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  1. #1
    DPP Member Gil Tuzon's Avatar
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    Final Birding Words on the A700



    Photobirding static bird subjects is doable from P&S to the extry level DSLR and no need anymore to mention the high end ones. Depending upon the opportunities for distances and the types of birds, image captures could be made anywhere from 1X zoom to 1260mm equivalent. I have been doing photobirding for more than 3 years and have graduated from usable six image stabilized Panasonic FZ series with up to 420mm reach to some entry level DSLRs.

    To me, the most challenging aspect of photobirding is on Birds in Flight (BIF). With the right attitude (another story), practice, opportunities and adequate gears; it could be done from cheaper prosumers (4 MP Panasonic FZ4 samples - http://art4less.smugmug.com/gallery/988010#45645151 and a 7.2 MP Panasonic FZ8 -
    http://art4less.smugmug.com/gallery/2791191#151027668 ) to the entry level KM5D (samples at http://art4less.smugmug.com/gallery/1037506#P-2-9) and Sony A100 (samples at http://art4less.smugmug.com/gallery/2971384#160721583).

    Almost went to the Canon side (I catually bought 2 years ago the Canon XT) due to good long focal length lens line up esp. on the used ones but my meager A-mount lenses, unsteady budget and some hopes from Sony made me stay for a while. When the A700 was announced, only two main features attracted me - the supposedly faster AF and better burst performances. Those were the two items I was mostly looking at for increasing fun factor level as I am still 100% jpg and handheld. Do I need high ISO? Only for documentation purposes like for first/rare sighting if there are no more options. IMO, bird images with adequate light would always beat images from little or no light at all. Am I concerned about IQ? Not much really as most cameras have enough in-camera settings to play with the optimum IQ and if not enough, I have several PS plug-ins that could remedy the situation. I am from old basic school just concentrating on relationship of shutter, aperture and ISO to get most what I want - capture motion, increase shutter speed or sensor sensitivity; not enough light but can't sacrifice speed, increase ISO or use exposure compensation; not enough light but can sacrifice speed (thanks for the SSS), slow shutter or open up arperture. I can live with those settings and features as long as AF is very good.

    With the above background, the following 3 part posts hopes to give some idea on photobirders wanting to consider the A700. I used my Sigma 50-500mm DG (aka Bigma) for all the mentioned shots and majority in 500mm (750mm equivalent). Typical settings: shutter priority or manual, 1/1250 - 1/2000, f6.3 - f10, wide AF mostly for fast image acquisition, AWB, ISO200-ISO400 mostly, vivid with +2 sharpness mostly. Images were mostly cropped and some PP - highlight/shadow or level adjust in PSCS3, a bit of noise reduction with Digial GEM plug-in and a bit of sharpening with Focus Magoc plug-in or smart sharpen in PSCS3. Note that the images prepared in a CRT and appeared a bit over sharpened and over saturated in my LCD.

    Enjoy my findings below,
    gil

  2. #2
    DPP Member Gil Tuzon's Avatar
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    Re: Final Birding Words on the A700

    Reason 1: BIFs of small birds

    I have taken usable BIFs of small birds (phoebe, killdeer, warbler, swallows etc. sizes) in the past but mostly accidental or with luck. Technique employed when getting lucky was mostly pre-focusing and waiting for the fly-out from a perched position. With the A700, I still use pre-focusing to gauge my working distance so that I would be able to see in my VF the subjects but the shooting style now had been transformed into a more reactive type - I see and then I point and shoot. This is more fun. As long as I could see or track in the VF, the A700 would deliver now more usable shots. I am still experimenting on the optimum settings but hit rate for previously illusive small birds in flight angles increased tremendously. See usable samples below of warblers, black phoebes and killdeer in flight. Yes, not that great yet but now I am looking for the new possibilities and hopefully my dreaming of the Canon Mark series would now be minimal :~)


    A reactive shot and the A700 responded.



    Killdeer in flight doable in KM5D/A100 but now much easier with the A700






  3. #3
    DPP Member Gil Tuzon's Avatar
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    Re: Final Birding Words on the A700

    Reason 2: Usable Series Shots

    Sometimes one good image is enough but sometimes 3 -5 image captures (more depending on the flight time/tracking opportunity) in burst may not yield even one good image. I am doing pretty well with the KM5D/A100 before on burst speed - typical of 3-5 burst with a least 2-3 good images. Now with the improved AF and burst performances of the A700, I am getting 10 - 16 burst captures with a large percentage of usable shots. See samples below and link to teh rest of the series. Note that posted imaged were cropped but no other post processing.

    Below is 3rd shot of 10 captures. Actually around 12 captures with the 2 deleted for slight OOF and last one back view or obstructed with grassess/bushes. Link for the completes series here - http://art4less.smugmug.com/gallery/3652018#208416861. If you need to look at originally posted size, double click and choose "O" from the top menu. Yes, under exposed as I was metering for the brighter toned White Pelicans nearby.



    5th of 16 captures. Link of series here - http://art4less.smugmug.com/gallery/3652018#208418328



    Interesting reactive captures. Documentation type. Series link here - http://art4less.smugmug.com/gallery/3652018#208416485


  4. #4
    DPP Member Gil Tuzon's Avatar
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    Re: Final Birding Words on the A700

    Reason 3: Standard Panning BIFs

    Much easier now on standard panning BIFs. Problem is on what to retain as there would be lots of similar captures. I now pixel peep to decide which one to retain. Samples below.











  5. #5
    DPP Member jeffreybuot's Avatar
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    Re: Final Birding Words on the A700

    WOW! i learn a lot from this thread... thanks for sharing your experience and skills Gil.

    By the way, may I know what commonly you use on your A100 setup? WB, AF mode, DEC, ISO, Apperture, exposture.. etc? Other than your ever reliable bigma, have you tried other lens that you can recemmend too?
    be kool!

    My Alpha Family

    Machineries Instruments aNd OpticaL by TashimA


  6. #6
    DPP Member Gil Tuzon's Avatar
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    Re: Final Birding Words on the A700

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffreybuot View Post
    WOW! i learn a lot from this thread... thanks for sharing your experience and skills Gil.

    By the way, may I know what commonly you use on your A100 setup? WB, AF mode, DEC, ISO, Apperture, exposture.. etc? Other than your ever reliable bigma, have you tried other lens that you can recemmend too?
    Hi Jeffrey,
    Thanks. Go to that link for the A100 samples. Hover your mouse cursor to the right side of the bigger image displayed on the right. A window will pop for "i" or info. Click and you will get some basic/advanced exif for related settings.

    See links here for some (all used) affordable lenses I tested on the A100.

    Tamron 200-400. A bit soft at 400mm and some CA susceptibility.
    http://www.art4less.smugmug.com/gall...9008#101474638

    From the big Beercan. Moises already got this one.
    http://art4less.smugmug.com/gallery/1747379#86465309

    Tamron 28-200mm XR. Very affordable and versatile all around lens
    http://art4less.smugmug.com/gallery/1802213#P-1-15

    Minolta classic 100mm f2.8 1:1 macro lens
    http://art4less.smugmug.com/gallery/1734033#85692462

    Sigma 70-300mm APO macro. Cheap and very good per my testing.
    http://art4less.smugmug.com/gallery/2632105#138995861

    from KM5D + the Sigma 70-300mm APO macro
    http://art4less.smugmug.com/gallery/2329119#121842143

    http://art4less.smugmug.com/gallery/2140994#110926878

    From dirt cheap Sigma 50mm f2.8 1:1 macro. Battered body but lens still ok.
    http://art4less.smugmug.com/gallery/2553963#134348832

  7. #7
    DPP Member jeffreybuot's Avatar
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    Re: Final Birding Words on the A700



    thanks Gil! I envy that minolta 100 2.8 macro lens... i love it
    be kool!

    My Alpha Family

    Machineries Instruments aNd OpticaL by TashimA


 

 

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