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Thread: Advice sought for nature shoot - tele lens queries

  1. #1
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    Default Advice sought for nature shoot - tele lens queries

    Hi, currently expanding my photography exploration/learning curve to shoot nature. I owe a Tokina 300mm/F4 lens (Internal Focusing) and was inspired during the recent Singapore Dragon Boat Festival 2004 by the great tele-photo range of this lens. So decided to go into nature photography.

    Have tried a Teleplus 2X teleconvertor on top of my 300mm lens to give a 600mm (or 900mm for my DSLR) reach though the image softens and the f stop increases by 2.

    It's been frustrating though with above setup I still find my targets (birds, lizards, roving animals) to be too small for overall composition consideration. Currently considering either prime or Sigma 50-500mm lens but in my opinion, 600mm is not enough so does it mean that I needed > 1000mm reach to venture into this area?

    Wonder if nature photographers here can give me (newbie) tips on the area of nature photography and what lens to recommend (is my current lens+setup good enough)? Any interesting sidetrackings (but still relevant to nature photography) is definitely welcome here and expand the knowledges of those interested in this realm of photography.

  2. #2

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    Nature photography in itself is a large area. Which part of it are you looking at? Birds? Animals? Flora and fauna?

    I am no nature photog, but from what I have observed, a 300mm is more than sufficient to take to the zoo for most of the shots. If you want to take birds seriously (wild birds, not those @ JBP), the standard setup is a 500f4 or 600f4 with 1.4x TC. Take note that with this setup, you will need a stable tripod and support.

    Of course, you can make do with a 50-500 or a 400mm f5.6 but generally there is a large gap in quality (and price) between lenses that are 400-500 f5.6-6.3 and 500-600 f4.

  3. #3

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    Hi crazypaladin,

    Have got a 400 f5.6 myself and during a recent trial run still find it very "short" for wild birds... if you check out the 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year' portfolios (available in the libraries), you will find gremlin's comments to be true, most shots are from a 500 or 600 plus 1.4x or 2x TCs!!!

    You can check out www.naturephotosociety.org.sg for some awesome pixs by our local photogs.

    Cheers!
    Last edited by Iceman27; 23rd June 2004 at 12:00 PM. Reason: Typo error

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    Hi crazypaladin,

    For nature photography, other than the lens itself there are certain points you have to note in order to get a shot. If not, even the longest lens also cannot make it.

    1) Get up early. Birds are known to feed in the cool of the day and so you need to get up really early to catch them. Alernatively, they fly back in the late afternoon or evening.

    2) Know their habits. Knowing their habits allows you to get close to the subject. This overcomes the limitation of your lens and allows you to get the shot. It will also allow you to move to a position to wait for them to arrive. Remember to conceal yourself.

    3) Patience. Local wild birds tend to be shy of humans so you will need a lot of patience. This will allow the birds to perceive you as not a threat and move closer for you to shoot.

    4) Love nature. When you love it, you will appreciete and find out more about it. Then you will also find ways to shoot it.

    5) Lastly is the equipment. Typically 400mm onwards. But I have seen people make do with 300mm + TC for excellant results.

    Just some points to share. I am sure the rest of the gang will be able to provide even better points here!

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    Agree with Zplus. patience can help you overcome the FL limit to certain extend. I've seen a CSnapper took a nice sunbird picture with his 180mm macro lens. The sigma 50-500 is quite a popular long lens among birders which doesn't burn a hole in your pocket.

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    i wuz reading some tips from pop photography. yup, most wildlife photogs use a teleconverter on top of their 300, 400, 500mm etc lens. of course, they also recommend a tripod to steady your cams. another interesting tip from the pros in the mag - shoot early in the day becos the insects and birds are not 'warmed up' yet. so their reactions are slower. dunno how true izit, as me not into nature shooting.
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Thanks for all the tips! I have monitored this thread and waited for days before the comments/tips come in but they are all worth waiting for!

    Do not want to start a poll here but would like to find out what is the minimum reach for comfortable nature photography?

    Is F8 and smaller the typical aperture settings used to ensure sharp pictures? I owed a sigma 28-300mm and at its 300mm end, the sharpness is simply not there even at F11! But my Tamron 100-300mm F4 at F7.1 offers good trade off between sharpness and shutter speed.

    As the birds are normally under the shades of leaves, and they are not those quiet stay-in-one place kind of bird, at F8 and smaller, we are forced to use slower shutter speed, how to overcome this kind of situation?

    Read somewhere in this forum that for every 100mm, the actual distance for reasonable sizeness on the picture is about 10m (or 15m for DSLR). What is your working range then? Does this rule holds?

    Sorry for asking so much questions cos I am eager to venture into this field but sadly very little (other than galleries and pictures) is covered about this area in this forum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crazypaladin
    It's been frustrating though with above setup I still find my targets (birds, lizards, roving animals) to be too small for overall composition consideration.
    Have you tried using a extension tube and move in closer to a nearer position to give a tighter crop....?

    Got to know about this method a couple of years back.....so wondering if this would be an alternative......if minimum focus distance is okay to be shorter....ie....nearer to subject.....but risk frightening it away.....

    e.g ... http://kenmcvayphoto.clymbers.com/ar...siontubes.html

    rgds.
    sulhan
    Last edited by sulhan; 23rd June 2004 at 07:07 PM.

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    Thanks guys for all the tips!

    Any advice for which tripod to get? I am confused by the varieties and I am currently using a cheapo tripod that is not stable as most of my photos suffered from shakes...

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    Default Sharing on Tripod

    There are no hard and fast rules but a good general guide is the weight of your setup and construction of the tripod.

    Weight setup - the tripod must be able to take the weight of your photo equipment. For me, I add about 2 kg to the total weight of my equipment and get a correspondingly rated tripod for that weight class. However, I would try my best to cut down the weight of the tripod by experimenting with modern tripod materials like carbon graphite (I wish they make one out of titanium!!)

    Tripod construction - the wider the tripod legs, the more stable. However, there should be a balance between the span of the legs and the space constraints of your shoot location. Another issue to consider would be that the tripod brand should have optional accessories to convert your tripod leg ends to aid anchorage of the legs to the different ground conditions on the field.

    Hope that helps......

  11. #11

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    To solve your camera shake problems, here are 3 solutions:

    (1) get IS/VR lens
    (2) use mirror lockup
    (3) Get a solid ballhead. Arca Swiss B-1 or Markins M-20.


    You can always stack converters with a 300 f/4 prime and get decent results. Again, expectations may vary. What may be an ok result for one may be unsatisfactory for another.

    Carbon graphite is far superior to titanium for use in a tripod.

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    Quote Originally Posted by erwinx
    To solve your camera shake problems, here are 3 solutions:

    (1) get IS/VR lens
    (2) use mirror lockup
    (3) Get a solid ballhead. Arca Swiss B-1 or Markins M-20.


    You can always stack converters with a 300 f/4 prime and get decent results. Again, expectations may vary. What may be an ok result for one may be unsatisfactory for another.

    Carbon graphite is far superior to titanium for use in a tripod.
    Thanks for the advice. Anyway, I think D70 does not offer mirror lockup feature...

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