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how to shoot humminbird so wings show

by GREEZYKID / September 13, 2007 7:10 AM PDT

I have a lot of hummingbirds at my home,shooting with my canon s1 on auto,I can never get pictures including wings.I have a lot of bodys with no wings showing.My new lumix fz18 will arrive tomorrow.Should auto do the job or should I use different settings? Thanks for your help

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Showing humming bird wings...
by Papa Echo / September 13, 2007 8:16 AM PDT

Shutter priority mode. Set it the fastest possible. BTW, would a photo of a humming bird with the wings showing be like a dead, stuffed one ? If no shutter priority, then set the camera at "Sports" or "Golf", "Action", etc.

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No, it would not look like a dead, stuffed bird.
by Kiddpeat / September 13, 2007 8:24 AM PDT

Hummingbirds are usually shot with the wings visible. It's a bit pointless without the wings.

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by snapshot2 Forum moderator / September 13, 2007 8:52 AM PDT

Hummingbirds are a favorite target for photographers.

To actually freeze the wings, you have to use high speed flash.
Which means you must have a hot-shoe on the camera and at least one external flash unit.

This is actually more difficult than it sounds.

Read This:


If you can settle for some blurred wings, you can try these two:

1. Use your built-in flash with camera set on Auto.

2. Use a fast shutter speed:

You do need lots of light for this.
You can do some testing before the birds show up.
Set your ISO to 400.
Set your camera to shutter priority.
Set the shutter speed at its highest setting.
Press the shutter button half-way down and check the camera's LCD and hopefully it will tell you in some manner that there is not enough light. Some will show the maximum f-stop in red.

Lower the shutter speed and try again.
Continue to do this until you get an indication that there is enough light.
Some cameras will show the f-stop setting in green.
That will be the shutter speed you will work with for the light you presently have.

Good Luck.


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to snapshot2
by GREEZYKID / September 13, 2007 9:18 AM PDT
In reply to: Hummers

Thank you for your very imformative imformation.Now the challenge begins.

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Sorry Snapshot, but I don't think so.
by Kiddpeat / September 13, 2007 12:15 PM PDT
In reply to: Hummers

If you are going to use flash, you do not need to set the camera based on its meter. The meter measures ambient light. It does not indicate the faster shutter speed that the flash will allow. If you set it for ambient light, the shutter will be too slow, and you are likely to get blurring. What you can do, if you rely on flash, is set the shutter to the camera's max sync speed. If that's not fast enough, you may still get some blurring. However, I think the flash will dominate the exposure, and, effectively, freeze the action.

I think that's pretty much what your link says.

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by GREEZYKID / September 13, 2007 9:55 PM PDT

That looks like simple way to try,i'll let you know what happens. thanks

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i found similar issues with fireworks displays
by silashyunseol / September 14, 2007 3:14 PM PDT

My easy answer is to shoot in video mode and do frame by frame captures later,from the comfrot of your desk.
Be sure to use the best settings available,and those 'ultra'type flash memory cards are usually worth the 10-15% more cost factor on all but the oldest,(pre 2004),digital cameras.
Try it,let me know how it works for you.

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by GREEZYKID / September 14, 2007 8:42 PM PDT


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Use the good old manual mode
by JulioDebroy / September 15, 2007 12:17 AM PDT
In reply to: VIDEO MODE

Forget about video mode. Fireworks are light emissive, and in that case you actually have to lower the suggested camera exposure, usually overexposed due to the black background. Moving hummingbirds are not emmisive and are too complex for a camera exposure program to handle.

I have successful hummingbird shots, and as seasoned photographer I used to shot film in manual mode. With a digital SLR is quite the same, and your settings will depend on the overall light. Your goal is to have correctly exposed the bird, not the background. The camera will try to shoot the whole frame, and makes a compromise, so it will be wrong most of the times with this kind of shot.

Use shutter speed of 1/1000, 1/2000 or 1/4000. Any lower than 1000 will make the wings invisible. with 2000 the wings appear in motion but visible. My preferred setting is 1/4000, but it will depend on your camera.

Use ISO 400, 800 or 1000. The lower, the less noise in the pic.

The method of determining the manual exposure will depend on ambient light level, but there is a photo pro procedure I share here:

a) Set your desired speed and film iso setting in the digital slr, and set manual mode.
b) Place a letter size sheet of gray paper (try to get a 18% gray card in a photo store) in the place where you expect the birds, and set yourself in the place where you will take the pictures from.
(Better if it is sunny or cast, and the birds "stage" is not receiving direct sunlight, to minimize contrast)
c) Use your viewfinder camera meter, with a telephoto, to determine the best exposure (aperture) for the gray paper, ignoring the rest of the frame. It can be +-2 stops.
d)Take note of the setting and set the camera to that exact combination of speed/aperture next time you shoot your hummingbirds.

I have successfuly used ISO400, 1/2000, F4 on a sunny day, birds in the shade with a Canon 75-300 telephoto zoom at max zoom, with a Canon XTi body. To improve the picture, try to get a blurry background (a extra feature of a high aperture), and try to take a not so brilliant background.

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Very nice and detailed advice
by hjfok / September 17, 2007 6:33 AM PDT

But you can get f/4 aperture on the Canon 75-300mm tele lens at max zoom?

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You are right
by JulioDebroy / January 1, 2008 2:18 AM PST

Sorry for the late (veery late) reply. You are right, F5.6 is the maximum aperture with that lens set on max zoom. I mistakenly assumed that it was F4, but indeed, the exif info in my pics has a record of 5.6, and max zoom is a bit more than 300, since the sensor is smaller than film.

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by froasier / September 16, 2007 6:25 AM PDT

Shooting in video won't help you at all and will only produce a poor quality image in comparison to still photo mode. Go with the other advice on this page.

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au contraire
by silashyunseol / September 16, 2007 10:57 AM PDT
In reply to: FORGET VIDEO
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What is your point?
by Kiddpeat / September 16, 2007 2:20 PM PDT
In reply to: au contraire

The only pictures I see have noting to do with Hummingbirds (i.e. action), and are too small to see much of anything especially at 72ppi.

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Message From the Moderator
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / October 10, 2007 11:47 PM PDT

The poor attempt at humor that was posted at this spot has stirred up controversy.

It has resulted in postings that are not associated with the original intent of this thread.

I have deleted the original poor attempt at humor.
That automatically deletes subsequent postings.


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