Olympus UK E-System User Group
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Looking for improvement This is the e-group critique board. If you post a picture here it will be assumed that you are looking for comprehensive technical feedback - both good and bad, but always respectful. Only post pictures here if you can deal with potentially negative constructive criticism. Anyone is qualified to comment and post feedback, and everyone is encouraged to do so. NB: "Looking for Improvement" is the place to post any pictures you would like advice on improving, no matter how bad you might think they are.

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  #16  
Old 11th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

Hi Tenzan,

These are extremely good. I use an E3 for all of my wildlife photography. The Robin has excellent feather detail and the focus on the eye with the catch light is pretty much spot on.

The gulls shot is very good too, as others have mentioned Birds in Flight is extremely difficult but I have had my nest results with the E3 so far.

The cygnets are over exposed in my opinion as the white feathers are blown. I always under expose when I am photographing swans.

You have the body to acheive what you need to do as you have proven here. If you are considering investing then I would potentially look at buying a different lens so you don't have to use the EC20.
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Old 11th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

There's a lot more to bird and nature photography than simply getting the subject in focus. You need to consider the quality of light, viewpoint, what the subject is doing and get the timing of the shot right.
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  #18  
Old 12th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

No point in timing the shot right in perfect light though if you're subject isn't in focus surely?
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Old 12th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

I've had less than pin sharp shots published because they show behaviour editors needed to illustrate.
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Old 12th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Morison View Post
Considering you are using the EC20 which does reduce IQ, even on the 150mm f2, I think the results are pretty good. As for the percentage of keepers you are getting this could be down to experience in photographing birds so keep at it and the rate I'm sure will improve. Even though I've been doing it for years and am now mainly using a Canon 7D Mk2 for birds I still have quite a few that are unsatisfactory.

David
I have been using the 300 /2.8 for some time now and although it produces top end result the C-AF performance delivered by the system is not that great (applies both to E5 and E-M1). And yes I have been trying both the E5 1 and 9 point settings. SAF and careful half-press of shutter release button helps but most of the shots turn out slightly OOF, enough for the shot to be ruined. CAF amost always results in losing track of subject, enough for the AF to start hunting, and then the opportunity is usually gone. S-AF is OK but the focus is not always acquired consistently between shots (more or less depending on subject), so better take 3 pictures or more to be on the safe side. This has brought me back to use MF as much as possible.

David, it would be interesting to see/read about the results you are achieving with your new Canon setup.
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Old 12th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

I'd like to add a two penn'orth. The swans: the contrast is too high. The white highlights have burned out, but the shadows are dark - too dark. You are better to expose for about 1/2 to 1 stop under with light-coloured birds. You also need to use RAW. Then you can play with highlight recovery before attempting any Curves adjustment. Get your highlights right FIRST.

Whilst I agree with David Morison about using a Canon, I intend doing a bit of bird photography with my M5. Given that I won't have the benefit of phase detection AF, the M5 will have to work hard. I found it very good at locking on to fast moving, low-flying aircraft, so it should be able to find and lock on to birds - if the light is right. The best lighting for birds is often fairly flat light; you don't want burned out highlights and dark shadows; but that won't help the contrast AF. (Unless perhaps you do buy an M1 and use your legacy lenses) From my experience, manual focusing is a pain, and rather hit and miss for birds, unless you have many hours, and a good hide to wait in, so that they come quite close. Often they won't. I like taking shots of marsh harriers, but they are almost never close enough for my 600mm equiv telephoto on the Canon; and if they do come closer, it's hard to keep the bird in frame, and worse, with the centre focus point on its head (or anywhere else on its body, for that matter!) They twist and turn at amazing speed.

I'd suggest that you take it stage by stage. Practice getting good shots of static birds, then gradually move to the harder shots as you get more used to how the camera behaves; also as was said on here, you do need to understand the birds' habits. Find the settings that give you the best results - for you. Following "the rules" won't necessarily work for you. Find a favourite lens and stick with it. When you can use your kit without thinking about it, you're much more likely to succeed with the harder shots. And unless you can afford a Wimberley mount, you'll have get damned good at hand-holding the camera with a long lens on. You'll almost always have to crop quite a bit, so excellent sharpness is a must.

Hope this helps a bit. Expect a lot of frustration before you get a good hit rate!
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  #22  
Old 12th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

hi for what it's worth, and what with me being a newbie to olympus equipment, I believe the EM1 is using to much of the contrast technology for BIF instead of the phase tech. my canon 7d mk1 with a sigma 500 prime leaves the olympus a poor second for birds in flight. As has been said before Maybe the firmware update this month for the EM1 may go some way towards solving this? The new oly pro 40-150 with converter is still a fair bit short on length for BIF. And I think the the new 300f4 maybe as well. Most bird photographers use a 400 + focal length or 500mm with converter on an cropped frame IE the 7D there-fore its 500+ 1.4+ 1.6 making this combo (canon) 1120 mm. The new 300 + 1.4 +2 makes it 840.
It still maybe a little short. Taking into account the contrast V phase its a bit of an uphill struggle. I did realise and asked questions before jumping ship as to speak about canon to oly and was advised by members to keep my canon equipment for birding (BIF) I was out on Tuesday to get an elusive Hen Harrier at Thursley common Surrey. Luckily the the said bird appeared about 200 yards away and my canon setup was still to short and all I got was a few record shots, after 5 hrs of hanging around in the cold. So the already offered advice is practice and practice. So keep at it.
Kind regards Mike
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  #23  
Old 14th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

Hi all,

thanks to everyone for contributing to an interesting discussion, and for the critique, indeed some praise of the photos for consideration. It was a bit of luck with the gulls, and yes, I can see that the white is clipped in the swan photo - I've noticed this on a few photos in general so will look into underexposing and bracketing.

I noticed on some of the bird competitions for example, British Bird Photograph of the Year 2014, that almost all winners were using a Canon set-up, indeed with lenses that have that the reach indicated by Mike.

On a personal level I really enjoyed the day taking the photos, and thought this might be something I could get into, but will stick with Olympus for the meanwhile :0). What was really useful was that it has opened up a new understanding of technique, and I welcome this - I had a play with the C-AF setup. Out of interest is IS2 better on the E3 for BIF?

If you don't mind I've put another photo of my pal, 'the robin'. I think this one is better framed and in focus lol…

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  #24  
Old 14th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

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  #25  
Old 14th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

Hi Tenzan,
you can edit posts for upto 24 HRS, I'm liking your shots and if you want to edit the thumbnail , just remove the bit in the text that says thumbs/and then the shot will be displayed in the post at the full size
the edit button will be at the bottom of your post

Thanks Cliff
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  #26  
Old 14th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

Thanks for the link, Jim Ford. I found it useful as I shoot birds in flight with my E-5 too, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so. I have a few examples in my wildlife gallery.

The C-AF lock I didn't know about nor the dynamic single autofocus! I learn something every day.

Two additional tips I employ: I invariably add +0.7 exposure because the sky (or often the sea for me) is bright and this can trick the camera into reducing the exposure. Also, I always keep both eyes open so I can see what's going on outside the frame (on one side!) It makes it a lot easier to spot subjects outside the frame.

I also tend to reduce the focal length of a zoom lens with the intention of cropping the image later. It gives a lot more room around the subject for creative cropping if the picture isn't composed exactly how I like. Also, even relatively slow-moving gulls can change direction and fly out of frame really easily. My E-5 has plenty of pixels and so I use them.

I do use auto focus for bird shots because (a) it is faster than me turning the ring by hand and (b) my eyes are not as sharp as they were a few years ago. My E-5 does a better job than I do at focusing!

Tenzan, I really like the shots. The Robin on the twig is perfect with the catchlight in its eye. Eyes are so important in bird shots and can make or break them. You were pretty much on the same level as the robin, which makes a difference. Taking a step to the right, if it were possible, would have avoided the twig obstructing the body. A tiny bit more depth of field so the whole bird was in focus might be something worth trying next time. Not always easy, getting the balance between subject sharpness and removing background obstructions with lens blur. Super shot though. The sharpness of the bird is great.

The young swans are nicely composed and again the eye on the front swan has a nice light reflecting in it. I sometimes use a flash when shooting birds because it is not always possible to ideally place oneself to catch the light in the eye.

I love pictures of flying gulls. Gulls make such fantastic shapes in the air and it is great to see birds doing something in a shot and gulls are often doing things. You have got those two nice and sharp. If you do not object to a bit of editing, I would be tempted to clone out the wing tip on the right of the shot as it's a bit of a distraction and maybe remove the reflection line from the top right of the image.

I think bird photography is one of the most challenging areas of photography that I always struggle with and enjoy enormously because of the challenge (and my high failure rate!). Thanks for sharing those with us.

All the best,

Ivor
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  #27  
Old 14th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

I think it is important not to over-egg the advantages of reach, the EFL of 600mm is probably the maximum that can return a reasonable percentage of keepers with BIFs. We must remember that anything that is more than about 15-20 metres away might well be degraded by atmospheric factors such as dust or moisture. Doing BIFs with the 75-300mm I get twice as many keepers at 200mm than 300mm, as AF is faster and at max aperture more light is available. So it is best to concentrate initially on shorter focal lengths to hone your technique before going for a greater reach.

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  #28  
Old 17th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

Quote:
Originally Posted by tenzan View Post
I was surprised at how few 'keepers' I had - lots were out of focus. Would be grateful for any ... tips/advice in general for bird photography.

I was using an E3 with a 150mm f2 and EC20. I found C-AF not all that effective, but I think it might have been me…

Is it just me, or do Robins like to 'pose'.
Hi!
I just read this thread and will throw in some thoughts. Not in order of importance, just "random wisdom" for wildlife photography
  • always get as close to your subject as you can
  • know your subject
  • Robins do like to pose - yes!
  • Dial in exposure compansation depending on subject/background (as already mentioned by others). I tend to go for +1.7EV against a blue sky for BIF. But my bodies are also set at a constant +0.3EV ("expose to the right") which makes this effectively +2EV. I change the EV setting many many times as I go, depending of what shot I expect to be the next and/or lighting conditions.
  • IS2 is of no help for BIF IMHO; turn IS OFF for moving targets.
  • I never used C-AF (E-520, E-30, E-5) for more then testing. When AF is used I will most often use single point - and move it about to fit the composition. For BIF I tend to switch to diamond pattern AF.
  • Keep in mind that AF calibration of your body/lens combo could be off slightly. With E-30 and E-5 I can adjust the AF and for me this is a very important option to have.
  • Use a monopod if convenient. I always have a Manfrotto 695CX slung on my back, but will use it only in certain circumstances as I like the freedom of hand held shooting. But, for supporting my binoculars it is at least as often employed as is as camera support - or a combination of both.
  • Consider camouflage or the use of a hide. I never did the later myself, as it feels like cheating to me, but that is also why I seldom can compete with the many stellar photos that where taken at close range out of one ...
  • prefocus your lense if possible
  • wildlife shots can not be planed as studio work is, so get out often and take what ever is offered - once in a while you will get lucky with kind of critter, lighting, composition, bokeh and such ...
  • Focal lenght is always good to have. I've used my Tamron 300m F2.8 with and without EC-14 for about 1 1/2yrs almost exclusively now. I often lacked the reach I would have wanted. Just the other day I got the Bigma out (in fact used it with EC-14 to give 708mm) and really enjoyed the reach (and AF) - once again - see below
  • send me your 150mm F2 - as it's worthless for wildlife
I'll stop here, even though I could go on for a while I guess. Sorry for the long text. Hope a point or two are worth the read though.


Wren at c. 8m distance, however, quite a big crop even though Bigma + EC-14 were at full stretch [E-5 (OOC), 708mm, F10, 1/250s, ISO400, monopod].

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  #29  
Old 18th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

Wildlife shots can be planned. I selected all the perches used by the Kingfisher in my shots. Having worked with a few wildlife documentary film makers most of what you see on TV is carefully planned.
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Old 18th February 2015
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Re: Wildlife Photography (and all its difficulties…)

Thats playing with words David. You missed my point.
Last sunday I "planned" to take some Kingfisher shots - because the sun came out for once and gave me at least a chance. I had "planned" to do this long before but the sun did not care for weeks. Anyway, now I "planned" to have the sun in my back so I went south of my local ditch where I thought the Kingfishers would be - as "planned" they were.
I spent 3h moving about a 500m stretch of said ditch. I took several okay photos in several locations during this time. The same bird used dozens of different (natural) perches all over the place. Had I "planned" better, I would have told him to put his darn beak in front of the reeds, or to turn around etc. - but he would'nt care anyway. You can not tell them animals what angle to hold their head at, or not to move when you press the shutter, or at what time exactly to appear so the sun is at the right spot in the sky, nor the clouds to move on so you can have some light etc. Thats what I meant with: you take what you are offered. The genaral idea of how to proceed, the setting and all the rest was covered under my point "know your subject" - if you want to. I hope tenzan sees my point and will not be discuraged when something is not going to "plan" and it needs a few attempts and effort to get some keepers ...








Just some proofs.

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