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05-30-2011, 08:32 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Does Pentax SR really work @ 600mm and very low shutter speeds?

I've seen a LOT of claims as to which/what system is best, but thought I'd do a real world test on some difficult subjects. You be the judge as to the effectiveness of Pentax SR on a super telephoto.

Equipment:
1st generation SR (Pentax K10D)
Wimberley WH-200 Gimbal Head
Gitzo 3541XLS with 3 leg sections extended
Long lens technique


Images #1 & #2 were taken in heavily overcast skies; wind gusts to 35mph. Needless to say the subjects were moving a lot on the branches due to the wind speeds! Please review the EXIF in detail - note the shutter speeds.



EXIF SUMMARY:
Date Modified 2011-05-28 21:49:23
Date Taken 2011-05-25 19:05:08
Camera PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K10D
Exposure Time 0.0333s (1/30)
Aperture f/5.6
ISO 640
Focal Length 600mm (900mm in 35mm)
Photo Dimensions 2665 x 1781
FULL EXIF





EXIF SUMMARY:
Date Modified 2011-05-28 21:48:47
Date Taken 2011-05-25 19:04:43
Camera PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K10D
Exposure Time 0.02s (1/50)
Aperture f/5.6
ISO 640
Focal Length 600mm (900mm in 35mm)
Photo Dimensions 2613 x 1748
FULL EXIF



Now in overcast skies, shaded lighting conditions; minimal wind...




EXIF SUMMARY:
Date Modified 2011-05-28 21:47:44
Date Taken 2011-05-28 16:41:26
Camera PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K10D
Exposure Time 0.01s (1/100)
Aperture f/7.1
ISO 250
Focal Length 600mm (900mm in 35mm)
Photo Dimensions 2451 x 1635
FULL EXIF

I know now that I'm comfortable shooting 1/100 sec. or higher shutter speeds in marginally decent lighting conditions and little wind. I'm impressed with how good the 1/30 and 1/50 sec. exposures turned out, but it's too much to ask any system with a constantly moving subject to be truly sharp. Normally I'd discard such images (#1 and #2), but thought it important enough to provide a comparison on Pentax SR and how well I think it works.

Regards,
Marc

05-30-2011, 08:59 PM   #2
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Marc, nice pics. Are those handheld shots? Asking since you mentioned Gitzo 3541XLS tripod. If you've used tripod, does SR really needed? in fact, I remember reading somewhere (user manual??) to turn off SR when using a tripod.

If those are handheld shots, you really have stable hands. Off course SR works but personally, I have to raise shutter speed quite a lot when using 70-200/2.8 to avoid shake so you shooting with 600mm @1/50 is just awesome.
05-31-2011, 11:12 AM   #3
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Marc, my standards are clearly not as high as yours, but I find #3 to be breathtaking. 600mm hand held @ 1/100? Very impressive. I'd be happy to get a sharp 300mm shot @ 1/100.

QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Langille Quote
Normally I'd discard such images (#1 and #2), but thought it important enough to provide a comparison on Pentax SR and how well I think it works.

Regards,
Marc
Gulp! I don't know whether to be inspired or outraged. Are you serious?? If I'd taken either #1 or #2 they'd be my best ever bird shots.
I guess I'll have to start trying a little harder.


Tim

p.s. Same as Yusuf, I'm wondering if #1 & #2 were with tripod or hand held?

Last edited by .a.t.; 05-31-2011 at 01:00 PM.
05-31-2011, 06:43 PM   #4
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Marc. Nice shots. Reminds me of the following post I did a while back with the K7 and SMC300/4 plus 1.7x AFTC. 510 mm at 1/40 hand held

See the link

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/70208-just-how-goo...reduction.html

06-01-2011, 04:33 AM   #5
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Thanks Marc for a) the gorgeous eye candy and b) some really good examples of long range in body SR results. I too have always heard "in body SR isn't very good at extreme telephoto range" So nice to have empirical evidence to give lie to that statememt.

NaCl(stunning photos as usual...thanks!)H2O
06-01-2011, 04:40 AM   #6
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Marc

I missed the last sentance in your post the first time through, that is very important to this discussion.

while shake reduction can help, as you have demonstrated with your shots, it does require a little "cooperation" on the part of the subject. SR can't deal with subject motion.
06-01-2011, 06:04 AM   #7
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Great stuff, Marc, and very liberating: I've been shooting at slower and slower shutter speeds (but not <1/100s) and wondering about the potential for blur. I'll worry less now.)

Question: when I'm shooting "hands-on" with the K1000mm (sometimes with a TC) and the Manfrotto gimbal does the "SR off" rule still apply? I can't set the FL above 800mm with the K-5, of course.
06-01-2011, 07:14 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by dadipentak Quote
Great stuff, Marc, and very liberating: I've been shooting at slower and slower shutter speeds (but not <1/100s) and wondering about the potential for blur. I'll worry less now.)

Question: when I'm shooting "hands-on" with the K1000mm (sometimes with a TC) and the Manfrotto gimbal does the "SR off" rule still apply? I can't set the FL above 800mm with the K-5, of course.
I believe Marc shoots with a gimbal also as we have discussed this on the forum previously.


I would use SR in this instance, because you would always be firing with your hand on the shutter button any way, and sokwhat holding the position with your hand. the gimbal is really only useful to be able to let go of the camera and not have the camera / lens tip in any direction since it is set up (in theory) to the center of mass of the lens and camera. It is not"vibration free"

06-01-2011, 07:25 AM   #9
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Great shots Marc. Was that with your FA* 250-600/5.6 ED [IF] ?
06-01-2011, 08:47 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I would use SR in this instance,
Thanks, Lowell--I guess I'll experiment.
06-05-2011, 10:22 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by yusuf Quote
Marc, nice pics. Are those handheld shots? Asking since you mentioned Gitzo 3541XLS tripod. If you've used tripod, does SR really needed? in fact, I remember reading somewhere (user manual??) to turn off SR when using a tripod.

If those are handheld shots, you really have stable hands. Off course SR works but personally, I have to raise shutter speed quite a lot when using 70-200/2.8 to avoid shake so you shooting with 600mm @1/50 is just awesome.
Thank you Yusuf. All shots are with tripod and gimbal head.

To be honest, hand holding a lens weighing 12.75lbs means 2-3 shots are high shutter speeds at best. It's not worth it. Bean bag on a stable surface, no question that would work.


QuoteOriginally posted by all thumbs Quote
Marc, my standards are clearly not as high as yours, but I find #3 to be breathtaking. 600mm hand held @ 1/100? Very impressive. I'd be happy to get a sharp 300mm shot @ 1/100.


Gulp! I don't know whether to be inspired or outraged. Are you serious?? If I'd taken either #1 or #2 they'd be my best ever bird shots.
I guess I'll have to start trying a little harder.


Tim

p.s. Same as Yusuf, I'm wondering if #1 & #2 were with tripod or hand held?
Hi Tim,

Thank you very much for the kind words and comments. For me, it's all about a standard that I set for myself. I'm always trying to exceed my previous work and raise the bar, so it's both good and bad. Most of the time the motion blur, out of DOF shots are the culprits in bad conditions - it just goes with the territory on a 4.5 y.o. camera body.

If you go back and review my previous image posts, that might help give you an idea of what I expect in my images. Please do not think I am doing a self-promotion when I say this - I really mean it when I am amazed with seeing the beauty of nature in a manner that the naked eye cannot capture with such detail. It gives me an internal incentive to continue to get better images.

More hummingbird images to come!

Regards,
Marc

Last edited by Marc Langille; 06-05-2011 at 10:32 AM.
06-05-2011, 05:42 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Langille Quote
All shots are with tripod and gimbal head.
Thanks for the reply, Marc.

Ah, now I understand - maybe. Based on what I've read on the Forums, I just assumed SR wasn't useful when using a tripod. Perhaps the rules are different when using a mammoth lens? No matter. However you got those shots, I'm amazed. I look forward to seeing more.

I have no talent for photographing hummingbirds, but I can make a hummer appear in my yard almost at will. When I stand near my flowerbed, almost invariably, within minutes a hummer will arrive to chatter and complain about my presence near his/her flowers. Today, I even had the honor of being divebombed! I may have to start wearing safety glasses when I go outside.

Tim
06-05-2011, 05:57 PM - 1 Like   #13
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Hi Tim,

In certain situations it will be useful: windy conditions, other factors affecting your shutter speed, etc. Normally that size of lens is like a small sail in the wind - it does move. I was impressed with how well SR did, given the very blustery conditions! Sometimes the birds went completely out of focus if they were on a branch. It was challenging, to say the least. The bottom line is that it really depends on the light/weather conditions and the camera body used. Obviously the K10D does have a ceiling on ISO before it becomes too noisy to tackle in PP. I have found it's around ISO 500-640 at most.

More than a few Canon IS super telephotos have a tripod specific stabilization setting. It is useful in certain situations. Regarding long lens technique: I simply drape my left hand over the top of the lens, sometimes part of the forearm. My hand placed near the hood & then my face is placed against the back of the camera. I often shoot with both eyes open to see what's just outside the viewfinder's FOV - mainly when it's larger creatures. The hummingbirds are generally too small and too fast.

To clarify for those not familiar with the setup: a Gimbal head is simply a resting point for the gear - it's still able to move easily on the X/Y axis, a bit on the Z axis when the adjustment knobs are not tightened down. I always leave mine relatively free moving, so it's not just a typical setup on a tripod. I can easily move 15lbs of lens+camera+grip with my thumb and index finger - it's amazing how easily it moves. At 600mm, that effect of just putting my hands on the lens and camera body is noticeable.

This technique yields great results for me by dampening the movement created by pressing the shutter button - my left hand and face do much of that. AF function is disabled and is separated onto the back panel AF button instead. Then I (hopefully) don't create as much movement since I'm pushing against the back button, not the top when I need to engage AF - which is often with these subjects. The very narrow DOF at F/5.6 --> F/7.1 in dimmer light @ 600mm and 15-18 feet away is something I must be aware of. Often motion blur and being slightly out of the DOF is the most common issue at the wider apertures and lower shutter speeds. Birds just don't move slowly (unfortunately).

Summary: normally I don't use SR unless it's pretty bad conditions (high winds, dim lighting) or very low shutter speeds. Most of the time it seems to do the trick. It's good to know that in a pinch SR seems to a reasonable backup in such inclement weather conditions if your equipment and skill level with a long lens is there. I am not sure at what shutter speed and below to enable SR on a longer lens. Perhaps it pays to experiment and find out what works best for you.

I hope I do not confuse the matter in my replies - if it doesn't make sense, please let me know.

Regards,
Marc
06-05-2011, 06:09 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Marc. Nice shots. Reminds me of the following post I did a while back with the K7 and SMC300/4 plus 1.7x AFTC. 510 mm at 1/40 hand held

See the link

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/70208-just-how-goo...reduction.html
I'd be happy with that shot, hand held...

QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
Thanks Marc for a) the gorgeous eye candy and b) some really good examples of long range in body SR results. I too have always heard "in body SR isn't very good at extreme telephoto range" So nice to have empirical evidence to give lie to that statement.

NaCl(stunning photos as usual...thanks!)H2O
Thank you very much sir. Considering it's 1st generation SR and those are rather low shutter speeds, it's all good. I'm pondering my next set of images.

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Marc

I missed the last sentance in your post the first time through, that is very important to this discussion.

while shake reduction can help, as you have demonstrated with your shots, it does require a little "cooperation" on the part of the subject. SR can't deal with subject motion.
No worries Lowell and thanks for the post/thoughts!

Regards,
Marc
06-05-2011, 06:17 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by dadipentak Quote
Great stuff, Marc, and very liberating: I've been shooting at slower and slower shutter speeds (but not <1/100s) and wondering about the potential for blur. I'll worry less now.)

Question: when I'm shooting "hands-on" with the K1000mm (sometimes with a TC) and the Manfrotto gimbal does the "SR off" rule still apply? I can't set the FL above 800mm with the K-5, of course.
I see Lowell has answered the question! It does work if your technique is solid.

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I believe Marc shoots with a gimbal also as we have discussed this on the forum previously.


I would use SR in this instance, because you would always be firing with your hand on the shutter button any way, and sokwhat holding the position with your hand. the gimbal is really only useful to be able to let go of the camera and not have the camera / lens tip in any direction since it is set up (in theory) to the center of mass of the lens and camera. It is not"vibration free"
Hi Lowell, my setup is very well balanced - it was so easy to setup and shoot. That Wimberley P50 plate extends to the rear of the tripod collar foot (P50 is 6.5 inches long) so I simply put the rear of the lens plate flush with the back of the QR clamping platform. Voila! Near perfect balance. I never have to "recalibrate" the center of gravity ever again.

Regards,
Marc
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