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Help with bird pics

Discussion in 'Birds' started by fsudebbie, Jul 14, 2008.

  1. I've been trying some backyard bird photos at a feeder. I'm usually shooting from 30-35 feet away, from sunlight into slight shadow. I'm using a D50 with the kit lens (70-300mm 4.0) and used a Kenko 1.4 TC on this shot on a tripod. My problem is the softness of the subject. I can't seem to get a crisp shot. This was shot at f5.6 at 1/125, center metered, in Program mode. Any thoughts?

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  2. OK I'll take a stab at it, first there is no are in focus, and I assume you used AF not manual. Second being program mode, and centered metered has nothing to do with the the focus so do you mean the are that the camera is using to focus was dedicated to the center of the camera.
    I also noticed that below the stand is a green out of focus area, Was that close to you? could your camera tried to focus on it not the feeder and it be inf closer then the minimum distance needed for your lens caused no focus point, it would have been nice to see the EXIF data. It's soft were you shooting at 5.6? or with the 1.4 being 5.6? Was it hand held? It seems very dark to be 5.6 at 125, too get the exposure. What ISO was the camera set at? It looks like hand held at a low shutter speed since there is no are of focus.
    I think you should use the fence or a tree focus on that and see how sharp the image is, this way you can see if it is a camera problem or something you did or did not do. And do use a tripod and put all Exif data down if posted here, it helps.

    I'm sure others will take a shot at this, and might have a different idea, I have not had this so I'm trying to read into the image and info you gave.
    Hope it works out.
  3. Boost your shutter speed and get rid of the TC. Use of a tripod would also help if you didn't use one. Hand holding a 300mm (with tc is worse) you should use a shutter speed in the neighborhood of 1/500 (or faster if stopping action of a bird in flight). Loosly figuring shutter speed needed to be 1/focal length of lens used .. as a minimum speed. Unless wanting some effect of motion/blur..faster shutter speed helps image in many ways. Especially eliminating lens movement and camera shake.

    The kit lens is not of the highest quality and the use of a TC will result in blurry/soft images. Especially if you are shooting wide open (aperture). You will need to stop down several stops to get the best results with a TC. I would not use it with that lens and try and get closer if you don't have enough reach for the birds. Use of camo gear or a blind can help you get closer.

    Try a tripod with shutter release and set the camera at 1/500 or higher and see what happens. Also stop aperture down to f/8 and see if that helps.

    Good luck.
  4. Thanks Mike and Whistle,
    I did use a tripod, but I'm thinking using a remote shutter release would help a little with any movement. That green thing in front was a leaf, but even a subsequent picture where I shot over the leaf still was soft.

    What I put in my message was the EXIF data copied from the original. My ISO was 200. I don't have my pics on a website anywhere so it doesn't show.

    I know the lens isn't top quality, but it's all I have for right now. Looking to upgrade by the end of the year. I've gotten some crisp shots with it in the past of pelicans and shore birds, but those have been under ideal lighting conditions. This day was kind of overcast and dreary. It was my first attempt with the TC. Oh, well, have to keep trying. Thanks again.
  5. You point of focus seems to be the extreme right of the fence. Have you considered using Aperture Priority Mode instead ? That way you won't have to worry about shutter speeds. I use it almost exclusively when shooting birds.
  6. Doesn't really matter what mode you shoot in. I can't believe you would have such disregard for shutter speed shooting wildlife (or anything that moves for that matter) ?? Shutter speed is important. More so than depth of field I would think. Especially from the distance this shot was taken. If you pay little to no attention to the shutter speed....there is a good chance you will end up with blurry photos.

    Take the above example. Let's say you put the camera in aperture priority. You select a decent F/ stop to increase depth of field. You pick f/8 or f/11. In this not so perfect lighting as mentioned your shutter speed would drop pretty low. Depending on the ISO you use (200 here) your shutter speed would be too slow to stop any action and even with some light breeze that bird's feathers could be moving enough to cause motion blur (not to mention the shutter firing and the shake of the camera). At the high magnification of the 300mm and TC thae low shutter speed that would be needed to acquire a good exposure would not help the situation of avoiding a blurry picture. Sure you could boost ISO up very high and deal with the noise issues...but I would recommend highly to pay a great deal of attention to the shutter speed in this instance (birds that could move or other subjects with action/movement).

    The mode you pic really shouldn't matter as you should always pay attention to the 3 basic parameters. (shutter speed, aperture and ISO). The correct exposure is achieved by a balance of all 3. It is usually a compromise. There is a balancing act of the "numbers". If you raise shutter speed...to compensate for proper exposure you will need to open up the aperture or raise ISO. All having an effect on some part of the shot/exposure.

    Some might suggest shooting in shutter priority or better yet manual mode. the fact is that it's the shutter speed and depth of field that can effect the sharpness of the shot more so than the "mode" you shoot in. You as a photographer should keep all the important paramters in mind and don't over look the effects each and every one will have on your shot.

    What ever mode or manner you choose to shoot your bird photos with you need to make sure you have focus acquistion/lock on the TARGET and make sure you have a high enough shutter speed to capture (or low enough to blur if desired) the subject in the manner intended. You need to know what effect the aperture will have on the depth of field. In this case perhaps you don't want a great depth of field in an attempt to blur the distracting backgrouns objuects. Then again perhaps you want to hedge with a little more depth of field , incase that bird moves and you still might salvage the shot. Then again dialing down the aperture might bring all the background into focus making a more busy image. Lots to consider in every shot.

    Hope this makes sense to you D. I think there may be a few things workin against you in your above shot. My main thoughts revolve around the low shutter speed. The use of the TC with that lens and the wide open aperture (in conjunction with that TC). All factors could contribute to a blurry picture. Since you used a tripod that can be ruled out to an extent. As mentioned perhaps an electronic/remote shutter release could also help hedge against camera/shutter shake.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 15, 2008
  7. I had another thought....somewhat related to your image..but not regarding IQ. If you are going to shoot birds at this particular feeder.... I would look into some sort of good backdrop to hang on that fence (and hide it). Perhaps a painted canvas with a nice green color as per natural BG. Just a thought. Many bird photograhers use a set up perch and background. You might also mount some branches (perches) to the top of the fence behind the feeder. You will most likely get birds landing on the "natural" looking perch and have the trees for a BG.
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