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08-17-2011, 06:45 PM   #1
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K5 ISO settings for birding.

I am an owner of a K5 and an A*600mm and I enjoy bird photography. My question is about the ISO settings. Is it better to have the lowest ISO setting available "80" but no highlight adjustment or go to ISO "160" but with Highlight adjustment. I shoot in RAW and mostly use TAV mode while birding. Often I find my birds are burnt in the white area. Thank you for your advise.


Last edited by ramiot; 08-17-2011 at 06:54 PM.
08-17-2011, 06:56 PM   #2
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It all depends a) how still the subject is, b) how much light you have to play with.

One of my best ever shots of a Yellow-jacket Canary, sitting on a stone wall, crunching a a seed husk.. actually caught the seed husk exploding in mid-air... bright sunny day, F6.7 @300mm, ISO 200, shutter speed 750 (this is from memory).

I could have stepped down to ISO 100 but I would have had to either drop my shutter speed. F6.7 @300mm was the fastest (most open) aperture that lens would provide.... but the shot is great IMHO.

I shoot a fair bit of wild life (and my dogs)... slow ISO gives you better clarity but you lose shutter speed... and those small birds are really fast.

Anyone from New Zealand will tell how hard it is to get a good shot of a Fantail, Robin or Waxeye.

End of the day it comes down to the light you have and the balance of shutter speed, ISO and Aperture. Good luck.

Last edited by baker5; 08-18-2011 at 12:33 PM.
08-17-2011, 08:38 PM   #3
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I am cornfused. Why do you want to shoot at 80 anyway? That K-5 has a lot of head room. Just go up and then slow down or speed up the shutter speed. You can always recover detail from a little underexposed but none if you blow the whites or any thing for that matter.
I would love to see your pics with that 600mm lens. Do you have any posted?

Last edited by garyk; 08-17-2011 at 08:52 PM.
08-17-2011, 08:40 PM   #4
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I have the A*600 and the K-5 and I'm still experimenting with what the two can do. I have stayed away from in camera corrections after not being pleased with it in the past. Anything over 300mm starts to have an issue with things being in focus (depth of focus) where you might get the beak of a bird in focus and have the eye blurred. To correct that, you need to step down the lens to perhaps f11

Another issue is the speed of longer lenses. 5.6 isn't bad and the A*600 is sharp wide open, but that isn't the sharpest that the lens can do. Again, if you're starting at 5.6, shutter speed won't be what you want, especially if you drop it down to f11 or more for lens sharpness and dof.

The other issue is shake..especially with the A*600 since it's mount is so far back, you need a reasonable shutter speed.

Of course if you lower the F stop, and increase the shutter speed, you need to crank the ISO. This is where the K-5 shines. If you can run it through some noise reduction software (if needed), you might be golden.

Here is a shot taken during a dark gloomy winter day with the A*600 at F8 and ISO3200. I did run it through denoise and it still stayed reasonable sharp...



08-18-2011, 03:43 AM   #5
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TAv Mode is excellent,I thoroughly enjoy using it on my pentax cameras. I wish canon and Nikon had a similar mode - instead of fumbling through menus just to set up AUTO ISO

With my Sigma 100-300mm f/4 APO EX DG I often find myself using ISO 400 @f/5.6 1/250th as my basic exposure - though when I am doing strobist wildlife photography the shutter speed can drop to 1/125th to balance with ambient light but I usually keep the ISO up to reduce the need for high power settings - because with flash the longer recycle times at high power settings can get in the way.

08-18-2011, 05:39 AM   #6
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I've seen advise from others here that when shooting white birds they use a negative exposure compensation to avoid blowing out the capture.
I plan to try that next time myself.
08-18-2011, 06:45 AM   #7
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I don't shoot a lot of birds, but I do shoot the occasional Squirrel... Although some of you guys are in a different league than me, I thought the whole point of the K5 was its expanded ISO abilities? Beyond being excellent in many other areas, the K5 gives you the advantage of some speed at higher ISO values.....and I certainly intend to use it...and do!
I have a Canon acquaintance that swears he has never taken a photo beyond ISO 100, and never will....I call that absurd and ridiculous beyond reason. Yes his shots are excellent, but not half as good as all the many thousands he has missed because of his insanity.

A bird in the hand is still worth two in the bush.....

Best Regards!

Just a quick snap of a common sight here....at ISO 3200with no before or after NR. Works for me!
[IMG] [/IMG]
08-18-2011, 08:52 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by garyk Quote
I am cornfused. Why do you want to shoot at 80 anyway? That K-5 has a lot of head room. Just go up and then slow down or speed up the shutter speed. You can always recover detail from a little underexposed but none if you blow the whites or any thing for that matter.
I would love to see your pics with that 600mm lens. Do you have any posted?
Thanks to all of you for your replies...

here are some photos with the A*600mm, I had the ISO setting to Exteded ISO mode but using an aperture of F:11 or 13 and slow shutter (For fix birds) I allowed the ISO to reach up to 5,000 on some of them. My problems with washed whites is probably when I use my Better beamer (Flasm) since the distance of the birds is probably 25 feet. Thanks all for your advice as my friends all have Canon and Nikon and dont know nothing about Iso 80 vs Highlight adjustment. I always reduce my "Negative exposure" up to minus 2/3 EV.



By ramiot at 2011-08-11


By ramiot at 2011-08-11


By ramiot at 2011-07-17


By ramiot at 2011-07-17


This one with high ISO

By ramiot at 2011-07-26


By ramiot at 2011-07-01


Last edited by ramiot; 08-18-2011 at 09:00 AM.
08-18-2011, 09:37 AM   #9
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great photos man.
08-18-2011, 10:24 AM   #10
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although I shoot the K7 not the K5, and clearly would love to have your prime, I think I can comment quite effectively here.

FIrst of all, unless I have missed something, the highlight protection is usually applied to JPEGs, not RAW. shooting RAW means just that, although when you select to use it on the camera, I believe it actually may result in some under exposure in order to produce the wider dynamic range in the JPEG image, BUT the real answer to saving whites, is to use spot metering and expose on the whites (for an all white bird) or deliberately under exposing to preserve the highlights. again, spot metering is the best to ensure that you meter on what you want to, out of the scene, and let the backgroud go where it wants, darker or lighter.

Also, for birding, I have found P-TTL a royal pain in the ass, compared to TTL. I sometimes wish pentax retained on the upper end bodies the dual flash metering of the *istD because it can be very useful, however that is a discussion for another day. With an A lens, P-TTL should be able to work in spot mode, and meter correctly for the area at the spot metering. remember however the spot is not tiny, it is about as big as the center circle around the focusing indicator (1-3% of the frame) and you may need to consier under exposing by a stop to protect the highlights,

just for fun, here is the *istD with K300/4 and 1.7x AF TC using TTL flash



no matter what you do, white is an issue
08-18-2011, 08:31 PM   #11
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Nice shots Ramiot. is the A* a manual focus lens? If so, I am impressed with the focus more than anything. well done.
Still a little lost why anyone would use TAv mode with a better beamer? I aint never tried it at all.
If I am using my beamer I go all manual.
Anyway nice shooting.

Last edited by garyk; 08-18-2011 at 08:36 PM.
08-19-2011, 12:09 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
no matter what you do, white is an issue
unless you are using your flash manually - and let us not forget that Nikon flash units have 1/2 and 1/3rd stop power increments on their flash units too, which is very handy for wireless work. I wish pentax would do the same.
08-19-2011, 02:32 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by garyk Quote
is the A* a manual focus lens?
Indeed it is, and Ramiot, I think you've got good mastery of that fine piece of glassware.
The beauty of the A lenses is that TAv mode is fully functional, as opposed to M lenses, though M42 lenses would do just fine, except the viewfinder dulls when stopping the lenses down.

It means that aperture is set where you want it, and shutter speed is set where needed to avoid motion blur (or to create motion blur as desired), thereby making only ISO the variable in the exposure equation. Given the K-5 has decent leeway there, it only makes sense to use TAv in those situations.
08-19-2011, 05:59 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by garyk Quote
Nice shots Ramiot. is the A* a manual focus lens? If so, I am impressed with the focus more than anything. well done.
Still a little lost why anyone would use TAv mode with a better beamer? I aint never tried it at all.
If I am using my beamer I go all manual.
Anyway nice shooting.
Thanks to everybody for your comments and advise. The A*600mm lens is manual focus and I must say that for birding it is a plus. The focus ring is sensitive and precise. As for TAV and BB, I figure they go well togetter as TAV is almost manual except for ISO who is managed by the camera.

Lowell Goudge "the highlight protection is usually applied to JPEGs, not RAW" ... If that is the case??? then I will go back to extended ISO at 80 and reduce more my exposing to a full stop or more. Thanks.
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