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Author Topic: Mirrorless Lens/System for Flying Bird  (Read 3575 times)
EinstStein
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« on: December 28, 2013, 12:44:48 AM »
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Please recommend a mirrorless system and the best lens for taking flying bird.
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PhotoEcosse
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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2013, 04:39:29 AM »
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As in your other, similar, thread, you are asking questions to which there are no simple answers. The idea of a "flying bird" is so broad as to be virtually meaningless. What size is it, what distance is it at, at what speed is it flying, how is it lit, how much of the surrounding environment do you want to include, etc., etc., etc.??

Take this photo of a gannet in flight as an example:



It was taken with a Nikon D3s camera and a Sigma 150-500mm lens at 230mm, ISO was 800 and the exposure 1/1600 sec at F/7.1 and the camera to bird distance was probably about 15 metres with the image being cropped to about 25% of the full frame.

But I could just as easily have taken a similar photo with my Panasonic GX7 mirrorless CSC and the Panny 45-200mm lens (using the viewfinder, of course, not the stupid rear screen!)

At the end of the day, getting pics like that are about being in the right place at the right time, developing your fieldcraft skills and not worrying too much about your equipment. To a very large extent the type of camera is the least of your worries.
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EinstStein
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« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2013, 09:49:14 AM »
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I have considered Canon7D+400mm/f5.6, Olympus E30+75~300mm,  Lumix G5 + 100-300mm, and FZ200. There seems no solution yet in Fujifilm X or Sony Nex. I have also considered Leica Telyt 400mm with any of above cameras.
I then read that Lumix 45-200mm can be just as good if not better than the solution in Canon or Nikon with the similar price and weight, and Canon/Nikon is likely to be easier than Telyt 400mm due to the AF etc.
So I narrowed my choices to mirror-less only. I guess it means M43 or 43 only, not Fuji-X nor Sony Nex, but I'd like confirmation from you experts.

Yes, I understand getting closer to the bird is the most important factor, and it could be frustrating even with the best equipment, but I need to start with something that's reasonable ( to reduce the frustration).
I admire your picture. It's a good confirmation of your comment what a M43+ 250mm is capable of.

Is M43 + Lumix 100-300mm the answer?
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PhotoEcosse
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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2013, 10:13:22 AM »
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Don't forget that the gannet pic was taken on an FX camera with the lens at 230mm.

That's equivalent to using 115mm on an M4/3 camera.

But, if you are going to use an M4/3 (or any mirrorless) camera for moving wildlife, then choose one (such as the GX7) with a very fast autofocus system. There is nothing worse than having to wait for a discernible interval - even one-tenth of a second - after pressing the tit before the exposure is made. A lot of the earlier compact and bridge cameras suffered from shutter lag.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2013, 10:16:28 AM by PhotoEcosse » Logged

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EinstStein
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« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2013, 01:53:33 PM »
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I thought your picture was taken with 230mm and the image size is 25% of FF. That is 230mm on M43.
Anyway, I almost concluded a kit of M43 + 100-300m lens. No?
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PhotoEcosse
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« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2013, 06:51:07 AM »
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I thought your picture was taken with 230mm and the image size is 25% of FF. That is 230mm on M43.
Anyway, I almost concluded a kit of M43 + 100-300m lens. No?

Because flying birds do not fly at predetermined constant distances nor follow parallel straight lines, it is always better to use a lesser focal length of lens and then crop as required - that strategy leaves much more scope for coping with the vagaries of nature (always within any resolution limits placed upon you by the camera sensor and by your intended use of the image, of course). That 100-300 lens you suggest for M4/3 might just be too long at the short end to be useful. I would strongly suggest something like 45-200mm
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stever
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« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2013, 11:34:38 AM »
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having just decided that the gx7 is worth keeping and having tested the 45-150 and again seriously reviewed tests of other telephoto micro 4/3 lenses, I'd say it can be done  -- but with substantially lower success ratio and significantly lower IQ than my Canon 7D and 100-400.  1 -The micro 4/3 cd af is much worse at tracking subjects where distance to the camera is changing.  2 -  micro 4/3 lenses beyond 200mm eff have poor resolution even in the center - except for tame or habituated birds you won't get a lot of shots at less than 200mm.

as I recall, Thom Hogan has some positive comments on the Nikon V2 autofocus adapted to fx lenses from safari experience
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EinstStein
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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2013, 01:30:03 PM »
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According to Canon and Panasonic published MTF, it seems Panasonic 100-300mm out performs Canon 100-400mm.
See here:
 
http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/cameras/ef_lens_lineup/ef_100_400mm_f_4_5_5_6l_is_usm
http://panasonic.net/avc/lumix/systemcamera/gms/lens/g_vario_100_300.html

I have tried Lumix 45-200mm, not long enough for me. Tracking the bird flying route is not my major problem, even at 200mm, but I can't get a clear picture.
I also tried a 500mm, good for sleeping bird, not flying Smiley
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LesPalenik
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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2013, 07:01:31 PM »
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The trick is capturing the bird immediately after the takeoff while it is still flying slow. Also easier on AF.
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wildlightphoto
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« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2013, 06:05:04 AM »
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The trick is capturing the bird immediately after the takeoff while it is still flying slow. Also easier on AF.


Some birds will tell you when they're about to take off.  Mallards will do several quick jerking head-bobs, other Anas ducks stretch their neck to full height… knowing the species and in some cases the individuals goes a long way toward photographic success.
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BJL
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« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2013, 07:22:09 PM »
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To PhotoEcosse, LesPalinek and wildlightphoto,

    many thanks for steering this thread in the forum "Digital Cameras and Shooting Techniques" towards good advice on the latter; validated by the good examples that all three of you have posted from time to time.

This is much more useful to me than being told to solve my problems by buying more new gear, so I would greatly like to read more technique talk and less gear talk around here!
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 07:25:04 PM by BJL » Logged
stever
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2013, 08:03:17 PM »
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This is the first suggestion I can recall that there is a serious connection between manufacturer's published mtf data and performance of lenses delivered to customers (it would indeed be nice if we could completely trust the manufacturers and there were no need for lens tests). 

I don't doubt that the Panny 100-300 can deliver images of wildlife suitable for web viewing or small prints.  I see no evidence in testing that it can deliver 13x19 prints as the Canon 100-400 can.  I am not at all sure if it can deliver usable images of birds in flight. 
 
My experience so far with the gx7 is that there is a combination of burst speed and af settings that may work for action shots with some lenses.  But not all the lenses autofocus equally fast or accurately (I don't think any of the other Panasonic cameras are better).  I'm still skeptical that performance is good enough to deliver a significant number of significant "birds in flight" images.

You say that you can't get a clear picture, but without examples and details of your shooting parameters it's pretty hard to give advice.  There are some very good resources for bird photography, including flight, but I'm not aware of anyone doing it with mirrorless cameras.
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wildlightphoto
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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2013, 08:54:18 PM »
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I don't doubt that the Panny 100-300 can deliver images of wildlife suitable for web viewing or small prints...  I am not at all sure if it can deliver usable images of birds in flight….  There are some very good resources for bird photography, including flight, but I'm not aware of anyone doing it with mirrorless cameras.

I too am skeptical that current-technology mirrorless cameras are suitable for the task.  As currently practiced, BIF is most readily accomplished with a very responsive camera and this isn't the reputation most mirrorless cameras have.  However I am willing to be convinced otherwise.
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MattNQ
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« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2014, 09:27:36 PM »
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Agree that technique is more important than gear.

You can even make an EPL1 manual focussing an old RokkorX 50/1.4 work to get BIF shots if you work at it.  Grin



Admittedly, I'll probably never nail a peregrine falcon diving at full speed with this kit, but for the always entertaining small blue-faced honeyeaters, it worked a treat.

Birding is often more about positioning yourself, knowing your subject & how it takes off/flies/lands etc, having patience to wait & knowing your gear's limitations inside out, rather than what gear you actually have.
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wildlightphoto
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« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2014, 11:32:54 PM »
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Birding is often more about positioning yourself, knowing your subject & how it takes off/flies/lands etc, having patience to wait & knowing your gear's limitations inside out, rather than what gear you actually have.

+1!
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LesPalenik
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« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2014, 09:41:33 PM »
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+2

the attached photo was taken with an inexpensive and light D5100 and 70-300mm, at ISO 200, 155mm and 1/1600s.


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Deep
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« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2014, 02:48:44 AM »
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Micro four thirds is progressing quickly with autofocus.  The hybrid system in the new EM1 is very quick and has quite reasonable tracking ability, only bettered by the more serious DSLRs and not the more basic ones, at least based on my experience.  I tried it today and it is fine with open sky behind but can get confused by branches and the like in the background. 

I also think it could be time to start busting a myth or two.  Not all little lenses are rubbish!  I can't talk about the Panasonic 100-300 but can testify that the Olympus 75-300 MkII is vastly sharper, lighter and better focussing (faster, more accurate, works in very low light) than the venerable Canon 100-400 referred to above.  I used the 100-400 for a few months and concluded it's probably good on a film camera or 35mm frame DSLR but just isn't up to the pixel densities of smaller-sensored bodies, unless you keep it under 250mm, where it's fair.  The Olympus 75-300, on the other hand, was designed for those crammed sensors and is extremely sharp from 75-200mm (150-400efl), sharp on to 240mm (480mm efl) and still usable for some work up to 300mm if you stop down to f7.1, though it lacks some contrast at that extreme.  Times are changing and things will get even better soon when the promised pro-grade long lenses arrive.
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Don
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« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2014, 01:44:22 AM »
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I disagree completely and it is more than a little disingenuous to state that any camera will do, even a mirrorless camera, and then post a picture taken with a $5500 DSLR with a mirror.

I bought my wife a mirrorless camera and its ease of use and small size and light weight have made it a favorite and encouraged her to shoot more. But I have tried shooting with it both on shore and on a boat and it is not even close to providing the performance of a $700 DSLR camera.

One of the first things one learns is how to properly hold a camera and release the shutter to avoid camera motion and that includes bracing the camera. With a mirrorless the camera needs to be held out from the body so there is a lot more camera shake.

I also realized after a few simple tests that the in-camera optical stabilization was completely ineffective with lenses longer than 100mm and there are no OS enabled lenses available for these cameras. There is a reason why Nikon, Canon, and Sigma have all put the OS into the lens and not into their cameras. In-camera OS is severely limited.

There is also the problem of tracking an animal on the screen and having to select the point of focus by touching the screen. This results in a great amount of delay and good luck on tracking anything with a long lens. I tried photographing whales with an Olympus lens at a 150mm focal length and was barely able to get the shots. Anything longer and it was much too difficult to get the animal framed and then point at the place on the screen to select focus and release the shutter.

The mirrorless cameras are a big step up from a point and shoot camera or a smartphone camera but to say that they are the equal of a DSLR for photographing birds in flight is simply wrong. And your point is pointless. Why not show us all your BIF images taken with a mirrorless camera and provide tips on how you managed to work around the camera's deficiencies?
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Deep
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« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2014, 03:45:02 AM »
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I disagree completely and it is more than a little disingenuous to state that any camera will do, even a mirrorless camera, and then post a picture taken with a $5500 DSLR with a mirror.

I bought my wife a mirrorless camera and its ease of use and small size and light weight have made it a favorite and encouraged her to shoot more. But I have tried shooting with it both on shore and on a boat and it is not even close to providing the performance of a $700 DSLR camera.

One of the first things one learns is how to properly hold a camera and release the shutter to avoid camera motion and that includes bracing the camera. With a mirrorless the camera needs to be held out from the body so there is a lot more camera shake.

I also realized after a few simple tests that the in-camera optical stabilization was completely ineffective with lenses longer than 100mm and there are no OS enabled lenses available for these cameras. There is a reason why Nikon, Canon, and Sigma have all put the OS into the lens and not into their cameras. In-camera OS is severely limited.

There is also the problem of tracking an animal on the screen and having to select the point of focus by touching the screen. This results in a great amount of delay and good luck on tracking anything with a long lens. I tried photographing whales with an Olympus lens at a 150mm focal length and was barely able to get the shots. Anything longer and it was much too difficult to get the animal framed and then point at the place on the screen to select focus and release the shutter.

The mirrorless cameras are a big step up from a point and shoot camera or a smartphone camera but to say that they are the equal of a DSLR for photographing birds in flight is simply wrong. And your point is pointless. Why not show us all your BIF images taken with a mirrorless camera and provide tips on how you managed to work around the camera's deficiencies?
I have no idea what camera you refer to but the generalisations don't hold true across the board.  For a start, not all mirrorless cameras need to held away from the body.  Many have viewfinders, some even have brilliant viewfinders.  You use them just like an SLR.

Secondly, your generalisation about in-lens stabilisation being better than in-body is rash and untrue.  I took thousands of photos on an Olympus E3, very many at an effective focal length of 400mm, at low shutter speeds (typically 1/30-1/60) and the in-body stabilisation was tremendously effective.  The Olympus EP1 I also used was less capable but not far behind, maybe needing around a stop more shutter speed.  Later, I moved to Canon and used one of their allegedly most stabilised lenses (the 70-300L) and it was distinctly less effective than the E3 and about the same as the EP1 (but only if I waited about a second for the lens to settle, otherwise it was hopeless).  My current EM1 isn't as good as the E3 with long lenses, or I haven't learnt to use it properly, but is no worse than the Canon system.  At all.  And anyway, many Panasonic lenses have built-in stabilisation.

Thirdly, the system of selecting focus point by touching the screen is an option on some mirrorless models but definitely not the standard setup.  My EM1, for example, can just use the directional keys on the back of the camera to set the focus point (easy to use with eye to viewfinder) just like an SLR.  You can also choose a group of points, all points, single point or tiny point.  Tracking behaviour is better than cheap SLRs and not as good as very expensive SLRs.  So, sure, it's not going to track birds in flight as well as a 1DX (unless the bird is against a clear background) but it is much better than something like a 60D.  A Nikon V1 is supposed to track well too.  You just can't generalise like that!
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Don
PhotoEcosse
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« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2014, 04:49:33 AM »
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I have no idea what camera you refer to but the generalisations don't hold true across the board.  For a start, not all mirrorless cameras need to held away from the body.  Many have viewfinders, some even have brilliant viewfinders.  You use them just like an SLR.

Secondly, your generalisation about in-lens stabilisation being better than in-body is rash and untrue.  I took thousands of photos on an Olympus E3, very many at an effective focal length of 400mm, at low shutter speeds (typically 1/30-1/60) and the in-body stabilisation was tremendously effective.  The Olympus EP1 I also used was less capable but not far behind, maybe needing around a stop more shutter speed.  Later, I moved to Canon and used one of their allegedly most stabilised lenses (the 70-300L) and it was distinctly less effective than the E3 and about the same as the EP1 (but only if I waited about a second for the lens to settle, otherwise it was hopeless).  My current EM1 isn't as good as the E3 with long lenses, or I haven't learnt to use it properly, but is no worse than the Canon system.  At all.  And anyway, many Panasonic lenses have built-in stabilisation.

Thirdly, the system of selecting focus point by touching the screen is an option on some mirrorless models but definitely not the standard setup.  My EM1, for example, can just use the directional keys on the back of the camera to set the focus point (easy to use with eye to viewfinder) just like an SLR.  You can also choose a group of points, all points, single point or tiny point.  Tracking behaviour is better than cheap SLRs and not as good as very expensive SLRs.  So, sure, it's not going to track birds in flight as well as a 1DX (unless the bird is against a clear background) but it is much better than something like a 60D.  A Nikon V1 is supposed to track well too.  You just can't generalise like that!

It's horses for courses but the latest mirrorless CSCs do give you a wide range of options in relation to shooting style.

For preference, if weight and bulk were not an issue, I would use one of my Nikon dSLRs for shooting birds in flight.

But, when weight and bulk becomes an issue, I can get very satisfactory  photographs with my Panasonic GX7 and a Panasonic 45-200mm lens using the viewfinder (of course) and the in-lens optical stabilisation.
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