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New Contributor
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎01-02-2013

bird photography

I am just getting into bird photography.  I recently purchased a Rebel T3 with a 70-300mm (not IS) lens hoping to get great close up pictures.  I'm not getting that - photographed a cardinal 40 feet away and in the picture the bird is very small and can't make out any detail even with the using the 300mm setting.     I appreciate any responses.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,861
Registered: ‎12-02-2012

Re: bird photography

[ Edited ]

If the problem is the bird appearing tiny in the photo, there is not all that much you can do other than to get closer to him.  Wild birds are small, and it just takes a heck of a lens to make them look big.  Birders shoot 400mm to 600mm or even 800-1200 by using 1.4x or 2.0x teleconverters. 

 

I hang feeders outside my window, and tape paper on the glass with just enough opening for me to see out and shoot him without him seeing me too much.  I can get them to pose nicely for me at just about 12 feet away by luring them in like this.  Of course, you get a lot of shots of your bird feeder that way.  To get a more "natural" scene, you can find (or cut) a small tree branch and hang it near the bird feeder so you can shoot the birds on a branch waiting for a slot in the feeder, rather than on the feeder.

 

You can also crop the shot on your computer to make the bird look bigger, but it very very quickly degrades the image quality so there is a real limit to how much you would want to blow a shot up that way.

 

Also, be sure that if you are shooting at 300mm on your camera, you set a shutter speed equal to or faster than the mm length of the lens TIMES your 1.6 crop sensor factor.  (300 x 1.6 = 480, rounded up to 1/500 of a second shutter speed for a still bird.)  If the bird is walking/twitching a lot, you may need to increase shutter speed to 1/640 or 1/800 or 1/1000 to compensate.  If he is flying, you would need much faster than that to stop him from looking blurred (and a lot of luck).

 

You can get by with a slower shutter (if the bird is stationary) if you use a tripod and a remote/cable release to eliminate camera shake.

 

You can't use a Canon teleconverter with your 70-300mm lens, but you could use a 3rd party model.  Just be sure to shoot in very bright light because the teleconverters steal a stop or 2 of light (in aperture), and they also force you to use an even higher shutter speed if hand-holding due to the effective focal length being longer.  They also degrade image quality, more IQ than a modestly-priced lens like the 70-300 can spare.  Honestly I would not reccomend a teleconverter in your situation.

 

How much a part of your photography are bird shots?

Scott

Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,328
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: bird photography

Pretty good advice from Scotty. Feeders are about the best way to get close to many species and as stated longer lenses help a lot but they aren't cheap.

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎04-23-2013

Re: bird photography

Thank you ScottyP I have the same camera as Candy and was having the same results. I just ordered

a 2x converter. I know it might not AF as it's not Canon and I might lose two  F stops. But I'm no good at

sneaking up on animals. New here and glad to be here.

Highlighted
VIP
Posts: 10,901
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: bird photography

[ Edited ]

Absolutely mandatory is a good tripod. I use a Manfrotto 55 Pro. They don't come with heads either!

I have four feeders out side of the window in a Red Bud tree. I remove the glass in the storm window and shoot some pretty nice shots from inside the house!

Second mandatory, is a post processing program. On a budget, I recommend Photo Shop Elements.

Sometimes it is too cold to remove the storm window and this shot was taken through the window glass!

 

IMG_1436x.jpg

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, along with less and less other stuff.
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎04-23-2013

Re: bird photography

Candy I'm new at this also but I went to the B&H online shop and looked at converters.

Then I called them because I sure can't afford $900.+ for a 500mm lens. So I ordered

a tele converter made by Tamron 2x which per the salesman at B&H will work with the

Canon 300mm lens though may not AF. I pick it up tomorrow I'll let you know how it is

the price was $189.  So one newbie to another. Guys jump in if you want.

VIP
Posts: 10,901
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: bird photography

Ladies remember a couple things. The 70-300mm is a slow lens to begin with now adding a 2x TC is going to cost you 2-stops.

(I.E.. From f5.6 to f11) What this means is, good light and a lot of it to get shutter speeds up. Also, the center of the lens is going to be the sharpest so try to keep your subject (birds) in the center. 

A 300mm lens on a crop camera makes it appear like a 480mm already. Adding a 2x converter makes it act like a 960mm.

Holding that focal length steady is going to be a real challenge so the tripod is mandatory.

Good luck and good birding,

EB

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, along with less and less other stuff.
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: bird photography

You will probably need to use manual focus as well, just FYI.

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎04-23-2013

Re: bird photography

OK been out with the converter. I like it. Yes I do sometimes have to use MF. The

Camera does AF but I don't think it allows for the converter. But I'm happy with it.

I set the camera (Reb3) 300mm lens in P and let it run. Did some geese flying

and some snow cap mountains.  Will be going out tomorrow and will take the

tripod. Thank you all for your help.

VIP
Posts: 10,901
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: bird photography

Success is sweet!Smiley Very Happy

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, along with less and less other stuff.
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