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Help cropping bird photos (1 image)
I would appreciate any help you pro's might be able to give me on understanding how to crop a bird shot without losing all the detail..

Are there rules of thumb on typically how much you can crop (x%) based on total mp of picture?.

Scenario: Birds at a distanceI have been taking pictures of some Cardinals in my backyard for MONTHS..

They are very shy and do not allow me to get as close as I would like. So I am usually 50 - 70 ft away. My goal is to be able to zoom in / crop my pictures to print at 8x10. This is where I am in trouble!!.

When I take the pictures the bird seems clear and in focus thru the viewfinder, but when I look at them on screen at 100% - the bird is lacking detail or often is not in focus ...

I can not figure out what I am doing wrong. It seems to happen at all different ISOs .. not just ISO 400. Is it simply because I am too far away and the bird is such a small portion of the whole picture?.

Here is an example of my situation.ISO400, F/3.5 1/100 sec.

I uploaded to tinypic to post so I think it reduces the file size. So not sure if this example will work for those of you that might be able to help??? But when I view the ORIGINAL at 100% the bird has very little detail. But the plants and background do..

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Txs KCS5is, FZ10, FZ7,..

Comments (14)

It looks like the leaves are in focus, not the bird. But your big problem is that you need a longer lens..

Most good bird photos are taken with a DSLR and at least a 200mm (usually longer) lens..

Cropping with a shorter lens really doesn't work very well..

DIPics..

Comment #1

OK, I'm certainly no pro, but a couple of things stand out to me, IMHO..

Your camera is focusing on the plants behind the bird - you can see that; that's why the plants have more detail and look sharper, and your wide aperture opening is allowing for only a small Depth of Field (DOF, small focus depth area). Check your focus area mode to ensure it is focusing on the right object - it is currently focusing behind the bird in this case..

Also, your shutter speed is slow for capturing something that may move at any time, and you may think about a small table top tripod if you're not using one, since you're shooting the same subject (your feeder)..

As far as cropping, look at the picture at 100% size on your monitor, and see how the bird looks. If it is sharp with detail, you can crop at that size (100%), or you may be able to resize and increase it a little if it is not big enough. If it's not big enough, then perhaps a bigger zoom lens would be good since you're so far away..

Hope this helps. Anyone else, please correct anything I may not havet gotten right, or if you have better suggestions..

Albert-OColoradoPlease visit me athttp://www.berto.zenfolio.com.

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Comment #2

Thanks to everyone for your feedback regaring focus and crop..

I have considered a dslr and longgggggggggg lens so many times.. usually after having missed another great photo!!! As much as I love my bird photo's I just can't justify the cost for a "bird camera" .. sighhhhhh.

This seems to be my recurring problem.. focus on the leaves .. I thought I was on spot focus .. but maybe not. When I take similar long shots of my dogs .. I don't have the problem ..



Now for a SECOND question about printing these types of photo's..

I understand the basic rules of thumb for # pixels needed for printing pictures, but as with this picture, clarity and detail also effect the printabiliity. In this case the picture has enough pixels to print 8x10 but I am sure the out of focus bird would show up very obviously, but at 4x6 it would probably be fine..

Is there a software program that enables you to PREVIEW the print output on screen, as it would actully look, at it's selected size ie., 8x10 , to determine if it is worthy of printing at that size?.

Simply, is it safe to say that if a picture doesn't look good when viewed at 100%, it probably won't print good past 4x6?.

Txs.. KC.

S5is, FZ10, FZ7, TZ1..

Comment #3

Oh wow... I viewed your galleries and you have captured some fantastic pictures..

Your pictures are truly breathtaking .. if I took ONE picture like yours in a lifetime .. it would be more than I could handleI wouldn't be able to live with myself .

Beautiful .. amazing .. thanks for sharing! KCS5is, FZ10, FZ7, TZ1..

Comment #4

KC,.

Thank you very much for taking the time to look at my galleries, and for your very kind and generous comments; that is very encouraging .

I'm not familiar with the printing functions of programs, as I do not have my own printer right now, so I can't help you there I usually go to wolf camera to print my photos, although I have been thinking about getting a good printer to print large photos at home, and have more control over the quality..

I would print some of your better photos in 4x6 and see how they look, it is inexpensive and quick at a camera store, walgreens, etc. You may be surprised..

Thanks again,.

Albert-OColoradoPlease visit me athttp://www.berto.zenfolio.com.

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Comment #5

KC, apart from the focus issue, the bird in your picture is occupying a tiny part of the frame... if the original was 10MP and you cropped out everything but the bird table in the middle, you'd have less than 1MP. OK for screen viewing (monitors are very low resolution compared to prints) but not for printing. Even a 4 x 6 print, to look nice and sharp, needs at least 2MP..

For a print viewed fairly close up (in your hand) the human eye can resolve around 300 pixels per inch. So for a sharp 6 x 4 print you would need 1800 x 1200 pixels, which is 2.16 MP. You could, at a pinch, get away with 200 pixels per inch, for which you would need 1MP (1200 x 800 pizels = 0.96MP) for a 6 x 4 print, although it wouldn't look great close up..

So it is perfectly possible, if you have a lot of pixels and a sharp lens, to crop heavily as a substitute for getting a longer lens... but only to a limited extent. if you want bigger pictures with the subject filling the frame you need a long lens - no way around this, unless the bird is tame enough to let you sneak up on it. These need not be expensive: my Pentax DA50-200 cost me 100 on ebay, and I used this for the three pictures below. The longer Tamron 70-300 (popular and well regarded on this form) costs not much more. You just need a DSLR body to stick them on!!.

Best wishes.

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Mike..

Comment #6

There a few not very expensive things that you could try to improve these shots..

1. Get a tele-extender for your camera. Stick to 1.7X or 1.4X. The more powerful ones are tempting, but will not give you decent image quality. The Olympus TCON-17 might be a good choice..

2. Get a wireless remote shutter release cable..

Http://cgi.ebay.com/...7QQcategoryZ64345QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem.

Set the camera on a tripod. Pre-aim at the feeder. ten back off to a distance that won't scare off the birds, and wait..

3. Sit down on a chair within shooting range of the feeder, and don't make any sudden movements. I can take a while, but the birds will come.Joel Orlinsky.

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Comment #7

Nascardudette wrote:[snip].

I have considered a dslr and longgggggggggg lens so many times..usually after having missed another great photo!!! As much as I lovemy bird photo's I just can't justify the cost for a "bird camera" ..sighhhhhh.

[snip]>.

S5is, FZ10, FZ7, TZ1.

Nascardudette,.

With a S5 IS you've got the equivalent of a 432 mm lens in 35 mm. For around $150 you can get a 1.7 x teleconverter that will boost that to 734 mm equivalent with excellent image quality. That's about as long as practical lenses get. For advice on using the S5 for birds, try the S-series specialist site,http://www.s3users.com/.

One thing you might try is to set up a bird feeder fairly close to a window you can shoot through with a tripod mount for stability and perhaps even make one pane removeable so you don't have to worry about shooting through glass. With a few weeks to get used to it, cardinals will use a feeder regularly..

WillWill PrattBarrick Museum, UNLV..

Comment #8

Thanks for the lense advice and the great examples ..I may start trolling ebay .... KCFS5is, Z10, FZ7, TZ1..

Comment #9

It looks like one way or another .. a lense might help .. I think I will start looking for one .. I was concerned it would not work any better than cropping .. as far as reducing the quality .. but that was silly ...



The S5is does really well when you can get close enough - and have decent light .. of course. So maybe that extra lense power will do the trick..

I do ALOT of thru the window shots .. actually most of my keepers are in that manner .. the only problem is .. well the obvious .. keeping them clean enuf .

And the fact that they are tinted which cuts down on the light and adds a hue .. I am learning to use Picasa and attempting to use NeatImage to clean them up..

Here are a couple "thru the looking glass " ... thanks again for all your wonderful advice. KC.

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S5is, FZ10, FZ7, TZ1..

Comment #10

Some photoshop action may help but not in extreme cases like that.This is best I could get without actually drawing in details.

Before.

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After.

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Comment #11

Dipics wrote:.

It looks like the leaves are in focus, not the bird. But your bigproblem is that you need a longer lens..

Most good bird photos are taken with a DSLR and at least a 200mm(usually longer) lens..

Cropping with a shorter lens really doesn't work very well..

DIPics.

You're never going to get an image like this, even in perfect focus, to be a "wildlife" shot. Until you get better equipment, you can still shoot birds and other wildlife, but make them the focus object of a "landscape," or as I call them, "Birdscapes.".

This may not be a great shot of a Great Blue Heron, but it's certainly a pretty Birdscape... .

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Dave..

Comment #12

"birdscape"I had never looked at my pictures that way ...that takes on a new view, no pun intended, of some of my photos...

I will keep that in mind and relook some of these shots ..I may have a whole new idea for a picture wall..Thanks Dave.

KCS5is, FZ10, FZ7, TZ1..

Comment #13

Hi KC,.

Some of your photo compositions and "birdscape" settings are very nice. I agree that perhaps you should invest in a longer lens or better camera/lens. I'm not familiar with your camera, but it seems like you could have some very nice pictures and it would be a shame to not get the best out of your shots since you care this much about them and seem to really enjoy taking pictures..

Just my thought on this..

Albert-OColoradoPlease visit me athttp://www.berto.zenfolio.com.

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Comment #14

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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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