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How About A Discussion of Strobe Use For Wildlife Shooting

Discussion in 'Nature' started by nueces snapper, May 25, 2012.

  1. nueces snapper

    nueces snapper Mu-43 All-Pro

    In my search for better/sharper/more detailed images of birds and wildlife I begin to realize the limitations of my lens. The 75/300 is just mediocre. I could get more out of it if I could shoot at say f/8 but so often the birds are in the shade and then the iso goes way up. Of course relatively high shutter speed is essential.

    IQ suffers of course. So while I wait for m4/3 to perhaps build a good prime 300mm and maybe a tele-extender the only thing I can come up with is the idea of getting more light on the subject. I will probably go with a legacy prime telephoto soon to hold me over but the ones I want are pretty steep.

    So I've always known about the Better Beamer by Visual Echoes but never used one. Doing a bit of googling I became informed that unless you are well versed in flash photography in general you won't get very far with this option.

    So I am hoping for the more knowledgable folks on the forum to help out those of us who might be interested in improving our wildlife photography using strobe flash.

    I would love to take a class in using flash in general but I live at the very ends of the earth and that is not feasible. :smile:

    Thanks in advance for any help and hopefully this may become an interesting thread ... at least for some. :thumbup:
     
  2. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
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  3. ssgreenley

    ssgreenley Mu-43 Top Veteran

    509
    May 12, 2011
    Let me know how that works out for you. I've basically decided that m4/3 is just not the right format for wildlife photography. Autofocus can be slow, tracking may as well be non-existent, and I just can't get many keepers. Of course, I may just be lousey at wildlife photography--I do see some good images on this forum taken with our cameras-- but I suspect that this just isn't the perfect tool for that job.

    That being said, I'm glad you keep the faith! Let me know how that strobe works out, maybe it will motivate me to start trying to use my 75-300 for more than just telephoto landscapes again...
     
  4. nueces snapper

    nueces snapper Mu-43 All-Pro

    Are any of our birders here using these sorts of techniques?

    Please share your experiences. What have you learned? What works and what doesn't.

    What flash settings are you using?

    Thanks. I hope we can learn something. :smile:
     
  5. nueces snapper

    nueces snapper Mu-43 All-Pro

    Well moving subjects ARE a problem. However if you have a setup where you can get within 50 ft of birds you can get some nice images. I hang feeders in trees and prefer to get the shots with the birds on a natural perch. I know if I set up blinds I can get some good water bird shots as we have a large creek running through the property. I've been too lazy to do this so far but have great plans. :biggrin:

    The big time birders are using Canon and Nikon and 500 to 600 mm lenses and telextenders and this is just too much money and too much weight. I shall persist with m4/3 and keep looking for ways to make it work. :smile:
     
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  6. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    836
    Feb 29, 2012
    My wife and I both use better beamers for our birding on Canon DSLR's. The faster 1/250 shutter speed flash sync helps. HSS works, but not well in this scenario.

    On m43, flash sync is even slower and you also need a good flash.

    In either case, if light is low, the resulting look is very much as flash look, cavelike with a lack of 3D lighting due to the on-axis lighting.

    After all that, you've suddenly lost all the weight and size advantages of m43, and you don't gain that much in IQ.
     
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  7. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    So, the Better Beamer is a fill flash. Basically it is controlling the contrast of the image by reducing the depth of the shadows. The main light would be the sun. You would set the aperture and shutter speed of the camera from the ambient highlight exposure and then set the flash power to fill the shadows in relation to the set aperture. How much power you give the flash controls the depth of the shadows--fill does not affect the highlights, or at least it shouldn't if you have not just cranked the power.

    Naturally, the flash power is also a product of the object distance. Objects closer (and in the frame) from you subject would have more exposure from the Beamer which would make them unnaturally bright.
     
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  8. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I set a flash (remote using radio link) near the feeders which were in the shadows and it worked OK for some hummingbird shots (see my gallery). I hung a white card on the feeder to set the power levels such that I got good lighting with the synch speed (1/160) and low ISO.

    For a general solution not such a good option.


    I also used to drag a multi million candle power spot around for longer range work - ran it off a deep cycle marine battery. This was more or less incidental to my actual purpose but it did come in handy.
     
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  9. Uwharrie

    Uwharrie Mu-43 Veteran

    239
    May 10, 2012
    North Carolina
    Lynne Ezzell
    I just don't think wildlife is the right nitch for M43. Not enough "reach" and not enough "speed". I can see m43 working when you can get close and have good light but that is pretty hard to do most of the time. That is why I don't see us parting with our "big" Canon equipment anytime soon.
     
  10. ssgreenley

    ssgreenley Mu-43 Top Veteran

    509
    May 12, 2011
    I totally agree on speed, but you really don't think 600mm equ. (of which we have two with rumors of a third) isn't long enough?
     
  11. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I recall similar discussions with my bow hunting friends versus my rifle hunting friends. Both will get the job done but they require a different emphasis on particular skill sets.
     
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  12. MizOre

    MizOre Mu-43 Veteran

    201
    Dec 26, 2011
    If you can afford it.

    I'm settling for getting clear enough shots of field marks so I can ID birds that show up in my yard (I'm in northern Nicaragua). So far, it's harder than with an auto-focus tracking camera and a fast lens, but it works.

    The Better Beamer is for fill lights -- from the shots I've seen taken with them, they put a nice catch light in bird's eyes. Shooting something embedded in the undergrowth is going to have the same problems of shooting closer with regular flash in that situation: lots of shadows falling where you might not want from the branches between you and the bird. Better to get birds up to a feeder or branch near a feeder.

    I think some of it is learning how to anticipate what birds will do. The other is having a nice avocado tree with clear lines of sight (or any other relatively open branched tree).
     
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  13. Uwharrie

    Uwharrie Mu-43 Veteran

    239
    May 10, 2012
    North Carolina
    Lynne Ezzell
    I can see your point. Since I already have the "bigger" setup it's hard for me to even think about developing new skills to use the m 43 system for birds and wildlife. Of course my hope to own one day but only if I win the lottery is a Canon 600mm IS L lens.

    That being said has anyone tried digiscoping? I have seen some pretty impressive bird shots using the technique.
     
  14. MichaelJC

    MichaelJC Mu-43 Regular

    I've been shooting wildlife happily for several years now with an E-620 and the wonderful 70-300. Although I don't see an m43 user shooting the cover of Nature any time soon, I think you can still enjoy shooting good quality images and at reasonable cost. Shutter speed is always an issue but I'm hoping the better high iso IQ of the E-M5 will help me. Beyond that I'm be hoping for a m43 fast 300 prime, or perhaps an m43 version of the 50-200 2.8 with a 2x converter would be more versatile. Flash? I haven't even considered it except for macro shots.
     
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