Steve:

Just checking in to be sure your packing for BKK is on schedule.

While I always looked forward to your weekly columns, I must say the monthly releases have certainly been very good reading. They are full of good info and great pictures.

I have sold all my photographic gear on E-Bay over the last few weeks including the FujiX-S1 and am now building on my new Nikon D5100 body. Looked at other (D7000 etc.) alternatives for my needs, but it kept coming back to the D5100. Lenses to date are the Nikon 18-55, Nikon 28-300, Sigma 18-250 (great lens) and due in a week or so the Sigma 120-400. (When I hit the lottery, it will be the Nikon D800, sweet). My wife and I share these lenses as needed.

A few items of interest:

I am testing SMUGBUG as a picture-sharing site. Fun, easy to use and the cost are about $60 USD per year. My link is (http://ricklove1.smugmug.com/) if you are interested in checking it out.

I sold the Fuji X S1 after returning home mainly because of sharpness issues. Could not get the clarity I that I hoped for with that camera. It is a great bridge camera, easy to use, looks great and has many, many great features. The net loss for the 6 weeks of use was $135, not bad, at least in my mind

A few question if you have time prior to departure for BKK.

The attached pictures of the Red shoulder black bird are always very dense and show very little feather details. I have tried many different camera setting with little if any improvement in definition. Spent time with Lightroom 4 and PaintShop Photo Pro x4 with little if any change to the final product. Attached pictures were taken using RAW/fine setting on the camera and with the Sigma 28-200 lens.

The other question involves something you had mentioned earlier concerning post processing a number of pictures taken in a sequence. It was that LR4 would allow you to alter the first one then save the settings to use on the rest.

Looked thru my LR instructions and did not find information on this feature. Any help or advice would be great.

Enjoy your trip and stay safe.

Rick

 

  The attached pictures of the Red shoulder black bird are always very dense and show very little feather details. I have tried many different camera setting with little if any improvement in definition. Spent time with Lightroom 4 and PaintShop Photo Pro x4 with little if any change to the final product. Attached pictures were taken using RAW/fine setting on the camera and with the Sigma 28-200 lens.

 

RIck -

I haven’t packed yet.. but I will start staging my equipment soon.  I’ll be trying to bring a lot of equipment, cameras, lenses, strobes, speedlights, lightstands, etc.. in the smallest possible package..

I’m happy you’ve enjoyed the columns.  I think having a variety of guest writers really improves the column more than anything.

 

A comment about your long focal ranges: 

Wow!  If I could make a suggestion.. look at a higher level of lenses.  You’ll realize the most difference with quality glass.  Oh.. and you’ll need to invest in a quality tripod.  Have you read Thom’s Tripod 101?  http://www.bythom.com/support.htm

 

A comment about your images:

Two issues with this image after looking at the RAW file.

1.  You’re not nearly close enough to the bird to capture good detail.  Birds are very hard to photography because you either need to be extremely close to fill the frame due to their small size.. or you need a really high quality long telephoto and all that entails to capture them from afar.

2.  The lens you used is of medium quality.. so even up close you’d have obtained marginal results.

 

A comment about syncing develop settings in Lightroom:

This is an easy one to answer.  Do this.

a.  Adjust the reference picture in the develop module to taste.

b. Right click on the thumbnail of this picture and then click on “develop settings, and then “copy settings.”  You’ll get a dialog box which allows you to select or deselect specific settings.  Make your choices and click on save.

c. Now, highlight all the images you want to transfer those settings to.  Once highlighted right click on any of those thumbnails, click on “develop settings” and then click on “paste settings” and it will change all of the highlighted images to show those settings. 

d. Alternatively you can tell it to “sync” by highlighting the images you want to change, and right clicking on the reference image and choosing “sync.”

I hope this helps Rick.

 

Thanks Steve for info.

I canceled the Sigma lens for now. The D5100 body does not have a focus motor. With that in mind what upper level Nikon lens(s) would you think would be good for my bird and other critter photography? I am sure it needs to be 200-300 mm min and would like a zoom. From what I read the Sigma and Tamron  lenses are not the best glass out there.

Any suggestions?

Rick

Hi Rick –

There are very few really quality zooms in the telephoto range.  I think everyone should have the 70-200 F2.8 AFS VR (if they shoot Nikon) and the 1.4x teleconverter in their bag.. but after that focal length you have only the 200-400mm zoom ($7000) which is of acceptable quality.  I doubt you want to spend 7-8K on that lens right now..

You’ve seen my Beung Boraphet gallery here?  http://www.bangkokimages.com/Galleries/Nakon-Sawan.aspx  95% of these images were shot with a 300mm F2.8 IS (VR) lens.. a very expensive lens and way too short for this subject.  Most of this images are severe crops.  So this should give you some idea of the quality you can expect at 300mm with probably the sharpest/best lens Nikon or Canon makes.  With a crop frame camera that would make it a 450mm focal length.. and with the 1.4TC 580mm.  Yet, I’m doubtful you want to spend the 6-7k for that lens as well.. and all of these above lenses are big/heavy and require an additional $1500-$2000 in tripod/head combinations.

When I was shooting a crop frame camera using the 300mm F2.8 with a 2x teleconverter (900mm equiv) I took a few of these images of a small 3-4” tall sparrow.  These were taken 12 years ago so I’m sure the equipment has improved since.. and these are the full size after the crop.. I was less than 20 feet away.  So this should give you some idea of the focal length and effort it takes to make good bird captures.  Birders have some of the most skill of any photographers.

 

  When I was shooting a crop frame camera using the 300mm F2.8 with a 2x teleconverter (900mm equiv) I took a few of these images of a small 3-4” tall sparrow.  These were taken 12 years ago so I’m sure the equipment has improved since.. and these are the full size after the crop.. I was less than 20 feet away.  So this should give you some idea of the focal length and effort it takes to make good bird captures.  Birders have some of the most skill of any photographers.

 

All I’ve said above.. is with 10k worth of lens/tripod/teleconverters.. if you can get within 20 feet.. you’ll some mediocre images and that’s only with lots and lots of practice.  I can’t tell you how much practice it takes to have made these images.

   

All I’ve said above.. is with 10k worth of lens/tripod/teleconverters.. if you can get within 20 feet.. you’ll some mediocre images and that’s only with lots and lots of practice.  I can’t tell you how much practice it takes to have made these images.

So.. a reasonable compromise?  The 70-200 F2.8 VR or 70-200 F2.8 VR II ($2400).. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy grey market or used from a reputable seller.   With the 1.4tx you’d have a max reach of 420mm effective at F4.  With the 1.7x you’d have a 510mm effective at F5.   Still, about half the focal length of the setup I used for the sparrow pictures.  Yet, the 70-200 is a really great lens and very useful for many other types of photography that it takes on more value because of that.

After you got the 70-200 I’m seriously consider a good used Nikkor 300mm F4 ED-IF lens ($1380).  These are much smaller and much less expensive than the 300mm F2.8 VR II($5300) so you can get into the focal range with excellent image quality (better than the 70-200 and better than any of those Sigma’s you’re looking at) relatively cheap.

Next down the list would be the Sigma 120-400mm you cancelled.. It’s a compromise.. but you’ll have to figure out which is more important to you.. focal reach, image quality, aperture, etc..

This is where most people take the lesser expensive route, use it for a few months to a year, sell it at a loss, and then buy the one they wanted/needed anyway.. J

Think about the 70-200.. you’d love it for general use, portraits, short wildlife.. and much more..  And you could see what it feels like to have a quality lens with both image quality and focus speed.

If the 70-200 is too much.. don’t hesitate to get any used 70-200.. or even the older 80-200’s.  This genre of lens has always been good.

I hope I’ve been helpful.. but I fear I’m just scaring you.. J

Steve