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05-22-2013, 09:12 AM   #1
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Is it me, the camera, the lens?

I've been out shooting birds and other wildlife the last 3 weekends in prep for a trip to Yellowstone in June.

Trying to hone my skills and get used to the quick change from landscape mode to animal mode.

I've been handholding my Sigma 100-300 f4 and have noticed a something:

here's the setup, 300mm hand held, hi fps, Av Mode, f5.6 iso 200-400 depending on light to get about 1/125-1/250 sec
and center focus point, I usually shoot in 3 to 4 frame bursts (army training dies hard,,,,lol)

here's the pattern: when shooting vertical I tend to get less lens hunting and a higher percentage of precise focus lock (on target opposed to something in the front or back) than when shooting horizontal

does this have something to do with the pixel ratio and the center focus point accuracy? it is biomechanical?

i'd like to figure it out so I can apply this knowledge on my bucket list trip. I don't want to spend all my time shooting vertical

05-22-2013, 09:43 AM   #2
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Which camera are you using? Also, I don't think that your shutter speed is going to be adequate...especially with birds. Any movement will be noticeable, especially at 1/125.
05-22-2013, 09:51 AM   #3
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Your shutter speed should be at least the same as the focal length. You will need at least 1/400 or 1/500 for birds. 1/1000 or higher is preferable.
05-22-2013, 10:03 AM   #4
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It might just be that your subjects have more surface area landing in the vertical section of the cross type focus point when you turn your camera vertical.

05-22-2013, 10:24 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by nomadkng Quote
I've been out shooting birds and other wildlife the last 3 weekends in prep for a trip to Yellowstone in June.

Trying to hone my skills and get used to the quick change from landscape mode to animal mode.

I've been handholding my Sigma 100-300 f4 and have noticed a something:

here's the setup, 300mm hand held, hi fps, Av Mode, f5.6 iso 200-400 depending on light to get about 1/125-1/250 sec
and center focus point, I usually shoot in 3 to 4 frame bursts (army training dies hard,,,,lol)

here's the pattern: when shooting vertical I tend to get less lens hunting and a higher percentage of precise focus lock (on target opposed to something in the front or back) than when shooting horizontal

does this have something to do with the pixel ratio and the center focus point accuracy? it is biomechanical?

i'd like to figure it out so I can apply this knowledge on my bucket list trip. I don't want to spend all my time shooting vertical
Considering that for hand held (not accounting for shake reduction efficiency) the rule of thumb would be to shoot at 1/450th (1/500 is closest typical speed) you are relying on shake reduction for 1-2 stops of effective benefit. While I personally have shot 500mm at 1/40 and 1/60 my keeper rate is not that high, but it gives you an idea as to how far you can push the shutter speed with respect to camera induced shake.

In a quick, non quantitative test, I tried both formats and found I hold the camera differently with respect to my right hand grip when in vertical. I fact, although not tested exhaustively, I get the impression that I have less tendency to rotate the camera when pressing the shutter with the grip I use in vertical format, than I would in horizontal format.

As a result, I would suggest that the issue is bio mechanical .

One last thought. The best ever shot I took at ultra low shutter speed is posted in the sample image archive under the K300/4, where with this lens, and a 1.7x AF converter, (510mm focal length) I shot a night heron at 1/40th . It was also vertical.

As an aside, I would personally give up 1-2 stops from ISO for additional shutter speed.

Edit notes
1) My discussion is pertaining to stationary subjects. Note that shake reduction cannot remove subject motion. Therefore the comments of some other posts may be relevant. Higher shutter speeds may be needed
2) what AF mode are you using, continuous or single. Sometimes this can make a difference
3) remember when pixel peeping, depth of field can be very narrow, you may be confusing blurr from shake or motion with depth of field
4) although I have principally discussed the issue of motion blurr, stability also impacts focus because the more stable you are, the less movement of subjects there is within the "view" of the focus sensor. The sensor itself, for the center sensor is a cross type and should be symmetrical and equally performing in both formats

Last edited by Lowell Goudge; 05-22-2013 at 10:32 AM.
05-22-2013, 10:48 AM   #6
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i'm using a k5iis and in terms of pushing the iso, its been a frustrating trial an error because even at 800 iso, I feel like I start losing feather/fur detail to noise that I have yet to figure out how to counter, especially if the subject is further away and I have to crop

I don't understand how some can get away with 1600 or 3200 iso. it makes me wonder if I have a defective camera, because the noise I personally see makes the pictures unusable to my eyes.
05-22-2013, 10:57 AM   #7
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I guess noise is a subjective thing. Perhaps you can post some images that you find the noise to be "unusable."
05-22-2013, 11:12 AM   #8
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so here's a brainstorm, and kind of a tangent to this original thread topic,

What if I changed mode to Tv and locked ISO at a level I was comfortable with, locked shutter speeds at higher values recommended and what I would prefer 1/500-1000, and then bumped up the EV to +2 or +3.

Obviously the camera would open up to f4, and even then I might get a lot of blinkies in my viewfinder, BUT will the camera let me take a picture intentionally that underexposed?

or will the camera automatically adjust some setting on release (iso/shutter speed), overriding my careful plotting?


Last edited by nomadkng; 05-22-2013 at 11:39 AM.
05-22-2013, 11:13 AM   #9
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I too cannot shoot high ISO (above 200) without cringing at the noise. I recommend sticking with ISO 80 and getting a cheap manual flash and a better beamer extender (assuming you're not doing BIF). Movement does require fast shutter speeds but that shouldn't be a problem even at ISO 80. This was with morning light set to 1/1600th, F/4 @250mm (DA* 60-250) Not sure the differences in the lenses is fair tho.
05-22-2013, 01:04 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by nomadkng Quote
i'm using a k5iis and in terms of pushing the iso, its been a frustrating trial an error because even at 800 iso, I feel like I start losing feather/fur detail to noise that I have yet to figure out how to counter, especially if the subject is further away and I have to crop

I don't understand how some can get away with 1600 or 3200 iso. it makes me wonder if I have a defective camera, because the noise I personally see makes the pictures unusable to my eyes.
i have a lot of different cameras, and while I agree noise increases with ISO, I have shot successfully with the K10D and K7D at 1600 ISO, and pushed the K5D even higher.

in order to give you some impression of what can be done at high ISO, i have attached links to the photos.

the first post of this thread https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/lens-sample-photo-archive/164135-pentax-k...4-samples.html is the K7D at ISO 1600 using JPEG right out of the camera, and includes a 100% crop.

the second post of this thread shows 2 shots https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/lens-sample-photo-archive/189533-sigma-ap...00f2-8-ex.html , the hawk at i believe ISO 400 and the whooping crane at ISO 1600 ( both from the K10D) the last shot of the thread (yellow warbler) is with the K5D at ISO 800

I do not personally have an issue with any of these, if you do you are being too fussy

Note that excessive apparent noise may also be the result of overly aggressive sharpening, and or poor exposure followed by large adjustments to correct exposure.

I shoot entirely jpeg. i don't over process, i am very particular about that
05-22-2013, 02:02 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by halfspin Quote
I too cannot shoot high ISO (above 200) without cringing at the noise. I recommend sticking with ISO 80 and getting a cheap manual flash and a better beamer extender (assuming you're not doing BIF). Movement does require fast shutter speeds but that shouldn't be a problem even at ISO 80. This was with morning light set to 1/1600th, F/4 @250mm (DA* 60-250) Not sure the differences in the lenses is fair tho.
That's the one thing I miss about SC...the egrets! Nice shot by the way.
05-22-2013, 02:25 PM   #12
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Wouldn't it make more sense to use Tv mode, auto ISO up to whatever you find acceptable, and shutter speed of 1/500 or faster?
Because at such tele FoV, even very little shaking will show up in the photo if your shutter speed isn't fast. You can use slower speeds if you have a sturdy tripod and its not too windy. I think its better to have some noise in the photo, or a DoF that is a little shallow, than to have the photo all smudged

QuoteOriginally posted by nomadkng Quote
here's the pattern: when shooting vertical I tend to get less lens hunting and a higher percentage of precise focus lock (on target opposed to something in the front or back) than when shooting horizontal
Hm I'm not sure what exactly you mean. Portrait vs. landscape orientation affects AF? Are you sure its not your hands shaking less/more depending on the position? I imagine the camera and that lens has some weight to it
05-22-2013, 03:04 PM   #13
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Curious as the OP didn't mention it - are you using AF-S or AF-C?

I must admit that I rarely use my camera in machine gun mode - found I get pretty good results with single shots with AF-S. When using continuous focus mode, and continuous shooting mode, I don't see how the SR could possibly work correctly.
05-22-2013, 03:23 PM   #14
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Stabilization may help capture a sharper image due to your movement but does nothing for motion blur for too slow of a shutter speed. You should be able to shoot ISO800 just fine with that camera.
05-22-2013, 03:42 PM   #15
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i'll vary between single and continuous focusing. More single because it's tough to "compose" in continuous, if I want the eye in focus AND the whole body, using single point focus I have to adjust framing and AF-C changes it focus point with the recomposing. if the animal is far way, I use single to get the higher frame rate because.....

someone once suggested "machine gun mode" as a good way to counteract shake we all have at longer focal lengths when hand holding,,, essentially like timing a sniper shot between breaths or eliminating "trigger pull"

if you fire off 3 or 4 frames, good chance, if you're basically steady handed, you'll catch an image or 2 between your own movements

I've noticed that i'm getting better (more keepers) over the past few sessions, and this post was an attempt to quantify lessons "perceived as learned" with other's lesson confirmed.

no only am I trying to get better, i'm trying to impart knowledge to the gf as well as she learns the ins and outs of her first dslr. again trying to make sure "what I think I know, I know I know"...lol
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