Learning a lot from a so-so R5 Bald Eagle flight image … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Learning a lot from a so-so R5 Bald Eagle flight image ...

What’s Up?

I enjoyed a modicum of success on Monday morning before the wind came up and switched to northwest. Working from the car with the SONY 600 GM/1.4X TC/a9 ii on the tripod from my SUV, I learned a lot photographing a Little Blue Heron standing on a cleat on a small boat dock. Then I made a few images of a Sandhill Crane in the marsh. Several are already acting a bit nesty. Recently, there have been many dozens of Killdeer in the fields down by the lake. Just before quitting yesterday, I finally got close to a single bird in a decent spot. I thought that I got one great one, but was not really thrilled with any of the five that I kept.

I am just about finished with the final text for the RawDigger e-Guide. I will send out a nearly-complete version either this afternoon or tomorrow to everyone who has purchased a pre-publication copy. Soon, I will do a second video detailing Patrick’s latest brilliant idea, the RawDigger adapted histogram. When I am finished with the RD guide, I will set up my new R5 and get back to work on the BAA EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide. In addition, I need to update the R5/R6 AF e-Guide.

I headed down to the lake yesterday afternoon, but with no clouds anywhere, there was not much sunset color. With the winds from the west, the silhouetted birds would be landing directly away from me so I headed home early.

It has been quite chilly here and getting in my daily swim has been somewhat of a challenge. The pool made it back up to 80 degrees yesterday; the big problem is getting out :). It looks as if things will be warming up over the next week.

Anyone who might be interested in COVID-Aware in-the-field instruction at the end of this week or the beginning of next week, is invited to shoot me an e-mail to learn the low rates and to arrange a schedule.

Today is Tuesday 19 January 2021. The forecast for this morning is clear with a gentle northwest breeze. Not terrible for photography. Not great. I will be headed down to see what’s around at about 7:30am. Have a great day!

This blog past makes thirty days in a row with a new blog post. This one took about 2 hours to prepare (including the time spent on the post-processing). Please remember …

Please Remember

With income from IPTs approaching zero, please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes can always help out by clicking here if they see fit.

Canon R5/R6 AF e-Guide Info

So far, 70 folks have sent PayPals for their copy of the Canon R5/R6 AF e-Guide. And 28 who used my affiliate links to purchase their R5 have e-mailed for and received their free copy of the guide. If you e-mailed or sent a PayPal and did not receive your guide, please LMK immediately via e-mail.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far. Three folks wrote stating that they had a better way of setting up AF on their R5s. When I wrote back explaining why they were in error, two of them back-tracked. One stubborn guy is still doing it his way — less efficiently. Be sure to scroll down to read about my plans for a Canon R5/R6 User’s e-Guide. Understand that the info in the BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide is so important that I opted to publish the AF guide immediately as the R5/R6 User’s Guide will take at least a month to finish.

BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide

BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide

Twenty-one pages. 3,452 words. 28-DPP4 screen captures showing the R5’s vaunted AF system in action. Note: the AF system of the R5 is identical to the AF system of the R6.

You will learn:

1- The two most useful AF Methods for general bird photography and for birds in flight.

2- How to set up your R5/R6 AF Menus.

3- What boxes to check (and un-check) under Limit AF Methods.

4- How to change the AF Method quickly, easily, and efficiently. Note: the default way of doing this is clunky, cumbersome, and inefficient at best. One person replied that this tip alone was worth the price of admission.

5- The only setting that should be used for Initial Servo AF pt for Face Detection + Tracking.

I you are currently using multiple back buttons either for general bird photography or for birds in flight, what you learn in this guide will change your life. For the better.

Here are the first three paragraphs of this e-Guide:

From the moment I learned about the new Canon mirrorless bodies, I read about using two or three back-buttons to focus using different AF methods. The word on the street said that the way to go for birds in flight was to use one button to acquire focus with Zone AF or with Large Zone: Horizontal AF and then switch to another button to activate Face Detection + Tracking AF and then use the shutter button to make an image. My immediate thought was, “This is insanity! There has got to be a better way.” In short, there is a far superior way to set up AF on your R5 or R6.

Remember that I got away from any form of back-button or rear focusing many years ago after finally realizing that it is always easier to do one thing (press the shutter button), than it is to do two things (press a back button and then press the shutter button).

The default method of switching AF Methods with the R5/R6 bodies is cumbersome at best. It involves first pressing the grid button (my name) on the upper right back of the camera and then pressing the hard-to-access M-Fn button to toggle through the AF Methods. This method is so bad that it will not be mentioned again in this guide.

The guide is free to all who have ordered an R5 or an R6 using my B&H affiliate link or from Steve Elkins/Bedfords using the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Please send your receipt to me via e-mail. It will take me a few days to a week to verify the B&H purchases. Bedfords folks should expect their free e-Guides fairly quickly.

To purchase your copy of the e-Guide, please click here or send a PayPal for $25.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net and be sure to include the words R5/R6 AF Guide in your PayPal e-mail.

Everyone who gets the guide will receive a free update no later than the first week in February.

Canon R5/R6 User’s e-Guide

As regular readers know, I am working on a complete Canon R5/R6 User’s e-Guide. This will require a lot of research, a lot of time, and a lot of effort. I am hoping to have it complete by mid- to late February. As always, folks who use the BAA affiliate links to purchase their Canon gear will receive a substantial discount.

Understand that the info in the BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide is so important that I opted to publish the AF guide right off the bat to help folks get started with their new camera bodies. I may soon offer a pre-publication version of the User’s e-Guide … At a discount, of course.

RawDigger e-Guide pre-publication version

RawDigger e-Guide and Video Advance Copy Still Available — but not for long …

Save $10 Now

The RawDigger e-Guide and Video is almost finished. It will sell for $51.00. If you are anxious to get started with RawDigger, learn to mega-Expose to the Right, and wind up with the highest quality image files, you can save $10.00 and have a chance to review a recently updated pre-publication version of the guide by sending a PayPal for $41.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net with the words RawDigger e-Guide and Video Pre-publication Copy cut and pasted into the Subject line. The recent delay is the result of my recent conversations with Iliah Borg, the brains behind RawDigger. It is very likely that the Shock-your-World section will shock you.

In the new guide, we teach you why the GREEN channel is almost always the first to over-expose. We teach you how to interpret the Max G values. And most recently, we teach you a simple way to evaluate your exposures using an adapted RawDigger histogram. And tons more, of course. I am planning on having the completed RawDigger e-Guide ready for sale by this coming Wednesday. Folks who saved $10.00 by pre-ordering will of course receive a link to the final PDF.

Great Topaz News!

Folks who use the BAA Topaz link to purchase Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, or the Utility Bundle (or any other Topaz plugins) will receive a 15% discount by entering the ARTHUR15 code at checkout. To get the discount you must use my link and you must enter the discount code. Be sure to start with this link.

Topaz Stuff

As I said just a while back and have said often many times before, I should have listened sooner. If you, like me, are new to the Topaz party, please use this link to purchase. Right now I can wholeheartedly recommend both Topaz Sharpen AI and Topaz DeNoise AI. Though I have not yet worked with JPEGtoRAW AI or Gigapixel AI, I have installed both of these plug-ins and look forward to trying them on some I-Phone 11 images fairly soon. If you are thinking like me, consider the Utility Bundle that includes all four plug-ins mentioned above at a money-saving price.

Again, those who purchase Sharpen AI or DeNoise AI using my link, can e-mail to request a short Getting Started with Topaz e-Guide. I had a bit of trouble getting the two plug-ins installed and having them appear in the Photoshop Filter Menu. In addition, I will explain how to best learn about the two plug-ins by applying them on a Layer (in Photoshop).

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free overnight shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and 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.

This image was created on 30 December 2020 at ILE. I used the handheld-Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens (at 500mm) and the highly touted 45MP Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 2500: 1/2500 sec. at f/7.1 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 9:18am on a cloudy morning.

Large Zone: Horizontal AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed well.

Image #1: Bald Eagle adult in flight

The Situation

At this time of year (at least), the two eagles hanging around down by the pier are not looking spiffy. They have dirty heads and very dirty tails. This bird flew over a road-kill-cafe set-up on a cloudy morning. I find it more difficult to get the color and contrast right with R5 low light images than I do with a9 ii or a7r iv images. I think that I need to process some low-light R5 images with Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP 4) …

For me — having been to Homer, AK more than half a dozen times, there is nothing at all special about this image. It does, however, present lots of learning opportunities.

I am hoping that the eagle pair opts to nest in a somewhat accessible location on the lakefront …

Click on the image to better see the noise reduction.

Image #1A: Topaz DeNoise AI screen capture

Topaz DeNoise AI on Bald Eagle adult in flight image

After converting the raw file in Capture One, I created a new layer and — after checking out all three options using the Comparison View, opted for Low Light on Auto. Click on the screen capture above to note the the superb noise reduction and the sharper, cleaner look of the After image on our right.

Click on the image to enlarge it so that you can read the fine print.

Image #1B: DPP 4 screen capture

DPP 4 Screen Capture

I was using Large Zone AF: Horizontal in the centered position As noted in the R5/R6 AF e-Guide, you can move all of the Zone AFs around in the frame using the Joystick. AF did a decent (but not perfect) job of selecting to AF points just below the bird’s face. The raw file is sharp enough but definitely not laser/razor sharp. I have much more confidence in SONY’s Center Zone for flight than I do with any of the R5 Zone Methods. Now that I have my very own R5/RF 100-500 rig, I am hoping to do lots more flight photography somewhere. Sometime.

Click on the image to enlarge it so that you can read the fine print.

Image #1C: RawDigger screen capture

RawDigger Screen Capture

The screen capture here depicts a dead-solid perfect exposure. You will learn a ton in the RawDigger e-Guide. Most importantly, you will learn how to set up and use an adapted histogram that will let you quickly and easily evaluate the exposure — or raw file brightness to be perfectly correct for high ISO images — of raw files from all current and nearly all older dSLR and mirrorless camera bodies. The fact is that almost everyone is creating underexposed raw files on a consistent basis.


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

11 comments to Learning a lot from a so-so R5 Bald Eagle flight image …

  • avatar Adam

    I was intrigued with your statement regarding the R5 and difficult managing low light colors. Though I prefer the color balance of the R5 over the Sony a9(ii) and a7riv – I used to spend too much time tweaking their colors which tended to have two much yellow and problems with greens – the R5 seems to exhibit some color issues in lower light settings. Personally I think it’s tied to a couple of factors including the color noise (which in spite of your well exposed image is prominent in the shadows) and is compounded by the RAW profiles. I’ve had some better luck using a linear profile on those more challenging lower light images. Give it a try and see what you think.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I have zero problems with the color of my SONY images in Capture One. I agree and have mentioned here the problem with color noise in the shadows of R5 images. I do not think that there is such a thing as a linear profile in C-1. I need to get back into DPP 4 🙂

      thanks with love, artie

  • avatar Jordan Cait

    Hi Artie,
    Thanks for all your hard work putting this daily blog together.
    I believe there is a typo in “The Situation” paragraph.
    “This bird flow over a road-kill-cafe set-up on a cloudy morning.”

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Jordan. I had to read that sentence six times to see the error — then I got into the flow of it :). Fixed, and you are most welcome.


  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    CJ, I’ve consistently used the 2X with the SONY 600 GM and the 61MP a7r iv with great success. I use TCs often to get more pixels on the subject. The SONY 2X is so good on the 600 GM that Arash Hazeghi shoots hand held flight with that combo and produces incredibly sharp images.

    So no, I do not routinely go wider (without the TC) and crop.

    with love, a

  • Hi Artie

    Another crown jewel Image even sky is just about right and the eagle is bang on the button.
    Maybe a small crop on the right would make it perfect I know I’m nitpicking.

    Best and love

  • avatar Marr Miller

    You state that the updated R5 focus guide will be ready by the first week in January. Shouldn’t that read February?

  • avatar ChicagoJeff

    Artie – You mentioned working with the SONY 600 GM with 1.4X which spawned this question: With the high 42/45 megapixel Sony & Canon bodies, do you think you’ll use 2X teleconverters much? Or choose to use the 1.4TC, not lose the extra f-stop of light, and crop from the huge files. I have not used such a high res body yet.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      CJ, I’ve consistently used the 2X with the SONY 600 GM and the 61MP a7r iv with great success. I use TCs often to get more pixels on the subject. The SONY 2X is so good on the 600 GM that Arash Hazeghi shoots hand held flight with that combo and produces incredibly sharp images.

      So no, I do not routinely go wider (without the TC) and crop.

      with love, 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>