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Photo Analysis
How to extend depth of field? I have reached a limit.
(?)
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Oct 26, 2016 10:08:15   #
Davethehiker (a regular here)
 
It's been years since I took this photo. It represent the limits of what I have been able to do. I gave up and stopped taking hummingbird photos shortly after I took this one. I feel that the state of the art of commonly available cameras at that time limited my ability to do any better.

This photo was taken using a Sony A77II and a 300mm f/2.8 lens. I will not go into my techniques here; it's been covered elsewhere.

The two biggest problems that I had to overcome were:

1) Finding a camera with fast enough auto-focus.
2) Depth of field.

I stopped taking photos of this kind and have been waiting for cameras to get better. I have a Sony A99II on order in hopes that auto-focus will be even better than my A77II is. However, the A99II is full frame and this could reduce my depth of field even more. The 42.4MP of the A99II might allow me to get away with cropping out a smaller section of the image, effectively giving me a smaller format camera.

In this photo the flowers on the left are between the bird and the camera and are out of focus. The flowers in the background are also out of focus. I don't mind that. What bothers me is that birds right wing and the tip of it's beak are out of focus. I just need a little more DOF!

Recently I talked to a man who told me he was having problems maintaining DOF while photographing jewelry for a client. Another photographer solved the problem by getting further away from the subject and using a giant telephoto lens and a bellows. Maybe I could use a teleconverter and back away from the subject? I'm not sure if that will help?

The camera will not arrive until December. The birds will return in the spring. Any ideas?
Limited by DOF
Limited by DOF...
(Download)
 
Oct 26, 2016 10:40:04   #
Apaflo (a regular here)
 
Davethehiker wrote:
It's been years since I took this photo. It represent the limits of what I have been able to do. I gave up and stopped taking hummingbird photos shortly after I took this one. I feel that the state of the art of commonly available cameras at that time limited my ability to do any better.

This photo was taken using a Sony A77II and a 300mm f/2.8 lens. I will not go into my techniques here; it's been covered elsewhere.

The two biggest problems that I had to overcome were:

1) Finding a camera with fast enough auto-focus.
2) Depth of field.

I stopped taking photos of this kind and have been waiting for cameras to get better. I have a Sony A99II on order in hopes that auto-focus will be even better than my A77II is. However, the A99II is full frame and this could reduce my depth of field even more. The 42.4MP of the A99II might allow me to get away with cropping out a smaller section of the image, effectively giving me a smaller format camera.

In this photo the flowers on the left are between the bird and the camera and are out of focus. The flowers in the background are also out of focus. I don't mind that. What bothers me is that birds right wing and the tip of it's beak are out of focus. I just need a little more DOF!

Recently I talked to a man who told me he was having problems maintaining DOF while photographing jewelry for a client. Another photographer solved the problem by getting further away from the subject and using a giant telephoto lens and a bellows. Maybe I could use a teleconverter and back away from the subject? I'm not sure if that will help?

The camera will not arrive until December. The birds will return in the spring. Any ideas?
It's been years since I took this photo. It repres... (show quote)

Your image is essentially stripped of Exif data. Without knowing camera parameters and the techniques that you say are "covered elsewhere" it is virtually impossible to comment with any hope of helping.

Specifically the f/stop, shutter speed, ISO and all auto focus parameters must be known. Likewise the lighting setup and how the camera is positioned and triggered. Repost the image with Exif data attached, and post a link to "elsewhere" for your technique.

Without knowing anything else, the best I can do is suggest that whatever lights you are using, put twice as many to work and stop the lens down 1 fstop.
Oct 26, 2016 10:43:19   #
Linda From Maine (a regular here)
 
Depth of field is controlled by aperture, focus point, distance to subject and focal length (though the purists will knock that one around for days - lol).

Try these on for the basics:

http://digital-photography-school.com/understanding-depth-field-beginners/

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

-
Oct 26, 2016 10:49:48   #
Architect1776 (a regular here)
 
Davethehiker wrote:
It's been years since I took this photo. It represent the limits of what I have been able to do. I gave up and stopped taking hummingbird photos shortly after I took this one. I feel that the state of the art of commonly available cameras at that time limited my ability to do any better.

This photo was taken using a Sony A77II and a 300mm f/2.8 lens. I will not go into my techniques here; it's been covered elsewhere.

The two biggest problems that I had to overcome were:

1) Finding a camera with fast enough auto-focus.
2) Depth of field.

I stopped taking photos of this kind and have been waiting for cameras to get better. I have a Sony A99II on order in hopes that auto-focus will be even better than my A77II is. However, the A99II is full frame and this could reduce my depth of field even more. The 42.4MP of the A99II might allow me to get away with cropping out a smaller section of the image, effectively giving me a smaller format camera.

In this photo the flowers on the left are between the bird and the camera and are out of focus. The flowers in the background are also out of focus. I don't mind that. What bothers me is that birds right wing and the tip of it's beak are out of focus. I just need a little more DOF!

Recently I talked to a man who told me he was having problems maintaining DOF while photographing jewelry for a client. Another photographer solved the problem by getting further away from the subject and using a giant telephoto lens and a bellows. Maybe I could use a teleconverter and back away from the subject? I'm not sure if that will help?

The camera will not arrive until December. The birds will return in the spring. Any ideas?
It's been years since I took this photo. It repres... (show quote)


Fast enough focus is pretty much limited to Nikon D5 and D500 or Canon 1DX mII and 7DmII. Sony is behind on this as you can see at any sports venue. DOF is in general terms aperture related, wide open is shallow DOF. Close your lens down 3 stops and see what happens. You will just have to settle for slow AF unless you go DSLR as they have the technology for hyper fast AF and have had it for a few decades now.
Oct 26, 2016 11:01:18   #
Davethehiker (a regular here)
 
Linda From Maine wrote:
Depth of field is controlled by aperture, focus point, distance to subject and focal length (though the purists will knock that one around for days - lol).

Try these on for the basics:

http://digital-photography-school.com/understanding-depth-field-beginners/

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

-

Thanks for the links.

I found this on the first link.

"How does distance control depth of field?

The closer your subject is to the camera, the shallower your depth of field becomes. Therefore, moving further away from your subject will deepen your depth of field."

This confirms what I was told by another photographer and that I had related in my post. I'll try backing away. This will be easy for me to do. Thanks for the help.
Oct 26, 2016 11:18:58   #
Davethehiker (a regular here)
 
Apaflo wrote:
Your image is essentially stripped of Exif data. Without knowing camera parameters and the techniques that you say are "covered elsewhere" it is virtually impossible to comment with any hope of helping.

Specifically the f/stop, shutter speed, ISO and all auto focus parameters must be known. Likewise the lighting setup and how the camera is positioned and triggered. Repost the image with Exif data attached, and post a link to "elsewhere" for your technique.

Without knowing anything else, the best I can do is suggest that whatever lights you are using, put twice as many to work and stop the lens down 1 fstop.
Your image is essentially stripped of Exif data. ... (show quote)


Here is a link to an explanation of how I was taking these photo years ago.
http://friedmanarchives.com/~download/blog/DeBar%20Hummingbird%20Article.pdf

I moved away from PhotoShop layers a few years ago the original photo above was not photo-shopped. I'm not good at housekeeping and it's would take me a long time to find the metadata your asking for.

Basically, I use: 1/250 , f/16 and higher, ISO=100 and lower, six strobe lights at 1/32 power inches from the subject.
 
Oct 26, 2016 11:23:10   #
Davethehiker (a regular here)
 
Architect1776 wrote:
Fast enough focus is pretty much limited to Nikon D5 and D500 or Canon 1DX mII and 7DmII. Sony is behind on this as you can see at any sports venue.


As my wife would say, "Thank you, I did not know that.", but then she has been to charm school.
Oct 26, 2016 12:34:50   #
ecobin
 
Dave, you should get a DOF calculator for your smart phone - many are free. I use F-Stop. Using this I put in your camera (sensor crop factor impacts DOF), 300mm lens and f/16. You didn't indicate how far your camera was from the subject but I'm guessing 15 feet. The dof at 15' is .46 feet or roughly 3" in front and 3" behind the focal point. Changing to 20' and 25' the dof increases from 3" to almost 5" and 8", respectively. So, just move your tripod back a few feet and the entire hummer should be in focus. Great shot, even if not entirely in focus!
Oct 26, 2016 12:48:36   #
Davethehiker (a regular here)
 
ecobin wrote:
Dave, you should get a DOF calculator for your smart phone - many are free. I use F-Stop. Using this I put in your camera (sensor crop factor impacts DOF), 300mm lens and f/16. You didn't indicate how far your camera was from the subject but I'm guessing 15 feet. The dof at 15' is .46 feet or roughly 3" in front and 3" behind the focal point. Changing to 20' and 25' the dof increases from 3" to almost 5" and 8", respectively. So, just move your tripod back a few feet and the entire hummer should be in focus. Great shot, even if not entirely in focus!
Dave, you should get a DOF calculator for your sma... (show quote)


Thank you so much. I'll look for that app. In fact, I was only about four feet from the subject and was using an extension tube. After reading the link from "Linda From Maine" I decided that I was too close. Next Spring I'll back the camera away much further and crop the image down to what I'm interested in. I might even use my 1.4X TC to do some of that cropping for me. I have plenty room to back away from the bird. Thanks again. Glad you liked the picture.

Edit:
###################
I just downloaded the app your suggested to my iPhone ($1.98) with no adds. This is very helpful. I can even see the effect I will get if I opt to use my tele-converters.
I look forward to next spring when the hummers return.

Edit 2:

Somehow the the price jumped to $4.23 on my Pay Pal account. It's not worth my time to fight it. It's worth $4.23 to me.
Oct 26, 2016 13:12:32   #
amfoto1 (a regular here)
 
Depth of Field is an optical imperative.... In a single shot you can only do so much. Stopping down your lens is really the only thing you can do, and there's a limit to how small an aperture you'll want to use (Google "diffraction" "Cambridge in Colour" for more info).

Likely the best solution is to take multiple images, using different points of focus, and then combine the images for "greater DoF". This is called "focus stacking". Check out "Helicon Focus" software, for a fairly automated method of doing this. While possible to do manually, a focus stacking software like that might be a real time and work saver!

In a case such as this, once you've capture the image of the hummingbird, you'd then take a series of additional shots changing the focus point for each, bringing the adjacent and background objects more into focus.

Frankly, a "busy" background like the flowers in this particular image might not end up looking all that great behind the bird, if those flowers were also sharply in focus... IMO, the contrast of the bird in focus against a blurred background helps the primary subject stand out better in the image. You'd have to experiment with focus stacking, to see what you like and what you don't.
Oct 26, 2016 13:27:25   #
Apaflo (a regular here)
 
Davethehiker wrote:
Here is a link to an explanation of how I was taking these photo years ago.
http://friedmanarchives.com/~download/blog/DeBar%20Hummingbird%20Article.pdf

I moved away from PhotoShop layers a few years ago the original photo above was not photo-shopped. I'm not good at housekeeping and it's would take me a long time to find the metadata your asking for.

Basically, I use: 1/250 , f/16 and higher, ISO=100 and lower, six strobe lights at 1/32 power inches from the subject.

Errr, Dave... don't be so modest! We aren't going to tell you anything that you can't describe in better detail than we know! That PDF is just fascinating!

I spotted a couple of interesting comments. One was that someone told you the Sony flash units had a time of 1/80,000 at 1/32 power. I really doubt that! As you no doubt are aware flashes like the Nikon SB-800 are rated at 1/17800 at 1/32 power, the Canon 580EX at 1/19841 at 1/128 power, and every other flash I've ever seen was similar. The Paul C Buff E640 Einstein strobes are rated at 1/13514 at 2.5 WS (same power as an SB-800 at 1/32 power), so that isn't any help either.

Another point was that with a Sony A900 full frame sensor you found f/9 was the limit because of diffraction. Later, with an A77ii APS-C sensor you are shooting at f/16 and getting great detail. That would suggest you may have learned better processing technique (sharpening tools)? If you get it right, using either Unsharp Mask or some form of Richardson-Lucy Deconvolution tools, it is probably possible to go at least to f/22, and maybe as high as f/32 when using a full frame sensor. That might be overly optimistic for a 42 MP sensor... Give it a try and see how far you can go.

I'm not so sure that a higher pixel count is the solution. For example a Nikon D500 has half the pixel count of a Sony A99ii, but it has a higher pixel density, meaning that it can produce higher resolution images. The Sony A99ii has 110.5 lp/mm, the D500 has 118.2 and a D7200 is at 128.2. If the D7200 can focus fast enough, that is a better choice, and I would assume that it does. It would be very interesting to shoot some of these shots with a D7200 using a Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 lens.

But, given the camera you have and the camera on order... perhaps the most viable option is to find at least several cheap flash units that pulse at less than about 1/15,000 per second at some reasonable power level. 1/128 or even 1/64 power isn't enough. Maybe finding 10 or so used Yongnuo YN560 flash units, or something similar, would be the way to go.
 
Oct 26, 2016 14:16:37   #
Davethehiker (a regular here)
 
Apaflo wrote:
Errr, Dave... don't be so modest! We aren't going to tell you anything that you can't describe in better detail than we know! That PDF is just fascinating!

I spotted a couple of interesting comments. One was that someone told you the Sony flash units had a time of 1/80,000 at 1/32 power. I really doubt that! As you no doubt are aware flashes like the Nikon SB-800 are rated at 1/17800 at 1/32 power, the Canon 580EX at 1/19841 at 1/128 power, and every other flash I've ever seen was similar. The Paul C Buff E640 Einstein strobes are rated at 1/13514 at 2.5 WS (same power as an SB-800 at 1/32 power), so that isn't any help either.

Another point was that with a Sony A900 full frame sensor you found f/9 was the limit because of diffraction. Later, with an A77ii APS-C sensor you are shooting at f/16 and getting great detail. That would suggest you may have learned better processing technique (sharpening tools)? If you get it right, using either Unsharp Mask or some form of Richardson-Lucy Deconvolution tools, it is probably possible to go at least to f/22, and maybe as high as f/32 when using a full frame sensor. That might be overly optimistic for a 42 MP sensor... Give it a try and see how far you can go.

I'm not so sure that a higher pixel count is the solution. For example a Nikon D500 has half the pixel count of a Sony A99ii, but it has a higher pixel density, meaning that it can produce higher resolution images. The Sony A99ii has 110.5 lp/mm, the D500 has 118.2 and a D7200 is at 128.2. If the D7200 can focus fast enough, that is a better choice, and I would assume that it does. It would be very interesting to shoot some of these shots with a D7200 using a Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 lens.

But, given the camera you have and the camera on order... perhaps the most viable option is to find at least several cheap flash units that pulse at less than about 1/15,000 per second at some reasonable power level. 1/128 or even 1/64 power isn't enough. Maybe finding 10 or so used Yongnuo YN560 flash units, or something similar, would be the way to go.
Errr, Dave... don't be so modest! We aren't going... (show quote)


Thanks. A couple of quick remarks addressing the points you made:

Back when I wrote that PDF article I was using the Sony A900 and was getting advice from people I respected about the dangers of diffraction. Personally I never experienced any that I could notice. Later I switched to the A77II and stopped worrying about diffraction.

I have played with Deconvolution tools and have sometimes got good results. I did not use them for my Hummingbird photos.

I have no idea what the duration of Sony flashes are 1/32 power! I made a lot of effort to find out but Sony does seem to publish that any where. I think shorter light pulses might help on the wing tips but I'm not sure. At one time I had a friend who owned a good memory oscilloscope and had the ability to make measurements like that, but I moved and not longer have access to such equipment. First I want to correct the mistake I have been making with depth of field. Then I might take on getting flashes with shorter duration. My feeling is that if I can capture the texture of the feathers in BOTH wings, that might be good enough. Some blur on the tips of the fast moving wing tips my be unnoticeable or perhaps even desirable.

Just a few minutes ago I was experimenting by photographing wooden chess pieces sitting on a chess board using that 300mm f/2.8 lens at f/19. The chess pieces are about the same size as a humming bird and look good. I'll be doing more experiments when he A99II shows up.

Thank you for sharing all your thoughts.
Oct 26, 2016 15:25:53   #
Davethehiker (a regular here)
 
Using the handy-dandy f-stop app that I just bought and the magic of a search the google search engine, I found out the wing span of ruby throated hummingbird is about 4 inches, so that is all the depth of field I need. Using the app I only need to have the camera about 9 feet from the bird and use f/22 with that 300mm lens and both wings will appear to be in focus.

Next spring I'm going to be ready! The "trap focus" ability of that lens and camera should enable to get more pictures next Spring. I know within an inch where the bird will be coming to feed. Only after the bird flies into the correct spot will the lens be able to focus on it, only then will the shutter open and all six flashes fire at the same time.
Oct 26, 2016 16:14:35   #
Architect1776 (a regular here)
 
Davethehiker wrote:
Using the handy-dandy f-stop app that I just bought and the magic of a search the google search engine, I found out the wing span of ruby throated hummingbird is about 4 inches, so that is all the depth of field I need. Using the app I only need to have the camera about 9 feet from the bird and use f/22 with that 300mm lens and both wings will appear to be in focus.

Next spring I'm going to be ready! The "trap focus" ability of that lens and camera should enable to get more pictures next Spring. I know within an inch where the bird will be coming to feed. Only after the bird flies into the correct spot will the lens be able to focus on it, only then will the shutter open and all six flashes fire at the same time.
Using the handy-dandy f-stop app that I just bough... (show quote)


Poor bird.
Oct 26, 2016 16:24:06   #
Davethehiker (a regular here)
 
Architect1776 wrote:
Poor bird.

LOL, You would think the flashes would scare the birds away, but they quickly learn to ignore them and just enjoy the free meal.
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