I am using the d300 with a 300mm f2.8. I mostly am using the 2x converter. I am having trouble getting the camera and lens to work together. My pictures are almost always out of focus. Could somebody be kind enough to tell me how the camera should be setup for birding. I am mostly shooting small birds in trees and bushes. I don't focus too much on the flying aspect as of yet. i am really getting confused.
#1. "RE: Warblers" | In response to Reply # 0TobyH2 Registered since 02nd Jul 2012Fri 09-Nov-12 11:30 AM | edited Fri 09-Nov-12 11:35 AM by TobyH2
You probably are going to need to provide a bit more info about which kit you are using and how you are using it.
I used to use a D300 with a Sigma 300mm f2.8 with a 2x converter and found that with the converter the Auto Focus was not hitting the spot. Manually focused it was good, better still if stopped down a little.
Give us a little more info about exactly which kit you are shooting with and i'm sure there will be some helpful advice.
In the mean time, why not just do a focus test and see if the lens behaves under zero wind / shake, on a tripod and preferrably using a cable / remote release. This eliminates a lot of possible factors just to see if it's a kit problem or a technique problem. I normally shoot at text of some kind where it's easy to see if it's sharp or perhaps grab a focus test sheet from online, I'm sure you can download one.
*edit to add* - Also be aware that warblers and small birds flitting around in bushes are a nightmare for autofocus as it's often difficult to keep the autofocus point(s) on the subject. From memory I think (i'm at work so can't check settings)I use 9 points AF rather than the 51 available so I have a little more control over which part of the scene the camera will attempt to focus on.
(UK wildlife photography)
#2. "RE: Warblers" | In response to Reply # 0MEMcD Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007Mon 12-Nov-12 02:59 AM
I would use Continuous AF (AF-C) mode with a Single AF point.
a1 AF-C Priority Selection - Focus
a5 AF Activation - AF-ON Only and use the AF-ON button to focus.
Which version of the 300mm f/2.8 are you using?
Which 2X TC are you using?
How are you supporting (tripod and head)your camera and lens?
What shutter speed are you using?
Are you stopping the aperture down at least one or two stops when using the TC?
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!
#3. "RE: Warblers" | In response to Reply # 0ericbowles Nikonian since 25th Nov 2005Mon 12-Nov-12 06:45 PM
Joe - one more thought. Are you using the latest Nikon 2.0 teleconverter - the TC20E III. The earlier teleconverters are generally unacceptable. The latest version will have some drop in image quality but might be okay. I have the 2.0 teleconverter and don't like to use it unless conditions are perfect.
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#5. "RE: Warblers" | In response to Reply # 0
As stated above there are many possibility for your issues. The TC does effect sharpness but the newest TC-20E III should perform well with the 300/2.8.
In order for us to help you, you need to help us by giving us more information.
Can you post some sample images with EXIF intact?
What are your typical shutter speeds?
Are you shooting handheld or using a tripod?
What is your ISO?
What aperture are you shooting at?
Is anything in the image “in focus” or is the entire frame blurred?
How far away are the birds? i.e. how big are they in the frame?
Without answers to all of those questions we have no way to help you solve this problem.
Please, help us - so that we can help you.
#6. "RE: Warblers" | In response to Reply # 5Tue 13-Nov-12 09:49 AM
Thanks for trying to help. I can sure use it. I am mostly using a monopod with a Wimberly Sidemount. I have tried handheld as well. I have been shooting no more than 1600 iso. Aperture no less than f8. My shutter speeds are slow, when I am in the woods. The light is usually less than good. I am having the same problem shooting Piping Plovers on the beach. I am getting a white little fuzzball. There is just no sharpness. I am working on putting some pictures on the sight. I know it is hard to diagnose the problem without pictures. Unfortunately, my photography skills are slightly better than my processing skills. The birds are sometimes close and at others reasonably distant. Does this make a difference in my technique or methods? Should I be using a tripod? Thanks.
#7. "RE: Warblers" | In response to Reply # 6dm1dave Nikonian since 12th Sep 2006Tue 13-Nov-12 03:57 PM
Thanks for the additional info.
>> “There is just no sharpness.”
This tells us that it is not a focus issue but a problem with stability. Long focal length and slow shutter speeds area recipe for soft images. A tripod would keep the camera stable and make it more likely to get sharp shots but it will not help with the motion of the birds.
>> “My shutter speeds are slow…”
Small birds, even when perched, are a very challenging photographic subject. Even when not in-flight they still make very fast movements of their heads and bodies. This requires some fairly fast shutter speeds. I like to be at 1/800s or faster for any small birds. You can shoot slower but you get fewer keepers. Once you get below about 1/180s getting sharp shots is very difficult.
One technique I like for small birds and slow shutter speeds is to put the camera in CH mode and shoot in bursts of 3-4 shots at a time. This increases the likelihood of catching the bird in a truly still moment and getting a clean shot.
Using a shorter TC (TC-14E) will give you one stop more light allowing you to double your shutter speed. It will also help the lens to focus faster. Using the lens without the TC will give you 4x faster shutter speed.
The more that you can fill the frame the better off you will be. If the bird is too far away the camera will have fewer pixels to render the bird so any blur will be exaggerated when you crop and enlarge the bird. I know it is very hard to get closer to the birds but it can be done.
Alan Murphy has Two good books for attracting and photographing small birds.
Just keep trying and you will get better. Nikonians are always here to help. Our Wildlife forum is a great resource with plenty of bird photographers who are willing to help you out. Don’t miss the Wildlife Photography Tricks and Travel Reports thread.
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