01-19-2014 04:21 PM - edited 02-17-2014 11:18 PM
New member here! I decided to join the Canon Forum by first responding to a Canon SX50 thread about suggestions regarding camera settings that might prove helpful in bird & wildlife photography. I own the Canon SX40 & SX50 and wanted to do my part to contribute here by sharing some strategies I use and that might prove helpful to you, as well. So here's my official new thread!
Here's my Canon SX50 HS Gallery
I also have a bird specific gallery that contains many additional images taken with my Canon SX40, as well:
Here's my Canon SX50 HS SOOC Gallery
What I've learned so far:
I believe four main factors have helped me get the type of images from the SX50 I'm very happy with.
1. Shooting primarily in Shutter Priority Mode or Manual Mode so I have control over shutter speed, which I set as high as possible for each scene.
2. Adjusting Exposure Compensation values for each and every shot when using Shutter Priority Mode or Aperture Priority Mode.
3. Using Center-Weighted-Average Metering.
4. Using the "Framing Assist - Lock" feature is extremely effective when using the camera at, or near, maximum zoom. It's a button located ON the camera that you press while composing the shot. The use of this feature is explained on page 57 of the manual. Along with the other strategies I use to obtain sharp hand-held images when shooting toward the long end of the zoom, this extra bit of stabilization the Framing Assist - Lock provides really helps.
I don't use a tripod when I take bird & wildlife photos. With a zoom this generous and especially on a point-and-shoot camera, it's helped me immensely to shoot in either Manual Mode or Shutter Priority Mode because I can increase the shutter speed to very high values and by doing so, greatly reduce hand-held camera shake. Along with the excellent image-stabilization performance of the camera, this combination (fast shutter speed & image-stabilization) gives my photos that extra bit of clarity people often comment on. Many of the photos on my website were taken at near or maximum zoom! Fast shutter speeds must not only be thought of for reducing subject motion blur.
Also, I'm a heavy user of the "Exposure Compensation" features this camera has to offer and this allows me to effectively control the level of lightness or darkness I want in the final image while shooting in Shutter Priority Mode and Aperture Priority Mode and is a good strategy before I'm forced to increase the ISO level thereby helping to keep noise levels to a minimum. In Shutter Priority Mode the camera automatically selects the aperture value. While Aperture Priority Mode is an excellent way to get great photos with this camera, I mostly focus on single subjects in my photography, like birds, so depth of field isn't as important to me and I'm able to control light entering the camera in other ways. I specifically set an exposure compensation value for every shot I take. Although the values might change slightly from shot to shot, and depend on the amount of bright sulight striking the subject, they're usually in the minus range of say, -1.3 to -1.0, or lower in some cases. This is critical to the style and "look" of what I want in an image. I prefer a slightly "darker tone" in my images and along with keeping the ISO values as close to ISO 80 or ISO 100 as possible, this is how I achieve images with such deep and rich color chiefly because I'm preventing the camera from producing an overexposed image. This is especially how I capture fine feather detail in white feathered birds such as egrets. Many small sensor point-and-shoot cameras tend to "overexpose" the image resulting in "blown-out highlights" producing images that often lack nice color quality and sharpness so I intentionally "underexpose" the image a bit and get exactly what I desire. The results simply look more dramatic and naturally sharper, in my opinion. In post-processing the only "correction" I ever really need to make is a one-click "Auto Contrast" in Photoshop Elements. I never have to sharpen an image. Each image on my website will display the actual settings used for that particular photo and is a good way to see the shutter speeds and the exposure compensation settings that were used, as well. Finally, I like the results I get using Center-Weighted- Average Metering.
So far, these are the core settings I've been using:
“Recording Pixel Setting" (Image Size) is set to "L" for LARGE 12M 4000x3000 & "Compression Ratio" (Image Quality) is set to "SUPERFINE JPEG." I use Continuous Auto-Focus, Auto-Focus Frame: FlexiZone, Center-Weighted-Average Metering, Spot AE is set to Center. I stay as close to ISO 80 or 100 as possible, although this camera seems to do quite well with slightly higher ISO values with regard to visible "noise." High ISO NR is set to "Standard" and I NEVER USE AUTO ISO. Image Stabilization is set to: Continuous, and I select the appropriate white-balance PRESET icon for the particular weather condition, and I never use the "AWB" preset icon. I prefer to shoot using Burst Mode. I do not use i-Contrast, Dynamic Range Correction or Shadow Correction, either.
Since I DO NOT use "Custom Colors," settings regarding Sharpness, Contrast, and Saturation remain at their Default (ZERO) points, so therefore, I have not pressed any buttons to increase these values beyond their factory defaults. I shoot all my photographs via the LCD which remains at the factory default brightness. This should cover most of the main settings I use and I'll have to dig deeper into the menus to see if there are some new settings or features in the SX50 I haven't noticed yet.