Shooting birds with a Zoom lens

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by celcius, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. celcius

    celcius Guest

    Hi all!

    I recently bought a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM fot my 5D Mark II.
    I shoot RAW.

    I was told by a photgrapher that it's best to use M or Av and not Tv.

    I was told to set my camera to M and ISO to auto. This way, I could choose
    the f stop as well as the speed and the camera would choose the proper ISO.
    Since the Mark II has pretty clean ISO to at leasrt 3200, this would do the
    trick. However, re-reading the book, I find that on M, the max ISO is 400. I
    looked into the preferences, but could not find a way around.

    At this juncture, when I'm not sure what ISO to use when birds fly to and
    from an illuminated background (against a blue sky) to a darker one (against
    trees in a creek), I shoot on Av and auto ISO. It works well, but I wonder
    if there's another way of approaching this.

    Thanks for any enlightment.

    celcius, Dec 7, 2009
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  2. celcius

    celcius Guest

    Thanks Elliott!
    That's an idea. Pretty close to mine at Av with the exception of the 3400
    ISO and the manual focus. Quite challenging if I might say so.
    celcius, Dec 7, 2009
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  3. celcius

    celcius Guest

    I don't understand this. It seems here you're in Av where you set F8 and
    automatic ISO or is it otherwise? Perhaps you set to f8, and ISO to a numer,
    say 3200 and let the speed fall where it will?
    Thanks Alan, but you must be fast and quite knowledgeable to make all these
    decisions when a bunch of birds start flying:
    Somehow, in my mind, I have to set it up right before the fact.
    OK. If I understansd you correctly, I set the camera to Tv. Then, I set the
    speed to say, 250th sec.
    Ok I'll go to Pbase and see.
    celcius, Dec 7, 2009
  4. celcius

    celcius Guest

    I looked at Pbase.
    There are many outstanding photos of birds.
    However, the exif doesn't say whether hese were shot on Av, Tv, or M.
    A great many phots have Exifs that are blank.
    I've hit a wall.
    celcius, Dec 7, 2009
  5. celcius

    me Guest

    This is an area where I believe Nikon may have an edge over Canon. The
    Nikon autoiso function allows one to set a maximum iso and a minimum
    shutter speed. Does Canon allow for similar control? I tend to use
    aperture priority as well with auto iso set. This is the only way you
    can accomodate the greatly ranging exposures you are talking about in
    the siuation you describe above or where birds are flying from back to
    front lit locations or any other situation where you really don't have
    the time to widely change how the camera is set.
    me, Dec 8, 2009
  6. celcius

    Me Guest

    There's another area where Nikon may have an edge too.
    Spot or CW meter point follows the selected focus point / centre focus
    point on group if AF continuous mode is used.
    Meh - I've owned a 5D and used a 5DII. If I was shooting a lot of birds
    or other wildlife, I'd be looking at a 7d, or looking for a used 1dII at
    low price to supplement the kit. Megapixels are seldom what's needed,
    great AF and ergonomics is.
    Me, Dec 8, 2009
  7. celcius

    celcius Guest

    I went back and found Bret's
    Although many are shot with a 800mm lens, I was able to see he uses Av.
    On one of them, with an Eos 10D, he set the lens at 700mm, @1/400, f6.3, ISO
    Many other shots are about trhe same.
    celcius, Dec 8, 2009
  8. celcius

    celcius Guest

    This is wahat I found out. The photographer who advised me on this owns 2
    Nikons. I went back to him and he concluded also that the MkII didn't have
    that feature.
    celcius, Dec 8, 2009
  9. celcius

    Guest Guest

    I would consider those insturctions as suggestions or starting
    pioints. Photography is both an art and a science. Each photographer
    has their own methods. If you were to interview the very best 10
    photographers in that area, you would get 10 different answers.

    Nature photography, I believe more than any other, demands a
    lot from the photgrapher. You need to know why you might chose one or
    ther other setting, not which setting to chose.

    It is now time to get out there and start making photos. Less
    talk more action.

    Once you start getting results, good or bad, start playing
    wiht the settings. Try all kinds of settings. Experiment and learn
    from those experiments. Don't always try for the best photo.
    Sometimes you want try different things just to see the results.

    Try everything. Remember, you don't need to wait for that
    rare bird to be in the right place, you can use a duck as a stand in.
    Just get out there and start sooting.

    In time you will get the feel for what works best for you and
    the results YOU want.

    If you get stuck and say you want to show motion as opposed to
    a static looking photo or if you are tyring to get the feel of sunset,
    but it is just not working etc. Then ask for suggestions. But most of
    all you want to build your own knowledge base of how to do this or
    Guest, Dec 8, 2009
  10. celcius

    celcius Guest

    Thanks Alan!
    By the way, I had completely forgotten the "sunny 16".
    Many tend to set the aperture at f8 and I was wondering why. And why not
    Thanks to you, I went back to the "sunny f16" after a Google search.
    I admit although I have a nice camera and good lenses, I'm still struggling
    with much of the basics in Photography.
    Nowadays, with automatic controls, one tends to forget the basics... and USE
    them. ;-)
    celcius, Dec 8, 2009
  11. celcius

    celcius Guest

    Very to the point, sobering remarks.
    You're absolutely right. This makes me think of the "old rule": Nice to be
    doing this, but are you having fun doing it?
    Back when I had a Pentax Spotmatic, I was taking notes on many photos,
    trying to shoot at different settings. Now, too often, instead of changing
    settings or trying different things, I merely glance at the LCD and take
    another one... or fire away ;-)
    celcius, Dec 8, 2009
  12. celcius

    Ron Recer Guest

    I have taken a lot of shots of flying birds unsing the Canon EF 100-400mm
    f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM with a Canon 10D and a Canon 40D.

    On sunny days I set up where the sun is at my back, set the ISO at 400, turn
    off the IS, set the f stop to f8 or a little more open so that I achieve a
    shutter speed of 1/2000 to 1/3000 of a second, and leave AF on using AI
    Servo. I seem to do pretty good using these settings. You may or may not
    like them.

    Ron Recer, Dec 8, 2009
  13. celcius

    celcius Guest

    Thanks Ron.
    I take it you're on Av and you would set the ISO as to get a convenient
    rapid speed. Am I right?
    Two questions:
    1- Why do you turn the IS off?
    2- Is there a reason why you would set to f8 particularly? Is this lens
    better at f8?
    celcius, Dec 8, 2009
  14. Marcel:

    I'd go fully manual for birds on the wing; focus at infinity; pretty
    wide open, shutter ca. 1/500. Low ISO. One wants a touch of OoF with the
    wings, but not a big blur.

    Pan with the flight. Lighting conditions will change ever so slightly
    over the track you're able to get, so you should have a few superb
    exposures of each flight.

    Good luck!
    John McWilliams, Dec 8, 2009
  15. celcius

    celcius Guest

    Thanks John!
    That's also a great idea!
    I was encouraged to experiment, that's surely something to try. I might miss
    at first but as they say, practice makes perfect.
    Best regards,
    celcius, Dec 8, 2009
  16. celcius

    Ron Recer Guest

    I sent you an email with a few photos attached along with the settings
    portion of their exif file.

    Ron Recer, Dec 8, 2009
  17. celcius

    celcius Guest

    Thanks Ron!
    I'll get back to you as soon as I digest nthis.
    Take are,
    celcius, Dec 8, 2009
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