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06-30-2008, 07:46 AM   #31
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hi, thanks for posting your pictures, see, the last picture ilustrates exactly what i'm trying to avoid, it has that "deer in front of the headlights" look, the background is too dark and the flash light is too obvious, this is the reason why i use the high ISO's to compensate, like you see bellow.

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06-30-2008, 08:13 AM   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by nicolaie Quote
hi, thanks for posting your pictures, see, the last picture ilustrates exactly what i'm trying to avoid, it has that "deer in front of the headlights" look, the background is too dark and the flash light is too obvious, this is the reason why i use the high ISO's to compensate, like you see bellow.
Hi, Nicolaie,
I am with you on the "deer in front of the headlights" look. I like to drag the shutter to catch the ambient light in the background but I don't need to use high ISO to get it; I set the maximum ISO to 320 in TAv mode and control my shutter speed, aperture and EV compensation. In the flash I use PTTL mode to automatically adjust (no manual adjustment) the flash output preventing blown highlights (my buddy in front of me, his head and camera is not blown out). The camera, the lens and the flash all work together to give me the picture I want. I am sure there is equivalent mechanism on the C***n and N***n system (ETTL or ITTL), but I just don't know what it is. My friends who had C***n and N***n system (actually other buddy in the picture 2 has a Olympus E3) do not know that either.

Regards,
Alfred
06-30-2008, 06:55 PM   #33
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But this thread is about widlife photography with no flash! I have used the K20D at ISO4500 at f4 and was bloody glad to have it.
06-30-2008, 08:15 PM   #34
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Everyone: thanks for those replies - much appreciated!

Nicolaie: I'll say it once again: that's the max. of 5 FPS is what I seemed to get when shooting under VERY demanding lighting conditions... try doing that frame rate on a (moving) wild animal in less than ideal lighting conditions. No system will shoot at the max. FPS in that situation... not even the Nikon D3 or the MK III series bodies, unless it's a completely static object, which requires little or no skill. Quoting a set of lab results is fine, but they are only lab results - nothing more. The required AF re-focus and lock on a moving subject slows down the FPS - every time. I'd like to try faster cards, but the buffer slowed after 5 frames. Remember, I am not shooting JPEG - I am shooting RAW. It's a requirement of the contest to ensure the rulesets are observed.

Please re-read the post - I clearly stated the Canon is superb under certain conditions. I am sure DPR got 6 FPS - but in more optimal conditions than I was shooting in. Besides, any higher FPS is not much use if the AF is incorrectly locking (on the body and not the head, despite focusing on the head) in low light conditions. This 40D could have been an anomaly - I do not know. The Pentax wasn't great under certain conditions either - more than a few missed shots. They all have strengths and weaknesses. That's why I used each system under a specific set of conditions, knowing it was the better choice for the situation.

You are welcome to shoot in those same conditions with a $4200 Sigma 500/4.5 attached. It wasn't for lack of good glass - this is one of Sigma's best lenses - the EX series. Sometimes I wonder if having a MK II or III would've been the best option. However, I must take what I am given! I had the wonderful opportunity to shoot with $5500 worth of Canon specific gear as part of a sponsorship loan. If anything, not paying for the gear would be the better option to test it out... I am not tied to it financially and perhaps it's possible that I might be a little more objective in my opinions? I was really excited about the opportunity to try another system and see how it would do. Same goes for the K20D - it's a loaner too.

Just over 10,100 images were shot on the 40D in less than 30 days - often they were 10-12 hour days. The Canon system was my PRIMARY system for the shoot (500mm is a big deal for birding and most wildlife work). This is not just a series of static objects and lab tests - it's the real world, in a wide open environment. I believe that gives me some idea of the strengths and weaknesses of a camera system, especially under sometimes very demanding conditions... low light, overcast conditions, often into shaded areas... which I clearly specified...

As an FYI, are you familiar with sportshooter.com? That is where I leveraged some valuable Canon expertise from a member there - and he's quite competent, including multiple MK II and MK III bodies. Since he shot with Canon from day 1, it's my hope that he has some idea of how to tweak the Canon systems camera for best results. I also am part of a photo society where 90%+ of the membership shoot Canon. Same goes for the camera store - they know Canon products! Did you not think I wouldn't talk to some knowledgeable folks in either area as well? Absolutely - otherwise I am doing my sponsors a disservice if I do not.

Perhaps you've seen my website? I will let you decide what you will - please take a look at then you tell me if you think Pentax is not capable... or you can check these posts out:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/27842-great-white-egret.html

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/26923-african-wildlife-a...4x36-hung.html
(the running Zebra is a panning shot captured with Pentax)

Mid-America Photography Symposium

BTW, the bird image in the 3rd link is taken with the Canon system - and it's a favorite of mine, as do another image that I've not yet published, and it's with Canon...

Regards,
Marc


Last edited by Marc Langille; 06-30-2008 at 08:22 PM.
07-01-2008, 04:07 AM   #35
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Thanks for the great initial post and this reply which is very informative.

I hope, everybody is back to Wildlife now

QuoteOriginally posted by 35mmfilm_user Quote
500mm is a big deal for birding and most wildlife work

I am keen to shoot some Wildlife as well (as an amateur). However, it seems the best I will be able to aquire for my K20D is a DA* 300mm f/4. Do you think, with the added cropping power of the K20D sensor (yes, amateurs are allowed to crop ) that 300mm will be enough for this type of photography? Or should I try to get longer glass? Suggestions in the <2000$ range then? (E.g., there are used Pentax 600mm f/4 lenses but cost a fortune -- I also found that cheap long glass doesn't do better than cropping from an excellent optics)
07-01-2008, 06:59 AM   #36
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QuoteOriginally posted by falconeye Quote
Thanks for the great initial post and this reply which is very informative.

I hope, everybody is back to Wildlife now
No worries and thank you! To clarify: I'm not against anyone on this, just explaining what happens within a specific set of conditions... I'll be the first to say the Canon gear is very good or excellent in many situations.

QuoteOriginally posted by falconeye Quote
I am keen to shoot some Wildlife as well (as an amateur). However, it seems the best I will be able to aquire for my K20D is a DA* 300mm f/4. Do you think, with the added cropping power of the K20D sensor (yes, amateurs are allowed to crop ) that 300mm will be enough for this type of photography? Or should I try to get longer glass? Suggestions in the <2000$ range then? (E.g., there are used Pentax 600mm f/4 lenses but cost a fortune -- I also found that cheap long glass doesn't do better than cropping from an excellent optics)
Yes, and the DA* 300/4 will still be quite good with a good TC. Try finding the Tamron 1.4x Pz-AF MC4 TC - it's really, really good with my FA* 300/2.8. Unfortunately it's no longer made... I agree that excellent optics allow much, much more leeway for cropping, since the resolution is so good. Generally 400mm+ is the best option for wildlife unused to a human presence. Less than 400mm that means creativity or using a blind/hide. Of course, 500mm+ gives you much more flexibility, especially for birds! You can "stand off" more from the subject, and not stressing the subject is VERY important in the context of the rules and the organizations I am a member of. It's not about the shot, it's about capturing natural behavior. IIRC, for roughly every 100mm of more focal length, you get an increase in subject size by ~44% in your viewfinder.

I managed to get a nice shot of a sparrow while birding and I'll crop those images for my own portfolio usage. Cropped, it's still over 2000 pixels on the long side. I've submitted one to Pentax Photo Gallery - we shall see.

Option #2 is to get the Sigma 50-500 (aka Bigma) - around $1000 US (new). For a zoom with a 10x focal length range, it seems to be quite good. Check honest opinions on Fred Miranda's website...

Option #3 is to wait and see for Sigma's upcoming 150-500 HSM (yes, Pentax mount!) lens. I'd be curious to see how good the optics' clarity is at the long end. That might be a nice travel lens when you are intending to photograph wildlife on trips. Otherwise it and the Bigma are a little too big for travel, since neither is a light lens. There may be other options, but that probably means a used lens, which could go above $2000. If you are referencing your budget in Euros, then you've got even more money to play with if you purchase from the US!

Anyone else, feel free to contribute suggestions - I'm used to primes for max. image quality, but I own some excellent zooms. I'm hopefully on the waiting list for someone's FA* super telephoto zoom... rarer than the 600/4...

Regards,
Marc
07-01-2008, 07:03 AM   #37
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QuoteOriginally posted by nicolaie Quote
hi, thanks for posting your pictures, see, the last picture ilustrates exactly what i'm trying to avoid, it has that "deer in front of the headlights" look, the background is too dark and the flash light is too obvious, this is the reason why i use the high ISO's to compensate, like you see bellow.
I see why you like it - the ambient lighting is wonderful in this image!

Regards,
Marc
07-01-2008, 07:29 AM   #38
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Marc,

Thanks so much for sharing your experience and knowledge, much appreciated. Pictures are worth a thousand word, the shots you've taken shows it all. It is also very comforting to know that Professionals don't just use C***n exclusively as their main gear. This forum is so valuable for pros to share ideas as well as newbies like us to learn; please keep them coming.

07-01-2008, 05:10 PM   #39
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QuoteOriginally posted by 35mmfilm_user Quote
Yes, and the DA* 300/4 will still be quite good with a good TC. Try finding the Tamron 1.4x Pz-AF MC4 TC - it's really, really good with my FA* 300/2.8.
[...]
IIRC, for roughly every 100mm of more focal length, you get an increase in subject size by ~44% in your viewfinder.
[...]
If you are referencing your budget in Euros, then you've got even more money to play with if you purchase from the US!
Tamron 1.4x Pz-AF MC4 TC: Done already

I think I'll party with the new DA* 300/4. Esp. as I often walk in the Alps and having heavy gear isn't ideal.

Your ~44% rule may fail beyond 200mm. Are you sure? I guess going from 1000 to 1100mm would be a ~10% increase.

USD/EURO: With customs and German VAT, the exchange rate is 0.8 exactly. Your buying power isn't that bad, my esteemed American fellows


I think, for purely experimental purposes, I'll try to set up my 2000mm astro telescope with motorized mount to scan for distant Wildlife from some elevated point I'll let you know my results.
07-01-2008, 10:08 PM   #40
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Interesting comparison, I've been gone from the Pentax camp for some time but just recently spotted the K20D at a local camera store. A few questions on my end (yep, I'm a Canon guy and shoot with two 40D's now so of course there's questions!). What lens was used for your testing on the 40D? If you were using the FA * 300 F4 then I hope you did the 40D justice and slapped a 300 F4 L on it to have a solid AF comparison Another note is the 40D is actually weather sealed however it is around electrical areas and display components (ports, screens etc). The AF issue seems odd if it's disabling itself with the 1.4x TC.. you'd need to have achieved an aperture greater than f5.6 for that to happen (meaning your lens would have been a f5.6 to begin with and the 1.4x made it an f8). Only 1D series bodies will AF at f8 unfortunately. Image stabilisation is overrated

Good review nonetheless, I get tired of the whole "Nikon vs Canon" threads I always see as a Canon shooter and the K20D seems like a solid camera for the price. If you want to see some great AF on the 40D go borrow a Sigma 120-300 f2.8 and pop a 1.4x or 2x on there, drop the camera in center point AF and watch the grin spread ear to ear. That's my daily setup for motorsports and it hasn't let me down yet... the Siggy 500mm f4.5 is reserved for the longer tracks and will actually AF on the 40D with the new EX DG version. The older EX works but won't AF with a TC as I found out the hard way when I got my first copy.
07-02-2008, 04:18 AM   #41
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Lens used, etc...

QuoteOriginally posted by smcclelland Quote
Interesting comparison, I've been gone from the Pentax camp for some time but just recently spotted the K20D at a local camera store. A few questions on my end (yep, I'm a Canon guy and shoot with two 40D's now so of course there's questions!). What lens was used for your testing on the 40D? If you were using the FA * 300 F4 then I hope you did the 40D justice and slapped a 300 F4 L on it to have a solid AF comparison Another note is the 40D is actually weather sealed however it is around electrical areas and display components (ports, screens etc). The AF issue seems odd if it's disabling itself with the 1.4x TC.. you'd need to have achieved an aperture greater than f5.6 for that to happen (meaning your lens would have been a f5.6 to begin with and the 1.4x made it an f8). Only 1D series bodies will AF at f8 unfortunately. Image stabilisation is overrated

Good review nonetheless, I get tired of the whole "Nikon vs Canon" threads I always see as a Canon shooter and the K20D seems like a solid camera for the price. If you want to see some great AF on the 40D go borrow a Sigma 120-300 f2.8 and pop a 1.4x or 2x on there, drop the camera in center point AF and watch the grin spread ear to ear. That's my daily setup for motorsports and it hasn't let me down yet... the Siggy 500mm f4.5 is reserved for the longer tracks and will actually AF on the 40D with the new EX DG version. The older EX works but won't AF with a TC as I found out the hard way when I got my first copy.
Thanks for commenting, and here are a few thoughts...

Just to clarify - the Pentax lens: it's the FA* 300/2.8 (they made smaller apertures in this focal length, but not in the FA* lineup).

Gear sponsorship dictates what I get - in this case a Sigma 500 4.5 EX DG... brand new... so The Sigma 1.4x APO TC does not AF with the 40D I am using - even with the lens wide open - and both are brand new out of the box. More than several people (including dedicated Canon shooters, plus very knowledge camera store staff) I know stated that only the MK II and MKIII can use full AF functionality (ie. drive the lens). I was using MF with that TC - no other option. I am starting to wonder who/what/etc. is the correct answer here (just curious, based on your statements)?

Thanks for the comparison, and I suspect motor sports are not the same as wildlife photography. Simply because it's a completely different set of conditions... I really don't think most motor sport vehicles are a single low contrast color (last time I looked at any images, they generally are not - usually quite colorful), nor do they often hide in shaded, dark areas, or move within them most of the time.

Forgot to mention: I was using center point AF - anything else was virtually worthless in the type of shooting I was doing. I did try!

Consider the following: the shutter speeds were much, much higher on the Nilgai image, and in much brighter conditions: it goes to show that most cameras' AF may not be that good with low contrast subjects. That was the common issue I dealt with day in, day out. Worsen that with overcast, then often shaded areas. No choice... am I correct in my suspicion that you generally don't have to deal with that type of subject and environment in motor sports, since many tracks don't have trees or structures shading large areas of the course (evenings, etc. aside)?

Again, your points are very valid: I am only clarifying that the conditions I shoot in are going to tax any camera system's abilities, giving the lighting conditions. Your thoughts are welcome and well stated. They may not apply readily to my situation - I am not discounting any of your points...

Regards,
Marc

Last edited by Marc Langille; 07-02-2008 at 04:26 AM.
07-02-2008, 04:49 AM   #42
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QuoteOriginally posted by 35mmfilm_user Quote

Gear sponsorship dictates what I get - in this case a Sigma 500 4.5 EX DG... brand new... so The Sigma 1.4x APO TC does not AF with the 40D I am using - even with the lens wide open - and both are brand new out of the box. More than several people (including dedicated Canon shooters, plus very knowledge camera store staff) I know stated that only the MK II and MKIII can use full AF functionality (ie. drive the lens). I was using MF with that TC - no other option. I am starting to wonder who/what/etc. is the correct answer here (just curious, based on your statements)?

I'm not a canon user so I don't have 1st hand exp but I think the reason is that 40D will not allow AF over a certain aperture (so a f/4.5 plus TC won't AF but a f/4 and TC will). I *think* there is a contact that you can cover up to "fool" the camera into AF'ing. Again it is just something I remember reading someplace so I'm not 100% sure



John
07-02-2008, 09:42 AM   #43
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You've read correctly
The 40D (and I'm sure all the non-1 series) will NOT autofocus if the reported f-stop is dimmer than f/5.6.

There have been reports of being able to tape pins on certain teleconverters so the camera doesn't see the f-stop (but I would think that would then mess up the metering, but anyway)

I wish Canon would just let AF work no matter what f-stop was being used, but I guess then folks would complain that the AF sucked when they stuck a 2x on their 400mm f/5.6 (which would then become 800mm f/11)

QuoteOriginally posted by palmor Quote
I'm not a canon user so I don't have 1st hand exp but I think the reason is that 40D will not allow AF over a certain aperture (so a f/4.5 plus TC won't AF but a f/4 and TC will). I *think* there is a contact that you can cover up to "fool" the camera into AF'ing. Again it is just something I remember reading someplace so I'm not 100% sure



John
07-02-2008, 10:11 AM   #44
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thanks

Marc,

Just want to thank you for this comparison. I find these real-user reports so much more useful than most of the magazine or web-publication reviews, and I am especially fond of side-by-side comparisons.

Will
07-02-2008, 01:28 PM   #45
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QuoteOriginally posted by 35mmfilm_user Quote
Thanks for commenting, and here are a few thoughts...

Just to clarify - the Pentax lens: it's the FA* 300/2.8 (they made smaller apertures in this focal length, but not in the FA* lineup).

Gear sponsorship dictates what I get - in this case a Sigma 500 4.5 EX DG... brand new... so The Sigma 1.4x APO TC does not AF with the 40D I am using - even with the lens wide open - and both are brand new out of the box. More than several people (including dedicated Canon shooters, plus very knowledge camera store staff) I know stated that only the MK II and MKIII can use full AF functionality (ie. drive the lens). I was using MF with that TC - no other option. I am starting to wonder who/what/etc. is the correct answer here (just curious, based on your statements)?

Thanks for the comparison, and I suspect motor sports are not the same as wildlife photography. Simply because it's a completely different set of conditions... I really don't think most motor sport vehicles are a single low contrast color (last time I looked at any images, they generally are not - usually quite colorful), nor do they often hide in shaded, dark areas, or move within them most of the time.

Forgot to mention: I was using center point AF - anything else was virtually worthless in the type of shooting I was doing. I did try!

Consider the following: the shutter speeds were much, much higher on the Nilgai image, and in much brighter conditions: it goes to show that most cameras' AF may not be that good with low contrast subjects. That was the common issue I dealt with day in, day out. Worsen that with overcast, then often shaded areas. No choice... am I correct in my suspicion that you generally don't have to deal with that type of subject and environment in motor sports, since many tracks don't have trees or structures shading large areas of the course (evenings, etc. aside)?

Again, your points are very valid: I am only clarifying that the conditions I shoot in are going to tax any camera system's abilities, giving the lighting conditions. Your thoughts are welcome and well stated. They may not apply readily to my situation - I am not discounting any of your points...

Regards,
Marc
Hi Marc,

Ah I see... well doesn't that put the Canon at an already immediate disadvantage? Your AF will be far faster on the Pentax because AF systems operate wide open at the lenses maximum aperture.. so you're going to see a lot more hits and better focus lock on the f2.8 lens than on the 4.5 given that you're losing approximately 1.5 stops of light.

Technically the new Sigma model should work with the TC on the 40D and I know for sure it works on the MKII and MKIII (had a MKIIn, now have a MKIII). The older models wouldn't AF with a TC even on the MKIIn which was a very weird anomaly that I don't think anyone outside of Sigma understood

In regards to the contrast, this is largely due to your aperture values on the lenses... with the 1.4x TC on the 500 4.5 you're pushing into the realm of f8 which any camera is going to struggle to obtain focus at. However on the Pentax you're only achieving an aperture of f4 with the TC meaning that you've got plenty of light for the AF system to work with. In reality, AF isn't so heavily reliant upon contrast so much as it is the available light the AF system has to work with; if you were to pit the camera systems against one another using f2.8 lenses I think you would see a much better result and more consistency from both systems in the tests.

I shoot a lot of track side motorsports which can go anywhere from bright sunny days to horrible downpour overcast days but I also shoot night time motorsports events (American Le Mans) and rally events which put me in some pretty low light settings. I used to shoot with a 300mm f4 L but found it just could not hold up in the dense forests for rally shooting so I opted for the Sigma 120-300 f2.8 and haven't looked back since.. again, AF is primarily limited by the maximum aperture of your lens as all DSLR's that I know of AF with the lens wide open.

Wildlife shooting is indeed very taxing, I'd put it right up there in cost with motorsports for sure

Cheers,

Shawn
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