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Birds in flight
Hi!.

I would like to take indoor pictures of my parrots in flight. I know need a camera with a fast shutter speed..

I have a Nikon D70s but it is still too slow... I have tried it on multiple exposures but still too slow to capture anything but a blur... either because the lighting isn't good enough or because I don't know how to work the thing! I was thinking of getting a second 'action' camera. A Minolta Dimage A1 or a Fuji Finepix S9600 or S6500. I have also read that the Canon EOS 40D is fast in low light... but then if I am unable to use the Nikon D70s, would the Canon be an option at all?.

Would very much appreciate any advice. Thanks...

Comments (9)

You have come to the right place!.

Rosslyn wrote:.

Hi!.

I would like to take indoor pictures of my parrots in flight. I knowneed a camera with a fast shutter speed..

What you need is a camera/lens that will focus quickly...and a flash unit to stop the action..

I have a Nikon D70s but it is still too slow... I have tried it onmultiple exposures but still too slow to capture anything but ablur... either because the lighting isn't good enough or because Idon't know how to work the thing!.

Yes, the latter explanation seems possible. .

I was thinking of getting a second'action' camera. A Minolta Dimage A1 or a Fuji Finepix S9600 orS6500..

These camera would be worse than the D70s!.

I have also read that the Canon EOS 40D is fast in lowlight... but then if I am unable to use the Nikon D70s, would theCanon be an option at all?.

Sure, but I suspect you would get the same results..

Would very much appreciate any advice. Thanks..

A D70s with one of the kit lenses is relatively slow to focus. What you need is a lens that is VERY fast to focus and one that will FOLLOW the birds and keep adjusting the focus. This will not be cheap! It will help if the lens is "fast"...by "fast" we mean that it has a big diameter that gathers a LOT of light. This is described as the "f#" of the lens. You want one with a SMALL f#...something like f2.0 to f2.8 would be good...f1.2 to f1.4 would be smashing. In order for a camera to auto focus (AF) in dim light, it really helps to have a big lens to gather a LOT of light..

Or you could light the room? A couple of 500W photo-floods will cost a LOT less than a "fast" lens! But you have to set them up each time you want to take pix. And the room will get hot quickly with 1000W of lamps..

A good external flash (one that clips on your "hot shoe" on the camera) is important too, since you probably want to stop the action and not show the bird blurred. A flash has a VERY short duration...much shorter than the fastest shutter speed of either the D70s or the 40D, which both have 1/8000 second..

You can't really use these fast shutter speeds on the camera, because of the way a dSLR shutter works. I won't try to explain exactly how they work, but the result is that only a tiny slit is open and this slit quickly scans across the sensor. It will distort the pix of your birds. Or with a flash, it will only show a slit view of the room..

You need to set your shutter speed to what is called the "X-sync" speed. I think this is 1/250 second on the D70s? Don't go higher than that! Assuming you want to try taking pix w/o extra lighting, at least turn on all the lights in the room and open the windows (this also implies that you should do this in the daytime). Set the sensitivity to something moderate like ISO 400-800. Select an aperture that will NOT expose much w/o the flash. Hopefully, this is an aperture in the MIDDLE of the range of f#'s of the lens. For example, if your lens has a range of f2.8 to f16, it would be good to use something around f5.6.



Then, turn on your flash and set the camera to take ONE pic. Most flashes will not recycle fast enough to work with a burst of shots...you'll just get the first one!.

Pan with the bird and squeeze the shutter..

This is a VERY abreviated description of how to take your pix. If you don't understand any of it, ask specific questions..

Good luck....

Charlie DavisNikon 5700 & Sony R1HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #1

Rosslyn,.

First of all, attempting to take a picture of a parrot in flight indoors is one of the hardest things to do in animal photography..

Secondly, without spending several thousand pounds on a D3 and fast lenses, your D70s is as good as anything. What lenses do you have, by the way?.

There are several problems: catching the bird in the image, focussing on the bird and avoiding as much motion blur as possible..

You may find that it is impossible to catch the bird actually in flight without electronic gear to trip the shutter. However, you may be able to catch it taking off or immediately after takeoff and landing or immediately before landing. What you need to do is to observe the bird's behaviour and try to predict when it is going to take off and where it is going to land..

When you think that you can do this, prefocus on the takeoff spot or the landing spot and start shooting in continuous mode just before it takes off or just before it lands. Keep both eyes open so that you can see what the bird is doing without moving the camera. Get close to the bird so that when it's wings are spread it fills most of the viewfinder..

The next thing to do is to see whether there is enough available light in the room to take the shot. Make sure that you don't have a window right behind the parrot when you are taking a shot. The ideal would be to have the perch right in front of a window with the camera off to the side..

Turn the ISO up to 1600, put the camera in aperture priority mode and, with the lens at the maximum aperture (smallest f number), point the camera at the perch, prefocus and see what shutter speed you get. If it is less than 1/250 you are unlikely to be able to get a shot without a lot of motion blur, but it might be worth trying. Ideally you want 1/500 or higher, but this may not possible. I have just had a check with my camera and I can just about get 1/500 in some parts of a bright room at f2.8. If you have a 50mm f1.8 lens, try with that on the camera..

If you have got enough light try taking a lot of shots, and I mean a lot. Expect a very low hit rate. You may be doing well to get one good shot out of several hundred..

If you haven't got enough light then the next thing to try is an external flash, but I will leave that to another post..

Trying in available light will at least give you some practice, and you may be able to get some good shots just before it takes off when it's wings are spread but haven't yet started to move fast. You may also get interesting shots if the body is sharp but there is a bit of motion blur in the wings..

Best of luck and let us know how you get on. If you want to try with flash, let us know and we will give you some guidance.Chris R..

Comment #2

Gosh! Thanks Charlie! You have explained so much that I didn't know. I didn't realise you could get a 'fast' lens! I have the kit lens - and recently splashed out on an 18-200mm (f/3.5-5.6) as I supposed that if I was to take the photo from afar with a zoom I might get it in focus. How wrong was I! I will have a look for a faster lens as you suggested and get an external flash. Will then follow your settings and see if I have success..

Thanks again, Charlie!..

Comment #3

Thanks very much Chris. I have the kit lens and recently got an 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 Zoom-Nikkor. You have given me lots to think about re the settings and the set up...

Comment #4

As pointed out above, it's going to be very difficult. A close fast moving object is harder to deal with than one farther away. Consider that if the bird moves 10 feet in 1/10 of a second (no idea if that's true but bear with me), if it starts 10 feet away, it's covered 100 per cent of the distance to you in that time. If it's 100 feet away, it's covered only 10 percent of the distance. The relative rates of change that you have to keep up with is very different. Same kind of thing if it's "crossing." He moves 10 feet.



The advice to try to get a predictable point is important, trying to follow random flight in a room is going to drive you birdy if not batty...

Comment #5

Rosslyn wrote:.

Hi!.

I would like to take indoor pictures of my parrots in flight. I knowneed a camera with a fast shutter speed..

You already have plenty of shutter speed..

I have a Nikon D70s but it is still too slow... I have tried it onmultiple exposures but still too slow to capture anything but ablur... either because the lighting isn't good enough or because Idon't know how to work the thing!.

It's the last one .

I was thinking of getting a second'action' camera. A Minolta Dimage A1 or a Fuji Finepix S9600 orS6500..

Worse..

I have also read that the Canon EOS 40D is fast in lowlight... but then if I am unable to use the Nikon D70s, would theCanon be an option at all?.

Well... Something like this?.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

It's taken with probably the "worst" Camera on the market, the Canon 300D, with a slow lens, bad light and everything..

Would very much appreciate any advice. Thanks..

Well..

1. Predict how the bird moves. It's vital..

2. Forget about autofocus. It can't be done. Prefocus on a point in the flight path.3. Get as much light in the room without disturbing the bird4. Use an external flash.

Use the highest iso that creates acceptable (for you) noise.

6. Use manual exposure and, if possible, manual settings on the flash. I'd suggest f5.6 or so, with about 1/200 s.7. Stalk the bird and when it gets to the preset point, shoot..

This image is probably one in 30 or so; the little guy always flies to play with a ping-pong ball, so his movement was pretty repetitive and predictable..

Good luck!.

/d/n..

Comment #6

Glad to be of help. BTW, in the future you can save time by using the common abbreviation/acronym "BIF". If your parrots are large, then "BBIF" is appropriate. We'll know what you mean..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700 & Sony R1HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #7

If you get serious about taking BIF pix, you might want to build/buy one of these:.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

You can buy these "red-dot" sights at WalMart (but I wouldn't) or at other stores that sell guns. I had to make a little adapter to mount the sight on the hot shoe. I've seen many different approaches to attaching them to a camera (but mine is the slickest). .

The advantage is that the red dot is "projected" optically (there is really not any red beam that comes out of the sight) and it's insensitive to where you and the camera are, relative to each other. Easy to use..

Not sure if it will help inside though?.

Charlie DavisNikon 5700 & Sony R1HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #8

Hi devnull! That's an amazing shot of your budgie - that's exactly the sort of shot I'm trying to create! Ok - I will try manual on the settings you suggested. Still need to get an external flash - after Christmas!.

You have all given me lots to think about! Thank you...

Comment #9

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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