Birder's Guide

NOV 2017

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/911854

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11 November 2017 | Birder's Guide to Gear Nikon D810, which shoots five frames per second, are excellent for stationary birds or landscapes, especially using a tripod. But they may fall short in the speed category compared to a Canon EOS 7D Mark II or a Nikon D500 for capturing that critical frame at the pre- cise moment that matters most in a se- ries of consecutive shots. Pros and Cons of Crop-Sensor Models When using an APS-C (Advanced Pho- to System type-C) camera, the sensor crops out the edge of the frame, which is advantageous when shooting distant subjects because the sensor gives the impression of an increased focal length. Let's compare cameras to see how that works. A Nikon DX has a crop factor of 1.5, whereas a Canon APS-C has a crop factor of 1.6. Because this sensor is 1.6x smaller than a full-frame and/or 35mm film camera, it shows an area equivalent to the area shown by a lens 1.6x as long on a full-frame camera. In other words, a 100mm lens on a Canon APS-C cam- era shows the same area of view that a 160mm lens would show on a full-frame camera, or a Nikon DX with a 1.5x crop factor shows the same area of view that a 150mm lens would on a full-frame cam- era. When pairing the Canon EF 100- 400mm Mark II lens with a Canon EOS 7D Mark II APS-C camera with the lens extended out to 400mm, it would be as if you were shooting at 640mm because of the 1.6x crop factor. Crop-sensor cameras typically are more affordable, are lighter, and magnify a telephoto lens, which comes in handy when photographing distant birds. Canon's crop-sensor EOS 7D Mark II and Nikon's crop-sensor D500 both shoot 10 frames per second, but the Nikon D500's settings allow for up to a 200-RAW-image buffer depth compared to 31 for the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. Raw image buffer depth is the capacity at which unprocessed raw data can be stored before it is written to a memory card in its original form; or, in simpler terms, continuous shots allowed. RAW Versus JPEG The RAW file format records all the im- age data from your camera's sensor un- compressed and unprocessed.This gives you the highest level of quality and de- tail if you are interested in printing your images. Shooting RAW gives you more control when editing over- or underex- posed photos. JPEGs are processed and turned into their final format before being placed into your camera's buffer memory. Because of this, the number of shots taken in continuous shooting mode can be increased by reducing the image file size. Since image information is lost and compressed in JPEG, it is rec- ommended to shoot in RAW if you want better image quality and more control in post-process editing. Camera Cards Speed also depends on how fast the camera card is. Both crop-sensor cam- era models I mention offer two different memory card slots to record image data. The Canon EOS 7D Mark II has a slot for an SD (secure digital) card and a CF (compact flash) card. SD cards are used in most digital cameras, primarily in point-and-shoot cameras and second- arily being used in professional DSLR cameras. CF cards yield higher speeds and higher capacity than SD cards. This is the reason why CF cards occupy the primary card slot in professional camer- as. The Nikon D500 has an SD card slot and an XQD card slot. The XQD is faster and specifically for high-resolution digi- tal cameras. These considerations make a difference in capturing a once-in-a- lifetime shot, rather than storing an- other image on a hard drive somewhere never to be seen again. Shooting Modes Now that you have an idea of what full- frame and crop-sensor cameras are, can you just grab the camera and start shoot- ing? Not so fast. The burst mode, also called "con- tinuous shooting mode", is an optional feature on most cameras that has to be selected before you can use it. Most cameras have two main drive modes, n Being able to shoot 10 or more frames per second and at a high burst rate yields more photos and, thus, more chances to capture that split-second shot of a shrew in a Great Gray Owl's bill. (Canon 40D, Canon 100–400mm, f5.7, 1/166 sec, ISO 640) Photo © Erik Bruhnke

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