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Help with my BIF's please
  
 
shane8168
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Help with my BIF's please


Yesterday's post brought up some questions regarding equipment versus operator error. I tend to lean toward the operator error to answer why my BIF photos aren't up to par with you guys. I think I have enough images that are of high quality to rule out completely the equipment as being my holding point. Maybe not, you guys know way more about it than I do at this point.

If that is the case I need to know where to turn for help with the "operator error" part of the equation...

Understand that I am REALLY new to this (I gave up photography immediately after college and didn't snap a photo outside of family stuff for about 20 years) having picked it back up about three months ago when my wife and I took our family to Alaska.

My equipment for these photos is the same, Canon 7d, Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 (non OS) with a Sigma EX DG 2x TC. Probably the same bird in the same area. I'm using the "expanded" (I think it what it is called) autofocus area around the center square on my 7D and obviously have it on "rapid fire" with AI servo (or whatever that mode is called)

I have Lightroom 5 and am only now learning how to use it (which might be a big part of my problem...). My source of education is: 1) trial and error (heavy on the error); 2) Youtube; and 3) you guys...

Please give me any advice you can regarding how I can improve these.

Here are some examples:

1) One I am pretty proud of (not much of a crop nearly full frame)







2) Another of the same bird (cropped less than photo #1)







3) Same again







4) Yesterday's that didn't get such good reviews...







5) Redtailed Hawk from the same area/time







6) As evidence that my lens is capable (granted this is with my old 60d) here is a "good" image I've produced in the past few months.








Am I on the right track?

Is my equipment good enough?

Operator error?

PP error?

Just looking to improve as much as possible here.

Not sure I can ever afford a used 600 f/4, but I might at some point...

What can you guys offer to help me cut my learning curve down a bit?



Oct 31, 2013 at 05:11 PM
shane8168
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Help with my BIF's please


Feel free to "pm" me if you don't want to put it out there for the public to see.

I can use all the help I can get!

Shane



Oct 31, 2013 at 07:00 PM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Help with my BIF's please


I would guess that you are taking what is probably a pretty sharp lens, and then deteriorating that sharpness by putting a 2x TC on it.


Oct 31, 2013 at 07:19 PM
Shasoc
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Help with my BIF's please


I agree with Tony. Putting a TC X2 on the lens deteriorates the performance of any combo. More so when you use it for IF shots as the focus speed decreases sensibly.
I never use a TC (Tele Converter) for my IF shots, I use a 1,4 TC only for stationary subjects and the 2 TC in emergency
While the IQ of the first image looks fine, the rest of the images look soft with a lower IQ, and since you seem to have adequate SS, I'm thinking is that it is due to inadequate focus precision, soft focus, so it doesn't matter how proficient you are in your PP, the images will still look soft. Go easy with the sharpening though. Your last image shows a very visible halo due to oversharpening (and heavy crop?)
My advice to improve your IF shots is to take out the TC and see how your captures will look like. The 7D allows some good cropping.
Use the expansion AF when you shoot against the sky, only the center focus when you shoot against a busy bg.
Leave the camera at its default setting (as far as the Focus performance it concerned) and see how it goes, than change one setting at the time and see if your keepers rate improves.
Another advice is, if you can effort it, to use a 400/5.6, probably one of the most suited lens for IF captures.
Most of all, practice, practice, practice
In the mean time if you have specific questions about any setting of the 7D, or the use of LR5 don't refrain to ask. You can p.m. me if you like.
Keep practicing and have fun!
Socrate



Oct 31, 2013 at 08:48 PM
brimull
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Help with my BIF's please


I agree that using a 2X degrades performance somewhat, especially auto focus speed, but if the lens is fast and sharp, this wouldn't be the result. That looks like a large, fairly slow-flying hawk. Most have far too much contrast and/or are overexposed. They are also out of focus. There could be any number of reasons related to you or the equipment. One aggravating factor is the bright sunlight on white feathers--always tricky. Perhaps a micro-adjustment of the focus on this body and this particular lens along with some of the focus techniques others are offering??

If you leave the full exif information intact, that might assist others in providing you with more specific advice.

Good luck, and persevere.

Brian M.



Oct 31, 2013 at 09:45 PM
arbitrage
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Help with my BIF's please


First a quick question: Is the dragonfly with the 2.0TC on also? If so then the combo is sharp at least at close distance. But it could still be not as good at long distance. TCs only work well for flight shots if you are using them on the prime lenses. I shoot flight shots with the Canon 2.OTCIII but that is on a 600II lens. I have a hard time with my 1.4TC on my Canon 100-400 for IF because it is too slow to focus and IQ takes a hit. You may be pushing your equipment to a place it isn't going to work good enough. With my 100-400 I can take razor sharp shots at closer distances and in good light. However, it doesn't take much to have the shots turn out poor if the light decreases and the subject moves further away.

For most of the shots, the SS is good and ISO is good, Aperture is good too as that combo probably would be worse if shot wide-open at f/5.6. I really think it is the equipment limiting the resolvable detail. Either that or your processing.

As for processing, in LR, if on a MAC hold the Option key and move the mask slider under sharpening till all the noise disappears and only the bird shows the white tracings. (not sure what key you hold on Windows probably ALT). Then move sharpening around middle of the slider. On export add LR output sharpening for web and High. Anything less and I find it doesn't look sharp enough once on the web. You also may be running too much Noise reduction. As that is sort of how these appear to be all smoothed out from the NR. Maybe not and they are just soft. I leave LR at default chroma NR that it always applies on import and then I will use a small amount of Luminance if needed. On a 7D you will need it from ISO 800 in the blue skies but with the FF cameras you don't usually need any till over ISO 2000.

Not sure if any of this will help, always hard to nail down the exact problem.



Oct 31, 2013 at 10:49 PM
surfnron
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Help with my BIF's please


Others have made some good points. Have you tried MAing the lens and/or the lens + tc? If not, search for the "Dot Tune" method here on FM. It's one of the easiest ways to MA a lens.


Nov 01, 2013 at 12:48 AM
KCollett
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Help with my BIF's please


Good looking dragon. I'll leave it to the technical types to help with the techie details.


Nov 01, 2013 at 02:18 AM
shane8168
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Help with my BIF's please


Thanks to all who have helped so far... anyone else have anything to contribute, please do so!

Socrate - Yes, that last bird is a pretty heavy crop. I'm going to try and shoot some this weekend without the TC and see what the results look like...

Brian - That's what I'm thinking is maybe I am not getting the focus right, maybe the camera isn't getting it right, maybe a MA might be in order. I'll research that and see what I can come up with for Micro adjustment on my 7D. How do I leave the exif data attached? I didn't realize it wasn't that way. Also, how can I view the exif data for pictures that I find out there?

Arbitrage - My dragon is shot with the same setup (using a 60D) and not the 7D though (again, maybe a MA issue?). Dragon was at minimum focus distance. As for the processing, I use the option key and the "masking" feature to check that out. I'm sure I have numerous pp issues that I haven't learned yet, but I will! I have not added any sharpening on export and I'm not sure my export process is good? I typically export to .jpg files and then re-import to LR to easily publish to Flickr. I wonder if I should just manually import to Flickr perhaps?




Nov 01, 2013 at 01:01 PM
 

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waldr_p
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Help with my BIF's please


Hi Shane,

Some really good advice above.

I have the 7D and the Sigma 120-300mm OS (non-sport version). I haven't used the 2x TC much for BIF. My feeling is that with the 2x TC on the 7D the AF performance is going to be slowed down enough to make BIF really tough. I'd expect to get a lot less keepers with that combination than with the bare lens or with the 1.4x TC (though even with the 1.4x TC I get noticeably fewer keepers compared to shooting BIF without it).

The 2x TC can give very good IQ as I'm sure you know, I think you're right to stop it down to F8 but personally I'd stick with using it on static or slower moving subjects.

You can see some BIFs with the bare lens and some with the 1.4x TC and my 7D at these links:

http://www.pbase.com/waldr_p/gannets

http://www.pbase.com/waldr_p/red_kites&page=2

Lovely shot of the dragonfly by the way.

Paul.



Nov 01, 2013 at 03:08 PM
brimull
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Help with my BIF's please


shane8168 wrote:
Thanks to all who have helped so far... anyone else have anything to contribute, please do so!

Brian - That's what I'm thinking is maybe I am not getting the focus right, maybe the camera isn't getting it right, maybe a MA might be in order. I'll research that and see what I can come up with for Micro adjustment on my 7D. How do I leave the exif data attached? I didn't realize it wasn't that way. Also, how can I view the exif data for pictures that I find out there?



I use Photoshop CC (yes, I'm one of the many whose personal identifying information was recently compromised!), and it saves exif data unless you remove it. Maybe your processing software does not save it? Others here may know better.

It would provide technical data that might help.

Brian M.




Nov 01, 2013 at 04:36 PM
shane8168
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Help with my BIF's please


So I dot tuned, then went more thoroughly through some test pix and had to move both the 300 and 300 + tc with ma... Tomorrow we will see if it made a difference!

Thanks to all who offered advice!



Nov 03, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Frogfish
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Help with my BIF's please


I used to have that lens and used it often (very) with the Sigma x2.0 (which is an excellent TC and the one best suited to the 120-300). Of course AF wil slow down with any x2 TC on but it is still capable of good BIF shots.

However, you really do need to check & MA Sigma lenses, often much more than you may think. This may indeed be part of the issue for you.

There is what must by now be a 100 page thread on the 120-300 on POTN, with some sensational photos taken with that combo, so it isn't the lens/TC combo per se. I'd check that thread as well for every tip you can find in using this specific lens.



Nov 17, 2013 at 12:32 PM
shane8168
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Help with my BIF's please


What is "POTN"?


Nov 17, 2013 at 01:46 PM
arbitrage
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Help with my BIF's please


POTN is Photography on the net. It is actually a Canon forum and probably one of the very first forums. They have threads for every lens that can be used on a Canon DSLR that people share their images.

http://photography-on-the.net/forum/



Nov 17, 2013 at 01:59 PM
shane8168
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Help with my BIF's please


Thanks, I found it and joined. I'm not sure what post Frog is referring to though.


Nov 17, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Frogfish
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Help with my BIF's please


shane8168 wrote:
Thanks, I found it and joined. I'm not sure what post Frog is referring to though.


Sorry, yes that is the one. Find the 120-300 thread and go through it from Day1 (it covers the original 120-300, the 2nd version and the latest 'Sports' version). Some awesome shots and great info too. It took me nearly a week to go through every page but it gives a very balanced view and shows what can be done when you know what you are doing. It's a superb lens in skilled hands.



Nov 17, 2013 at 05:46 PM
shane8168
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Help with my BIF's please


Frog, thanks! I'm on page 35 now... Lots of info there


Nov 18, 2013 at 12:44 AM





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