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11-19-2017, 07:46 AM   #1
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best settings for K-3 and birding

Hi, I'm now the proud owner of a pentax k-3. I sold my K-50 to help purchase it. What are the best settings to use for birding? ie focusing options for bif and stationary subjects. Are there any initial settings I should do to the camera? I saw a video on youtube that said to turn off high iso nr. I did that. Just want to get it all set up before heading out. Eventually I might create a u1 setting for birds. I think I'll use 9 point focus and af c. to start.

thanks,

11-19-2017, 10:21 AM - 1 Like   #2
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What lens, how far from the birds, and what size birds? I ask this, because you might do better with spot focusing. I'm using a D FA 150-450, and am usually in shade (funny how the birds hang out in the trees...), and as a result, am often close to wide open, have fairly shallow DoF, and find I want to really nail the focus on the eye as much as possible, so spot gets it. I also lean towards AF S. I find getting BIF and having it lock and track pretty sketchy unless it's large, like an osprey, and not too close, and not riding a bicycle towards me.... I've never felt I had a FPS speed issue, and shoot RAW+. Of note, I am shooting a K3II, but I think we're pretty comparable for this application.
11-19-2017, 10:35 AM   #3
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I don't have anything longer than a DAL 55-300mm at the moment but would be shooting all/any birds as possible. The closeness depends on how close they will let me get lol. Shade and sun whatever the conditions are that day.
11-19-2017, 11:37 AM - 1 Like   #4
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I've got the HD DA 55-300 WR variant. You can do quite well with that lens. I find the f8-11 range a sweet spot, leaning towards the smaller end. Just get the ISO up as needed for a decent shutter speed. I lucked out with an osprey nesting in a tree next to me for a couple seasons, otherwise, I'm taking whatever I can get on the feeder off the porch. Lotta little guys that really move fast. Typically get one chance to nail them before they take off. I'll prop open the door on the porch and hang a sheet with a hole cut out for the lens as my blind to shoot through. Let's me get pretty close. Lotta fun to just hang out and see what comes by.

11-19-2017, 11:47 AM - 4 Likes   #5
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For birds in trees, I recommend TAv mode, f8 with the 55-300mm, shutter speed preferably 1/350s, but not below 1/180s. ISO floats from 100-6400 (need a good noise reduction program)

Here are my current recommendations for BIF with a K-3. I have these set in USER1 mode:
TAv mode:
- Set aperture for sharpest MTF - f/5.6 with the DA*300, f/8 if you're also using the TC. Shoot at f/8 with 55-300mm, do not use a TC. If you're shooting in dim conditions, the DA*300 is acceptable wide open, even with the TC. The 55-300 is unacceptably soft wide open.
- Shutter speed according to conditions. I find 1/1000s works most of the time. Never go below 1/500s. Don't be afraid to push ISO. Noise is correctable, motion blur is not
AF-C, Hi-Speed continuous burst:
Center AF point, with 25 point expansion. I use 9-point for sports, but birds move too fast to stay within the small 9-point array.
Matrix metering, add 0.5EV compensation, fine tune in p-p
Shake reduction Off

Custom Menu Parameter Settings:
16. 1st frame action in AF-C - Focus priority (make sure focus is on the target before shooting, or you'll have a string of misses)
17. Action in AF-C Continuous - Focus Priority
18. Hold AF status - Medium, bump up to High if required. IME, AF Hold Off or Low allows focus to drift to the background too readily.

I only shoot raw, turn off all the jpeg settings (lens correction, NR, etc). Having USER1 set for action allows me to switch over from a still subject to action with just a couple of mode dial clicks. Highly recommended.
11-19-2017, 12:34 PM   #6
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Great thanks a lot both of you. What do I do for sharpness, contrast, hue? Leave them at the default? In regards to the 9 points expanded. Is that why the D7000 misses sharpness on a still subject even though the centre point is on the said subject. I've had that happen and wondered why. I need more focus points? ps it's centre point expanded

Last edited by enyaw; 11-19-2017 at 12:40 PM.
11-19-2017, 01:04 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
For birds in trees, I recommend TAv mode, f8 with the 55-300mm, shutter speed preferably 1/350s, but not below 1/180s. ISO floats from 100-6400 (need a good noise reduction program)
.....
Saved it. Thanks
11-19-2017, 01:18 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by enyaw Quote
Great thanks a lot both of you. What do I do for sharpness, contrast, hue? Leave them at the default? In regards to the 9 points expanded. Is that why the D7000 misses sharpness on a still subject even though the centre point is on the said subject. I've had that happen and wondered why. I need more focus points? ps it's centre point expanded
i should have mentioned, I only use Center Point (focus and recompose) for birds in trees. Multiple points will usually grab a contrasty branch instead of the bird.

If you're shooting jpeg, I would recommend Landscape for nature shots, including birds. I only shoot raw, so the jpeg settings affect the look of the image on the camera LCD, but have no effect on the raw image.

11-19-2017, 01:33 PM   #9
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I managed to nail this guy at 370mm handheld, I know the iso is way too high. I must have left a previous scene and didn't change settings. A bad habit
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11-19-2017, 01:57 PM   #10
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this image would be around right setting wise
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11-19-2017, 04:00 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by enyaw Quote
this image would be around right setting wise
ultimately it is what satisfies you

I recently attended a class on " sport and action " photography put on by a " expert " professional photographer sponsored by Tamron

he would have criticized that photo because

" it looks like the ball is just suspended in mid air " and he was saying you wanted a shutter speed which would capture the action of the batsman but blurred the ball to show motion

again, to me, it is what you want, not what anyone else wants

just like your choice in equipment and lens is up to you and you alone

ps, If it is important, I like the frozen ball photo and the other photo posted by the OP
11-19-2017, 04:30 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
Here are my current recommendations for BIF with a K-3. I have these set in USER1 mode:
I like the way your recipe sounds - think I'm going to have to give it a shot, especially revisiting AF C and the custom menu settings and the spot plus 25 point expanded. I've always felt like If I could just get the right combination, it must be more capable, but haven't nailed it yet.
11-19-2017, 08:48 PM - 1 Like   #13
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I have shot birds with my K-5IIS and K-3II using my Sigma 150-500 DG OS. For birds in flight the shutter speed can fluctuate depending on speed of the birds' actions. For example a blue heron could be gliding by (slow wing movement) and I could shoot it at 800 shutter speed. If a seagull or tern were coming by I would use a 1000 shutter speed due to the speed and slight direction change it may take. The ISO is dependent on the light, and I like to stay under 800, with 400 ISO or below being ideal. An F8 or higher digit aperture (ex. F9, F10) is nice to retain a depth of field for the subject. Using TAV is valuable when on the go shooting birds in flight, so I have used it for that a majority of the time.

While shooting birds on branches for example, I will use a 320 shutter speed, or below if the movement is minimal. The use of F9 or of a higher digit aperture will usually include most of the bird in nice detail. I use TAV for this type situation also and try to stay at or below ISO 800 for this type shooting.

Other settings I use for the shooting types above (K-3II) are AF.C, "Spot" metering, "Spot" AF Point, "1st Frame in Action AF.C" set to "Release-priority", "Action in AF.C Continuous" set to "FPS-Priority", and "Hold AF Status" to "Off".

Last edited by C_Jones; 11-19-2017 at 08:56 PM.
11-20-2017, 08:26 AM - 1 Like   #14
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There's quite a bit of discussion of jpeg settings in this thread. IME, high ISO NR and Image Tone (Bright, Landscape, sharpness, contrast, etc) have no effect on the camera's responsiveness. "Lens Correction" however, slows the camera down and should be off for action shots.

Shake Reduction needs to spool up before the shutter is released, otherwise the sensor is in motion and will blur the shot. The K-3 has programming to shut off SR when panning is detected, then restarts when panning stops. Again, if it is cycling while you shoot, you will have motion blur. Pentax clearly intends SR to be off for panning, and action shooting requires high shutter speeds to freeze motion. SR can hurt and is not needed with a high shutter speed, so should be off for birds in flight. (You may want to use it for panning shots like racing, or sports, where a lower shutter speed is used to deliberately show motion blur.) I do not use Horizon Leveling for action shots, for the same reason as SR. I don't want the camera moving the sensor while I am taking a shot. Of course the blur filter should be off for sharpness and speed. There's no reason, nor time, for these sensor features during action shooting.

QuoteOriginally posted by C_Jones Quote
"Spot" AF Point,
Confining AF to a single point in AF-C mode prevents the camera from tracking the subject, and a bird in flight moves too quickly to keep a single point directly on its head. Expanded Area must be used to enable the camera's tracking algorithms and Real Time Scene Analysis. With Expanded Area AF, you only need to ensure that the first shot is spot on your intended target, and the camera will step in to ensure that point remains the target, even when it wanders from the center.

Select-area expansion*
Choose one of 27 AF points to focus on the subject, and the K-3 automatically tracks the subject and refocuses on it with the help of the neighboring points, even when it moves away from the initial point

Auto tracking** to trace the subject’s movement in tandem with the new scene analysis system
The PENTAX Real-time Scene Analysis System accurately detects the color, shape and movement of a subject, and keeps monitoring it throughout the imaging process. With the help of this innovative system, the K-3 automatically shifts the AF point to trace the subject’s movement with great speed and precision. Thanks to a wide AF area covered by 27 AF points, it maintains the sharp focus on the subject, even when it’s moving at high speed or when you are using the high-speed continuous shooting mode.

Feature 2?K-3 | RICOH IMAGING

QuoteOriginally posted by C_Jones Quote
"Spot" metering
IMO spot metering is best confined to AF-S mode, and used with AE-Lock. Shooting a white bird with spot metering will underexpose, a black bird will overexpose. I suggest Matrix metering and +0.5EV as a default, but may require brightness adjustment in post-processing. I was formerly using Center-Weighted metering, but someone suggested to use Matrix metering to fully enable the camera's 86K RGB sensor and Real Time Scene Analysis for predictive tracking. I believe that advice has merit. (Thanks rawr )

86,000-pixel RGB light-metering sensor for extra-accurate detection of the subject’s shape and color
An image captured by the K-3’s RGB light-metering sensor with approximately 86,000 pixels resembles a Live View image. Unlike conventional metering sensors which measure the subject’s light level only, it even measures the subject’s primary color and its motion with great precision, then feeds the obtained data instantly to the PENTAX Real-time Scene Analysis System.
Feature 1?K-3 | RICOH IMAGING

QuoteOriginally posted by C_Jones Quote
"FPS-Priority"
I only use Focus Priority for BIF. In sports shooting, a slightly misfocussed shot of a critical goal etc, would be better than nothing, but I delete out-of focus bird shots. I'll probably get a dozen or so in-focus shots as it flies by. Also, I want to ensure that my target is being tracked. If my first shot is on the background clouds or trees, and I am using AF Hold, the camera will track the background instead of the target.

Sorry C_Jones, I am not trying to pick on you or your choices. I just wanted to present my reasoning so people would understand why I choose these settings. I have shot thousands of BIF images. I've spent hours in practice, throwing bread to gulls and ducks and shooting them as they fly around me. I've researched settings to use on the net and tried them in the field. You will not hear me complaining about K-3 tracking, these settings work acceptably well for me. Of course having a lens that can focus with speed and precision like my DA*300 and HD DA 55-300mm PLM helps. Results were less satisfactory with previous versions of the 55-300mm. Then again, how many images of a bird in flight does one need? I usually only keep one or two from each sequence. I would like to see an improvement in initial focus acquisition speed for the next flagship body.

Last edited by audiobomber; 11-20-2017 at 08:33 AM.
11-20-2017, 03:22 PM - 1 Like   #15
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user 1 "catch the bird" TAV 1/1000 f7 auto iso. SR on AFS single point. Noise Reduction Custom 400-800 2 points. over 3 points. +/- to +0.3.
when I see a bird on tree branch I shot first with this settings . after I change to User 2 "bird with quality"
AV iso 400 f5.6 SR on +/- on front reel. probably the speed will be no too high and many of the pictures will be blurred but if you get a quiet bird the quality will be very good. After that I change to user 3 " BIF" Av ISO 640 or 800 f5.6 SR Off +/- on front reel for quick compensation . if blackground is clear then overexpose if dark underexpose. AFC centrsl point 27 expanded. NR custom as user 1
to use SR on on flight and AfC on static are the best way to ruined pictures.
Sorry bad English.
you can see my pictures and exifs on my flickr as pasorro63

---------- Post added 11-20-2017 at 03:25 PM ----------

In my opinion AFC hold off. if it is On you will hold the background 90% of times.
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