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Subject: "Best settings for birds?" Previous topic | Next topic
osfield Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Sep 2008Thu 14-Apr-11 10:58 PM
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"Best settings for birds?"


Glenrowan, AU
          

Hi - have just got the Nikon d7000 and was playing around shooting some birds nearby with 70-300mm lens on. I had it on AF C spot focus but was disappointed with results. Despite Focus point showing it was fairly spot on & fairly high shutter speed- many shots were not sharp.Suggestions pleased? Birds were perched.





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Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Best settings for birds?
JosephK Silver Member
15th Apr 2011
1
Reply message RE: Best settings for birds?
osfield Silver Member
15th Apr 2011
2
Reply message RE: Best settings for birds?
elec164 Silver Member
15th Apr 2011
3
Reply message RE: Best settings for birds?
osfield Silver Member
15th Apr 2011
4
Reply message RE: Best settings for birds?
billD80 Silver Member
15th Apr 2011
5
Reply message RE: Best settings for birds?
b1234s
16th Apr 2011
7
     Reply message RE: Best settings for birds?
Gamecocks Silver Member
16th Apr 2011
8
Reply message RE: Best settings for birds?
chris_platt Silver Member
15th Apr 2011
6
Reply message RE: Best settings for birds?
KnightPhoto Gold Member
17th Apr 2011
9
     Reply message RE: Best settings for birds?
osfield Silver Member
17th Apr 2011
10
          Reply message RE: Best settings for birds?
KnightPhoto Gold Member
17th Apr 2011
11
               Reply message RE: Best settings for birds?
osfield Silver Member
17th Apr 2011
12

JosephK Silver Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for his excellent and frequent contributions and sharing his in-depth knowledge and experience with the community in the Nikonians spirit. Nikonian since 17th Apr 2006Fri 15-Apr-11 02:10 AM
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#1. "RE: Best settings for birds?"
In response to Reply # 0
Fri 15-Apr-11 02:10 AM by JosephK

Seattle, WA, US
          

Most likely your focus point is far larger than the bird, assuming these shots were greatly cropped. This will lead the camera to picking the best contrast point(s) under the focus square, which is not normally the bird. For example, in the first shot the vertical wire is an excellent focus target and it seems to be what the camera picked. Another thing to note is that the focus points are sometimes/always bigger than the squares in view finder.

f/5.6 is outside the sweet spot for any of the 70-300mm lenses. f/8 would be better for sharpness as well as a larger depth of field to assist with focus errors. If you are hand holding, 1/320 is probably a little slow for 300mm on a DX camera even with VR given the motion of small birds.

---------+---------+---------+---------+
Joseph K
Seattle, WA, USA

D200, 17-55mm f/2.8 DX, VR 70-200mm f/2.8 II, 50mm f/1.4 D,
18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 DX, 70-300mm f/4-5.6 ED, D70S

  

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osfield Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Sep 2008Fri 15-Apr-11 03:05 AM
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#2. "RE: Best settings for birds?"
In response to Reply # 1


Glenrowan, AU
          

Thankyou. That's most helpful.

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elec164 Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Jan 2009Fri 15-Apr-11 03:29 AM
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#3. "RE: Best settings for birds?"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

Like Joseph, I wonder if these are full frame captures or crops?

Actually the first image is not all that bad (even considering the slow shutter speed), with a bit of extra sharpening it is quite presentable IMHO. Speaking of sharpening, it appears you may have left the Picture Control sharpening at its default, which will make the images soft looking. If you are shooting JPEG’s and want presentable images straight out of the camera you may wish to bump up the sharpening quite a bit. I (as well as a number of other users) bumped mine up to 7 for in camera JPEG’s.

The second image does look like a missed focus as well as possible motion blur in parts. I do not know how you have the camera set up and don't know if you know this, but the default setting for AF-C is shutter release priority. So if you did not change that setting then it is important to insure you are focused on the subject when fully pressing the shutter to take the shot.


I do, on the other hand, have a slightly different opinion about the f/5.6. I know the general rule of thumb is to stop down a lens a bit (especially consumer zooms) to hit its sweet spot. But contrary to that, I find that my Nikkor 70-300 VR lens performs quite well wide open with a marginal if any gain going to f/8. Of course that is my observation, YMMV.

Pete

Pete

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osfield Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Sep 2008Fri 15-Apr-11 05:12 AM
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#4. "RE: Best settings for birds?"
In response to Reply # 3


Glenrowan, AU
          

They are crops but not SEVERE crops. I think there was a bit of motion blur in the second one definitely. As far as sharpening - I already did some sharpening in CNX2 before posting these. Appreciate all your advice. Thankyou.

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billD80 Silver Member Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2007Fri 15-Apr-11 12:31 PM
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#5. "RE: Best settings for birds?"
In response to Reply # 4


US
          

The second shot shows severe motion blur from camera movement. You'll want to use a fairly high shutter speed...

Try using the center-sensor, and AF-S. Lock on the bird's head, hold the shutter release, recompose, and shoot. Since these guys aren't flying, you may find that AF-S will give you more reliable results.

With AF-C if you're moving your camera, the focus might start changing.

Try using at least f/5.6 to f/6.3, maybe f/8. Use a higher ISO, if at that f/stop you can't reach at least 1/1000th of s second shutter speed.

www.billkeane.zenfolio.com

  

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b1234s Registered since 05th Dec 2010Sat 16-Apr-11 08:26 PM
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#7. "RE: Best settings for birds?"
In response to Reply # 3


Winter Garden, US
          

Pete
Where are the sharping controls (which menu). I can't to find this in the index in the manual.

Ben

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Gamecocks Silver Member Nikonian since 22nd Jul 2010Sat 16-Apr-11 09:01 PM
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#8. "RE: Best settings for birds?"
In response to Reply # 7


Joanna, US
          

Hi Ben,

Go to "Shooting Menu" and then "Set Picture Control" (page 131). Each set allows you to set whatever amount you desire. I believe this is what you're looking for.

John

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. <><

  

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chris_platt Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Apr 2009Fri 15-Apr-11 01:10 PM
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#6. "RE: Best settings for birds?"
In response to Reply # 0
Fri 15-Apr-11 01:53 PM by chris_platt

Newburg, US
          

If these were handheld shots, I actually think the first one is quite good. 1/160 of a second is not fast enough for a hand held shot at 230mm (35mm equivalent of 345mm). You shutter speed for hand held shots should be at least 1/focal length using the standard rule of thumb. The rule of thumb is based on full size senors, so I'd use at least 1/345, but much higher if you can get it - particularly if you are going to crop on a D7000. The fence is quite sharp considering your shutter speed (looks like that was the point of clearest focus to me). You must have had a fairly steady hand.

The second one looks like a combination of missed focus and vibration/motion blur (lots of it) to me. Even though your shutter speed was higher than the first, it still was less than the rule of thumb because you used 1/300, but the 35mm effective focal length was 450mm. You should have used a speed well north of 1/500 imo. To me, the second image is typical of what you could expect with too slow a shutter speed. You really did luck out with the first one.

Even though you say they're not severe crops, judging from the visibility of the noise - which should have been very moderate a ISO 640, I suspect they are at least substantial crops - particularly the second one, and you are asking a lot from your camera.

EDIT: I checked your profile and noted that you have the VR version of that lens, so my comments with respect to the rule of thumb for shutter speed are less applicable. Nonetheless, you should try for a higher shutter speed and ensure that you have the shutter button halfway depressed long enough for VR to full kick in and stabilize the image before you fully release the shutter.

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KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006Sun 17-Apr-11 12:40 AM
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#9. "RE: Best settings for birds?"
In response to Reply # 6
Sun 17-Apr-11 12:53 AM by KnightPhoto

Alberta, CA
          

I would recommend regardless of VR, to only use a slow shutter speed like 1/160 as a last resort. Perched birds are constantly looking around (mostly to see if a hawk is about to swoop down and eat them). Therefore it is quite common to have a sharp bird and a soft head.

There are two ways around this:
- press and hold that shutter down for about 10 photos in continuous high with AF on continuous as well. Hopefully one is sharp.
- more reliably get the shutter speed up to lets say ballpark 1/500 for a perched bird. Then STILL press and hold that shutter down for 10 photos

For a flying bird I consider 1/1600 a minimum ss and 1/2500 or faster ideal. Yes I will shoot a BIF at 1/1000 but it won't be my first choice.

My best birding buddy just returned from an afternoon bird shoot. He took 2500 photos!

You can also due some limited recovery of a non-fully sharp original by sharpening in post.

Edited to ask: very attractive bird - what is it?

Best regards, SteveK

'A camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.' -- Dorothea Lange
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osfield Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Sep 2008Sun 17-Apr-11 01:31 AM
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#10. "RE: Best settings for birds?"
In response to Reply # 9


Glenrowan, AU
          

Thanks for that Steve - guess I was so busy chasing the bird that I just has camera on P mode & it selected the slow shutter speed. Yesterday I went out again - this time using an old 180mm 2.8mm prime lens and I selected shutter speed & took several. Better results but not as sharp as would like but then again your advice about taking 10 or so is the go.. Still shaking off old film habit of not clicking off too many.

The bird is called a 'restless flycatcher'. I live in Australia - it is a great bird - it's slang name is "Scissor grinder" as it makes a sound like a scissor grinder when it is mid flight trying to catch insects. Here is photo I took yesterday of it with spider in beak. What do you think?



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KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006Sun 17-Apr-11 01:47 AM
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#11. "RE: Best settings for birds?"
In response to Reply # 10


Alberta, CA
          

I think it is great and well done!

Cool name - Restless Flycatcher.

Hate to be cliche (especially this way) but there is still 2 feet of snow on my lawn here in Canada. There is some hope, I had my first migrant sparrow return to my yard yesterday.

Best regards, SteveK

'A camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.' -- Dorothea Lange
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osfield Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Sep 2008Sun 17-Apr-11 03:01 AM
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#12. "RE: Best settings for birds?"
In response to Reply # 11


Glenrowan, AU
          

Should have been called Spider catcher - this one. Sorry Steve but here in Glenrwoan Australia - perfect Autumn day abut 20 degrees C ( about 70F?)- sunshine, no breeze - birds everywhere... Gorgeous..
WARM regards
Jan

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