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Help with shooting technique

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by gbenic, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. Hi, I have a D70 and when I use the 70-300 ED lens, it is very difficult to hold it steady. When I have the opportunity to use a tripod or mono pod, it works out. I am having problems with shooting without such aids. I am usually shooting at 300mm. Is there any advice to help me hold the camera steady while shooting wildlife?

  2. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Hey Greg,

    When you lift the viewfinder to your eye, cradle your left hand under the lens and rest your upper left arm tight against your body toward your torso. Your arm should act as a brace to minimize movement, but don't be afraid to use a monopod whenever possible. Someday, take your D70 to a camera shop and attach a lens that has VR (vibaration reduction), you'll be impressed with that feature and we will begin seeing you post in "lens lust". :lol:
  3. dbirdsong

    dbirdsong Guest

  4. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    Remember that the D70 has a 1.5x lens factor, so with 300 you are virtually at 450mm, and the hand-held rule-of-thumb is to have a shutter speed at least equal to the focal length. So the minimum shutter speed at that FL would be 1/450.
  5. A fast shutter helps, but to be honest, you can't get optimum results from a long lens without using support... be it a tripod or a monopod. Well, there's VR, but the long lenses with VR are so far out of my price range that I studiously ignore them.
  6. Neat idea! 8)

    p.s. Greg, you look pretty steady in your avatar photo :lol: .
  7. Thank you all for your advice. The DSLR thing is pretty new to me. My previous camera was a Nikon CoolPix 5700. I was amazed at the quality of the images I got after post-processing. The D70 is so much better, but with better comes issues. Good photos at long focal lengths is a big one for me. I will keep on taking pictures and practice the advice that was given to me.

    Thanks again.
  8. This looks interesting. I will give it a shot!
  9. It doesn't matter what food is served, I believe it all has a huge amount of Tryptophan in it! My wife snapped this with the CP5700 at my buddy's house after a dinner.
  10. marc

    marc Guest

    hello greg

    try and hold the camera in your right hand, with left hand, under the lens and kinda tuck your elbow against your body, helps with stability.

    a 70-300 is a lenses, you can handhold
    it is probably better to put it on a monopod than on a tripod

    monopod , is best used to support the weight of lens, and only partially to hold camera steady.

    just put your camera and lens on a mono and you will see what i mean.

    the mono , still needs to be handheld.

    a tripod, will hold the camera and lens oni's own, but tripods are bigger and more cumbersome.

    really depends on what you are using the long lens for.

    if you need mobility , use monopod

    if mobility is not an issue use triopod

    good luck
  11. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Hi Greg,

    I also own a 70-300 - well, it was cheap, and better this than nothing. Frank mentioned a VR lens, which is really in another league.

    While I don't shoot wildlife often, I have some wild kids I'm shooting. You could experiment with the following and see the results:

    1. The 70-300 is focusing extremely slowly. Often it will hunt on focus, which takes a long time and can give you blurred out of focus pictures. At larger distances you could try manual focus and put it on infinity, or a little shorter (depending on aperture). I missed my possibly best shot of a vulture, because the lens was focus hunting as the bird flew by closely.

    2. Make sure the shutter speed is at or above 1/450, especially with moving targets. With flying birds, try even higher speeds (double or higher).

    3. If you haven't got enough light to shoot at high speed and the minimum aperture (which is f5.6 @ 300mm, I think?), increase the ISO value to 400, even 800 will work pretty decent. (You can use NeatImage to get rid of the noise, there is a free version of it available which is pretty good).

    4. Make sure you stand or sit steady, holding the camera as others already described. This makes a big difference. For me it works best if I point and hold a second or two to steady.

    5. Pressing the shutter release can also move the camera a little, even on some less good tripods. I have been using the timer option. You can set the camera on timer, set the delay before release to something like 2 seconds (via menu, you need to do that only once), focus, press the shutter release and make sure you are steady. That is, if you have the time to do all this.

    In general, the faster you shoot and the better the focus, the sharper will be the result. Since the 70-300 is a slow lens (both focus and aperture), you may need to compensate for it via manual focus and perhaps higher ISOs. Also, check out the eyecup replacement for the D70 described in this post:
    It may help you better see and focus on the target (I got one and it really does make a difference).

    After all the bad blood spilled about the 70-300, I had some of my best shots taken with this lens. And it's rather small compared to the VRs. So don't give up!
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  12. Improvise as well. Try useing a tree, stump, rock, car door, etc. to rest the camera or yourself on to help stablize the shot. I recently shot my sisters college graduation (outdoors) and used a nearby tree to help. I put the camera body directly against the tree for many of my shots. It helped quite dramatically. Also don't forget about the bean bag as an option. I will post a couple of images below to illustrate. These were taken handheld (against said tree) from distances of up to 100 feet away.



  13. Maybe, most of us know that problem.....

    Try watching the shutter speed, if needed crank up the ISO (up to ISO800 is OK, noise wise, in my point of view!) to allow you enough speed. If possible, I often use everything that's there, like handrails, posts, walls, to stabilize my arms or the Camera directly.

    If nothing had helped, and you got blurry pics, USM can do wonders if used right. Just look in the tech-Forum where many great advises on using USM are posted from real PS Pro`s .
  14. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Use the Ron Reznick technique.. Looks very strange. Maybe one of the guys has a picture.

    Hard for me to explain.

    Camera in right hand, left arm on shoulder and rest lens on the left arm... Keep that right arm tucked to side and hold camera snug to face.

    Hope i am right here. I do use that now and again.

    I have VR, that saved me from giving up photography altogether.

    Hang in there .....
  15. If you're real careful, you can do pretty well with this lens. The shot below I took last night w/o a tripod, just holding the camera carefully with shutter speed of 1/640 at iso 800. D70, 70-300 Nikkor:

  16. Thanks again everyone. I will try all the advice. I am sure with some practice and patience, it will work out.

    Cool pic, Pa!
  17. It's getting better, but I am still not happy with the results. This is a 100% crop of the neighbor's feeder. I am sure a lot of it has to do with me, but I am wondering if the lense has any bearing on my images.

    When I get a chance, I will setup the tripod and use the self timer and see what difference that makes.

  18. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Hi Greg,

    The feeder and the flowers and leaves nearby look all sharp, there seems to be no camera shake. I checked the EXIF of your picture, according to which you used shutter priority at 1/640 and f5.6. The background is blurred because of the relatively wide apperture of f5.6 and your relative proximity to the feeder. If you were 50 feet away from the feeder, you would get a depth of field (DOF) between 49.2 to 50.7 ft at 300mm (actually 450mm) focal length and f5.6. Everything in front and behind that will not be sharp.

    What's disturbing me in the picture is what seems to be chromatic abberation (the purple color band) between the white color of the feeder and the darker background on the right. Chromatic abberation - or CA - can attributed to several causes - strong contrast (white to dark background), lens, camera and sharpening.

    According to the EXIF, you set sharpening to AUTO. You could try using No Sharpening (camera setting) and sharpen later in NC or better even photoshop or other specialized tool. I heard the new NC version has a tool to reduce CA, but I haven't used it yet (nor installed the newest NC).

    To get rid of this, I would first try to set the camera to no sharpening (instead of AUTO) and lowest contrast (you set Tone Comp to AUTO). Later on you could enhance the contrast to your liking and - after all post-processing - sharpen the image.

    CA does appear sometimes, but I haven't seen such strong CA for some time. If nothing helps, try to borrow another lens to compare. As I said, I have been lucky so far regarding CA, although we have a pretty strong sun here.

    I also encourage you to check out pbase.com and search for different camera models to see how bad CA can get - have a look at the Sony F828, for example. Check out pictures with trees against blue sky and you'll see what I mean.

    A bit more than a year ago I was nearly going to buy the Sony I mentioned, and then I saw those pictures with CA - they turned me totally off. I'm now very glad I got the D70.

    Let me know if I misinterpreted your picture's shooting data in the EXIF, as this was the base I drew conclusions from.

    Hope this gives you some ideas.

    P.S.: It looks like you converted the RAW file with NikonView. Do you have Nikon Capture? With NC you would have more and better ways to improve the output. Same goes for Photoshop.

  19. Ya know, they printed pretty sharp and they do look better on my wife's new monitor. Maybe the sharpness thing is a combination of my monitor and me expecting more. I will try your settings suggestions.

    I went back out and reshot the picture. There is no chromatic abberation. I don't know what happened earlier.

    Just the trial version. I am trying to justify another $100 to my wife. Also, I use Paint Shop Pro 9 instead of Photo Shop.

    Thanks for your advice. I will keep working on it. I just wish that my monitor had a diopter adjustment like the D70! With my blended eye glasses, it is difficult to tell what is sharp and what isn't.
  20. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    CA appears usually towards the borders of the picture. It also depends much on light and strong contrast. A different position of the feeder within the picture frame as well as less contrast (position of the sun changed between the shots, and the dark areas next to the white feeder are less dark now) can make a huge difference.

    Yeah, NC doesn't run cheap. And you need a pretty up-to-date PC with lots of memory to make it work decent, though it's still slow. Nevertheless, with NC you may get more out of NEF than with most other solutions, although it won't replace Paint Shop Pro or other image processing software.

    You may want to look at this post:

    I've seen some pictures on this forum converted with RAWMagick that look very good. I haven't tested it, but probably will do that.

    One more thing: If you set Tone Comp to Low you will probably need to add some contrast later on, otherwise the image appears flat. You could also try the "Normal" setting for better out of the box pictures. In NC you can change it ad-hoc - I don't know how other converters handle those changes.

    I'm also playing with these settings now and then to see how I can get better results with less effort, as my current camera settings and workflow requires me to spend considerable time using NC and PS to get everything the way I want (well, at least most of the times).
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
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