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04-02-2016, 07:08 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by rkappleby Quote
Bertwert That is a useful site, however when I read section 2.4.1 I was surprised to learn that the only really suitable cameras for bird photographers are made by Nikon or Canon, Olympus is a distant 3rd and Sigma, Sony and Leica are also rans, Pentax is not worthy of mention
Well I beg to differ There is a lot of info there.....
I just ignore that part...

Pentax is a hell of a lot better for birding than Olympus, Sigma, Sony, Leica, etc...

04-02-2016, 07:42 AM   #17
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Shooting BiFs is location, location, location. You need to know where the birds hang out. After that I'd also add, for BiFs shoot big birds. There's good reason there are many good BiF big bird shots but almost no images of Warblers and songbirds in flight. The bigger the better. Catching the little guys is a lot more hit and miss.

If you aren't in the right location, your chances of getting and decent images at all is greatly diminished. If you know how to use a camera you'll figure out what works, so the camera specific tips are great advice, but you can get along without any of them. Being in a good location can't be faked.

And looking through the link bertwert posted, I'd also add, careful with over sharpening your image. Feathers should look like feathers. Everyone who starts bird photography seems to go through an over sharpening phase when every little feather detail has been sharpened to the point the images are hard to look at. That on-line book... brutal.

Get over this habit sooner rather than later. Remember what the bird looked like.
04-02-2016, 11:34 PM - 1 Like   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by rkappleby Quote


Bertwert That is a useful site, however when I read section 2.4.1 I was surprised to learn that the only really suitable cameras for bird photographers are made by Nikon or Canon, Olympus is a distant 3rd and Sigma, Sony and Leica are also rans, Pentax is not worthy of mention
Well I beg to differ There is a lot of info there.....
Oh My God - that is AWESOME!

I've been trying to improve on birds in flight for some time now, and my strategy is a little different. TAv with f/8 and 1/1000, and let the ISO float. This seems a little odd, but it's better to get a sharper dark photo that you can post process a bit rather than a blurry image that isn't any good for anything. Centre spot focusing only, just practice until you can keep that spot on the bird. I do use centre weighted metring, and +1EV to compensate for the inevitable backlight.

And like a number of people have said, practice practice practice - I'm still pretty awful but I'm improving.
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04-03-2016, 06:54 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
There's good reason there are many good BiF big bird shots but almost no images of Warblers and songbirds in flight. The bigger the better. Catching the little guys is a lot more hit and miss.
That's why I said practice on larger, and slower birds. I didn't, or not much anyway at first, I jumped right in and started trying to get Doves and Cardinals or whatever flew by...later on concentrating on larger birds like Hawks, Egrets and Herons to get more proficient. I got lucky a few times, but usually way out of focus and/or loads of motion blur...

Ducks are some of the hardest to catch in flight, they fly so fast and often come out of nowhere, and around here I have lots of trees to deal with too, once I see them I have to hope they fly into an open spot...Most of the time they are also pretty far away, anything close is unusual.

This pair gave me a good opportunity. Enough light I was able to shoot at 1/750 shutter speed, and at ISO200.



I don't get many small birds in flight, but I do get lucky now and then. I watched this Bluebird fly around the area and tried several times, finally got one decent shot. And it's cropped pretty heavy...



This is one of my best efforts, I had to look a bit for it...Carolina Chickadee shot with the K-x a few years ago, 200mm Vivitar M42 lens, The bird was originally perched a foot or two away and I snapped as it took off, and just crossed my fingers. If I remember correctly it was about 30 feet away, I never dreamed I'd actually get a decent shot, my mother was with me out looking at a couple of my favorite bird locations in North Louisiana when I lived there. She was as amazed as I was...I never get these guys in flight...And trust me, this is definitely a lucky shot, not a lot of expertise involved...I was far from proficient at birds in flight when I snapped this one.



This is how and where I got most of my practice, a couple of lakes in north Louisiana where I'd find Egrets, Herons and Bald Eagles hanging out.

Green Heron coming in for a landing on a lily pad



Red Tailed Hawk circling not far from the lake.



The main issue with the larger birds like these is getting close enough to get some detail. Most birds don't like getting close to humans, strangely enough I find the smallest ones, Hummingbirds, Tufted Titmouse, Chickadee, Sparrows will come a lot closer than any of the Hawks or Herons ever will.

Fortunately the main lenses I've used, Vivitar 200mm M42 and the Makinon 135mm I use a lot now, do pretty well with focus confirmation, I could always depend on the 200mm to be in good focus when the K-x or K30 would beep ( I turned confirmation beep off afraid it would spook ducks, I now use just the visual confirmation). The 135mm Makinon is usually very close too, so I didn't have to go into fine tuning the camera to the lens. That may be an issue with some lenses, especially if you try using auto focus. The only auto focus lens I have is the 18-55 kit lens, so almost all of my bird shots are manual focus lenses.

04-03-2016, 06:55 AM   #20
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Here are my current recommendations for BIF with a K-3. I have these set in USER1 mode:
TAv mode:
- Set aperture for sharpest MTF - f/5.6 with the DA*300, f/8 if you're also using the TC. Shoot at f/8 with 55-300mm, do not use a TC. If you're shooting in dim conditions, the DA*300 is acceptable wide open, even with the TC. The 55-300 is unacceptably soft wide open.
- Shutter speed according to conditions. I find 1/1000s works most of the time. Never go below 1/500s. Don't be afraid to push ISO. Noise is correctable, motion blur is not
AF-C, Hi-Speed continuous burst:
Center AF point, with 25 point expansion
Center-weighted metering, add 0.5EV compensation, fine tune in p-p
Shake reduction off

Custom Menu Parameter Settings:
16. 1st frame action in AF-C - Focus priority (make sure focus is on the target before shooting, or you'll have a string of misses)
17. Action in AF-C Continuous - Focus Priority
18. Hold AF status - Medium, bump up to High if required. IME, AF Low allows focus to drift to the background too readily.

Last edited by audiobomber; 10-21-2016 at 09:39 AM.
04-03-2016, 09:12 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Shooting BiFs is location, location, location. You need to know where the birds hang out. After that I'd also add, for BiFs shoot big birds. There's good reason there are many good BiF big bird shots but almost no images of Warblers and songbirds in flight. The bigger the better. Catching the little guys is a lot more hit and miss.

If you aren't in the right location, your chances of getting and decent images at all is greatly diminished. If you know how to use a camera you'll figure out what works, so the camera specific tips are great advice, but you can get along without any of them. Being in a good location can't be faked.
Thanks, Norm. I've managed to capture a few decent shots - only gulls, nothing special, but I found them tricky due to their speed of movement and tendency to change direction frequently! I'm looking forward to the geese returning as they're a bigger, slower subject by far.

QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
Here are my current recommendations for BIF with a K-3:
...
Shake reduction off
Dan, thanks for those settings - extremely useful. Regarding SR, what's the reason for turning this off? Is it due to SR issues with tracking, or basically just because you're already using a high enough shutter speed that it's simply not necessary?
04-03-2016, 10:12 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Regarding SR, what's the reason for turning this off? Is it due to SR issues with tracking, or basically just because you're already using a high enough shutter speed that it's simply not necessary?
It's true that SR is not necessary at high shutter speeds, but also true that it can do harm. In my field tests, I had more keepers with SR off.

Pentax obviously agrees that SR can be a problem, because it is automatically turned off when panning with a K-3 or K-3 II. The problem with a K-3 is that SR can turn itself on again quickly if you change direction or pause the pan for a moment. While SR is spooling up, the sensor is in micro-motion, which will spoil shots taken in that 1/3 or 1/2 second. That sounds a short time, but that could be four images at 8 fps.

The K-3 II reportedly has a longer delay before re-starting SR after camera motion stops. OTOH, at 1/1000s, why take a chance on SR for no real benefit?
04-14-2016, 12:15 AM - 1 Like   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
It's true that SR is not necessary at high shutter speeds, but also true that it can do harm.
An interesting question - I should try disabling it for the user mode I've created for birds in flight.

I went out for a trip last weekend, and besides getting sick, I took a couple of hundred shots of passing Cockies and Galahs. I think that the real secret is practice. You do improve. This one I'm pretty pleased with, but it's only one out of heaps of poor attempts.

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04-15-2016, 07:04 AM   #24
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Currently I sit and listen to music with the camera ready looking through the window at bird feeder in garden to work out what the birds do and when they do it.
Then I use manual focus fast long prime wide open and shoot single frames with one eye off the camera.
Blue tits Finches Goldfinches Magpies black and grey crows and sparrows.
05-01-2016, 10:43 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by rkappleby Quote


Bertwert That is a useful site, however when I read section 2.4.1 I was surprised to learn that the only really suitable cameras for bird photographers are made by Nikon or Canon, Olympus is a distant 3rd and Sigma, Sony and Leica are also rans, Pentax is not worthy of mention
Well I beg to differ There is a lot of info there.....
Interesting, and surprised that 1/125th of a second shutter speed could freeze a hummingbirds's wing like that.
05-01-2016, 11:02 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
I've found this website nice and helpful for bird photography:
Secrets of Digital Bird Photography
Here's the page on BiF:
Secrets of Digital Bird Photography

There was another helpful website, but can't remember the address...
Thanks for posting this site
06-09-2016, 09:54 AM - 2 Likes   #27
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Conditions Rule

Sorry to reopen an old thread...

In addition to all the good advice already given, it all works better when you control the conditions when possible.

1. Wind can be your ally...birds often "float" going into strong winds which slows them down for you. So when it's too windy for much else, BIF may be at it's best!
2. Species that hover are far easier to shoot on the fly. Diving terns, hummingbirds, hawks on the hunt... No matter how experienced you are, it's tough to catch good shots as birds zip by at warp speed.
3. Set up so there is a non-sky background...shoot from a high vantage point or against a tall background of hills or trees. This makes exposure easier and avoids "blah" sky background. Avoiding the sky is even more important when you have a drab gray sky.
4. Utilize areas of high bird traffic. This may be around feeders for small birds or wildlife refuges for migratory species. Trying to get shots of that one cool bird is difficult compared to getting shots of many birds flying past you constantly.
5. Be very careful about pestering nesting birds...that said, many species commonly approach their nest from the same route each time which gives you the opportunity to set up along that route. This gives you a chance for "do overs" simply by waiting for the next pass through. This also keeps you along the approach route rather than right by the nest thus minimizing your impact. Be very watchful that your presence doesn't stop the birds from visiting their nest via the route you are positioned along.
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