View Full Version : More Birds

01-07-2011, 08:29 PM
So I'd like to get your guys opinion on whether or not these bird shots are sharper/clearer then most of my other shots. My shots are Never sharp enough, so I tried something different. I still think they could be sharper, but i think the sharpness is a little better then before, what do u think?
( not sure if this is in the right section, feel free to move it )





01-07-2011, 10:23 PM
Most of the shots appear fine except for the seagull. Vertical blurring on the back of the head would indicate to me you are pushing the exposure button too hard and the right side of the camera is dropping during the procedure. Concentrate on squeezing the button rather than pushing it. You can have someone stand right in front of you a foot or two away while you take photos and watch for movement.

If you are trying isolate equipment from technique the first thing you need to do is eliminate your own interaction. A heavy stable tripod with a remote release (or delayed exposure) is a must. Odds are you will see a drastic improvement in the photos which allows you to stop questioning the source of the problem. It's the photographer. You can then work on technique until you find the posture, stance and grip that suits you the best. Just as a comment....being from Calgary (Chinooks) and now in Victoria ( on and off shore breezes) I have little regard for carbon fibre tripods. Use something with some substance that won't move around in the wind. If you have to add weight to stabalize it you might as well save some money and purchase a solid tripod that wasn't made strictly for hiking up the mountain. It's just basic physics. A rock and a sandbag provide a more stable cradle in windy conditions and would be more in line with your steps toward improving the clarity of your photos. You'll get lots of opinions (some conflicting) that you can consider but in the end you'll have to work at logically evaluating and finding your own best solution.

01-08-2011, 01:40 AM
:sad::sad::sad:... thanks for the tips.

01-08-2011, 07:15 AM
:sad::sad::sad:... thanks for the tips.

don't be sad Jude, Andrew gives some good advice. A tip if you don't have a tripod with you- use 'burst' one of them may be nice and sharp. the tricky part about birds (well, actually they are all tricky) is that you need to have the eye sharp. But it's so darn small it's hard to get it focussed on before they move. Mad Aussie did a little turorial here on selective sharpening of the eye.
take this :twocents: for what it's worth- I have yet to have a bird shot I'm happy with.

01-08-2011, 10:13 AM
Hey Jude,
I share your frustrations. I always try to get sharper images from bird photography. One thing that I have learnt is that it is very difficult to shoot them. Because they are very beautiful, you might try to get every shot as perfect as possible. Unfortunately, that is not possible. Try your best in every session but if you get 1 good shot per day is very good. If you get more than that even better but for sure you will not get many good picture our of each session.

One additional thing from my experience, if you want a sharper images, take time in focusing even if you sometime have to loose the shots as some of this birds are so hectic.

As one can see from your shots, you have good sharpness in bigger birds. So for me, you technical skills in focusing is good enough. For the smaller birds, I guess its difficult for everybody. I guess.

Anyway, you agree with me that bird photography takes a lot of time which a lot of funnnnnn.

01-08-2011, 12:06 PM
Thanks for all the responses guys. I guess I really didn't explain what I was trying to ask. Since I'm still new with this camera, its always been in Auto focus. Since I photograph alot of moving animals and bugs i thought focusing would be way faster and easier if i left it in auto. Ive gotten 2 shots out of maybe 5000 that I feel are sharp enough.
The last couple days its been raining, I was bored so was photographing a small buddha face on my shelf. Of course it wasn't sharp enough, so i switched it to manual, and BAM!!! sharpness!!!! so sharp i could see the sandstone grain on the face, and watermarks on the surface i hadn't even noticed with my eyes.

These two photos were taken on different days but at the same rocks and about the same distance


I personally think that maybe my auto focus isn't that great. Its a Canon XS.
I will try shooting with a tripod when i can afford a good one. The one i have now is so flimsy it can only handle the weight of the camera with the kit lens, so I only use it for sunsets.

thanks everyone

01-08-2011, 01:19 PM
Sorry if the wording on my first post seemed wrong. No beratement intended at all. Only some suggestions on improvements from experience. My hands shake bad enough that I have carried a unipod with me for years. More recently the tripod makes most of the trips. I'm not familiar with your camera but with mine I have to be really careful on what autofocus mode I'm using and what else is in the photo. I prefer spot metering but with moving objects I found that more often than not something behind the subject was in focus. So much so that I went through the process of checking the lenses with a target setup. The autofocus on your camera may just not be fast enough for some movements. In the last two examples you provided look at the one that was on auto focus. The birds appear a bit soft on my screen but I can see the tiny ripples in the water beside the rocks behind them quite clearly. This looks like the focus was on the water, not on the birds.

01-08-2011, 03:35 PM
I would suggest that you are experiencing a problem with your use of autofocus. The second shot 1/250sec at 250mm at f5.6 looks fine. The first shot at 1/400sec at 250mm at f5.6 should be just as sharp or sharper since the shutter speed is faster and would minimize camera shake. Assuming you shot them both with the same level of steadiness the issue you are running into is likely the autofocus settings you are using. I highly recommend spot focus and use the centre spot as the focus point. Focus and then recompose, then shoot. And since you are shooting with the Canon XS I would go so far as highly suggest you try back button focus. This lets you set the focus point with a button on the back of the camera and then the shutter button is only used for shutter release. So, you can set your focus then take many shots without worrying about the focus changing. I know I am very happy with my current use of back button focus.

Last, but not least, see if you can move to f8 through f11 when shooting. F5.6 is probably at the widest aperture setting on that lens and f8 through f11 will generally be a touch sharper. What lens are you using?

01-08-2011, 05:16 PM
Since using center spot focus instead of wide angle focus has already been suggested ... I would like to point out something that you have done very well here :) ... you have caught beautiful "catch lights" in both of the Robins eyes . That is something that is very important in bird photography , as it brings the birds to life.