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By Joools
I spotted this sparrowhawk in my garden. A lot meaner looking than my normal robins and goldfinches!

Tags: Bird Sparrowhawk Wildlife and nature

Voters: accipiter, VIKI, BrianSS and 9 more

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20 Feb 2011 6:29AM
Well captured. A

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davey_griffo 8 213 165 England
20 Feb 2011 11:06AM
I shouldn't be at all surprised if it's the robins & goldfinches that attracted it down.

I nearly had a shot of one once. Might even have got it, if I hadn't left the camera in the boot of my car. Smile

One thing I have noticed with all of your bird shots is that the focus is off. They all look a little soft. Since you are using D-SLRs, I don't think we can blame the equipment.

This looks to me like it was either a fairly extreme crop from the original, or the autofocus just focused on something else. I'm assuming here that you are relatively new to using D-SLRs, so the best piece of advice I can give is watch the viewfinder/display, as it tells you exactly what the camera is doing.

If you had to make a crop from the original shot, & you see yourself doing a lot of wildlife, a good investment would be a longer lens. I have a Tamron 200-500mm which didn't come cheap (no pun intended Smile), but gets you right into the thick of things.

As far as focus goes, in the viewfinder you'll have noticed a series of dots/squares/lines/lights, usually in a diamond pattern. These are the focus points. Watch which one is light up when focus is acquired (usually you get a double bleep from the camera). If it's not over your subject, the camera has made the wrong choice about what to focus on.

The way it works is that the camera looks at all the focus points to see if it can get sharp focus. Hence all the whirring from the motors, before it settles & bleeps. If it can focus on more than one, it usually picks the one closest to the camera. Focus then becomes locked until you press the button all the way down (taking a photo), or release the button.

In the case of your shot above, it probably got sharp focus on the bird & the tree, choosing the tree as it's closer. Sometimes when you have a viewfinder as busy as this, it's better to go for spot focus, which forces the camera to use only the centre point, or manual. But often you can get what you want by releasing the shutter button & trying again.

It's worth persevering, as the cameras you've used are capable of much better focus than this, & you'll get some shots you can really be proud of.
Joools 8 4 United Kingdom
20 Feb 2011 3:06PM
Hi Dave
Thanks very much for your helpful advice. In the case of the photo above, I just grabbed the camera and only had chance to shoot a few shots. The other bird shots were on my first trip out with my new Nikon equipment after recently ditching all my Olympus stuff so I'm still getting totally to grips with everything - practice makes perfect so I'll keep trying and use your advice to hopefully get a bit better!
I'm hoping to invest in a longer lens very shortly but am a bit skint just now after having to start again with Nikon. Otherwise I shall just have to wait on my lottery numbers coming up!
davey_griffo 8 213 165 England
20 Feb 2011 6:28PM
Well good luck. There are plenty of people who'll give you advice (myself included, as you've probably noticed Smile) if you get stuck. If you don't get an answer on your shot, post a query in the forums. Don't be afraid to ask. Someone's bound to answer.

Thanks for the CC point, btw. Always appreciated.

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