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Nature Photography Blog Journal Index

Entries in Sony a9 (15)

Thursday
Nov292018

Great Grey Owl BOO

Great Grey Owl BOO (Strix nebulosa, Chouette Lapone, GGOW) ©Christopher Dodds  Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS ISO 2,000, f/5.6 @ 1/2,000s Manual Exposure mode and Sony's eye AF. Join me for my winter owl workshops this January/February to learn More CLICK HERE.

Yet another example of how well the Sony Eye AF works! I am loving the new Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS

Join me for my winter owl workshops this January/February to learn More CLICK HERE.

Tuesday
Nov272018

Great Grey Owl a la Sony a9 Eye AF 400mm f/2.8 G Master

Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa, Chouette Lapone, GGOW) ©Christopher Dodds  Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS ISO 3,200, F5.6 @ 1/3,200s Manual Exposure mode and Sony's eye AF. Join me for my winter owl workshops this January/February to learn More CLICK HERE.

Sony is very careful to note that Eye AF is designed to work with human subjects; they make no claims about it's ability with birds or mammals..BUT, with every firmware update, it seems to work better with non-human subjects. Make no mistake, it is not flawless, but when it works, it really nails the shots ;) The rumours are that Sony is continuing their efforts to improve this feature, and hope to announce it officially sometime in the future.

Do note the intentional movement in the wing-tips, even with a high shutter speed of 1/3,200 of a second. When I want to freeze the motion, and zoom into every detail, then I am working with a minimum shutter speed of 1/5,000 of a second.

In case you missed it, I wrote a mini-review of the new Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS in a recent blog post HERE

Join me for my winter owl workshops this January/February to learn More CLICK HERE.

Monday
Nov262018

Great Grey Owl Portrait a la Sony a9 and 400mm f/2.8 G Master lens with 2X teleconverter

Great Grey Owl PORTRAIT (Strix nebulosa, Chouette Lapone, GGOW) ©Christopher Dodds  Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS with Sony FE 2X Teleconverter ISO 3,200, F5.6 @ 1/3,200s Manual Exposure mode. Join me for my winter owl workshops this January/February to learn More CLICK HERE.

In case you missed it, I wrote a mini-review of the new Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS in a recent blog post HERE.

Here's a portrait of a Great Grey Owl with the Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS with Sony FE 2X TeleconverterIt has been rather wet and rainy lately. The dehaze filter in Photoshop worked well to negate the heavy rain and ground fog which kept most people inside - smile.

Join me for my winter owl workshops this January/February to learn More CLICK HERE.

Saturday
Nov242018

Great Gray Owl a la Sony a9 and 400mm f/2.8 G Master lens with 2X teleconverter

Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa, Chouette Lapone, GGOW) ©Christopher Dodds  Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS with Sony FE 2X Teleconverter ISO 2,000, F5.6 @ 1/5,000s Manual Exposure mode. Join me for my winter owl workshops this January/February to learn More CLICK HERE.

In case you missed it, I wrote a mini-review of the new Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS in my last blog post HERE. Here's an image of a Great Grey Owl with the Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS with Sony FE 2X Teleconverter.

I continue to be amazed by the speed and accuracy of the Sony auto-focus. It truly is unbelievable!

Join me for my winter owl workshops this January/February to learn More CLICK HERE.

Wednesday
Nov212018

Sony 400mm f/2.8 GM Mini Review

Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa, Chouette Lapone, GGOW) ©Christopher Dodds  Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS  ISO 1,250, F2.8 @ 1/5,000s Manual Exposure mode. Join me for my winter owl workshops this January/February to learn More CLICK HERE.

Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS Mini Review

I am just back from a cross Canada road trip that took just over six weeks and covered more than 17,500km. I was honoured to stop and present at various camera stores across the country, then ended the trip with presentations at ProFusion (Canada's largest camera show); all sponsored by Sony of Canada. Thank you Sony. I got to meet so many great photographers along the way; it was a blast!

I have received a lot of email asking about my thoughts on the new Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS lens; if I had one, and if I thought it was worth the price tag. Yes, I do own one and YES, it is worth the price! When paired with the Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera, the Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS is the fastest, most reactive with the most accurate auto focus lens that I have ever used. It is light and very well balanced (there was a lot of engineering involved to carefully design the lens with most of it's optics toward the back to make it really easy to hand-hold; a real win for birds-in-flight photographers). Add the Sony 2X Tele-extender, and you end up with a prime killing 800mm f/5.6 that is sharper and more capable than the Canon or Nikon prime lenses that I have used.

Sony took a huge step when thy developed the hybrid AF system that the Sony a9 uses; they have leapt forward with the XD Linear focus. There is no camera and lens that can focus as fast!

From the Sony website: "The XD Linear Motors have been newly developed to deliver higher thrust and efficiency than conventional types in order to make the most of the rapidly evolving speed performance of current and future camera bodies. Linear motor design and component layout have been thoroughly revised to achieve significantly higher thrust. Two of these new motors are used in the SEL400F28GM, achieving up to a 5x improvement* in moving-subject tracking performance. This means that the full speed performance of advanced camera bodies can be applied to capturing perfect images of the most dynamic sports or wildlife subjects. The XD Linear motors are further supported by new algorithms developed specifically for them, notably improving the motors’ response to control signals and minimizing lag and instability that can occur when driving a large aperture focus lens group for quiet, low-vibration operation. "

In summary, XD Linear focus is so much faster than the conventional rotational focus because it quickly and efficiently "thrusts" forward and backward to achieve tack sharp focus. Since conventional lens elements rotate like a nut on a bolt, they have to travel about five times further (think how little a nut moves in relation to how many times it must be turned). There is a limit as to how fast a lens (or lens group) can safely move in a rotational manner. 

Thursday
Aug232018

Parakeet Auklet PORTRAIT

Parakeet Auklet PORTRAIT (Aethia psittacula, Starique perroquet, PAAU).  Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska, USA. Image Copyright ©Christopher DoddsSony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS with 2X Tele-extender @ 800mm. Full frame image. ISO 2,000, f/11 @ 1/2,500s Manual exposure mode.

Thursday
Jul262018

Brown Bear Cub

Coastal Brown Bear Spring Cub (Ursus arctos) Kukak Bay, Katmai National Park, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher DoddsSony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS with 2X Tele-extender @ 800mm. Full frame vertical image cropped to square. ISO 2,000, f/13 @ 1/640s Manual exposure mode.

KUDOS

I am writing to express my gratitude for the great help with my photography that I have received participating in Chris Dodds’ photographic workshops, which are enjoyable and in interesting places. Most of the workshops are places to which Chris has been going for many years so he is intimately familiar with the details and best opportunities of each location.  He goes out of his way in an attempt for participants to get images that are the best they can possibly get to take home with them. His knowledge of photographic technique translates into suggestions that are tailored to each participant’s needs.  He encourages attendees to ask any question and is patient in answering to try to make sure the questioner understands the answer thoroughly.  His knowledge of the technical aspect of photographic equipment and the computer equipment and programs needed in post-processing has always amazed me, and he is eager and willing to share this knowledge with all of the participants. In the first workshop I learned that the manual setting was preferable for photographing nature and as I have mastered this technique, I am forever grateful.  Chris is excellent at teaching the best light angle and reminding the participants to watch the light angle when they are repositioning themselves for a better composition.

The biggest benefit to me personally of Chris’ photographic experience was the purchase of my own Sony A9 camera after he made the switch form Canon to Sony in August 2017. This new camera and lens combination enables me to hand-hold 400mm, 560 mm, and 800 mm, and the camera focuses with both teleconverters. Because I no longer need such heavy photo equipment, I can use a smaller camera bag that fits in any airline overhead bin and allows quicker and more comfortable travel through the airport.  The Sony has improved my photography and made it easier and more enjoyable.

I would encourage you to consider one of Chris’ workshops, because they are fun and in such diverse locations.  I have never failed to come home with better images than I had imagined prior to the experience.  I have found the other participants to be interesting and nice people, and because the workshops are so excellent, there are a lot of repeat customers who have been in previous workshops.  Each workshop is a highlight of my year. Chris is a positive person who makes the experience as enjoyable as possible even with early morning and late afternoon hours to take advantage of the best light of the day.  Thanks Chris for helping me become a better photographer.

Dennis Stone Indiana, USA

 

Friday
Apr272018

Black-footed Albatross PORTRAIT

Black-footed Albatross PORTRAIT (Phoebastria nigripes, Albatros à pieds noirs, BFAB) Monterey Bay, California ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE100-400mm F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS Lens @ 400mm. ISO 2,000 f/9 @ 1/3,2000s Manual mode.

Special thanks to my friend Brad for taking me out in his boat on Monterey Bay. We got to see some incredible whale action and interaction, but the highlight for me was the Black-footed Albatross feeding on the slick above a baby Humpback Whale carcase that a pod of Killer Whales had killed. Brad got us close enough for portraits! Nature can be brutal, and it really was emotional being right there between the victorious Killer Whales and the grieving Humpback Whale parents who kept a tight vigil over the remains. The circle of life was short for that baby whale... Stay tuned for a couple of Whale images.

Thursday
Apr262018

Brandt's Cormorant Portrait a la Sony a9 100-400 and 2X Extender

Brandt's Cormorant Portrait (Phalacrocorax penicillatus, Cormoran de Brandt, BRAC) La Jolla, California ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE100-400mm F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS Lens with Sony 2X tele-extender @ 800mm Full Frame image. ISO 800 f/11 @ 1/640s Manual mode.

Q&A

Hi Chris,

I'm a huge fan of your work and have been following your transition to the Sony mirrorless system since your first post about it from your Puffin Workshop last August. It seems that you have sold all of your Canon equipment and I am interested to hear what you are using for your long lens? I don't imagine the Sony 100-400 lens with their 2X could come anywhere near the quality of a Canon super telephoto. I imagine that you will need to manually adjust the focus with the combined maximum aperture of f/11? Even if it produces sharp images, I just don't see f/11 producing those wonderful out of focus backgrounds which seem to be part of a signature Dodds image. Please help a guy see....

Thank you, J.D. from New York

Hey J.D.,

Thank you for your great questions. This image is a portrait of a Brandt's Cormorant on the cliffs of La Jolla, California. I suspect you can see from the image that the Sony a9 with the Sony 100-400 G Master lens AND the Sony 2X tele-extender produce the same amazing quality as the lens alone. The Sony a9 does autofocus with a maximum lens and extender combination of f/11. All in all, the system continues to impress me. As for those out of focus backgrounds, there are two ways to improve your results while using smaller apertures which traditionally produce larger depth of field and more distracting backgrounds:

1. Work closer to your subject. The closer you are to your subject, the smaller the depth of field.

2. Choose a more distant background. In the case of the image above, I used the beach below the cliff as my background.

I used both techniques to produce the portrait of the Brandt's Cormorant yawning with it's spectacular blue gular skin on full display. It is so easy to get close to birds with the silent shutter of the a9!

 

Tuesday
Apr032018

Speed culling Sony a9 Images Best Software

American Bald Eagle SNOWY PORTRAIT (Hailiaeetus leucocephalus, Pygarge a tete blanche, BAEA) Kachemak Bay (near Homer), Alaska ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE100-400mm F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS Lens @ 164mm Full Frame image. ISO 4,000 f/5.6 @ 1/5,000s Manual mode.

Another Eagle :)

Here's yet another Eagle from my recent Eagles Galore workshop in Alaska; it's a full frame portrait from the Sony a9 mirrorless camera in silent mode at 164mm.

Sony a9 Fastest way to cull images

After returning from Alaska, and realizing that my trusted PhotoMechanic software was getting sluggish and buggy, I decided to try every software that I could find to quickly sort out which images I will keep or throw away. The process can be overwhelming after a day of action photography with the Sony a9 @ 20FPS!

I discovered www.FastRawViewer.com, and love how easy it is to customize and how fast it is to generate previews from the RAW files. It is inexpensive and offers great value. Like many things today, there are almost too many ways to configure and set-up the software, so I kept looking while continuing to learn Fast Raw Viewer.

I use Adobe Bridge (which comes with Creative Cloud Photoshop subscriptions) to ensure a properly colour calibrated output for my slide shows and accidentally realized that Adobe Bridge churns through the Sony a9 images blazingly fast.

So, my new culling workflow is:

When I return from a long day in the field, I copy the contents of my memory card to a folder on my laptop's hard drive, then I open that folder in Adobe Bridge. Adobe Bridge immediately generates a thumbnail of all of the images. I start at the beginning, and view the full screen preview of the first image; {Command & Delete} to delete, or {Command & 6) to tag as a "Select". I don't go to bed until I have narrowed down the folder of thousands of images to the few "Selects" that I will keep.