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01-04-2015, 04:36 PM   #1
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Baby Steps

I was replying to SteveNunez's "Osprey Again" thread, envying his weather, when my wife shouted, "There is a female cardinal at our bird feeder"; this was the opportunity I'd been waiting for, so I dashed into the living room with my Q7 (I already had my legacy 75mm-205mm K-mount lens mounted on it via a Fotodiox adapter). There are some things I haven't done yet; I haven't bought a walking-stick/monopod to provide stability, so this was entirely hand-held; I haven't bought a hood/magnifier so I can see well enough to focus well. I haven't decided whether my sharpest legacy lens is this one or the FD-mount 70mm-210mm f/4.5 that my mother left behind when she moved to a retirement center. But I thought it was worth a try.

The lens was zoomed to about 170mm, which gives a view equivalent to about 800mm on a 35mm camera. This picture was taken at ISO=1600; even then, with the maximum f-stop f/3.5 of that lens, the shutter speed was just 1/125 (manually set to a speed higher than what the camera had chosen under Av mode), so the SR was working overtime. Snow was falling, I was shooting through two layers of glass, and the EXIF data shows that the picture was taken at 5:25 (Weather Channel says sunset, if we could see the sun, was at 5:28).

Obviously, I need to improve my technique; manual focusing will be a challenge even when I'm able to provide more stability for the camera. I'll need to decide which zoom lens to use. But even this baby step is ahead of where I've been in photographing wildlife. My wife is a bird-watcher (which is why I'm not planning on using a tripod - most of her "watching" consists of wandering down meandering paths), and this is the best I've done. This is one of the major reasons I bought the Q7, instead of getting a camera with a larger sensor. Hopefully I can provide better pictures in the future.

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01-04-2015, 05:00 PM   #2
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good luck! Keep practicing!
01-04-2015, 06:24 PM   #3
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Handholdfing 800mm of focal length is hard and at 1\125 second sharpness would be difficult, not to mention the layers of glass and inclement weather......I suggest getting an infrared remote trigger or 2 second or more shutter delay.....I bet the images would improve nicely.
This super-telephoto type of photography can become very addictive - welcome to the Q Consortium!
01-07-2015, 05:03 PM   #4
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Today was cold and unpleasant, but partly sunny, so I spent a certain amount of it in the den listening to the news from Paris and watching the Cardinals at the feeder. This time I used the 70mm-210mm FD-mount lens my mother had left behind ... and it turned out that she had left a tripod behind also. The lens's focusing ring said that I was about 30' away. These pictures are probably about as good as I'm going to get until I convince myself to buy a lens with longer reach and higher resolution.

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01-07-2015, 05:59 PM   #5
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Are you shooting thru a glass or wire mesh?
01-07-2015, 06:16 PM   #6
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It looks like you have a great spot to observe! But I think you'll have to find a way to do it without the glass in between. Some things:
- Stop down the lens 1 or 2 stops. Older lenses, and especially zooms, will seldom look good enough wide open for this type of shot.
- if you're using a tripod, turn off shake reduction. As a bonus, you don't have to worry about having the correct focal length input, except of EXIF if you care about it, so you can zoom in and out at will.
- Use the 2 second self timer so that you won't have motion blur when you depress the shutter (unless you're using a remote, of course).
- Don't go upwards of 200 ISO, you won't be happy when you find out that your shot that looks magnificent at first sight is mushy when you look at it later on.
- if the little angels are quiet, use longer shutter speeds to compensate for reduced aperture and ISO.
- Forget all of this and just make lots of shots. Some will be much better than the average.
01-07-2015, 06:23 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by SteveNunez Quote
Are you shooting thru a glass or wire mesh?
Yes, they are out in the 10 degree weather; I am not.

---------- Post added 01-07-15 at 08:27 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Antonio Marques Quote
It looks like you have a great spot to observe! But I think you'll have to find a way to do it without the glass in between. Some things:
- Stop down the lens 1 or 2 stops. Older lenses, and especially zooms, will seldom look good enough wide open for this type of shot.
- if you're using a tripod, turn off shake reduction. As a bonus, you don't have to worry about having the correct focal length input, except of EXIF if you care about it, so you can zoom in and out at will.
- Use the 2 second self timer so that you won't have motion blur when you depress the shutter (unless you're using a remote, of course).
- Don't go upwards of 200 ISO, you won't be happy when you find out that your shot that looks magnificent at first sight is mushy when you look at it later on.
- if the little angels are quiet, use longer shutter speeds to compensate for reduced aperture and ISO.
- Forget all of this and just make lots of shots. Some will be much better than the average.
I'm about thirty feet from them. Apart from the cold weather, they were acting very very skittish - each spent more time looking around than eating - so I'm concerned that if i did go out into the cold, they wouldn't stick around.
Thank you for the other advice.
01-07-2015, 07:59 PM   #8
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Reh, shooting thru glass is tough, rarely allows for good photos.....if you had direct line of sight I'm guessing you'd be much happier with your shots.....it's good practice!

01-07-2015, 10:58 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by reh321 Quote
Today was cold and unpleasant, but partly sunny, so I spent a certain amount of it in the den listening to the news from Paris and watching the Cardinals at the feeder. This time I used the 70mm-210mm FD-mount lens my mother had left behind ... and it turned out that she had left a tripod behind also. The lens's focusing ring said that I was about 30' away. These pictures are probably about as good as I'm going to get until I convince myself to buy a lens with longer reach and higher resolution.
Reh, I hope that you don't mind, I gave them a quick once over, working with the raw file you could do better than this:





take care,
01-08-2015, 10:05 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Heinrich Lohmann Quote
Reh, I hope that you don't mind, I gave them a quick once over, working with the raw file you could do better than this:

take care,
That is fine. Thank you for showing what it could become. I've got other things to deal with right now, but later on I'll post a little more about my goals in general here.
01-08-2015, 10:16 AM   #11
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Are you shooting through glass and screen? If so, removing the screen would improve the shots immediately.
01-08-2015, 10:56 AM   #12
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I guess it is time for a longer explanation. In a different thread I talked about how I use cameras. One of my uses, for what I call Birds&Butterflies, has always been an area of weakness for me. One of the reasons I got a Q7 was to possibly use one of the old telephoto lenses I have from previous non-autofocus cameras to improve on the B&B pictures. This will be a slow learning process; I accept that. The comments in this thread have been very helpful. Thank you to you all! Professionally, I am a software engineer, and I have learned that I truly am an engineer at heart (even though I was an undergraduate math major).

As an engineer, I tend to break a problem down into a series of small questions. Waiting for better weather and then hauling a bunch of stuff on a walk through a wild-life preserve seems like a hard way of learning, so I'm starting from the warmth of our den (aka "lab"). So far in this thread, I have learned

1. the lens I used for the first picture (75mm-205mm f/3.7 K-mount remaining from the Pentax Super Program I used in the 1980's) has issues; looking through it from various angles, I think it may have some fungus internally; the lens I used for the second set of pictures (70mm-210mm f/4.5 FD-mount left behind by my mother from camera she used in the 1980's) appears to be in much better condition.

2. although I successfully hand-held a sharp picture of our street sign from a block away using the FD lens, composing and taking a picture will work better if I have some support. For now, I've been using the tripod that my mother also left behind; I'm hoping that the walking-stick/monopod I have on order will work out for hikes, but I'll try it here before I try it there.

3. I am learning about how the various camera settings affect these pictures.

4. I am learning how to interpret what I see though the enlarging hood I use on the LCD.

So, thank you all for your comments. Please don't feel offended if I don't respond right away, because you may have raised an issue that doesn't fit into my current research flow, but I promise that I will get to each suggestion at some point.

Right now, I see that the Cardinals have arrived for lunch, so I guess it is time to try a few more ideas.
01-08-2015, 11:26 AM   #13
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Just one thing that hasn't been mentioned in this thread yet: the green and purple fringing you see on some contours - called CA, color or chromatic aberration - is there everywhere throughout the image, it's just that it's on edges that it becomes more obvious. Elsewhere, it isn't necessarily visible, but contributes to overall fuzziness. Now, what I intended to say, is that by processing the DNGs in your computer you may be able to correct a bit or a lot of the CA, and this is really correction rather than artificial enhancement. You probably know that already, but I thought I should mention it.

---------- Post added 01-08-15 at 06:27 PM ----------

(But don't take me for a photographer. I'm just sharing tidbits I got from knowledgeable folks over time.)
01-08-2015, 02:49 PM   #14
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CA becomes more pronounced when shooting through glass as non-corrected glass acts like a prism and delineates edges....this is discussed at length on certain photo forums..........shooting through glass is just a hardship of photographers everywhere.
01-08-2015, 11:14 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Antonio Marques Quote
. . . you may be able to correct a bit or a lot of the CA,
I don't believe "correct" is a proper description, at not least as it affects the optical acuity of the image. It simply masks the effect by locally de-saturating it and converting the residue to compatible colors.* Nevertheless, whatever makes it better in the image is good. Color fringing even affects the acuity of B&W images, you just don't notice it without the color factor.

* sort'a like an auto red-eye removal trick but using the fringe color(s) and a nearest color match rather than black as the replacement.
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