Simon Walker's picture

Great Tit

Observed: 29th October 2012 By: Simon WalkerSimon Walker’s reputation in BirdsSimon Walker’s reputation in BirdsSimon Walker’s reputation in BirdsSimon Walker’s reputation in BirdsSimon Walker’s reputation in Birds
Great Tit, Little Paxton, 2012-10-29 011

I've included this picture because it was taken in poor light with a shutter speed of 1/2048, F4, ISO of 12800; and yet the noise isn't at all bad. I took it with a Canon 5D Mk III. I agonised over buying it, but maybe it was worth all that money after all! I'm looking forward to experimenting with it...

Species interactions

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chrisbrooks's picture

Photo spec's

Hi Simon, it is interesting to read the camera settings that you used, I have never ventured to such high shutter and ISO settings, I'm assuming the down side of this is a loss of the depth of field ? I think I got that right.

Wildlife Ranger's picture

Custom Function High ISO Low Noise

Canon have got appreciably better in terms of the high ISO low Noise Processing in the camera ( Custom Menu Function ) if you have nt turned it on now winter casts its shadow - have a play. This will allow you to push the shutter speed up for Sharper images With Point Focus and a 300 mm lens DOF is not as crucial in loosing front to back detail as in a macro Works well in moderate light


Simon Walker's picture

Depth of Field

Good morning, Chris.

Depth of field is a bit of a pain for me. As I understand it, the higher the aperture number (F number) the smaller the aperture, but the greater the depth of field. As usual it's all about trade offs. Greater depth of field means less light, so you have to go for higher ISO or lower shutter speed.
With my 500mm F4 the depth of field isn't usually as high as I'd like, but if I reduce the aperture, I have to go for either a slower the shutter speed or a higher ISO and so on!
The reason this picture was taken at such a fast shutter speed was that I was experimenting with catching birds in flight (really tricky, because you don't know when they're going to take off!); I forgot to change it back. Usually I use about 1/1000 sec.
But I'm still a learner - photography is a complicated beast, as are modern DSLRs. Much experimenting still to do.
One of the reasons I bought the 5D Mk III was for its reportedly good noise control at high ISO, and it seems to be true...



Amadan's picture

Very impressive -

I'm assuming that the lens is also in the upper-class bracket?

Simon Walker's picture

Afraid So

It's a Canon 500mm F4 prime lens. It's heavy, but pretty good. Mine's a Mk I. It has image stabilization and fast autofocus. I spent a long time researching which lens to buy - I considered a 400mm and a 600mm, but the former didn't have as much reach, and the latter is even heavier. Lots of sources I looked at recommended the 500mm F4 as the best choice; I haven't regretted buying it.
Before that I used a Canon 100-400mm zoom, which was ok, and has flexibility. The 500mm is sometimes TOO much - you can't get everything in the frame!


Ray Turner's picture


Given the ISO I think this is astonishingly low noise. Bring on that lottery win.



moremoth's picture


It is indeed incredibly low noise, and it could probably be made even better by halving the shutter speed and halving the ISO. 1/2048 is probably not necessary for a photo like this.

Bill Welch

Simon Walker's picture

I Know.

The reason it was 1/2048 was because I'd been experimenting with catching the tits in flight, and forgot to change it back to my normal setting of 1/1000 (or sometimes less). How many times have I done that sort of thing? LOADS! I never seem to learn... ;-)


moremoth's picture


I have two custom setting that I use a lot, and therefore I have lots of photos where I forgot and used the wrong one - so I am completely with you there!

Bill Welch