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09-18-2017, 10:07 PM - 1 Like   #1
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iso and shutter speed balance to freeze humming bird wing

I'm trying to stop motion of a humming bird wing. My feeder is in the shade which complicates things more since the light is poor. After failing at numerous attempts, I switched to TAv and set auto iso up to 8000. I wondered how the k70 would perform at higher iso. I needed to get my shutter speed around 1/6000 (sometimes I could get away with 1/4000). The first pic: 1/6000, f5, iso 2000; the second pic was 1/4000, f4, iso 5000; the third pic was 1/6024, f4, iso 8000. One thing is for sure, this would be a hell of a lot easier if I put the feeder in the sun rather than under the overhang on my roof, so I wouldn't have to jack the iso up so high. But it is fun to learn where the threshold is hiding.

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09-18-2017, 10:26 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Knock Quote
I'm trying to stop motion of a humming bird wing. My feeder is in the shade which complicates things more since the light is poor. After failing at numerous attempts, I switched to TAv and set auto iso up to 8000. I wondered how the k70 would perform at higher iso. I needed to get my shutter speed around 1/6000 (sometimes I could get away with 1/4000). The first pic: 1/6000, f5, iso 2000; the second pic was 1/4000, f4, iso 5000; the third pic was 1/6024, f4, iso 8000. One thing is for sure, this would be a hell of a lot easier if I put the feeder in the sun rather than under the overhang on my roof, so I wouldn't have to jack the iso up so high. But it is fun to learn where the threshold is hiding.
You will find that many of the impressive hummingbird shots involved a flash (or two), often with full sun, to bring out the male colors. So you are on your back foot with that shady location. These guys like to make us work for good shots. Get in the sun and 1/2000 with low ISO should do it.
09-18-2017, 11:00 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by FilmORbitz Quote
You will find that many of the impressive hummingbird shots involved a flash (or two), often with full sun, to bring out the male colors. So you are on your back foot with that shady location. These guys like to make us work for good shots. Get in the sun and 1/2000 with low ISO should do it.
Is the on-board flash enough for that? I do not have an external flash. I must admit I have read a little about using quality external flash, but the learning curve and the $$ keep me at bay.
09-19-2017, 12:08 AM   #4
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The only way to achieve low ISO and high shutter speed in this situation is to add a lot more light. In this case you need to find somewhere in full sun.
Alternatively you can take shutter speed out of the equation and use an external flash setup - the short duration of a strobe has the effect of a very high shutter speed. Onboard flash will look awful, even if you can get close enough. But with a pair of reasonably high power flashes you can keep the camera at a distance and give yourself a good lighting space. A pair of Yongnuo units with a transmitter is quite affordable and will do the job fine.

09-19-2017, 02:11 AM   #5
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If you use a flash at a feeder you just need a cheap manual flash with a Vello trigger. I got a manual Godox flash on ebay for around 40 dollars and it even came with a trigger. I've been using it for almost a year and no misfires.
09-19-2017, 02:19 AM   #6
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Wireless triggers and old manual flashes don't cost much.
09-19-2017, 04:40 AM   #7
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Nice work and great images! It certainly is amazing how well Pentax cameras handle high ISO to enable shots like these.

The only issue with flashes is you'll need ones that go to a low power setting (or more expensive ones that can do HSS).

The standard output of most flashes is about 1/1000 of a second long which is too slow to totally stop the wings.
09-19-2017, 05:29 AM   #8
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I would try to find a way get more light to lower iso

Perhaps try to capture the picture from a different angle, showing where the sun light hits the bird.
Also, I would try to get much closer framing of the bird so you get some more detail. The feeder is currently dominating the composition of the image and is not supposed to be the main subject I imagine.

09-19-2017, 05:44 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Knock Quote
I'm trying to stop motion of a humming bird wing. My feeder is in the shade which complicates things more since the light is poor. After failing at numerous attempts, I switched to TAv and set auto iso up to 8000. I wondered how the k70 would perform at higher iso. I needed to get my shutter speed around 1/6000 (sometimes I could get away with 1/4000). The first pic: 1/6000, f5, iso 2000; the second pic was 1/4000, f4, iso 5000; the third pic was 1/6024, f4, iso 8000. One thing is for sure, this would be a hell of a lot easier if I put the feeder in the sun rather than under the overhang on my roof, so I wouldn't have to jack the iso up so high. But it is fun to learn where the threshold is hiding.
I used a flash ( Sunpak 622 Pro on manual) on the incl pics which doesn't slow the wings completely but certainly brings the colours out and reduces the ISO to 100 for future enlargements. My feeder was in the shade of heavy foliage on a tree. The equipment was ancient at that time but still effective.

Last edited by honey bo bo; 12-20-2017 at 04:24 PM.
09-19-2017, 06:00 AM   #10
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I just find the blacked out background flash creates to be totally un-natural looking. If you do use flash, I'd use it at fill light levels not illumination levels.

My feeder is set up where I can adjust my camera position to the give me best results based on the angle of the sun. And I only grout when the sun position is right.For all my nature images I prefer natural light. To my mind flash is a poor substitute for working out an acceptable camera position. Flash to me just looks artificial.

I completely agree that 1/2000 is good enough for hummers, but you can get away with 1/1000 with minimal motion blur. Going to 1/6000s cost you 1.5 stops of ISO, and probably considerable loss of detail.





K-3 at 800 ISO.1/1250s. ƒ5. Using the limits of ISO (noise is getting bad) shutter speed, (starting to see some motion blur in the wings, a depth of field at ƒ5.) If you aren't pushing the limits with hummers, you probably aren't getting a decent image.

Last edited by normhead; 09-19-2017 at 06:11 AM.
09-19-2017, 09:59 AM - 1 Like   #11
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If it's frozen wings you're after, I'd also go with flash(es).

The forte of a fellow I follow on flickr is freezing the frantic flapping of these fabulous flyers. For example: Hunting For Nectar | Flickr and look in the comments for a link to a detailed description of his setup. For this example he used 6 yongnuo flashes on 1/16 or 1/32 power, you could certainly make do with less especially if you're willing to up the iso. He also has a hummingbird album with photos taken in a variety of lighting setups that might be of some inspiration.
09-19-2017, 10:06 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
If it's frozen wings you're after, I'd also go with flash(es).

The forte of a fellow I follow on flickr is freezing the frantic flapping of these fabulous flyers. For example: Hunting For Nectar | Flickr and look in the comments for a link to a detailed description of his setup. For this example he used 6 yongnuo flashes on 1/16 or 1/32 power, you could certainly make do with less especially if you're willing to up the iso. He also has a hummingbird album with photos taken in a variety of lighting setups that might be of some inspiration.
It all depends on how complicated you want to get.

I did own 3 flashes once. 6 would seem to me to be bit over the top.... but for the OP it may be a workable solution.

But I love his use of flash as fill, in the images where he keeps the colour from the background. It's very well done. But, I don't want to be him.

Last edited by normhead; 09-19-2017 at 10:22 AM.
09-19-2017, 10:24 AM   #13
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For me it's "what is the image in my head that I'm trying to turn into a photograph?" and "what steps am I willing to take to make it happen?" I like the idea of trying a setup like this, but don't find myself caring enough about birds to bother these days, and am happy to leave it to people more passionate about them than I am.

6 flashes won't be necessary, the key is keeping the power low so they have short bursts and can freeze the motion. 1/16 or 1/32 power might have a t.1 time in the neighbourhood of 1/8000s or 1/12000s (it will vary greatly depending on the model, but some yongnuos and other flashes are measured here: Actual Measured Flash Durations of Small Speedlight Strobes). Less flash units means less light if you keep them at the same distances and power settings, but you can compromise with a higher iso or wider aperture. In the example above, he used f/18 and iso 160, so there's tons of room here.
09-19-2017, 11:00 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
but don't find myself caring enough about birds to bother these days,
I'm telling my bird army on you. ( Oh god no, I've become Rupert.)
09-19-2017, 01:43 PM   #15
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Thanks for every ones input. I think the easiest solution would be for me to just move my feeder out of the shade! I don't think I have the time, patience, or $$ to get heavily involved in flash photography. As I began playing around with this experiment I was of course wanting the perfect image, but I realized quickly that wasn't going to happen. I did however enjoy challenging the higher iso capabilities of the k70. I took lots of crap photos, but learned a lot in the process.
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