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Camera Disturbance
August 27, 2010
7:28 pm
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Nomad
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August 14, 2010
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Not sure if this is the right place for this, but as it is Fish Science, I guess it might be.

Has anybody else had the problem of using an auto focus camera and when the focus happens, the fish seem to notice and react, swimming suddenly away from the camera? I am guessing they can see the infared beam the camera uses as a focus device. Any other suggestions? Anybody else noted this behaviour?

August 28, 2010
1:48 am
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Plaamoo
Bellingham, Washington U.S.A.
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I find it near impossible to get a good shot with autofocus. Different cameras/lenses get varying results of course. Focusing manually takes some practice and is always difficult, but when you get the hang of it, you'll get much better pics.

August 28, 2010
8:45 am
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Colin
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January 27, 2012
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Hi, yeah that's what happens - the camera will have an IR focussing beam that the fish will see. My ST-E2 does the same with my Canon although some fish never bother and most get used to it

cheers

August 29, 2010
6:27 am
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Bluedave
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June 28, 2008
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Yep, the more you take the more they get used to it and the more chance you will have of getting a decent pic - I work on the 200:1 principle - take 200 pics and you might get 1 thats any good! Thats not just for fish either - took about 2000 pics on holiday this year and discarded at least 700 of them (although still working through the fireworks pics, lol).

August 29, 2010
10:22 pm
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MatsP
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August 23, 2010
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Depending on what camera you have, and the type of fish you try to take photos of, yes, it can be very hard. Some compact cameras are quite good, others completely useless [in the context of fish photography - doesn't mean that they aren't good for other purposes].

The ideal setup is a digital SLR (DSLR) with an external flash, so that the flash can be moved around and directed in different directions, and not just "straight on". An SLR also allows the use of different lenses, and the ability to control the different aspects of the exposure - shutter speed, aperture and ISO setting. This lets us freeze the movement of fast moving fish, control the depth of field (how much of the area around the focus distance is "in focus") and the amount of light needed to correctly expose the film/sensor. Of course, these controls are only useful if you actually understand how they work - but modern SLR cameras have settings that are more or less "point and shoot" - you can let the camera set EVERYTHING, or just some of the things.

Autofocus usually works with a DSLR, in my experience. But fish moving frantically can be very hard to focus on with either manual or autofocus. Of course, it helps if you have a close-up (macro) lens - it allows the camera to take photos at close distance. The lens I have allows a 30cm distance between the sensor [inside the camera] and the subject, and a 1:1 size, so 1 cm of subject is 1 cm on the sensor. But of course, that also means the focus is very critical.

Pocket cameras can also be used. If you are buying a new camera, there are two tests that I would use to make sure it's good for fish photography:
1. Put a small coin (like a 1p or 5p coin in the UK, 1euro cent, or a US penny or dime). Try the close-up setting of the camera to see if you can fill most of the picture with the coin.
2. Take your keys (or something similar) and hold them at arms length in front of the camera. Focus in the keys, then simultaneously drop the keys and push the shutter button of the camera. A good camera should have at least part of the keys in the picture - some digital cameras have a long "lag" between shutter button and actually taking the picture - this sort of lag is definitely bad for fish photography [and any other photos where the subject will change within a short time - such as kids, sports, action - just about anything but landscapes and portraits, really].

And yes, I have a very poor ratio between good and bad photos - certainl only get really good pictures at abotu one in 30-100 depending on the type of fish.

--
Mats

August 30, 2010
8:12 am
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Nomad
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August 14, 2010
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QUOTE (MatsP @ Aug 30 2010, 08:05 AM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
Depending on what camera you have, and the type of fish you try to take photos of, yes, it can be very hard. Some compact cameras are quite good, others completely useless [in the context of fish photography - doesn't mean that they aren't good for other purposes].

The ideal setup is a digital SLR (DSLR) with an external flash, so that the flash can be moved around and directed in different directions, and not just "straight on". An SLR also allows the use of different lenses, and the ability to control the different aspects of the exposure - shutter speed, aperture and ISO setting. This lets us freeze the movement of fast moving fish, control the depth of field (how much of the area around the focus distance is "in focus") and the amount of light needed to correctly expose the film/sensor. Of course, these controls are only useful if you actually understand how they work - but modern SLR cameras have settings that are more or less "point and shoot" - you can let the camera set EVERYTHING, or just some of the things.

Autofocus usually works with a DSLR, in my experience. But fish moving frantically can be very hard to focus on with either manual or autofocus. Of course, it helps if you have a close-up (macro) lens - it allows the camera to take photos at close distance. The lens I have allows a 30cm distance between the sensor [inside the camera] and the subject, and a 1:1 size, so 1 cm of subject is 1 cm on the sensor. But of course, that also means the focus is very critical.

Pocket cameras can also be used. If you are buying a new camera, there are two tests that I would use to make sure it's good for fish photography:
1. Put a small coin (like a 1p or 5p coin in the UK, 1euro cent, or a US penny or dime). Try the close-up setting of the camera to see if you can fill most of the picture with the coin.
2. Take your keys (or something similar) and hold them at arms length in front of the camera. Focus in the keys, then simultaneously drop the keys and push the shutter button of the camera. A good camera should have at least part of the keys in the picture - some digital cameras have a long "lag" between shutter button and actually taking the picture - this sort of lag is definitely bad for fish photography [and any other photos where the subject will change within a short time - such as kids, sports, action - just about anything but landscapes and portraits, really].

And yes, I have a very poor ratio between good and bad photos - certainl only get really good pictures at abotu one in 30-100 depending on the type of fish.

--
Mats

Thanks for all that information, although most of it I was already aware of. I used to get great shots with my old Nikon EM, with a 55mm Macro. But that was a film camera. Here are some Bettas and some transvestitus I took using it.

At present I have a Panasonic Lumix point and shoot and it is very frustrating. It struggles to find a focal distance through water and, asa I say, as soon as it gets its focal point, the fish will startle and move. The fish might have been sitting still for a period, but as soon as that focus goes, it is off. I was curious to know if others had this problem too.

I have to get an SLR with a manual focus macro.

Really appreciate all that info, mate. Thanks.

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