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11-10-2018, 10:04 AM   #1
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Why would you use these values for taking a picture?

In the latest issue of Outdoor Photographer (which is my substitute subscription for the bygone Shutterbug), there is a picture for which the selection of a TC as well as ISO and shutter speed don’t make a lot of sense to me.

It (on page 12 if you happen to have the issue) is of a Polar Bear. The photographer comments they are in a zodiac boot, and photographed the bear for nearly an hour “from a distance I never imagined possible.”

Picture info listed as: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Sigma 150-600mm at 210mm, 1.4x teleconverter. Exposure: 1/8000 sec., f/7.1, ISO 1600

I am wondering:

1) Why is the TC on? Sounds like they were at about the same distance from the bear for quite a while. The TC at 210mm puts the effective focal length at just under 300mm - nicely in the middle of the lens zoom range.

2) The picture was taken from a zodiac boat, so maybe it was tossing around a bit, but why crank the ISO to 1600 and then shoot at 1/8000? If they watched the bear for an hour, he probably wasn’t moving around a lot (in the picture, the bear seems to be staring at something, and not ready to jump). I see no need for that 1/8000 - the one over focal length “rule” would suggest 1/500 would be OK, and you could go lower with stabilization.

I think I would have skipped the TC and lowered the ISO substantially for highest quality (100-200 maybe) and used a slower shutter speed - 1/500 (for ISO 100) or 1/1000 (for ISO 200) which would give the same exposure.

What about you?

11-10-2018, 11:10 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Since he was working from a boat, I'm guessing the photographer fitted the TC in advance without knowing just how close he'd be able to get to the bear. Maybe he thought it was better to err on the side of caution and give himself as much reach as possible?

As for the shutter speed... that does seem extremely high. BUT, having photographed seals and sea birds on a beach from a RIB in choppy waters, I would say that 1/500s would be too slow (I was shooting around 1/1600s and ended up with many not-too-sharp photos ). It's not the photographer's steadiness in this situation that's the problem, but the pitch, yaw and roll of the boat. Although you can compensate for the movement to some extent, it's pretty difficult to remain locked on to a subject and steady in anything other than calm waters, and I challenge any in-lens or in-body stabilisation to deal with the extent to which choppy waters will jiggle a tiny boat around. If you think about photographing birds in flight, you might pick 1/1000 or 1/1250s, and that's for a subject with reasonably predictable movement. I still feel 1/8000s is pushing it, but I can understand going for a high shutter speed.
11-10-2018, 11:37 AM   #3
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1/focal length only applies if you have a good grip on the camera and are standing on firm ground to begin with. A rocking boat knocks that number down considerably, so 1/8000 isn't that all unexpected. The only issue 1/8000 creates is very little light for the sensor to work with (when combined with the TC which multiplies the lens f stop as well) - a reason to boost the ISO.

It may be that the zoom lens being used performs better at the shorter focal length with the TC than at that same focal length zoomed. I have a Sigma 55-500mm in which that's the case for its upper zoom range. Of course, the TC has other issues, but it may have been attached to allow a longer reach and then there was the bear. I might opt for that shot rather than try to get the TC off.

Last edited by Bob 256; 11-10-2018 at 11:44 AM.
11-10-2018, 11:43 AM   #4
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I would agree with BigMackCam about a likely reason for the TC. Add in caution about not wanted to swap lenses on a possibly rocky boat and there you go. It's also possible that he was in the midst of shooting extreme close ups at the long end with the TC and a wider shot presented itself or came to mind.

That said, we could spend all day second guessing someone about settings on a photo we haven't even seen. Do they have contact information for the photographer?

11-10-2018, 11:50 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by AstroDave Quote
What about you?
If the camera would have been a Pentax , I suppose Av was used instead of TV. Av mode, ISO preset to 1600 for a shutter speed of 1/1000th in ambient lighting, center weighted AE, a white polar bear would have easily shifted the shutter speed to 1/8000 due intensity of light from the white polar bear being far off 18% gray. TC was used due to subject expected farther away. IMO, shooting wild bear with 210mm isn't common at all, it's risky.
11-10-2018, 11:59 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
IMO, shooting wild bear with 210mm isn't common at all, it's risky.
They were in a boat, perhaps they thought polar bears can't swim.

Or it wasn't a frame filling closeup. You could safely photograph a bear with a 10mm, but it's not going to be a head shot unless you want to join the bear for lunch.
11-10-2018, 12:11 PM   #7
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The speed seems to make sens sitting in a tiny zodiac boat, moved by the sea and an in lens stabilisation. With a in body stabilisation some of the rotations maybe corrected. What is impossible to compensate is moving (even within body stabilisation) the for an back of the camera. To compensate this you have to set the speed as high as it is possible. Maybe you can reduce one ore two speed steps with an in body stabilisation.
11-10-2018, 03:14 PM   #8
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My guess is that it was set like this to not worry about too low shutter or camera settings. This is how I usually set my camera outdoors for action: relatively high ISO in Av mode, aperture as needed for depth of field, then let the shutter float as clouds move in and out and the lighting changes.

The photo was at 1/8000, but zoomed in all the way in + some clouds could mean a lower ISO may be too low.

11-10-2018, 05:37 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by AstroDave Quote
Why would you use these values for taking a picture?
Pre-emptive set up for a lot of movement on both ends ! Air Shows & Auto Race movement is predictable in most cases ;Critters & People movement is not in most cases . You certainly don't want to be changing lenses or anything for that matter in a Zodiac on the high Seas. I use a t/c with my 55-300 PLM all the time for birds & critters when cruising in my 4X4 especially if there is a lot of open areas where i'm going. i like to pre set TAv shutter at least 1000/sec f8 and max the ISO 1600(depending on available light). Very seldom do you have the luxury of changing lenses ISO f stops or shutter speeds. My only exception was this Lynx who posed for me and then sent me a bill for "Sitting Fees"
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11-10-2018, 08:31 PM   #10
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I read the story and there was probably not enough time to remove the TC, and I sure wouldn't do it in those conditions. Anyway, I'm not going to question her settings, it's an excellent photo.

QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
I would agree with BigMackCam about a likely reason for the TC. Add in caution about not wanted to swap lenses on a possibly rocky boat and there you go. It's also possible that he was in the midst of shooting extreme close ups at the long end with the TC and a wider shot presented itself or came to mind.

That said, we could spend all day second guessing someone about settings on a photo we haven't even seen. Do they have contact information for the photographer?
Elissa Title


QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
They were in a boat, perhaps they thought polar bears can't swim.

Or it wasn't a frame filling closeup. You could safely photograph a bear with a 10mm, but it's not going to be a head shot unless you want to join the bear for lunch.
LOL, or be the bear's lunch. Interestingly, I have a cousin that runs a wildlife video company, him and his wife have spent a lot of time in Alaska. His wife was telling me that they have kayaked (or canoed) within a few feet of Grizzlies during the Salmon run, the grizzlies are so preoccupied gorging themselves with salmon that they don't even know they are there.
11-13-2018, 11:04 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by honey bo bo Quote
Pre-emptive set up for a lot of movement on both ends !
That would be my guess. She knows the higher ISO and f-stop that works well with her outfit, letting the shutter speed float in the high range. That way she could focus on composition. Besides, just because she shot the bear for nearly an hour, there was no way to know beforehand that it would be that long. No time for changing out the TC or messing with other settings; just shoot, shoot, shoot. You don't know which will be the winners until later.
1 Day Ago   #12
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Wetness, or maybe no good place to stow the TC, may have made it unwise to remove the TC.

The photographer may have taken shots at a variety of ISO settings, but for whatever reason (composition, boat movement) the one at 1/8000 shutter came out best.
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
IMO, shooting wild bear with 210mm isn't common at all, it's risky.
Yes, the bear's a risk, but so is being out in frigid arctic waters. Polar bears are good swimmers but significantly slower than a zodiac.
1 Day Ago   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
The photographer may have taken shots at a variety of ISO settings, but for whatever reason (composition, boat movement) the one at 1/8000 shutter came out best.
I suspect you are right, but I wouldn't be surprised if the shutter speed is that high for a less glorious reason (accidentally moved the dial, forgot to check settings, or perhaps the ISO setting is at 1600 permanently for those less than sunny 8 situations). I haven't seen the picture and my encounters with bears have all taken place in the woods, but I think the light intensity to produce these settings is not the norm. I'm also fairly confident that the 5D IV isn't noticeably noisy at ISO 1600 (especially if you aren't pushing it in PP and the image will be published at less than 8.5" x 11").
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