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Thread: Questions for bird and wildlife photographers

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    Questions for bird and wildlife photographers

    I am travelling to Mexico on Friday and will be taking the 645z and am torn on lens choices as I'm used to zooms so it becomes an easy decision. For 3 days I'll be in a spot rich in birds and even though the 645z appears not ideally suited to birds I can't bring myself to carry another set up.

    I have a 200, 300 and 400FA as well as the 2x TC. I tried the 2x TC for a couple of poorly lit test shots and was distinctly under awed when coupled with the 400. I figured I should try to find the set up that would be tortured the most so everything else should be better.........I hope. All on a tripod with a cable release but high iso.

    I have the little problem of actually carrying all this but was thinking the 300 and 400 and 2xTC but add a camera, a 35 and 80-160 zoom and it starts getting heavy.

    Tomorrow I'm thinking of testing some different scenarios such as the 400 without a TC and then just cropping but I hate to lose the pixels. From past experience 600mm for a dslr is ideal so that leaves me needing the 400 x 2 on the 645Z.

    What would you bring?

    Would you consider cropping as an alternative and leaving the 300 behind?

    Would you leave the TC behind?

    How big an issue is mirror slap?

    On the issue of MLU can somebody explain why sometimes it beeps and sometimes it doesn't when it is locked up.

    If I'm looking to steady the camera perfectly with a long lens what is the technique? MLU and then weight the tripod further (shouldn't be an issue, I'll just hook the camera bag over it!!!) and/or hand on the top of the camera?

    All this for 3 days but I was there in the summer and took a slew of flamingo photos with an EM-1 and was horrified at the image quality. I won't see them this time but will see many more species.

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    Re: Questions for bird and wildlife photographers

    This type of photography is more about practice than gear.

    The 2x TC does not have a great reputation. The 1.4x TC is much better--you should not see a real loss of quality.

    Mirror vibration is a matter of a few things like shutter speed and how well you can hold the camera. I have used the 300mm f/5.6 handheld. And the 300mm with the 1.4x TC handheld as well. But in bright daylight. A monopod can be good for this work or a gimble head on a tripod--you can also extend just one leg of a tripod to make a monopod.

    I purchased the 300mm f/5.6 exactly because it is lighter than the f/4 version. I would probably just take the 400mm and leave the 300mm. I would not bother with the 2x TC--I have never heard anything good about it and I never have met a 2x TC I liked. The 1.4TC would be a different matter.
    Last edited by Shashin; 25th November 2014 at 21:36.

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    Re: Questions for bird and wildlife photographers

    My observations :The 1.4x is good, but the 2x is asking too much. The 400mm is a terrific lens used at a high shutter speed. Since you have a Z, don't hesitate to use high ISO to avoid 1/125s and less.(tripod). Mirror slap is not an issue. You can raise the mirror prior to exposure, but the real problem is not the mirror, but rather shutter shake, in particular with lenses that have a tripod mount. In fact, the 400 might be better mounted at the camera. To answer one of your questions: I would crop at higher shutter speeds rather than using the 2x.
    I sometimes weight the camera with my body, a technique I used with a Pentax 67. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.
    I have the D and if you have selected MLU , the first shutter press raises the mirror and starts a beep, the second press activates the shutter or timer.
    Here's a kit I assembled for the 600mm. The 600mm would be ideal for your trip, but it's not an easy lens to transport. This kit helps, but not as much as high shutter speeds.

    Enjoy the trip!


    _IGP1179 by tsjanik47, on Flickr

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    Re: Questions for bird and wildlife photographers

    I just saw Will's reply, we often agree. Here's a cropped image using the 600mm and the 1.4x. I don't see any lack of sharpness or contrast in this image.

    _IGP1004 by tsjanik47, on Flickr

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    Re: Questions for bird and wildlife photographers

    Great answers thanks guys, and in hindsight I wish I had been better prepared as I leave Friday very early and only have a 2x TC.

    Shutter shake didn't even occur to me, largely because it's a new phenomenon to me coming from M4/3 and dslr's. I did mount the 400 and TC via the lens on the tripod and I'm not sure I feel comfortable mounting that set up via the camera body, it's big!!!

    The good news is that it's Mexico so I'll have the light, I'll try a few more tests today but Toronto has a grey sky today so the light will be average at best.

    And yes, I agree, that 600 and 1.4 TC shot has all the goodness that you'd want. I suspect a big part is the photographer though!!!

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    Re: Questions for bird and wildlife photographers

    OK, this is a no brainer. Went out to test the 400 plus 2x TC, camera and lens mounted to the tripod. In short, the 2x TC is my newest paperweight, it introduced a tonne of purple fringing and the added weight meant that I just didn't feel comfortable anything less than 1/500 and still there was a deep breath when I took the shot as I thought it wouldn't turn out. Had to shoot at higher iso's too so noise was introduced.

    Then the 400 FA, camera mounted, cropped in post and an infinitely better file.

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