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05-04-2013, 05:54 PM   #1
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Q+ DA 55-300 Pied Billed Grebe and Red Breasted Merganser

Hi All,

The "reach" thread has served it's purpose, but IMO is getting a bit cumbersome with size, so I thought I'd start posting the new stuff I shoot in their own threads from now on. . .it'll pump up our thread count here.

These two species are part of the reason I wanted a Q for the extreme cropped FOV. They are both divers and very wary of shoreline activity, so the closest I can usually get is 50 ft or so. With my APS-C DSLRs and 714mm, it's possible to get some very good shots, but it usually has taken me hours to get just a few shots because the lake is pretty big, has virtually no cover at the shoreline, and I don't use hides or camo. I only see these guys in the spring, maybe for a few weeks, and I always try to get at least a few keepers of them if I can each year.

I'm still getting used to shooting the Q and the Pentax adapter, so I've been making some huge mistakes -- like not checking the aperture ring. More than once, I've started shooting with this kit, then while chimping, I notice that the ISO is very high and the results are very soft. I look at the aperture ring, and it's set at 3 or 4 -- f16-22 with the DA 55-300 -- apparently I inadvertently turned the ring when I put the Q in the bag or took it out. . . Got to get into the habit of checking the ring before I shoot. . . With the Grebe, I also started freaking out when I thought that the camera or the Pentax adapter was malfunctioning. All of a sudden, the LCD would black out when I actuated the shutter, but there was no shutter sound -- I went through the usual drill of checking the battery charge, turning the camera off, then back on again, pulling the battery and using a freshly charged one, and kept getting the same result. . . then I realized that the sun had come out and the shutter speed had increased over the 1/1000 max of the Adapter, and the Q had switched to the electronic shutter!

One tip I can share about using Focus Peaking with the Q for super tele work -- with the lens wide open at long FLs, the DOF is usually pretty evident on the LCD as you can see the area that's in focus move across the EVF as you move the focus ring, especially when shooting down on the water like this. What I did for these was to try to place the bird about 1/3 from the front of the peaked area, wait for the pose I wanted, and take the shot. I found this much easier than trying to concentrate on small details on the bird to focus. This won't work in all situations, but it does in some. . . and it's much faster for me at least.

Anyway, on to the shots -- All were handheld, sitting position braced on a knee, with the DA55-300 at 300mm wide open at f5.8. I've found that with the zoom, I don't need to use a Red Dot to spot as I can zoom out, spot the subject, then zoom in, keeping it close to in frame. If I don't touch the focus ring, I can also use the peaked focus plane to locate the subject when shooting down on the water like this. I just center the focus plane in the LCD and move horizontally to find the bird. Using the zoom would be easier if this was a one touch zoom, but there just aren't any xx-300 push pull zooms out there that are anywhere near the weight with the optical quality of the DA. . . I also used an inexpensive V5 LCD Loupe modified for the Q.

All shots are the full frame as taken processed with light NR using Topaz Denoise and significant sharpening with Topaz InFocus.









I do have a few shots of these species that are a tad better than these taken with a K7 or K5 + FA* 300 f2.8 + F 1.7x AFA + Sigma EX 1.4x APO TC stacked on a heavy CF tripod with a Sidekick gimbal, but that's over $5K and 16+ lbs of gear, and the shots needed significant cropping for reasonable display. For less than $1K and 2 lbs, the Q did VERY well!

Scott


Last edited by snostorm; 05-05-2013 at 01:20 AM.
05-04-2013, 06:34 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Hi All,

The "reach" thread has served it's purpose, but IMO is getting a bit cumbersome with size, so I thought I'd start posting the new stuff I shoot in their own threads from now on. . .it'll pump up our thread count here.

These two species are part of the reason I wanted a Q for the extreme cropped FOV. They are both divers and very wary of shoreline activity, so the closest I can usually get is 50 ft or so. With my APS-C DSLRs and 714mm, it's possible to get some very good shots, but it usually has taken me hours to get just a few shots because the lake is pretty big, has virtually no cover at the shoreline, and I don't use hides or camo. I only see these guys in the spring, maybe for a few weeks, and I always try to get at least a few keepers of them if I can each year.

I'm still getting used to shooting the Q and the Pentax adapter, so I've been making some huge mistakes -- like not checking the aperture ring. More than once, I've started shooting with this kit, then while chimping, I notice that the ISO is very high and the results are very soft. I look at the aperture ring, and it's set at 3 or 4 -- f16-22 with the DA 55-300 -- apparently I inadvertently turned the ring when I put the Q in the bag or took it out. . . Got to get into the habit of checking the ring before I shoot. . . With the Grebe, I also started freaking out when I thought that the camera or the Pentax adapter was malfunctioning. All of a sudden, the LCD would black out when I actuated the shutter, but there was no shutter sound -- I went through the usual drill of checking the battery charge, turning the camera off, then back on again, pulling the battery and using a freshly charged one, and kept getting the same result. . . then I realized that the sun had come out and the shutter speed had increased over the 1/1000 max of the Adapter, and the Q had switched to the electronic shutter!

One tip I can share about using Focus Peaking with the Q for super tele work -- with the lens wide open at long FLs, the DOF is usually pretty evident on the LCD as you can see the area that's in focus move across the EVF as you move the focus ring, especially when shooting down on the water like this. What I did for these was to try to place the bird about 1/3 from the front of the peaked area, wait for the pose I wanted, and take the shot. I found this much easier than trying to concentrate on small details on the bird to focus. This won't work in all situations, but it does in some. . . and it's much faster for me at least.

Anyway, on to the shots -- All were handheld, sitting position braced on a knee, with the DA55-300 at 300mm wide open at f5.8. I've found that with the zoom, I don't need to use a Red Dot to spot as I can zoom out, spot the subject, then zoom in, keeping it close to in frame. If I don't touch the focus ring, I can also use the peaked focus plane to locate the subject when shooting down on the water like this. I just center the focus plane in the LCD and move horizontally to find the bird. Using the zoom would be easier if this was a one touch zoom, but there just aren't any xx-300 push pull zooms out there that are anywhere near the weight with the optical quality of the DA. . . I also used an inexpensive V5 LCD Loupe modified for the Q.

All shots are the full frame as taken processed with light NR using Topaz Denoise and significant sharpening with Topaz InFocus.









I do have a few shots of these species that are a tad better than these taken with a K7 or K5 + FA* 300 f2.8 + F 1.7x AFA + Sigma EX 1.4x APO TC stacked on a heavy CF tripod with a Sidekick gimbal, but that's over $5K and 16+ lbs of gear, and the shots needed significant cropping for reasonable display. For less than $1K and 2 lbs, the Q did [VERY well!

Scott
great shots!!!
05-04-2013, 07:32 PM   #3
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Impressive shots and good commentary--thanks!.
05-04-2013, 10:45 PM   #4
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Excellent work Scott!
I am impressed with what you can do with the 55-300 hand held on the Q.
Puts my tripod mounted DA 300 to shame.

05-05-2013, 06:12 AM   #5
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Wow. These are amazing handheld images with a very challenging kit. Love shooting the Q with tele lenses, but I would never call it easy. You are doing it hand held no less. Super. You and Hans are making it hard on this tripod bound Q photographer.

Couple of things are clear to me after seeing your images.
1. I must get an lcd hood/magnifier to have a chance hand holding the 55-300.
2. I need More practice, much more. My 55-300 shots on a tripod aren't this sharp.

You say there is a lot of sharpening involved. I have only used sharpening in Silkypix or Elements 11. You are a master with Topaz. Would you consider posting the same shot sooc and with your sharpening so we can see how much we need to work on camera skill vs processing skills?

You are the inventor of ultra reach photography with the Q.
thanks
barondla

Last edited by barondla; 05-05-2013 at 08:42 AM.
05-05-2013, 06:53 AM   #6
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Very nice shots Scott, after reading your description I found it is almost exactly the way I have been shooting my 55-300. I found it impossible to shoot without the hood eye piece. The Grebe behavior I found in Florida this winter was quite interesting, they would work with the herons on shore and chase the fish to each other. They would work there way around the pond working together. The pond was about 1 acre in size so I could get some decent shots of both the shore birds and the Grebe. I found that Cormorants would also watch shore birds and steal fish from them. Here is one I got with my 55-300. I see your are doing a bit better with focus than I am. One thing I sometimes do is clamp the tripod mount ring across the aperture ring on the Pentax adapter to keep it from moving, I use one of the tripod rings you recommended.

Thanks for all the help Scott

Hans
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05-05-2013, 10:08 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by hnikesch Quote
Very nice shots Scott, after reading your description I found it is almost exactly the way I have been shooting my 55-300. I found it impossible to shoot without the hood eye piece. The Grebe behavior I found in Florida this winter was quite interesting, they would work with the herons on shore and chase the fish to each other. They would work there way around the pond working together. The pond was about 1 acre in size so I could get some decent shots of both the shore birds and the Grebe. I found that Cormorants would also watch shore birds and steal fish from them. Here is one I got with my 55-300. I see your are doing a bit better with focus than I am. One thing I sometimes do is clamp the tripod mount ring across the aperture ring on the Pentax adapter to keep it from moving, I use one of the tripod rings you recommended.

Thanks for all the help Scott

Hans
Great work Scott!

Dale
05-05-2013, 01:01 PM   #8
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Original Poster
Hi All,

Thanks to all who have taken the time to look and post comments!

barondla -- Here's the same shot SOOC , just resized to 1024 long side. I forgot to mention in the OP that I also corrected for PF and the red/green CA. The focus is pretty much on target since I can see that reasonable detail is retained in the fluffy feathers down the side and the few errant feathers sticking up on the back and head. All this shot needs is some sharpening to give it a crisp look.



I'm reposting the PP'd version here also to make them easier to compare without having to jump back and forth.



I shoot in jpeg with in-camera NR set to Low and in-camera sharpening set at -4 to keep the camera's processor from adding sharpening artifacts to the noise. This actually gives me a starting image that is pretty close to a RAW shot converted at default settings. With this setup, I know that all images will need some sharpening, but I'd rather do this in PP than let the camera do it because I'm not partial to the way that cameras' processors sharpen with local contrast enhancement (essentially unsharp mask). With InFocus, I can use only deconvolution sharpening plus microcontrast enhancement, which I find much more pleasing.

I run every image through Topaz DeNoise first to give me a very clean image to start with so I'm not enhancing the noise with the sharpening. DeNoise is very good at reducing noise with minimal smearing of finer detail. I resize in steps so I can add one or more application(s) of sharpening during the resizing process if I see that too much detail is being lost in the resizing. With the Q, I generally take two relatively large resizing steps (4000>3000, 3000>2000 pixels on the long side), then take two or three steps between 2000 and final posting size of 1024. In this case, I applied sharpening at 3000, 2000, and 1600 pixels, reducing the settings in InFocus as the image was resized smaller. I also applied Denoise again to the final resized image to clean up any artifacts caused by the sharpening applications.

Both DeNoise and InFocus are a bit slow, and are not the easiest plugins to use since the best results (IMO) are obtained by tossing the presets and using custom settings. I've used Noise Ninja and trialed most of the major NR programs, and DeNoise works the best for me. For sharpening, I previously used Focus Magic, but switched to InFocus because FM (at least the version I have) algorithms combine deconvolution with local contrast enhancement, and InFocus allows me to easily set it up to only use deconvolution with microcontrast enhancement which is far less likely to create those halos or dark outlines where they're not supposed to be. I still use FM for motion blur correction as it's more intuitive (for me).

Scott

05-05-2013, 01:20 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by hnikesch Quote
Very nice shots Scott, after reading your description I found it is almost exactly the way I have been shooting my 55-300. I found it impossible to shoot without the hood eye piece. The Grebe behavior I found in Florida this winter was quite interesting, they would work with the herons on shore and chase the fish to each other. They would work there way around the pond working together. The pond was about 1 acre in size so I could get some decent shots of both the shore birds and the Grebe. I found that Cormorants would also watch shore birds and steal fish from them. Here is one I got with my 55-300. I see your are doing a bit better with focus than I am.
Hi Hans,

I have yet to see anything like the behavior that you described as I've never seen Grebes and Herons on the same lakes at the same time. That is pretty cool! The Herons chase the fish deep, and the diving Grebes send them back shallow to the Herons. I'm constantly discovering how these animals are much smarter than we give them credit for. Around here, I only see Grebes during the early spring, but we have Great Blues, Great Egrets, Green Herons, and Black Crowned Night Herons all summer as they have a number of rookeries scattered around the west and northwest suburbs of Chicago.

Scott
05-05-2013, 01:43 PM   #10
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Here is some shots with my Kr a Cormorant and a Tricolored Heron both trying to get the same fish. Same behavior as above between the 2 birds until the Cormorant won. This would have been hard to get with the Q.

Hans
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05-05-2013, 02:32 PM   #11
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Scott, thanks for the camera settings and post process tips.
Will have try some of that soon.

Hans the captured behavior above is excellent.
This is the type of stuff I would like to get on video but I think it requires more patience than I have to give.
05-07-2013, 11:08 AM   #12
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Super shots and remarkable technique.
05-08-2013, 08:06 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
Scott, thanks for the camera settings and post process tips.
Will have try some of that soon.

Hans the captured behavior above is excellent.
This is the type of stuff I would like to get on video but I think it requires more patience than I have to give.
+1 on the tips.

Scott's intent is the same as mine. I can lug around tons of stuff, up to and including a 200-500/5.6 zoom with tripod and gimbal mount, a few TCs etc, and take hours per shot. My normal (Pre-Q) walk around set is a very capable sigma APO 70-200/2.8 EX (non DG non macro) and sigma 2x TC plus the K5. It just did not have the reach i wanted.

My present project lens for the Q is the K135/2.5 and while i am getting very good record shots, some of the sharpness is just not there, they seem (at least to me) to have an over processed noise reduction applied, along with the sharpening.

I was beginning to think i had reached the resolution limit of the lens. I will need to try the new settings.
05-08-2013, 08:13 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Hi All,

The "reach" thread has served it's purpose, but IMO is getting a bit cumbersome with size, so I thought I'd start posting the new stuff I shoot in their own threads from now on. . .it'll pump up our thread count here.

These two species are part of the reason I wanted a Q for the extreme cropped FOV. They are both divers and very wary of shoreline activity, so the closest I can usually get is 50 ft or so. With my APS-C DSLRs and 714mm, it's possible to get some very good shots, but it usually has taken me hours to get just a few shots because the lake is pretty big, has virtually no cover at the shoreline, and I don't use hides or camo. I only see these guys in the spring, maybe for a few weeks, and I always try to get at least a few keepers of them if I can each year.

I'm still getting used to shooting the Q and the Pentax adapter, so I've been making some huge mistakes -- like not checking the aperture ring. More than once, I've started shooting with this kit, then while chimping, I notice that the ISO is very high and the results are very soft. I look at the aperture ring, and it's set at 3 or 4 -- f16-22 with the DA 55-300 -- apparently I inadvertently turned the ring when I put the Q in the bag or took it out. . . Got to get into the habit of checking the ring before I shoot. . . With the Grebe, I also started freaking out when I thought that the camera or the Pentax adapter was malfunctioning. All of a sudden, the LCD would black out when I actuated the shutter, but there was no shutter sound -- I went through the usual drill of checking the battery charge, turning the camera off, then back on again, pulling the battery and using a freshly charged one, and kept getting the same result. . . then I realized that the sun had come out and the shutter speed had increased over the 1/1000 max of the Adapter, and the Q had switched to the electronic shutter!

One tip I can share about using Focus Peaking with the Q for super tele work -- with the lens wide open at long FLs, the DOF is usually pretty evident on the LCD as you can see the area that's in focus move across the EVF as you move the focus ring, especially when shooting down on the water like this. What I did for these was to try to place the bird about 1/3 from the front of the peaked area, wait for the pose I wanted, and take the shot. I found this much easier than trying to concentrate on small details on the bird to focus. This won't work in all situations, but it does in some. . . and it's much faster for me at least.

Anyway, on to the shots -- All were handheld, sitting position braced on a knee, with the DA55-300 at 300mm wide open at f5.8. I've found that with the zoom, I don't need to use a Red Dot to spot as I can zoom out, spot the subject, then zoom in, keeping it close to in frame. If I don't touch the focus ring, I can also use the peaked focus plane to locate the subject when shooting down on the water like this. I just center the focus plane in the LCD and move horizontally to find the bird. Using the zoom would be easier if this was a one touch zoom, but there just aren't any xx-300 push pull zooms out there that are anywhere near the weight with the optical quality of the DA. . . I also used an inexpensive V5 LCD Loupe modified for the Q.

All shots are the full frame as taken processed with light NR using Topaz Denoise and significant sharpening with Topaz InFocus.

I do have a few shots of these species that are a tad better than these taken with a K7 or K5 + FA* 300 f2.8 + F 1.7x AFA + Sigma EX 1.4x APO TC stacked on a heavy CF tripod with a Sidekick gimbal, but that's over $5K and 16+ lbs of gear, and the shots needed significant cropping for reasonable display. For less than $1K and 2 lbs, the Q did VERY well!

Scott
Scott

I have done a little playing with the Vivitar Series 1 70-210/3.5 which can produce some very sharp results, (see the sample uploaded in the Q-Lens thread) actually completely unprocessed JPEG. Still working with it, but I thought I would mention it to you because it is a one touch zoom, but is a true zoom, not a vari focal, so push pull zooms in and out but does not change focus. makes targeting easier because when hand holding an equivalent focal length of 1000mm, it is pretty hard to find things.

I have not yet put my K300/4 to work thinking it would be easier to start with shorter lenses and work on the technique.

I have also gone through all the same mistakes (operator error) you have, including over exposing etc.

One think i like about using K lenses is the aperture ring. I leave the adapter set to Lens, and use the lens's own ring
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