The Trials and Tribulations of Digital Bird Photography

To: knightl <>
Subject: The Trials and Tribulations of Digital Bird Photography
Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 09:04:21 +1100

 I've been using a digital camera for about 6 months now and have had mixed success when it comes to bird photography.

I have a 7x lense, but my camera also has a high resolution setting of 2560x1960. By setting it to a large resolution, the photo can be cropped and used as a type of additional zoom. My camera also has a digital zoom, which automatically crops zoomed section of the photo to a lower resolution, thus saving a lot of space. Perfect for birding!

By far the biggest advantage of digital birding, is the ability to take many shots of a bird and at least get one good photo from the bunch. No more 'head in the feathers' shots, or out of focus shots caused by autofocusing on the branch in front of the bird.

And  I agree with Laurie; autofocus on a boat can be a really annoying process. But i guess the trick is again to take as many shots as possible and hope like hell you get one in focus.  

Once the price of memory cards come down, digital cameras will be the perfect resource for birders, with most cameras coming with a movie mode and/or sound recording mode, so the call of a bird can be recorded, as well as the image.  Great for ID'ing of mystery birds, but never replacing the detail the human memory can record, so dont rely too much on the new technology. ; )

Good Birding!


knightl <>
Sent by:

20/01/2003 06:24 PM

        To:        Birding Aus <>
        Subject:        [BIRDING-AUS] The Trials and Tribulations of Digital Bird Photography

Following on from previous threads on digital cameras, I've been coming
to grips with my new camera, bought at least partially on the basis of
its 8x optical zoom.

On its first outing, I managed to get some reasonable shots of the
laughing gull on Bribie, with the main hassle keeping the bird in the
frame at extreme magnification.

In subsequent outings, I have found the autofocus to be useless on
pelagic trips, as it is unable to lock onto fast moving birds over
water.  Using the manual focus isn't particularly easy, as the focusing
screen isn't that clear at high magnification nor is the focus that
obvious.  The other gripe is that the camera goes into sleep mode after
30 secs of inaction, which is a pain when you are waiting for the
petrels to hove into a photographic position [nothing more frustrating
than the viewfinder going blank just as the bird is coming into
position - and you lose 2 secs while the camera wakes up].

That said, I got some reasonable shots of the shearwater rafts and the
gould's petrel [tick] on Saturday's Southport pelagic [and a
recognisable shot of the tahiti petrel as well].

Photographing the cuckoos at Dayboro yesterday was a  bit easier, but I
still had some focus problems.  The humourous thing is that the first
bird I saw when I got to Apex Pk was a classic grey oriental cuckoo
[tick], which promptly disappeared as I pulled the camera out.  The
fan-tailed and horsfield's cuckoos were most obliging and allowed
photographs from a reasonable distance.

The cuckoos were picking up the grubs from a couple of different
locations, and the question I would like answered, is how many grubs
does it take to fill a cuckoo's stomach??  They certainly seem to be
able to pack them in.

Regards, Laurie.

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