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jfitzg14

US
141 posts

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jfitzg14 Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2012
Thu 22-Nov-12 11:46 AM

What would be a an optimal setup for birds and the D800? I have been using the D300 and I got some good setup tips from you guys. i usually am shooting with a 300mm f2.8 and the 2x III teleconverter. I get overwhelmed with all of the options and combinations for setup. Any help would be appreciated. Most of my pictures are of wading birds on a branch or in a static position. I have yet to tackle flying birds.

walk43

Pennsylvania, US
719 posts

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#1. "RE: D800 and Birds" | In response to Reply # 0

walk43 Registered since 07th Feb 2012
Thu 22-Nov-12 11:36 AM | edited Thu 22-Nov-12 11:37 AM by walk43

Optimal?? Well looking at your gear on your profile my opinion would be the following. There are many other members in the forum who are better than me however... so just keep reading the replies.

My Suggestions:

-D800
-300 f/2.8 lens (hold off on the TC for now)
-No lens filters
-Mount on a tripod
-Low ISO (I prefer 200 but under 600)
-Shutter at 2x FL
-Remote release if possible (wireless helps if you want to set-up your tripod and trigger at a distance so as not to spook the birds)
-Center focus point
-AF-S
-Center Weighted metering @ 8mm
-WhitecBalance to Auto
- Test your set-up and shoot a test shot w/histogram to shoot exposure to the 'right'
- Picture Controls set to STD with Contrast/Brightness etc set to zero
unless you do not post process (otherwise set to your preferences)
-Try to be @ less than 40 feet from the bird (20 is best for me).

If you use a TC your pics will be a bit softer so I suggest trying the above and get a few shots you are happy with...then try the TC and see if you are satisfied.

There is more but I will let others chime in.

If you are hand holding use continuous high, keep your elbows in to your side, feet at shoulder width. exhale slowly when you shoot, don't compose too long as you may get wobbly.

Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Any other questions just ask. You will get opinions. These are just mine for as a suggestion.

Dan
(Nikon D800,V2,Sony HX400V,Lumix ZS40)
"I don't read, I just look at pictures" - Andy Warhol

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jfitzg14

US
141 posts

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#2. "RE: D800 and Birds" | In response to Reply # 1

jfitzg14 Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2012
Thu 22-Nov-12 12:21 PM

Thank you. I appreciate the input. Happy Thanksgiving.

jamesvoortman

Durban, ZA
1468 posts

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#3. "RE: D800 and Birds" | In response to Reply # 1

jamesvoortman Silver Member Nikonian since 06th Sep 2004
Thu 22-Nov-12 05:46 PM | edited Thu 22-Nov-12 06:08 PM by jamesvoortman

Whether using the lens with or without the TC it is pretty sharp wide open but it is likely to be even sharper, especially into the corners if you pull the aperture back to f4 (f8 with TC). the improved sharpness likely to outweigh the negative effect of higher ISO needed to compensate for the smaller aperture - but you need to experiment to find the optimum for your setup.

At 300 you want shutter speed to be about 1/640 or faster
At 600 (300 + Tc) you want shutter speed 1/1250 or faster

to get this you have to push the ISO up. D800 gives very little noise up to about ISO 2500 in my experience so far. I am not liking what I see beyond ISO 2500 and feel I would need some additional noise reduction in post processing when using ISO > 2500

So I would suggest using:
Shoot in Aperture priority, using ISO for exposure control
High ISO noise reduction = ON
Auto ISO = ON with following sub settings :
Max ISO 2500
Min shutter speed = Auto with auto setting biased to +1 faster. this will restrict your minimum shutter speed to 1/(2 x focal length) until the Max ISO of 2500 is reached. In poor light the SS will then drop further and you can open up the lens to compensate.

Although I have not used my D800 with a long lens yet, I have read in several places that the AF system works well for birds in flight in AF-C with 21 point dymanic area focus enabled. Your nice bright f2.8 lens will also help. AF-C with 3D matrix tracking also worth trying. Since you don't have much time to fiddle around with controls when tracking BIF I would suggest setting the AF to activate via the shutter button and ignore AF-ON button. If you are tracking BIF by panning horizontally, then if your lens is the VR version, set VR to Active mode. This will suppress vertical shake more strongly than horizontal - so it will not fight against your panning motions.

For static birds, I often shoot verticals if I am close enough to fill the frame. In this case, normal VR and 9 point dynamic area AF with AF-C ( or single point AF-S) might work better. Generally you are aiming to get focus centred around on the bill and eyes so move the AF point as required to get focus in this area of the subject

Exposure wise, for birds in flight the exposure on the bird is most important so I would consider using centre weighted exposure if your subject is mostly central in the frame. remember that your most sensitive AF sensors are also clustered towards the centre of the frame so responsiveness will be better here. for static birds, especially if not central in the frame, I usually use matrix metering unless there is a big difference in brightness between the bird and the background, in which case, expose for the bird using either centre weighted or spot exposure. In spot exposure it will expose for the active AF sensor and not the centre spot

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ljordan316

Inverness, US
830 posts

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#4. "RE: D800 and Birds" | In response to Reply # 0

ljordan316 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2010
Sat 24-Nov-12 09:50 PM

My favorite bird shooting settings:

AF Dynamic Area: 9-points
AF-C Priority Selection: Release+Focus
Focus tracking with lock-on: Short or Off
AF activation: Shutter/AF-ON
Metering: Matrix for Aperture Priority or spot for Manual
Shutter speed: 1/1000 or higher
ISO: Maximum for noise removal in post 1600 (I usually stay under 1250)
VR: VR off

Larry Jordan

D800E, D500, 14-24, 16-35, 24-70, 70-180 Micro, 80-400mm AF-S, 500mm AF-S II

Website:
http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/

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jfitzg14

US
141 posts

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#5. "RE: D800 and Birds" | In response to Reply # 4

jfitzg14 Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2012
Sat 24-Nov-12 10:57 PM

Thanks guys. It has been a challenge. I feel overwhelmed. I will keep at it..

HSSwan

Hollywood, US
58 posts

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#6. "RE: D800 and Birds" | In response to Reply # 5

HSSwan Silver Member Laureate Ribbon awarded as a winner in a Nikonians Best of Images Annual Photo Contest Nikonian since 24th Jun 2006
Mon 26-Nov-12 03:16 PM

I'll defer to Larry's auto setup since my 300 2.8 is an old manual version.

I no longer use a TC. I've found my shots are sharper enlarged without one. Shutter speed is primary. The faster speed the sharper it will be. My humming bird shots are 1/1250 and f/4 - f/5.6 with ISO adjusted for optimum results. I have found that my post work is much easier with the D800's greater, better dynamic range.

FWIW, individual hummers are about 10% crops and location setup is standard.
http://hsswan.smugmug.com/Animals/D800-hummers/25692375_pSV2Rj#!i=2123063557&k=KTvCwC8

Other hummer/bird shots in different galleries on my Smugmug were taken with D7000. Similar results but a lot more work.

G