I wonder if I am a birder

Joined
Mar 23, 2017
Messages
1,587
Location
Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada
Real Name
Jan Steinman
How hard is it to get sharp focus with a manual lens shooting birds?
It takes practice and some techniques, but it is not impossible.

In fact, I find the "hunting" of automatic focus to be a hindrance. Whenever I start to press the shutter, the lens makes some tiny adjustment, and my keeper rate with auto-focus is actually fewer than with manual focus!

If the bird is flitting about, perhaps auto-focus is a benefit. But otherwise, you can "set and forget" focus and then concentrate on composition, position, etc.

Tripod is mandatory for unstabilized lens at 300mm
I disagree. In fact, I feel much like I do about auto-focus — a tripod gets in the way!

I prefer a monopod with IBIS. The monopod allows the utmost in re-positionability while supporting the weight.

Here's what you can do with a 4kg 350mm manual-focus lens on a monopod:
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

RAH

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Dec 1, 2013
Messages
801
Location
New Hampshire
Real Name
Rich
I know that this thread is about whether to get a manual focus lens, so this is slightly off topic, but I do want to mention that many AF lenses have full-time manual override. So if your AF lens is hunting badly or especially when it is focusing on the branches instead of the bird, you just half-press the shutter, then turn the focus ring. Once you get it focused, press the shutter the rest of the way.

It used to be that only higher-quality lenses had full-time MF override, but nowadays a lot seem to. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Olympus 75-300 MarkII has it. So I'm kind of assuming the upcoming 100-400 will too.
 

Hoffelijk

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Feb 17, 2014
Messages
66
Location
Holland
If you're really keen on a manual focus lens with reach, for birding, then you could try a 500mm mirror lens. But don't buy a cheap one. The best value for money is probably the OM 500/8 Reflex, or the Yashica ML 500/8. Not far behind in IQ but much cheaper is the Tokina RMC 500/8. I use one occasionally on the E-M5 II. IBIS is a must, but even so, sharp focus is a challenge.
2 weeks ago I bought a Beroflex 500mm and taught myself to photograph a Kestrel in a loft from a tripod and with the help of the phone Phone App.

Common kestrel02a.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



I want to thank everyone for the excellent feedback I receive and the beautifull bird photo's that are shared.

Today I investigated further whether Birding is something for me or not, on the monopod was the 40-150mm 4-5.6. and the Great tits were nipping at the food ball again.

P3250230.JPG
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


I also shot a Great tit sitting on a branch and I notice that I am also learning some things, this photo would have been better if it was cloudy today. It is a challenge to continue and indeed I should have a lot of patience before the results will come.

Great Tit.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


As far as my choice of lens is concerned, I am also a step further, I have made an offer for an Olympus 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 SWD including the 1.4x teleconverter and MFT adapter, the wait is now for the advertiser to respond.
 
Last edited:

FabledFew

New to Mu-43
Joined
Mar 24, 2020
Messages
9
It takes practice and some techniques, but it is not impossible.

In fact, I find the "hunting" of automatic focus to be a hindrance. Whenever I start to press the shutter, the lens makes some tiny adjustment, and my keeper rate with auto-focus is actually fewer than with manual focus!

If the bird is flitting about, perhaps auto-focus is a benefit. But otherwise, you can "set and forget" focus and then concentrate on composition, position, etc.


I disagree. In fact, I feel much like I do about auto-focus — a tripod gets in the way!

I prefer a monopod with IBIS. The monopod allows the utmost in re-positionability while supporting the weight.

Here's what you can do with a 4kg 350mm manual-focus lens on a monopod:View attachment 809923
That is SHARP. With that weight, AND manual focus? Wow.
 

RAH

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Dec 1, 2013
Messages
801
Location
New Hampshire
Real Name
Rich
One of my big problems with experimenting using less than your best equipment for wildlife is that sometimes you'll get a chance to take a once-in-YOUR-lifetime picture and you have been experimenting with say an inexpensive mirror lens. You wind up being sorry and you might never get that chance again. For example, I took some pictures a bunch of years ago of some rare (for me) birds using a Sigma Bigma (50-500) lens back in the Oly DSLR days. I wished I'd used the inexpensive Oly 70-300 instead. And I KNEW that the Bigma was soft. Grrr!

Same a few years ago when I paired up a Canon 60D and 400 5.6 lens (a very good combo) but then got greedy and added a 3rd-party 1.4x teleconverter (the only kind you could use with this combo and still have AF) and got a whole collection of frame-filling but SOFT snowy owl pics. It would have been MUCH better if I'd not used the converter and just cropped some later. Live and learn.

I'm not saying you have to buy $5000 lenses. I'm saying that I usually try to use the best equipment I have for shooting wildlife. If I want to experiment some, I'll do it with less critical stuff.
 

Hoffelijk

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Feb 17, 2014
Messages
66
Location
Holland
The question whether Birding is something for me is becoming increasingly clear.

Several of you gave me the advice that patience is a virtue and between the lines it was also often stated that Autofocus is not a must at Birding.
I want to thank all of you again for that feedback and add in addition to patience that you should also be ready when the opportunity arises.

Today I went out with Tripod and on the E-PL8 was the Beroflex 500mm F8 mounted. Even before I opened the gate of the Nature cemetery, I already saw a Pheasant who was skittish and slowly walking away from me by my arrival. In a short time my Daiwa tripod found ground and I could just photograph this Pheasant before it disappeared quickly into the forest edge.

Common Pheasant (2).jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



I was less than 10 meters inside the fence when a White Wagtail walks in the greens nipping some seed. I quickly had the tripod back on the ground and after a few shots of practice this was the best result.

White wagtail.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



Where I came for was the Kestrel and that bird was also high up in a tree at the sunlight favorable place I was hoping for. I had some time with these 2 photos as a result and I am happy with them.

Common kestrel.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



P3260254 (2).jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



After a while, this Common Blackbird came by.

Common Blacbird.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)




All in all, the beroflex 500 gives me a lot of room to practice, I have to say that the peaking function of the E-PL8is fine for focusing. In the late afternoon sunlight I saw a nice stripe of speckles across the grass that reflected where the focus is and I am satisfied enough with the sharpness.
The lens gives a lot of chromatic aberration, but that also seems to me something that I can live with. Overall I am the most pleased with the contrast and color tone that the Beroflex 500 creates.
 
Last edited:

3dpan

Mu-43 Veteran
Joined
Mar 11, 2017
Messages
454
Location
Far North, New Zealand
Real Name
Alec
The question whether Birding is something for me is becoming increasingly clear.

Several of you gave me the advice that patience is a virtue and between the lines it was also often stated that Autofocus is not a must at Birding.
I want to thank all of you again for that feedback and add in addition to patience that you should also be ready when the opportunity arises.

All in all, the beroflex 500 gives me a lot of room to practice, I have to say that the peaking function of the E-PL8is fine for focusing. In the late afternoon sunlight I saw a nice stripe of speckles across the grass that reflected where the focus is and I am satisfied enough with the sharpness.
The lens gives a lot of chromatic aberration, but that also seems to me something that I can live with. Overall I am the most pleased with the contrast and color tone that the Beroflex 500 creates.
Looks like you're having fun with that lens.
Have you tried a bit of post-processing of your images, eg levels, sharpening ?
 

lchien

Mu-43 Veteran
Joined
Aug 7, 2014
Messages
257
Location
Texas
How hard is it to get sharp focus with a manual lens shooting birds? I've always wondered how wildlife photographers use manual lenses.
Sometimes its very difficult to get the AF to cooperate when the bird is in dense branches and th e AF can pick all sorts of branches to focus on even with AF zones it grabs the wrong thing...
 

Gerard

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
May 12, 2015
Messages
3,761
Location
Vleuten, Utrecht
If I come across one on marktplaats (dutch ebay) for a softer price, I will definitely consider that Olympus 300mm 4.5.

My interest in MFT started when I figured out what I could do with my father's Minolta set. In 2011 I bought an E-PL2 and minolta af adapter. It worked but I had no control over the aperture. At the thrift shop I bought a pentacon 50 1.8 an m42 adapter and that is how my love for manual lenses started.

With the Tokina 135mm 2.8 you can very well make a half-body, shoulder-shot portrait of an artist in a band from the back of the concert hall, I prefocus on the microphone stand or something that is 1/3 distance on stage and only think about lighting and the moment the artist is in the desired place. Click.
But with such a bird, suppose you have the lighting in advance reasonably good and if you have a bird once within 4 meters, then with 2.8 aperture the depht of field is also only 7 cm. With a monopod it is quite a task to focus with a 135 mm and that is why I am thinking about buying something with Auto Focus and I am doubting between waiting for the Olympus 100-400 mm, or buying the 75-300 mm.
Ik heb mijn O 300 van Catawiki voor rond de € 125. Op EBAY durven ze tot € 600 te vragen.
 

Hoffelijk

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Feb 17, 2014
Messages
66
Location
Holland
Looks like you're having fun with that lens.
Have you tried a bit of post-processing of your images, eg levels, sharpening ?
Yes I make a few small adjustments in Workspace and somehow I am not able to sharpen pictures pleasantly with this lens, so no no USM and sharpen -2.

Ik heb mijn O 300 van Catawiki voor rond de € 125. Op EBAY durven ze tot € 600 te vragen.
I'm starting to have fun going out with a 500mm f8 and will keep trying with this lens for now.

Today during my walk I encountered a Greylag goose and again the same Pheasant. Took a lightweight tripod with me and the support of 1 of the legs broke off when I was standing on uneven ground. Next time into nature with the more robust Daiwa.

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

3dpan

Mu-43 Veteran
Joined
Mar 11, 2017
Messages
454
Location
Far North, New Zealand
Real Name
Alec
Yes I make a few small adjustments in Workspace and somehow I am not able to sharpen pictures pleasantly with this lens, so no no USM and sharpen -2.



I'm starting to have fun going out with a 500mm f8 and will keep trying with this lens for now.

Today during my walk I encountered a Greylag goose and again the same Pheasant. Took a lightweight tripod with me and the support of 1 of the legs broke off when I was standing on uneven ground. Next time into nature with the more robust Daiwa.

View attachment 810328
Hope it's OK with you, but here is your Greylag goose pic with a bit of contrast and sharpening added,

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Cheers,
 

piggsy

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Jun 2, 2014
Messages
1,496
Location
Brisbane, Australia
I would like to give multiple accolades to your series of photos. They are definitely more interesting than most BIF pics., although they are hhaard enough!

Question: why use the S-OVF mode when doing MF please?
It's a hefty difference in readout/display to the EVF with it on, even in good light with a fast lens. It reads out at ~60fps steady and doesn't try and massage the image based on your settings. It's slightly confusingly worded in the manual - I think it should really say "selecting [s-ovf] OFF makes..".

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Also, the setting to prioritise shooting speed over stabilisation is menu > cog > c2 here -


Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


it is very hard to hit true 60/15fps in those modes with the stabiliser re-centring every shot.
 
Joined
Feb 25, 2017
Messages
1,734
Location
Adelaide South Australia
It's a hefty difference in readout/display to the EVF with it on, even in good light with a fast lens. It reads out at ~60fps steady and doesn't try and massage the image based on your settings. It's slightly confusingly worded in the manual - I think it should really say "selecting [s-ovf] OFF makes..".

View attachment 810385

Also, the setting to prioritise shooting speed over stabilisation is menu > cog > c2 here -


View attachment 810384

it is very hard to hit true 60/15fps in those modes with the stabiliser re-centring every shot.
thanks mate! will give above a go.
 
Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Copyright © 2009-2019 Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom