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Thread: Am I expecting too much from my lens??

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    Am I expecting too much from my lens??

    Hi everyone. I have a 70-300mm kit lens that came with my Olympus E520 camera. On the weekend we went out for a drive and saw a bird that we thought was unusual, so we turned around to try to get a few snaps.
    The bird had flown back into its nest and I could just see it's head poking out of the nest. I took a few shots but they all seemed to be out of focus. In some, the tree branches in front of the bird where more in focus than the bird, so I figured that, due to the camera being on AUTO, the lens had tuned into the branches first and not the bird, so I understand that part.
    I then saw some parrots on the ground so zoomed in on them. They were about 50 feet away, but all of the photos seem out of focus, the foreground, the birds and the background. The settings on these photos were AUTO 180 F5.6 0.0 300mm ISO 100.
    I changed position a little and the settings changed to AUTO 80 F5.6 0.0 300mm ISO 100. These are a little brighter due to the shutter speed being a bit longer, right????

    I then tried to take a photo of a bird in a tree which was about 60 ft away from me. I took one photo with the camera in P mode. settings were P 250 F5.0 0.0 70mm ISO100. The bird and the branches of the tree are not in focus. Next I tried to zoom in as far as the lens would allow and took another shot. Settings were P 100 F5.6 0.0 300mm ISO 100. Again, the bird and the tree are out of focus Should I have used a quicker shutter speed?? more ISO???
    Frustrated with this, I then focused on a tree trunk right in front of me, at least I knew the subject would not move!!!! The tree was about 20 feet away.
    I took one photo on these settings P 125 F5.6 0.0 300mm ISO 100 and the other on P 60 F5.6 0.0 300mm ISO 100. When I looked at the photo and magnified it on the camera, the markings on the bark of the tree were not clearly focused in either photo. What the heck am I doing???

    How far away from a subject can I be and still get a clear, focused picture with a 70-300mm lens????. I know I have a LOT to learn about this camera, but even on AUTO I seem to be getting hit and miss pictures. I have been reading through the lessons in the beginner section to try and get a grasp on Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO, but I am wondering if maybe I am expecting this lens to take pictures that it just cant take??? I wouldn't expect to have to use a tripod if bird watching, because it would make it nigh on impossible to set it up and get it set right before the bird flew off into the wild blue yonder. I need to be able to get photos hand held, but so far I seem to be failing miserably. Hubby is continually saying I have a crap camera, but I am sure that the camera is fine, I just haven't worked out how to use it!!!

    HELP!!!! (before I throw it on the ground and throw a massive tanty!!!)
    Last edited by aussie girl; 21-08-2012 at 10:06pm.

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    First of all - Do not worry, we have all been through it and at times we still go through it so what you are experiencing is pretty normal.

    Second - Although it is possible that your camera and lens are lemons it is not that likely so although your hubby is quite right and you should have got a Canon....Just joking It is not likely your camera is at fault although yes, kit lenses tend to be at the cheaper end ot the scale. That said they are usually fine.

    The part I think you need to look at is settings and personal skills in getting good shots of birds. I have a top of the range camera and expensive lenses and birding is still a skill I struggle with. I would say the standout of all the information you posted is shutter speeds ranging from 80 up to 250. The general rule of thumb, yes it can be broken with stablising lenses but the general rule is, have a shutter speed that is the reciprocal of your focal length. It is a simple concept to understand:

    Lens = 50mm - - keep shutter speed above 1/50
    Lens = 300mm - - keep shutter speed above 1/300.....see easy to remember

    Your camera is likely to have a crop factor to it as well, typically 1.6 for Canon, not sure for yours but it will be in that ball park. So now you have to factor that in.

    Lens = 300mm - - therefore 300 x 1.6 = 480. Soooo shutter speed above 1/480. The fastest you posted up was only 250 so that is likely a major factor.

    SO the closest one is 1/500 I would go to 640 or more likely 800 to build in some safety margin, especially to start with.

    Set your camera to shutter priority (Tv on a Canon) and set the speed to 800. Put ISO on auto.

    Go have a practice at those settings, you will need a decent amount of light but I think at this stage it is important for you to get confident in the camera. Does not matter what you shoot, just get the confidence.

    One last thought. Ever fired a rifle??? It is easy to miss the target unless you are stable in your stance and you take care to aim properly. Cameras work on the same principle, aim well, be stable and shoot like a rifle. You should get more hits that way. Treat it like a machine gun and only 1 in 10 will hit the mark

    Good luck, let us know how you get on.
    Last edited by fess67; 21-08-2012 at 11:08pm.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    First question:
    Do you have a tripod?(of any kind .. even the cheapest brand and model possible!)

    Having a tripod will help to ascertain a few starting points before you start chasing your tail trying to figure it all out.

    Get the tripod out fix camera to it, set the lens to about 70-100mm or so to begin with focus using live view if that is a feature of the camera and using either a remote shutter, or the camera's timer take a few shots of the same subject.
    Camera set to lowest ISO rating, and can be set to either manual mode or aperture priority, where you set the aperture to about 1 stop slower than wide open(ie. if f/4 is max, then use f/5.6)

    Subject matter can be anything .. from a key hole on a door, to a matchbox on a shelf, or whatever else or a cane basket.
    The only caveat with this is that whatever the subject, it must be the only thing contained within the focus area square.
    That is, if you try to focus on a single stand of spaghetti, as the spaghetti is very slim and narrow, then(unless you're shooting macro!) the spaghetti stand may not be the only item that the camera tries to focus on .. it may try to focus on the matchbox in the cane basket through the keyhole that is behind the spaghetti strand!
    Alternatively is you can create a solid colour background with no discernible features(plain backdrop of contrasting colour), any subject matter may be usable.

    The more light you can cast onto the subject to reduce the shutter speed, the better too.

    Once you have established that the camera/lens can focus accurately then you can do a few very simple tests to determine what else is going on.

    Whilst what fess said can be true, I believe that the Olympus cameras have sensor based optical stabilisation so even a shutter speed of 1/60s at 300mm can come out clear and sharp if you are careful enough.
    If you try the tripod test then be sure to turn off stabilisation tho!

    Take some shots and maybe post them here with exif info intact to be studied too.
    try to post good or bad images and maybe a crop of any important image detail specifics, such as sharpness details or blurry details of areas of interest.
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    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    As said above, plus, you have a crop factor of 2X so for a 300 lens try 600th shutter, does the 520 have IS (image stabiliser) if so use it on mode 1 ( don't use IS on a tripod though) With birds a tripod is very useful, you can setup where you know the birds will be and wait for them to come. Also you have spot metering so use that so the centre target is correctly exposed. As Fess said go practice on a static subject for a start.
    The Olympus kit lenses a generally pretty good and there is nothing wrong with the 520.
    But at the end of the day all lenses have their limits, it's just a case of finding the limit of yours.

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    You will have some problems that most will from time to time,but you will have to get closer to the birds to get good shots, my recommendations are;

    Use AV,aperture priority, try to get the shutter speed up by using a higher ISO, it is hard to get a figure as to shutter speed, some can shoot a 500 lens at 1/80 and get a good shot some use 1/500 as minimum the better you can hold steady the slower you can go,but you need to see if the bird is moving, if it is your speed will have to be a lot faster, but don`t try to do birds in flight until you can capture them stationary.

    spot metering, this means your camera will meter the area you are trying to capture.

    Continues focus this will let you focus on your subject even if it is moving.

    The other thing you can try is to roll your finger over the shutter button,if you push the button you can get motion blur,the analogy above about shooting a rifle is a good one,I have shot in international rifle shooting matches and lot of problems are due to trigger pull,the same as pushing the shutter release gives motion blur, when you have got it right you don`t know you have pulled the trigger or pressed the shutter,you will need to roll your finger to half press and roll farther to take the shot.

    This is what I try to achieve but it Will be different with others.

    Jack.

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    Going Cold Blooded outstar79's Avatar
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    Take a look here, it tells you most things you need to know about birding;

    http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...Hints-and-Tips

    Depending on how close you can get to the birds you can get good sharp shots from most lens with that focal length, the key is a good balance between ISO and shutter, you'll probably need a minimum ISO of 400 to get that shutter speed up there 1/500th and above.
    Canon 7D Mark II


    Adam Brice

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    I would've liked a pic. Would illustrate the problem.
    Am.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Some good advise above.
    Let's assume the equipment is OK. A lot of lens at their extreme ends may be a little soft. So maybe pull back a little. Take a little control over the camera settings, 'cause based on the settings the camera is giving you in auto, birding is going to be very hit and miss (why don't they have an auto bird mode ).
    Here's a photo along the lines that Jack was getting at.
    Aperture priority, spot metering and pre-set ISO. Therefore the camera took care of shutter speed and exposure.
    260mm, f/7.1, 1/1600 sec., ISO 800 and cropped a little.

    1.JPG

    - - - Updated - - -

    The lens is a 90-300. I bought it about 10 years ago for my film camera (before I know anything about DSLR). I suspect it's not a great lens!
    "Enjoy what you can do rather than being frustrated at what you can't." bobt
    Canon 80D, 60D, Canon 28-105, Sigma 150-600S.

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    Hi everyone and thanks so much for all the information, it is reassuring to know that it may not all be me
    The camera is Olympus so it works on the 4/3rds system. Not sure what the crop factor is but was aware that it does affect photos when you enlarge them.
    The camera has built in stabilisation and I always have it set on. It was set to I.S 2 so I have put it back to I.S 1.
    Spot metering - is this the same as AF Area?? It comes up with 3 dots and you can toggle from left, centre, right and all three. The camera was set to all three, but I will try it on the centre one for now. I have found another part under the menu that is called Metering but I will have to look up in my manual for further info on what each symbol means
    I had the camera set on Continual AF
    Yes I do have a tripod, a Manfrotto with a ball head. I have found though that with the 300 lens on, it seems to not be able to hold the weight and you have to set it slightly higher than you want because is drops down slightly when you let go of it, no matter how hard you lock the switch down that holds the head. No problems with the smaller lens on. It is a gymbal head so it can move all around, up and down and sideways.

    I know about rolling the shutter and I usually half press it to get it to focus before gently releasing it, I also have a remote control to activate the shutter, so can do it remotely as well, but I need to be in front of the camera to point the remote at the sensor.

    Thanks to everybody for all your wonderful information. I am intending to go back to the same site on the weekend depending on the weather. I will hopefully get some photos worth putting up on here. The bird I am trying to get a photo of is quite unusual, perhaps even rare!! Fingers crossed that I get a good snap of it this time, thanks entirely to everyone out there giving me good information! I live in hope
    thanks once again
    Last edited by aussie girl; 22-08-2012 at 11:06pm.

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    Aussie girl.
    Seriously look at a monopod for birding. You have more control, and it's easier to move around when you are in a hurry. There is no folding up/out legs, getting the camera level and fiddling around. And when you want to move to a new location. You put the whole setup on your shoulder, and walk on.
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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aussie girl View Post
    ....
    The camera is Olympus so it works on the 4/3rds system. Not sure what the crop factor is but was aware that it does affect photos when you enlarge them.
    the crop factor doesn't really affect the enlargement ability, that has more to do with the number of pixies your camera provides.
    The crop factor affects Field of View(FOV) and Depth of Field(DOF)

    The camera has built in stabilisation and I always have it set on. It was set to I.S 2 so I have put it back to I.S 1.
    Can't help here, I know nothing about those modes


    Spot metering - is this the same as AF Area?? It comes up with 3 dots and you can toggle from left, centre, right and all three. The camera was set to all three, but I will try it on the centre one for now. I have found another part under the menu that is called Metering but I will have to look up in my manual for further info on what each symbol means
    some cameras have the metering for spot and the focus point selection point linked together, some don't.
    If you are going to test whether the problem is either yourself or the lens you need to do it as 'scientifically' as possible. Keep all variables to a minimum. Use the single central focus point for any testing that you do.


    .... I had the camera set on Continual AF
    Yes I do have a tripod, a Manfrotto with a ball head. I have found though that with the 300 lens on, it seems to not be able to hold the weight and you have to set it slightly higher than you want because is drops down slightly when you let go of it, no matter how hard you lock the switch down that holds the head. No problems with the smaller lens on. It is a gymbal head so it can move all around, up and down and sideways.
    If this is what you have, at least it's something.(just for info, what tripod legs and what ballhead models?)
    If you are going to try any test, also find out if your camera has either a mirror lockup mode(best) or an exposure delay mode(it'd have to do) to confirm accuracy of focus and/or sharpness of lens testing.
    If you try to test the lens for sharpness or camera for focus accuracy and are finding that image are blurrier than you'd hoped for, usually the lens is held accountable as the most likely culprit.
    But if you've tested 'incorrectly' ... then all you may have done is to waste some time coming to an incorrect conclusion.
    If your camera doesn't have the ability to control the mirror and exposure as separate operations, then camera shake may influence the results if exposure times are set to certain values.
    And the tripod may not be up to the task either.

    I know about rolling the shutter and I usually half press it to get it to focus before gently releasing it, I also have a remote control to activate the shutter, so can do it remotely as well, but I need to be in front of the camera to point the remote at the sensor.
    I've found that all the 'best technique' in the world can count for naught sometimes, it could just be that your having an 'off day'.
    My preferred technique that I use when conditions are marginal(such as lowish shutter speed at long focal length) is to use the fast ability of a DSLR to capture multiple frames in a short time frame.
    Sometimes it's long focal length, other times it's trying to capture a moving subject at low shutter speeds.
    I know I can capture a clean sharp shot at 1/30s and 200mm in dim light hand held and no stabilisation .. what annoys me is that sometimes I can(consistently) and other times I can't even get it right at 1/200s! I put it down to on days and off days.

    .... Thanks to everybody for all your wonderful information. I am intending to go back to the same site on the weekend depending on the weather. I will hopefully get some photos worth putting up on here. The bird I am trying to get a photo of is quite unusual, perhaps even rare!! Fingers crossed that I get a good snap of it this time, thanks entirely to everyone out there giving me good information! I live in hope
    thanks once again
    I would recommend that before you do that, just practise something very easy to do and that may be worthwhile to try.
    Most of these lens types are afflicted with the same problem, and that is as a compromise lens, they try to do it all in a package that is both reasonable to use and purchase .. that is the lens is full of compromises.
    At their longest focal lengths they usually tend to fall off in terms of IQ more so than at the shorter focal lengths(when the image is viewed at the pixel level).
    So the thing to practise is to zoom to 300mm and then back the focal length off to something just short of that zoom setting(270, or 250mm, or whatever is easy to do).
    I remember a Sigma 70-300mm cheapie that I used to have, and at 300mm it returned images that could only be described as OK.
    But up to about 250-270mm or so it shot very well indeed, especially considering the price of the lens!

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    Hi everyone once again. The camera has live view, which lifts the mirror up but I am not sure if it is possible to lock the mirror up, or is this what you were meaning? I have found the page on metering in the manual - it has the following types - Digital ESP metering, Centre weighted average metering,spot metering, spot metering Highlight control and Spot metering Shadow control. All of which means very little to lil 'ol me.

    The tripod is a Manfrotto, model 785B The legs have little clips that you unclip to enable the legs to extend (four clips on each leg) It has a position that you put the head into if you want to use if for a video camera, which restricts it's movements to up and down, or you can turn a little knob to enable the head to move any way up, down, left, right and it can be locked into just about any angle and you can also sit it sideways so that you can use the camera for taking long shots. I bought this model because you can undo the stem of the part with the head, remove it from the legs and then I can pack it into my camera bag in two pieces, quite compact. When the legs are all extended to their full lengths it is just over 4 foot from the bottom of the legs to the collar part that the head pole sits in. The head pole is about a foot, so I can get 4 to almost 5 feet height from it.

    I have seen another person using a monopod. Do they have fixed heads, or gymbol heads like my current tripod? I would have thought that there would be more movement, left right forward backward to have to contend with if using a monopod? How do you ensure that you are not "wavering" about when trying to steady the camera for a shot??
    In reference to the image stabilizer settings, it has 3 -:
    I.S 1 = Image stabilizer on,
    I.S 2 This is used for panning with the cameras in the horizontal direction to achieve a blurred background. The horizontal image stabilizer is turned off, and only the vertical image stabilizer is activated.
    I.S 3 = This is used for panning with the camera in the vertical direction to achieve a blurred background (tilting). The vertical image stabilizer is turned off, and only the horizontal image stabilizer is activated.

    Thanks also to arthurking83 - it is nice to know that I am not the only one who has trouble with getting a focused picture - there is hope for me yet!!!!

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    no experience with the rest, however,
    Quote Originally Posted by aussie girl View Post
    ... The camera has live view, which lifts the mirror up but I am not sure if it is possible to lock the mirror up, or is this what you were meaning? .........
    The mirror is locked (or lifted up) to enable live view to show on the little screen. It helps stop any camera shake that the shutter movement may have when you press the button to take photo. Shutter doesn't move in live view when taking photo, 'cause it's already up.
    The problem is you can no longer look through the view finder, you need to adjust to looking at the screen on the camera. Do birders do this?

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    turn IS off when using a tripod or any stable mount, even sitting the camera on the ground, IS can blur your photo if the camera is stable.
    use spot metering, that provides for exposure on the centre of the frame
    use centre point for focus so the camera doesn't grab somewhere with better contrast and focus there instead
    your tripod head is probably pan and tilt not gimbal, gimbals don't have creep because the camera is balance so you don't need to lock it in position, it will just sit wherever you put it.
    try to keep your tripod as low as possible, the more you extend it, esp the centre column, the less stable it will be
    monopods can have a tilt head or no head as you can pan anyway
    And i suggest using saf to begin with, caf will cause you headaches more than saf until you get the hang of the basics
    Last edited by davsv1; 24-08-2012 at 8:46am.

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    Thanks once again. I have jotted down all the advice and hopefully, it the weather is not as foul as it has been the last few days, we might be able to go and play

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    Quote Originally Posted by aussie girl View Post
    I have seen another person using a monopod. Do they have fixed heads, or gymbol heads like my current tripod? I would have thought that there would be more movement, left right forward backward to have to contend with if using a monopod? How do you ensure that you are not "wavering" about when trying to steady the camera for a shot??
    Very simple. Don't use a head (More stable) Plus on your camera, turn on grid lines. This way you will be able to see if the camera is level. The monopod is easy to adjust height without have to re-level everything. And when you need to shoot up at a flying bird, holding the leg gives a bit better stabilization. My camera and lens, plus the monopod weighs around 5kg. And I can carry it over the shoulder all day, and for many kilometres. You can't do that with a tripod.

    I do like all the suggestions for shooting above.Might even practice some of these myself.

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    Thanks Geoffsta. I dont think the Olympus E520 has grid lines, cant find it anywhere in my manual. The only lines that it brings up is if you are taking photos in panorama mode. Maybe someone else out there with one will be able to clarify that for me.
    Last edited by aussie girl; 24-08-2012 at 11:08pm.

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    aussie girl.........this is my advice.

    Clear your mind. There is a lot of information given above and I can see you asking more and more qualifying questions. They are all valid, as is the advice given however, please take it one step at a time.

    For now my advice would be to go out and set up with some basic setup and get confidence in your camera and then once you have that start to introduce the more complex aspects. This may only take a few weeks but IMO it is a worthwhile ride. we can all run but first we had to walk!

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    Regular Visitor Wayne63's Avatar
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    As has been mentioned above, for birding set your camera to single point focus (and focus on the birds eye or head) and try to get as close as you can to the birds (50 or 60 feet) is too far away IMO for a 300 lens. And most of all enjoy the outing and practice practice practice. As Adam has said have a read of this as well http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...Hints_and_Tips
    Regards
    Wayne

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