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Shutter speeds

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Initial post: 25 Aug 2011 09:04:34 BDT
C Stevenson says:
Nikon D90
Hi folks
Know this is probably a daft question to all you experienced guys but am currently trying to expand my use of different modes of taking pics. So far I have mainly taken in AV mode and am now looking to expand into SV but am having problems knowing what shutter speed to use. I am planning a trip to a bird sanctury and thought this was an ideal mode to use but dont quite know what speed to start with, any advice would be gratefully received?

Posted on 25 Aug 2011 09:57:36 BDT
G. E. Hearn says:
That's an interesting one. It all depends on what effect you want to achieve. I use around 1/160th and a panning technique for pics of racing cars, but that's because I want the subject sharp and the background blurred. Is that the effect you want for your bird pictures, or do you want the complete bird in flight sharp and in focus?

I don't know much about bird photography I'm afraid. A fellow named George that used to post on here under the username "Marlandpictures" does a lot of bird stuff. Hopefully he might read this and contribute if he's still about.

Me? I would probably use a big aperture instead in "A" priority so that the bird stands out from the background and there's enough light to get a fast exposure and freeze the action with a shallow depth of field.

But as I say, I know nothing about matters ornithological!

Best of luck. Graham.

Posted on 25 Aug 2011 10:20:53 BDT
Fishman says:
I am not a bird shooter, so take what I say with a pinch of salt :)

As Graham says, I'd be in aperture priority and watching what shutter speed the camera is choosing. In fact, apart from macro, I tend to shoot most in aperture priority with a low ISO watching what the shutter speed is telling me. The exception is using shutter priority when blurring the propeller/rotor on aircraft.

Posted on 25 Aug 2011 12:18:39 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Aug 2011 14:49:08 BDT
X says:
I used to make shots of small wildlife with a Sigma 70-200mm because it came out at 400mm on my Olympus body and because it gave f:2.8 all the way through. I agree with Graham and Fishman: prioritise the aperture and open it wide, ISO as low as possible. Unless you have the budget for a lens the size of a bazooka you will enlarge/crop the majority of your shots and you'll need to start out with the best possible IQ.

Posted on 26 Aug 2011 07:18:02 BDT
C Stevenson says:
Thanks for your help, good idea about starting in AV mode and checking shutter speed. Have also been onto You tube on the adivce of my son, and found some very helpful tutorials (didnt realise there was so much on You Tube!!!). Am going to bird sancturary over weekend - weather permiting so will have a try!! Thanks again.

Posted on 26 Aug 2011 20:41:01 BDT
G. E. Hearn says:
Very welcome. Good luck with it!

Posted on 27 Aug 2011 14:26:46 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Aug 2011 14:28:06 BDT
TJC says:
I'd go with the general opinion above about using Aperture priority and keeping wide open. Fortunately this will give you both the effects you want - ie bird isolated from a blurred background and high shutter speed. A longer zoom will also help to isolate the bird and blur the background. Birds vary a lot of course so a duck floating on a lake or a bird posing on a branch will be fine on 1/100th. However if you want to remove blurred wings of small birds in flight you will certainly need to go above 1/500th and in some cases I'd be trying for 1/2000th. Its difficult to be precise because it depends on so many different things, the type of bird (think of the difference between a seagull and a hummingbird!) even the position of the birds wing on the beat will make a difference. So this will mean bumping up your ISO especially if it is dull. Its a balancing act between the aperture, ISO and shutter speed - you'll soon get to see why the pros spend 10,000 on a lens!

Posted on 27 Aug 2011 16:09:01 BDT
G. Dickson says:
I don't like doing it, but quite often (esp early mornings and early evenings) I end up putting the camera on manual, selecting the widest aperture as well as the shutter speed that I think I will need and then letting the ISO float on automatic. This is simply to work around the fact that very quick birds need very fast shutter speeds and very good light.

Another point is that if trying to get very quick moving birds a narrower aperture is sometimes going to give you more chance of getting it in focus with the greater depth of field.

Experimentation is the key!
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Participants:  6
Total posts:  8
Initial post:  25 Aug 2011
Latest post:  27 Aug 2011

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