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Messages - 20Dave

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Photography Technique / Re: Any advice on shooting dragonflies
« on: October 08, 2014, 03:39:11 PM »
Thanks for all the replies guys.

Static shots for me are not such a problem (if you have even a moderate amount of patience) but in-flight shots appear to be orders of magnitude more difficult. I imagine it takes dedication and fair bit of luck to get good in-flight shots. I can't really control my luck but I can understand my equipment, improve on my technique and be prepared for how the subject might behave.

In my case, practice makes "not terrible all of the time". When they hover, there is a decent chance of getting some shots in flight. Or, soon after they take off is another option.

In terms of bodies I'd probably be using a 5D-III or a 60D attached to Tamron's 70-200mm f/2.8 VC or 150-600mm VC but was also considering using the lightweight 135mm f/2 L. (I got a "free" monopod with my 70-200 which I hardly ever use so I should definitely give it a try...)

Fast focus is critical, so I would think that a 5D3 (which I have) would be light years better than a 6D. The not-yet-real 7D2 looks like it would be a perfect camera as well if you're thinking about getting another one.

I'm quite interested in learning more about their behavior. They tend to fly quite erratically so the better I can understand what they might do, the better I can frame up shots or know where to spend time setting up and waiting for the kind of shots I'm looking for. Hopefully it's not all about running and gunning. Any recommended reading/viewing?

http://www.amazon.com/Dragonflies-Damselflies-Princeton-Field-Guides/dp/0691122830 is the bible for the Eastern US.

A couple more questions in terms of techniques:
Do you guys actively track with single point or expanded-AF, or do you rather use manual focus and shoot a burst as they fly through the DoF?

I use both MF and AF. If I'm using the 400mm and an extension tube, or if I'm shooting damselflies, I almost always use MF and take a few shots while moving in and out. The DoF is so micro-thin that AF will miss the eyes as often as not (mostly because of my shaky hands.)

What shutter speed will allow for just a tiny bit of motion blur? 1/1000s or 1/1250s? I've attached a shot I took in my garden a couple days ago similar to what I want to achieve in terms of the look of the flight (with motion blur in the wings). The shot of the bee is at 1/800s.

This shot was at 1/1600, so depending on how much blur you're looking for, around 1/1000 should help keep the body sharp while showing some wing blur.

Photography Technique / Re: Any advice on shooting dragonflies
« on: October 08, 2014, 03:18:52 PM »
How I hate even the thought of it. Luckily you and a lot out there feel the same.

Of course it's hard to pinpoint in what circumstances a picture was shot - with macro, it's so difficult to capture a part of the environment and show that it isn't in a lab or a zoo.

Take 20Dave's last (linked) shot above, here's a thumbnail: It doesn't seem to be cropped from a natural environment, so how did the animal get there :-o. Before I get excited about image quality, I'd be interested in the story.

No interference or foul play on my part  ;).

Freezing/capturing bugs or any wildlife is not something that interests me. For me, the fun is as much in the exploration as it is for getting the photos themselves.

In this particular image, the post is from the fence in my wife's garden. I had to veeeerrry slowly walk up to it, and it periodically flew away and then returned. It was claiming rights to her garden against a few other dragonflies, which likely contributed to it allowing me to approach it. It is the only time where I was able to get that close to a dragonfly. (Well, there was one other case - I ran across one that was on its last legs. I felt sorry for the critter...).

Photography Technique / Re: Any advice on shooting dragonflies
« on: October 08, 2014, 01:15:59 PM »
I'm an amateur/hobbyist photographer and a novice in terms of dragonfly/damselfly photography. Nevertheless, I will share a few points from my experiences:

1) You'll want a medium telephoto lens with a small minimum focusing distance (MFD). I don't shoot enough where I'll buy specialized lenses, but if I were to do so, I'd get a Canon 300mm (f/4 or f/2.8) lens. With my limited equipment, I mostly use my 400mm f/5.6, with one or more extension tubes (typically 36mm) to reduce it's very long MFD, but that is far from an optimal setup. I sometimes add a 1.4x extender which doesn't change the MFD and allows me to bring in some more distant shots (e.g. damselflies sitting on lilypads). Finally, I sometimes use the 70-200mm with or without extension tubes as well.

2) A borrowed a 100mm macro lens briefly and found that I wasn't able to use it as a true macro very often with most dragonflies since they are a usually too shy for closeups. However, I like imaging other types of insects as well, so I'm seriously looking at the Sigma 150mm macro. I've attached the best macro shot that I was able to get with it.

3) Shallow depth of field can make for nice images, but in some instances it can make it hard to identify the species. So, if identification is important to you, you'll want your settings to allow the entire insect to be in focus. Or, vary your settings if you have a cooperative subject.

4) Be patient. As others have said, if you scare one off but you remain still, it will return to its original spot.

Here are a few of my photos. I don't recall which ones I use the extension tube with:

Azure Bluet, 5DIII, 400mm f/5.6 lens

Halloween Pennant, 5DIII, 400mm f/5.6 lens

Halloween Pennant, 5DIII, 100mm macro (non-IS)

Lenses / Re: Lenses that you want Canon to release next
« on: September 18, 2014, 06:57:21 PM »
I would like to see a new
  • 100-400L
  • 135 f2 IS L
  • 180L IS Macro
  • New 50mm

You listed the two lenses that I am on the lookout for (100-400L II and a 180L macro with IS). I have the 400L prime and really like it, but I would love IS. If a 100-400L comes out at north of $3000 US, then I'd consider either a 300 2.8 or a 500 instead, but would most likely buy none of the above at those prices. I think that the 180 macro is a pipe dream and would (again) be ridiculously expensive if/when it does come out. I'm seriously looking at the Sigma 150 and 180 macros.

EDIT: I would add a 400L 5.6 prime with IS to my wish list, which I would buy over a new 100-400L II if it was two out of {lighter/sharper/cheaper} than the zoom.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / 7D2 does have EC for manual mode
« on: September 15, 2014, 11:05:16 PM »
From dpreview:

"Like the Canon 1D X, the 7D Mark II does allow you to continue using exposure compensation in M mode with Auto ISO. However, the implementation is not very user friendly. You'll have to take your eye away from the viewfinder, push the 'Q' button, then use the multi-controller to scroll over to the exposure compensation scale, and then use the rear control wheel for adjustment."

Clunky but it is there. Now if they would provide this on the 5d3, that would make me a happy camper.

Dave, using the tubes on the 70-200 is a bit different because you're wanting to use them for near-macro work. I believe Guy is wanting to get closer to subjects than his lens' roughly 12 foot minimum focus will allow.  This is a problem with long lenses (particularly the 800mm which has a 20 foot MFD).  If a small bird or something comes close, you want to get it framed or at least closer to it and the tubes let you do that.  You are not going to get anywhere where near 1.00x (1:1), but it's nice to have for those types of shots when standing 8 feet instead of 12 feet away makes a big difference.

Agreed, I wasn't clear in my post as to when I was answering his question or just giving some additional information. Originally, I was using the tubes for the same reason - my 400mm f/5.6 also has a very long MinFD, and often I couldn't get that far back without standing in a lake or off the trail in the trees. It was just after using the tubes for a bit that I started using it for more macro work.

Not coincidentally, I am going to pay close attention to the MFD of the new telephoto lens coming out (or was going to when I thought that it was a 100-400). If it can improve on my 400mm, then I would consider upgrading. I just wish that there was one lens that could handle the work for both the short MFD that I'd like for insects and the long reach for birds. The 300mm 2.8 seems closest to fitting the bill, but it's not quite long enough for birding (and it ain't cheap).


...  You'll lose infinity focus, AF doesn't work well, if at all, and the closer you get, the more light you'll lose, but it's not a shocking amount.  Wide open shots may have a bit more vignetting as well.  To get closer, these trade offs are worth it, however.

Since I don't (yet) have a macro lens and I started shooting insects this year, I started using extension tubes quite a bit. I don't have the specific formulas that you are looking for, but I will say that losing infinity focus doesn't just mean "way out there". You may be surprised at how close "infinity" becomes. And, it got very annoying for me to keep taking the tube on and off. They do the job as advertised (shorten the focus distances), but it takes a little time to get used to. I most often used the long extension tube (25mm or longer), so using the 12mm probably won't have as dramatic of an effect.

As for the AF, I found that I couldn't AF often because my subject wasn't in the new focus range. I end up usually trying manual focus first just to see if it is in range, then let the AF take over from there. I've never had an issue with AF once I knew that the subject was in the focusing range.

One last comment of something that I read about but still surprised me in practice - when I attached the extension tube to my 70-200 mm zoom, adjusting the zoom actually moves the focusing range rather than zooming in/out. That also took some time getting used to.

EOS Bodies / Re: Silly Photokina Rumors
« on: September 07, 2014, 10:33:35 PM »
To leapfrog the competition in terms of high ISO performance and DR, Canon is coming out with a 0.1DX with the revolutionary full-frame, 45 pixel sensor (in a 9x5 pixel array). To help with low-light sensitivity, it is B&W only.

EOS Bodies / Re: The day of the anti-climatic announcement
« on: September 04, 2014, 08:21:56 PM »
The NDA is RUMOURED to expire September 5....

Everything is speculation. There is no solid and believable information until Canon makes an announcement. You can bet that Canon will make several announcements during Photokina, so if you don't hear something on the first announcement, it does not mean that it isn't going to happen.

That means the NDA expiration date is part of the NDA as well, else everyone could confirm the date and there would be no place for rumor there. For sure there some NDA to expire sometime soon.

I have been bound by NDAs that prohibited mentioning that we had even signed an NDA agreement, so not being able to disclose the date when they expired wouldn't surprise me.

Software & Accessories / Re: Star details
« on: September 01, 2014, 01:43:35 PM »
I don't know the exact thread that you're talking about, but a lot of people use the "Carboni tools", especially the photoshop plugins. See http://www.prodigitalsoftware.com/Products.html

On number one the bird appears larger because it is framed tighter by the fact that the sensor and is using a smaller percentage of what comes into the lens.

But when I zoom to 100% on my computer monitor, 1 pixel on the monitor = 1 pixel on the camera, right? If yes, it seems that the sensor size would be irrelevant, only the pixel density. I would think that your statement is applicable to #3, not #1. Or am I missing something?

Sorry for another thread on this, but it seems to me that there are different definitions of what "extra reach" means as it relates to cropped sensors. For my own education/clarification, this is what I think, but I would welcome any corrections. These are imaginary scenarios to help define the parameters.

1) Extra reach = "I take two pictures of a bird from the same spot on my porch, one with a 7D, one with a 5DIII, both of them with the same lens. When I pixel peep on my computer at 100% resolution, my 7D "zooms in" further, i.e. the bird appears larger. (I'm ignoring how "good" the bird looks in either shot.) In this case, the larger image of the bird on my computer monitor has nothing to do with the 1.6 crop factor; rather, it has everything to do with the increased pixel density of the 7D as compared to the 5D3.

2) Extra reach = "I'm going to frame a picture of some non-moving subject in my viewfinder exactly as I want to print it off (using the Quick Print button, of course). So, I take the photo from X feet away from the subject using the 7D, and I take a picture of the same subject with the 5D3 from X/1.6 feet away i.e. move in closer. In this case, the "extra reach" of the 7D in terms of where I need to stand to properly frame the photo has everything to do with the 1.6x crop factor of the sensor.  Also in this case, I believe that the background will be more blurred with the 5D3, but I don't know if that has anything to do with sensor size or if it's just because I'm 1.6x closer to the subject with the 5D3.

3) Extra reach = "I'm going to take a picture of a shy bird, so I'll stay 40 feet away when taking the photos. I want to print an 8x10 photo with the bird being the same size in the framed picture on both photos. If the bird happens to be the right size in my frame using the 7D, I'll need to crop the photo that I take with the 5D3. The amount that I need to crop out (as a percentage) is based on the 1.6 crop factor of the sensor.

One other point for scenario 3 - if I was hoping for the same resolution in both photos, then the FF sensor would need to have 1.6 * 1.6 (i.e. 2.56x) more pixels. I don't know the numbers offhand, but if the 7D happend to have a 20 MP sensor, then a FF sensor would need to have a 51.2 MP sensor for me to crop it down to the APS-C size image and still offer the same resolution (pixel density) as the 20 MP cropped sensor.

I know that I've ignored important variables like how well I can hand-hold the camera (shaky hands will be amplified in the 7D), AF accuracy, keeper rate, lens resolving power, etc. I'm just trying to clarify how "extra reach" comes into play with APS-C cameras.

Again, corrections to my assertions are welcome, as are use cases that I missed.


Canon General / Re: A Rundown of EOS 7D Mark II Information
« on: August 16, 2014, 04:28:32 PM »
  Only time will tell, but its these little snippets that keep us coming here, right?  :o

It feels like two weeks before the NFL draft, with CR playing the part of Mel Kiper.

Kiper: "Well it's a lock that Canon will be drafting a replacement for the aging 7D in the first round. It looked like a mini-1DX at the combine, and hopefully that will translate into production."
McShay: "That's probably true. However, although everyone expects a 100-400 in the second round, I wouldn't be surprised to see them to pass like they did for the last couple of years. Maybe a surprise like a 180 macro with IS, just to create a splash."

And like on sports forums, there is as much (if not more) angst about what might happen than about what actually does happen.

I'm just happy that I bought my 5D3 nearly two years ago to replace my aging 20D rather than waiting for the 7D2 (which I was strongly considering). When the 7D2 (or whatever they call it) finally comes out, it might be the best fit for my uses, but I'm more than happy enough with my current camera so I'm not really interested in moving over. As for the 100-400, if that comes out and if it has similar performance like the 70-200 II, that might be a different story.

Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: July 31, 2014, 07:41:21 PM »
Here's one of mine from last fall.

EOS Bodies / Re: One other hoped-for feature on the 7D2
« on: July 29, 2014, 02:56:52 PM »
How does the 1DX do it?

In the pdf   http://cpn.canon-europe.com/files/education/technical/eos_1d_x_explained/AF%20guide_EOS-1DX_V2_eng.pdf you can find on page 28 a possible solution for assigning EC to a button.

Be patient: it will take some time to open this pdf.

They assign EC to the set button. Afterwards you can change easily the EC by pushing SET and turning the mail dial.

I just found that the 5DIII can fairly quickly change ISO as well (p. 327 of the manual), but it is disabled by default. You have to hold down the set button while turning the small dial next to the shutter button. You can't go into auto-ISO with this method, but you can go out of it and adjust the ISO while looking in the viewfinder. Not as straightforward as EC, but I'll give this a try.


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