Site Sponsors
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 50 of 61

Thread: MF for wildlife photography?

  1. #1
    Member Nik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    MF for wildlife photography?

    Hello guys!

    This is going to be my first post here though I have been enjoying reading this forum on a dialy basis for the last several weeks. I mostly shoot wildlife and was wondering if you can recommend the best digital MF system for my purpose. Two things are critical for me: first, I need the longest autofocusing glass possible to be able not to disturb the birds/animals, and the second one - I need the biggest number of Mpx to produce very large prints (which is the main reason I am considering MF). As of today I shoot with D3X/D3 + 200VR, 300VR, 200-400VR, 600VR. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated. Below are some of the pics I took in Africa, but if you are interested to see more you are welcome to check out my website at www.nikzinoviev.com

    Cheers, Nik





















  2. #2
    Super Duper
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Royal Oak, MI and Palm Harbor, FL
    Posts
    8,498
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    44

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Horses for courses.

    IMO, stick with what you have, there are no MF lenses with that reach that anyone other than the Sultan of Brunei could afford, and they are generally much heavier and slower focusing than their 35mm counterparts ... and none of them have IS or VR.

    Now a case could be made to supplement your 35 gear with a MFD camera and a few select lenses for specific applications. In that case I'd suggest a Focal Plane camera like the Phase One 645DF with either a Phase One or Leaf digital back and a couple of the newer digital lenses. Personally, I think the Leaf Aptus-II 10 digital back could be an interesting choice for wide vistas with less distortion to add a counter point to your long lens 35mm work.

    http://www.leaf-photography.com/file..._datasheet.pdf

    -Marc
    Last edited by fotografz; 17th March 2010 at 01:31.

  3. #3
    Super Duper
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    3,623
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    I am really not sure if I would want to recommend MF for wildlife. Maybe as a combination, like the DSLR for really long reach and the MF for landscape and medium reach.
    I would think that MF is just too slow, heavy, noisy at higher ISO plus much of the MF equipment is not weather sealed.
    For the images where you dont need tomuch reach, where you have time and where you have enough light MF could work very well.

  4. #4
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    carstenw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Berlin, Germany
    Posts
    2,530
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Fantastic images! I don't see why you want to change anything, to be honest?

    600mm in 135 is equivalent to about 930mm in MF, and there is very little in that length, and nothing with AF, to my knowledge. 400mm would be about 620mm, and the same holds there. Even if such fast, modern, sharp AF lenses existed, they would likely be f/5.6 or f/8, be huge, and weigh three tonnes.

    The longest MF lenses that I am aware of are either in the 350mm or 500mm, and even those are rare. The longest current Hasselblad H appears to be the 300/4.5. There appears to be a Mamiya APO 500mm f/4.5, but perhaps more interesting is the APO 300mm f/2.8 which is designed to be used with a 2x teleconverter, for a 600mm f/5.6:

    http://www.calumetphoto.com/item/MA1228/

    Price: $12000...

    Do you really need lenses so long? Your photos remind me somewhat of colour versions of Nick Brandt's work, and he uses a Pentax 67 II with 55, 105 and 200mm lenses, and just drives very close to the animals. Wouldn't a similar strategy work for you?
    Carsten - Website

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Austria
    Posts
    86
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Awesome images, can´t see why you are looking for something else!!! You definitley already have the best tools for this kind of work.

    Philipp
    Philipp Derganz Photography
    Fotograf Wien Österreich

  6. #6
    Member Nik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Horses for courses.

    IMO, stick with what you have, there are no MF lenses with that reach that anyone other than the Sultan of Brunei could afford, and they are generally much heavier and slower focusing than their 35mm counterparts ... and none of them have IS or VR.

    Now a case could be made to supplement your 35 gear with a MFD camera and a few select lenses for specific applications. In that case I'd suggest a Focal Plane camera like the Phase One 645DF with either a Phase One or Leaf digital back and a couple of the newer digital lenses. Personally, I think the Leaf Aptus-II 10 digital back could be an interesting choice for wide vistas with less distortion to add a counter point to your long lens 35mm work.

    http://www.leaf-photography.com/file..._datasheet.pdf

    -Marc
    Marc,

    Thanks you very much for taking time to answer!

    Here is a short story of my evolution: when I got Nikon D3 in the 4th Q 2008 (which was one of the first ones in Russia) I was very happy and thought it was "the ultimate" wildlife photographers' camera (and may be it is, please read on ). Great high ISO performance, impressive FPS (especially so after I doubled its buffer) together with the best (IMHO) autofocusing system. About 6 months ago and after many doubts I pulled the trigger and purchased D3X. It seemed a very crazy move at a time - less than 2 fps in 14 bit NEF mode, weaker performance in high ISO + the price wasn't helping (in Russia it was selling at almost $10K) ... But when I opened a 24Mp file of a lion cub portrait taken on the early morning in Masai Mara and looked at it at 100% - I almost fell from the chair ... So over the last 6 months I was shooting D3X 90% of the time. About a week ago I gave my D3 as a present to another wildife photographer, whose camera gear was stolen. So now I shoot 100% with D3X (have D300 + the grip as a back-up). I like the quality and the detail of the D3X file at 100 ISO so much, that I changed my shooting style and strategy so that high ISO and FPS do not matter to me that much anymore. I love the A3 and A2 prints from D3X. But enlarging above that level I start losing fine detail ... The more I develop as a photographer the more I go into the direction of quality/detail/large prints rather then conviniences of the system I use. That is the reason why I started thinking about medium format. I realize that 600MM in medium format is wishful thinking rather then reality. However there's a borderline minimum focal length that I can't overcome ... and to me it is 300мм. If I can build a system that will give me at least 300mm (in 35mm terms), I will be able to take the next step and improve the end result in my photography - the print. If not, then you are right - I might as well stick to the current gear and wait 2-3 years until Nikon/Canon come up with more Mpx sensor in DSLR body (does anyone know when that is going to happen? - kidding ). All of the above is just some background info to let you know how things developed.

    Where would be the best place to find sample full res files taken with Leaf Aptus-II 10 digital back?

  7. #7
    Member Nik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by t_streng View Post
    I am really not sure if I would want to recommend MF for wildlife. Maybe as a combination, like the DSLR for really long reach and the MF for landscape and medium reach.
    I would think that MF is just too slow, heavy, noisy at higher ISO plus much of the MF equipment is not weather sealed.
    For the images where you dont need tomuch reach, where you have time and where you have enough light MF could work very well.
    I see. Thank you for your reply!

  8. #8
    Super Duper
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Manchester/Jerusalem
    Posts
    2,652
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    290

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Sounds like the new Pentax D645 would be right up your street. They have a 600mm if I'm not mistaken.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

  9. #9
    Member Nik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Fantastic images! I don't see why you want to change anything, to be honest?

    600mm in 135 is equivalent to about 930mm in MF, and there is very little in that length, and nothing with AF, to my knowledge. 400mm would be about 620mm, and the same holds there. Even if such fast, modern, sharp AF lenses existed, they would likely be f/5.6 or f/8, be huge, and weigh three tonnes.

    The longest MF lenses that I am aware of are either in the 350mm or 500mm, and even those are rare. The longest current Hasselblad H appears to be the 300/4.5. There appears to be a Mamiya APO 500mm f/4.5, but perhaps more interesting is the APO 300mm f/2.8 which is designed to be used with a 2x teleconverter, for a 600mm f/5.6:

    http://www.calumetphoto.com/item/MA1228/

    Price: $12000...

    Do you really need lenses so long? Your photos remind me somewhat of colour versions of Nick Brandt's work, and he uses a Pentax 67 II with 55, 105 and 200mm lenses, and just drives very close to the animals. Wouldn't a similar strategy work for you?
    Thanks a lot for the kind words re my images! Currently the minimum focal length I use with Nikon is 200mm, but it would be less then 10% of my images, I believe. Going below 300mm limits my shooting to the animals that can tolerate very close approach (mostly big predators) and makes bird photography close to impossible This would work only if I start hiding the camera, waiting for the animal/bird to approach and triggering it from a distance. Thanks for mentioning Mamiya APO 500mm f/4.5 and APO 300mm f/2.8 - I will try to find some information about their performance.

  10. #10
    Member Nik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Felipe View Post
    Awesome images, can´t see why you are looking for something else!!! You definitley already have the best tools for this kind of work.

    Philipp

    Philipp, thanks for your post. Please, don't get me wrong - I love my gear and on a big scheme of things after using it for several years in the field I can say - is it "as good as it gets" for me. The only thing it can't currently give me - high resolution images to print large size gallery prints without losing quality. I tried upresing using various software instruments ... Some pics hold it pretty well - some don't. There is so much fine detail to be shown in these pictures. That was the reason why I started thinking that maybe MF can help me get higher res files without loosing the quality.

  11. #11
    Member Nik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Sounds like the new Pentax D645 would be right up your street. They have a 600mm if I'm not mistaken.
    Thank you! I will check this lens. The new D645 is a very interesting proposition to the top DSLR user market, can't wait to see the full res files posted by someone on the web.

  12. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    109
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Beautiful work Nik, you shouldn't change a thing!

    Nick Bradnt shoots 'fine art wildlife' on a Pentax 67 so it can be done. He must be real close though (scary close) as some images seem quite wide.
    Although there is a 600mm for the 67, but thats a world of difference from your nikons ergonomics!

    http://www.adorama.com/US%20%20%20%20356436.html

    Its film of course but he prints quite large, over 40 inch on the short side for some images which shows how big medium format film can go if done well.

    http://www.nickbrandt.com/index.cfm

    As mentioned by Ben, the 'not yet available' Pentax 645D would be a great option for what you want to do, its a weather sealed tough body so will help keep the dust out. Pentax also have some long lenses for the 645 format which i don't think are available from Hassy etc..

    But again, you seem to be doing quite well with what you've got!

  13. #13
    Member Nik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron View Post
    Beautiful work Nik, you shouldn't change a thing!

    Nick Bradnt shoots 'fine art wildlife' on a Pentax 67 so it can be done. He must be real close though (scary close) as some images seem quite wide.
    Although there is a 600mm for the 67, but thats a world of difference from your nikons ergonomics!

    http://www.adorama.com/US%20%20%20%20356436.html

    Its film of course but he prints quite large, over 40 inch on the short side for some images which shows how big medium format film can go if done well.

    http://www.nickbrandt.com/index.cfm

    As mentioned by Ben, the 'not yet available' Pentax 645D would be a great option for what you want to do, its a weather sealed tough body so will help keep the dust out. Pentax also have some long lenses for the 645 format which i don't think are available from Hassy etc..

    But again, you seem to be doing quite well with what you've got!
    Aaron, thank you very much for this useful information. Lot's of food for thought!

  14. #14
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Lyon, France
    Posts
    225
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    49

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    I do agree with everybody : wonderful photos !

    Anyway, there is a parameter that could helps a move toward MF : large pixel count !

    If you have a 300 mm + 1.7 converter = 500 mm. It's 300 mm in 35.
    But if you shoot with a 50 MP or a 60 MF digital back, you have a "600 plus" mm from you D3X.

    But, as everybody told you : it's heavy, not fast, no waterproof ... Maybe the new Pentax could be a good option for you ?

  15. #15
    Super Duper
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Royal Oak, MI and Palm Harbor, FL
    Posts
    8,498
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    44

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    The Hasselblad 300/4.5 can be coupled with the 1.7X to deliver a 510mm field-of-view X the crop factor of 1.1X = 561mm with little to no loss of detail ... but, with the 1.7X the AF is disabled due to the f/7.6 max aperture. The H cameras only use leaf shutter lenses to 1/800th ... which IMO are not suited for wild life photography like you do.

    I will say that your motivations are backed up by my own experiences having used a D3X as well a MFD 39 meg camera. When you go big prints, there is no comparison ... even using Genuine Fractals on the D3X files or other software like that.

    Tele view: depending on which MF digital back you look at, you always can crop to get to the really tight field-of-view ... a full frame 645 P65+ cropped by 50% is still 30 meg. and doesn't suffer from AA filtration image softening like a CMOS DSLR does. For 645 Mamiya made a 300/2.8 APO, 300/5.6 and 500mm APO. Currently, there is the Mamiya 300/4.5 IF APO:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._APO_LENS.html

    On a 1.3X crop P40+ camera, that 300 would be an effective 390mm field of view at 40 meg. Crop in on that image by 1/3 and you still have a 27 meg image that's larger than a full frame 35mm DSLR file, without AA filtration.

    I believe that Pentax 600/4 mentioned is for the 6X7 camera and it is a beast (there is also a 800/4, 800/6.7). Do not know yet whether a Pentax 67 lens can be adapted to the new Pentax 645D camera. Hope so. And remember, a Pentax 645D is a crop frame camera so the effective focal length is multiplied by 1.3X I think. A 600 would effectively be a 780mm field of view with a larger capture area than a 35mm DSLR and 40 meg.

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/re...es/600mm.shtml

    -Marc

  16. #16
    Super Duper
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    3,623
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    I have another suggestion. Why not use your Nikon lenses with a MF back?
    You could use the Sinar M camera for example. I think it takes also non-Sinar backs.
    http://www.sinar.ch/de/produkte/kameras/134-sinar-m

    I dont know how large the image circle of the Nikon tele-lenses is but if you get a high resolution back you get maybe enough MP even if you can only used a cropped area of the sensor. The final image might be still better.

    Just an idea-dont know how good it would work in reality.

  17. #17
    Super Duper
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    3,623
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    The question is how much do you have to step down to get the DOF you want when using MF.
    And which ISO do you need?
    Plus you dont get VR or IS in those MF lenses.

    Maybe it would be also an option to get that AA filter out of your d3x.

  18. #18
    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Jupiter FL/Atlanta GA
    Posts
    2,279
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Excellent question and plays into the discussion about MF vs. DSLR. If you can find a way to work with MF you can produce significantly better IQ. The difference is the greatest if you print large...some pretty good discussion at LL about what is meant by large. Larger than 13x 19 image size? Otherwise its more important to place the emphasis on the speed and handling of the DSLR(IMHO).

    If you look at the several safari s that MR at Luminous Landscape has done ..you will see that he really focuses on Landscapes with Wildlife ..rather than Wildlife images. Its the context that sets the images apart . Like the image of the Lion in grass verse the Lion head shot. Or even the two lions walking together. Its hard to create anything "new" with just the head shot...even with MF.

    So I would concur that a 300MM FOV could give you this . You would miss some longer shots but probably gain better composition on the wider end.

    I think your requirements are evolving as you decide what images are working for you and would look at the LL videos as they show how others trying to use MF on Safari have gone after it.

  19. #19
    Member Nik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Marc, Roger, t_streng thank you guys very much for your effort to answer my question.
    I will close this thread now and take some time to research more and sleep with some of your ideas. Again, thank you!

    Best regards, Nik

  20. #20
    Member Harry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    SF Bay area
    Posts
    150
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Hi Nik,
    I have a D3X and have recently purchase a P40+ much in the same thinking as you.
    The quality is much better with MF, but focusing and general use is about 20 years back.
    Another option that I did was to remove the AA filter on the D3X. It gave me about 15% better IQ. I have not had any moire problems at all.
    I had it done at Maxmax.com.
    Rumors are that a 32mp Nikon is coming within the year too. But just a rumor.

  21. #21
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    23,623
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    2555

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Bold statement here I will put up my P40+ against anything in 35mm at any size print even a 4x6 and you will see the difference. I did not buy this for my looks.

    I'm half joking hope you all know that. But there is a lot of power in MF images, I get stuff that I am amazed how it is even there. But with that said MF is going to be tough with wildlife compared to a D3x with a 600mm lens sporting on it or even a 300mm. Just can't get that reach and speed which the DSLR's can get . The Mamiya 300mm 4.5 is a great lens and i get a lot out of it but even on a P40+ crop it's only like a 210mm or something like that in 35mm. I'm crazy but I ain't getting that freaking close to a hungry lion.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  22. #22
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    carstenw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Berlin, Germany
    Posts
    2,530
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Nik, I know you want to sleep on all of this, but there is one issue which has been simmering in the back of my head, and which I didn't see really discussed here: auto-focus.

    If you really count auto-focus as a prerequisite, MF is pretty much not for you. The kind of auto-focus which can follow-focus a fast bird in mid-flight, or catch a jumping shark in mid-air, doesn't exist in MF. The auto-focus is mostly single-shot, single-sensor, the Mamiya has three. The speed is also much, much lower than for 135, and the continuous framerates are mostly maxed out at around 1-1.2fps, with one or two solutions maybe managing 1.5fps. You are not going to be able to keep up with fast action with MF.

    However, if you are really addicted to high resolution and great colour, and are willing to keep a Nikon D3x as well as MF, then you could probably use manual focus or slow auto-focus lenses for those of your shots which allow that, such as the large predators...
    Last edited by carstenw; 17th March 2010 at 10:49.
    Carsten - Website

  23. #23
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    23,623
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    2555

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Carsten you need to go shoot a DF body. It can follow focus very well actually even with a 300mm AF. No it is not a high end Canon but it is effective. So it does exist but yes you are limited and you can only go as fast as .08 frames per second, not your typical 5 fps or more with a DSLR. The bottom line it is worth shooting MF IF you can control things which is tough and IF you can deal with what MF provides in it's maximum power to go fast. You will hit a wall on some things no doubt but it depends on what you are after in regards to animal and what it maybe doing.

    Honestly everyone of the shots posted by the OP could have been done with MF as far as speed even the whale( or is that a shark) You have to carefully plan when they come up for air and where they will be . I followed them on a boat in Mexico and they are straight liners pretty much. The trouble will mostly be reach in his shots.

    Maybe not my first choice but certainly would not leave my gear home to go shoot it either.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  24. #24
    Subscriber gogopix's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    1,383
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    I have to agree with Guy; it is just that WL photogs just don't try with MF. It could be weight, size, technique etc. But I have used

    Hassey 500 and 2x mutar
    350SA
    350 contax with 1.4
    500/8 HB
    800mm Leica

    ALL with the P65+

    Even if you only use hlaf the image, you still have a 30MP image with 8 stop DR.

    I won't bore you with repeats (unless you insist ) but for birds works for me. Wish I had more time.

    The issue is the stability and speed; have an 'optical bench' for the modular where camera and lens are on ONE long bar. You need at least 1/1000

    but then you have all those MP and DR. I am still learning, but every time I try with DSLR (and I am experimenting with a Pentax K-7 and 400mm/6.8 right now) I find it hard to get 135 up to 645 standards.

    THAT SAID, it will only show up in BIG prints. Your images from D3 I guess are damn imporessive up to 8x10 but I start printing with a short side of 24inches

    You have talent, clearly; I am loath to compete with those examples. But I am convinced the more one works with MF the better it will be.

    I will post a few examples when I have more time

    regards
    Victor

  25. #25
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    carstenw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Berlin, Germany
    Posts
    2,530
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    The newer cameras may focus faster, but likely only in decent-to-good light, and you have to land the focus sensor on the subject in the first place, which is okay for a lion, but not so easy for a bird. Given that nature/animal photography contains a good dose of action, I stand by my recommendation of keeping the D3x.

    And Guy, not everyone is as hard-core as you about keeping just one system

    The arrival of the Pentax 645D is a real joker in the deck. No one knows yet how good it will be, no one knows how fast it will be, and no one knows if it will be more like MF or like 135. Pentax has a good track record though, so I would say that unless the OP is in a hurry to buy into MF, keeping a firm eye on the 645D would be prudent.
    Carsten - Website

  26. #26
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    23,623
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    2555

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Certainly helps in the field to shoot with a monopod with the long glass. As Victor said you need some balance and they help a great deal.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  27. #27
    Senior Subscriber Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,306
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    I think the Mamiya 645 and a 500, possibly with a 2x, ought to work just fine for shooting slow-moving animals from a vehicle using a door or roof mount. Or set up with a tripod and gimbal head. For fast-moving, unpredictable movement I'd forget it as it would be highly unproductive.

  28. #28
    Member Ebe's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Southern California, USA
    Posts
    113
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    35

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    I do NOT recommend MF for wildlife.
    Have shot a fair amount of wildlife and bird pictures, and feel the
    DSLR Systems are better for your use.
    I have a Phase MF System which includes the Mamiya 300-APO and
    previously owned the Mamiya 500 with Mamiya Multiplier.
    I use a DSLR for wildlife and birds, period.
    BTW: The Mamiya 500mm is old technology and not up to the modern lens
    and poor when used with the multiplier.
    The 300 is excellent but not long enough for most wildlife.

    Save your money for the new DSLR's coming out the next year or two.

  29. #29
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    Bill Caulfeild-Browne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Bruce Peninsula, Canada
    Posts
    2,535
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    184

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    I fully agree with Ebe. DSLR for the action, MFDB for the static landscape.

    And frankly, Nik, I don't see how you could improve those outstanding images with MF.

    Regards,
    Bill

  30. #30
    New Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Orange County/LA
    Posts
    12
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Perhaps you could get another D3X and remove the AA filter, since the D3X doesn't have an anti-dust shaker. I think you'd be stunned to see how much a difference an AA filter makes; your D3X comes with a fairly good resolution.

  31. #31
    Senior Subscriber Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,306
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Most wildlife photography doesn't require much in the way of technology though. I've shot birds in flight in manual focus, and as long as the flight paths are predictable it works just fine. (In fact I used manual focus because AF on the Canon D30 was so dysmally poor.) A bird like a pelican or harrier flies mainly in a straight line. Animals like Tule elk don't move around too fast, but the areas are large and they can be aggressive, so the key is to predict their movement and park ahead where you think they'll both be and you have a good shot. The Mamiya 500/5.6 is sharp enough to outresolve my ZD back wide open both with and without the 2x, no stopping down required. So it's a pretty good complement to 35mm if you can handle the size - which really is no big deal on a gimbal head or from a vehicle. Just throw a bean sack over the sill and rest the lens on it.

  32. #32
    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Carmel/Tucson
    Posts
    2,355
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    There is no doubt in my mind that a FF DLSR with nice long glass is the better choice for photographing wildlife. It was not that long ago that I was talking with my Giant about his hopes of using medium format digital to capture wildlife. Guy, I'm sure that you've probably had the same conversation with your Giant.

    Probably everyone here that has bought into medium format digital, at arguably an absurd price of entry (Dante warned us), has done so in the quest to obtain the best possible image quality. And so it is with this type of thinking in mind that there is a little voice in me that says, wow, what if I could capture a once-in-a-lifetime image on medium format digital as opposed to my DSLR?

    Right now, I can only dream of visiting the places that Nik has been to in capturing some really amazing images, let alone photograph there. I know that if I could, I'd have my 1DsMark IIII and big white barrelled lenses at the ready. But the new Phase 645DF causes more pause for thought. It offers really great auto-focus, and even in dimly lit interiors. (Better than my 5D II, and just behind the 1Ds Mark III). And the P65+ is pretty flexible ISO speed wise. Limited focal length though for AF lenses, and middle-aged eyes demand AF.

    A full-frame DSLR is the better choice. But that little voice keeps asking, "What if...."

    ken

  33. #33
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    23,623
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    2555

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    The one real limit I see is length and that is my real cause for pause. Now if Phase came out with a 500 F4 that is not the size of a house than it has a good chance. The question remains if your after a animal that is not in high motion and you can get fairly close than MF starts making more sense. Obviously shooting a cheetah going 40 mph at 200 yards is going to kill MF and hell hard enough with a DSLR even. So this comes down to the planning stage and what you are after and what presents itself given the location you are after. Heck folks i do this everyday thinking before i do a gig , no different here. MF is going to run into these limits on length and on high speed so with that you really have to be smart about which choice makes sense. You also need to know your gear very well on what it can and can't do. So for first time buyers this makes that even more difficult. Now i love MF and nothing can touch it as far as image . Let them have that dog fight on MF Vs DSLR image quality i already know that answer and have the gear that is the answer to it. Frankly a stupid argument. LOL

    The question is in this case where are the limits and can it get it done. I like DSLR's to a certain degree but what they are good for speed and high ISO but if you can get past that within the limits than why not.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  34. #34
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    551
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    I must agree with all the above posts. Clearly they all make sense.

    So, following the adventurer's spirit, what about a comparison about a good MFDB, good glass and a decent length lens vs. state of the art Canon 7D and decent glass? How would they compare?

    The first shot posted has a comparison with two shots, at actual image size: on the left is a Rollei 6008AF with dp20 (Phase P20 - 36 mm sq.) back, a Schneider 180 2.8, 1.4 tele-extender (effective overall 250 mm lens), at 400 ISO, about 5.6 at 1/125 on a tripod. On the right is a Canon 7D, with a 100-400 zoom at full extension, 1250 ISO for about 1/1000 speed, both on tripod. The Rollei shot is raw, through C1. The Canon is jpg.

    The first shot is the actual image size - and you must be laughing by now: the Canon must be better. I would think so too. Take glass length over back, any day.

    The second shot is a screen capture, of the two images blown up to the same amount. The Rollei is focused on the bird feeder, the Canon on the bird. Surprisingly, there isn't much difference. I might even take the Rollei - but to be sure, it would have to be the same subject matter. But the distance of camera to subject (50') is the same in both tests.

    For a definitive test, they would need to be same day (a bit cloudy on the Rollei shoot, sunny for the Canon), same subject, etc. The Canon is a jpg,however a comparison (third screen save- from a 20D - sorry about that) between raw and jpg gives more detail in the raw, but not enormously so. Maybe the 7D raw through a quality converter would have much more detail.

    In short - for still shots, the MFDB has a good chance - trading lens length for better back. For anything moving, you need shutter speed, and the Canon at 1250 ISO and 1/1000 shutter speed is necessary. FYI - the Canon at 400 ISO was better, but not by much, and the bird wasn't sharp at all. So for anything moving, one can draw the conclusion that this setup of MFDB would not be useful, and the Canon is a must. But for still lives, the debate is valid.

    Any (peaceful) thoughts out there about this casual look?

    Geoff
    Last edited by Geoff; 2nd January 2013 at 19:14.

  35. #35
    Member Analog6's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Terranora Northern NSW Australia
    Posts
    151
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    I've been trying a few bird shots with the H2 & 210 f4 lens, and I'm finding it is really only suitable for still work. The auto focus is just not quick enough for birds in flight. I won't be giving up the Canon anytime soon. The Pentax 645D does look interesting though, I'll keep an eye on that one.
    Odille

    H2 | P20 | HC 50-110 | HC 150 f3.2 | HC 210 f4 ~ My Website

  36. #36
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Lake Oswego, OR
    Posts
    38
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Never used MF digital, but have tried MF film for wildlife (Hasselblad V with 250) and gave up in frustration. It makes sense to use the tool that offers the best compromise between ultimate image quality and flexibility. To use an absurd example, an 8x10 has impressive detail but no one uses one for wildlife, likewise, point and shoots, which are great for party photos, do not make great landscape images. While your images are impressive captures, they look a bit oversharpened at least on my monitor.

    Eric

  37. #37
    Member Hauxon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Reykjavik, Iceland
    Posts
    88
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    I have not much to add to what's already been told, but these images are terrific!

    I would hold on to the D3x and see how good the Pentax 645D is when it comes out. And if it's good and you buy one I would still hold on to the DSLR for focus and ultra-compression.

    Hrannar
    Hrannar Hauksson
    http://www.hauxon.com

  38. #38
    Senior Subscriber Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,306
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by doc4x5 View Post
    Never used MF digital, but have tried MF film for wildlife (Hasselblad V with 250) and gave up in frustration.
    A 250 isn't really long enough for wildlife, even on 35mm. A 300 (on 35mm) can be useful in a captive environment like a zoo, but not with wild animals. Maybe in a park where the wildlife is used to vehicles. I'd say a 500 is a better starting point (or 800 on 645). A 300 can work with a 1.3 crop factor (like the Leica APO 280 with a DMR); this comes out to about 400. A bit short but workable, and quite decent with a 1.4x.

  39. #39
    Senior Subscriber Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,306
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Here's an example of a shot that was manually focused (Canon D30 and 600 IS). The D30 couldn't track worth squat, and the newer cameras (1 series) would almost certainly not pick the right focus area.


    Here's an example of an image that doesn't require AF or a deep buffer at all.


    Something like this requires nothing special, although this particular image was shot with 35mm and a 600.


    Here's a captive shot of a grizzly at a rescue center near Yellowstone NP (forget the name off hand, it's been 8 years now). It was actually shot handheld, and the 600 was a little too long for the 1D's crop factor. But it was a grab shot where I didn't have time to change to a 400.


    A 400 from a vehicle, again wild animals used to vehicles that just wandered by totally ignoring me. (As long as you stay in the car, obviously. Stepping outside is not the sane thing to do.)


    This was shot with a 600. I sat quietly crouched with the camera on a gimbal head while the herd wandered by. Wapitis can get aggressive, so I didn't want to make much of a disturbance by changing lenses. A shorter lens would have been better since I had to stop shooting when they got too close. But like I said, changing lenses wasn't an option. (In hindsight I should have prepared by putting a second body on a 400.)


    Tule Elk at Pt Reyes. Again, nothing special needed for this. Just predict the movement and park your car to intercept their foraging so they'll walk past.


    Etc.
    As you can see, there is nothing technically demanding with any of this. And this is just a random selection from what I can come up with from what I have already posted online in the past.

  40. #40
    Senior Subscriber Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,306
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Of course, with captive animals you can often use anything. This was shot with an M8 and 75A at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney.


    But for wild animals a 400-500 is a preferable starting point IMO.

  41. #41
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    551
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Apologies for the divergent post -these are wonderful shots. Both the original post and the recent ones. Keep going!

  42. #42
    Member Nik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Dear all!

    Thank you SO MUCH for all the views and advise you have given me! There are very few places on the web, where I saw this sort of attitude and atmosphere. As far as the underlying subject goes - I will take the majority's advice and stick with my D3X for now. I will wait for new developments in MF arena as far as 645D goes as well as with DSLRs (may be higher mpx bodies).

    Cheers, Nik

    P.S.

    These are some pictures I took this January in Tanzania. All the best to you guys!
















  43. #43
    Member Nik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?










  44. #44
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Lyon, France
    Posts
    225
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    49

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    wow, Nik, wonderful photos again !

  45. #45
    Workshop Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    3,275
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    7

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    First of all - amazing images. Amazing.

    Second: I think the same three things apply here as in most uses of medium format vs dSLRs for applications where the subject isn't a static landscape.
    1) Your "hit" rate will be lower with medium format than with a dSLR
    2) The "hit" images will print larger, have better flexibility in post, require less sharpening, and otherwise exhibit MF image-quality
    3) Your "hit" rate will increase with usage (as with any gear) - though I would not expect your hit rate to be as high as a dSLR for wildlife ever

    But it also depends a lot on the type of wildlife you are shooting. I see three major types of shots in the above examples:
    1) scenic landscapes
    2) tight tight static animals
    3) tight in-action animals

    For #1 I think Medium Format is a no brainer - it will do wonders for the color you capture by-default and for the amount of post processing you can do while maintaining a natural look, smooth gradations, and clean detail.

    For #2 I think Medium format will be a challenge but could be rewarding. The question is if you go on a trip and come back with, say, 50% as many "keepers" but they are more detailed shots with better post-flexibility and overall higher image quality would you be happy or disappointed by the 50% you didn't come back with?

    As for #3... even as a huge fan of medium format and a biased employee of a company that does most of it's business selling medium format solutions I would not say that you should attempt to use medium format for the #3 except as a "out of curiosity" exercise. I think using an 8x10 view camera for portraits is a big equipment mismatch but it can produce some very compelling images (along with a huge amount of frustration, missed/botched shots, and a much lower level of image production per hour). This is the domain of a dSLR with a ultra-long, fast-aperture, fast-AF, IS and a high frame rate. Going at it with a medium format system may occasionally produce a spectacular image, but at the cost of a lot of frustration and missed shots. The two birds (vultures) flying for instance in your last set of images you posted would have been a 1/50 chance of hitting on medium format even with a DF body (of course it was probably 1/10 chance with a D3X so it's not THAT much worse :-P).

    As a related example I think an infrared digital back on a Horseman SWD (rangefinder tech camera) is a big mismatch for sports but I love the shot I produced using that combo below. Granted during the entire game I only produced 6 or 7 keepers, but I also produced shots that I don't think anyone else at the game did. So if I was covering the event for a newspaper I would have been fired (unless there was another shooter from the same newspaper doing "normal" shots).


    - infrared phase one digital back on a Horseman SWD with Rodenstock 35mm lens and Hoya 72R infrared lens filter

    I'd rent an appropriate system during your next trip. Get it a few days ahead of time to get some of the learning curve out of the way, and carry it as a second system. When you see something conducive, try it out. I would definitely not buy a system until you had used it in the field. Most dealers (including us) would let you rent it for a discounted multi-day rate and then apply the rental towards the purchase if you pull the trigger.

    Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
    __________________
    Head of Technical Services, Capture Integration
    Phase One, Leaf, Cambo, Canon, Apple, Profoto, Eizo & More
    National: 877.217.9870 *| *Cell: 740.707.2183
    Newsletter: Read Latest or Sign Up
    RSS Feed: Subscribe
    Buy Capture One at 10% off
    Personal Work
    Last edited by dougpeterson; 19th March 2010 at 06:09.

  46. #46
    Member Nik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Excellent shot Doug! Cool perspective and composition. And very dynamic. I totally understand what you are saying about getting that awesome single shot with the gear which is not best fitted for the circumstances yet produces a mindblowing result :-)
    Last edited by Nik; 19th March 2010 at 07:27.

  47. #47
    Senior Member Steve Hendrix's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    420
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    4

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by kdphotography View Post
    There is no doubt in my mind that a FF DLSR with nice long glass is the better choice for photographing wildlife. It was not that long ago that I was talking with my Giant about his hopes of using medium format digital to capture wildlife. Guy, I'm sure that you've probably had the same conversation with your Giant.

    Probably everyone here that has bought into medium format digital, at arguably an absurd price of entry (Dante warned us), has done so in the quest to obtain the best possible image quality. And so it is with this type of thinking in mind that there is a little voice in me that says, wow, what if I could capture a once-in-a-lifetime image on medium format digital as opposed to my DSLR?

    Right now, I can only dream of visiting the places that Nik has been to in capturing some really amazing images, let alone photograph there. I know that if I could, I'd have my 1DsMark IIII and big white barrelled lenses at the ready. But the new Phase 645DF causes more pause for thought. It offers really great auto-focus, and even in dimly lit interiors. (Better than my 5D II, and just behind the 1Ds Mark III). And the P65+ is pretty flexible ISO speed wise. Limited focal length though for AF lenses, and middle-aged eyes demand AF.

    A full-frame DSLR is the better choice. But that little voice keeps asking, "What if...."

    ken

    What if indeed?

    This guy produces amazing, intimate images without a telephoto lens. I love his work.

    http://www.nickbrandt.com/portfolio....8&nS=0&i=85418


    I think it can be done, but it takes more time, just as much great nature photography takes time to acclimate yourself to the subject. Without the benefit of distance, acclimation becomes a more prevalent part of the process. But as you can see from his results, not using distance and introducing intimacy can have a stunning effect.


    Steve Hendrix
    Steve Hendrix, Sales Manager, www.captureintegration.com (e-mail Me)
    Digital Cam: • Phase One | Leaf | Leica | Sinar • Authorized Reseller
    TechCam: • Alpa | Cambo | Arca Swiss | Sinar • Authorized Reseller

  48. #48
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    23,623
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    2555

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    I knew a guy who shot film for National Geo. His speciality was grizzly bears. Now this guy had a screw lose no doubt but he would get the odor of a grizzly ( you know what I am talking about) and rub it all over him, so essentially he was a grizzly bear. He used to shoot within 10-20 yards of grizzly's. Not highly recommended but you want to get something done you will find a way.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  49. #49
    Member Nik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Hendrix View Post
    What if indeed?

    This guy produces amazing, intimate images without a telephoto lens. I love his work.

    http://www.nickbrandt.com/portfolio....8&nS=0&i=85418


    I think it can be done, but it takes more time, just as much great nature photography takes time to acclimate yourself to the subject. Without the benefit of distance, acclimation becomes a more prevalent part of the process. But as you can see from his results, not using distance and introducing intimacy can have a stunning effect.


    Steve Hendrix
    Steve, the guy doesn't have any pictures of fast action, static birds, not to speak of birds in flight and any shy animals. Why? Why could not he establish intimacy with them?

  50. #50
    Member Nik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF for wildlife photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    I knew a guy who shot film for National Geo. His speciality was grizzly bears. Now this guy had a screw lose no doubt but he would get the odor of a grizzly ( you know what I am talking about) and rub it all over him, so essentially he was a grizzly bear. He used to shoot within 10-20 yards of grizzly's. Not highly recommended but you want to get something done you will find a way.
    Guy, I don't want to say anything bad about your example ... I personally know one photog here who hired locals in the Russian far east to feed wild bears, foxes, etc. for an extended period of time. Flew in, took absolutely awesome and mindblowing images that no one was able to take before at a minimum focusing distances using super wide glass ... made a name and had considerable commecial success selling these images. After several trips he became "world class" wildlife photog. Of course, he did not tell anyone he'd "prepared his models". All I am trying to say - shooting long glass is not only about convenience ... it is about not disturbing animals, not intervening in their environment. I do not believe in intimacy of humans and wild animals.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •