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Messages - cervantes

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Photography Technique / Re: Is RAW worth it?
« on: August 25, 2014, 01:26:46 AM »
I have created an extensive article on the topic on my newly launched website.
Check it out here: http://www.focrates.com/articles/pp_images_and_why_to_shoot_raw/pp_images_and_why_to_shoot_raw.html

Hope that helps!
Best wishes!

Photography Technique / Website launched!
« on: August 25, 2014, 01:23:57 AM »
Dear Friends on CR!

I have been a regular visitor and a member on CR for a while now. I started visiting this site when I was a total beginner and learned a great deal from the vast knowledge of some of the members here.

Now I'm proud to announce that my website was launched a couple of months ago, and since the testing phase is over I'd like to ask you guys to stop by and take a look.

Additionally to some of my images, my article about configuring the 5D3 AF for fast action that I posted here last year, has found a permanent place on the site.

You can find my site here: www.focrates.com

If you have comments, ideas for improvements or anything else to share shoot me a mail, PM or leave a comment here.

Thank you very much and I'm looking forward to hearing from you!
Best wishes!


I created an extensive article for exacly that topic. You can see it on my website at http://www.focrates.com/articles/configuring_your_5d_mark_3_af_for_fast_action/configuring_your_5d_mark_3_af_for_fast_action.html.

My site is brand new and actually still in the testing phase and I wanted to announce it in a couple of days here on canonrumors (which I will still do).

Hope that helps.

Best wishes!

Animal Kingdom / Re: Yard Bird
« on: July 23, 2014, 03:04:00 AM »
This pair of goldfinches nested in my backyard a couple of weeks ago - until they were killed and the nest destroyed by a weasel :(.

Canon General / Re: Reach and the inverted bell curve
« on: June 10, 2014, 09:24:19 AM »
I suggest you buy a high quality folding rule. The mm/$ ratio is unmatched.

Third Party Manufacturers / Re: Stolen equipement - off-brand
« on: May 08, 2014, 11:42:32 AM »

I'm very sorry to hear about your friends loss.
As a matter of fact I'm also currently traveling with my 500LII in my backpack, so hearing about 500s getting stolen makes me a bit uneasy. I would be very interested in hearing about the details of what happened to your friend. You say it was stolen from a car. How exactly did the thief break into it? Where was the car parked (were people around)? Where were you guys? How long did you leave it unattended? Was there a way for him to know what was inside?That sort of thing...
Thanks and good luck for recovering the lens!

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: Birds in Flight tips
« on: April 18, 2014, 12:44:31 PM »
I actually wanted to point out my extensive article about 5D3 AF configuration but Dylan 777 was obviously faster...

Cervantes, thank you for your reply. Here you can see three of my shots that day - http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=20239.0  At the bottom.

It's not so slow movemnet, actually is quite fast. I shot this with 6 fps (of course not like a machine gun, maybe only 3-4 shots)

The setings were: f/2.8, 1/2500 s and ISO 160-250

Congrats, they turned out great!

I shot this with 6 fps (of course not like a machine gun, maybe only 3-4 shots)

That's what I would do in this situation. 1/2500 was perfect to freeze the motion of the water.

Keep in mind that a piece of advise from the article didn't work for me. At least at some non real shooting conditions.

More specifically:  I have tried my 1.4XIII on my 500mm 4L IS II.

Nothing happened apart from the noise of a failed  attempt to start focusing.
Something like a click and a very slight move of the focusing mechanism and then nothing.
Focusing distance was close and withing range (inside my house).

I turned "Lens drive when AF impossible" to ON and IT WORKED!

But to tell the truth I haven't tested the lens without a teleconverter and/or at the outside during day.
So I will repeat the test under more realistic conditions.

Are you sure you understand what "Lens drive when AF impossible" means? If the subject was vastly out of focus the AF is supposed to not do anything so that it doesn't throw off focus even further. You should at least be able to easily recognize the subject in the frame before you start attempting to focus (this is more or less also the cameras criterion for starting to focus - when it can immediately determine in which direction and how much it has to adjust focus). Also when you tested inside in dim light with a converter I'm not surprised that it did not work.

Yes, please repeat the test under sufficent light and be sure to pay attention to my remark above - I'm sure it will work just fine.


Tomorrow I'll shoot some action and I'd like to ask for some advice. Not BIF, but kayak competition (slalom). I suppose you imagine how does it look like.

I'd like to ask, if you recommend to shoot in single shot or continious mode? if the latter, then in which mode - high burst (6 fps) or low burst (3 fps).  BTW, I'm using 5D mkIII.

And what should be an appropriate shutter time to freeze the motion? OK, it depends if subject goes toward me or pass me. I think, I'll shoot them coming toward me. But OK, I can experiment and check what time is necessary to freeze it.

I'm more interested about burst mode. I don't want to have million pictures and half of them soft, because AF wasn't able to refocus between each shot in 6 fps mode.



I'm sorry I didn't check canonrumors for a couple of days so I'm too late now for your question but maybe you still want some info for next time.

I'm not quite sure how a kayak competition looks like but it sounds to be quite slow action. Burst will likely work fine but I wouldn't recommend the settings I described in my article because they are for very fast moving / erratic subjects.

The way I always do action photography is setting my drive mode to high burst (6fps) but then I always shoot single frames by briefly pressing the shutter. If a situation arises where the distance between me and the subject doesn't change much but something interesting is happening I always have the option to make shots in quick succession.

Shutter speed is quite easy to determine: Start at 1/1000 and look how it turns out. Use the fastest possible speed that lets you shoot at ISO 100-800 (the lower the better of course). To freeze the water droplets something shorter than 1/2000 would be desirable.

Currently I do not show much on the web (I should do more, my job eats lots of time). But here is a little selection of images I shot with my vintage EF 500/4.5 (made in 1995). Hope you enjoy it. Fortunately I am quite used to non-IS lenses so I am able to shoot it frequently hand-held. Such vintage glass works quite nicely with modern DSLRs, I enjoy in particular using it with my 5D3 (only 2x TC doesn't allow AF).
Cervantes: here a few more BIFs for you I shot with my old EF 500/4.5. Atlantic puffins are hard to catch, they are small, appear quite suddenly and dart with about 80 km/h. I am often really impressed how well my 5D3 manages to focus this lens - even its 1st generation USM drive isn't as fast as modern USM drives.   

The 500 4.5 seems to be every bit as spectacular as I imagined it to be. The images have the same look as from my 500LII - and I't is even a bit lighter than mine.
Fantastic shots by the way! Where did you shoot the puffins? Puffins are on my to-do list but I don't know where to find any as close to central europe as possible.

Possibly the most informative article I've had the pleasure to read on CR, very much appreciated.

I can see how your set up suggestions will/should help well in my Wildlife Photography, again, Thank You Cervantes.

Thank you very much for your kind words, I'm glad I could help.

When using a selected AF point and a registered AF point, my preference is to assign one to AF-ON and the other to the * button, so I can remove AF from the trigger button completely.

I wasn't aware that this was possible. Maybe this should be called the 'dual back button AF' technique from now on!  8)
Tried it on the weekend but returned to focusing by shutter button again since I'm used to that, but I'm sure this is going to be useful for some people, especially those who usually only use back button AF!

Thanks for your input!

Cervantes, I didn't know that this exactly was included in a recent 1-DX firmware update, so we 5D3 users can really hope that Canon does the same service to us. Would be great!

I use both options you listed - depending on the situation. When light is changing fast (and unpredictable) I prefer Tv, otherwise M with fixed ISO to compensate exposure. My EF 500/4.5 gets wide open a little bit soft depending on the object's distance (still on a decent sharpness level for such old glass), so I often prefer to close it to f=5.0...

Look much forward to your next posts, Cervantes, you do a really great job for us forum readers! I wish you many more such brilliant shots you've shown here as examples.

I have unfortunately never had the opportunity to try the EF 500/4.5 but I'm pretty sure that it is a great lens. It's particularly nice to see that such 'old' glass is still working nicely with modern cameras (apart from the lens drive when AF impossible problem you mentioned), it makes me confident that I'll be using my 500LII for many years to come.
I'd like to see some of your images if you can provide a link. Thank you for your input!

cervantes, you are The Man. I've been searching for a succinct explanation of the 5D3's celebrated AF system with regards to BIF ever since I purchased the body a little over a year ago. Even the Canon tutorials on youtube are far less valuable than your advice. Thank you very, very much. I'm sure this took a fair amount of your time and those of us here on the forum appreciate it.

Hi miah, thank you very much for your very kind words! I'm so glad that I was able to help some people out - my biggest fear while writing my aricle was that nobody would be interested in what I had to say.

Your specific advice for AF settings was excellent, but I'd also like to hear your take on some other settings. As I work my way into shooting BIF, alone and without benefit of workshops or books...

Congratulations then. In my experience, books and workshops usually focus on beginners since the market of people that are really serious about wildlife photography is so small. I am also 'on my own' and I like to make my own experiences and develop my own style. Practice, find new ways of acheiving your goals and be your own critical judge about your technique and your results and you won't be needing outside help.

..., I've concluded that keeping the shutter speed high enough and aperture wide enough can only be accomplished in Manual mode. Av invariably gives me an unacceptably slow shutter speed (motion blur) while Tv often fails to select an appropriate aperture. That means Auto ISO must jump in there to make sure my defined shutter speed and desired aperture results in a proper exposure.

I do not agree completely. While M will be the method of choice most of the time there are situations where Tv is better suited to the task. Take a look at the image I attached to this post. The picture was taken with these settings: 500mm, f4, 1/6400, ISO320

In this situation I was dealing with a backlit subject surrounded by a quite bright background due to the reflected sunlight of the water surface. The camera will try to set the exposure to achieve a brightness that corresponds an 18% grey value - to counteract it is desireable to compensate 2/3 to 1 stop to the right.

If you are shooting in M mode with auto ISO you simply have to accept the exposure chosen by the camera and hope that the seagull will not turn out too dark and will not show too much noise when lightened in post.

If you're trying to use M mode with manual ISO you have to change ISO value continuously since the brightness of the reflection is very high when you point the lens into the direction of the sun but rapidly decreases when you point just a few degrees away from it. This of course is not feasible since you can't adapt ISO value while following and focusing you subject in the frame.

The best possible solution in this situation in my opinion would be to use Tv with auto ISO with a very short shutter speed and dial in +1 exposure compensation. The camera will rightfully always open up the aperture before raising ISO so it is going to shoot wide open which is what I'd choose as aperture setting anyways. (If truth be told my 5D3/500LII combo tends to use f4.5 while still in the lower ISO regions - I don't really know why but due to the slightly thicker DOF which makes focusing easier I usually don't mind.) This is of course only desirable when you like your lens' wide open performance - with your 400 f5.6L you should be perfectly fine I guess.

Choosing M or Tv for action photography is always depending on the situation. As a rule of thumb I'd say:
  • If there is a big brightness difference between the subject and the background or the scene is particularly bright Tv is preferable since exposure compensation is more important than using an exact aperture value.
  • Otherwise M is preferable since you can directly choose the amount of motion blur and DOF.

As previously mentioned by yourself and others, we need Canon to give us a firmware update that allows Exposure Compensation when shooting in M mode and Auto ISO, especially with birds due to the overwhelming brightness of the sky. But given this handicap, would you still advise shooting M and using Auto ISO? And if so, what ISO limits do you like? If not, how else do you approach the speed/aperture/exposure/noise conundrum when it comes to shooting feathered rockets?

Yes this possibility would make action shooting a lot easier and all my aforementioned exposure techniques would be quite obsolete.
Regarding ISO limits I'm really strict. I get a bad feeling when I have to go above ISO1000 and usually avoid it. The reason for this is that my intention is always to create the best possible IQ - I'm not shooting for scientific purposes - I'm not trying to find out whether bird xyz is still breeding in the area of abc and desperately need a 'usable' shot to prove it. Either I can acheive a great quality shot or I get no shot. I prefer having one good image above 100 mediocre images anytime.

This however is only my attitude and should not mean that you shouldn't go above ISO1000. If you're not planning to print big everything up to ISO6400 is pretty good I suppose - it really depends on the IQ you would like to acheive.

I have my C3 parked with the following settings for BIF (in addition to making changes to my AF and AF-ON per your excellent instructions), please review and offer suggestions as this is the fast-dial place from which I start: Manual mode, 1/1000, f/5.6, Auto ISO, AWB, AI Servo, Evaluative metering, High-Speed shutter, 1000X 32GB CF only (SD card removed to improve buffer dump), RAW

I have found 1/1600 to be the longest desirable shutter speed for stopping action when birding. Normally I use 1/2000 or faster - whatever the light level allows. Otherwise I use the same settings you stated.

Note that I'm typically outfitted with a 5D3 body and a 400 f/5.6 L prime lens or sometimes my 70-300 L zoom, with or without a Kenko 1.4X teleconverter, on and off tripod. I'm saving for a 600mm, but alas, that may be a long wait...

Thanks again for offering your advice and for the helpful members who've chimed in with their 2 cents.

The 600 would definately be a total game changer for you and clearly the best choice for static subjects - for BIF however I like to believe the 500 is better because it is lighter and suitable for handheld use. Whatever super telephoto lens you prefer if photography is your passion I'd say go for it - the results will be worth it.

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