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Long Tailed

By ctxuk  
Following from previous submitted.
Fuji S5 Pro. D-Range - wide 2 or 400%. Custom WB shot. Raw + fine jpeg
Lens Sigma 500mm f7.2 APO Manual focus only, No af on lens. It also has no electronic couplings. Exif therefore is incorrect in that it is a prime and 500mm and maximum aperture is 7.2 and not 2.8 as it reports.
Shot outside not through d/glazing.
Version 1 will be raw converted to jpeg with no edits at all or sharpening etc. In honesty I prefer its darker nature but know it was too far underexposed.

I find long tail tits really hard to shoot for some reason, they just seem to look messy and lacking clarity. Have uploaded some version and some other shots from same day with same lens.
Trying get some more natural shots with no feeders in view and to evaluate lens.

Tags: Birds Long tail tit Wildlife and nature Nature and wildlife

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johnsd Plus
14 4 2 Scotland
9 Feb 2021 8:52AM
Try to avoid cluttered backgrounds or foregrounds (ie branches obscuring the birds). Place perches in positions which will provide clean backgrounds. Use large apertures so as to create preferable ‘depth of field’ which will help blur backgrounds. Look at some other pics which are posted to get a better idea what is preferred.
It takes time and practice just keep it up and view several websites/blogs on the subject of bird photographY.
Hope this helps for starters !
paulbroad 13 131 1293 United Kingdom
9 Feb 2021 8:59AM
Your overall problem is resolution. The basic image is just not sharp enough and will not sharpen. You must go back to basics and ensure a sharp initial exposure. The shutter speed should be more than adequate but I suspect your manuasl focusing and the lens quality wide open is not going to do the job. Try some test exposures with the gear on a decent tripod and photograph news print at about 5 metres. See if you can get it pin sharp.

johnsd Plus
14 4 2 Scotland
9 Feb 2021 9:00AM
In addition to above - use single point focus and focus on the bird, particularly the ‘eye’.
Seems the branches are a bit more in focus than the bird in some cases.
chase Plus
15 2.1k 562 England
9 Feb 2021 10:30AM
Your shutter speed is more than adequate for bird photography.
The problems here are the interfering twigs and your focal point, it is just not sharp.

You may want to try and set up something in your garden with a clean view of landing birds. A twig or stick shoved in the ground within the range of your camera, close to some kind of feeding station would give the birds somewhere to 'wait', they do do that.

It won't take long for the birds to get used to it and you would find it much easier to get where you want to be. Also you would be able to select a good focal point where to expect and hope the birds will land.

Your initial un edited image is under exposed but you could have dropped your shutter speed/ aperture very slightly.

Having been there and done that, it does take time and effort to get it 'right'.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.7k 2397 United Kingdom
9 Feb 2021 12:33PM
I love watching these on our magnolia tree, they peck for insects in the bark. They are, I think, 100% insectivorous, so your feeding station probably isn't much help unless perhaps dried mealworms might tempt them - and they move around extremely fast; all in all, not cooperative subjects...

So long as you are holding steadily, with good posture, your shutter speed looks fine, so the softness is down to a focusing error. Or maybe a delay in shutter release? As I said these do move around very fast.

Janet has suggested setting up perches especially to attract birds nearer to the camera, I have mentioned this previously - it might not help with this particular species, but would be worth considering.
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1835 England
9 Feb 2021 12:49PM
A couple of varied thoughts...

First, please have a look at Paulbroad's portfolio. He takes and sells a lot of pictures, including bird shots - they're an example of the standard to aspire to - though note that he uses modern Fuji equipment, which confers a real advantage in several ways. (Moira's also given good advice on the habits of the birds - I didn't know that, and it matters a lot - if you want to lure a particular species to where you can set the camera and background us as you want them, you need to know what they want to eat!)

Second, while I tend to agree with you that performance in real-life shooting is the bottom line, if you really want to evaluate a lens, you need to use it in good light, on a tripod, and with a uniformly sharp subject. It's aesthetically boring to take pictures of a brick wall, but it REALLY works for establishing the real quality of a lens.

In this case, though, you have a manual-focus 500mm lens that you want to use for photographing birds. My strong suspicion is that it will be really hard to do - the focus needs to be millimetre-perfect, and DSLR viewfinders are not set up at all well for assessing focus on the screen. Clearly it's not impossible, but I think you need to understand that you are attempting a very difficult task indeed. It will take a lot of practice and a bit of luck - never has Cartier Bresson's saying that 'your first 10,000 photographs are your worst' been truer than with this type of shot.

I definitely don't want to discourage you, and I will be delighted for you to prove me wrong: I just want to make you aware that it's a tricky undertaking.
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4229 Canada
9 Feb 2021 2:45PM
After uploading a series of these, I wonder what the objective is? Can you lets us know what the goal is.

I did upload a mod for this, - but basics as suggested, to establish exactly how sharp you can get with your gear is a good start

dark_lord Plus
17 2.8k 762 England
9 Feb 2021 5:31PM
Long tailed tits will readily feed on suet balls in a feeder. They're not ground feeders.

On a firm tripod sharp images aren't a problem after a little practice even with manual focus. Firm is the operative word as t's so much easier to determine focus when the image you're looking at is stable. It's not inordinately heavy at 1100 g but it's the focal length that needs care.

This lens was introduced in February 1990 and I've found a recent review here / I realise that's a Pentax site but it's the performance comments that are important, not the lens fitting. There are plenty og bird images there too showing the lens's capabilities.
One thng it mentions is the very short throw of the focus ring meaning it's trickier for fine adjustment but I'm sure that would soon become second nature.
ctxuk Plus
11 7 2 England
9 Feb 2021 6:54PM
Firstly ty all for your comments. I would have replied before now but had to go out for interview, unusual in covid lockdown as most do it via webcam.

Quote:I wonder what the objective is? Can you lets us know what the goal is.

I bought this lens a number of years ago thinking as it is almost double my 300mm it should get larger in sensor images. I wanted a longer lens for photographing Kingfishers (300mm and a Nikon doubler deteriorated results badly, it meant no AF also) I missed noticing at the time it had no electronic couplings but was aware it was manual only. As the purpose was for birds/wildlife which often requires no af I figured it wasn't going to be an obstacle, figuring instead the issue was the f7.2 maximum open.
Even used in very good light the results are seemingly light years from my 300mm f4 which is AF and it requires really fine focusing ( I tend to try bracketing with focus touches to ensure at least one frame is sharp if away from home). End result, I tend to forget I have it at all as too much a pita, it really shouldn't be though so I have to look at my own abilities also. I started stopping down to f11 already rather than use the f7.2 to ensure at least if i focus correctly it will be sharp detail.
I used a monopod with it attached to lens not camera and leant against a wall at an angle - faster to move around in an area but hopefully sturdy enough top negate movement on my part. Yes, I do own a tripod but currently its snowed here last 3 days although not settling and cold, so don't wish to be out too long.

Quote:This lens was introduced in February 1990 and I've found a recent review here / I realise that's a Pentax site but it's the performance comments that are important, not the lens fitting.

I took a quick read and agree so much with whats written. In fact the
Quote:having the "non-slip zen" body finish that deteriorates with age and becomes sticky.
is something I dealt with using isopropanol last Friday evening (I tried a few things first) as it had finally got more than tacky and clumped in areas (ironically I liked that tackiness when I bought it but it had really disintegrated since last using it).
I had done some searches but ignored non Nikon results so first read of this and it gave me a great deal of help in my expectations against reality. I know now it is not just me, the f7.2 makes viewing the scene too dark in a viewfinder often
Quote:focus is really ticklish, due to that base f7.2 (I really notice increased difficulty by eye through an OVF as lenses get slower than f5.6), and the really short focus throw on this IF lens.

The images marcusBMG added of birds reveal what I can expect at best and it does not elude me the fact they are mainly shot at feeders so from them I can take a guess at distance to target etc.

Quote:First, please have a look at Paulbroad's portfolio.

Already did, quite impressive bird captures and nice gallery.

Quote:Try some test exposures with the gear on a decent tripod and photograph news print at about 5 metres. See if you can get it pin sharp.

From Paul himself is a good comment and something I will do on a reasonable light day. Note the reasonable, I want to know how good it will be in average light rather than good light. Due to the appearance in viewfinder issues I know I will not be using it at low light really but am interested to know how low is usable. That advice is reiterated by dudler.

The short throw to change focus distances is both an advantage and disadvantage going from feeder to awaiting to go to feeder perches, its that tricky tack sharp image quickly that's elusive with fast birds on actually getting them in the viewfinder. Another reason why I tried the monopod rather than a tripod (plus wedged against the wall to some degree we are one object and motionless so no threat. After several minutes there the birds return and seen to forget my presence despite reasonably close)

Long tails seem to vanish later in the season but currently visit in small flocks/bunches a couple of times daily, pretty birds but rarely look so good in captures seemingly. The enjoy the fatballs, but will take some seed.
Adding perches may entice Robins (lots them, reg see 3 or 4 at a time) but so much ground cover and shrubs mean unlikely get used. Lots of the birds wait beneath shadowy bush overhangs.

All the images I uploaded were not through double glazing, ironically the ones through double glazing same day fare better. added a couple as versions. Even they though to me are not quite there. Distance is similar as closest focus much more than my 300 mm f4.

ctxuk Plus
11 7 2 England
9 Feb 2021 7:07PM
Version 6 to 10 inclusive added. Shot next day when light not so good or bright and through double glazing. Monopod used.
Jestertheclown 12 8.4k 253 England
9 Feb 2021 8:24PM
Re. Long tailed tits.
Nothing technical to add to the above.
I shoot birds in my garden all the time and much more so during the summer months.
I get all sorts coming down but Long tails are quite elusive.
However, I once put an old doughnut on the spike thing that I use; I think it's meant to hold pieces of fruit and a whole gang of them descended upon it.
Buoyed by my unexpected success, I bought a couple of doughnuts, tried again and it worked.
The doughnuts attract Blue tits too.
With regard to Robins: I have one regular. There used to be two which I suspect was a pair since Robins are fiercely
aggressive and will fight rather than share a territory. You're doing well to have three or four at a time. That would normally lead to a bloodbath.
ctxuk Plus
11 7 2 England
9 Feb 2021 8:45PM

Interesting re the doughnuts I may try that one.

As to Robins fighting, yes, at times they chase each other about and no doubt would fight but figure they more interested in the free food right now.
Only commented to my mother last week (its at her home not mine) that it is unusual they tolerate each other so much and that there was at least four there at that moment. Mind you, it was like a busy airport at that time of day with birds coming in to land and feed, and fly back out to a bush with others incoming to take their place.
I actually started out with the feeders at my place (next door) a few years ago now in preparation for attending a raptor centre and my parents decided that the hanging basket holders I used were a good idea. When I stopped as it was on the lawn outside my home with strange things growing they put them on their patio outside the window where my mother sits during the day. They get everything from Squirrels, rats, pheasants, hedgehogs to all types of garden birds - the rats as there is a farm a few hundred yards away so spilt seed gets swept up now.
Meanwhile I still get a few Thrush, Blackbirds, Hedgehogs and Green Woodpeckers and only a passing fly by by the rest on their way to the free nosh!
Jestertheclown 12 8.4k 253 England
9 Feb 2021 8:58PM

Quote:the lawn outside my home with strange things growing

I've got several of those!
One corner, about a quarter of the (not-very-big) garden's given over to wildlife. No grass cutting, nothing gets maintained. Occasionally I'll chop back the brambles so that the nesting box remains visible but the off cuts stay on the ground.
I've got all kinds of strange things living in there.
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4229 Canada
10 Feb 2021 12:35PM
Thanks for that comprehensive answer!

I wonder if theres a flavour of doughnut that works best!
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4229 Canada
10 Feb 2021 2:05PM
BTW, theres an S5Pro group on flickr where you can see what other users are producing, lenses used and settings. You dont need to be a member. Worth a look, - I just browsed it, lots of very good shots.
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4229 Canada
10 Feb 2021 2:18PM
One more question having read a number of reviews of the camera, - are you using the 6mpix mode, or the SuperCCD 12 mpix mode for your shots?
ctxuk Plus
11 7 2 England
10 Feb 2021 6:28PM
Versions 11,12 and 13 shot today in very good light uploaded. Monopod used. I set a custom wb but changed it to auto wb in editing the raw files.
Keeper rate not great, but very good images are possible, lots of 'almost' and the focus dot in camera is not lit when the good focus shots emerge.

12mp mode as its the "D-Range - wide 2 or 400%."

Quote:theres an S5Pro group on flickr where you can see what other users are producing, lenses used and settings.

Yes I have been a pro member since 2007. Also a member of Fuji S602zoom, S3 and S5 groups there. I own all 3 models.
I have to admit to not looking at other peoples settings a great deal, the only time I do is to see how to achieve a type of shot if I am wishing to try that style, things like waterdrops etc. You make a very good point though in mentioning it as it is very useful.
I think though the critique gallery here is a better tool for advancing skills due to it's interactive nature coupled with some very well skilled team members who offer the advice. I do take an interest in who the team members are who take the time to submit their thoughts and offer helpful advice to people like myself. I don't really understand why your not overwelmed with requests currently though but that works to my advantage.

Quote:I wonder if theres a flavour of doughnut that works best!

We think alike haha, my first though on reading it, I decided either Apple or Custard! They most definately do not need Jam ones as they are hyperactive enough as it is ... it would be like the flying version of Mr McHenry whizzing around the skies!

I like the 3 versions I added today, all shot outside not through glazing, they do not compare to the 300mm f4 one also shot and uploaded to the main gallery.
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4229 Canada
10 Feb 2021 7:47PM
Most of what Ive read, and I have zero experience with this camera, suggests that the 12Mp mod produces heavy JPEG artifacts, and is close to impossible to sharpen successfully. The 6mp mode is noticeably better.

ctxuk Plus
11 7 2 England
10 Feb 2021 8:10PM

Quote:suggests that the 12Mp mod produces heavy JPEG artifacts, and is close to impossible to sharpen successfully. The 6mp mode is noticeably better.

Hello Willie,

I have never heard that before but until the last few days I always used the camera with it set to 170% on the D-Range, Spot Metered and Sharpness on Standard.
I now have the D-Range on 400% (wide 2) Matrix and Sharpness on Hard.
I originally set it to 170% to speed up the frame capture rate for in flight birds. If I was going to do that again I would revert back to 170%.
I haven't noticed any issues with sharpening in ACR, Fuji's own software (Hyper Utility) is basic in many respects but does enable some camera specific things. I do not sharpen in it.
I noticed today that whilst I always set a custom wb using 170% D-Range the one I shot today at 400% D-Range I disliked the resulting images colour, switching to Auto WB in ACR.

I like the camera, it is well equipped and weather proof. It allows me to do the things a film dslr would have the ability of, the S3 suffers from the buffer and its not as robust as the S5 Pro.
Having said all that, I am not a professional photographer or had any training in that role via a college/uni etc. so I probably do not have enough knowledge to give an opinion to that level, or indeed in editing/developing raw images.
ctxuk Plus
11 7 2 England
11 Feb 2021 12:52PM
dudler - Brighter light, better picture. Well done!

dark_lord - This is very well done, persistence pays off.

Two comments on my Long Tail Tit at song image in main gallery currently (able to vote on etc.)

Both comments on it very appreciated but perhaps not realising which lens used.

Same camera but wrong lens that one is with the Nikon 300mm f4 IFED which has auto focus and a far more usable aperture than the Sigma 500mm f7.2 APO that was the reason for this thread.
That said Version 13 here is a direct comparison to the Long Tail Tit at song image, and was shot same day in around the same light (it varied considerably during the time i was out there) but was shot with the Sigma 500mm f7.2 APO lens and the reason for this thread.

I am now after this thread reasonable confident with use of the Sigma lens to get usable results provided that there is good light and with taking into account a higher percentage of images are 'not quite there' focus wise .... it really is that touchy to use and with a moving object no time to look for that tiny green dot in viewfinder.
This thread and critique team and other members input was well worth the exercise, I really had begun to consider the lens totally unusable.
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1835 England
11 Feb 2021 1:28PM
For me, part of experimenting is to decide which kit to use, and which kit to sell, or leave in a cupboard.

I'd say that the restricted aperture, lower quality and difficulty of using the Sigma 500 means that you should use the 300, despite the shorter focal length. If it was my lens, it would be on the free transfer list.
ctxuk Plus
11 7 2 England
11 Feb 2021 4:17PM
Hi dudler

Quote:For me, part of experimenting is to decide which kit to use, and which kit to sell, or leave in a cupboard.

I know exactly what you are saying there as it did in fact sit unused long term. I hate to waste money as I have little so was re examining the lens with a view to its or my own deficiencies. It is also the longest lens I own (non physical) so would prefer to use it if I can. A few days work revealed its very finicky and not just me getting it wrong, practice helps a great deal with it and bright light essential.
The reviews I read said it was a good lens although old which is why I though my own ineptness.

Quote:If it was my lens, it would be on the free transfer list.

Having looked and groaned at the cheap prices coupled to no income currently on used long lens then I would probably have to pay someone to take it away hehe. With that said I may as well use it with its abilities and restrictions in mind exactly for its longer focal length which gives better results maybe than using the 300 f4 and doubler which becomes non af by adding one. In fact I spent some time today investigating exactly that.

Having said that, I really like Version 13 (11 and 12 are usable also)..... maybe it has got to me.

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