SONY a7r iii for Flight Photography? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

SONY a7r iii for Flight Photography?

What’s Up?

The Sandbar really rocked late on Saturday afternoon. We had lots of great bathing and flight photography, mostly with Sandwich and Royal Terns along with a flock of about 500 Red Knots and a tame American Avocet, only the second one I have ever seen at Fort DeSoto. Photographing on the sandbar is like being at a wild remote location rife with tame birds; it is hard to believe that you are only 20 minutes from downtown St. Pete. The group is both fabulous and appreciative and there is a ton of learning going on. The food at the Neptune Grill in our home base at Gulfport has been great as usual,.

Galapagos 2020?

If you are interested in learning about a possible Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime, September 29-October 13 on the boat (travel dates: 27 SEPT to Guayaquil and fly home on 14 OCT) please get in touch via e-mail. I will need at least eight deposits by December 1, 2019.

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 the 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 on the Used Gear Page

New Listings

Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Lens

Jim McCormac is offering a Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM lens in excellent condition for only $7,199.00. There are a very few very minor scuffs and paint nicks, mostly on the tripod foot. The lens has been protected by a LensCoat for much of its life. The sale includes the lens trunk, the hood, both original feet, the LensCoat, the front lens cover, the rear lens cap, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made. This lens is optically perfect and performs incredibly with the Canon 1.4x teleconverters (for a reach of 1120mm on full-frame lenses). Please contact Jim via e-mail or by phone at 1-614-517-0258 (Eastern time zone).

I owned and used the super-sharp 800mm f/5.6, often with a 1.4X TC, as my go-to super-telephoto lens for almost five years. If you work with birds that are tough to approach and have trouble making sharp images with the 2X III TC, this lens should have your name on it. The 800/5.6 is great from the car or from a blind. I was astounded when I counted to learn that 15 of the 67 images in my San Diego exhibit were created with my 800. Note that the 800 and a 7D Mark II get you out to 1280mm. Add the 1.4X III TC and you wind up at 1792mm, almost 36X! The 800s — still in production — sell new right now for $12,999 from B&H. Thus, you can save a nifty $5800 by grabbing Jim’s lens right now. artie

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

Jim McCormac is offering a Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens in excellent condition for only $6,599.00. There are only a very few minor scuffs and paint nicks, mostly on the tripod foot. The lens has been protected by a camo LensCoat for most of its life. The sale includes the lens trunk, the hood, both feet, the LensCoat, the front lens cover, the rear lens cap, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made. This lens is optically perfect and performs incredibly well with the Canon 1.4x teleconverter (for a reach of 700mm on full-frame lenses). Please contact Jim via e-mail or by phone at 1-614-517-0258 (Eastern time zone).

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 to 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 Jim’s lens as it too should sell almost instantly. As the 500 II goes for $8999 new you will be getting a great lens while saving $2400.00. I loved my 500 II 🙂 artie

Price Drops!

Sigma Contemporary 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG Lens for Canon

Price Reduced $50.00 on 9-24-2019

Sheldon Goldstein, multiple IPT participant, is offering a Sigma Contemporary 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG Lens for Canon in like-new condition for $675.00 (was $725.00). The sale includes a Wimberley P-30 plate, the lens cap, the rear cap, the protective case, carrying straps for the lens and case, the Sigma USB Dock UD-2 for firmware updates, and insured Fed-Ex Ground shipping to lower 48 US addresses. Your lens will ship after your check clears unless another payment method is used.

Please contact Shelly via e-mail or by phone at 1-646-423-0392 (Eastern time).

I have seen many sharp and wonderful images created with this versatile lens on several IPTs. artie

Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 DG HSM Lens for Canon

Price Reduced $51.00 on 9-24-2019

Sheldon Goldstein, multiple IPT participant, is offering a Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 DG HSM lens for Canon in like-new condition for $799.00 (was $850.00). The sale includes the lens cover, the rear cap, the protective carrying case, and insured Fed-Ex Ground shipping to lower 48 US addresses. Your lens will ship after your check clears unless another payment method is used.

Please contact Shelly via e-mail or by phone at 1-646-423-0392 (Eastern time).

This lens is designed for use with full-frame Canon digital cameras; it offers a dramatically ultra-wide coverage with field-of-views ranging from 122° to 84.1° making it ideal for dramatic landscape photography. It is a superb architectural lens that is great for creating images of the tightest of interiors. Using Canon bodies with APS-C sensors (like the 7D Mark II) will give you an effective zoom range of 17-35mm. B&H

IPT Updates

  • The Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 6. Extra Day Options: Join me for one to three extra In-the-Field Days at the end of the IPT as follows: FRI 29 NOV, SAT 30 NOV, and SUN 1 DEC for only $300.00/day.
  • The 2020 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) WED JAN 8, 2020 thru and including the morning session on SUN JAN 12: 4 1/2 days: $2099.(Limit: 8/Openings: 5)

BIRDS AS ART

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

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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 getting folks the hot new SONY stuff: the 200-600, the 600 f/4 GM, and the 7R iv. And the wait-list is short for the Nikon 500 P.



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.

Brown-Pelican-diving-a_A7R3697-Santa-Fe-Galapagos-1

This image was created at Santa Fe on August 3 on the 2019 Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT. I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens (AT 400MM) with the high mega-pixel Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 800. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB at 7:57:35am on a cloudy morning.

Center Zone C (Continuos/tracking) AF was active at the moment of exposure. Click on the image to enjoy a larger, inexplicably sharper version.

Brown Pelican diving

SONY a7r iii for Fllight Photography?

With science-fiction-like AF, 15 or so frames per second, and no mirror blackout, the SONY a9 is the acknowledged king of flight photography (at least in the SONY line-up). But the images files are relatively small and having to switch camera bodies when you run into a bit of good flight photography can be anything from a pain in the butt to impossible. With the a7r iii being my workhorse camera body in the Galapagos, there were times when I went to Center Zone and made some really good flight images. Be sure to enlarge each of today’s featured images to see a larger, inexplicably sharper version.

Brown-Pelican-hitting-water-a_A7R3698-Santa-Fe-Galapagos-1

This image was created at Santa Fe on August 3 on the 2019 Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT. I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens (AT 400MM) with the high mega-pixel Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 800. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB at 7:57:35am on a cloudy morning.

Center Zone C (Continuos/tracking) AF was active at the moment of exposure. Click on the image to enjoy a larger, inexplicably sharper version.

Brown Pelican hitting the water

a7r iii File Size and Crop-ability …

A compressed RAW a7r iii image files comes in at about 41 MB. Thus, a sharp ARW file can stand up to a healthy crop. About 33% of the original pixels were cropped away in the two Brown Pelican images above. Note: you can save a lot of room on your computer by capturing compressed RAWs; folks shooting the night skies should be capturing uncompressed RAWs.

The speed of initial focusing accuracy and AF tracking accuracy with the a7r iii are not quite as good as with the a9, but the iii is a more than capable flight photography camera body.

Brown-Noddy-in-flight-a-a7-iii-_A7R9899-Punta-Moreno-Isabela-Galapagos-1

This image was created on a panga (zodiac) ride at Punta Moreno, Isabela on July 28 on the 2019 Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT. I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens (AT 400MM) with the high mega-pixel Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 800. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB at 11:08am on a cloudy-bright morning.

Center Zone C (Continuos/tracking) AF was active at the moment of exposure. Click on the image to enjoy a larger, inexplicably sharper version.

Brown Noddy in flight

Flight Subjects

While pelicans are large birds, and relatively slow fliers (except when they are diving!), the a7r iii did just fine with them in flight. Brown Noddies, on the other hand, are swift fliers that often dart and turn in the air. And photographing birds in flight from a rocking zodiac (panga) is always a challenge. As in all flight photography situations, it is necessary to study the wind and the birds’ flight patterns and figure out the best way to maximize your chances. With the noddies, the best opportunities occurred when they turned back into the wind to look down for some available baitfish.

SD-2019-card

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The 2020 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) WED JAN 8, 2020 thru and including the morning session on SUN JAN 12: 4 1/2 days: $2099.(Limit: 8/Openings: 7)

Introductory Meet and Greet at 7:00pm on the evening before the IPT begins; WED JAN 7, 2020.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (nesting with eggs and possibly chicks) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heermann’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others are possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lions; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the IPT cards, there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Not to mention a ton of excellent flight photography opportunities and instruction.

Please note: where permitted and on occasion, ducks and gulls may be attracted (or relocated) with offerings of grains or healthy bread.

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

Whether you like it or not, we will be beating the subject of exposure like a dead horse. In every new situation, you will hear my thoughts on the exposure situation along with my thoughts on both Nikon and Canon histograms and the subject of blinkies. Whether you like it or not, you will learn to work in manual mode and to get the right exposure every time as long as a bird gives you ten seconds with the light constant. And you will learn what to do when the light is changing constantly. What you learn about exposure will be one of the great takeaways on every IPT.

San-Diego-card-B-2019

Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT, there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography as well. And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You will be guided as to how to make the best of all of those opportunities. And depending on the weather and local conditions and tides, there are a variety of fabulous photo chances available in and around San Diego.


san-diego-card-neesie

Did I mention that there are lots of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter? Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo sessions, four lunches, and after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 3385, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 10/11//2018. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel 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.


san-diego-card-b

Variety is surely the spice of life in San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

On all BIRDS AS ART IPTS including and especially the San Diego IPT, we get into the field early to take advantage of unique and often spectacular lighting conditions and we stay out late to maximize the chances of killer light and glorious sunset silhouette situations. We often arrive at the cliffs a full hour before anyone else shows up to check out the landscape and seascape opportunities.


If In Doubt …

If you are 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 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 or Bedfords, 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 or Bedfords 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

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6 comments to SONY a7r iii for Flight Photography?

  • avatar Fred Innamorato

    Hi Artie. Does the addition of the FE 1.4x Teleconverter in your opinion slow down the Auto focus significantly? I used the Sony a9 with the FE 100mm-400mm at closer distances for Warblers feeding with the 1.4x recently and had trouble getting the AF fast enough. I will try it without the 1.4x this week and compare myself. I lost several shots so maybe it is not worth going for more reach?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Adding a TC to any lens will always slow down the speed of initial focusing acquisition and decrease AF tracking accuracy to some degree. Why? AF depends on light and contrast to focus and a 1.4X TC robs the system of one stop of light while a 2XTC robs it of 2 stops of light.

      My experience shows that SONY is less affected than Canon and performs quite well even with the 2x (on an f/4 lens of course …) . Nikon can do pretty well with the 1.4X TC as long as you stay with a center AF point …

      with love, artie

  • avatar Mukesh Patel

    Artie, it’s a learning curve with A7Riii for the flight photography. Most of the photographers use A9 and get spoiled with it’s superior ability for the BIF accuracy and speed, however, A7Riii is more than capable for the BIF, as long as you master the right technique with it. I have been using it for past 2 years for the Bald eagle photography in action with multiple chase and fight included and it’s performs every time.

    Now it’s time for you to try A7RIV, with it’s 61 MP and Real Time Tracking, it’s more than capable for BIF. I have been testing it for last couple of weeks and so far happy with it.

    Love to read your blog and hope to spend sometime with you on IPT, when I find some time from the work.

    Best regards,

    Mukesh

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Mukesh,

      Thanks for commenting. I am using the a7r iv right now. More on that soon …

      Thanks for your kind words. I am guessing that you live somewhere in the mid-Atlantic?

      with love, artie

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie, and thanks as always. Pelicans are less challenging in flight than most other birds because they are so big but kudos for the shots anyway. Question for you. I was photographing waves at the beach with my Canon 7D2 and Canon 100-400L IS II lens recently when I noticed flocks of small shorebirds–probably sanderlings–flying along the shoreline. They were pretty but my success rate in getting them in focus rather than the waves behind them was zero. It’s obviously a challenging situation for any AF system; very small birds against a large detailed background. Do you have any advice on how to handle that situation?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Not so easy diving 🙂

      You might try center (large) Zone AF. Or switch to Nikon or SONY — both of those do much better in that situation than Canon.

      with love, artie

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