Shooting birds again.
The last bird photos I posted, 6/11/11, were taken with the Sony 70-400mm, @400mm, with no TC, and they came out pretty good, with plenty of feather detail for being so far away. Yesterday, just for kicks, I tried a Sony 1.4x tele-converter with the same lens (equiv. to 560mm) to see if the results could be improved upon.
I used the same set-up and the same focus point as the last shots, except this time I saved the images as RAW instead of Jpeg. The aperture starts at F/8 with the 1.4x TC, so I tried that initially to keep a higher shutter speed to avoid movement from the birds, but the DOF was real shallow, so I switched to F/10 and found it gave a higher number of sharp shots. I wondered if using the TC would really help in bringing out the fine details like the downy feathers on the birds. The 1.4x does help, but I would recommend trying to get the camera closer if at all possible. Unfortunately, my circumstances won’t allow me to do that because I have to keep the camera in the shade to avoid a melt-down in the 110° (43°C) heat we have this time of year.
The shot below was taken by my Dad while I was out of the room, using the Vivitar wireless shutter. Although some cloud cover kept the sun from really making this image pop, I still like it. Distance to subject is about 25′ (8m). Specs are; Sony A580, RAW, ISO 400, Sony 70-400mm @400mm with Sony 1.4x TC, (560mm), F/8 at 1/250sec, no adjustments, only a crop.
The photo inset is a 100% crop of the feather detail, click for larger image. I’m not sure if the image is in perfect focus, but the detail is very good considering possible heat shimmer and bird movement.