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What gear what settings for moving wildlife


tamasalucy 4 141 United Kingdom
7 May 2013 10:14PM
I would like some ideas on how to get detailed images. My gear is a Canon 600D i use 2 main lenses Sigma 100-300 APO and a Sigma 70-300. the problem i have is that most of the photos i am taking are either lacking detail or sharpness. Any ideas of how to get a good balance of quality and movment.

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StrayCat e2
10 15.0k 2 Canada
7 May 2013 10:38PM
If you are trying to photograph birds in flight with those lenses, it's a bad combination. For BIF you need a fast lens, like a 200mm f2.8 or f4.0. Another little-talked about Canon lens is the 200mm f2.8 prime, sharp as a tac, and fast, not too heavy either. However, probably the best of Canon's lenses for this purpose would be the 400mm f5.6, a tried and true BIF lens used by many wildlife pros. If you're really into wildlife action shots, you will definitely want a proper lens, sooner or later. I had a 600D for a short while and loved everything about it except the slow 4 fps, I think it is. For some of the best advice, and technical info available for wildlife photography, and in particular, birds, go to Arthur Morris's site, birdsasart.com and subscribe to the free bulletins. He also has an excellent ebook instruction manual that is worth the price just for the pictures.

Denny
7 May 2013 10:59PM
A fast focusing lens is a must, that does not mean it has to be a f2.8 or f4.
Maybe your shutter speeds are not high enough to freeze motion or poor panning skills.
If static subjects and still not sharp, check again shutter speed, fill the frame with the subject, check your hand holding and tripod skills are fast and smooth on the button, focus on the eye or the head.
Coventryphotog Junior Member 1 149 United Kingdom
7 May 2013 11:21PM
I use a Sigma 300 f2.8 with and without TC's handheld and and works just fine - panning is a skill developed through practice, and is used in concert with an understanding as to how your subject moves..... Again experience is key.

When we post shots of fast moving subjects the most common comment one sees is "nice timing" - and frankly sometimes it makes you want to scream.... It is not timing, it is knowledge of the subject and practice practice practice.

NB - edited for typo.
alansnap e2
10 529 22 United Kingdom
8 May 2013 10:03AM
Forget the lenses for the moment.
Don't use one of the pictograms - set the camera to Av or Tv and select the option you want
Set the ISO to 800 or maybe 1600 - 800 on the 6D gives great results and you won't see any noticeable grain
Make sure all your focus points are active.
Set the focus to Al Servo
Set the drive mode to Continuous shooting
That covers the camera.

Now the lenses
Fast focusing lenses are important and Sigma lenses aren't as fast as Canon If the minimum aperture is 5.6 the AF will cope, but only just.

Technique
When shooting use the AF-ON button to lock your focus on the moving subject. Squeeze the shutter button when you're ready and keep it pressed. As you pan, to keep tracking keep firing. Every time you stop shooting the camera has to refocus, so think digital and throw away the failures.

Try and try again and your hit rate should increase.

All the best,

Alan
justin c 10 4.5k 36 England
8 May 2013 11:23AM

Quote:Make sure all your focus points are active.


Selecting just the central focus point will result in much, much better success than allowing them all to be active. Having them all active is a recipe for disaster for birds in flight, especially against anything other than a totally out of focus background.
tamasalucy 4 141 United Kingdom
8 May 2013 2:10PM
Thanks for all the comments there is a lot of advise to take on and conflicting info. Birds in flight would be my preferred subject matter.what I would be really interested in is the camera set up, does the shutter speed conflict with the amount of detail and how can I compensate do I decrease the shutter speed and increase the aperture. What is the right combination????????
mikehit e2
5 6.8k 11 United Kingdom
8 May 2013 3:16PM
Shutter speed will not affect detail unless a given shutter speed causes under/over exposure (unlikely in most cameras). Shutter speed will, however, allow you to 'freeze' motion and the shutter speed you need will be governed by the speed of movement. For example to freeze a hummingbird's wingbeat you will need a shutter in the region of 1/2000 sec, for an eagle it will be much less than that.

You also asked about combining shutter speed and aperture: at a low ISO, a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec at f4 will give exactly the same exposure (and detail) as 1/500 at f5.6 or 1/250 sec at f8. The difference will be that you may freeze the wingbeat at 1/1000sec but have some motion blur on the wings at 1/500 sec. Personally, I like some blur in the wingtips as it gives a sense of motion.
The downside to lengthening shutter speed is that it is more important to 'pan' - that is, move the camera with the bird so that the point of focus remains on the same part of the bird. If you do not do this then the whole bird will be blurred due to motion.

So the secret is to have as fast a shutter speed as you can when starting out and practice with longer speeds as you get more confident. I prefer to use aperture priority on my camera but for action photography (animal or human) some people like to use shutter speed priority because they are then controlling the amount of 'freeze/blur' they get and they let the camera sort out aperture (and ISO if the camera can do it).

There is no right combination - as an example, this is a picture of a bald eagle in my PF. I was forced by atrocious light to use a long shutter speed (even at ISO 800) and although ideally I would have used a much quicker shutter speed, I sort of like the effect.
http://www.ephotozine.com/user/mikehit-107397/gallery/photo/bald-eagle-26011051
alansnap e2
10 529 22 United Kingdom
9 May 2013 8:55AM

Quote:
Selecting just the central focus point will result in much, much better success than allowing them all to be active. Having them all active is a recipe for disaster for birds in flight, especially against anything other than a totally out of focus background.

.

Well Justin, I guess it's whatever works for you. I simply repeat here the advice I was given by Andy Rouse and the guys at a Canon wildlife day. The argument is that once the camera locks on the focus remains locked. Having all the focus points active means that a passing animal is caught and the camera holds it in focus. WIth moving animals, using only the central focus point means your success rate will be lower and you are limited to having central subjects all the time. But, as I said earlier, if a central point works for you, then enjoy.

Cheers,

Alan
mikehit e2
5 6.8k 11 United Kingdom
9 May 2013 9:27AM

Quote:Having all the focus points active means that a passing animal is caught and the camera holds it in focus.


Do you mean that if the animal is moving and you pan with it, the only thing the camera can lock onto is the animal and it can't lock onto any vegetation etc because those are moving across the FOV?
justin c 10 4.5k 36 England
9 May 2013 4:45PM

Quote:Well Justin, I guess it's whatever works for you. I simply repeat here the advice I was given by Andy Rouse and the guys at a Canon wildlife day. The argument is that once the camera locks on the focus remains locked. Having all the focus points active means that a passing animal is caught and the camera holds it in focus. WIth moving animals, using only the central focus point means your success rate will be lower and you are limited to having central subjects all the time. But, as I said earlier, if a central point works for you, then enjoy.



Each to there own and if your system works for you then that's fine, but personally I find that a single focus point on moving subjects is far, far more reliable. Although I specifically mentioned birds in flight earlier, my preferred option of having just a single focus point active, as opposed to having all of them active and allowing the camera to decide, would be for the following reasons.

1) Initial focus acquisition will be faster, which, with action or fleeting moments, will often mean the difference between capturing the moment or missing it.
2) Focus accuracy will be better.
3) The ability to hold focus on your subject when set against a busy background will be far easier and more consistent.
4) The ability to choose which part of your subject is in focus is essential. For instance, with wildlife photography, the chances are you'll be using long lenses, usually shot wide open (or thereabouts), meaning that depth of field will be extremely shallow. Having all points active and allowing the camera to choose the focus point to use could well result in the wrong part of your subject being in focus and an image fit for the recycle bin. Giving an example, a bird in flight, the camera will often focus on the nearest area, which, in this case, is likely to be the birds wing, rendering the head and eye out of focus. Another example might be photographing a mammal. The camera has no idea whether the point of critical focus should be on the animals' shoulder, nose, ears, backside, etc. etc. Choosing a single point and having it firmly fixed on the animals eye is likely to produce far better, and more consistent, results.
5) Choosing a single focusing point needn't result in poor composition. It's about choosing the correct focus point and shooting at the optimum moment when your subject is well positioned and a pleasing size within the frame.

Each to their own of course, but I find that having all the points active is initially appealing because it appears that you have a greater chance of getting your subject in focus and being hopefully covered by one of the many focusing points. In reality however, I find the consistency and accuracy hit or miss and a better chance of success can be had by using a single point and practising your ability at tracking your subject and keeping the focus point firmly locked onto your subject's eye.



Quote:The argument is that once the camera locks on the focus remains locked.


That sounds great in theory, but in reality it's often not the case, at least not with a large proportion of camera bodies. Hence the reason why people are prepared to cough up for the latest, and hopefully superior focusing technology, Canon 1D Mk 1V, 1DX, etc. etc.

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