Nikon d-9 AF. Depth of Field Lesson and Concerns with Bouquets of Sand Eels … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Nikon d-9 AF. Depth of Field Lesson and DOF Concerns with Bouquets of Sand Eels ...

What’s Up?

I’ve been doing lots of catching up and very little photography. My jet lag seems to be abating as I slept from 8:30pm on Saturday night until 4:30am the next morning with just one pit stop. I’ve enjoyed being back in the pool every day.

This blog post took more than two hours to prepare. I hope that you enjoy it. If you have any questions or comments on depth of field please leave a comment.

This Just In!

Jet lag returned with a vengeance; I went to bed at 8:00pm on Sunday night, slept five solid hours, and woke at 2:00am. I tried to read myself back to sleep, did eventually after two hours, and got back to sleep for two more houurs …


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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 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 Listing

Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED Telephoto Lens

BAA Record-low Price

Will Randall is offering a Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED telephoto lens in like-new condition for a BAA record-low price of $1499.00. The sale includes the rear lens cap, the front lens cover, the carrying bag, all packing material, the original Nikon box, and insured ground shipping via a major courier to a US address only.

Please contact Will Randall via e-mail or by phone at 863 446-2617 (Eastern time zone).

The original Nikon 200-400 VR is an extremely versatile lens that is ideal for all types of nature photography. There is a used copy of this lens in only very good condition on B&H selling for $2,399.95; Will’s lens is a great buy! artie

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 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.

This image was created on the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. I used the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and my souped-up Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering at zero: 1/500 sec. at f/14 was right-on. NATURAL AUTO WB at 11:16am on a cloudy morning.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: +1. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Center Dynamic 9-points (d-9)/Continuous (C in Nikon/AI Servo with Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure. See the screen capture below for the location of the selected AF point.

Atlantic Puffin with mouthful of sand eels

Bouquets of Sand Eels …

Before the start of every UK Puffins and Gannets IPT, I tell the group that if they want images of puffins with mouthfuls of fish, there is one spot that is so good that they could sit there for the entire trip and do quite well. That spot paid off for us several times in 2019. The best news is that you can get very close to the birds with a low, careful approach; I made lots of head portraits of puffins this year with and without baitfish with focal lengths from 400 to 560mm. For today’s featured image, I was at the back of the pack so I added the TC to the 500 P and went to work. Working at 700mm allowed me to work over and between the folks sitting down in the front.

D850 Image Quality

I have been and continue to love the quality of D850 images. Sharp photos can stand up to substantial crops. Today’s featured image was created from a horizontal original.

Nikon Capture NX-D Screen Capture

Nikon d-9 AF

The outer d-9 AF points have been simulated in the screen capture above to show what you see through the viewfinder. Capture NX-D shows only the selected point — the little square. It does not show the supporting or surrounding points. I enhanced the little square for visibility and added the outer points in Photoshop. I have shied away from using Group for static subjects as I find d-9 more accurate overall. I still use Group (grp) for all of my Nikon flight photography.

When adding the TC-E14 to the 500 PF, you will find that AF performance is sluggish at best when you select a point other than the center point. The farther from the center you go, the worse the situation becomes. Huge advantage to both Canon and SONY in this area.

Depth of Field Lesson

For 3 1/2 decades, I have — in most situations — been making sharp images that make me happy working either wide open or close to it. For the past five years I have — in general — been stopping down 1/3 stop from wide open. That means working at f/6.3 with an f/5.6 lens and at f/4.5 with an f/4 lens. And when working with an f/5.6 lens and a 1.4X TC, I work at f/9 rather than wide open at f/8.

Why? My primary reason is that doing so eliminates vignetting nearly all of the time. Theoretically, the images should be a bit sharper when stopped down 1/3 stop but modern lenses are so sharp that I doubt that most folks could tell the difference. I focus on the eye, shoot close to wide open, and do not concern myself with. depth of field. Unless I am very close to a subject and working at or close to the minimum focusing distance of the lens. In those situations, it is imperative to stop down one to two stops from wide open. Why? Depth of field increases exponentially as the distance to the subject increases.

For example, if you are working a subject at 840mm (a 600 f/4 lens plus a 1.4X teleconverter) at a distance of 14 feet at f/6.3, the depth of field in front of the subject is .01 feet, or 0.12 inches, just a fraction of a single inch. In simplest terms, not much. With the same combination, while photographing a relatively large bird at a distance of 60 feet, the depth of field in front of the subject increases to 0.31 feet or 3.71 inches. This is usually more than enough to cover the subject. Increasing the aperture two stops doubles the d-of to 0.62 feet or 7.42 inches. This is not much of an increase considering that you will need to be working at an ISO two stops higher than the one you started with.

Now consider a bird in flight at 100 feet with the same combo. The d-o-f in front of the subject increases to a comparatively astronomical 1.75 feet! There is no need to stop down at all as the total d-o-f will be 3.53 feet.

Remember that it is important to stop down only when working at or close to the minimum focusing distance of your lens.

Depth of Field Master Screen Capture

Depth of Field Concerns with Bouquets of Sand Eels …

With today’s featured image I was working a subject with some extra depth (due to the jumble of sand eels) and I was working close to the minimum focusing distance of the 500 PF. So I knew that I needed to stop down in order to cover the sand eels, that is, to render the bird’s eye and the sand eels in relatively sharp focus. All that while maintaining a decent shutter speed when working at 700mm. I went with f/14 rather than my usual f/9. I was happy with the results. Now here is a very fine point: notice in the Capture NX-D focus point screen capture that I opted to focus a bit in front of the plane of the bird’s eye. This allowed the d-o-f behind the point of focus to cover the bird’s face and eye, while the d-o-f in front of the point of focus did a pretty good job of covering the puffin’s bill and the baitfish.

Bosque del Apache 2019 IPTs

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 IPTs

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

Return to Bosque IPT #2. NOV 29 (afternoon session thru DEC 4 (morning session) — 5 DAYS (4 full and two half): $2249.00. Limit: 10/Openings: 9. Introductory Meet and greet at 2:00pm on FRI 29 NOV.

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.

Both trips will run with only a single registrant. Lunch is included on all full days of each workshop.

Free Morning Session

Sign up for either IPT and enjoy a free morning session on Friday, 29 NOV.

$500 Multiple IPT Discount

Join me for both IPTs and we will be glad to apply a $500 multiple IPT discount.

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 three 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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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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9 comments to Nikon d-9 AF. Depth of Field Lesson and Concerns with Bouquets of Sand Eels …

  • avatar Adam

    Your points regarding DOF are spot on unless one is working with the wonky Canon AF system for BIF.

  • Smiles, knows about holding the focus point steady, that’s why I use a monopod for all but flight shots. The Kirk Tripod Collar and Desmond Tilt Head provide the same movements as a Gimbal Tripod Head. Next time we are together I will show you. Also the monopod supports the weight of the camera. Thanks for responding, Artie.

  • Hey Artie, agree with all the excellent advise and teaching. Although I wonder why you chose D-9 rather the a single autofocus point with continuous autofocus. D-9 allows the camera to switch and use another of the 9 focus points as the primary, where as with a single point the camera is going to focus where you choose to put that single point. Your thoughts?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Joe. I find that d-9 acquires a bit faster than single point and that it holds better as well. That helps as even with VR I am not able to hold the lens as still as I used to. On a tripod with a static subject, I would go to single point. These guys are always turning their heads from side to side …

      with love, a

      ps: Jim is preparing the PDF now …

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