ISO Advice on Small, Agile DSLR

Musicvid wrote on 2/17/2019, 10:39 AM

I got a surprise along with my new penthouse condo, that being periodic close encounters with a half-dozen Golden Eagles from the State Park just down the street. In the coldest winter winds, the immature eagles have staged several kamikaze-style raids from inches over my roof to the courtyard below, much to the displeasure of resident squirrels and such. Even saw a Star Wars style pursuit and fight from a pair of Perrigrines through the courtyard. A breathtaking personal encounter, but one not very likely to be believed.

@amendegw (who incidentally was nominated in the National Geographic 2017 Nature Photographer of the Year competition) [corrected by correspondent] and others, what advice do you have for a tripod-mounted hobbyist DSLR and lens to capture these guys at distances of 7-40 meters in fairly decent lighting? I know I asked this before, but I am on a supertight hobby budget this year.

Or would a Canon G-Series be enough? They have a reputation for good non-interchangeable glass.

Jerry, I would devour volumes of tips and techniques, if you have compiled some

I am hyperfocused this weekend, not only because of two stunning flyovers this past week, but because of my sister's brilliant life, who would be 68 tomorrow. She was kind of a Temple Grandin of Ornithology, and believed she could talk to birds (ha!)

I believe that is a red-tail hawk taken at Moorpark on then left, and Perrigrine chicks from the UC Santa Cruz project on the right.


amendegw wrote on 2/17/2019, 12:22 PM


Wow! What a treat to see Golden Eagles & Peregrine Falcons from your balcony!

From your description. it sounds like you're going to try to shoot birds-in-flight. That's a bit more challenging that perched birds. As such, I have good news and bad...

The bad news is... for birds-in-flight, a point and shoot is probably not up focusing quickly enough and locking focus on birds that are moving quickly.

The good news is... you probably won't need a tripod as that can be a hindrance for fast moving objects. Look at the Olympic sports shooters. They only use monopods for heavy equipment - that's because it's too heavy to hand hold for long periods of time. If the camera / lens is light enough, there's no reason to use a monopod. You'll need a shutter speed of 1/1500-1/2000 sec in order to stop the action anyway.

Here's what I'd recommend for the minimum to get quality shots of eagles & falcons. Check the used sites and see if you find a used Canon 7D and a used Canon 400mm F/5.6. You should be able to find this combo for $1000 or there about. That may be more than you want to spend but you should get good results. There may be cheaper options for other brands but I'm a Canon shooter and only really have expertise there. I will say, for birds-in-flight you pretty much need a DSLR. Mirrorless cameras are not ready for prime time yet in this area.

So, good luck and post back if you have any questions.


PS: Just to be completely up front. I wasn't Nat Geo Photographer of the year. Rather I had several images that were editors' selections for online galleries. You might consider that as making it to the finals.

Musicvid wrote on 2/17/2019, 2:25 PM



I had forgotten so much since my days at Pallas, where Mike Spencer (d., Colorado), Art Gore, and occasionally John Fielder were welcome protagonists. I have used a 7D from a friend, maybe I should see if he is looking to sell it.

Well, you are photograper of the millenium in my eyes. You print for the highlights, which is a lost art form in these digital days (remember our hairsplitting discussions with Nick?). This is the link I saw, now I see your Rorsach photo was part of a competition.



amendegw wrote on 2/17/2019, 3:41 PM
You print for the highlights, which is a lost art form in these digital days (remember our hairsplitting discussions with Nick?).

Ah yes! The good old days. For every photo I process, the first thing I look at is the highlights & shadows for detail. And I thank you, Nick and the others in this group for hammering that concept home. There is a great Photoshop filter from DxO called the NIK -> Color Efex Pro 4 -> Detail Extractor that does an amazing job of recovering details from blown whites & crushed blacks. Thank goodness I don't have to worry about applying a cRGB to sRGB filter for stills! 😃


Musicvid wrote on 2/17/2019, 5:20 PM

Unless you are making a vanilla video. Less is definitely not more In that setting. Are you shooting 4k 16 bit stills yet, or is the camera sluggish? Too much dynamic range is a good problem to have in that darkroom. NIK filters have a good following in product photography, in which I dabble.

Musicvid wrote on 2/17/2019, 5:53 PM

There is an immature golden that perches on a 60 ft. Austrian Pine outside my balcony. He(?) will sit until covered in snow, then literally fall off sideways allowing his parafoil to fill. I can see him go into F16 mode just before he makes ground, then gone in a flash. I honestly didn't believe my eyes the first time I saw it, and didn't tell anyone, but the same attack strategy was carried out right in front of me this week. They are creatures of learned habit, aren't they? Now I know the reason for my sister's fascination with their behavior patterns, not only photo ops. Explaining her bilateral connection with these guys is something I could never explain. She showed the same kind of connection with beasts on a mission to Kenya. East Africa.

amendegw wrote on 2/18/2019, 3:58 AM

Are you shooting 4k 16 bit stills yet, or is the camera sluggish? .

Well, it's a bit different in still photography (at least in the area of terminology). I've gone overboard with my main camera which is a Canon 1Dx Mark II where I can capture 14 fps in (Canon proprietary) RAW format which is 14 bit and 20.2 megapixels 5472x3648. That format converts nicely to another proprietary (Adobe) format in Lightroom where I do most of my editing. The original Canon 7D also shoots in 14 bit RAW at 18 MP, 5184x3456 and 8 fps which are very good specs for shooting wildlife.

Wildlife photography can be take you into the world over very heavy crops. Sometimes I'll go hog wild as illustrated in the attached examples (assisted by an amazing software product called Topaz AI Gigapixel, you can Google it).

Well, all of this is a bit off topic from video editing and Vegas Software but sometimes I get started and can't stop myself. 😃


vkmast wrote on 2/18/2019, 4:18 AM

Well, all of this is a bit off topic from video editing and Vegas Software but sometimes I get started and can't stop myself. 😃

@amendegw, not to worry 🙃. Starting this topic @Musicvid forethoughtfully chose to follow his own advice and your "recipes" have been and still are always welcomed by not only him but by many others as well.

Musicvid wrote on 2/18/2019, 6:06 AM

@amendegw @vkmast

And I've found putting my post here in OT deters drive-by trolling, (except the kind I like :-).

Question of the day -- can anyone really be off topic when posting in an off-topic forum?

For heaven's sake, Jerry, please don't try to stop yourself.

Jerry and I will remember times when we could post our recipes right in the Video forum (there was no OT oasis then) without fear of inciting World War 3.

Vkmast, I'm a bit shocked. Have you not yet read and committed to memory keywords for all of the old SCS threads? That's where I get my best one-liners. What I can remember, that is...

And thanks for sharing all the thoughts and detail, keep it coming! An open ear (and one is all I have now) awaits every sound bite. I've really missed all of our discusions, and yes, tests! Looking at my "grading" posts on this forum, the most remarkable thing about them is being completely thwarted from trying to drag even one of the "winners" on to level turf.

Hmm, makes me wonder if the newest generation in the age of social media has another vision? Could it be about winning? Let's hurry up and talk about everything, before this last cell of resistance is found out and annihilated. And don't even try dropping the Adams bomb in the Video place.

Meanwhile, if a tree falls in the forest...?



Musicvid wrote on 2/18/2019, 11:50 AM

And hats off again for reminding me of the obvious; 4k source is much better for cropped 1080 than it is for 4k delivery, unless we all have 120" screens?

Why do I keep rediscovering old truths as if for the first time?

And why do I make new friends who already know my name?

I bet I could hide my own Easter Eggs this year and never find them.