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Author Topic: Any wildlifer , need help dof telephoto  (Read 5439 times)
andre b
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« on: May 07, 2013, 08:26:11 PM »
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Hi all I've been trying to figure out how to get decent dof from ground level shooting wildlife, any advice from an experience photographer would help
I shoot with a 300mm f4 af-s with 1.4 tc since a couple months.. , I most of the times shoot at f5.6 to get faster shutter speed  low iso and to isolate my subject better or keep distracting background off,
But this winter when I was shooting otters coming out of holes on the ice I've noticed that at f/5.6 when I had the otter eyes perfectly in focus sometimes the nose wasnt or is legs and when I had is legs and nose in focus the eyes werent... I know that telephoto have a very shallow depth of field but thats shallower than shallower .
I've tried to correct myself since then but even when I carnk my fstops to 8 or 11... it doesnt do much difference..
This afternoon I was shooting loons from ground level  when i've noticed than both loons were going to be close together  ( ive crank up my iso ) and put my f/stops to f/11 to make sure the two were going to be in focus ....
both loons got practicaly beek to beek (forming a hearth) ...but one loon head was a couple inches further (maybe 2 or 3 max ) from the other one.
Well I screwd up again.... one loon ( the one closer (the one that I've focused on )) was perfectly sharp while the other wasnt in perfect focus.
and in extra I got the distracting background more visible Sad
I should have just let it at f5.6

Its been a recurring theme for me when there is many animals and I try to get them all  or isolate 2 in focus !!

I've tried not to crank it to f16 or f22 since people say it cause diffraction especially since I have a crop sensor and try not to boost my iso more than 1000.
And I think it wouldnt do much since (at ground level)  changing from f 5.6 to f11 dont do much difference ( maybe an inch)

People tell me that teleconverter makes that problem (really shallow dof) worst
but I dont have the money to buy a 500mm or more

somebody has a tip ? it would be really appreciated
I love shooting wildlife but not being able to shoot more than one subject at a time even when they are almost exactly at the same distance from me is such a let down ....

ther must be a way to makes things better Huh... how do you guys cope with that I need help from experienced photographer I've read many many , articles on dof and telephoto ... but none was adressing THIS particular problem!
thank you very much
thank you
« Last Edit: May 07, 2013, 08:29:40 PM by andre b » Logged
elf
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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2013, 09:18:31 PM »
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Sounds like you need a tilt/shift lens Smiley

p.s.  There are quite a few online DOF calculators that will tell you what to expect at any particular aperture and subject distance.
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fike
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« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2013, 09:49:20 PM »
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I have two comments:
1) welcome to the push-pull of tradeoffs in wildlife photography. The compromises you describe are typical. You have to learn to cope despite these constraints. Further, don't hesitate to shoot high ISO and narrow apertures. On a cropped camera I will go as far as f/11 or even occasionally higher. If your composition demands more depth of field you will need to compromise and accept more diffraction. Don't put artificial constraints on settings you will use. Flog your camera with every setting to find what works.
2) have you checked to ensure your camera's focus is calibrated. You may be back or front focusing slightly and this could complicate your efforts to modulate depth of field.
3) don't get overly fixated on having everything in perfect focus. It can be fine to only have one thing in perfect focus, though it better be the most important thing.

Yes, yes, I know that was three things. Here's a fourth. Great telephoto work frequently demands great gear. I don't frequently fall back on the crutch that more expensive is better, but with wildlife work, there is a price of admission and it is high.
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LesPalenik
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« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2013, 09:57:52 PM »
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Quote
both loons got practicaly beek to beek (forming a hearth) ...but one loon head was a couple inches further (maybe 2 or 3 max ) from the other one.
Well I screwd up again.... one loon ( the one closer (the one that I've focused on )) was perfectly sharp while the other wasnt in perfect focus.
and in extra I got the distracting background more visible
I've seen the very shallow DOF occasionally also in my photographs. I think, what's happening is that the lens is front focusing, but you still get the front loon in focus. Maybe barely, but just enough. However, the farther loon is already outside of DOF, so it won't be sharp.

Try an experiment with three staggered cans with some text labels. Focus on the middle one, and check the results. There is a good chance that the first two will be in focus and the one in the back is already outside of DOF.
Then focus on the farthest can and repeat the experiment. If you get all three cans or first two in focus, then your lens is front focusing.

 
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David Sutton
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« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2013, 10:05:54 PM »
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There's no secret formula. You are balancing shutter speed, f stop and iso. 
If you want more DOF you may just need to go to f16 or f22. I find I can recover most of the detail lost due to diffraction with careful sharpening (mild deconvolution followed my usual sharpening routine). Try it for yourself and decide which is worse: some loss of focus or some loss of detail.
Since DOF is greater behind the focus point than in front of it, if you have two subjects one behind the other, you could also try focussing on a point roughly one third into the distance between the two.
I always try to get the subject parallel to the plane of the sensor. Otherwise the images generally get thrown out.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2013, 03:07:27 AM »
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Andre you been given some pretty sound advice.
It is absolutely a trade-off.
Also stopping down the aperture on super telephoto lenses has rather a minor effect on DOF (depending on distance from the camera to focusing point, of course).
Whether shooting at f-stops of f11 or higher is worthwhile is a horses-for-courses type of judgement - only you know whether the result is worth it given the higher ISO or slower shutter speed required, and, whether the post-processing loop-de-loops subsequently required to deal with noise and diffraction issues (both issues reduce visible detail) are for you or not.
Are good results possible? Yes, Is it easy? No.

In reality I am reasonably sure that most individuals will usually be looking to shoot at maximum aperture most of the time with a high shutter speed and the lowest possible ISO they can get away with.
(It is true that image quality with many late model cameras is extraordinary at rather high ISO's compared with even four years ago, but nothing can fix image blur from too slow a shutter speed.)
Hopefully your camera/lens combination is not front or back focusing because that can be an issue with such narrow DOF as already mentioned.

BTW the DOF is a function of effective focal length, 420mm in your case (300 X 1.4), and, aperture, and the distance from the camera to the focusing point.
(There are many resources on the web that have tables detailing the DOF according to these parameters as well as DOF calculators using the same parameters.)
So, anyone who tells you that the tele-extender is the issue and that you should buy a 500mm f4.0 instead is plain wrong.
The issue with tele-extenders is the loss of a stop of light (f4.0 to f5.6) at maximum aperture for the 1.4 and two stops of light (f4.0 to f6.3) at maximum aperture for the 2.0 tele-extenders.
This can also have ramifications with focusing systems.

Tony Jay
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stever
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2013, 08:44:09 AM »
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you should micro-adjust the combination of lens and extender to make sure the camera is focusing where it's supposed to - the combination of lens and extender may (or may not) significantly back or front focus.  maybe anecdotally, my 300 f4 was pretty soft with a 1.4X (i tried a couple copies) - noticeably worse than the 100-400.  if you're using a body that  doesn't micro-adjust you may be somewhat out of luck.

in general, you are rarely going to get 2 birds in focus, but if the eyes and beak of the nearest bird are in focus then the softness of the second bird is tolerable (but not the other way round) - it's critical to place focus where you want it
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2013, 09:20:21 AM »
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I've tried not to crank it to f16 or f22 since people say it cause diffraction especially since I have a crop sensor and try not to boost my iso more than 1000.
And I think it wouldnt do much since (at ground level)  changing from f 5.6 to f11 dont do much difference ( maybe an inch)

Why not try f/16 or f/22? Image quality is subjective and always a trade off. I certainly would not base my photography on hearsay. The benefits of the extra DoF may be more important than the increase in diffraction. And it is amazing what unsharp masking can do.
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2013, 09:38:11 AM »
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Why not try f/16 or f/22?

Hi,

Because the background detail becomes a distraction.

Cheers,
Bart
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2013, 12:19:43 PM »
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Hi,

Because the background detail becomes a distraction.

Cheers,
Bart

And exactly how do you know this? And this would be true for every possible situation?
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NancyP
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« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2013, 04:35:55 PM »
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Another possibility is to set up a good hide or floating hide and wait for your larger subjects to show. With luck they may come close enough that you could use the 300mm f/4 bare at f/11 or so. I can get fine pictures of mallard duck or Canada goose pairs at the local park, using a 200mm lens and f/8 or f/11 aperture, but these birds are accustomed to lurking around picnic tables, waiting for the humans to leave so they can dash in and get the last crumbs. At least none of these park birds have come right up to me and nipped my leg if I don't have food. Hey! You! Where's the food?
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andre b
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« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2013, 07:40:40 PM »
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Hi everybody and thank you very much for all your advices you guys are great

I did a lot of test today and I can confirm what Tony Jay  said:Also stopping down the aperture on super telephoto lenses has rather a minor effect on DOF (depending on distance from the camera to focusing point, of course)

I have tried stopping down my lens till f36 and even for subject of about  50 feet away I couldnt even get 1 meter of focus (in front and back of focus point)

Ive tested also to see if my lens had front or back focus issues with the three staggered can trick from LesPalenik  I was 10 feet away from the cans and they were approximately a feet away from each other and everytime I took a shot the only can that was in perfect focus was the one that I 've focused on till f22... I havent tried further than that since it would be almost impossible to get great picture at f/36 f/45 anyways
And I forgot to mention yesterday I tried focusing on both loons one after the other and each time only the one ive focused on was perfectly sharp.

I havent tried calibration/fine tuning since the picture I get are very sharp from my point of view and even comparing to what pro gets  they are perfectly fine... But i've read about it and I know that in the future I will need to do it since its the way to go to have perfectly calibrated lens. But for right now my hands are pretty full learning photography itself /my camera body cnx2, lightroom, nik dfine/sharpener and photoshop next .... etc ...

I dont really like the idea of putting my fstops to f/16 or f/22 since I really dont like boosting my iso more than 800-1000 on crop sensor more than that  if the lightning conditions are dark it  needs noise reduction and its just another trade-off for sharpness  and another step too much in the workflow
I feel like till IsO 800 when condition are bright enough you dont need to reduce noise ...
Also sometimes you get distracting backgrounds that pretty much ruin you photo but not in all situations
and anyways It wouldnt have done much for the pictures I took yesterday it would only have made my second subject sharper but doubt it would have made it perfectly sharp has where I focused

I've watch a lot of work from great wildlife photographer and noticed that everytime they were shooting with a telephoto  from ground level /animal eye level they rarely have more than one subject in great focus unless both are very very close together , the only time they have many subjects in focus with telephoto you can see that they were very far away .

So there is no other way around ....  mid range  or wide angles lenses and get very very close or telephoto and  shoot very very far if you want to capture many subject very sharp at different distances from ground level ..or last but not least get a full frame crank that f/stop and iso like crazy


thank you very much everybody  you are great !
« Last Edit: May 08, 2013, 08:27:05 PM by andre b » Logged
Ellis Vener
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« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2013, 10:20:12 PM »
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"I've tried ...not to boost my iso more than 1000."

What camera? With a few cameras ISO 10,000 , 12,800 and even 25,600 yield great results (I speak of the Canon EOS 1D X, 5D Mark III and Nikon D3s and D4) although you might want to carefully adjust both the noise reduction settings and capture sharpening settings carefully in your raw processor of choice depending on how large you'll print and on the print media's surface.
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« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2013, 01:05:32 AM »
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If you are trying to learn with a mis-focusing lens you are in for frustrating times. You might even misinterpret things leading to bad habits. Do yourself a favor and check your lenses are working properly. It's very easy, put a measuring stick out at 45 degrees to the lens, put a black line on white paper or something similar to focus on. Check the ruler beside the line in your shots to see how far you are off if any.
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stever
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« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2013, 10:25:21 AM »
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with a little help from LR4, i consider most images from the 7D printable to ISO 1600 and ISO 6400 with the 5D3.  you really don't get a depth of field benefit from FF as f11 crop frame has about the same dof as f16 FF both about the smallest apertures before diffraction gets serious. 

with your combination of 300IS and 1.4x (iii i hope) i doubt you'll see a difference in sharpness between f8 and f11 (both sharper than f5.6) - but then the reason that the majority of wildlife images are taken with large apertures is not to control dof, but simply there isn't enough light in the early morning, late afternoon, and shade when and where you most often find activity - and/or the shutter requirements to stop action.  the high ISO capability of the latest FF cameras are an enormous benefit for wildlife photography
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andre b
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« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2013, 08:33:29 PM »
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OK, Thanks for the tip fine art ill try.
For the rest I think we are getting out of line here a little and its my fault  
I talked too much

THE REAL QUESTIONS here IS
1-Im just saying take a 400 mm lens or 300mm with a tc 1.4
2-put 2 ducks (or other subject) in your frame close enough to cover at least 1/3 of the frame (with the ducks)
3-both ducks 1 foot away from each other or even a little bit closer (one further back from the other)
4-shoot from (duck)eye level ( belly flat on the ground )
5-focus on any of the ducks or in between
Can you achieve PERFECT FOCUS on both ducks?
 If so id like to see an example (with any subject) and to know at what f/stop did you achieve this!

But I think Tony Jay answered my question pretty well  he stated ''Also stopping down the aperture on super telephoto lenses has rather a minor effect on DOF (depending on distance from the camera to focusing point, of course).''

No I dont shoot with a d4
I shoot with a d7000.... so thats why I try to keep my ISO low
yes 1600 can be allright on many situations  but I try to keep my ISO low so I that I have less work in front of the computer(post/noise reduction)
and more time shooting or doing something else.

Sorry If I confused you with my question
 english is not my first language
« Last Edit: May 10, 2013, 08:43:47 PM by andre b » Logged
LesPalenik
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« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2013, 09:14:36 PM »
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One foot distance between the two ducks, shot with a 400-600mm makes it impossible to get both ducks in focus. The effective DOF is only a few inches (less than 10cm).

Here is a shot of two ducks one foot apart with a FF camera and a 500mm lens:


The male is sharp, but the female is soft (as it should be).

If you can get closer and shoot at 200mm or less, the DOF will be larger.
Or try to position yourself (or the models) so, that the birds are almost in equal distance from you.
Here is a shot I took with D5100 (same sensor as D7000) and 70-300mm lens at 5.6, ISO 400, 1/320s. The left bird stands actually farther but when it leans forward, it gets slightly closer. I got the eyes of both birds pretty much in focus, and the beak of the right bird is sharp as well, but the beak of the left bird is about one inch closer, and it is already soft.
 







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« Last Edit: May 14, 2013, 09:28:56 PM by LesPalenik » Logged

andre b
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« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2013, 05:18:35 PM »
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thank you very much sir , I love the owl shot !
 i've also heard that having a teleconverter also worsten this effect (shallower depth of field)
like having a 300mm with a 2x at f8 tele is worst
than having a 600mm at f8
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NancyP
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« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2013, 05:37:36 PM »
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Thanks
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2013, 11:45:57 PM »
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... i've also heard that having a teleconverter also worsten this effect (shallower depth of field)
like having a 300mm with a 2x at f8 tele is worst
than having a 600mm at f8...

No Andre, like I have already said the effective focal length determines DOF, all else being equal of course.
So 600mm does equal 300 mm X 2.
However sometimes the optical quality of a 2X tele-extender may not really up to scratch and so the overall result can be a bit soft but this is completely different issue.
I elected not to buy a 2X tele-extender but went for a 1.4 instead.
Canon has since brought out a newer mark and things may have changed but it is clear that making a 2X tele-extender calls for some optical gymnastics and sometimes less than palatable trade-offs.

Tony Jay
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