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Photography Question 
Cindy Ferguson
 

Need a fast lens for shooting humming birds


I am looking for a fast lens capable of macro, to shoot humming birds in action. I have a canon 10d and 20d, and have tried my lenses and have tried using the fastest shutter speed and film speed along with flash. The wings are still blurry. Any suggestions? It does not have to be a canon lens, but compatible with my 10 and 20d cameras.


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7/22/2008 5:14:57 AM

 
Alan N. Marcus   Hi Cindy,

Sorry to report that it takes more than a fast lens to “freeze” the wings of a hummingbird in flight. It takes a super fast shutter as well. Sorry to report that the typical camera falls short in the shutter speed department.

Allow me to explain: Research reveals the wing beat speed of these masters of flight is 25 strokes per second.

Setting your shutter speed to 1/100 second allows the wings to move ¼ of a stroke, so blurry winds results. Upping the shutter to 1/1000 sec. (10 times faster), still blurry wings.

The bottom line: Likely you will not “freeze” the wings using just your camera shutter. How to capture: Electronic Flash fires extremely fast. In-camera flash units are fast, generally 1/500 ~ 1/2000 sec. (not fast enough). Specialized electronic flash fire with duration of 1/1,000,000 sec or faster. Using these specialized, extra fast units is what is required.

Professionals lure the birds via a feeder to a pre-prepared shooting site. The sight is in subdued light, the background is a nature scene. The camera aperture is set to a small opening like f/16, camera shutter speed is set to 1/1000 etc. These settings preclude exposure by the prevailing light.

When the picture is taken, light from the super fast electronic flash is exclusively recorded. The result: A hummingbird picture “frozen” in flight.

Alan Marcus (marginal technical gobbledygook)
ammarcus@earthlink.net


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7/22/2008 7:07:16 AM

 
Cindy Ferguson   Thanks for the info. I didn't know they were lured in for shooting. Oh well, it's been fun to try. I have some pretty good shots of them and actually have one that is constantly so curious, he flies right up to me. I think he finally realized I am not a threat to him. Thanks


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7/26/2008 6:12:37 PM

 
Alan N. Marcus   My favorite is a male Allen, total red head and neck. His name is Humdinger and his habitation is my patio year-round (Anaheim CA) with his girlfriends and competing males.

Best regards,

Alan Marcus


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7/26/2008 6:26:23 PM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
 
 
 
Hi Cindy,
I didn’t get the wings totally stopped on this one, but I did slow them down. The Strobe is a Norman 200B and the lens is a Spiratone 400. I am sure that Alan remembers Spiratone. This is what I could do with the stuff sitting around the house. Norman 200B are very adaptable strobes. I used a longer shutter speed to get a soft/hard image from the strobe and ambient light. The lens was wide open, which on the Spiratone is not that wide. Not a great shot, but fun.
Thanks, John Siskin


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7/27/2008 10:45:31 AM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
 
 
  Hummingbird
Hummingbird
Playing with Norman 200B and a Spiratone 400mm long lens.
© John H. Siskin
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
Kodak DCS 14N Digi...
 
 
Hi Cindy,
I didn’t get the wings totally stopped on this one, but I did slow them down. The Strobe is a Norman 200B and the lens is a Spiratone 400. I am sure that Alan remembers Spiratone. This is what I could do with the stuff sitting around the house. Norman 200B are very adaptable strobes. I used a longer shutter speed to get a soft/hard image from the strobe and ambient light. The lens was wide open, which on the Spiratone is not that wide. Not a great shot, but fun.
Thanks, John Siskin


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7/27/2008 10:46:26 AM

 
Cindy Ferguson  
 
 
It's been fun to watch them and a challenge to try and shoot. My garden is going to get more perennials this fall, that's for sure.


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7/31/2008 9:00:11 AM

 
David A. Bliss   Alan, how would you sync up the camera to a flash at 1/1000 and not get shutter curtain?


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7/31/2008 2:02:34 PM

 
Alan N. Marcus   Hi David,
You can't sync up using a conventional camera.

As you know, the typical 35mm and some other formats, utilizes a focal plane shutter. In this design the shutter is positioned at the rear of the camera. Invented by William England 1861. It hovers just above the film/chip i.e. position is at the image plane (focal plane).

The classic design is a curtain made from rubberized cloth. The curtain blocks off all light keeping the film/chip sheltered from light. When the shutter release is pressed, the curtain is set in motion. A slit in the curtain is caused to travel from one end of the film/chip to the other. As it transverses, that portion of the film/chip, under the slit is momentarily uncovered. The shutter speed is the time taken by the slit to transverse its width. As the used changes shutter speeds, the slit width is altered. Fast shutter speeds (narrow slit width) slow shutter speeds (wide slit width) the curtain travel speed is a constant.

The focal plane shutter has some advantages over its rival which is a leaf shutter mounted between the elements of the camera lens. See points below.

Advantages:

I. Price – the shutter is built-in to the body. Interchangeable lenses are not required to contain a costly shutter. With the leaf shutter design each interchangeable lens must have a costly shutter.
II. Focal plane shutters deliver 98% efficiency. The leaf shutter must open and close and in doing so it runs up and down the f/stops, it efficiency is under 60%.

Disadvantage:

III. Synchronization. Focal plane fails to synchronize with electronic flash at high shutter speeds because a fast shutter speeds the slit is partially eclipsing film/chip. In the old days it was difficult to get any synchronization with flash bulbs. Special FP flash bulbs were marketed. The leaf shutter can synchronize at all shutter speeds.
IV. Image distortion. Focal plane shutter distorts moving objects. Wheels on race cars are rendered as ovals. Footballs can be rendered as streaks as their image path can pace the travel of the slit. Leaf shutters are better for sports and fast motion arresting. A modern leaf shutter is capable of 1/800 or 1/1000 second.

Specialized high-speed cameras are used to capture hummingbirds and other high speed activities, they use a prism shutter. This shutter is an eight sided (some more facets) prism spinning at high speed. The shutter action allows light to enter the camera, exposure occurs when two opposite facets align. Shutter speed is very – very high.

Alan Marcus (marginal technical gobbledygook)
ammarcus@earthlink.net


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7/31/2008 3:08:44 PM

 
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