Hummingbirds with the Pana-Leica 100-400 (image heavy) - A running thread

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What shutter speed did you use to capture the wings but still show movement?
First off, I think luck deserves a fair amount of credit, but as an aside, here's what I did:

I shot most of these in Shutter Priority Mode, Auto-ISO with high limit, and let the camera do the heavy lifting for exposure. Camera defaulted to wide open apertures for all but one of the shots. I have the "auto e-shutter" on for the GX-8, but I don't think it ever turned on, I think they were all the mechanical shutter. A couple were with C-AF (when background was clear, and autofocus could find the bird), all the perched birds were manual focus, and many of the in flight were with my weird S-AF maneuver. Basically, I've learned that autofocus misses them nearly every time, and instead picks up a branch or fence or something. So what I do is half press the shutter, let the camera miss, but then manual focus quickly (while holding the shutter half way) to where the bird is very close to in focus. Then I release the shutter, and do another halfpress with the focus close to the target, and the autofocus usually is able to lock on the bird, compose quickly and fire the shot. I just hold the camera in landscape mode for this, because it's more comfortable for me, then crop to portrait if I feel it makes a stronger image. It's probably an overly complicated way to do things, but until I learn a better method, it will have to do.

Except for the pictures below, they were @ 1/2000

Pics 1,2,18 @ 1/4000 to freeze motion (probably could have gone a little faster even, but ISO was already high)

Pics 5-8, 14 @ 1/1000 (limited light or stationary subject)

Pic 4 was a happy accident. I went to take a picture of a butterfly on the butterfly bush that is planted next to some Agastache with a shutter speed of 1/400. The hummingbird showed up, so I took that shot before stopping to change my settings. I managed to catch him hovering, so was able to get the body sharp and the wings a blur.

Pic 9 I shot in Aperture Priority wide open at 400mm with ISO set to 800. Shutter speed was 1/40 (in the shade at dusk). Probably the only reason it was sharp is that I was climbing through a tree to take the picture and was sufficiently stuck to prevent any camera movement.
 

cnyap

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I use a GF7 which maxes out at 1/500s exposure, plus the sync/shutter speed is very slow at 1/50s. Wings are totally blurred with mechanical shutter, and adding flash did not help enough, so I'm stuck with the electronic shutter. I surmise the GX85's faster mechanical shutter would work much better (not sure if the shutter/sync speed would be so much better that it would become a "non-issue" though).
Due to slow electronic shutter and wing movement, the wings are sometimes either distorted very noticeably, or the wings look smaller than they actually are.
I'll post a warped one and then some good images.
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cnyap

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...and a good one - see the hair or cobweb on its beak! I shoot remotely on my phone via the Panny app.

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cnyap

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One with the wing w/o electronic shutter distortion:

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I use a GF7 which maxes out at 1/50s, plus the sync/shutter speed is very slow at 1/50s. Wings are totally blurred with mechanical shutter, and adding flash did not help enough, so I'm stuck with the electronic shutter. I surmise the GX85's faster mechanical shutter would work much better (not sure if the shutter/sync speed would be a non-issue though). Due to slow electronic shutter and wing movement, the wings are sometimes either distorted very noticeably, or the wings look smaller than they actually are. I'll post a warped one and some good ones.View attachment 561437
I'm not familiar with the GF7, but it seems strange that the mechanical shutter would be limited to 1/50s. Is this for flash sync? The specs make it look like 1/500s without flash. 1/500 is still pretty slow for hummingbird wings, but would probably eliminate the e-shutter distortion (wings will be a blur, but could get a sharp torso if it's hovering). I'm pretty novice with flash, but I image 1/500 with natural lighting might be the better option. I would think that if you want to use flash, you would have to stop down, shoot at base ISO, and crank the flash. If it's outside in daylight, the flash would have to be intense enough to kill the ambient light completely, or else the slow shutter will still expose the blurred wings. Again, I'm not a flash expert, maybe someone like @MichaelSewell can chime in on the lighting.
Any other lighting experts out there?

EDIT: Crazy idea here. Add some NDs so that you can shoot at f/5.6-8 (and not lose sharpness to diffraction), ISO 200, manual focus at predetermined spot (since you're remote triggering?) so that AF doesn't hunt, then compensate for the NDs with flash exposure. I'm not sure if you can use the built in flash to trigger a larger speedlight, but then you could play with the manual flash settings to get the exposure right, and have the light coming from a more pleasing direction. Again, I'm not good with flash...
 
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Michael A. Sewell
First things first. @Mountain , your images are outstanding!

Now, with regards to speedlights, the nearer to maximum output, the longer the flash duration, and therefore the likelihood of increased blurring seen.
IGBT controlled lights, such as speedlights, have their shortest flash duration at their lowest setting, as the flash output is physically cut off. The downside being the amount of light put out by the unit would dictate the speedlight being extremely close to the subject.
Voltage controlled lights, such as studio heads, tend to have their shortest duration at maximum output. This can be seen in the studio with kids racing around or waving their hands about, as the lights are unlikely to be at full power.

With a sync speed of 1/50th sec, you're quite limited when going down the standard flash route. In bright sunlight, you counter the low shutter speed using a smaller aperture, such as f16 if you are able to use an ISO of 50. (Sunny sixteen rule). This means your speedlight is going to have to work extremely hard to hit that sensor through an aperture of f16 and such a low sensitivity.
High spec speedlights have an output of around 70Ws (Roughly speaking!!), although the built in reflector makes extremely good use of the available power.

To kill the ambient, your going to have to use good quality location kit. Godox AD600 would be good, but again, they are IGBT based, and at their longest light duration at full power, which is where you are likely to be on a bright, sunny day with a shutter speed of 1/50th sec.

In the tutorial Into The Sun I was having to shoot at 1/250th sec at ISO64and f16 using three 400Ws heads at pretty much near their maximum output.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Colorado
First things first. @Mountain , your images are outstanding!

Now, with regards to speedlights, the nearer to maximum output, the longer the flash duration, and therefore the likelihood of increased blurring seen.
IGBT controlled lights, such as speedlights, have their shortest flash duration at their lowest setting, as the flash output is physically cut off. The downside being the amount of light put out by the unit would dictate the speedlight being extremely close to the subject.
Voltage controlled lights, such as studio heads, tend to have their shortest duration at maximum output. This can be seen in the studio with kids racing around or waving their hands about, as the lights are unlikely to be at full power.

With a sync speed of 1/50th sec, you're quite limited when going down the standard flash route. In bright sunlight, you counter the low shutter speed using a smaller aperture, such as f16 if you are able to use an ISO of 50. (Sunny sixteen rule). This means your speedlight is going to have to work extremely hard to hit that sensor through an aperture of f16 and such a low sensitivity.
High spec speedlights have an output of around 70Ws (Roughly speaking!!), although the built in reflector makes extremely good use of the available power.

To kill the ambient, your going to have to use good quality location kit. Godox AD600 would be good, but again, they are IGBT based, and at their longest light duration at full power, which is where you are likely to be on a bright, sunny day with a shutter speed of 1/50th sec.

In the tutorial Into The Sun I was having to shoot at 1/250th sec at ISO64and f16 using three 400Ws heads at pretty much near their maximum output.
Thanks @MichaelSewell ! Great to have such a knowledgeable user base on this site, I think I learn something new every time on log on.

This lens is now definitely on my wish list.
Best lens I never intended to buy :)
 

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