However, the article is written by a Canon shooter with little to no reference to Nikon gear. I am looking for great articles on shooting BIF with Nikon gear and specifically the D800/e.
Do any of you have good references for such Nikon articles?
I am specially looking for tips on how to use the following to get the best D800 results: - Focus points: 9, 21, 51 or 3D tracking - AF-On button versus shutter button to activate auto focus - Focus tracking with lock on set to long or short - VR on or off with 200-400mm zoom using Wimberley head
Hi Larry, this sounds fun for a test to try my new Nikon TC 20E III Converter with my 70 200 Vr II and D800E. We have Snowy Egret, Pelicans and many other birds were I live. I have free time today and will go out and shoot most of the day. I use the AF-on button and VR hand held so should be fun to see what I come up with. I will post the photos later tonight.
I have been out shooting a red-tailed hawk behind my house for several days using my 200-400mm and 1.4X TC. I am finding that using the AF-On button for focus takes a lot of coordination. I have used AF-On now for several years and it works fine for static shots...like landscapes where I can focus and recompose. However, with fast moving birds, there are just too many things changing at once and my fingers get lost pushing buttons. I may try using the shutter button for focus today, go to 9 points AF and go with long delay for lock on.
I am trying to reduce variables and increase keepers. I have given up on manual focus. That just added more variables.
I am not sure if VR helps or hinders. It definitely improves sharpness for static shots. I have proven that using my FoCal testing. Just not sure it does the same for moving targets when I am panning.
From various readings, here is what I got for D800:
Speed: 1/2500 ideally, min of 1/1500 Avoid busy backgrounds AF-C and release priority AF-C delay should be short 51-point dynamic area AF is recommended by Nikon, but I would rather go with 9 or 21 point tracking
Being away from home for a long period, I have not really had the opportunities to test these. I'll do it once back home in spring.
Although my first four digital cameras lacked an AF-ON button, I found it quite natural to use it almost the first time I tried it. Maybe because it’s the digital-era equivalent of focusing manually before pressing the shutter button. I reported my experience here (see the rabbit pictures at the end of the post):
The following are the camera settings that I plan to figure out with the D800e for BIF while shooting with David Hemmings Monday and Tuesday:
AF Area: 9-points, 21-points, 51 points or 3D tracking AF-C Priority Selection: Release or Release+Focus Focus tracking with lock-on: Short or Long AF activation: Shutter/AF-ON or AF-ON only Metering: Matrix or spot Shutter speed: Minimum for motion ISO: Maximum for noise removal in post 200-400mm lens: VR on or off TC 1.4X: on or off
I have come to some early conclusions based on your reference articles and my own shooting for the past week, but I want to compare them with David since he does this kind of shooting all the time.
Shutter speed should be as fast as possible for D800/E. Recently someone suggested that it should be 3x the normal 1/focal length. For example 1/1200 for 400mm, and for birds should be 1/1200 x 3 or 1/4000.
Another thought - what about Auto ISO with max ISO of 6400?
I haven't tried this on my D800 but will do it soon.
As a keen wildlife shooter and especially keen on birds in flight I use the same routine for a bird in flight. No matter what lens I'm using in both situations I always try and achieve between f5 and f11 I will use shutter speeds anywhere between 1/800 and 1/2000. I learnt my basic skills by taking a half day course at a birds of prey centre. The rest on here at the wildlife forums and then via articles on the web.
As an example look at the two different styles of bird shots below. The first was a slow panning shot of a Shellduck, the second a fast moving follow and click.
Really nice images of birds in flight, Richard. Great colors compared to what I've been able to capture, as well as great focus on birds in motion. I especially like the sense of change in flight direction you were able to capture in the hawk photo.
Your photos were captured with very different techniques, as you say. They illustrate a point I wanted to bring up about dynamic-area AF with the D800. For your Shellduck, slow panning example, you may be able to focus on a particular area of the body, even the head. For this situation, I prefer a smaller, e.g., 9-pt area AF. For the hawk example, flying faster with more direction changes, I've found that 51-pt area AF does surprisingly well, just in acquiring the target. In coming from the D7000, I was used to using small areas for AF to have tighter control of the focal points used. With the D800, I've tried 51-pts when simply acquiring the target is the primary challenge with better than expected results. This works better of course when the subject stands out against the background.
Thanks David. Those images were taken with a D7000 as you will have seen, but of course the methodology would be identical with the D800 which I have. In fact yesterday I captured the attached with the D800 and the D800 is amazing for both dynamic range and the sharpness, but subtle tones of the result. This was taken incidentally in DX crop mode, a setting shunned by many FX users who prefer to just crop. In this shot I used single point AF and panned handheld, normally I would use as you do 9 point and that was the case with my hawk image. When using the D800 for photographing BIF I use DX crop mode because I find I can concentrate more on the subject using the smaller viewfinder area. That's just me though.
I always set around -0.33 to -0.7 EV especially when photographing white birds such as Egrets, Gulls, Swans etc where the white can easily have their highlights blown. It is a credit to the D800 that in fact apart from a gentle tonal adjustment no other changes were made to this as shot image.
Nikon D800 - 300mm f4 1/1000 A f6.3 ISO200 with -0.33EV.
>Great references! Thanks! > >The following are the camera settings that I plan to figure >out with the D800e for BIF while shooting with David Hemmings >Monday and Tuesday: > > AF Area: 9-points, 21-points, 51 points or 3D tracking > AF-C Priority Selection: Release or Release+Focus > Focus tracking with lock-on: Short or Long > AF activation: Shutter/AF-ON or AF-ON only > Metering: Matrix or spot > Shutter speed: Minimum for motion > ISO: Maximum for noise removal in post > 200-400mm lens: VR on or off > TC 1.4X: on or off > >I have come to some early conclusions based on your reference >articles and my own shooting for the past week, but I want to >compare them with David since he does this kind of shooting >all the time.
Very interested in what you find out from David, Larry. Would be interested in clarification on a couple of points, if they coincide with your interests
#A3 Focus tracking with Lock-on. After reading Thom Hogan and Digital Darrell's books on this control there are subtleties I don't understand. This control concerns an intervening object that may cause AF to break track on your intended subject. I've set this to the default normal 'time-out' (Digital Darrell's term) and never changed it. From Thom's discussion (Pg 434) this setting may also show up as an 'inability to focus' during Continuous Release, if there are large changes in the subject's position between shots, e.g., if the subject is rapidly coming towards you.
#A1 AF-C options. My preference is Release (default), but Release + Focus is also available. Thom's book (pg 557) says this option will slow the camera down between continuous release shots (more mirror down time). This option may be helpful for low light/contrast conditions during continuous (even non-continuous) release modes. Something to try.
There are just too many buttons to push in rapid succession when you separate AF and shutter when the target is moving really fast. Also, when you use the BushHawk, you have no choice. The trigger is basically a cable release. There is no way you can AF-ON and operate the trigger to capture an image. You often have 3-5 seconds of opportunity, and you have to concentrate on focus on the eyes while pulling the trigger...nothing else matters if you have the camera setup properly.
Interesting. I shoot sports (soccer, rugby, LAX, etc.) which are also fast moving but use the AF-On button almost exclusively. I find I can lock on and then release the shutter when I see what I want in the viewfinder. Whatever works. Agree with BushHawk there's no choice.
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: Minimum for motion 1/1000 with 200-400mm handheld ISO: Maximum for noise removal in post 1600 200-400mm lens: VR off TC 1.4X: on or off (off for use with BushHawk for stability)
Thanks for sharing your new field tested preferences, Larry. And,even better, they're for the D800/E. Will look forward to seeing some of your images from this outing.
I thought there were some surprises - particularly focus tracking at short or 'infinitely short'. After thinking about it, I decided you are emphasizing very fast moving subjects and discounting interference from a crossing target.
These settings could also work for continuous mode - you may have tried continuous with your new stable platform.
+1 on capturing a beautiful image! The proof is in the pudding, as we say.
Even better, these results are an inspiration. I've decided I need a 'good' 300mm (at least) lens. My Board will not approve lens expenditures at 1+ or even 2+ x the cost of the body. I understand that lenses hold their value much better than bodies, but my Board is not swayed by that argument. That's why I need to wait for the update versions of the 300mm f/4 (extendable) or the 80-400mm (not so much).
I bought one of the first D800 bodies that came available back in March. I used it until my first D800e arrived...I believe that was July. At the time, I was really into testing and calibrating my camera bodies with FoCal. I saw a substantially higher AF sharpness with the D800e for every lens I tested and with every test. When I looked at the test target images, I could see sharper transitions from black to white with the e. When I shot field tests, the images from the D800e had better contrast and were sharper.
As I concluded the testing, I realized I would never use the D800 when it came to a body choice for a situation because I would always know that I was going to get "less" of an image than I would get with the D800e.
It was a tough decision because of the transaction hit. but I decided to sell the D800 and buy another e. When I received the second e, I went through all of the FoCal tests again. I found that it was not as sharp as my first e copy but still substantially higher than the D800 that I just sold.
Now that I have two D800e bodies, I know that I am getting almost the same quality no matter which body I pull from the bag. However, one body did produce higher AF sharpness with the longer lens than the other, so I tend to use it with the longer lens.
I have taken thousands of shots with both bodies on two major shooting treks...landscape with NANPA and BIF with David Hemmings. I have also done a lot of landscape HDR in between. I have yet to see moire in an image.
I have found that I have to reduce my output sharpening with the D800e...sometimes half as much as I was doing with the D300 or D800...especially with HDR images.
Just for grins, I will show you below a before and after BIF image I shot with David Hemmings last week to show you how much detail you get in a D800e image that allows you to crop to extremes if you have to do so.
Here is my original best kingfisher shot done with a 200-400mm (they are shy and hard to approach):
Now here is an extreme crop of that same frame:
While I would rather have better details for the kingfisher, and I plan to on my next BIF trek to that same area, I could still use this image for illustration such as this.
Larry, Thanks for the information on the D800E. I originally ordered the E and then changed it to the non-E. May have made a mistake there, though I do love my D800. Also, the photos you have posted here are fantastic. And I appreciate the information on BIF shooting too.
It is amazing what you can capture when you get a few tips from an expert and go to the right places at the right times.
It works as well in photography as it does in saltwater fishing here along the Nature Coast of Florida. Until you learn the lay of the waterways and the fish, you catch nothing. Unlike photography, however, you break off skegs and destroy props until you get the hang of it.
Hi Larry, I have been looking at getting a Bushhawk for years and after reading your post finally decided to go ahead and get it. I am having trouble finding it in stock anywhere. I was wondering who you ordered yours from?
Ordered one from Adoroma right as the storm was hitting. Got the reply about the delay to shipping do to the storm, expected that no problem. Then I got an email that the item was back ordered and would ship in 10 days. Then I got an email saying that my order was cancelled. so after speaking to customer service and trying to see if they had a different color in stock. No Joy order cancelled.
I found another place and ordered, received an email this morning that the guy that runs that is on safari and won't be back until Nov 29th.
It was: 1. the BushHawk Shoulder Mount with Double Handle, BH 320D Pro Kit U. Universal Shoulder Support for All Cameras. Supplied WITHOUT Cord - Black, and 2. BushHawk CN 30 Dedicated Cord for Pro Nikon Cameras. They seem to have the green shoulder mount in stock too. I preferred the black. This universal kit has a quick release included. I had intended to get a RRS release, as I normally use their products. Hope the one with this kit is as good. The total comes to about $95 more than the Nikon kit alone. The photo shows the cord, but it is not part of the kit. It also seems to have a mounting plate, which I actually do not need, but will likely find a use for sometime. A friend told me that Eagle Optics carries the Bush Hawk line, but I haven't checked to see if they have the Nikon kit. Good luck.
Thank You, I will take another look and see what I can peice together. I might be stuck waiting until Nov. 29th, the one I ordered from the person who is out of, seems the payment went through already.
When you receive the device and start shooting with it, there are some tricks that will help you get great images. It took me a couple of days shooting with it for two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon to get the hang of it. Don't give up after the first hour.
Using the BushHawk is a lot like shooting at quail with a real gun except you do not have to lead the birds with the sights as you fire rounds. You do have to keep the focus point on the moving object (bird) as you pull the trigger. I found that it worked best if I eased the trigger back for each shot, letting the focus work as I pulled until the shutter started firing. When you first start, you may have a tendency to jerk the trigger back causing the focus to move off the target.
I would typically shoot two or three images with each burst, but I noticed that David shot at least twice as many as I shot with his bursts. If you start with the target in the middle with the focus point on it, and move smoothly as you track the bird, you will get better results.
Like a gun, the device is far more stable if you brace it properly with both hands...pulling the stock into your shoulder with gentle pressure. If I was sitting on the ground, I would prop one of my grip hands on a knee to add more stability.
I took the foam covers off the stock (back) to make it easier to raise and fire fast. The foam kept catching on my shirt...slowing me down.
The beauty of the BushHawk compared with a tripod is that you do not have legs to trip over. You have full range of motion except possibly straight up...you can fall over backwards.
By my last day of shooting with it, I was getting far more tack sharp images than when I started. Of course, it helped with David there giving me tips.
I would bet that paparazzi also use them with telephoto lens to capture pix of celebrities on beaches etc. I was on the beach with mine every day, but the only non-suited animals that I saw had four legs..
Tue 06-Nov-12 11:25 AM | edited Tue 06-Nov-12 11:41 AM by ljordan316
A coupla more tips occurred to me last night. First, you might want to start with a shorter lens like a 70-200mm and graduate to a longer lens like a 300mm or 200-400mm after some practice. It is easier to handle less weight. Second, you could attach a laser pointer to the side of the grip to see how steady you are holding the camera/lens. The farther away you point the laser, the better the measure of stability. I have a friend who uses that technique with hand guns for practice. You could use electrical tape to attach the laser pointer temporarily. (I would not use a laser on an actual bird or animal; it might damage their vision.)
Finally, you may have to rotate the lens/camera using its collar adjustment to get level shots. I am right handed but left eyed. I had to rotate the camera to get level shots because of the angle I have to hold it to see through the viewfinder. (Same issue with a rifle and scope.)
I had no idea you could mount the BushHawk on other means of support. I only used it one way last week...with no support except my hands. I thought about how nice it would be to just place it on a monopod or tripod when I was resting in between shots. Today I found the pics below that show such configurations as well as a bipod. I would love to have a quick dismount that would work on a pod.
On that site, you must buy the kit and the carrying bag as separate items. I believe you also have to buy the mounting plate for your camera/lens as a separate item. I believe David includes all in his package. Mine had a Swiss Arca mount on it that matched my Kirk foot for my 200-400mm. (Yea, I know...Barbie Doll on hardware!)
Yes I looked at the mfg site. They are a little more expensive then Adorama, they don't sell the quick release plate I want to use and they don't take the payment type I was trying to use. I am quickly readjusting my plans and thoughts.
I guess I was lucky David had one with him in Fort Myers...and with a Swiss Arca mount.
By the way, the mount on the bottom of the unit that will accept a tipod mount plate does not appear to be as substantial as I would want. It has a standard tripod screw thread, but the surrounding plastic is not flat and is not very wide. I could see it breaking easily if you knocked the unit over while mounted on a tripod or monopod.
Larry, Many thanks for the tips on using the BH. Mine will not arrive for several days, but I am eager to try it. I wonder why these things are so hard to find. I did a search for them and other than a bunch of hits for eBay sellers, they seem to be scarce.
Have no idea re availability unless they are just not big sellers. I doubt I would have bought one if I had not tried it with David Hemmings. I was convinced that I needed to use my Gitzo and Wimberley to get good BIF with the D800. Now that I know I can use the BH successfully with the D800e, I use it almost every day. We live on a lake, and there always birds coming by. I just shoot for practice if the scene is not great.
I agree with it completely. I do think the company has made some improvements since the author wrote the review and updates. The lens mount on mine is rock solid, and the unit comes with a shoulder sling.
I was able to mount a Swiss Arca plate to the bottom today, so I can now quickly mount the whole thing on a monopod for added stability or a tripod to keep it off the ground when I am just eyeballing for my next shots.
I would not want to leave it on a fully-elevated tripod in high winds because the whole thing might blow over and break. Last week I saw a large Gitzo tripod that just had our jackets on it blow over; I shuttered to think that it could have had a camera/lens on it when that happened.
Thanks for the link. Quite a nice review. I wish I could say I live on a lake. The closest lake to me is a deep water lake that is on the verge of drying up completely due to the extended drought (going on three years). There are however some good areas and I am trying to talk my usual shooting (photos) partner into a drive to the coast and the wildlife refuge there.
I have found that location, timing and weather are key elements when shooting BIF. I have been out several times to shoot this past week and had one of the following elements working against me: - Wind blowing in wrong direction relative to the sun angle - Wind blowing too hard for the birds to cruise by - Tide was in too high and birds were not there due to water depth - Temperature was too low for early morning activity
You have to really become a weather person.
I am glad I went with David Hemmings to understand these elements or I would have given up before I started.
If you or anyone else is still looking for the BushHawk, I recommend going directly to the vendor. I have been waiting forever for David Hemmings to send me parts for my BushHawk that he did not have with him when I bought mine. He is shipping challenged.
I ordered mine from someone else. Because they took the payment option I wanted to use. Turns out He is on safari until the 29th, but I was stuck with waiting because the payment was already taken. So I am hoping I will have it the first week of December, Merry Christmas to me.
Sat 01-Dec-12 12:19 PM | edited Sat 01-Dec-12 06:05 PM by ljordan316
I followed thehotel's advice from FredMiranda and made a shoulder strap from the strap that came with my 200-400mm lens. I attached it directly to the lens lifting rings. It took me a few tries with adjustments, but when finished, I am really happy with the support and feel of the strap. When I am not shooting, the BushHawk and camera/lens are held close to my chest and waist. From there, I can quickly lift the whole thing into shooting position and start firing.
I sometimes get an out-of-focus first shot because the AF does not react fast enough to the BushHawk firing button (the shutter release button), but the second shot and beyond are spot on.
I was in Gatorland (Orlando) using it yesterday. Other than having a number of people admire my setup, I was more than pleased with the results. I can only remember one shot that I missed, and that was because I did not keep my eye on the potential targets....egrets riding on the backs of gators.
I plan to keep the BushHawk and 200-400mm on one of my D800e bodies all the time. Here in north central Florida, you never stop getting opportunities to use the combo.
Great info on the BushHawk. Once I finally get my 70-200 VR II I'll have to seriously look into this setup. May have to put the 300mm 2.8 on my wish list as well.
Though not near as stunning as the other images posted here, I have had some success using the 24-70 2.8 with the D800E. Will be nice not to need such an extreme crop but good to have the option available.