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Advice for shooting pictures of eagles

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Quasimodo:
As a gift from some of my friends for my 40th birthday last year, I have gotten a stay at Dalen Vilmarkssenter in Norway (http://www.dalenvillmarkssenter.no/) where I am staying a night in February (we leave early in the morning with a snow mobile before daylight, settle in the hut with precut holes for lenses) hopefully get to take pictures of eagles, and then return after daylight.

I have gotten word that I will be able to borrow two bodies (1Dx and 1D iv, and a 400 F2.8L II) and I am thinking to bring my own 70-200 2.8L II, and a 2xIII TC.

Thus a question arises...

Are there other lenses you would bring to be safe? In addition, what aperture would you choose as a rule of thumb? I am thinking F 5.6 or 8 (to include the environment), and maybe 2.8 for portraits (where the background is not important)?

G.

East Wind Photography:
The 2xiii may compromise sharpness too much.  I would definately take a 1.4 iii with you as we'll.  use that on the 400.  If you can get your hands on a 500 f4 that might be better especially in weight.  You can hand hold the 500 for a short time but the 400 will just wear you out.  Tripods are great but sometimes better to track handheld which is often more accurate than panning a tripod even with a gimbal mount.

Since you will be in a blind it seems you may get closer to them than most.  Sounds like a decent set up other than the weight of the 400.

I typically use a 600 and a 300 on a separate body.  I'll use the 1.4 if I need to but try to avoid it.  The 2x may be good for only shots where you can get the subject in full frame.  If you have to crop the image will break downtoo much and will be mush.

Good luck!

East Wind Photography:
Also forgot the aperture advice.  Avoid shooting wide open when possible.  The 400 II may work ok at 2.8 but usually a click or two down helps the sharpness quite a bit.  I would avoid f8 or higher due to diffraction.  Also try to keep your shutter speed at 1/1000 or faster for flight shots.  I actually try for 1/2000 or faster.  ISO noise is generally not a problem on the 1dx up to iso 3200 so would definately use that for flight shots and the 1d IV for statics where you can keep the ISO down to under 800.

neuroanatomist:
Eagles are big, and if you're close in the blind you may find that the DoF at 400mm f/2.8 or 560mm f/4 is actually too shallow.  There's no issue with diffraction on the 1D X up to f/11, I'd try the f/5.6 - f/8 range.

Quasimodo:

--- Quote from: East Wind Photography on January 24, 2013, 07:55:00 AM ---Also forgot the aperture advice.  Avoid shooting wide open when possible.  The 400 II may work ok at 2.8 but usually a click or two down helps the sharpness quite a bit.  I would avoid f8 or higher due to diffraction.  Also try to keep your shutter speed at 1/1000 or faster for flight shots.  I actually try for 1/2000 or faster.  ISO noise is generally not a problem on the 1dx up to iso 3200 so would definately use that for flight shots and the 1d IV for statics where you can keep the ISO down to under 800.

--- End quote ---

Thank you for good tips, on both aperture/shutter/iso, and also for the considerations on teleconverters and lenses. I have to see what I can borrow, but when it comes to these really expensive lenses like the 400 I have to ask a good while in advance :) I do not have the 1.4 TC, but a friend of mine have it and I can certainly borrow it from him.

I am very thrilled about this and have been waiting for the season since I got the gift in May last year :)

I have actually not seen the interior of the hut, so I am not sure about the use of tri or monopod options, with or without a Gimbal... I better send them a mail.

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