Mirrorless or Not? SONY and Me. SONY and Patrick Sparkman. Nikon and Me. SONY and You. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Mirrorless or Not? SONY and Me. SONY and Patrick Sparkman. Nikon and Me. SONY and You.

What’s Up

Yesterday, Friday, June 14, was my 73rd birthday. We caught lots of Walleye and had a great dinner of ribs and coleslaw. Wind against sun both morning and afternoon pretty much put the kibosh on eagle photography. Today, Saturday, June 15 was simply fantastic for the eagles with a perfect east breeze. I kept 27. I deleted dozens of sharp, perfectly exposed eagle shots only because I had ones that were marginally better. As noted below, the Nikon D850/500 PF combo is simply deadly on birds in flight.

I am thinking about packing as I fly back to Orlando on Monday, only to be heading for Scotland and the UK just nine days after I get back home. I love photographing birds and nature.

Coming Soon

I will be announcing the Fort DeSoto Fall Sandbar Secrets IPT and one or two Bosque IPTs soon.

FlexShooter Pro Update

We currently have FlexShooter Pro heads in stock here.

BIRDS AS ART

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

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.

As used gear sales have slowed a bit in recent months — especially with dSLR bodies, there are lots of great buys right now both below and on the Used Gear Page.

New Listings

Canon EF 400mm f/4 IS DO II Lens

John Armitage is offering a Canon EF 400mm f/4 IS DO II lens in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $4299.00. The sale includes the rear cap, the lens strap, the lens trunk, the original shipping box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower 48 US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact John via e-mail or by phone at 1-970-250-6080 (Mountain time).

I owned and used the 400 DO II when I shot with Canon and found a way to take it on most trips. I took it to Scotland and Nickerson Beach and San Diego. It served me well as my (lighter!) big gun several Galapagos and Southern Ocean (the Falklands and South Georgia) trips. It is a killer for flight with or without the 1.4X III TC. It is. razor sharp with the 2X on static subjects and skilled folks have had amazing success hand holding it with the 2X III TC for flight and for action. artie

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

John Armitage is also offering a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $3699.00. The shutter count is <36,000. The sale includes the front cap, the battery charger, three batteries, a 64GB SanDisk CFast 2.0 Card along with the card reader, the strap, the original product box, the interface cable (the cable protector is missing), and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower 48 US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made. Please contact John via e-mail or by phone at 1-970-250-6080 (Mountain time).

The 1DX Mark II is Canon’s rugged, blazingly fast professional digital camera body. It features an amazing AF system and high-quality image files with great dynamic range. It was long the choice of Arash Hazeghi, and of many other of the world’s premier birds in flight photographers. artie

Canon EF 400mm f/4 IS DO II Lens

Eric Karl is offering a Canon EF 400mm f/4 IS DO II lens in near-mint condition for a very low $4399.00. The sale includes the tough front lens cover, the rear cap, the lens strap, the lens trunk, the original product box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower 48 US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Eric via e-mail.

I owned and used the 400 DO II when I shot with Canon and found a way to take it on most trips. I took it to Scotland and Nickerson Beach and San Diego. It served me well as my (lighter!) big gun several Galapagos and Southern Ocean (the Falklands and South Georgia) trips. It is a killer for flight with or without the 1.4X III TC. It is. razor sharp with the 2X on static subjects and skilled folks have had amazing success hand holding it with the 2X III TC for flight and for action. artie

bedford-logo-w-code

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.

Snowy-Egret-feet-_A7R0661-Fort-DeSoto-Park-Tierra-Verde-FL-1

This image was created on May 6, 2019 on the 2019 DeSoto Sandbar Secrets IPT. I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens (at 259mm) and the high mega-pixel Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 1000: 1/250 sec. at f/16 in Manual mode. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial … AWB at 8:47am on a cloudy morning.

Image #1: Snowy Egret feet on railing

Working Tight

One of the huge advantages shared by the SONY 100-400 and the Canon 100-400 II is the .98 meter (3 foot, 2.7 inch) close focus. When working very tight it is very important to remember stop down in most situations. Note that for the toe-fetish image I went all the way down to f/16.

Mirrorless or Not?

When you look through the viewfinder of a Canon or Nikon dSLR at an avian subject, you are actually seeing the bird in life. Yes, its image is reflected off a mirror (I think), but you are actually seeing the bird. In life. When you look through the viewfinder of a mirrorless camera body, you are seeing pixels, just as when you are looking at a modern TV. It simply ain’t the same. If your exposure it too bright, you will not see much at all. That is always disconcerting to me (until I get down to the correct ISO).

As dust-spotting is a serious problem with mirrorless bodies you need to be sure the wind is behind you and that you work quickly when changing lenses or adding or subtracting TCs. Ergonomically, all of the mirrorless bodies that I have tried including the SONY, are quite small and have never been quite comfortable with any of them. I have long appreciated the size and heft of a dSLR. Heck, over the past almost 36 years I have gotten quite used to that feel. While folks have long been preaching the light weight of mirrorless rigs as a huge advantage, I just have not seen it; several ounces with the bodies and the same with most of the lenses, even the 100-400s. And the new SONY 600mm f/4 is less than an ounce lighter than the Canon 600 III … I will admit that the SONY AF system is fantastic, but there is a steep AF learning curve with SONY and it does take time to figure it out and become comfortable and proficient using it.

If I had gone all in from the start with SONY, I am sure that I would be a lot more proficient using it and would be a lot happier with the results. That said, I like my a7R iii images better than I liked my a9 images. The problem for me is that I love both the image quality and the color of my Nikon D850 images.

foggy-sunrise-on-Basket-Lake-_A7R4192-nr-Dryden-Ontario-CA-1

This image was created on June 10 at Basket Lake Camp in northern Ontario. I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens (at 100mm) and the high mega-pixel Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 640: 1/250 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial … AWB at 5:12am on a cloudy morning.

Image #2: Foggy sunrise over Basket Lake

Capture One for SONY

Using the Color Editor while converting each of today’s featured SONY images allowed me to create the look that I wanted, enhancing the CYAN tones of the Gulf of Mexico in image #1 and fine-tuning the REDs and YELLOWs in Image #2.

SONY and Me

Right now the bottom line for me is that I will be holding onto my SONY 100-400 and my a7R iii. I am currently up in the air on my a9; I would not mind trying it on those speeding bullets in the UK — Atlantic Puffins in flight. As regular readers know I love the SONY stuff for close work (see Image #1) especially in low light where it shines because of the ease of determining the best exposure using the Zebra feature. And at times, the 100-400 at 100mm or so can help me with scenics (as in Image #2) and bird-scapes.

2_Bald-Eagle-striking-fish-_BUP0761-nr-Dryden-Ontario-CA-1

This image was created on June 13, 2019 from a small boat on Basket Lake. I used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens and my souped-up Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering plus 1/3 stop off the low blue sky: 1/4000 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode. AUTO1 WB at 7:10pm on a clear afternoon.

One left of center Group (grp) Continuous (C in Nikon/AI Servo with Canon) was active at the moment of exposure. The array was centered on the bird’s flank right on the same plane as the bird’s eye.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: +4. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Image #3: Bald Eagle striking fish

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Nikon and Me

At present, the main reason that I am not going all-in on SONY is the Nikon D850/500mm PF combination. It is much lighter (at about 1 1/2 pounds) than the new SONY 200-600. It is absolutely deadly for flight photography. And I do quite well on static subjects with the TC-E14. I often find myself going with the 500 PF over the tripod-mounted 600 VR because it is so much lighter, because I can hand hold it easily, and because I am much more mobile in the field. In the past week I have created more than a thousand images of Bald Eagles diving and in flight with the D850/500mm PF combo. I can count the number of unsharp images on the fingers of one hand. So the bottom line for me at this time is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

WEGU-patrick_A715263-1

This image was created at LaJolla, CA by good friend Patrick Sparkman. He used the hand held Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens and the high mega-pixel Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 1000. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/200 sec. at f/2.8.

Expand Flexible spot on the front of the bird’s neck was active at the moment of exposure.

Image #4: Western Gull in pre-dawn light

SONY and Patrick Sparkman

Patrick fell in love with SONY instantly. He sold all of his Nikon gear immediately and went all-in on SONY. His kit includes the a9, the a7R iii, the 100-400 GM, the 400mm f/2.8 GM, and the 90mm macro. He is #1 on the list for the new SONY 600mm f/4 and will be getting the first one that Bedford’s receives on August 2, 2019. That thanks to Steve Elkins. Patrick quickly embraced the SONY mirrorless process and with lots of study and experimentation and by putting his quick, technically-oriented mind to work, has developed dozens of great SONY tips and menu settings that make the cameras much more functional than when it comes out of the box. He is working on a SONY video tutorial for the a9 and the a7 Riii.

As regular readers know Patrick is a skilled photographer and the BIRDS AS ART technical advisor.

SONY and You

There are thousands of nature photographers including many hundreds if not thousands of bird photographers. SONY may very well be the best system for you. Consider what you learn here on the blog. Talk to other photographers in the field. Search out the folks on BPN using SONY and ask them questions. Peruse the SONY images that you see online.

Your Favorite?

Please leave a comment and let us know which of today’s four images is your favorite. Be sure to let us know why you made your choice. (It’s fine if you pick Patrick’s image. 🙂

C1-Simplified-MP-4-VideoB

The Capture One Pro-12 Simplified Video
Click here to order.

The Capture One Pro-12 Simplified Video

$15.00 via electronic download

As with all of my images for the past three months or so, both of today’s images were optimized beautifully and quickly in Capture One Pro 12. When I first heard about doing RAW conversions in C-1 Pro 12, I purchased the somewhat pricey program and tried to figure it out on my own. I was totally lost. So I did some reading online and was still very confused. Then I consulted Arash Hazeghi’s comprehenisve The Nikon Photographers’ Guide to Phase One Capture One Pro e-Guide and while Arash does a great job of covering the fine points, I still had some difficulty getting started. I thought Who needs Sessions and who wants to have to Import images? So I consulted Patrick Sparkman, the BAA technical advisor. Patrick had been using C-1 Pro 12 for a while. We spent a good deal of time on FaceTime simplifying things. That video is a direct result of those conversations.

You can purchase your copy in the BAA Online Store here.

If you are new to Capture One Pro-12, please click here to order. Understand that C-1 Pro 12 is expensive for good reason … Are your photos worth it?

Here are some of the things you will learn in this 33+ minute video as we convert nine different RAW files (eight Nikon and one SONY) from soup to nuts, from Photo Mechanic through the RAW conversion in Capture One to Photoshop:

  • 1-How to quickly and easily find your images while working in a simple file folder format.
  • 2-How to customize your Exposure and Details tabs to streamline your workflow.
  • 3-How to set the White and Black points using Levels.
  • 4-How to adjust set the values for the relevant sliders including Exposure, White Balance, High Dynamic Range (the Highlight and Shadow sliders), and Clarity and Structure.
  • 5-How to work at 100 or 200% and fine tune your settings for Noise Reduction and Sharpness.
  • 6-How to work with the Color Editor

If you are trying to get a handle on how to use this great RAW conversion engine for your Nikon and SONY images, this video is just what you have been looking for. It is meant to serve as an adjunct to Arash’s comprehensive The Nikon Photographers’ Guide to Phase One Capture One Pro e-Guide. For Canon shooters, Arash and I both recommend using DPP 4.

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.

Facebook

Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right.

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 :).

8 comments to Mirrorless or Not? SONY and Me. SONY and Patrick Sparkman. Nikon and Me. SONY and You.

  • Hey Arthur, Happy belated. Im going with the eagle very nice classic image. Like the splashing water and that outstreched near wing. Actually got to use a mirrorless camera today. I can agree with you on the ergonomics they are quite small and i have big hands. I can see what your saying about weight put a big heavy lens on and it feels like you have a big heavy lens on.

  • avatar Matt

    Thanks for your thoughts, Artie. Many of us were curious about what your reaction was to these releases.

    And Happy Birthday!

  • avatar Paul Burdett

    Hi Artie. First up: a belated happy birthday young man. Don’t forget…it’s just a number. Mine is 66 (get your kicks on Route 66). I did hop into a camera shop a while ago and asked to see the A9 and 100-400 Sony gear. My first impression when I held the combo was the feeling that it was forward heavy..the lens seemed to dip the combo forward…I disliked it straight away…much prefer my current setup…but I do acknowledge that one could get used to it. I guess first impressions weren’t favourable. The small size of the camera is another factor which I don’t think I could get used to…much like your comment about the fee/sizel of a dslr. I do think that the D850/500pf will be my next purchase (unless Canon do something similar), but it’s not possible at the moment (other commitments and all). Anyhow…thank you for all your knowledge and info on this blog as well as on BPN…thanks to you (and others here) I’ve learnt a ton! Cheers. Paul

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I still love my a7R iii/100-400 combo for close work and for scenics… I used the 100-400 on a tripod for the first time on Sunday afternoon.

      with love and YAW,
      a

  • Belated birthday artie….

    I have heard great things about 500 f/4 PF lens… sure seems to be awesome based on your images 🙂

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Krishna,

      I did not use my 600 at Basket Lake until the very last afternoon. All the rest was the 500 PF, the Sigma 150 macro, the a7R iii/100-400 for close work, and the cell phone 🙂

      a

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>