Sony A9 report: is the mirrorless ready for Birding?

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Birding is a big challenge for photographers as well as their camera system. Like other high speed action shooting scenario, e.g. Car racing, it requires an instant AF response and solid tracking capability. However, it will be even more challenging in birding. Considering that the subject (bird) is so small compared to an ordinary subject e.g. ra Continue reading

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D850 hands on review (Birding)

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His name is “Crypsirina temia” which I have photographed many times.

But I must say this is first time I see such detail of his feather, that’s amazing.

This is the another picture taken D500 with the same AF-S 300mm f4 (Light condition is poor !!) Continue reading

追自由鳥@大生圍

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在香港拍攝雀鳥的地方大多集中在新界靠近北面的濕地,最為人知悉的當然是米埔自然保育區。

每年冬天世界各地的候鳥有不少都會到來過冬。大生圍內有不少魚塘,而且座落米埔附近,自然會找到不少鳥兒的蹤跡。

作為城市人走入大生圍已經算是頗有「旅行」感覺的事, 首先是乘坐鐵路到元朗西鐵站,接著再轉車到大生圍鄉公所,一落車就看感受到這裡充滿田園氣息。 Continue reading

Plane that looks extraordinary 

As a beginner of plane spotting, may i share some planes which look extraordinary

Air China. You can see the “plum blossom” painted on the plane. “plum blossom” or “meihua” is the national flower of Taiwan.
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Another airline from Taiwan, this is EVA air. The logo looks very like the logo of “converse”.
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This little green one comes from airline based in Russia (as shown on the web address .ru)
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This one from Vietjet, airline from Vietnam.
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Cebu Pacific Air, airline from Philippine
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Jetstar Pacific, from Australia
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this one from Solaire resort
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Airplane spotting@25R runway, nice try!

Well, I am lucky enough, runway 25R has been chosen for landing when I visit SkyDeck this time!!
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Now, it is close enough for my SAL G 70-200mm f2.8 to give a tight shot.
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Sunny day but backlit.
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Mostly I use Flexible Spot AF in airplane spotting and the AF performance of A99ii never fails me, over 95% of shot are in focus.
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Firstly I think it is from Japan.
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But it is not.
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A 70-200mm shall do the job however I also bring my 500mm Reflex lens.

Meet the giant A380! This one is taken by 500mm Reflex, no crop, a tight shot !!
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According to usual practice, if runway 25R is used for landing, 25L will be chosen for taking off. Only special flight (mostly cargo flight) will arrive in 25L, this will happen several times a day.

This is funny, when we see this plane is about to land via 25L, every photographer in SkyDeck picks his gear and rushes to her side. 25L is far from SkyDeck, therefore I need to use the long reflex lens to take this photo.
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The advantage of reflex len is the reach that it gives. This Minolta AF reflex lens is handy, It can let you see clearly the smoke from tire when landing.
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What a beautiful sunset
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Feels like coming home
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In the airport, you can see people are in hurry however it looks so peaceful from SkyDeck. That’s perspective which changes the way we see and think.
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The dynamic range of A99ii is impressive especially for scene like this.
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I have been staying in SkyDeck for several hours (4pm – 9pm). When the staff reminds me it is about to close and so it’s time for supper.
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All photo
https://www.flickr.com/photos/149841222@N05/albums/72157684182114702

Footbridge where I learn new experience on airplane spotting

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Location, Location, Location !! That’s the key to stunning photography.

As mentioned in previous post, the SkyDeck is a favorable place for airplane spotting. However last time when I visit SkyDeck it was temporarily closed for maintenance. So what should I do?

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Thanks for the sharing on a forum, I find a footbridge that should be a nice spot to capture landing plane. Despite there are some limitations such as angle and perspective, I do my best to comprise.

My combo Nikon D500 and Sigma 150-600mm (Sport version) weights around 4kg. I can’t use a tripod as it is not allowed therefore I have no choice but handhold this heavy combo throughout the whole shooting. Feel very pain in my arm and back at that night >_<

20170627-DSC_7836Sunlight simply makes every picture looks better

20170627-DSC_6751Another 747, cargo flight.

20170627-DSC_6624 There are many buildings, trees and flyovers etc in the way the plane approaching, I try my best to give the best shot so that it will be “clean and clear”. A side-view makes the picture feels serious and official.

20170627-DSC_8025 I love this one.

20170627-DSC_7056I do not use to PS my photo, so just leave the tree there straight below the landing plane. Well, not bad, isn’t it.

20170627-DSC_7086-3It must be “incredibly loud and extremely close”

Airplane spotting with A99ii, 500mm Reflex and 70-200 f2.8

When I was small, the Hong Kong international airport (The Kai Tak international airport) was located in middle of the Kowloon city. Unlike many other airports, the Kai Tak is surrounded by mountains and residential buildings; if you are living in those old Chinese buildings, you can have experienced a close encounter of approaching plane thousand times a day.

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Source: wiki (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong_International_Airport)

So in 1998, the new airport has been moved to Chek Lap Kok, although we can no longer experience that close encounter like before, there is still a nice spot for watching airplane landing i.e. SkyDeck.
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There are two runways in HK Int’ airport (07L 25R, and 07R 25L).  The direction of approaching mostly depends on wind direction and weather. The best landing picture can be taken when runway 25R is in use because the approaching plane will be in the close distance with SkyDeck.

Unfortunately, 07L instead of 25R has been used for landing when I visit SkyDeck. So I can only focus on plane taking off from 07R.DSC06487-2

Considering the angle and distance, that is not a preferred spot.  I don’t have an A-mount telephoto lens with me, so I can only use a Minolta 500mm Reflex lens to capture this far away subject. DSC06454-2
Reflex lens is small and light weight however the optical quality is generally inferior than conventional lens. Also, most reflex lens can manual focus only, except the Minolta 500mm reflex. This lens is designed in the old days, dedicated for Minolta body so it can seamlessly couple with my A99ii.  It is the only reflex lens in the market that can focus automatically. When paired with the A99ii, only centre-AF can be used with aperture fixed at f/8. Overall speaking her AF speed is good (compared to manual focusing) however it is too difficult for her to catch up a fast moving subject like airplane. With the in-body stabilization of A99ii, I can handhold this 500mm lens steadily. DSC06203-2

I have also brought the Sony G 70-200mm f2.8 however it seems even a 70-200mm can’t give enough reach in this situation.

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The sky is so clear, what a pity I don’t have a 500mm+ lens.
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Well, the high megapixel of A99ii enables you to crop extensively. DSC07200-2

A landed airplane heading to terminal.DSC07516-2This is my first airplane spotting with A99ii, I use to bring D500 for action shooting. Out of my expectation, the keeper ratio of A99ii is very good (almost 90%) although D500 is even better. When I see the file, the image quality of A99ii is superb, color rendering and 3D pop are also impressive.

How do birds live in Hong Kong City

Hong Kong, a densely populated city everyone is struggling for space.

We must not forget that urban space is indeed a part of nature which should be shared among different creatures.

Black Kite uses to scavenge for scraps near fish market.DSC_5803-4

I got it !!
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Diving for foodDSC_5804

unfortunately it does not look like food but plastic?
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flying between boats
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or between the blocks of public estate
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Apparently they have changed from natural way and adapted to live with us in urban space.

They are strong  and survive in a modern city.

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Ardea cinerea
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Mr. Unknown ?
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Sparrow of course
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Miss home so much DSC09473-2

Birding@Sai Kung Pier

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Sai Kung Pier is famous spot for birding, especially for taking picture of Black Kite.

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Since it is quite far from my home I seldom go there and visit this golden spot on May 2017 for the first time.
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There are many black kite flying from time to time however they are simply too far from pier. I have been using a D500, sigma 150-600 Sport however i still can see a tiny little spot of “bird” in my camera !!

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I miss the sunny day which has been disappeared for months, this is a remarkable moment.

DSC_3339Enjoy his meal and frozen in the air

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Sunset is coming.

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Except Black Kite, you can also find some endangered species here: Haliaeetus leucogaster.

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Even a 600mm cannot be reached.

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Clean your own garbage plz ~~~~

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See you later bye !

Enjoy birding@slow shutter and low ISO

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I really enjoy using Nikon D500, an APS-C camera, it is my best companion of bird photography.

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The endless discussion between Full frame and APS-C sensor makes no sense. What I really concern is the performance in real situation. Camera is a complicated tool and sensor size is only one of the components. In addition the AF system, responsiveness, weight and availability of lens are more important, they are the keys determining whether you can or cannot successfully take a clear picture of bird.
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So after using the D500 for about half year, I gradually develop a new habit in taking bird pictures.

1.) Slow shutter and low ISO
We use to set a higher shutter speed to trace bird. In general we will consider shutter speed from 1/800s to 1/1000s is safe for birding. However, in real situation, where light is relatively dim, a safe shutter speed will push the ISO in high level.

Detail, such as texture of feather, will be lost in high ISO. So I have tried to practice shooting in slow shutter speed.
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The safe shutter speed for Nikon AF-S 300m f4 lens, handheld, should be 1/450s (crop factor of APS-C). However, after repeated testing, without VR, my limit is around 1/200s so that I can save 1 stop of ISO.

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For the first time, I can see the reflection of the net structure from his iris !!

2.) Get closer
Well always try to get closer to your subject (nonsense,i know). Bird, especially a smaller one, are very active. A slow shutter speed may not be able to frozen their action. Unless you buy yourself a long tele lens (e.g. 500mm or 600mm), a better way to do is to get closer to your subject.
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Bathing time DSC_0231

3.)Reducing Vibration
Using a tripod or monopod is a good idea. In addition, I found the quiet mode (Q mode), which will keep the mirror all the way up during exposure, of new DSLR is quite useful in reducing shutter vibration. Personally I can attain a higher successful rate when using the Qc (Quiet Continuous).

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Hey, leave me alone

After all, I am just a beginner of birding, using entry level of gear and try to find some way to take the best bird picture I can.
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