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Author Topic: What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?  (Read 2465 times)

DeadPixel

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What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« on: April 18, 2012, 10:32:45 PM »
Hi All,

Lately this spring I've been chasing critters around the great outdoors - and come up with a desire for more zoom since the little things like to flee as I approach.  I have a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens on a T3i as my max zoom at present.  (See Pic below as reference, I was at just under 6 feet, the closest I could get and focus)  As photography is a hobby for me, and not an income generating activity I have a desire to stay as cheap as feasible while attaining 400 to 500 mm before crop factor.  I considered a TC, but a lot of places seem to say they don't work with crop bodies (such as kenko's website).

I'm looking for a zoom lens, and I looked at the Canon 100-400, which seems like a great lens, but I'd honestly rather not spend that much.  Seeing that Sigma, Tamron and Tokina had some offerings in the 400 & 500mm range, which while likely inferior to the canon product is more in my budget. 

The real question of the day is, a lot of these lenses do not have IS, without using a tripod and assuming that tree cover is blocking direct sunlight (as in pic below) how fast of a shutter speed do i need to overcome the downfall of not having IS?

Any input is appreciated!

Thanks,

DeadPixel

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What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« on: April 18, 2012, 10:32:45 PM »

Drizzt321

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Re: What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2012, 11:08:16 PM »
The general rule is 1/focal length for your shutter speed. Faster shutter is better of course, but that's the general rule. But, that doesn't help (and neither does IS) if your subject is moving very fast. Only thing that can help that is a fast shutter speed and/or strobe. IS simply helps remove the small movement you make shooting from a slightly non-stable platform (e.g. hand held).
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2012, 11:50:27 PM »
You have a high MP crop body, so 1/effective focal length is the minimum recommended, and faster is better!
 
So, for a 400mm focal length, 1/(400*1.6) or 1/640 sec minimum.  1/1000 sec will be better.  If the subject is moving, 1/1000 min and faster is my rule.

gtog

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Re: What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2012, 12:08:47 AM »
I believe  Drizzt321 is correct for film and full frame digital (note the 5Ds in his sig) where the FF "crop factor" is 1.0

A better formula for the slowest hand-held shutter speed should be 1/(focal length * crop factor). There is, of course, some individual variation (practiced good technique vs caffeine, etc) so YMMV. In any case, it is a starting point, not a guaranteed good/bad separator. It will boil down to what you find results in an acceptable keeper rate.

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DeadPixel

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Re: What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2012, 07:19:22 AM »
Im going to show my lack of knowledge here....

Why is faster shutter speed better?  I did notice back in my green square days that the camera favored high shutters 1/500 plus and would happily crank my ISO up to 800 or 1600 to get there.  Being afraid of noise I learned av, tv, manual mode and how the little light meter at the bottom of my viewfinder was my friend.

Generally I shoot much slower than 1/focal, at the advice of a friend I generally target 1/60 or so unless motion is involved.  Is it IS that makes these shots possible to be "blur free"?

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Re: What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2012, 07:52:15 AM »
Im going to show my lack of knowledge here....

Why is faster shutter speed better?  I did notice back in my green square days that the camera favored high shutters 1/500 plus and would happily crank my ISO up to 800 or 1600 to get there.  Being afraid of noise I learned av, tv, manual mode and how the little light meter at the bottom of my viewfinder was my friend.

Generally I shoot much slower than 1/focal, at the advice of a friend I generally target 1/60 or so unless motion is involved.  Is it IS that makes these shots possible to be "blur free"?

I only shoot near or slower than 1/effective focal length if I want motion blur.  If your talking about static portraits, 1/effective focal length works for adults, who can stay "still" for a few seconds.  For kids that are always moving even trying to be still, I like something like 1/250 for typical portrait focal lengths.  For action, 1/1000 or less.  If you use longer times, then you'll get some motion blur.

For static subjects, you can go slower than 1/effective focal length.  Blur will be determined by how steady you hold the camera and IS/tripod can be very useful in these instances.

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Re: What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2012, 08:36:13 AM »
I agree with basically what everyone said.  I didn't see it mentioned, but you should consider getting a 430ex II speedlite flash.  With the small animals you are shooting, I doubt you will be able to effectively side mount the flash, but if you are sitting and have the flash beside you on a tripod, that should work well enough.

The more light in the area, the more likely you will have a nice sharp shot. 
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Re: What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2012, 08:36:13 AM »

bycostello

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Re: What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2012, 09:03:01 AM »
the inverse of the focal length....  so 1/50th for a 50mm 1/400th for a 400mm

dlleno

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Re: What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2012, 10:47:21 AM »
+ 1 on the comments here.   I would particularly emphasize the 1/(fl * crop factor) formula because this is what truly expresses the issue of camera shake in a way that includes  the narrow field of view "reach" for crop bodies (as already mentioned, the crop factor for a FF body is 1.0).  in other words, for a 300mm lens on a 1.6x crop body, the rule says that shutter speed is 1/480th sec.   The only additions I would make to the good comments above,  are:

1.  its a rule of thumb.  experiment with your own abilities -- you may find that your own personal needs are either more strict or less strict than the rule. 

2.  Its a rule of thumb for camer shake caused by you, not for stopping the action of moving subjects.  experimentation is the only thing that will help you determine how fast is fast enough.

3.  learn how to avoid shake -- lots of information out there from posture to breathing. Also learn to look for opportunities to utilize anything to help --  from trees or walls to lean against, to the the ground, or whatever, for supplimentary support when you can't use a tripod. 

4.  balance the rule of thumb with your expectations for the final product.  Some small amount of blur might be acceptable if you won't pixel peep, you're not printing an 11x14, the wife wants it anyway because is the only shot you have with that smile, etc. 

5.  IS won't stop a moving subject, but it is very effective when the subject is not moving.  Again, depending on your abilities and that of the IS system, advantages from 1 to 4 stops have been reported in actual practice.  I've obtained some acceptable shots at 1/30th and even 1/15th second at 200mm f/2.8 (70-200 f/2.8 II IS)  with my 1.6x crop body, using IS.  watershed habitat birds in a zoo, for example, arn't usually in bright light, but they often sit still!

6.  for moving subjects (aircraft for example, and birds in flight), you have to learn to pan.  For example,  following a propeller aircraft with a 300mm lens while still keeping the shutter speed low enough to blur the prop and still keep the plane sharp,  takes practice.  yea I prefer to blur the prop so that the plane doesn't look like its hanging from a string.

7.  multiple-frame burst is your freind.  In a countless number of situtions, I have combined posture, breathing,  IS and multple burst, and obtained one keeper out of, well, however many it takes!

8.  learn to give up depth of field for shutter speed.  you did a great job of that with the snake photo.   wider apertures may or may not be acceptable, but a sharp photo with a shallow DOF is more likely to be a keeper, whereas a blurry photo with a large DOF is guarenteed not to be a keeper. 

9.  choose ISO wisely to optimize to your goal, and learn how your camera chooses ISO if set to "auto".  For example, photogaphing prop aircraft in bright sunlight requires a ISO 100 to obtain ~400th sec shutter speed and f/8 region**, and you can't always depend on the camera to make the same choice as you would.  Personally I find that ISO 400 is useful in most situations with typically good results in good light.  higher ISO values than 400 will give you higher shutter speeds but may introduce more noise (depending on the camera), so you have to find the right balance and know the abililties of your camera and what IQ it produces at various ISO settings in various situations.  you'll need to become one with your camera in that regard :-)

BTW, the good news is that all the required experimentation is a boat load of fun. 

** "sunny 16" rule.  in bright sunlight and f/16, the shutter speed is 1/ISO.  f/8 is two stops brighter than f/16, so shutter speed has to go up two stops, to 1/4*ISO. 

IIIHobbs

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Re: What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2012, 10:57:06 AM »
Why is faster shutter speed better?
Faster shutter speed allows you to stop action and usually requires a larger aperture which reduces depth of field thereby isolating your subject from its surroundings (typically preferred in telephoto and portrait shots).

Generally I shoot much slower than 1/focal, at the advice of a friend I generally target 1/60 or so unless motion is involved.

Using a slower shutter speed allows you to use a much smaller aperature thereby increasing the depth of field so that the subject and it's surroundings are in focus (typical preferred in wide shots).

Is it IS that makes these shots possible to be "blur free"?

IS it intended to help address the problems of hand held camera shake when using longer lenses. A little  it of movement holding a 200 telephoto translates into a significant amount of movement at the subject (blur). It is a helpful tool that can help capture a candid image that a tripod mounted lense/camera might miss.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2012, 10:58:56 AM by IIIHobbs »

DeadPixel

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Re: What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2012, 12:30:41 PM »
This info is great!

I actually have an original ex580 flash that I've never used, might be time to break it out! 

It sounds like I should take my existing 300mm and turn the IS off with a 6.3 aperture or so and see what results i can get and how blurry they are. 

I've never tried the multi burst either, i had thought it rather gimmicky for what I've done, perhaps some rethinking is in order!

Sunny 16 is also a new one to me, ill have to experiment!  I agree, anything I've shot at ISO 400 and lower has kept me happy from a noise perspective.

I rarely use a tripod when out, so im going to have to see just how shaky i am!

dlleno

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Re: What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2012, 01:16:14 PM »
This info is great!

I actually have an original ex580 flash that I've never used, might be time to break it out! 

It sounds like I should take my existing 300mm and turn the IS off with a 6.3 aperture or so and see what results i can get and how blurry they are. 

the experimentation will be valuable and you can learn where your "shake limits" are and what IS does for you.   Also experiment with different apertures and see what that does for depth of field.   especially for complex backgrounds (like the snake shot) you want shallow depth of field to help isolate the subject from the background. 
Quote

I've never tried the multi burst either, i had thought it rather gimmicky for what I've done, perhaps some rethinking is in order!

yea its a tool that has specific benefits in certain situations.   optimizing for camera shake, or even subject movement in some cases,  under slow shutter speeds is one.  Another is capturing the right action shot under high shutter speeds.  not to eliminate blur, but to get a series of shots where you can pick the one where the ball just left the bat, for example, or the expression on the little T-baller's face is priceless, whatever.  one time at disneyland my wife and I were in the car just in front of our daughter and grandson, riding the thunder mountain railway.   I pointed the camera back at them over my shoulder and fired off a series of bursts.   I got one keeper out of like 20 -- blurred background and blurred bodies but sharp (enough) faces, as they moved in response to the car movements.  it was a lucky shot but it worked good enough for our library.  BTW using the burst also means you might have to buy more memory, lol
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Sunny 16 is also a new one to me, ill have to experiment!  I agree, anything I've shot at ISO 400 and lower has kept me happy from a noise perspective.
  well the sunny 16 rule helps you to keep the relationships of light and ISO in your head, but its not a substitute for the metering system in your camera :D .   you can test the rule of course, by confirming what exposure the camera dials up in response to different ISO settings.  Back when cameras with metering systems in them were rare or too expensive, folks would manually expose film by using this rule, particularly if they couldn't afford an external light meter. 
Quote

I rarely use a tripod when out, so im going to have to see just how shaky i am!

depending on your goals and interests, you  might find that with 300mm, a tripod is your friend and you can get the shot you would otherwise not get.  But I agree one needs to learn HH techniques and what your limts are, because no matter how much you would like to have a tripod, they aren't always there and you're in situations where you have to get the shot. Imagine wielding a 500mm f/4 with a 2.0 TC -- thats the equivalent of 1000mm and I've seen some pretty awesome aircraft photos taken handheld with such a combination.  it takes strength, skill and practice.  the most I've done is 500mm + 1.4x chasing bear in Yellowstone.  I found that rocks and tripods were very helpful lol :D

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Re: What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2012, 01:16:14 PM »