AF Strategy for Verticals with All Camera Systems. The AF Quandary. And Big Glass Price Drops! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

AF Strategy for Verticals with All Camera Systems. The AF Quandary. And Big Glass Price Drops!

What’s Up?

Thanks to the technical brilliance of Patrick Sparkman (once again!) I may have solved my 600 VR AF problems. I hope to be heading down to the lake when it gets light here and find that the proof is in the pudding. If it is, I will have a ton to share here soon …

IPT Updates

I was glad to learn recently that Dan Tishman will be joining six others on the DeSoto IPT — that leaves one slot open. And #3 just signed up for the UK trip; that leaves only two openings on what will be an amazing trip, and will likely be my last trip and likely the last Dunbar gannet boats trips — Gordon is getting old. 🙂

Despite lots of recent interest I still need three folks for the Galapagos trip. Please shoot me an e-mail to learn about the huge late registration discount on the Galapagos trip.

  • The 2019 Fort DeSoto Spring IPT/THURS 18 APRIL through the morning session on SUNDAY APRIL 21, 2019: 3 1/2 DAYS: $1549. Limit 8/Openings: 1. Meet and greet at 7PM on the evening of WED 17 APRIL. Free morning session on WED 17 APRIL.
  • The New, Expanded 2019 UK Puffins, Gannets, & Red Kites IPT. Thursday June 27 (from EDI) through Tuesday, July 9, 2019 (on the ground; fly home on Wednesday July 10.): $9,999. Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 2. This trip is a definite go.
  • The GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience. July 23 to August 6, 2019 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $14,499. Limit: 13 photographers/Openings: 3. Please e-mail to learn about the huge late registration discount for this trip.



BIRDS AS ART

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 III. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Big Glass Price Drops
It’s a Buyer’s Market!

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4D ED-IF Lens

Price dropped $250.00 on 20 MAR 2019!

Jamie Baker is offering a Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4D ED-IF lens in excellent condition for $2500.00 (was $2750.00). The sale includes the rear lens cap, the lens trunk, the leather front element cover, the lens strap, the original foot, a Really Right Stuff LCF-16 foot, a Real Tree LensCoat, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower 48 US addresses only. Note, this lens is the version before VR. It is extremely sharp; detailed photos are available upon request. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Jamie Baker e-mail or by phone at (502) 403-9845 (Eastern time).

The 500 f/4 super telephoto lenses have long been the world’s most popular for birds, nature, wildlife, and sports for many decades. artie

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

Price dropped $200.00 on 20 MAR 2019!

Todd Koudelka is offering a Canon EF 500 mm f/4L IS II USM lens in excellent to near-mint condition for the BIRDS AS ART record-low price of $6299.00 (was $6499.00). Photos are available upon request. The sale includes the lens trunk with two keys, the front lens cover, the rear lens cap, the lens strap and the trunk strap, the original canon box, and insured Fed-Ex Ground shipment to the lower 48 US states only.

It is best to contact Todd via e-mail or by cell phone from 7-9pm Central time: 1- 608-577-5375.

The 500 f/4 super telephoto lenses have long been the world’s most popular for birds,nature, wildlife, and sports for many decades. Canon’s Series II version is light, fast, super-sharp, and produces amazing images with both the 1.4X and 2X III TCs. The 500 II is relatively small, easily hand holdable for some folks, and is much easier travel with, focuses closer than, and costs a lot less than the 600 II. Lastly, and you might find this amazing, the magnification for the 500 II is the same as it is for the 600 II: .15X. How is that possible? Magnification is calculated at the minimum focusing distance of the lens — 12.14 feet (3.7 meters) for the 500 II and 14.77 feet (4.5 meters) for the 600 II. Simply put, the 500 II focuses more than two feet closer than the 600 II. The seller for the last one that sold here had five calls the first day; the first four folks quibbled on price. The fifth one jumped right on it … Please do not tarry if you are seriously interested in Todd’s lens as it too should sell almost instantly. Or not. As the 500 II goes for $8999 new you will be getting a pretty much new lens while saving $2700.00! I loved my 500 II. artie

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

Price dropped $500.00 on 15 MAR 2019!

Don Busby is offering Canon 500mm f/4L IS II USM (USA) in near-mint condition for a BAA record low $6299.00 (was $6799.00). Just cleaned & checked by Canon Professional Services. The sale include both of the original lens feet, the front lens cover, the rear cap, the lens strap, the lens trunk, the original Canon box, and insured ground shipping via FedEx to the 48 contiguous states only. Photos available upon request.
The lens will ship when your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Don via e-mail.

The 500 f/4 super telephoto lenses have long been the world’s most popular for birds,nature, wildlife, and sports for many decades. Canon’s Series II version is light, fast, super-sharp, and produces amazing images with both the 1.4X and 2X III TCs. The 500 II is relatively small, easily hand holdable for some folks, and is much easier travel with, focuses closer than, and costs a lot less than the 600 II. Lastly, and you might find this amazing, the magnification for the 500 II is the same as it is for the 600 II: .15X. How is that possible? Magnification is calculated at the minimum focusing distance of the lens — 12.14 feet (3.7 meters) for the 500 II and 14.77 feet (4.5 meters) for the 600 II. Simply put, the 500 II focuses more than two feet closer than the 600 II. The seller for the last one that sold here had five calls the first day; the first four folks quibbled on price. The fifth one jumped right on it … Please do not tarry if you are seriously interested in Don’s lens as it too should sell almost instantly. Or not 🙂 As the 500 II goes for $8999 new you will be getting a near-mint copy and saving $2700.00! I loved my 500 II 🙂 artie

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Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body.


Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

Sandhill-crane-small-colt-stretching-wings-_A9A7794-IndianLake-Estates,-FL-1

This image was created at Indian Lake Estates on March 18, 2019. I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 297mm) and the beyond remarkable Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera. ISO: 1600. Highlight metering with faint Zebras: 1/1000 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode.

Upper center Zone AF was active at the moment of exposure

Sandhill Crane, small colt stretching

AF Strategy for Verticals with All Camera Systems

In all of our camera User’s Guides, I recommend setting up your camera (if possible), so that the camera will remember one AF area mode and a selected AF point — if applicable — for horizontals, and another set, an AF area mode and one selected AF point — again, if applicable — for verticals. And yes, you can set most modern cameras so that they can tell if you are holding the camera horizontally or vertically and remember your preferences. My last three favorite cameras — the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, the Nikon D850, and the SONY a9 — all offer this feature.

Since bird photographers are often faced with tall birds walking at them, I recommend choosing one of the upper, wider area modes as their vertical selection. That way, with a tall bird facing you and filling at least half the frame, you can turn the camera on its side and your selected area mode should fall somewhere on the bird’s face at best or its upper breast at worse.

For today’s featured image I had my SONY a9 set to upper center Zone for verticals. When the small colt leaned forward to stretch I watched as the AF points danced around right on it face; all 11 images in the series were perfectly sharp on the eye.

The Lesson

Learn how to set your personal AF preferences for both horizontals and verticals so that when that tall birds shows up you are ready for action.

The AF Quandary

quan·da·ry

kwänd(ə)rē: a state of uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation.

Choosing and using an AF Area or Mode that features multiple AF points almost always makes it easier to acquire and hold focus when photographing birds and animals. But at times, you may not be positive that you are getting the active AF point right where you want it. When you a single AF point, you can — in many but not all situations — be sure that that point is exactly where you want it, but acquiring and maintaining focus may be more difficult than when choosing and using an AF array … Therein lies the rub.

By experimenting you can best learn to maximize the performance of your camera’s AF system. As we learned in the last blog post, SONY does not allow us to determine the AF Area and/or the selected AF point that we used for a given image; Canon and Nikon do. But, and this is a very big but, no current camera system that I am aware of allows us to determine the AF point that was active at the moment of exposure when you are using an AF array, i.e., a pattern that includes multiple AF points. Be sure to write your congressperson …

What Do You Do?

For perched birds or for birds on the ground do you tend to use an AF array or a single point? Please let us know which camera body you use and if you use an AF array, which one is your go-to.

Cheaper Indian Lake Estate Sandhill Crane Chicks and Colts Sessions

Join me at ILE any Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (or possibly Friday) morning for the next few weeks to photograph silly tame Sandhill Crane chicks and colts. Best news: there is a third pair on eggs that should be hatching very soon.

Morning Session — 7:30-9:30am: $100.00
Add an hour of image review and Photoshop: $100.00

If you are interested, please get in touch via e-mail or call my cell at 863-221-2372. Limit three.

Cheap Gatorland Sessions

Join me at Gatorland in March as below — it was great both days this past weekend. You will learn a ton. Including the simple trick that enabled me to create today’s featured image while nobody else could … Really.

If you are interested, please get in touch via e-mail or call my cell at 863-221-2372. Limit three.

Friday or Saturday Morning Session — 7-10am: $200.00
Saturday Morning Session with a working lunch including image review and Photoshop: $300.00
Saturday Afternoon session — 4pm til closing: $150.
Full day with the working lunch: $450.00.
Sunday morning session 7-10am: $200.00.
Sunday morning session with a working lunch including image review and Photoshop: $300.00

Save $100 by creating your own mini-IPT by combining a Full day Saturday session including a working lunch with a Sunday morning session with a working lunch. Limit: three photographers: only $650 for a ton of learning over two days. As I said, cheap!

UK-puffins-2018-CARD-

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. All of the images on this card were created on the 2018 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT

The New, Expanded 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. Seahouses, Bempton Cliffs, and the Dunbar, Scotland Gannet boat to Bass Rock! Thursday June 27 (from EDI) through Tuesday, July 9, 2019 (on the ground; fly home on Wednesday July 10.): $9,999. Limit 5 photographers/openings 2.

Join me in the UK in late June and early July 2019 to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet, Red Kite, and more both in flight and at close range. We will also have great chances with Arctic and Sandwich Terns, both with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many of those chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks; plus Grey Seal. There will be tons of great flight photography. As on all IPTs, if you pay attention, you will learn a ton, especially about sky conditions and the relationship between light angle and wind direction and their effects on flight photography.

Why go all the way to Machias Seal Island off the coast of Maine, endure a two-hour boat ride, and have to photograph Atlantic Puffins from a cramped blind usually in bright sun (and well off sun angle) when you can hop a red-eye flight from Newark, NJ and be in Edinburgh, Scotland early the next morning. First we drive down to Bridlington for easy access to Bempton Cliffs where our primary targets will be Northern Gannet in flight. We will also get to photograph Razorbill, Northern Fulmar, Herring Gull, and Black-legged Kittiwake. While in Bridlington we will spend one afternoon visiting a Red Kite feeding station that should provide lots of flight photography action.

While in Bridlington we will staying at the Lobster Pot by Marston’s Inn, just fifteen minutes from Bempton Cliffs. After 3 1/2 days of photography at there, we drive down to Seahouses in Northumberland to the two lodges that will be our home base for a week. After a short boat ride each day we will have hundreds of puffins posing at close range all day, every day — usually in ideal cloudy-bright conditions. While we are in Seahouses we will do six puffin/seabird trips, all weather permitting of course; last year we did not miss a single landing. In five years we have averaged losing less than one half day per year to bad weather. We land at Staple Island in the mornings and then sail over to Inner Farnes for our afternoon sessions. In addition, we may enjoy a session or two photographing nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes at eye level from a rocky beach in Seahouses.

In Seahouses, we stay 7 nights in gorgeous, modern, upscale lodges with Wi-fi. They are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The bedrooms are decent-sized. Each lodge has one double bedroom and two twin bedrooms. (See the single supplement info below.) At the lodges we cook our own breakfasts each morning and prepare our own lunches to be brought on the six puffin boat trips. For dinners we will alternate cooking in the lodges with fine dining at several excellent local restaurants. We stay two nights at the Marston’s Inn in Dunbar. We will enjoy a fine-dining Thank You dinner at the Dunbar Hotel on the Tuesday evening before we fly home.

On the morning of Monday, July 8, 2019, the plan is to sleep late, pack, and head up to Dunbar Harbor, Scotland for lunch and an afternoon gannet boat chumming trip: flight photography until you cannot lift your camera. The next morning, Tuesday July 9, we will enjoy our second gannet boat chumming trip (both weather permitting). On both trips we will enjoy great views of the huge gannetry at Bass Rock. Included will be two nights lodging at the Pine Martin by Marston’s Inn in Dunbar. Very early on the morning of Wednesday, July 10, we will drive up to Edinburgh Airport so that everyone can make their flights home. No moaning please. You will need a flight that leaves at 8:30am or later. Not too much later is generally best. Note: this trip needs a minimum of four photographers to run.

UK-Puffins-2017card

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. All images were created on the 2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT

The Details

This IPT is all-inclusive except for your airfare and alcoholic beverages. All ground transportation, lodging costs, meals, your National Trust membership, and all boat, entry, and landing fees are included. Weather permitting, we will enjoy three and one-half days (at least six sessions in all) at Bempton Cliffs, an afternoon with the Red Kites, six full days on the puffin boats, one amazing afternoon gannet chumming trip, and one spectacular morning gannet chumming trip. The trip cannot be finalized until I have at least six deposits as we will be renting a lovely 15-passenger bus with our private professional driver who happens to be my web-master, Peter Kes, who is also a skilled photographer and my co-leader 🙂

IPT Details

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome, heck, we actually need two couples — please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on February 28, 2019. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855.

Please shoot me an e-mail if you are good to go or if you have any questions.

Single Supplement Info

Single supplement rooms in Bridlington and Dunbar are available for those who register early. The cost of the single supplement for those six nights is $600.00. Single supplement rooms at the lodge may be available on a limited basis but only if the trip does not fill with ten photographers. The single supplement fee for those seven nights is $700. If you would like your own room in Bridlington and Dunbar, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement with your deposit: $2,600.00. The single supplement deposits are non-refundable as I will need to make the reservations well in advance.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

I truly hope that you can join me on this exciting venture.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.





Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

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Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

14 comments to AF Strategy for Verticals with All Camera Systems. The AF Quandary. And Big Glass Price Drops!

  • avatar Steve

    >> I hope to be heading down to the lake when it gets light here and find that the proof is in the pudding. <<

    The proof is not "in the pudding." The proof of the pudding is in the eating!

  • avatar Mike Ross

    I have the A9 and A7RIII. For the A9 with the 100-400 + the 1.4 teleconverter I set memory register 1 for BIF; manual mode, zone focus area, continuous focus, 10 frames per second, metering mode multi, 1/2000, f8, auto ISO. Front control wheel adjusts shutter speed, rear wheel controls f stop. Therefore, the exposure compensation dial changes ISO.

    I set memory register 2 for perched or walking birds. Same as for BIF except shutter speed is 1/500, focus area is flexible spot-small and metering mode is center.

    I set memory register 3 for HDR bracket shooting.

    For those not familiar with the camera you can register three separate custom shooting sets and assign each to a button. Each set can contain a value for:

    Drive Mode
    Shutter Speed
    Aperture
    Shooting Mode
    Exposure Compensation
    ISO
    Metering Mode
    Focus Mode
    Focus Area
    AF On

    I have included all of the settings assigned to the memory registers as “Custom Shooting Sets and assigned each to a button. (pages 167-170 of the A9 Manual https://www.sony.com/electronics/support/res/manuals/4692/46926761M.pdf)

    So if I have selected memory register 1, I can instantly change to all of the setting from memory register 2 by pressing and holding the “AEL” button (I wish this could be set to toggle on and off) If I am using memory register 2 and want to switch to the BIF settings in memory register 1, I push and hold the ‘AF ON” button. This is my preference as I can reach these buttons with my thumb while using the shutter button but almost any of the buttons can be used.

    I set the A7RIII the same way but since I primarily use this camera, with the 400mm f2.8 and 2x teleconverter, for static subjects I reverse the settings of memory registers 1 and 2.

    I continue to be amazed at the quality and versatility of these cameras.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Mike,

      Good stuff and even better that it works for you. A few things.

      1- Having to press and hold a button has never worked for me.

      2- Having to turn the wheel to dial in the EC is a huge, huge pain that makes the camera almost unusable. Patrick came up with a solution that will be in the new guide 🙂

      with love, artie

      • avatar Mike Ross

        While I have gotten used to holding the buttons, if I could change one thing on the camera it would be to allow the buttons to toggle on and off.

        Using the EC dial has become an automatic way of shooting for me. Being able to see the exposure in the viewfinder and using your exposure guidelines from the “Art Of Bird Photography” and what I learned on the IPT, I add or subtract to the exposure by feeling the click detents with my thumb. But, I am looking forward to reading what solution Patrick has found.

        Best,

        Mike

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          All good Mike and I agree 100% on the toggling. When you learn Patrick’s simple solution I am guaranteeing that you will use and love it.

          a

  • avatar Ryan Mense

    Beautiful image, Arthur. As for the quandary, what I’ve done (and what I know some others do because I certainly didn’t think of it) is to have one button for single point and one button for a wider AF area on the back of my 7D Mark II. That way I acquire with wide, and move to single point for improved accuracy. Seems to be the easiest solution to having your cake and eating it too.

    It’s been a little while since I’ve had an a9 in hand, so I can’t remember if it’s possible with it. I know at launch it couldn’t because I remember PMR telling me about it. Firmware 5.0 should be out any day now though so lots of new things to check up on soon.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Ryan,

      If it works for you, great. The problem is that when you go to single point with a tall bird walking at you with Canon or Nikon or Sony it is very difficult to maintain focus …

      with love, artie

  • Good looking little bird! Is colt the common nomenclature for describing this little dickens? For some reason when I click on the pic and enlarge on my tablet it doesn’t seem as sharp as some others you have posted…? If you keep on teaching I’ll keep on truckin’ to class! 🙂 Thanks

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