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Early Attempts at Bird Photography
Posted By: channeler, 03-06-2008, 09:22 AM

Got a Kenko 1.5 TC yesterday so thought I'd try it out on the only long lens I presently have, a Sigma 70-300mm DL. A far way short of the standard some people are able to achieve photographing birds. Still the Sigma + TC did a little better than I expected it would. What do you think? I've included the exif data but I'm not sure just how accurately they are recorded by the camera when there's a TC on. Not sure if SR works either. It was pretty dull here today so light was a problem. A K20D would have coped better with high ISO. The shots were hand held and I guess would have been sharper with a tripod, especially as I couldn't achieve high shutter speeds. Autofocus seemed to work ok with the TC. Surprised that on the whole the camera seemed to judge the exposure right. I thought I'd have to adjust 1 stop due to loss of light with the TC. On the first one I even used - compensation. For such small birds I think I either need 600mm or a hide. No PP on either except the picture of the Goldfinch is a crop as it was further away than the sparrow. It wasn't as sharp to begin with either but I've included it only for interest. Do you get Goldfinches where you are, those of you who live in Canada and the USA?

Paul

House Sparrow. 300mm +1.5 TC, 1/250th, F8, ISO 1600, Spot Metering, Centre Focus, Exp Comp -0.7, SR on



Goldfinch. 300mm +1.5 TC, 1/100th, F8, ISO 800, Spot Metering, Centre Focus, SR on


Last edited by channeler; 03-06-2008 at 10:28 AM.
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03-06-2008, 10:38 AM   #2
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If these are your first attempts, I would say you're on the right track. Any time you add a TC you are going to lose some IQ and your shots are pretty decent. As to whether these birds reside here, I can't say as I'm not yet a bird shooter except for ducks and geese.
03-06-2008, 10:45 AM   #3
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Hi Paul, I like the sparrow better than the gold finch, that second is kinda blurry. I'm not absolutely certain, but IIRC my sister call that kind of sparrow an "English Sparrow", which I suppose is fitting. The Gold Finches we have on this side of the pond do not have the red in their faces like your English ones. Keep practicing, birding ain't easy, I know I've tried innumerable times and have never gotten the courage to post my very poor attempts.

NaCl(when they call them turkeys they aren't talking about the bird)H2O
03-06-2008, 10:53 AM   #4
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Great 1st attempts, one thing you'll need for sharp photos using the TC is at least a monopod or better yet a tripod with a decent ball head. Your shutter speeds are way to slow especially since SR doesn't work as well with the TC (the camera doesn't know about the adjusted focal length).

A lot of getting those close bird photos is knowing your subjects, not necessarily having a huge lens. A lot of photo mags will have articles in the spring about "back yard birding" and how to setup some simple ways of getting good shots (using a camping tent as a blind, getting birds to land on branches you setup near your feeders etc).

That is a really neat looking Finch, we get them in this area (Finches that is) but not that color (at least I've never seen one). Thanks for sharing and keep on posting more examples


John

03-06-2008, 01:20 PM   #5
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Paul

Like others have said, for first attempts they are quite good.

One thing you have proven however is the limit of shake reduction.

your second shot is below 2 stops under the hand hold limit 1/(focal lenght x crop factor) and I suspect you aslo suffer from not being able to set the focal length to compensate for the TC.

As to goldfinches, last time I saw one like that was in france, they can occasionally be seen in canada, but nly if blown seriously off course or the result of escaping from captivity. Here, that variety ios referred to as Europeen Goldfinch.

You might also want to try a flash, as it can help freeze the image. but i admit it is really hard to get a full frame shot of something that is only 4-5 inches long to begin with.

Here are my best at filling the frame
SIgma 70-200 F2.8 + 2X TC as close as I can get.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/187646-post19.html
Pentax 300 F4 plus 1.7x AF TC with flash almost full frame on a 500 mm equivelent followed by 70-200 above wide open with 1.4x TC at 1/30
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/106132-post4.html
03-06-2008, 01:44 PM   #6
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The trick to bid photography is patience. Sneak up on the little so and so's. With patience, common birds can be apporached quite closely, particularly when they are occupied with something.

Show little or no visible interest in the bird. Use your peripheral vision to keep an eye on him. Watch for the favourite perches. Birds commonly land on a specific branch when returning to feed their young. They also have their regular song perches during mating season. Don't go very far toward the perch you have chosen between his visits. Just sneak ahead a meter or so at a time. Don't sneak up in a straight line. (You might even find a better angle!). Try not to move while the bird is on the perch and can see you. While you are sneaking up, take shots. You want the bird to get gradually used to the idea that you are not looking for lunch, and to get used to the sound of the shutter.

It is obvious that you got quite close to the subjects in these shots. Be patient with yourself as well as the bird. It takes a long time to get the image that (almost) satisfies you.
03-06-2008, 04:37 PM   #7
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Thanks Steve. Thanks NaClH2o, yes I agree the Goldfinch was blurry. Wouldn't have bothered posting it but I thought the colours might be interesting and I think it is found throughout Europe but was curious if it was in similar latitudes in North America.

QuoteOriginally posted by palmor Quote
Great 1st attempts, one thing you'll need for sharp photos using the TC is at least a monopod or better yet a tripod with a decent ball head. Your shutter speeds are way to slow especially since SR doesn't work as well with the TC (the camera doesn't know about the adjusted focal length).

A lot of getting those close bird photos is knowing your subjects, not necessarily having a huge lens. A lot of photo mags will have articles in the spring about "back yard birding" and how to setup some simple ways of getting good shots (using a camping tent as a blind, getting birds to land on branches you setup near your feeders etc).

That is a really neat looking Finch, we get them in this area (Finches that is) but not that color (at least I've never seen one). Thanks for sharing and keep on posting more examples


John
Thanks for the tips John.

Paul

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Paul

Like others have said, for first attempts they are quite good.

One thing you have proven however is the limit of shake reduction.

your second shot is below 2 stops under the hand hold limit 1/(focal lenght x crop factor) and I suspect you aslo suffer from not being able to set the focal length to compensate for the TC.

As to goldfinches, last time I saw one like that was in france, they can occasionally be seen in canada, but nly if blown seriously off course or the result of escaping from captivity. Here, that variety ios referred to as Europeen Goldfinch.

You might also want to try a flash, as it can help freeze the image. but i admit it is really hard to get a full frame shot of something that is only 4-5 inches long to begin with.

Here are my best at filling the frame
SIgma 70-200 F2.8 + 2X TC as close as I can get.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/187646-post19.html
Pentax 300 F4 plus 1.7x AF TC with flash almost full frame on a 500 mm equivelent followed by 70-200 above wide open with 1.4x TC at 1/30
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/106132-post4.html
Thanks for the comments and ideas Lowell. Could I ask is it possible to set the focal length to compensate with some combinations?

Paul

QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
The trick to bid photography is patience. Sneak up on the little so and so's. With patience, common birds can be apporached quite closely, particularly when they are occupied with something.

Show little or no visible interest in the bird. Use your peripheral vision to keep an eye on him. Watch for the favourite perches. Birds commonly land on a specific branch when returning to feed their young. They also have their regular song perches during mating season. Don't go very far toward the perch you have chosen between his visits. Just sneak ahead a meter or so at a time. Don't sneak up in a straight line. (You might even find a better angle!). Try not to move while the bird is on the perch and can see you. While you are sneaking up, take shots. You want the bird to get gradually used to the idea that you are not looking for lunch, and to get used to the sound of the shutter.

It is obvious that you got quite close to the subjects in these shots. Be patient with yourself as well as the bird. It takes a long time to get the image that (almost) satisfies you.
Thanks for the tips Albert. For these shots I parked myself on a seat just inside our small conservatory that protrudes into the garden. One problem was the noisy autofocus which got the blue tits going with their alarm calls. The 300 DA on my wish list would presumably be a lot quieter and sharper.

Paul

03-06-2008, 05:38 PM   #8
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Hey Paul, the sparrow looks pretty good I've been struggling with bird photography for a short time now and it is a challenge! Even with sr the birds are moving usually so I try to use m or tv and keep the shutter at 1000 at least if possible, especially flying birds I'd trash alot in av mode. Here's a couple of north american goldfinches on my upside down goldfinch feeder. The male gets bright yellow in summer

03-06-2008, 06:33 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by channeler Quote
Thanks for the comments and ideas Lowell. Could I ask is it possible to set the focal length to compensate with some combinations?

Paul
Paul problem with the TCs is for any lens that feeds focal length through the TC to the camera. the camera sees the lens focal length but it knows nothing about the TC. I have asked pentax for over a year to give an option for correction, but so far they have not given this
03-06-2008, 07:49 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by channeler Quote
Thanks Steve. Thanks NaClH2o, yes I agree the Goldfinch was blurry. Wouldn't have bothered posting it but I thought the colours might be interesting and I think it is found throughout Europe but was curious if it was in similar latitudes in North America.

Paul
Even though the bird is a little blurry, I did enjoy seeing this different version (for me) of a goldfinch. Very colorful. Thanks for posting it. I'm still trying to get a decent shot of these little guys that we have locally. Hopefully this summer will bring me some luck, and a longer lens!
03-06-2008, 09:12 PM   #11
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Nice shots Paul - I think bird photography could be in your future. Given the equipment you were using nice job indeed! I have a 1.7 TC (Pentax) - I find the SR does not really work and you are quite right about the tri-pod and as others have mentioned patience is the key I think. Nice shots looking forward to some more!
03-06-2008, 11:08 PM   #12
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Hi Paul, pretty good for a first attempt especially the sparrow shot. I have never seen a finch like that, I'll attach a picture of some American Goldfinches. All my bird guides are for North American species, I looked but could not find anything close to your bird. The attached image btw is not a Pentax image.

Take care, Heinrich

03-07-2008, 01:37 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by borno Quote
Hey Paul, the sparrow looks pretty good I've been struggling with bird photography for a short time now and it is a challenge! Even with sr the birds are moving usually so I try to use m or tv and keep the shutter at 1000 at least if possible, especially flying birds I'd trash alot in av mode. Here's a couple of north american goldfinches on my upside down goldfinch feeder. The male gets bright yellow in summer
Thanks Borno and that's a good shot you posted. I would have tried Tv mode but the light was so poor it didn't seem to matter which mode to use on this occasion. I think I need to get the hang of manual more though.

Paul

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Paul problem with the TCs is for any lens that feeds focal length through the TC to the camera. the camera sees the lens focal length but it knows nothing about the TC. I have asked pentax for over a year to give an option for correction, but so far they have not given this
Thanks Lowell. Your answer prompted a dim memory of something in the camera manual so I went back for a read. I suspect the answer will be that it won't work, but on P69 I saw that there is something about manually putting in the focal length of a lens, though this feature is designed for lenses where the camera cannot access lens data. There presumably would be a trade off as, if it would work, the lens would as I understand it have to be in manual aperture mode. I can experiment but perhaps you already know the answer to this?

Paul

QuoteOriginally posted by Fritz Quote
Even though the bird is a little blurry, I did enjoy seeing this different version (for me) of a goldfinch. Very colorful. Thanks for posting it. I'm still trying to get a decent shot of these little guys that we have locally. Hopefully this summer will bring me some luck, and a longer lens!
Thanks Fred, I too am hoping for a long lens in the summer, probably the 300 DA F4, though 400mm would be nice, but can't see that happening.

Paul

QuoteOriginally posted by daacon Quote
Nice shots Paul - I think bird photography could be in your future. Given the equipment you were using nice job indeed! I have a 1.7 TC (Pentax) - I find the SR does not really work and you are quite right about the tri-pod and as others have mentioned patience is the key I think. Nice shots looking forward to some more!
Thanks Dave. I would have dearly liked a Pentax 1.7 TC, but none to be had at the moment. Perhaps they'll start producing them again now things seem to be getting going again with Pentax lenses. I did think about a sigma one but it looked like there could be compatibility issues. Still on first impressions it looks like the Kenko one will do a reasonable job. I also have a 2x but have scarcely tried it yet. That is certainly one for a bright day and a tripod.

Paul

QuoteOriginally posted by Heinrich Lohmann Quote
Hi Paul, pretty good for a first attempt especially the sparrow shot. I have never seen a finch like that, I'll attach a picture of some American Goldfinches. All my bird guides are for North American species, I looked but could not find anything close to your bird. The attached image btw is not a Pentax image.

Take care, Heinrich
Thanks Heinrich. The North American varieties are beautiful birds as well.

Paul

Last edited by channeler; 03-07-2008 at 08:15 AM.
03-07-2008, 07:25 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Heinrich Lohmann Quote
Hi Paul, pretty good for a first attempt especially the sparrow shot. I have never seen a finch like that, I'll attach a picture of some American Goldfinches. All my bird guides are for North American species, I looked but could not find anything close to your bird. The attached image btw is not a Pentax image.

Take care, Heinrich
It shows up as an escape in the petersons eastern guide. It also shows up as an exotic in the Sibley's guide, but not in the Peterson western Guide
03-08-2008, 01:46 AM   #15
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Nice pics.
better than my current attempts at birds :P

What is a good lens to start bird photography.
Everyday on my way to school, on one tree, there are 4 Bald Eagles, and 3 hawks.
Same three, every day. Always looking in the same spots.

I would like to eventually try to get a picture of these, but my maximum focal length atm is 70mm.

Would 200 mm be enough? (there is a m 200 at the pawn shop that has been sitting there for 2 years)
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