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07-12-2011, 05:44 PM   #1
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Great opportunity, What should I take?

So after talking with my Mom about doing some photos at her house a few months back, she informed me that her neighbor is big into bird watching and has tons of feeders, and is the president of a big bird watching society. I have been getting on her about mentioning something to him about me taking some pictures, she finally said something to him and he was super excited, and told me to come over whenever I wanted, no need to call. Well I dont like to just drop in on anyone, so I asked her to see what he was doing this Saturday. Apparently once a year he tries to gather as many birds as possible and "tag" them, and that is this Saturday. He invited me to come along and get some pics.

Now normally I would just put the camera on a tripod with a wireless shutter release and shoot from afar, maybe with a wireless flash as well (this will be the first time, but that is how I had planned on doing it) But since this is a situation where birds will be flying in, and never in the same spot twice, I guess a tripod will be worthless, but should I still use a flash? It will be first thing in the morning, so should be decent ambient light outside.

What kind of settings should I put the camera on? My instinct says
Burst-High
AF-C
Auto Focus - Center
Av? Tv? TAv? or just Manual?
f4 or higher, with as much shutter as i can get under say 400iso?

I know that the day will determine the Shutter/ISO/Aperture but to have a rough idea going in would be so much easier, I always end up fiddling away great opportunities.

This will probably be with the K7, with either Tamron 17-50, or Tamron 70-200 both 2.8. I also have a Metz 50 if flash is needed.

I hate to ask such basic questions, but in a situation like this, (where I may not get this opportunity again) I want to be talked to like a 4 year old to make sure I think of every little detail.

07-12-2011, 05:57 PM   #2
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I don't shoot a lot of birds but my wife has feeders and I do take the occasional shot.

As far as lenses, take both of course but I think you will use the 70-200mm most of the time. Assuming no tripod then you will be hand holding so you will not get all that close to the birds, I usually use 300mm. Unless you are shooting from a blind, in which you might be much closer. My feeders are just outside a window and about 50 feet away. They can see me move through the window glass and are gone in a flash.

If the lighting is constant you might be better with manual exposure but if they are flying in and out and you are trying to follow them, or shoot while they are in trees, then Av might be better as the light might be dramatically different at the feeder and then in a tree.

AF-c, center focus, high speed burst, ISO as low as you can but keep the shutter speed at least 1/500 or you will get motion blur on the wings.
07-12-2011, 07:23 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by SlickYamaha Quote
I always end up fiddling away great opportunities
Well, if this is truly a great opportunity, I would consider renting a piece of glass for this. That Tammy 70~200 is a good lens, I am not sure how good the IQ is when you are cropping in to fill the frame though. I would look into renting a DA* 300 for the outing...


EDIT: Here is a link for you to get an idea of what it would run to rent something like the DA* 300 -> http://www.cameralensrentals.com/item.asp?itemid=158



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Last edited by joe.penn; 07-12-2011 at 07:29 PM.
07-13-2011, 03:12 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by joe.penn Quote
Well, if this is truly a great opportunity, I would consider renting a piece of glass for this. That Tammy 70~200 is a good lens, I am not sure how good the IQ is when you are cropping in to fill the frame though. I would look into renting a DA* 300 for the outing...


EDIT: Here is a link for you to get an idea of what it would run to rent something like the DA* 300 -> CameraLensRentals.com - Pentax 300mm f/4.0 ED (IF) DA * Lens Rental



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Thats an idea as well. Some of those shipping prices are more expensive than the lens rental lol. I guess they have a good bit of insurance.

07-13-2011, 06:01 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by SlickYamaha Quote
Some of those shipping prices are more expensive than the lens rental lol
Yes - usually it is next day or 2-day air and both ways; that is why it is so pricey...



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07-13-2011, 06:34 AM   #6
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I don't have a lot of bird shooting experience either but one thing I do know is that you want the longest lens you can hold. 200mm minimum. If you can stand to use it, your tamron should do the trick. If you want to rent something (and have time to get it), the DA*300 is a fine choice.

Either way...

Set the Lens for Manual focus (I made sure the Tamron could do this before saying it).

Set the camera for AF-S

Make sure catch in focus is turned on (custom menu)

Put your camera drive mode in to Continuous low (or high). I say low because there is no point in taking 20 pictures of an out of focus bird.

Set your camera to Tv, Auto ISO, set your shutter speed to something like 1/500 or so, and set your ISO range to something that will give you a decent photo at the Top of the range. You want the lens to be able to stop down some and not continuously shoot at f2.8 (or f4 in the case of the 300). I would also go with Spot metering if using one of the semi auto modes. That way, at least your Birds will be somewhat properly exposed. You may lose the sky or some other surroundings with it but at least you'll have the animals.

If you're in a situation where the light isn't changing from one shot to the next, put the camera in M mode, pick an exposure, and leave it there. There's no need to readjust unless there is some photographic need to do so (changing DOF). Once you have something that works, if you want to change the aperture or shutter speed, hit the AE-L and change the one you want to change. The other will follow along.

To shoot...

(practice with this and see if it works for you)

Press and hold the shutter release while turning the focus ring. In continuous mode (on the K5 anyway) the camera will take a photo every time it detects focus confirmation. With AF-C the camera will take a photo regardless of focus and on the K7, I never found it to work that well anyway and it's even worse on the K20d.

Good luck and show us what you get..


Last edited by JeffJS; 07-13-2011 at 06:40 AM.
07-13-2011, 05:13 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
Set the Lens for Manual focus (I made sure the Tamron could do this before saying it).

Set the camera for AF-S

Im confused, The tamron does switch to MF, but if the camera is on AF-S, its still going to override the lens and take AF shots? Maybe I misunderstand...
07-13-2011, 05:24 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by SlickYamaha Quote
Im confused, The tamron does switch to MF, but if the camera is on AF-S, its still going to override the lens and take AF shots? Maybe I misunderstand...
Jeff is suggesting that you shoot with "catch in focus" by manually turning the focus ring while having the shutter button half-pressed so that when a bird comes in focus, the camera will take the shot(s). you're basically using the AF system of the camera to decide when things are in focus to take a shot, but manually moving the focus ring to get there.

07-13-2011, 05:35 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by dgaies Quote
Jeff is suggesting that you shoot with "catch in focus" by manually turning the focus ring while having the shutter button half-pressed so that when a bird comes in focus, the camera will take the shot(s). you're basically using the AF system of the camera to decide when things are in focus to take a shot, but manually moving the focus ring to get there.
I understand, but i guess what im missing is, with C.I.F turned on. AF.S and the lens in manual, when i press the shutter half way, it AF's. There is no overriding this, the Lens has a MF/AF, but the camera AF still over rides this, (with the lens set to MF or AF)

I have used C.I.F. before, but on older fully manual lenses only, maybe im missing something.
07-13-2011, 05:42 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by SlickYamaha Quote
I understand, but i guess what im missing is, with C.I.F turned on. AF.S and the lens in manual, when i press the shutter half way, it AF's. There is no overriding this, the Lens has a MF/AF, but the camera AF still over rides this, (with the lens set to MF or AF)

I have used C.I.F. before, but on older fully manual lenses only, maybe im missing something.
As far as I recall, there is no AF/MF switch on the Tamron. There is the focus ring that slides back and forth to engage/disengage the clutch, but that won't make it act like a MF lens (in the "eyes of the body). So I think the reason it's not working for you is because there's no way to make the body think a MF lens is attached to the body when you use the 70-200/2.8. Hopefully someone else can correct me if I'm wrong (I don't have the Tamron 70-200/2.8 anymore to try it out).
07-13-2011, 05:45 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by dgaies Quote
As far as I recall, there is no AF/MF switch on the Tamron. There is the focus ring that slides back and forth to engage/disengage the clutch, but that won't make it act like a MF lens (in the "eyes of the body). So I think the reason it's not working for you is because there's no way to make the body think a MF lens is attached to the body when you use the 70-200/2.8. Hopefully someone else can correct me if I'm wrong (I don't have the Tamron 70-200/2.8 anymore to try it out).
Ok, thats what i thought. I read that he had said "I check tamron could do this" and assumed I had been doing something wrong lol. So is there any way to use C.I.F on the tamron then?
07-13-2011, 05:51 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by SlickYamaha Quote
Ok, thats what i thought. I read that he had said "I check tamron could do this" and assumed I had been doing something wrong lol. So is there any way to use C.I.F on the tamron then?
I don't think so, but again, hopefully someone can correct that if there is a way to do it.
07-13-2011, 06:32 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by dgaies Quote
Originally posted by SlickYamaha*
Ok, thats what i thought. I read that he had said "I check tamron could do this" and assumed I had been doing something wrong lol. So is there any way to use C.I.F on the tamron then?
I don't think so, but again, hopefully someone can correct that if there is a way to do it.
dgaies is correct - the lens attached to the body must be able to be engaged in MF (if it is an AF lens) to use CIF. AF lenses that have the switch (AF/MF) can be used with CIF as the switch itself disengages the AF in the lens itself.

To clarify so you don't get confused:
Your Tammy can be used as a MF lens, this is enabled from the CAMERA BODY; when the camera body's switch is switched to MF, the body does not engage the AF linkage to the lens, thus allowing you to manual focus the lens. CIF relies on usage of the camera's AF algorithm, so the AF system MUST be engaged (AF.S) for CIF to work - when this is enaged, the AF linkage is engaged, it is then the lens where you must disengage the AF linkage - without the MF/AF switch on the lens, there is no way to disengage the LENS INTERNAL AF drive, thus no way to use the lens in MF mode killing the use of CIF with that particular lens.



EDIT: The lens design could explain somewhat why the Sigma's cost a bit more than the equivalent Tamron's, both of my sigmas have the switch to engage or disengage the AF on the lens (which allows me to use CIF with them) whereas my Tammy's do not....



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Last edited by joe.penn; 07-13-2011 at 06:50 PM.
07-13-2011, 06:52 PM   #14
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Joe, thanks for explaining, that's what I had understood, but thought maybe I was misunderstanding what was being said.
07-13-2011, 06:54 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by dgaies Quote
with C.I.F turned on. AF.S and the lens in manual, when i press the shutter half way, it AF's
Looking at your post again, if your lens has a MF/AF switch, if it is in MF mode, it will not autofocus the lens as the linkage is not connected to engage the internal lens AF motor.


There could however be a design issue. If for some reason your camera is thinking the lens is autofocus EVEN WHEN the LENS SWITCH is switched to manual, use the "FOIL TRICK" to short the contacts on the mount, that should solve the issue. I can't test this with my Tammy as mine does not have the switch; my sigmas work with CIF when I switch them to MF on the lens....



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