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 1 
 on: July 02, 2015, 01:20:33 PM 
Started by mjperini - Last post by Frank Kolwicz
I've shipped it back, no regrets.

Frank

 2 
 on: July 01, 2015, 04:26:15 PM 
Started by mjperini - Last post by Frank Kolwicz
The last day of the rental is over, it's in the box.

Today I shot RAW and maximum size JPEGs simultaneously and the JPEGs did not fare well for me. They are slightly soft and low contrast, meaning that they would need additional sharpening and contrast adjustments and be just that much less useable. The only gain would be in-camera and editing speed compared to shooting RAW, but there's no speed gain compared to the 7dii.

I'm not planning to shoot landscapes or still-lifes again and, if I was, I'd probably get out my Pentax 67 and test all those rolls of 220 Kodak Portra that are in my freezer. I'm just not inspired to do so. Birds are a lot more entertaining and don't require more than the minimum travel around my part of the county.

Like my previous trial of the Sony A7r last year, I keep hoping for an ideal system with better resolution than I've got, only to be stymied because of the limits of my work habits, subjects and lenses.

 3 
 on: June 30, 2015, 06:32:43 PM 
Started by mjperini - Last post by Frank Kolwicz
Today I tried the JPEG setting instead of RAW, which was my normal file format with all of my Canon digital cameras up to 7dii. I don't see any loss on my screen or for my purpose - modest sized prints.

Shooting only maximum size JPEGs helps a lot in the field and in editing by the huge increase in speed they give as well as the number of images on a memory card. RAW file in-camera time simply means an active subject can't be well covered, the lags often eclipsing a bird's sudden movements and brief postures.

Maybe tomorrow I'll do side-by-side images in both RAW and JPEG for a more definitive comparison.

I'm still not sure I want to spend the money, mostly because I'm seeing too much image degradation due to the atmospheric distortion from excessive heat that we're having to get the most out of the camera. Only under the most ideal conditions - close, breezy and in the cool of early morning can I be reasonably sure of getting high image quality and those conditions haven't coincided with having a cooperative bird in front of me, yet.

 4 
 on: June 28, 2015, 04:22:11 PM 
Started by mjperini - Last post by Frank Kolwicz
Here's my initial take on a rental 5ds (no "r"):

I've had it for 3 days of mostly miserable sunny weather, so I've only had about a half day of suitably cloudy skies to work with. Still, I've managed to shoot enough frames to get the microfocus set with both extenders and, believe me, this is something you have to do, if you are going to get any worthwhile images from this camera - if you don't, you might as well save the money and get a cheaper model of 20Mpix or less. I've done it 3 times now and still think that it's not quite right with my 2x (the sun and heat don't make it easy to adjust focus at 50x the 1200mm focal length!)

Dynamic range seems to be significantly less than my 7dii and noise seems to be more intrusive at ISO 1600 which is needed a lot of the time to get at least 1/250 sec. at f/11.

What I was hoping for with this camera was at least comparable image quality with the EF 600/4 for birds (allowing for the higher pixel count to off-set the loss of magnification) and still be able to do great landscapes. I don't think that's happening due to the dynamic range and noise - I think the 7dii is still better for birds and I don't need a landscape camera at the moment.

By the time my week rental is over, I hope to be able to shoot it and the 7dii side-by-side on a cooperative bird for direct comparison. Here's hoping for more cloudy skies and normal temperatures.

 5 
 on: June 23, 2015, 08:11:22 PM 
Started by mjperini - Last post by mjperini
Michael Tapes (of Lens Align)  Does a video review of the 5Dsr  with some very impressive AF performance
http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/blog_index.html

 6 
 on: June 03, 2015, 11:05:34 AM 
Started by KeithB - Last post by Frank Kolwicz
Keith,

It sounds like your problem is not a universal exposure setting, but using an unfamiliar camera setting in an extreme lighting situation. If you had your camera exposure compensation set to -1, you'd risk a too-dark exposure on your next dark bird, so there's no real gain on average. Also, the effects of underexposure on the darker background can have consequences for the final image in some cases, affecting how you can use the image.

Spot metering would have helped in that case and even +1 metered directly on the white bird should not have blown out (zero would make the brightest area, the bird, mid-toned, +1 slightly brighter and more nearly the correct exposure). The use of spot metering can be problematic when using off-center focus elements and there's a difference between what the meter sees and what the focus sensor locks-on; in that case, there's a good reason to use center focus, OneShot and recompose, which, of course is difficult for moving subjects and sudden opportunities.

Some shots just get away, no matter what.

Frank

 7 
 on: June 03, 2015, 08:49:08 AM 
Started by KeithB - Last post by KeithB
I understand, but I got one shot of a white heron taking off above the water with a nice reflection. I totally blew out the highlights on the heron. (Of course, I was using the camera's auto exposure, which I thought was supposed to be linked to the focus point somehow.) I was just thinking that starting with some -1 exposure might have saved that shot and subsequent shots of birds against the sky. If I shoot in raw than even if -1 isn't perfect, I can easily boost it in post.

 8 
 on: May 28, 2015, 12:08:08 PM 
Started by KeithB - Last post by Frank Kolwicz
Keith,

There is no one setting that will work in all conditions. Eventually, you simply have to check your exposure via the histogram and the “blinkies” on the LCD. This is especially true when working in full sun, as I know many bird photographers prefer. In full sun, contrast can change wildly as a moving bird exposes different colors to direct rays or moves in and out of shadows. Despite digital cameras’ wide dynamic range, compared to the good old days of slide film, for example, they just can’t hold details over the possible range of dark or black feathers in shade and white ones in sun in one exposure; something has got to give and, for preference, it normally is the dark tones. Burnt-out whites are usually more of a problem than deep blacks in images, the one exception that comes to mind is specular highlights.

Here’s what I do for a general, starting point when working in full sun with a Canon 7dII, EF600LIS(II), 1.4 and 2x extenders, which give effective focal lengths of 960, 1344 and 1920mm, respectively: Auto ISO set to 100 to 1600 maximum; Shutter Speed 1/1000; Aperture f/8 or f/11 (with the 2x); Spot Metering, exposure compensation set to ZERO; Single Point AF (but NOT the smallest point per Canon CPS service); Manual or AV Mode; Image Stabilization ON, Mode 1.

Normally, I make exposure adjustments by changing Shutter Speed first and only change Aperture when I’m out of Shutter Speed range; ISO is picked by the camera’s program within the set range and will top or bottom out before I have to make changes manually, so that gives a moderately wide range where I don’t have to do any compensation.

Whenever possible, I pre-check exposure by doing a test frame, looking for blinkies and the histogram. When exposure is not predictable, a bird with both black and white feathers, like a Black-necked Stilt, turning in the sun and moving in and out of shadows, I simply take my eye away from the viewfinder briefly and glance at the frame image on the LCD, losing as little time as possible from working the bird and making any obvious corrections before continuing.

When a subject is suitably still, I prefer to use manual focus via magnified LiveView or with a magnifying adaptor on the viewfinder – AF can be slightly off or fooled by heat waves, even when correctly adjusted for microfocus.

Four normal gloomy Oregon weather, however, I use a basic setting that works and seldom needs much adjustment. Most of the above settings are the same, only the Shutter Speed is reduced to 1/500 and exposure compensation is set to +1&1/3 (ETTR). I have had to use shutter speeds as low as 1/25 and gotten acceptable sharpness without an extender, but, needless to say, contrast was very flat!

 9 
 on: May 26, 2015, 08:01:08 AM 
Started by KeithB - Last post by KeithB
I went birding on Saturday with my 150-600, and in general it worked pretty well, other than it is hard to get very close when you are with a group of 20 people!

The best 'hit' was a summer tanager.

So generally the birds were backlight against the sky, and tended to be under exposed. I also shot a heron flying close to the water with a nice reflection, but the white heron was over exposed.

Do you generally just set a -1 or so compensation when birding and hope for the best. It is hard enough worrying about focus and framing, but to add exposure on top of that...

 10 
 on: May 09, 2015, 07:33:57 PM 
Started by Fotobuff - Last post by mjperini
Sorry for the delay, No my lens does not have IS.  While  IS is a nice feature, it adds complexity and cost.
And while I wouldn't want to be without it on long lenses, it is less necessary on really short lenses.
If you are on a budget, the 17-40 is the best lens for the dollar in the superwide category.
I tend to use zooms as dual focal length lenses. Probably 90+% of the pictures I take with it are EITHER 17 or 40
I know what 17 looks like and I know what 40 looks like. I see the pictures with the camera at my side. As I'm raising the camera to my eye I can flip to 17 or 40 without looking.
Additionally, the diagonal (and thus 'normal FL) of FF is 43mm. So at 40mm the lens has a normal look.  At 17 the horizontal coverage exceeds 90 degrees. You can stand in a corner and get a whole room.
I absolutely appreciate being on a budget, but remember it is the lens that draws the picture, you want the best you can afford.
I love the lens. I may have gotten a better than average copy, but I recommend it highly.
I hope that helps.
M

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