Wildlife Photography – Nikon D500/D5/D6 or D850?

While most people are talking about the latest and greatest new Nikon D6, in this video, we will try to figure out which of the Nikon bodies is more suited for wildlife and why.

When I talk of wildlife, I include birding, macros (insects), as also mammals (large and small).

In general, the gear you use would depend largely on your usage and budget. In my case, I share images on the web and also print some. Personally, I like to have details in the subjects that one would not see via the naked eye which presents the beauty of nature from a different perspective.

Before we move on, all my image reference numbers are based on my Nikon 200-500mm at the full 500mm regardless of which body I use it on as also the fact that I like to fill the frame where practically possible.

Now, I also put some images on stock sites occasionally and most such sites, if not all, require at least 3000 px on the long edge.

Now that we have all this talk done, let us look at what the two most discussed features of any new camera:

1. The AF or the Auto-Focus system
2. The low light performance or ISO response range

Yes, there is the frame rate or FPS as well, but, that part I have already discussed in an earlier video.

Let us take these one-by-one and see how they impact wildlife photography.

The ISO or low light performance first. This definitely impacts the image quality in low light and there is no doubt on that part.

Unfortunately, this improved ISO performance comes at a cost. The cost is generally the resolution of the sensor. This is also reflected in the latest Sony A7 III which is a 12 MP sensor as also in the top end Canon bodies. The most often used term in this regard is the larger “pixel” size. There are details on the sensors available on the internet for those who might want to know more about this.

Once again, your gear depends on your purpose/usage and budget.

Now, let us look at the AF part. The AF is not relevant for macros or super macros (1:1 or higher). That leaves us with action shots of birds and mammals.

Most mammals are large enough so one could easily use just a single focus point. The same applies to large birds. I would say the size of crows and larger.

Most of the issues we look at the AF system is when we are dealing with smaller mammals (squirrels and the likes) and small to tiny birds.

Now, there are actually two issues here…First, these subjects are small and unless you can get close to them, you will not really get any detail. Second, when you get close enough to these small ones, every AF, as also you, would be hard-pressed to track/pan them.

Getting close to a subject can be achieved in two ways.

1. Getting physically closer, or
2. Using a longer lens

Let me talk of a couple of specific examples. If you have ever tried to shoot a running squirrel around a 10-meter distance, you already know what happens when you try to pan the camera with it. The same applies to a tiny sunbird or tailorbird. Although you might get a squirrel running across a wall or the ground, the birds would be even faster and more erratic.

If you cannot move the camera fast enough to track, the AF cannot do much since the subject is not within the AF range. The 10-meter distance that I mentioned is just about good enough to get some detail on these subjects even though you will have only a quarter of less of your frame with the subject.

Before we look at some images to figure out the above-mentioned points, let us look at some of the Nikon bodies and their image resolutions…

D5200, D5300, D7200 – 6000 x 4000 (Approx. 24 MP)
D7500, D500, D5, D6 – 5568 x 3712 (Approx. 20 MP)
D850 – 8256 x 5504 (Approx. 45 MP)

Excepting for the D500, D5 and of course, D6, I have owned all the other bodies and used them for years. My current gear is a couple of D850s, a D7500 with a Nikkor 200-500mm as my long lens and a Tamron 90mm as my macro lens besides some others.

Let us now look at some of my shots to see what becomes more relevant for wildlife and why.

I will use ON1 Photo Raw 2020 for this purpose for two reasons.

1. It shows the subject distance as seen by the camera
2. I have not processed the images in any way in this application

To summarise what we just saw…

The resolution is perhaps the most important part for wildlife photographers. The AF, regardless of how good it is, cannot do much unless you can pan the camera and keep the subject in the frame. For long shots, the AF would not really make a difference in practice as also for larger subjects.

The sensor resolution detail would be limited by the lenses you use, so, keeping a reasonable balance between the resolution, lens and your budget might be a prudent choice. Getting the highest-resolution sensor around might not be the best choice.

In my case, I try to figure out the maximum ISO at which the image quality is acceptable to me at given distances for every camera body. I do not shoot if I have to go beyond that excepting in some cases or to test.

Ultimately, it is your choice as to what is more important to you as a wildlife photographer. Of course, there is also a possibility that all this would change in the future as technology moves ahead…

When I talk of wildlife, I include birding, macros (insects), as also mammals (large and small).

In general, the gear you use would depend largely on your usage and budget. In my case, I share images on the web and also print some. Personally, I like to have details in the subjects that one would not see via the naked eye which presents the beauty of nature from a different perspective.

Before we move on, all my image reference numbers are based on my Nikon 200-500mm at the full 500mm regardless of which body I use it on as also the fact that I like to fill the frame where practically possible.

Now, I also put some images on stock sites occasionally and most such sites, if not all, require at least 3000 px on the long edge.

Now that we have all this talk done, let us look at what the two most discussed features of any new camera:

1. The AF or the Auto-Focus system
2. The low light performance or ISO response range

Yes, there is the frame rate or FPS as well, but, that part I have already discussed in an earlier video.

Let us take these one-by-one and see how they impact wildlife photography.

The ISO or low light performance first. This definitely impacts the image quality in low light and there is no doubt on that part.

Unfortunately, this improved ISO performance comes at a cost. The cost is generally the resolution of the sensor. This is also reflected in the latest Sony A7 III which is a 12 MP sensor as also in the top end Canon bodies. The most often used term in this regard is the larger “pixel” size. There are details on the sensors available on the internet for those who might want to know more about this.

Once again, your gear depends on your purpose/usage and budget.

Now, let us look at the AF part. The AF is not relevant for macros or super macros (1:1 or higher). That leaves us with action shots of birds and mammals.

Most mammals are large enough so one could easily use just a single focus point. The same applies to large birds. I would say the size of crows and larger.

Most of the issues we look at the AF system is when we are dealing with smaller mammals (squirrels and the likes) and small to tiny birds.

Now, there are actually two issues here…First, these subjects are small and unless you can get close to them, you will not really get any detail. Second, when you get close enough to these small ones, every AF, as also you, would be hard-pressed to track/pan them.

Getting close to a subject can be achieved in two ways.

1. Getting physically closer, or
2. Using a longer lens

Let me talk of a couple of specific examples. If you have ever tried to shoot a running squirrel around a 10-meter distance, you already know what happens when you try to pan the camera with it. The same applies to a tiny sunbird or tailorbird. Although you might get a squirrel running across a wall or the ground, the birds would be even faster and more erratic.

If you cannot move the camera fast enough to track, the AF cannot do much since the subject is not within the AF range. The 10-meter distance that I mentioned is just about good enough to get some detail on these subjects even though you will have only a quarter of less of your frame with the subject.

Before we look at some images to figure out the above-mentioned points, let us look at some of the Nikon bodies and their image resolutions…

D5200, D5300, D7200 – 6000 x 4000 (Approx. 24 MP)
D7500, D500, D5, D6 – 5568 x 3712 (Approx. 20 MP)
D850 – 8256 x 5504 (Approx. 45 MP)

Excepting for the D500, D5 and of course, D6, I have owned all the other bodies and used them for years. My current gear is a couple of D850s, a D7500 with a Nikkor 200-500mm as my long lens and a Tamron 90mm as my macro lens besides some others.

Let us now look at some of my shots to see what becomes more relevant for wildlife and why.

I will use ON1 Photo Raw 2020 for this purpose for two reasons.

1. It shows the subject distance as seen by the camera
2. I have not processed the images in any way in this application

To summarise what we just saw…

The resolution is perhaps the most important part for wildlife photographers. The AF, regardless of how good it is, cannot do much unless you can pan the camera and keep the subject in the frame. For long shots, the AF would not really make a difference in practice as also for larger subjects.

The sensor resolution detail would be limited by the lenses you use, so, keeping a reasonable balance between the resolution, lens and your budget might be a prudent choice. Getting the highest-resolution sensor around might not be the best choice.

In my case, I try to figure out the maximum ISO at which the image quality is acceptable to me at given distances for every camera body. I do not shoot if I have to go beyond that excepting in some cases or to test.

Ultimately, it is your choice as to what is more important to you as a wildlife photographer. Of course, there is also a possibility that all this would change in the future as technology moves ahead…

Luminar 4.3 – Adding a watermark to images!

Although Luminar has no built-in support for watermarking, we can work around this limitation in a couple of steps.

There is one caveat though…The watermark image has to be black and white to work across all images.

Although we can use colours, but, that would require adjusting the watermark for every image.

Also, since Luminar does not save layers in Looks, we cannot save this process as a Look and apply it across images.

Let’s see how we can watermark images in Luminar…

ON1 Photo Raw 2020 – Creating images with transparent backgrounds!

In an earlier video, I had demonstrated how to create a transparent watermark image using Photoshop.

This time around, we look at how we can create images with transparent backgrounds in ON1 itself.

These transparent cutouts can also be used in the Luminar AI Augmented Sky feature and we will also take a look at that as well.

We will look at how to create transparent text as well as images. Keep in mind, you have to save/export in the PNG file format to have the transparency preserved.

So, let’s get started…

Luminar 4.3 – Catalog does not store edits!!!

I spent quite a few hours trying to figure out how to integrate the Luminar backup with my existing setup and found some very interesting issues.

Since Luminar does not use sidecar files, I have to transfer the Luminar catalog to my other system. No, it does not stop there…I have to copy the Luminar catalog along with the History folder.

There is some major issue here since Luminar is not storing the edits in the catalog!!!

You cannot simply copy the catalog. In fact, if I delete the History folder on a working system, all edits are lost!

Unless you backup the catalog from Luminar and restore it using Luminar, all edits are lost.

There is no way out it seems since Luminar refuses to restore from any file in its Backup folder. In short, unless you manually create a catalog backup from Luminar, you will lose your edits!

Let’s see what happens and how you can backup the catalog…

ON1 Photo Raw 2020 – Adding watermarks to images!

In general, it is a good idea to include a watermark your images when sharing on social media. Most people still do not realise that the images we share are copyrighted and cannot be shared/sold/modified without permission.

In some cases, the images can be shared further without any modification, but, since most people are still not aware of the legal nature of original images, it is best to make sure you have at least a copyright watermark on your images to be on the safe side.

Currently, ON1 supports only image watermarks. Although you can add a text to every image before you export it, this approach is obviously not practical.

I have been using a plain simple text watermark for years and I have to make a transparent image to maintain the same in ON1.

Although I have Affinity Photo, I will use Photoshop to demonstrate how to create this image-based watermark since more people are familiar with Photoshop.

I will make a fancier watermark than the one I use to demonstrate the possibilities.

Now, let’s take a look at how this is done and used in ON1 Photo Raw 2020.

ON1 Photo Raw 2020 – Setting up and getting started!

This one is for some friends of mine who are considering moving to ON1 Photo Raw 2020 from Lightroom.

Before I start on ON1, I have created a new user account on my MacBook and will also cover some of the basic settings that I change to suit my needs on the user account for my Mac.

We will then start up ON1, go through the process of registration and create a catalog of all my images. In my case, I have all my images on an external drive in a single top-level folder.

If you have enabled the xmp option in Lightroom (like I have), then, you can simply catalog your image folders and be done with that.

If you do not have the xmp option enabled in Lightroom, then, you would need to export your Lightroom catalog to ON1 using the ON1 plugin for Lightroom to get all your tags/keywords into ON1.

I did not bother to export my Lightroom catalog for 2 reasons…

1. I have the xmp sidecar files from Lightroom and ON1 reads those
2. Even though ON1 tries to copy the Lightroom develop settings, I would rather re-process, where needed, in ON1 since the processing for applications can differ substantially.

Of course, simply creating a catalog of existing images is way faster than exporting the Lightroom catalog.

Since this is a fresh user account, I will just login to my Adobe account and run Lightroom to create a small catalog to demonstrate the advantage of the sidecar files and how it provides a backup for Lightroom as well as enabling other applications to use the same data.

In case your Lightroom catalog gets corrupted, you can just re-import all your images with the xmp data to recreate the catalog. Virtual copies, image stacks/groups as also any user-created collections would be lost, but, all the images and their metadata would come back.

Okay, so, let’s just import one small folder into Lightroom to create a small catalog to speed up the process. This would also allow us to see how we can use the ON1 export plugin.

Now, back to my normal login and we will see how the xmp option in Lightroom allows us to use ON1 alongside with Lightroom till you are confident enough to discard Lightroom.

ON1 Photo Raw 2020.5.1 – Sky Replacement – Step-by-Step

In this video, we will look at how to replace skies in photographs with any other kind of background which is limited only by imagination.

We will look at more similar ones in some upcoming videos with ON1 Photo Raw.

#Photography #ON1PhotoRaw #Wildlife #ON1

Sky Replacement – Luminar 4.3 vs ON1 Photo Raw 2020.5.1 #1

I have demonstrated some features of ON1 in some earlier videos, this time, I will take a look at some images where we can use ON1 or Luminar for the sky replacement and figure out which one is more suitable for the same.

I have both the applications running and recording the screen so the response of the applications would be a bit slower than if I was running those one at a time.

With the performance part out of the way, let’s look at some of the images from my rooftop session today…

Let’s start with the teeniest subject first…Since Luminar is known for its sky replacement feature, let us look at Luminar first and then how to do the same in ON1.

Since our focus is on sky replacements, we will not get into processing the image itself as one would normally do.

For Luminar, we will use the simple sky replacement and just customize some settings until it looks acceptable.

In ON1, we will use a texture filter and apply a colour range mask to select the sky and then replace it with any other texture or sky we like, just like in Luminar.

Nikon D850 – No XQD reader? No Problem!

A few months ago, when I got my D850, I also invested in an XQD card besides the SD card so I could compare the two and have both the slots occupied in case of overflows.

The camera was still on older firmware and to update it, I would have to copy the firmware to the primary card which happened to be my XQD card.

The solution to this one was simple, I copied the firmware update to my SD card and simply made my SD card as the primary card.

Once the update was done, I switched the XQD card back to being the primary.

More recently, I ran into an issue which happens at times even with my earlier Nikon bodies…

For some strange reason, Lightroom refused to import more than a few files. The only way out, that I already knew from my earlier experience was to copy the files from the card and then import to Lightroom.

Since I never bothered to get an XQD card reader, this was an issue. Fortunately, the D850 offers a very simple card-to-card copy operation.

Once again, the solution was simple. I just copied the contents of my primary XQD card to the SD card and copied the files from the SD card to my computer.

Hope this small tip helps some people who have similar issues.

Luminar 4.3 – Sky Replacement Issues? Two simple workarounds!

Although we discussed this issue in an earlier video, this time, we will look at how we can work-around the issue in Luminar itself.

In case you do not have Lightroom or Photoshop installed, you might not see the additional camera profiles. To fix that, just install the free DNG converter from Adobe.