View Full Version : Bird photography problems

Chris Hall
28th June 2017, 08:40 AM
I am having problems photographing small birds in my garden. The shots are not coming out in good focus. Are any of the attached settings maybe causing the problem please?

Ross the fiddler
28th June 2017, 09:56 AM
I am having problems photographing small birds in my garden. The shots are not coming out in good focus. Are any of the attached settings maybe causing the problem please?

I would recommend S-AF (Sequential Low) if the birds are basically stationary. It would be helpful to see these images you refer to. *chr

Chris Hall
28th June 2017, 10:01 AM
Thanks Ross. I'll try that and will post a few images later today.

28th June 2017, 10:06 AM
I would also take control of the ISO setting to ensure a high shutter speed. Those little varmints move very quickly, and just a small movement can screw up your photograph...

Chris Hall
28th June 2017, 10:32 AM
Sounds like a good plan! Many thanks!

28th June 2017, 11:00 AM
what lens and what shutter speed ?

Chris Hall
28th June 2017, 11:39 AM
Sorry, I should have mentioned that! It's the Olympus 40-150mm lens with the 1.4x Teleconverter. Shutter speed set by camera at 1/250 as I shoot in Aperture Priority.

Ross the fiddler
28th June 2017, 11:55 AM
Sorry, I should have mentioned that! It's the Olympus 40-150mm lens with the 1.4x Teleconverter. Shutter speed set by camera at 1/250 as I shoot in Aperture Priority.

I should have mentioned that you would be best to be using Antishock Drive Mode as well (AntiShock set at 0 secs, which is default with the E-M1 Mk II) because that is in the shutter speed territory of sensitive movements (up to 1/320 sec) from shutter shock. This camera is much less prone to that, but still worth avoiding it for what you are doing.

Chris Hall
28th June 2017, 11:58 AM
Thanks Ross. I'll try that!

28th June 2017, 12:09 PM
I would recommend setting a minimum shutter speed of 1/500th sec to try and stop any motion. As already mentioned above these little birds move very quickly.

Also, if you are shooting through double glazing or even a single glass paned window be aware that shooting at an angle distorts the field of view.

Chris Hall
28th June 2017, 12:22 PM
A couple of example shots:

28th June 2017, 12:54 PM
The images you have posted do seem out of focus but unfortunately they have no EXIF data included.

It seems the software you used to process them is removing it.

Could you post one straight out of the camera ?

Chris Hall
28th June 2017, 01:34 PM
Here is a screen shot showing the Exif data

28th June 2017, 02:06 PM
Your shutter speed of 1/2000th sec is certainly fast enough.
ISO 1600 is somewhat high and certainly is adding noise to the whole image.

But nothing in the two pics seems to be in focus.

Is this a crop of a larger image or the whole image?

Are shots you take of other subjects in focus ?

I have to say I am struggling to find anything obviously wrong.

28th June 2017, 02:12 PM
Up the ISO - 1/500th sec has been suggested but I would aim for higher. Your top post showed you are using CAF. For (nearly) stationary birds uses SAF. The problem is that the CAF will slowly move as it tries to keep focus. When there is something the same distance away the point of focus will creep but as there is something in focus it does not get picked up. This is best noticed photographing birds on the lawn from a standing position when the point of focus can move down the bird onto the grass and then slowly move down the grass towards you. Go into playback on the camera and change the image view so that you can see the green square indicating the point of focus and you will find that in a large number of cases it has drifted off the bird. For birds in flight there is generally less clutter/distraction in the same focal plane so CAF does not wander off the subject.

I have also found (on E-M5i and E-PM2) that using zoom focus rather than one of the predefined focus points can significantly slow down the speed fo focus. However another forum member has done some tests and found that the actual focus point when using the predfefined focus points can sometimes be slightly outside the inicated rectangle. You pays your money and takes your choice.

28th June 2017, 02:48 PM
too far away for 1600 iso any cropping will make it look 00F even more .
Test on a cereal box at ISO 400 about 20ft away and at leased 1/500sec it should be pin sharp

28th June 2017, 04:25 PM
To me the big problem is C-AF. With that relatively slow FT lens, especially with a TC attached, you would need a lot of light for C-AF to work, if at all. Stick with S-AF.
The IS is so good on the Mark II you shouldn't need anything shorter than 1/150. I constantly shoot with my Canon 400 at 1/60, even slower sometimes.
Have a look through these and you can see how many are taken at far slower speeds than the old 1.5x focal length rule. Just doesn't apply to the Mark II any more.

28th June 2017, 07:40 PM
John - Chris mentioned earlier in the thread he is using the "Olympus 40-150mm lens with the 1.4x Teleconverter".

If this is the f/2.8 lens attaching the TC would result in f/4 max aperture, consistent with the EXIF.

28th June 2017, 07:48 PM
My guess it it is the FT kit 40-150/4-5.6. The exif reader seems somehow fishy in that it does not recognize the lens ID. Maybe try PhotoMe....
Out of camera jpg? At 1600 ISO it is going to be soft anyway, but shouldn't be that soft. Not the best subject to really say much about the AF. Little contrast and few clear textures and contrast edges.
Another question, was release priority on or off?

28th June 2017, 07:48 PM
FWIW To get better IQ I would have tried to shoot the same scene with:

f/5.6 (instead of shooting wide open)
ISO 800
In the same light that would have resulted in a shutter speed of 1/500


ISO 400
In the same light that would have (again) resulted in a shutter speed of 1/500

Another suggestion would be to try to get closer to the bird and get it to fill the frame as much as possible.

28th June 2017, 08:06 PM
Which is it then, the new 40-150 Pro or the old kit lens?
No need for such high shutter speeds at that focal length and with that subject.
Here from yesterday in BAD light, ISO 800, 1/60, 400mm at f6.3, hand held.

That all said, if it is in fact the new 40-150 with the MC-14, there have been reports of focus issues, but I really don't think you can tell much from those two shots.

29th June 2017, 12:40 PM
I don't think you can use the converter with the 'old kit lens'. So surely has to be the f2.8?

29th June 2017, 12:43 PM
EC-14 1.4x TC.

I just tried it, and it works fine, even with C-AF. Not super fast, but everything in focus at 210mm.

29th June 2017, 06:26 PM
All very vague. Who knows what he wants....

29th June 2017, 09:18 PM
Given he apparently sold his 40-150 Pro lens and TC and Chris appears to be an experienced photographer who has bought and sold a large amount of Oly gear on here, plus his stated shutter speed above of 1/250 is at odds with the Exif , I find the whole post a little strange. I have to wonder why someone so experienced is asking for advice on a couple of poor OOF examples and providing conflicting information. Most of his photos posted on here are no longer available to view.

Maybe Chris can explain when he finally returns to the thread.


Good points, be very interested to see the response from Chris.

Chris Hall
29th June 2017, 09:46 PM
Crikey! I suddenly feel like a 'forum criminal'. Having reviewed the Exif data screenshot, I should have checked it more carefully before posting it. God knows where that came from as, for one thing, it states a flash was attached but didn't fire. There was no flash attached. The shutter speed stated is way out! I was using the Pro lens with 1.4x teleconverter.

Two other points to make in my defence: I am by no means an experienced photographer. I post on here in the hope I can improve. Also, whether or not I have bought and sold equipment on the forum is in no way relevant to my original post.

I would like to thank those who have posted helpful and encouraging advice on this thread. I'll be thinking twice before posting on here again.

Chris Hall
29th June 2017, 10:29 PM
Thanks for that John. Maybe I over-reacted. The missing photos issue is a strange one as I have never taken any down!

Chris Hall
29th June 2017, 10:51 PM
So how do I fix the Photobucket account please?

Chris Hall
29th June 2017, 10:55 PM
By the way, I'm signed up for 'instant email notifications' on the forum. Of all the recent posts on my thread, I've only received email notifications for a few of them. This is why I may have been assumed to be 'in hiding'! :)

Chris Hall
29th June 2017, 10:59 PM
Thanks John. I'll look into it.

Chris Hall
29th June 2017, 11:05 PM
Should be ok now. Thanks for your help.

30th June 2017, 07:12 AM
My observations of your images are Review your images in camera in the thumbnail size using the little green rectangle it's easy to miss your intended target on small birds. Your background doesn't help colour wise. The seed holder appears to be in focus. I hope this helps.
Kind regards Mike

Chris Hall
30th June 2017, 07:27 AM
Very helpful. Thanks Mike. ☺