to-subject distance and the subject-to-background distance.

In other words, if I am stuck with a bad background, then in order to blur it out, the most effective thing I can do is to get my camera close to the subject. . Ideally, if my subject is 50 feet in front of the background vegetation, then I want to be 10 or 15 feet from my subject. . You want that ratio to be no worse than 1:3, and ideally you want it to be more like 1:5 . Get your camera as close to your subject as possible, and get the background as far from your subject as possible.

In these "bad background" situations, you want to get right up in their face! . That is how you blur the bad background out.

- . Also, you want to shoot as tight as possible (meaning use the longest focal length possible). . The tighter you frame around your subject, the more blurry the background will be. . If there is a lot of "unnecessary space" around your subject, then that is only going to make the bad background even worse, because shorter focal lengths have a deeper depth of field, which will be fighting against you in your attempt to blur out the background vegetation. . Aperture is only one way to control depth of field ..... focal length is another way, and is often more effective.

- . If you cannot position yourself so as to align your subject with a nice background, and for whatever reason you still want to take a picture of the animal, even though the background isn't good, then be sure to shoot with the lens set to the largest aperture. . I mean, if a background is all choppy, then of course you want to shoot at f5.6 if you're using the 100-400mm zoom. . f5.6 is already pretty small, and will usually give you more than enough depth of field to get all of the important parts of your subject in focus. . If you go smaller than f5.6 with a bad background, you are only making things worse for yourself.

--------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- ---------------

Below is a photo of a Mule Deer with a potentially choppy background that I shot with the 100-400 v2. . I did everything that I could, as a photographer, to mitigate the choppy forest vegetation.


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- . I looked for a background that would be as even and distraction-free as possible. . The buck was in a rather round-shaped clearing, which was surrounded by deciduous forest. . I did not particularly care for the choppy nature of all the small diameter tree trunks, but I was forced to use it because that's what entirely surrounded the clearing that the buck was in. . So, accepting that this forest would be my background, I then looked for an area of that forest edge that was pretty much just tree trunks, and devoid of Russian Olive trees and small understory plants such as wild rose. This meant that I had to move a couple of hundred yards, so as to get out on the south side of the deer and shoot north, toward the nicer part of the forest edge.

- . Once I was on the south side of the buck, I then had to swing further around to my left, so that the forest edge would be further behind the deer than it was from the place where I was first positioned. . This was to put my background as far as possible behind the deer. . The only reason I didn't move even further to my left was because then some Russian Olive would have been behind the buck (you can see parts of the Russian Olive on the far right edge of the frame). . Imagine how horrible this picture would look if that Russian Olive would have been directly behind the buck? . Ewwwwww! . Yuck! . That would have sucked big time!

- . I kept inching closer to the buck so that I could reduce the camera-to-subject distance. . This, in turn, increases the ratio between the camera-to-subject distance and the subject-to-background distance.

- . I shot at the largest aperture that was available to me - a.k.a. "wide open", which was f5 at this focal length. . This might seem like a "no brainer" for this type of situation, yet it is surprising how many photographers stop down a bit when there is no advantage to doing so. . The 100-400mm v2 is great for this type of shooting because it is extremely sharp wide open. . If I had been using the 100-400 v1, I would have had to stop down about 2/3 of a stop just to get the sharpness I want, which in turn would have compromised my ability to render the background effectively.

- . I shot as tightly as I could for a landscape orientation, which at this distance was 182mm. . If I shot any tighter, I would have framed the deer too tightly and the composition would have been awkward looking. . If I had shot any wider, then the background would be choppier and not as well blurred. . Shooting a bit wide, and then cropping in post is a HORRIBLE idea, if you want to blur the background as much as possible.

I wish that I would have had a few more seconds with this buck before he turned away. . I would have loved to have zoomed in even tighter and shot vertical orientation portraits. . This would have completely blurred out the background and isolated the buck and his antlers even more. . That was indeed my plan, but he started moving again before I could do that, and that was the end of this opportunity. . In hindsight, I wish that I had done this first, instead of shooting the landscape orientation first like I did. . Lesson learned for next time.

But man, things happen so fast and there are so many things bouncing around in my brain when I finally get a subject to shoot - no matter how well I do with an opportunity there will still be something that I mess up; something that could have been done a little better ..... or a lot better :rolleyes:

.

"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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Feb 10, 2018 15:50 as a reply to  @ Tom Reichner's post |  #35

Thanks a lot for taking time to provide such a great tutorial, I am sure it will help many people here.

It does help me a little, but mostly I experience the issue of a choppy background in a couple of similar situations, e.g., a heron standing in water in front of reeds (that would be the worst case). No matter where I position myself, open up the lens, or whatever, those reeds will create this weird bokeh. Or a bird sitting on a tree branch. In both cases the ratio is not 1:3 or 1:5, but rather 20:1.

Of course the choice here would be getting a shot with less than optimal bokeh, or no shot at all.


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Feb 10, 2018 16:24 |  #36

Lbsimon wrote in post #18560954 (external link)
Thanks a lot for taking time to provide such a great tutorial, I am sure it will help many people here.

It does help me a little, but mostly I experience the issue of a choppy background in a couple of similar situations, e.g., a heron standing in water in front of reeds (that would be the worst case). No matter where I position myself, open up the lens, or whatever, those reeds will create this weird bokeh. Or a bird sitting on a tree branch. In both cases the ratio is not 1:3 or 1:5, but rather 20:1.

Of course the choice here would be getting a shot with less than optimal bokeh, or no shot at all.

As BigAl pointed out, shooting wildlife is often a game of opportunity. You shoot what you can at the prevailing conditions. You get what you can at the time. Usually it is impossible to see the bokeh while shooting, so realistically it can't really be manipulated or controlled.

In my experience, bokeh with this lens is usually not a significant problem. It is only conspicuous in a minority of cases. So I don't worry about it.

If you do get a once-in-a-lifetime shot and can't live with the bokeh in that particular shot, you might be able to fix it in post.

As I mentioned before, the weird bokeh is not exclusive to the 100-400mm lenses, but is seen in other lenses too. I have heard that it is due to aspherical elements in the optical formula. Whether that is true or not, it is an inherent property of the lens. Aspherical lens elements are employed because they have optical advantages that outweigh the disadvantages. So I would suggest to go out there and enjoy the benefits of your high-performance lenses.


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Tom ­ Reichner
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Feb 10, 2018 16:53 |  #37

Lbsimon wrote in post #18560954 (external link)
. . . No matter where I position myself, open up the lens, or whatever, those reeds will create this weird bokeh. Or a bird sitting on a tree branch. In both cases the ratio is not 1:3 or 1:5, but rather 20:1.

Of course the choice here would be getting a shot with less than optimal bokeh, or no shot at all.

.
Right! . Exactly!

There are times when the best thing to do is to just sit and enjoy the view, and not try to take pictures.

In fact, most of the time I am afield with animals around me, I am just taking in the view, because they just aren't in the right position for great looking photos. . If you wait long enough, then eventually something gets into a place where you can work with it to get the kind of photos you want. . Until this happens, it's better to just enjoy watching the critters. . No sense taking pictures that won't look good.

At least that's the way I see things. . Others may have a different perspective on this.


.


"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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Feb 11, 2018 19:49 |  #38

I use the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS ii hand held, on a monopod or on a tripod depending on what subjects I am shooting and what my environment is like.

For fast moving subjects like aircraft in air show, I will shoot hand held. I have no problem even when using slower shutter speeds to get the propellers or rotors in a blur rather than freezing them.

For non-moving subjects like landscapes, I use a tripod. I will use a monopod when my shoot is an extended time - like an American football game. I use the monopod to rest my hands and arms.


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Feb 11, 2018 20:08 |  #39

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18561013 (external link)
.
Right! . Exactly!

There are times when the best thing to do is to just sit and enjoy the view, and not try to take pictures.

In fact, most of the time I am afield with animals around me, I am just taking in the view, because they just aren't in the right position for great looking photos. . If you wait long enough, then eventually something gets into a place where you can work with it to get the kind of photos you want. . Until this happens, it's better to just enjoy watching the critters. . No sense taking pictures that won't look good.

At least that's the way I see things. . Others may have a different perspective on this.

.

The subject matters. If it's a Snow leopard, or a Bigfoot, my perspective is entirely different than yours.


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100-400mm basic questions
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