SONY a7r IV 840mm tripod-mounted Flight Success. With some failure … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

SONY a7r IV 840mm tripod-mounted Flight Success. With some failure ...

What’s Up?

When I walked on Wednesday morning I wore a shirt and a woolen watch cap … I was guessing that summer was over but in an hour it was sunny and 85 degrees.

Recently I had a Roseate Spoonbill down by the lake; it was just the second time that I have seen that species at ILE. I saw my first of the season Palm Warbler about ten days ago; now they are all over the place. I have been walking early with the 200-600/a9 combo trying to create some pleasing blurs, most with the vultures. And at sunset, I have been experimenting with the 200-600 with the a9 and both the 1.4X and the 2X TC. I have been astounded by the results. Images here soon …

Your Fave?

Which of today’s featured images do you like best? Leave a comment and let us know why you made yoru choice.

Need System or Upgrade Advice?

These are certainly exciting and volatile times in bird and nature photography: Canon, Nikon, SONY? Upgrade or switch systems? Yikes! If you are thinking about switching or upgrading and have questions, feel free to call me on my cell at 863-221-2372 for a free ten-minute consultation. The only thing that I ask in return is that you make a firm commitment to use my B&H affiliate links or to buy from Bedford using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout if you decide to go forward. Remember that Steve Elkins at Bedford can save you a few additional bucks on lens/camera/accessories packages. See the blog for his contact details. Either way, it will not cost you one penny more.

Be sure to leave a message if I do not pick up and I will get back to you. And please follow that up with an e-mail or a text stating your name and a good time for me to call you back. I spend lots of time each day walking, swimming, and watching football and baseball 🙂 And napping.

IPT Updates

You can see all IPT details here.

  • 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)

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. Details will be announced here soon.

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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 over $1000.00, 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 has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H. Those include the SONY a7r IV, the SONY 200-600, the SONY 600mm f/4 GM, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is eager to please.



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.

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

Price Reduced $250.00 on 10-23-2019

Sandra Calderbank is offering a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for the BAA record-low-by-$1,250 price of $5,749.00 (was $5999.00). The sale includes the original box and everything that came in it including the rear lens cap, the lens trunk, the original tough front lens cover, and the lens strap along with a LensCoat 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.

Please contact Sandra via e-mail or by phone at 1-828 412 1047 (Eastern time).

This fast, super-sharp, relatively lightweight (8.49 pounds) super-telephoto lens is a versatile lens for wildlife photographers, especially for those who live in the west and do large mammals in low light. And it is a hugely popular lens with sports photographers. Bird photographers working at close range at feeder set-ups will really love the 3m (9.8 feet) close focus. And best of all, it creates super-sharp images with both the 1.4X III and the 2X III Extenders. This lens sells new right now for $7,999 and the newer version, the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM, sells for $11,999! Either way, you can save some significant bucks by grabbing Sandra’s super-fast lens. artie

Sandwich-Terns-tandem-fishing-_DSC3451-Fort-DeSoto-Park-Pinellas-County-FL-1

This image was created on September 30, 2019, the third morning of the recent Fort DeSoto Sandbard Secrets IPT. I used the Induro GIT 304L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter, and the the 61-MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 400. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2500 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode was about +1/3 on the analog scale. AWB at 9:10am on a clear, sunny morning.

Center Zone Continuous/tracking AF. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Sandwich Terns in tandem flight, one with fish

Two for the Price of One

Pleasingly juxtaposed images of two birds in flight are rarer than hen’s teeth. While getting on this good is partially luck, you need to train yourself to acquire focus and then keep the shutter button down while the bird is in the zone and keep firing if and when a second bird enters the frame … I would not have minded another inch of clearance between the two birds. But the twin downstroke poses and the fish and the sharpness more than make up for that.

SONY’s Center Zone AF gives you a good margin of side-to-side compositional freedom.

Sandwich-Tern-with-two-fish-_DSC3473-Fort-DeSoto-Park-Pinellas-County-FL-1

This image was also created on September 30, 2019, the third morning of the recent Fort DeSoto Sandbar Secrets IPT. Again I used the Induro GIT 304L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter, and the the 61-MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 400. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2500 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode was about +1/3 on the analog scale. AWB at 9:11am on a clear, sunny morning. I was working fast. 🙂

Center Zone Continuous/tracking AF. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Sandwich Tern in flight with two fish!

Only Two!

There were flocks of terns fishing on this great sandbar morning. As the schools of bait moved, the bird followed. And dived. I’d guess that they were successful about 25% of the time when diving. The bait must have been thick for this bird to come up with two greenbacks on a single plunge. At first, I’d spot a feeding flock of terns and rush down the beach after them. With the tripod-mounted 600 GM. Though this lens is incredibly light, I tired badly after about an hour probably having traversed a mile in all. By that time I realized as most of the group had that if you stayed put, the bait and the birds would be right back in front of you in a matter of minutes … Lesson learned. But all those birds diving in a frenzy are very tempting. We had two mornings with north/northwest winds, close to perfect for diving tern photography.

100-pct-crop-Sandwich-Tern-with-two-fish-_DSC3473-Fort-DeSoto-Park-Pinellas-County-FL-1

Image #2A: An unsharpened 100% crop of the (already cropped) master file for Sandwich Tern in flight with two fish!

Strange

I find it strange that one fish is impaled and the other is being held at the base of the bird’s bill. How the heck does that happen?

Sandwich-Tern-swallowing-fish-_DSC3657-Fort-DeSoto-Park-Pinellas-County-FL-1

This image was also created on September 30, 2019, the third morning of the recent Fort DeSoto Sandbard Secrets IPT. Again I used the Induro GIT 304L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter, and the the 61-MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 400. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2500 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode was about +1/3 on the analog scale. AWB at 9:11am on a clear, sunny morning. I was working fast. 🙂

Center Zone Continuous/tracking AF. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #3: Sandwich Tern swallowing fish in flight

840mm Tripod-mounted Flight Sharpness

I was somewhat surprised that I did so well shooting flight off the tripod with the a7r IV. The rig acquired focus very quickly, held focus well, and tracked the subject accurately in most cases. AF tracking accuracy was excellent with birds flying right at or angling towards me; the bird’s eyes, bills, and the feathers on the tops of their heads were laser-razor sharp. But with terns flying right to left or left to right, Center Zone often picked up the near-wing leaving the eye and face soft. So the next time that we had the terns feeding with a decent wind direction, I went to Flexible Spot Large and found that the system did not acquire focus either quickly or well. There are several possible solutions to this problem but I might not get a chance to try them until Bosque …

I expect that AF performance will be improved with the 600 GM and the 1.4X TC when I go to the a9.

C-1-tern-w-fish

Image #3A: Capture One screen capture for Sandwich Tern swallowing fish in flight

A7r IV Flight Sharpness

With the Capture One large Loupe at 100% magnification. Check out the incredible sharpness. The 61MP files of the a7r IV are velvety smooth yet finely detailed and offer color that fits the color-space in my mind. And they are eminently crop-able. I have a new technique for picking my keepers with Capture One tht works exceedingly well. I may do another video …

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 below, Capture One did a great job of converting the RAW (NEF) files for today’s featured images.

When I first heard about doing RAW conversions in Capture One 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 comprehensive 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.

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Bosque del Apache 2019 IPT

Notice the incredible variety of images that you can learn to make by developing your skills and your creative vision on a BAA IPT.

2019 Bosque del Apache IPT

Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT #1. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 6. Introductory Meet and greet at 7pm on MON 25 NOV.

Extra Day Options: Join me for one to three In-the-Field Days as follows: FRI 29 NOV, SAT 30 NOV, and SUN 1 DEC for only $300.00/day.

I quit going to Bosque several years ago as conditions had worsened each year for several seasons running. My understanding is that things have improved dramatically in recent years. Photography-wise, I know Bosque better than anyone. Join me to learn how wind and sky conditions influence bird photography, how to create dramatic sunrise and sunset silhouettes, how to be in the right place at the right time, and how to create contest-winning blurs. As usual, you will learn to get the right exposure every time, to use your camera’s AF system to create pleasing, balanced image designs, and to improve your flight photography skills.

We should get to photograph many thousands of Snow Geese, more than a few blast-offs, some Ross’s Geese, and lots of Sandhill Cranes in the water, taking flight and flying. Depending on local conditions we may get to shoot some ducks: point-blank American Wigeon and Wood Duck. With any luck, we might enjoy sunrises and sunsets that leave you in tears. Live, eat, and breathe photography with one of (if not the) world’s premier photographic educators at one of his very favorite locations on the planet. Top-notch Photoshop instruction. Join me to learn to think like a pro and to recognize situations and to anticipate them based on the weather. Every time we make a move, I will let you know why. When you get home, applying what you learned will prove to be invaluable.

Lunch is included.

To Register

To register, send your non-refundable $500 deposit — check made out to BIRDS AS ART — via US Mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Or call Jim weekdays at 863-692-0906 to put your non-refundable deposit on a credit card. Balances must be paid in full by check no later than two months before the IPT. If you cancel, all but your deposit will be refunded only if the IPT sells out.

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.


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15 comments to SONY a7r IV 840mm tripod-mounted Flight Success. With some failure …

  • avatar Adam

    The more I use the a7r4, the more impressed I am with the image quality. Canon still beats it for the ergonomics and ease of use especially in manual mode. I find trying to adjust Tv with that top back dial simply frustrating.

    It would be interesting to see if operating in crop mode affects the af issues you mentioned? FWIW, I was playing around with an adapter and some of my Canon lenses. Some of them worked pretty well such as the 24-105 f4, 35, and 50 mm primes. The 100-400 is ii paired beautifully with respect to IQ, though af speed suffered. Likewise, the 500 mm is ii produces gorgeous images and bokeh though it focuses so slowly that other than static subjects. I can’t see it being useful at all with th a7r4 and why should one expect it to?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Adam, How many years were you using Canon?

      Working in crop mode should not make a difference as the pixel density is the same. Have you encountered similar problems? As for the adapters, your experience is exactly why I never bothered. For me, SONY is all about AF!

      When folks ask why I never use the adapters, I usually say, “It’s against my religion …”

      with love, artie

      • avatar Adam

        Back to the stone age film days. Switched to Canon from Nikon in 1989 when they introduced the 28-80 mm f2.8-4 USM lens. The mini-magic drainpipe changed my life. As far as the AF is concerned, I’ll have to run some AF tests in the crop mode to see if perhaps crop affords more processing power to the AF.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          That’sd what I figured. The ergonomics of SONY are just fine. In time you will get used to it. I have the aperture on the front wheel and shutter speed on the rear wheel (at the top). Ah, as I re-read I see that you have the same. Give it some time and it will seem natural.

          with love, artie

  • I like the two terns as well because of both with the same wing positions. You even got that tiny bit of necessary space between wings. I also like the choppier water (more in focus) better than the more blurry water with large blobs in two fish. I guess I like the look of real water or completely OOF smooth water.

  • avatar Mukesh Patel

    Artie,
    Impressive work with this combo. What is you suggestions on optimum shutter speed for the BIF, with A7RIV and 600mm, I have been trying different speed with mixed results so any insight would be helpful.

    Also, been thinking about Capture One for a while but looking at amount of adjusting slider on the main screen, compare to LR, scares me off. Is it worth changing to Capture one from LR ? I have been using LR and PS for long time and very comfortable using it but my question is more related to final results versus ease of us.

    Regards,

    Mukesh

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Because of the possibility of small/dense pixel blur I try to go as high as possible, at least 1/2500 sec. With all my other cameras 1/1600 has been fine. I have made some sharp ones at 1/500 sec …

      Not sure what you are seeing on the screen capture. I made a WB adjustment, increased the EXP 0.11, reduced the Highlights to 44, set the WHITE point, and because the image was so, so sharp, actually moved the Structure slider to -2. Those adjustments took less than 20 seconds.

      with love, a

  • Artie, the sharpness of the images with the 600 + 1.4x is very impressive. Did you have to microadjust the focus for this camera/lens combo?

  • avatar Richard Lethbridge

    Perhaps the two fish were very close together, one slightly above the other, and got
    accidentally transfixed after the first was captured.

  • avatar Gary Axten

    I really like the mirrored wing shape in the first image.

    Could the bird with the two fish have dived a second time while still holding a fish from the first dive?

    Did you try wide AF as per Patrick’s suggestion?

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