I Broke Down And Created an Instagram Account: HurtNaturePhoto

I have resisted opening an instagram account for the longest time as keeping up with a blog, website, and facebook is more than enough social media for me. However, I recognize that it is a popular platform and so I finally broke down and created my own Instagram Account. I hope you will visit and like the images. Chances are you have seen the ones I posted there on here in the past but it’s also highly likely that many of the images there will be new to you. I’ll be populating it with more images in the coming days and moving forward, I’ll share some images here but not there and vice-versa. Thanks in advance for any views/likes you may give.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting — KEVIN

Mirrorless Cameras for Indoor Sports

I have had several questions from people who are considering mirrorless options for sports photography so I put together this post to discuss some of the pros and cons of this decision over the DSLR setups. First, let me disclose that while I do own a mirrorless camera, I use a Canon DSLR and a variety of lenses for my primary photography, including sports. Saying that, I can offer a number of observations as an experienced photographer for those wanting opinions about mirrorless options for sports photography.

In general terms, one of the obvious advantages of the mirrorless cameras is their smaller size and weight. That’s not a small concern as lugging around the heavier equipment all day gets tiring, especially as one gets older. Their image quality and performance have significantly improved to the point that converting to mirrorless is a viable consideration, particularly if you are a landscape or portrait photographer. The autofocus capabilities are very responsive but the professionals that I know are not convinced that, on average, they are as good as the DSLR’s in their camera bag. Note, the very top models (e.g. SONY A9) may have caught up but their prices are as high or higher than the DSLR’s. So, whether the average mirrorless options are as good for sports is a question I cannot definitively answer, particularly indoor sports. I can say that my mirrorless camera’s autofocus system (in terms of tracking a moving subject) is not as good as my DSLR but I also have an older mirrorless camera so today’s cameras are bound to be better.

At present, one of the most obvious disadvantages is cost. Canon recently came out with a great mirrorless option but when I looked at the price of that and it’s accompanying lenses, I was done. It wouldn’t make sense for me financially. I know I can use an adapter to use my ef lenses on the mirrorless camera but if reducing size and weight is the objective, what’s the point?

With those general observations, lets focus on some of the better mirrorless options out there and discuss some of their strengths/weaknesses as they relate to indoor sports photography. I will particularly make my observations as it relates to photographing indoor volleyball games, though the same would be applicable to basketball, hockey, or any other indoor event. Unlike professional indoor venues that are very well lit for television purposes, most will be photographing in gyms with very poor light and this will dictate the need to use fast lenses (f/2.8 or faster) and higher ISO settings (e.g. 3200-6400).

Click on Links to Purchase or See Pricing Options

SONY A7 III

  • Full-frame, 24mp sensor
  • ISO 100-51,200 range
  • 4K video
  • Good High ISO performance
  • 693 AF (autofocus) points, makes it very responsive so it can track a subject. Users report it locks on a subject but often for a split second so real-world tracking may be useable, but perhaps a bit less reliable.
  • Dual card slots (only one is fast so buffering can be an issue if shooting to both simultaneously)
  • 10 fps continuous shooting at 24mp for up to 89 images in RAW format. Actual usage closer to 8 per owners of this camera.
  • Good battery performance – rated at 710 images on one battery charge (note these are clinical lab tests, user experiences report significantly higher numbers)
  • $1200 less than the A7R3
  • Good selection of native glass
  • 5-axis in camera body stabilization

SONY A7R3

  • Essentially identical to Sony A7III with the following differences
    • Better EVF (electronic viewfinder) over the A7III
    • 42mp full frame sensor
    • More weather sealing than A7III (not an issue indoors but stating an advantage)
    • Fewer autofocus points (399)—users report it is not a noticeable difference in real-time shooting
    • Shutter – rated at a slightly longer lifespan
    • Battery life rated at 610 images on one battery charge
    • ISO 100-32000 range

Canon EOS R

  • Good all around camera (rumored concerns about performance with longer telephoto lenses, i.e. beyond 300mm)
  • 30 mp sensor
  • ISO 100-40,000 range (good high ISO performance)
  • Up to 8 fps for 47 frames in RAW
  • Accurate AF system
  • Lacks a joystick to conveniently select AF point
  • Single Card Slot
  • With Adapter, can use any EF or EF-S lenses (focusing slowed slightly with adapter)
  • Fewer native R-mount options

Olympus OMD-E1 Mk II

  • 20mp micro 4/3 sensor (2x crop factor)
  • Dual card slot (one is faster than other so buffering may be a concern if writing to both cards simultaneously)
  • 200-6400 ISO Range (Good High ISO performance)
  • 4K video
  • 5 axis in-camera body stabilization
  • Up to 15 fps at 20 mp. BUT, no continuous AF so anticipating the action becomes paramount
  • Low Speed Sequential yields about 10fps WITH continuous AF capability
  • Single point AF system is most accurate over entire focusing area
  • Battery rated at 400 images. Again, actual usage is significantly improved.
  • Full rotating screen

Overall, each of these cameras is a viable option for indoor sports. If I had to choose one and I did not own any other camera system, I would go with the SONY A7III. SONY sensor quality is outstanding and the full frame sensor and native lens choices make it very attractive. As important as the camera bodies are, what matters most is the glass you use. Specifically for indoor volleyball games, the following focal lengths are ideal: 24-70mm and 70-200mm. As mentioned, these need to be fast (at least f/2.8) to get shutter speeds high enough to freeze action in poorly lit gymnasiums. If one photographs from the side (e.g. positioned at the net), the 24-70 lens will be ideal from midcourt to camera. Players on the far court can be photographed but you will likely crop to the desired composition (not a problem with 24mp). From the same position, the 70-200 mm on a full frame sensor will be ideal for everyone on the court except the hitter closest to the photographer. From the end of the court, or from further in the stands in a school gym, the 70-200 is ideal for any of the players on the court. I prefer to be at court level so I tend to position myself near the net. I have photographed entirely with a 50mm lens on a  crop camera (essentially an 80mm lens) and taken some spectacular images. I’ve also photographed an entire game with just the 70-200mm lens with the same results. I highly recommend you get the best glass you can. Below are some options that I recommend:

SONY FE 24-70mm f/2.8

SONY FE 70-200mm f/2.8

The two lenses above should cover most any indoor photographic need. There are other options that one could chose that may be more affordable. For example, one could select a faster prime in a desired focal length (e.g. 50mm on crop factor camera or 85mm on a full frame). Alternatively, one might select a 3rd party lens in the desired focal length. Below are a few alternatives worth considering.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8

Sony 50mm f/1.8

Sony 85mm f/1.8

There are some excellent f/4 lenses in the Sony lineup that are solid performers; but again, given the poor lighting conditions of most indoor gyms, I do not think these are real options. Using an f/4 lens is going to force one to use high ISO settings in the 6400+ range and this introduces a significant amount of noise to the image. It’s useable and can be cleaned up in post processing but starting off with a cleaner file is best. If one is shooting outdoor sports, then these f/4 options become significant considerations and their f/4 aperture offers a cost savings relative to the more expensive f/2.8 lenses.

Mirrorless cameras–is it their time? For me, not yet. I’m not sure if they ever will be given my significant investment in current Canon glass. I’ve always been intrigued with the Olympus micro 4/3 camera setups and their pro lenses (12-24, 40-150, and 300mm), but at their prices, I am better off simply investing in better glass for my current DSLR. The full frame sensor on the Sony mirrorless cameras has also always been enticing but for me, none of these options make sense. If you are starting out, or if physical conditions dictate that you need a smaller/lighter system, then mirrorless cameras may just be the best option as camera manufacturers seem pretty dedicated in continuing to expand the performance of these camera systems. Their performance today is impressive so look for continued improvements in the years ahead.

I hope this post has been useful. If you want to consider traditional DSLR systems, check out my gear recommendation page for my input on the various Canon cameras and lenses that I use.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting– KEVIN

 

 

 

 

 

Where Have You Been?

I have been getting that question a lot lately as I all but disappeared completely from my blog posts. However, I have been here and busy as ever. I have continued my nature photography exploits but I have nearly doubled, tripled even, my involvement in sports/action photography. For the past year, the sports photography has dominated my time and since I’ve tried to keep this blog dedicated to my wildlife/nature pursuits, I didn’t blog about the sports stuff. So, let me give you a brief update on my near-term plans: 1) I will get back to my first photographic passion (nature photography), 2) I’ll continue expanding my sports/action photography, and 3) I’m committed to getting a YouTube channel started that will mostly be about nature and sports/action but since I plan on doing that for fun, I’ll share other things that I enjoy (gear reviews, BBQ, and other general interests).

WHATS NEW ON MY BLOG?:  I have added a new page for Gear Recommendations. I find that I’m always answering questions related to gear so I put together this page to help others.

That’s it for now but I’ll leave you with a few sample nature images. I’ll update you once my YouTube channel is up and running. Until then….

Good light and keep shooting. — Kevin

 

Cokin Z-Pro Filter Holder: Sold

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I’m selling a Like New Cokin Z-Pro Filter Holder for anyone who is interested. I’ve used it just a few times but I’ve decided to clean house on some of the items I rarely use. I’ve attached a stock photo and have foregone the description as chances are, you know exactly what this is used for.

$60 shipped in continental USA.

I’ll be back with some new images soon. Until then, good light and keep shooting.

KEVIN

2015 – Year In Pictures

I finally put a video up of my 2015 images. I start out thinking I’ll just put a top 12 but you know, I just get carried away sometimes. There are way more than 12 photos shared in my HurtNaturePhoto YouTube Video which I have linked for you. I’m very much a novice at putting together videos and I’m working with a very outdated workhorse of a computer. In fact, the Apple reps call it “Vintage” but it continues to perform. It is taxed on resources so I am unable to determine whether there is video compression due to my computer or something that occurs when I share the video to YouTube. The images are sharp but please let me know how they appear to you on video. Enjoy and thanks for watching it. — KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Mexican Ground Squirrel

Mexican Ground Squirrel.  Canon 1DMkII | 500/4.5 | ISO 400

Mexican Ground Squirrel. Canon 1DMkII | 500/4.5 | ISO 400

This Mexican Ground Squirrel provided a most pleasing pose at one of the water holes located at the Campos Viejos Ranch. They are constantly on the alert and the sound of the shutter caused this fine specimen to pause as if to momentarily say….”one more click and I’ll jump”.

Campos Viejos is a premier hunting and photography ranch in South Texas. For further information about photographic opportunities there, contact ranch owner Hardy Jackson.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Osprey with Prey

Osprey With Prey. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm | ISO 400

Osprey With Prey. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm | ISO 400

A few weeks ago I made a trip to Bonita Springs, Florida. I have to say Florida did feel like a bird photographer’s paradise as everywhere I went, photo opportunities presented themselves, whether that was at nearby Ding Darling NWR or simply a spot by the road where wading and shorebirds gathered to hunt during low tide. On this particular afternoon I visited Lover’s Key State Park with the intention of hiking one of their marsh trails. However, I changed my mind at the last minute and decided to photograph on the beach at Lover’s Key instead. I knew terns and skimmers were nesting on the beach and I hoped to get some images of them flying by. Before anyone starts to wonder, I never made it to the nesting area on this afternoon but I did another day and yes, I kept my distance from the nest area itself. The nest area is roped off to keep people from disturbing the birds on the nest. However, it is a public beach and people can walk right up along the rope. In my opinion, that’s still too close as the birds will feel threatened and give you a flyby (witnessed it several times over the course of a few days). But that is a story for another day. Let’s get back to the image in this post.

As I mentioned, I was on my way to photograph the terns/skimmers and was carrying my tripod mounted 500mm lens slung over my shoulder across a bridge/boardwalk connecting Lover’s Key to the beach. When I reached the part where the bridge met the sand, I was greeted by this Osprey clutching a fish and settling in to start dining. Shocked, I feared my movements getting the tripod off my shoulder and legs spread would cause the Osprey to fly away. To make matters worse, I heard someone saying “behind you, behind you” as I was trying to spread the tripod legs. It turned out to be a lady on a bike and she was none to pleased that I had not moved out of her way, specifically that I did not move to my right because the bike rack was to my left. Now I really feared the Osprey would take flight given her noise and movements but to my good fortune, the Osprey’s attention was fixed on the fish since it was still alive and flopping. With the lady now gone, I began taking images…lots of images.

I took some insurance photos from a standing position but I knew the best perspective would be low to the ground so I eased my way into a low kneeling position and fired away. I would capture some images from the prone position as well but thought the low-kneeling images were best given this location and backgrounds. To say the least, lady luck was with me on this particular afternoon.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting. — KEVIN