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I'm going on a safari to Kenya soon and I don't feel I know enough about taking pictures with my Sony 70-200/f4 (on a A7II). I know it would be better with a longer focal length, but this is what I've got. But to make sure I get as good pictures as possible with my setup, could you give me some hints on settings both for the lens and for the camera that could be useful? I'm guessing it is mostly day time photography from an open car. Planning on getting a bean bag for some support also.

 

Greatful for all help I can get!

 

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Guest Jaf-Photo

My best advice is to get some practice with the lens before you go. Play around with it and get a feel for what you can do. Even go to the zoo for practice.

 

As you will be aware, there is no universal camera setting that works in all situations. One thing that will probably serve you well is spot metering with AEL lock.

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Guest all8

Try this approach ... figure out a group of settings for "still" animals and a group for moving animals and then assign them to memory positions 1 & 2. Then, at any time, you can quickly switch to one of those positions .. and use the switches on the lens to control things like stabilisation and manual focus.

 

For example

 

M1 (still animals) - f6.3, shutter speed auto, ISO auto between 100 and 1600, centre metering, S-AF with medium/small square focus area (OR Wide focus).

 

M2 (moving) - aperture auto, shutter speed 1/200, ISO auto between 100 and 1600, centre metering, C-AF, Zone focusing (you can move that around).

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest Jaf-Photo

Look up the sunny 16 Rule

Sunny 16 won't work always. It depends on the light, the terrain and where the animals are. Spot metering the animals always works.

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My best advice is to get some practice with the lens before you go. Play around with it and get a feel for what you can do. Even go to the zoo for practice.

 

As you will be aware, there is no universal camera setting that works in all situations. One thing that will probably serve you well is spot metering with AEL lock.

 

I took your advice and did just that, went to the zoo and practiced a lot. Ofc, there is not much action there but I noticed that my biggest issue seem to be too slow shutter speed. I used shutter speeds from 1/500 to 1/1250 there (hand held still animals to moving sea lions) and got the results I wanted, i.e. very sharp details. I will look into AEL lock, I kinda know what it's for, but haven't tried using it yet.

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Sunny 16 won't work always. It depends on the light, the terrain

and where the animals are. Spot metering the animals always works.

   

Stated too simply, the sunny 16 "rule" has all the problems 

that you imply. The sunny 16 rule is just one single simple 

element of an entire set of real rules for meterless camera 

work, and that set of rules works. Will the set of rules work 

better or worse than a spot meter ?  

   

A set of rules employed without sufficient practice can be  

a disaster. A spot meter used without sufficient practice is 

also a recipe for disaster.  

   

What to do ... what to do ... ......  

 

What to do is [1] learn/practice that set of rules and [2] also

learn/practice use of the spot meter and [3] be vigilant as to

whether your spot meter agrees [ reasonably closely] to the 

rules of meterless camera work. And acoarst [4] use rapid 

burst bracketing !  

   

Rule Number 4 actually stands alone. It is not in "4 place" 

by rank of importance. By that rank it's Numero UNO :-)   

   

None of this stuff is hard to learn. It used to be somewhat 

challenging, when you hadda wait a week for your prints 

and then figger out which image represented what setting,

rule, etc. With the instant feedback of digital cameras, the 

only challenge remaining is Human Nature [aka laziness]. 

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Guest Jaf-Photo

@UglyBob: good news. Having a feel for your equipment is the best way to better photos. I may suggest a second practice with spot metering. Take your wife/kids/dog to the park on a sunny day. Take photographs of them using spot meter on their faces with AEL lock. That way you will have challenging dynamic light which will throw the full frame or center weighted metering off. Locked spot metering will get you good exposure where it matters the most. The purpose of the AEL lock is to allow you to recompose the shot after metering. This means you don't have to have all subjects in the center of the shot.

 

@username: Sunny 16 works well for street photography or general landscape. The effect on digital cameras is usually under-exposure because they are less sensitive than the ISO rating will have you believe. That means generally preserved highlights and dark shadows. Looks nice for steet. For animals in the wild it's not so good because they'll stay in the shade on sunny days. On overcast days it will also be very hard to distinguish them from the background because of the flat light.

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Do not use a bean bag from in the car 

unless you can convince the driver to 

shut off the engine. He will likely resist. 

He has reason. 

 

Really? I just bought one of course, but what you're saying is that it will shake to much if the engine is on I guess? In that case handheld is better? Will ask about turning it off then of course, thanks for the tip.

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@UglyBob: good news. Having a feel for your equipment is the best way to better photos. I may suggest a second practice with spot metering. Take your wife/kids/dog to the park on a sunny day. Take photographs of them using spot meter on their faces with AEL lock. That way you will have challenging dynamic light which will throw the full frame or center weighted metering off. Locked spot metering will get you good exposure where it matters the most. The purpose of the AEL lock is to allow you to recompose the shot after metering. This means you don't have to have all subjects in the center of the shot.

 

@username: Sunny 16 works well for street photography or general landscape. The effect on digital cameras is usually under-exposure because they are less sensitive than the ISO rating will have you believe. That means generally preserved highlights and dark shadows. Looks nice for steet. For animals in the wild it's not so good because they'll stay in the shade on sunny days. On overcast days it will also be very hard to distinguish them from the background because of the flat light.

 

Yes, I will definitely experiment some more with that. Just one thing I am confused about. How does AEL work together with back button focus (that I currently use), does it affect at all or it is completely separate?

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Guest Jaf-Photo

You should assign AEL to a different button and make it toggle.

 

I assigned it to the small top button next to the shutter button. That makes it very quick and easy to lock and unlock exposure and trigger the shot with the same finger.

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You should assign AEL to a different button and make it toggle.

 

I assigned it to the small top button next to the shutter button. That makes it very quick and easy to lock and unlock exposure and trigger the shot with the same finger.

Ok, will look into that, right now I have MF/AF switch there. So basically all you need to to is to change the AF.MF/AEL switch on the camera and then you measure light manually with another button? Will my back button focus stop working as I use the button on that switch now? I mean, will that switch change the function of my button as well?

 

To clarify, I have set up the button on the right as back button focus button:

http://blogdozack.com.br/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/SONY_A7II_28.jpg

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Guest Jaf-Photo

I set AEL to the equivalent of the C1 button on the A7II. That is the button to the right of the shutter button on the top panel.

 

This means you use your right index finger to lock and unlock the exposure. You use the MF/AEL to focus, as you use backfocus. You use your index finger to trigger. This will be all the more easy as you use back-focus.

 

(I do it slightly differently, as I have Eye AF on the MF/AEL button and use the shutter button to focus. Back-focus throws me for a loop.)

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Have to ask, as it is a big worry for me, will I be very disappointed with my relatively short focal length? I'm almost thinking about getting a A6300 as an extra camera just to get the crop factor. What do you think?

 

Getting longer lenses is not as interesting as wildlife photography isn't something I do very often.

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Guest Jaf-Photo

There isn't a huge difference in reach if you put a 200mm lens on a crop camera. If you want to try it, get a used A6000. You'll save a lot and you'll be able to sell it without a loss, if you're not happy. But I think it's a nice secondary camera in any kit bag.

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There isn't a huge difference in reach if you put a 200mm lens on a crop camera. If you want to try it, get a used A6000. You'll save a lot and you'll be able to sell it without a loss, if you're not happy. But I think it's a nice secondary camera in any kit bag.

I went and tested in a store and I agree, not a huge difference. However, the AF on the 6300 was most impressive I must say...

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Safari ... in Africa? Perhaps a simple RX10 with 600mm lens    ;)

 

This was taken with A7ii and SEL70200G (f4) at a distance of about 130 meters and 200mm. Its enough to prove that seals where there ... but the view through a small set of (Zeiss) binoculars was far far superiour. Obviously a crop camera is going to do better!

 

 

 

 

 

Take a small pair of good binoculars ...

 

If I wanted to do this more often, and I do, then I would get an A6500 ... and a Spotting Scope. At least the A6500 will have better AF performance than the A7ii ... in-case the seals should ever move    :rolleyes:

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Hehe, thanks for the input, I know 200 is not ideal, but as I said before this is not something I will do very often, so I can't motivate buying a "bigger" lens... We bought the A6300 anyway, my gf wants her own camera and I think it's very good that we have these two types of cameras to switch between anyway. Mine for landscape, her for nature/weddings etc. Btw, the crop factor will affect the effective focal length, but will it also affect the needed shutter speed to prevent hand movement? In my mind it should, as the sensor size is smaller and then smaller hand movements could do more effect?

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Sounds great! Enjoy your safari vacation with the fast shutter speed possible for the ambient lighting conditions.

 

The binoculars I have are Zeiss Terra ED Pocket (8x25), 8 time magnification ... much better than the camera and len, fit in a shirt pocket!

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Guest Jaf-Photo

Btw, the crop factor will affect the effective focal length, but will it also affect the needed shutter speed to prevent hand movement? In my mind it should, as the sensor size is smaller and then smaller hand movements could do more effect?

Mathematically, there may be a difference due to the higher pixel density. But from a practical perspective I doubt you'll notice any difference. The lens will be the fulcrum so if you find a way to keep the lens steady, you'll do fine.

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