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Reflections on shooting dark birds if flight: 150-600mm zooms vs FF length and FF vs APSc.

Reflections on shooting dar

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#1 dave's clichés

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 10:37 AM

Hi guys,

              After a few years of very amateur shooting BIF from the Bigma 50-500mm F4/6.3 (MkI) then to the Tamron 150-600mm A011 then the excellent A022/G2 version and the AF-S 500mm ED F4D, I just wanted to pass some comments.

 

  The G2 and the D500 seem like the perfect combination and it almost is.....at least for "most"  BIF shooting .......the caveats are you need good light, preferably sunny conditions, typical settings are M mode 1/1600 @ F8 at around 250-500 ISO, given that, in most situations there are few problems and one can expect very decent images.

 

  The problem comes when shooting dark birds such as vultures and dark brown Ibis for example, for the most part you are shooting from a lower viewpoint than the bird and it's underside is in shadow.       Dark brown in shadow reflects very little light on to the sensor, looking at PS's histogram figures from 0-255, on the underside of a vulture, I'm getting numbers like 10-30, hopelessly noisy.

      .....a light gathering light war ensues, juggling ISOs / shutter speeds and aperture, in the end you lose the war!

 FF sensors:

   The D750 goes some way to solving the problem in the same conditions, producing much less noisy images which in turn gives sharper images, (using the whole G2's field of coverage), in fact it seems that in theses testing situations the FF sensor does way better than the "claimed noise differences" of around a stop, in these situations I think it's closer to 2 stops of improvement........but you have lost the reach advantage, but, the battle is not lost.

 

   The other option is to climb these cliffs with 7 Kgs of backpack (4.2 Kgs of AF-S 500mm+ D500+ water+ bits and bobs....heavy when you are climbing a slope of 35-45%)

 

       .......... but you can shoot the D500 at F4 (750mm equivalent) giving you 2 extra stops of light.

   The same lens on the D750 gives a three stop advantage, but with only 500mm of reach.

 

  So for dark BIF shooting unfortunately the G2 and D500 just can't cut it and it's no surprise that pro shooters still want their very low noise D4s/ D5s and their heavy and expensive pro lenses.......until sensors can improve by 2 stops the old rules of the game remain, the bigger the better.....both for sensors and lenses!

 

 

  

https://www.flickr.c.../124690178@N08/


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#2 Klaus

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 01:23 PM

I think it's also worth to remember that something like the 500mm f/4 has a higher contrast than a long range zoom lens. If you have fine tonal variations in feathers or so that'll make a difference as well - resolution isn't everything.


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#3 dave's clichés

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 02:52 PM

 Who wouldn't have thought the Nikor would out contrast the G2?...  but look here!

 

 

  Well the Nikor starts off with low contrast at F4 by F8 it's decent!

 

   the G2 starts off at F6.3, here at 600mm just to make things difficult for it,and it's as good as the Nikor at F 7.1,

 

  At F8 there's not much between them!

 

  Hey didn't the G2 do well both in sharpness and in contrast?  

 

  Are you surprised? the difference shows the progress of the latest modern zooms!

 

  Anyway the "outcome" is you need enough light on the sensor to "bury the noise", the Tamron on dark BIF  just can't do it, and believe me I've tried, once they sit on a branch and you can shoot at 1/320 sec. your back in business.



#4 dave's clichés

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 02:52 PM

Now here's the Nikor, the G2  has more contrast!

 

BTW. Only the slightest change to brightness, all other settings were the same.

 

 This is an older Nikor design nearly twenty years ago!

 

 Who would have thunk it?  All shots on APSc D500!

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#5 dave's clichés

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 03:01 PM

The strangest thing is happening on this site to my images!  I'll try again......

 

             ......anyway I got there in the end!

 

All shots on APSc D500!

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#6 JoJu

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 03:04 PM

I already thought "the strangest images are happening to this site."  :lol: I luv it.

 

First the dark birds, I, thought "raven", you delivered something brownish. Now we go to labels, shot with a 500 mm, hell, yes.



#7 dave's clichés

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 03:31 PM

I already thought "the strangest images are happening to this site."  :lol: I luv it.

 

First the dark birds, I, thought "raven", you delivered something brownish. Now we go to labels, shot with a 500 mm, hell, yes.

Perched labels!  :o



#8 Klaus

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 12:20 AM

Now here's the Nikor the G2  has more contrast!

 

BTW. Only the slightest change to brightness, all other settings were the same.

 

 This is an older Nikor design nearly twenty years ago!

 

 Who would have thunk it?

 

 

I have a hard time to believe that a normal sample of a Nikkor AF-S 500mm f/4 is that pathetic at f/4 ...


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#9 dave's clichés

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 02:55 AM

Pathetic?

 

 The lens is fine, that is a huge crop!!  It's contrast just isn't great wide open.

 

The first image on my Flickr page of the vulture is taken at F4 on the D750, most of my shots are at taken wide open with it!

  

Both moderately cropped.

 

How do they look to you?

 

https://www.flickr.c...eposted-public/

 

  another....wide open

 

https://www.flickr.c...eposted-public/

 

 

    Sorry Klaus, but I'm not seeing "that pathetic"!



#10 Klaus

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 10:39 AM

Well, your sample crops show grey letters rather than black ones. I'm really baffled that this shall be normal unless you used a linear tone curve or maybe those letters aren't black in the first place. If such a prime lens can't produce deep blacks at f/4, then ...

 

Were these sample crops taken at ISO 3200 or so ?

 

Maybe I shouldn't provoke so much ;-)


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#11 dave's clichés

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 12:07 PM

 First off; the ticket in the boat window has been sitting in the south facing sun for some years and is faded, but I was showing comparative shots rather than reference images, so I wouldn't worry so about the depth of blacks here.

 

  The lens is composed of 11 elements in nine groups with an additional  protective front element of which 3 are ED.  Earlier manual models were around nine elements.

 The latest VRII model weighs 720 gms less and has an optical formula of 16 elements in 12 groups with 3 ED elements, extra nano-coatings.  In short there has been optical improvements over the last 20 years, since the introduction of my version.   

 

 

  The lens came with it's valise and a review of the day from "Chasseurs D'images" which I've photocopied here, it shows that according to their tests the center of the lens is as sharp as it gets already by F4, and it only nearly reaches very good values, although softer at the edges, at  F5.6 it's as good as it can do across the frame and F8 drops a little further. Personally, I would say that those figures are a little pessimistic.

 

 

  Exposure was 1/2000 F4 at ISO 250 at least for the second shot.

 

   The fact that the Tamron G2 does so well is testimony to the recent advances in tele-zoom lens design in terms of sharpness flare and contrast and has to much extent made the 500mm F4 lenses less expensive on the S/H market. 

 

  It just needs to let in more light!

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#12 Klaus

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 12:56 PM

No worries. I do well believe that this is an excellent lens ... which is why I have a hard time to believe that it is inferior to the G2.

Just because of diffraction alone, f/4 should be better than f/6.3 on the G2 assuming that the lens is well centered.

 

These zoom lenses are darn good, yes, but at least I can see a difference in quality when it comes to the rendition of fine details within very white or very dark structures (like feathers). The word "micro-contrast" is a bit overused but it is exactly that (which is high resolution in conjunction with high contrast).

The sample images of the Sigma 150-600mm C are undoubtedly sharp but that micro-contrast is missing (at 50mp).


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#13 stoppingdown

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 01:16 PM

BTW, Dave, excellent stuff at Flicker's! I planned to try a trip for the vultures in the high valley of Verdon, but I had to give up. I'll retry in September.


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Sony a6300, Sony a6000, Sony NEX-6, Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS, Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS, Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS, Sigma 150-600mm ƒ/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary, Samyang 12mm ƒ/2, Sigma 30mm F2.8 DN | A, Meyer Gorlitz Trioplan 100mm ƒ/2.8, Samyang 8mm ƒ/3.5 fish-eye II | Zenit Helios 44-2 58mm ƒ/2 
Plus some legacy Nikkor lenses.

#14 dave's clichés

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 07:59 PM

BTW, Dave, excellent stuff at Flicker's! I planned to try a trip for the vultures in the high valley of Verdon, but I had to give up. I'll retry in September.

Thanks stoppingdown! us vulture hunters need all the help we can get here...........

 

       .......hope you have a good run of luck!!......go well!



#15 dave's clichés

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 08:05 PM

No worries. I do well believe that this is an excellent lens ... which is why I have a hard time to believe that it is inferior to the G2.

Just because of diffraction alone, f/4 should be better than f/6.3 on the G2 assuming that the lens is well centered.

 

These zoom lenses are darn good, yes, but at least I can see a difference in quality when it comes to the rendition of fine details within very white or very dark structures (like feathers). The word "micro-contrast" is a bit overused but it is exactly that (which is high resolution in conjunction with high contrast).

The sample images of the Sigma 150-600mm C are undoubtedly sharp but that micro-contrast is missing (at 50mp).

Sometimes there is a big difference between theory and practice?

 

   Tele-zooms are a prime example of that!

 

   I'm certain that the 50Mps sensor is for perfect situations that don't correlate with my tele-experiences!



#16 Klaus

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 12:23 AM

I don't know the G2 lens so maybe you are absolutely correct and I am totally wrong. 

 

My comments were based on those sample crops of the conference batch cards

(BTW, D500 = 20.9mp APS-C -> interpolated to FF equiv. = 49mp).


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#17 dave's clichés

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 12:56 AM

  I'm sure the G2 wouldn't do well against the modern 500mm VRII Nikor or the latest Canon equivalent!

 

 

   Anyway it's interesting to see the actual results from an expensive pro lens of the day vs a budget tele-zoom.

 

    No matter how good the G2 it still can't quite cut it before F7.1 whereas the Nikor is sharp from F4 (if you don't mind using the clarity/contrast slider)  

 That 1 1/3 rd extra stops comes at a price though.......  2.2 kgs of more weight!






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