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Backyard Birding
Lens: Sigma 120-400 & Pentax 60-250 w/ 1.4x Camera: K3 II Photo Location: Pennsylvania 
Posted By: jcsnyc, 04-08-2020, 02:32 PM

One good thing for me from quarantine at home has been a daily focus (no pun intended) on birding in my backyard.

I added a bird feeder a few weeks ago, and have been watching lots of videos (I really like Paul Miguel Wildlife Photography | on YouTube), playing with a range of lenses and am very happy with today's photos.

For those interested in details:
1) I have a K1 II and a K3 II (which I was going to sell), but have found that the K3 II is working out really well for birding. The 1.5 crop advantage is great and the high-speed mode really crushes the K1. Not only is it faster, but the buffer does not seem to fill as fast. NOTE: I am shooting purely in RAW.

2) Today I set up a really nice little perch near the bird feeder and it's very helpful to ensure a nice background. Oddly, most of today's photos occurred nearby but not on the perch. I also have worked a "blind" by removing the screen from my bedroom window and shooting through it with my camera resting on a bean bag.

3) For lenses, I have been shooting mostly with a Sigma APO 120-400. I am pretty much always at 400 (or close to it) and it does not do very well at 5.6. BUT if I close it down to 8.0, it is very nice. I also had it tuned by Sigma last year and on my K1 II, I have micro-adjust set to 0, but on the K3 II, I have to go to -4.

I am also experimenting with my 60-250 w/ 1.4 converter. It's pretty good, but I think the 120-400 is beating it out. That extra reach is essential with small birds.

I also have a Tamron 80-200, which I tried out a few days ago. It's SUPER SHARP and the 2.8 is nice, but I miss the reach.

Honestly, I think a Prime 400 or 500 would be awesome. Debating whether the FA or DA 300 makes sense, as I really like the 400 end of the Sigma.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my pics. These are all from today - so I am really happy to see my skills are improving!

I still need to work on "sharper" images, I think, but lots of time to practice.

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04-08-2020, 03:42 PM   #2
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Photo no 8 is sharp , and I donít know what lens or settings you had ,good catch
05-27-2020, 05:28 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Flanoman Quote
Photo no 8 is sharp , and I donít know what lens or settings you had ,good catch
Very nice shots.
I have some. Will post when I get to the computer.
05-27-2020, 09:35 PM   #4
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That is a very nice variety of birds you have caught there. The first two shots are pretty, but I think the last five, starting with the black-and-gray-and white bird are the best. All are sharp, and you have caught some good poses.

The squirrel shot is a good one, too - nice and sharp, catching its very fine whiskers nicely.

The bean bag obviously works well - but perhaps a tripod might do better? Or maybe the bean bag gives you more flexibility?

05-28-2020, 06:31 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jcsnyc Quote
Honestly, I think a Prime 400 or 500 would be awesome. Debating whether the FA or DA 300 makes sense, as I really like the 400 end of the Sigma.
The 300 ƒ4 with the 1.4 TC is the defacto forum minimum standard for birding, if you're Mr. Money Bags, the DA 560 is for you.
My solution was a second hand Tamron SP AF 300 2.8 ED [IF] and the F 1.7x AF adapter giving me 510mm, ƒ4.5.

And especially for long lenses a tripod is a necessity. For both stability and to manage the weight of these lenses, for more than the DA*60-250 and DA*300 both of which are quite acceptable for hand held at high shutter speed.
10-22-2020, 06:40 AM   #6
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6 months later! I wanted to compare my photos from 4/2020 to now. Curious if I have improved in my processing, lens usage, etc.

All taken with with Sigma 120-400 or Pentax 60-250 with K1 MKII or K3 II.

Gentle Criticism appreciated.
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11-04-2020, 10:16 AM   #7
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Wow, you have a ton of activity in your backyard! I hope to get mine setup for some good birding this coming year. Hummingbirds are high on my list for photos, so that's my goal next year.
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