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Thread: Young Black Skimmer bank shot

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    BPN Member Dorian Anderson's Avatar
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    Default Young Black Skimmer bank shot

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    There have been quite a few of these at my local spot lately, and the muted afternoon light the last two days has facilitated
    their exposure.

    This is a young bird as evidenced by the browner plumage. You can see the adult black starting to molt in on the back.

    The bottom part of the frame is sun-drenched hills on the other side of the bay; the top is sky.

    Yeah, the left wing is really close to the frame edge, but I decided to leave it as rather than adding any space above.
    I love how long their wings are!

    Canon 600mm f/4 IS II on EOS 5D Mark IV
    1/3200 at f/5, ISO 320, handheld
    Processed in LR CC without trickery
    Last edited by Dorian Anderson; 11-01-2018 at 11:50 PM.

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    Looks excellent Dorian. Everything you cold want in an action frame. I have seen thousands of photos of these guys skimming by. To me this is far more interesting. Perfect top side view, head angle and the open beak rocks! Varied background is great as well. You are putting all out there on notice as to how good the 5d4 is for action when in the right hands. Crop is spot on as well and I am fine with no photoshop trickery.

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    Beautiful top view and HA. Hand holding a 600mm f4, oh to be young again! TFS

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    Awesome Dorian, so well done and I love a juvenile, this has just the sweet mix of white feather tips that really define the primaries, secondaries, etc, ... HA is perfect and engaging =with the open beak. Also the BG adds yet another level of interest. I also own a 5DMIV and would really appreciate knowing your choice of AF pattern on BIF? Also, would you share your settings (tracking sensitivity, accelerate/decelerate tracking, and AF point auto switching...)? Just curious, are you a back button focus guy? Thanks

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    Ditto all the positives above. May we assume that this is a crop from a horizontal original? I am amazed that the far wing looks twice as long as the near wing.

    For me there is too much room behind the bird; why not crop to 2X3 with the bird back a bit in the frame?

    with love, artie
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    BPN Member Dorian Anderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by annmpacheco View Post
    Awesome Dorian, so well done and I love a juvenile, this has just the sweet mix of white feather tips that really define the primaries, secondaries, etc, ... HA is perfect and engaging =with the open beak. Also the BG adds yet another level of interest. I also own a 5DMIV and would really appreciate knowing your choice of AF pattern on BIF? Also, would you share your settings (tracking sensitivity, accelerate/decelerate tracking, and AF point auto switching...)? Just curious, are you a back button focus guy? Thanks
    Thanks for the kind words, Ann, and here's my story with the 5D4. I almost always use single/center point focus, but will occasionally go with 4 expanded points, mostly when I can get all of them onto a subject. I haven't played around much with the zone-sorts of features, mainly because I feel the number 1 thing in shooting BIF is lens handling and practice.

    Tracking sensitivity is always at -2. This parameter and value makes much experimental and intuitive sense to me.

    Accel/Decel I haven't really figured out. Most of the time I leave it at 0, but recent experimentation suggests bumping it to +1 or +2 can help
    with birds that are coming at or partially at the camera (as opposed to perfectly perpendicular across the front of it). I don't fully understand this
    parameter though.

    AF point switching I leave at zero, mostly because I'm using single point so much of the time.

    I use back button focus.

    I have managed some really nice flight frames with the 5D4, but it misses A LOT. I'm really lucky
    in that I have a good local spot 10 mins away, I've taken the time to really learn how the birds
    behave on every single tide throughout the year, and I can get out and shoot almost every afternoon.
    So, while I'm posting what I think are strong shots, I feel like I'm leaving many, many more on the
    bay because of slow/inconsistent AF. Constant pumping of the back button works sometimes but
    fails on more occasions.

    My body history should be mentioned. I started with the 7D, and later added 1DIV. Those were
    eventually replaced with 7D2 and 5D4 - respectively - and that's what I carry now. The point is
    that I've never used/shot either the DX or DX2, so I don't how they compare. If we listen to Artie,
    Arash, David, and the other recent Nikon converts, they'll probably say the DXs are better than
    my 5D4 but struggle to hold focus in ways that their new Nikon bodies don't (hence their switches).
    I'm not going to make a similar switch for several reasons, money being the first. I also feel that
    bodies come and go, and Canon will eventually make something better than the DX2 and maybe even
    better than the D850. In the meantime, I'll keep an awesome lens collection of 100-400 II, 400 DO II,
    and the recently added 600 II. The question I have for everyone is the DX or DX2 a worthy upgrade to
    my 5D4, particularly for flight work? I was unwilling to ask this question prior to the purchase of my
    600 II, but with that focal length in my clutches the DX or DX2 makes more sense than it did with my
    500. Most of my flight work with the 5D4 has been with the naked 600, and I've found it really hard to
    get sharp shots of shorebirds with the TC on that body. Slower moving and/or bigger birds might be easier,
    but shorebirds IF are my reference at this point.

    OK, enough. I've officially Hijacked my own thread with tech and gear talk. Would love to hear what all of
    you have to say.

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    BPN Member Dorian Anderson's Avatar
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    Cuz I love you......

    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    Ditto all the positives above. May we assume that this is a crop from a horizontal original? I am amazed that the far wing looks twice as long as the near wing.

    For me there is too much room behind the bird; why not crop to 2X3 with the bird back a bit in the frame?

    with love, artie
    Name:  black skimmer banking 110118.jpg
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    Th 2X3 crop in the repost looks a lot better to me than the boxy original.

    with love, artie
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    Dorian this is great .You got good DOF even though the near wing is well angled towards you.The background tops it off.
    I have recently changed to the dark side [D5plus 500 f4vr fl +1.4] as for me BIF are the ultimate challenge and fast raptors/peregrines particularly so. The difference is that the D5 seems to hang on to the subject once you are on it ,
    even when the bird is flying straight towards you at 70mph. The female peregrine I posted earlier this week I would not have got with my 1DX and there are plenty of sharp frames as she was trying to tell me to buzz off.
    I loved the Canon lenses, but at 82 I couldn't wait for Canon to do something with the camera that Nikon did nearly 4 plus years ago now. The next thing for us geriatrics is how good is the PF 500 at 700mm for BIF.?
    David Salem has explained this in a couple of his posts and I'm glad I took his advice.

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    Avian Moderator Isaac Grant's Avatar
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    Dorian do you ever shoot BIF situations with the full center zone? In single point or surround the camera does not track moving subjects and it requires you to be spot on the middle of the bird. But in zone the camera will track the bird and the focus points will move around the sensor and track the bird. Should make keeping focus far easier.

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    Great frame. Love everything about this one. I love single point i can put the point right where i want. I don't really ever try birds in flight. Once in awhile though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dorian Anderson View Post

    I have managed some really nice flight frames with the 5D4, but it misses A LOT.
    Hi Dorian, Thanks for generously sharing your Canon AF settings with Ann and the group. The single comment above is, however, most telling. Yes, Canon folks on occasion make some great flight images. Simply put, Canon AF with birds in flight is terribly inconsistent. Recently Isaac has been quick to praise some fabulous Canon flight images ... After 35 years of using Canon gear and 19 years as a Canon Explorer of Light, I switched to Nikon in January 2018. At San Diego I held the cheap, inferior Nikon 200-500 in my hands and focused on a flying pelican. The difference was so astounding that I decided to go to the dark side in three seconds, without ever pushing the shutter button and without even seeing a single image on my laptop ... My initial thoughts have proven to be correct. Nikon AF is so consistent that when I do get an image that is not sharp on the eye, I am astounded.

    I do not care at all what gear folks are using. And for many applications (especially super-telephoto AF performance with TC-Es), the Canon gear is far better than the Nikon stuff. But for me, for flight photography, Nikon AF slays Canon AF. If it was a prizefight, they would stop it at the weigh in ... And to think that I always thought that I was simply a lousy flight photographer.

    with love, artie
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    Avian Moderator Isaac Grant's Avatar
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    I am quick to praise great images made with any system that deserve it. Actually I praised Ian's Peregrine shot with the D5 twice Interestingly I had a long conversation with one of the Canon executives at the photo expo in Manhattan last week about Canon autofocus and how it compares to Nikon for bird applications. Also about the settings to use for tracking. He said and confirmed what I have always thought that for all tracking, the Canon cameras are designed to only track on full center zone or full zone. The camera does not track using center point, center and four surrounding or center and 8 surrounding. Just have to be really good and get the bird in the center of the frame when using those settings. Long story short Dorian, set the camera to full center zone and see how you do and let us know. Seems you have a great spot to check this as you have repeated opportunities, close to home and much experience using only center point to compare results and consistency.

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    Hi Isaac,

    Thou does protest too much:

    You are putting all out there on notice as to how good the 5d4 is for action when in the right hands.

    And You’re nailing shots with the 5d4 that I haven’t seen other people get.

    Just so you know, Arash used only center Surround (with 8 surrounding AF points).

    with love, artie

    ps: taken at face value the Canon executive's statement is patently absurd. Just sayin'

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    Avian Moderator Isaac Grant's Avatar
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    Nobody, including Arash got flight images like this using the 5d4 that i have seen posted.

    Why is the statement absurd? I dont’t get it. It is 100% accurate. Center and surrounding points do not track, they onky hold focus and require the operator to keep the bird dead center and in one of the 1, 5, or 9 points. While in zone that is not the case at all and the camera tracks and follows the subject.

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    Wow Dorian, This is awesome!! Love the vertical pose and the fact that the beak is wide open and it has a great HA too. That beak is way cool. Beautiful details and BG too. Well done.

    Thanks for being honest on your observations about the way you are getting these shots. I knew exactly what was going when I saw you posting these great shorebird images.

    You are pushing thru the AF inconsitencies with tons of repetition. You have a great location with lots of birds and you hit it most every evening. You must have missed hundreds or thousands of great frames to come up with the few nice ones you have been posting. To think or state that the 5dIV is a great action or flight body would be stretch.

    I have thousands of awesome images I have captured with Canon gear but I also shoot more in a month than most people do in a year. With Canon it's all about shooting a lot, living with the frustrations of the ones you missed, and living off of the few great ones you get.

    I will honestly say that when you do get a great shot with a pro Canon system, there is nothing better! That being said, if you miss 75% of the action and fight shots due to the inferior AF, the tiny difference isn't with it.

    Glad you have a nice spot to hang out in the evenings. I use BC the same way.

    Hope to see ya soon
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    BPN Member Dorian Anderson's Avatar
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    Yes, David is correct. I am brute forcing these results. These frames are the exception, not the rule with my 5D4. I will be curious to try Isaac's center zone suggestion when
    I get back from guiding at the Rio Grande Birding Festival Nov 7-11 (tides are wrong the next few days).

    Has anyone used 5D4 and 1DX/DX2? I curious what I might be able to gain AF-wise over my 5D4 with either those bodies. I'm most specifically interested in the DX as prices
    have fallen to 2K. If I could double or triple my success rate for 2K, I'd probably be happy with that. Again, a complete switch to Nikon is not a financial option.

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    Avian Moderator Isaac Grant's Avatar
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    Dorian i have never shot with a 5d4 but have owned both the 1dx and 1dx mark 2. Despite what just about everyone else says (or maybe everyone else), the Canon cameras do not actively track outside of zone. Do they auto focus? Sure. Do they actively track movings subjects? Absolutely not! I 100% stand by this and think that anyone who thinks otherwise is just wrong. And i know that many on this site will have a problem with that statement. Put the camera in zone and you will watch the focus points move around the sensor and track the birds. This will never happen using center point or expand. If you want better auto focus for moving subjects and you are not using zone then I do not think you will get better results with a 1dx or dx2. The Nikon group focus works differently than the Canon zone does. You select 4 points and if you keep the bird in elipse in the viewfinder the camera will keep the bird in focus and not jump off of it but you will not see the points moving. With Canon zone you will see the focus points jumping around and following the bird. They do it against blue skies and also busy backgrounds. I have tried out a d850 a few times recently to get a feel for the Nikon focus system and how it works. Now I am not saying that the Canon zone is better than the Nikon group at tracking birds, nor am I saying that it is better at staying locked on to the birds and not jumping off the bird, what I am saying is that if you are not using zone for flight photography then you are not comparing apples to apples and there is not doubt about it. You will have to get used to the moving focus points which can be a bit unnerving but it is the way that Canon tracks.
    Last edited by Isaac Grant; 11-03-2018 at 08:47 PM.

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    Dorian, I hesitate to join this as the topic seems as polarized as American politics, and I am by far from the most experienced. And I am more of a wildlife generalist than an avian photographer, but with a focus on action. That said, I have both 5D4 and 1DXII, and they are not at all close for action in my opinion. The 5D4 is very sluggish in response compared to the 1DXII. I am not sure if it all the processor, but there are 2 other very significant parameters, you get twice as many shots per second in your burst with the 1, and it has an virtually unlimited buffer, so you don't have to hesitate. So you will get more keepers. For BIF I have historically mostly used expansion, but I have in recent times experimented with center zone , and it is really good in the right circumstances. With point or expansion the focus will track, but your tracking on the bird has to be better. I think I know your location, I think zone would work well there as it is unobstructed. Worth the experiment.

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    Awesome Dorian, open beak and the fanned tail makes it for me.



    As for 1DXII and even the 1DX compared to the 5D4 I'd say it is a significant difference in AF speed, especially with the extender. My 5D4 was useless for flight with the 2X III extender, but the 1DXII was usable. What will unfortunately not improve much is the AF consistency, it will miss a lot just like the 5D4 but since it shoots at 14fps you end up with more keepers. If BIF is your main focus I'd definitely step up to a 1DXII without hesitation, better yet switch to Nikon. it might be more $$$ but it's the best $$$ you spend, understand why you don't want to do it now though. Next time I am there will give you the Nikon to use. :)
    Last edited by arash_hazeghi; 11-04-2018 at 04:20 PM.
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    Attached Images Attached Images
     
    Looks like there is some misinformation here

    Dorian's image is a beautiful frame. I have taken many flight shots at this location including a million skimmer frames with 5D4 and before that 5D3, 1D4, 1DX, 1DX II etc. I used post these when I was a beginner many years ago on BPN but not anymore, honestly don't care for them much...

    Skimmer is not a challenging BIF as they are BIG and fly slow. This is a beautiful image for sure, and I have many like this myself with my Canon gear, but it's not a challenging BIF, one can get these with a digital rebel...if they have the right skills

    Regarding best AF settings, I have written an extensive guide for setting your Canon body for BIF, including many example of challenge BIF (plovers, Terns, stilts, avocets etc.) from this location itself. Zone AF is about the WORST choice for BIF for Canon users IMO. Talking about BIF is easy but coming up with the kind of images to back up your claims is not :) As for Nikon vs. Canon the market has spoken, the good thing is the 1DXII and now the 600 II used prices have plummeted so much that are now in reach for most folks.

    EDIT: Here is one of the many frame I got with the 5D4 at the same location shortly before I sold it, Dorian's is nicer with the open beak but similar top side bank. While with pro Canon gear (1DXII + 600 II) you can nail 6 out of 10 these with the top notch skills and the correct settings, with Nikon a beginner can open the box, point and nail 10 out of 10 of these with a D500 and a 200-500 zoom.

    5D4 600 II + 1.4X III. ISO 400 1/2500sec at f/5.6 hand hold and processed with DPP 4.7. AF mode active was center expansion.
    Last edited by arash_hazeghi; 11-04-2018 at 04:27 PM.
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    BPN Member Dorian Anderson's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info, Arash. It's good to know that I still have some room to grow within the Canon line-up. I've always bought used gear, so your point about falling prices on 600/DX/DX2 really
    resonates with me. That's why I recently bought the 600 II and why I'm thinking about adding the DX or DX2. I'm totally willing to shoot a generation behind if it means I save money. I am an
    unemployed writer who makes a little cash from birding guiding, public speaking, and ecotourism consulting, so buying the newest technology or making a wholesale change of systems just isn't
    an option. I also do varied sorts of bird shooting beyond flight, most notably low light stuff in the tropics, so I'm no as acutely focused on flight work as you and some others. At the end of the
    day, good shooters are going to be able to get good shots with whatever they use. They'll probably also get more good shots with better gear, and I'll just have to live with that!

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    Hey Dorian

    I totally understand. Do go for the 1DXII, just ask wife for a small loan :D , what is scary though is that for the same price of the 400 DO II you can get a D850 and a 500PF and come up with much better results for both perched and flight!

    now that you have the 600 II I'd ditch both 7D2 and the 5D4 and just consolidate it into a 1DX2. When I had Canon my 5D4 saw maybe 5% usage and from the blind mostly, despite having an overall higher IQ than the 1DX2, its crippled AF and slow shooting speed really held it back for me. I was always worried that I would miss the frame should some cool action happen.

    As you mention with current used prices it's great that most folks who want to stay with Canon can move straight to the 1DXII and 500/600 II, which at least, is the best Canon can offer and a great place to start building your skills.
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    Having a different opinion is not misinformation. Saying that someone who has a different opinion is misinformation is in fact misinformation. Perhaps you had so many misses because you were using the wrong settings? Perhaps it was your fault and not Canons? Not possible right? And before this breaks down into a challenge about posting flight images which I honestly do not care for much as I find them boring. Not only boring but shooting the same images of the same species over and over I also find boring. Perhaps you can explain how the camera tracks better using surround then it does zone? Or how the camera tracks at all using surround and does not require you to keep the bird dead in the center of the frame.
    Last edited by Isaac Grant; 11-06-2018 at 08:46 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Isaac Grant View Post
    Nobody, including Arash got flight images like this using the 5d4 that i have seen posted.

    Why is the statement absurd? I don’t get it. It is 100% accurate. Center and surrounding points do not track, they onky hold focus and require the operator to keep the bird dead center and in one of the 1, 5, or 9 points. While in zone that is not the case at all and the camera tracks and follows the subject.
    #1: I have made many good flight images with my 5D Mark IV. LMK if you would like me to post a few here.

    #2: Do check out Bryan Halliday's spectacular pintail created with the 5D Mark IV in the Canon Surely Does Not Suck: Part II of Many blog post here.

    #2: Here is what you wrote,

    Interestingly I had a long conversation with one of the Canon executives at the photo expo in Manhattan last week about Canon autofocus and how it compares to Nikon for bird applications. Also about the settings to use for tracking. He said and confirmed what I have always thought that for all tracking, the Canon cameras are designed to only track on full center zone or full zone. The camera does not track using center point, center and four surrounding or center and 8 surrounding.

    The statement is patently absurd. If it were at all true, then all images of all moving subjects made with Canon cameras would be unsharp. We can start with Dorian's fine image here and then continue on to tens of thousands of sharp images or moving subjects made with Canon gear. Please do not tell me that he was referring to this or that or something else. His statement as quoted above is absurd.

    with love, artie
    Last edited by Arthur Morris; 11-06-2018 at 05:44 AM.
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  26. #26
    Publisher Arthur Morris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isaac Grant View Post
    Having a different opinion is not information. Saying that someone who has a different opinion is misinformation is in fact misinformation. Perhaps you had so many misses because you were using the wrong settings? Perhaps it was your fault and not Canon's? Not possible right? And before this breaks down into a challenge about posting flight images which I honestly do not care for much as I find them boring. Not only boring but shooting the same images of the same species over and over I also find boring. Perhaps you can explain how the camera tracks better using surround then it does zone? Or how the camera tracks at all using surround and does not require you to keep the bird dead in the center of the frame.
    Anything is possible. Do know that I consider Arash one of the premier flight photographers on the planet along with David Salem. Do check out the great flight images in the Canon Surely Does Not Suck: Part II of Many blog post here. Especially Bryan Halliday's spectacular pintail created with the 5D Mark IV. And Salem's incredible ducks in flight images. You are free to find whatever types of images boring but stating that those include flight images you are in a very small minority, likely a minority of one. Is Center Large Zone better than single center point or center Surround AF? I do not know and Arash did not make such claims on this post at least.

    About eight months ago we spoke about Center Large Zone. You stated that you would do a guest blog post for me on creating great flight images with Canon using Center Large Zone. You never followed though. I think that it is great that you are encouraging folks to try different AF Area Selection modes. As I recall, I tried Center Large Zone for flight and was often frustrated by the fact that the system failed to acquire the subject even when I was right on it.

    As far as folks shooting the same species for decade on end, I am as guilty of that as anyone.

    with love, artie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dorian Anderson View Post
    Yes, David is correct. I am brute forcing these results. These frames are the exception, not the rule with my 5D4. I will be curious to try Isaac's center zone suggestion when
    I get back from guiding at the Rio Grande Birding Festival Nov 7-11 (tides are wrong the next few days).

    Has anyone used 5D4 and 1DX/DX2? I curious what I might be able to gain AF-wise over my 5D4 with either those bodies. I'm most specifically interested in the DX as prices
    have fallen to 2K. If I could double or triple my success rate for 2K, I'd probably be happy with that. Again, a complete switch to Nikon is not a financial option.
    Hi Dorian, Thanks for starting this interesting thread!

    I have used all three bodies extensively. When I was looking for my favorite 5D Mark IV flight images I was surprised to see how few there were. That said I simply do not shoot a lot of flight, having made a career of creating beautiful images of birds just sitting there doing nothing. Often set against the now much-maligned backgrounds of pure color . Many of my best flight images were indeed made with the 1DX and the 1DX II. The huge problem for me was that of oil spatter on the sensor with the 1DX II. As far as I know, I am the only person who succeeded in having a 1DX II replaced by Canon with a brand new one. I sold that body immediately. If you have not heard of the problem, do a search for "oil spatter" in the little white search box on the top right of each blog post page.

    My advice if you are gonna stick with Canon is to get yourself a 1DX.

    As far as the finances of sticking with Canon instead of switching to Nikon, you may be right as the resale value of Canon long glass continues to plummet. But still I would view Nikon as the far better option for flight photography.

    with love, artie
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    Dorian, I am still unclear on this: is the image in Pane 1 a crop from a horizontal original?

    with love, artie
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    Quote Originally Posted by arash_hazeghi View Post
    This is a beautiful image for sure, and I have many like this myself with my Canon gear, but it's not a challenging BIF, one can get these with a digital rebel...if they have the right skills.
    Note: for some of us, photographing birds in flight is always a challenge ...

    with love, artie
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  30. #30
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    I fully agree with your Artie, that Arash and David are fantastic flight photographers who have produced some of the best flight images out there. And I know that I am in the minority but still stick to what I am saying. When using surround the camera uses the extra 4 or 8 points to assist the center point in acquiring focus. Since the center point is not moving, the camera requires the operator to track the bird and to also keep the bird on one of those 5 or 9 total points. It will hold the focus providing you keep the center or surrounding points on the bird. Now if the bird is erratic in its flight and is flying right at you like you have said so many times was a problem for you, or is perched and then takes off and is not in the same plane as you were focused then the camera is not assisting you in maintaining focus. That is why people have to keep "constant bumping" the shutter and things like that to get the bird back in focus. Or why people spray and pray kind of shooting. When David says you are pushing through the auto focus inconsistencies with tons of repetition, what he is really saying is that you do it enough, eventually you get a sharp frame or 2. He also said that you miss about 75% of the opportunities. Of course that is not scientific but is telling as to how many shots are missed compared to hit. The more you do it, the more frames you will get. Now the camera behaves differently in zone as it does not rely on the center point to maintain the focus plane and actively searches for the moving target. It will track the bird around the whole zone, be that center or full zone. It will go from the top left to the bottom right in a split second and actually track the bird. It will also track as the bird changes focus plane. Is it perfect? Of course not. Does it require some bumping here and there to maintain focus? Sure. Are there misses even when right on the bird? Sure. But it actually tracks the birds in a way that surround does not. The focus points move around the sensor and track the birds and do not just acquire focus and require you to have the bird on the same focal plane. I will say it again, I know my view goes against what just about everyone else says, including the top flight guys. I know that some or all of them that read this will cringe and think boy he has no clue what he is saying. But I am saying it anyway and think that the high percentage of Canon misses were not the fault of the autofocus but of the settings being used. I think that if used consistently and after getting used to it, that zone will produce more keepers than surround. That it will require less bumping and will hold focus across focus planes. I also think it is just as good if not better at actually holding focus on the bird and not jumping off when the bird is against a busy background.

    In case it needs to be said, I am not saying that Canon is in any way better than Nikon. But I think the gap is not as severe if comparing zone to group as compared to surround to group.

    As far as shooting styles go, I guess being a birder since I was 4 and being raised by a birder I enjoy shooting as many different types of birds in as many different settings as possible. While flight is not in any way boring, the limitations of flight photography greatly limit the number of species that you can photograph. And that I find boring. I do not want to spend all of my time shooting the same few species at the same few places. I am just as happy to make a pretty photo of a Tufted Titmouse or White-breasted Nuthatch as I am of a Hudsonian Godwit or Merlin. If you only shot BIF then how in the world would you ever shoot a warbler, or sparrow, or vireo or thrush? Only way I know how to do that is to set up at a drip or feeder and prefocus using a remote shutter and luck yourself into flight shots of those species like what people do at the ranches in Texas. Different parts of the country are good for different things. Within a few hour drive of New York City, I can not think of a single place where I can drive up to a raptor that would be perched at eye level and with a perfect background. So if that was all I were to concentrate on then what in the world would I shoot? Other than setting up in a blind somewhere in the winter I do not know of anyplace that has ducks coming and going that are close enough to shoot. (Barnegat gives some opportunities but has been terrible the last few years) Once our ponds freeze they all leave and depending on where the ponds freezes, you may not even have an angle to shoot the birds, or they do not fly at all as there is no other open water for them to fly to. Again flight limitations. So I take advantage of the opportunities I have to shoot the greatest number of species in the time I have to shoot. Living in New York City everything is work to get to and from. If you have 3 or 4 hours on a weekend to try and shoot it is almost impossible to get somewhere, set up, find birds and actually make a nice photo, unless you go to the same places with close and tame birds like Nickerson or other breeding colonies.

    I appreciate the opportunity and will work on some flight images. Just got a lens again (a borrowed one) after a few months of not having one since mine was stolen. Before that did not shoot as much due to major home renovations. And like I discussed above, I have avoided the places recently with all the terns (like Nickerson) as I do not want to keep going back to the same places and shooting the same species.

    Hope that helps to clarify a bit more what I am saying.

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    Hey Isaac, All good and thanks for your thoughtful reply. And yes, there are lots of different strokes for lots of different folks. I would rather make a good image of a grackle than travel for hours to see and maybe get a poor photo of a rarity. I kept a few lists when I was a birder but that was about a lifetime ago, back in the 70s. It served as good training to be a bird photographer :) And yes, raptors are tough. Like you, I do not concentrate on flight nor do I concentrate on action (both as Mr. Hazeghi and Mr. Salem do to a very high degree).

    with love, artie

    ps: we will need to agree to disagree on the great advantages of Center Large Zone for flight. Do remember that I Love CLZ for action though.

    pps: I am saying that Nikon is far better for flight at least for me .
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    I am sure Nikon is better for everyone

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    Someone, please tell something good about Canon! I am getting nervous! I recently invested in a Canon 500mm and now I am doubtful if I made a wrong decision ... I am sure I have a lot more to do to push my boundaries, but still...

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    Good things about Canon. I made great images for 35 years using Canon gear -- 8 BBC honored images and about a dozen in Nature's Best. Images made with Canon gear put me on the map. Bigtime. See the Canon Surely Does Not Suck: Part I of Many blog post here and the Canon Surely Does Not Suck: Part II of Many here. Or, you can check out the many, many thousands of superb images posted here over the years. Remember that it is not the lens or the camera that makes the images ... I switched to Nikon to become a better flight photographer. Last, there are many, many things that Canon does far better.

    with love and see you at DeSoto :)

    artie


    BIRDS AS ART Blog: great info and lessons, lots of images with our legendary BAA educational Captions.: we will not sell you junk. 30+ years of long lens experience/e-mail with gear questions.
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