RawDigger e-Guide News. Canon R5 Vulture Flight. R5 Cropping. R5 Face Detection + Tracking AF for Flight … And a neat Topaz Sharpen AI Tip « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

RawDigger e-Guide News. Canon R5 Vulture Flight. R5 Cropping. R5 Face Detection + Tracking AF for Flight ... And a neat Topaz Sharpen AI Tip

What’s Up?

Monday morning began with the discovery of an eagle pair re-building — and copulating in — an old Osprey nest in a pine tree down by the lake. When it cleared, I enjoyed another great vulture flight session with the SONY 600 GM and the a9ii (on a tripod, of course). It has been so warm here for the past few days that the pool was up to 86 degrees yesterday! Swimming has been a pleasure. I am now doing 52 slow lengths a day (with 88 to a mile).

I am almost finished going through the copy edits/proofreads of the RawDigger e-guide. Special thanks to BPN-friend Paul Burdett (from Down-Under), IPT veteran Bart Deamer, and long-time blog-friend Dane Johnson for their efforts. The amazing thing that happens when several folks proofread the same document is that for the most part, everyone finds different errors. Overlaps — where two or more folks point out the same problem, are rare. Today I have one more edit to do. After that, I need to add some promotional information and links. Then I will be done. I expect to have the final version in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store available for purchase by Thursday the latest.

Sunset last night was decent but not spectacular as the wind was from the southwest. I tried an alternate location and learned a bit. For years I thought that mornings were always best here at ILE and recently learned that I was wrong. And the best thing about the sunset session is that I head down to the lake at 5:30pm and get home just after six.

Opinions on the optical illusion Osprey question were widely divided with most folks feeling that the bird is absolutely 100% taking off toward us … Others explain why it is obviously flying away. Answer on Thursday.

The forecast for today, Tuesday 26 January 2021, is for partly-cloudy skies early becoming sunny with a gentle southwest breeze. I will be headed down to the lake early to see what I can do.

This blog past makes thirty-seven days in a row with a new blog post. This one took about two hours to prepare. Please remember …

The Status of My Canon Gear

With the RawDigger e-Guide nearly complete, I am looking forward to setting up my very own R5 and getting back to using it with the RF 100-500 (and on occasion, with the RF 1.4X teleconverter). That will enable me to get back to work on the BAA Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s Guide. It will be the most-expensive-ever Camera User’s Guide. Except for those who have used my affiliate links to purchase their Canon mirrorless gear …

Well, at least the battery is already charged. πŸ™‚

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now at 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.

The BAA Used Gear Page

The Used Gear page continues to be very active. The BAA Used Gear Page is the place to sell your used photographic equipment. We will help you to get your gear sold quickly for 20 to 60% or more than what the big guys are offering … Doubt me? Check out the Recent Sales list for the past eleven months at the bottom of the page.

Levered-Clamp & FlexShooter Pro News

We have zero Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro heads in stock. Two dozen are being shipped from Hungary tomorrow. Best to place your order now to be assured of getting one from our next shipment.

We do have FlexShooter Pro heads in stock; B&H does not … The ballhead that acts like (but is much lighter than) a gimbal-head, and that serves all purposes, has — as I predicted when I first used a FlexShooter head — taken the world of nature photography by storm. And it’s all on the level too!

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.

Canon R5/R6 AF e-Guide Info

So far, 85 folks have sent PayPals for their copy of the Canon R5/R6 AF e-Guide. And 30 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, β€œThis 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 EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide

As regular readers know, I am working on a complete Canon R5 Camera 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 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 … With a small discount, of course.

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 (remember those?) 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 1 January 2021 at down by the Vulture Tree at Indian Lake Estates. 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 1250. Exposure determined by experience and luck and confirmed as perfect by RawDigger: 1/2500 sec. at f/7.1 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 9:25am on a cloudy bright sunny morning.

Face Detection + Tracking/AI Servo AF was active at the moment of exposure and performed well; see the DPP 4 screen capture below.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Turkey Vulture in rocking flight

R5 Crops

At 45MP, sharp R5 raw (CR.3) files hold up nicely to significant crops. When I mentioned cropping in an online chat with BPN-friend/R5 user Brian Sump, he eventually responded, At the end of the day, though, I guess that all I care about is, “Does the image look great?”

I would have to agree.

Here is an important point: if you crop to 50% of the width and the height of an image, you have cropped away 75% (not half) of the original pixels.

Image #1A: DPP 4 screen capture for Turkey Vulture in rocking flight

DPP 4 Screen Capture

Lots of top Canon mirrorless bird photographers like to use Face Detection plus Tracking as their go-to AF method for birds in flight. As I did here. As detailed in the R5/R6 AF guide, this AF method reverts to an AF box when it cannot track the bird’s eye. In other cases it reverts to a Zone-type AF with many AF points activated. And it often tracks all over the place. We will be exploring this latter occurrence with both systems in a blog post soon.

Please remember that I have not done a ton of flight photography with the R5/RF 100-500 in part because I have been unwilling — and in some cases — unable to travel. Can you say Bosque? Can you say San Diego? As things stand for me right now, for flight photography I do not have confidence in Face Detection plus Tracking, and I do not have confidence in Large Zone: Horizontal either. The next chance that I get, I will try Zone AF, the one large box in the center with the dancing AF points …

Image #1B: Topaz Sharpen AI on the vulture’s head

The Topaz AI One-Two Punch!

After converting the raw file in Capture One, I ran Topaz DeNoise AI on the entire image. It cleaned up the noise in the sky and in the dark tones of the vulture beautifully. Then I selected the bird’s head with the Quick Selection Tool (W), put that on a layer, and brought the layer only into Topaz Sharpen AI. In the Comparison View, I clicked on Auto and saw the Stabilize was best. I ran it at full strength. Once it was back in Photoshop, however, I zoomed in to 100% and clicked the eyeball for the Sharpen AI layer on and off. The sharpening was obviously much too strong. I reduced the Opacity of that layer to 50% and the sharpened head looked a whole lot better.

With almost all of my SONY and Canon mirrorless flight images, I do some Eye Doctor work by darkening the pupil using Tim Grey Dodge and Burn (as detailed in ABP II). Darkening the pupil gives images an added jolt of apparent sharpness.

Image #1C: the RawDigger Adapted Histogram for the Osprey taking flight just after sunset image

The RawDigger Adapted Histogram

Click on the image to enlarge it and note the rosy-red Ov-Exp warnings on some of the feather vanes and the bill tip. Note also the 1742 OvExp G pixels along with the 14 OvExp R pixels and the 9 OvExp B pixels. The OvExp R and B pixels are insignificant. In the RawDigger e-guide we teach you how to deal with images like this. We explain why the raw file brightness in this image is pretty much perfect and how to deal with the small areas of over-exposure. Remember that 1742 pixels out of 45,000,000 works out to 0.00% ever-exposed …

In the guide, you will — of course — learn how to set up the Adapted Histogram and use it to evaluate the exposures and raw file brightness for files from pretty much every dSLR and Mirrorless camera body in use today. It performs perfectly with my Canon CR.2 image files from 2001 and with all of my Nikon NEF files as well. Like me, you will probably find that you were severely under-exposing everything, especially overall light-toned images that were created in low light. And as we have seen recently, with silhouettes created against richly-colored skies. Like the Topaz AI stuff RawDigger has been a game-changer for me.


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

6 comments to RawDigger e-Guide News. Canon R5 Vulture Flight. R5 Cropping. R5 Face Detection + Tracking AF for Flight … And a neat Topaz Sharpen AI Tip

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