How to Click Super Sharp Images of Wildlife with a Nikon D500 camera?

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How do I click super sharp images of birds with the Nikon D500 camera and the 200-500mm lens? In this video, I’ll teach you all the camera settings that go into clicking awesome photos of birds and wildlife.

I’m Girish Menon and I just show up on your screen and start talking about photography. I offer you free photography tips that will help you to click better pictures. And I release a new video every week, so please subscribe so that you don’t miss out.

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Is the Nikon D500 worth buying for wildlife photography in 2022?

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Is the Nikon D500 relevant for bird & wildlife photography in 2022? Bird & wildlife photography needs gear that’s fast enough to meet challenges. In a world of mirrorless cameras, are DSLR cameras such as the Nikon D500 and Canon 7D Mark II good enough to click sharp pictures of birds and wildlife?

I have a 5-point checklist to decide whether a camera is good enough for wildlife photography and they are, the number of autofocus points, autofocus speed, burst speed, buffer size and image quality.

Now before we talk about each of these in detail, I want to tell you that the camera has excellent build quality. It is weather sealed. So you can use it briefly in light rain, and its’ dust resistant. 

If you read the specs, they’ll tell you that this camera has 153 focus points. And that 99 of them are cross type focus points. 

But what you should know is that only 55 out of those 153 points are selectable by the user. And only 35 out of those 55 are cross type focus points.

On the other hand the D500’s biggest rival, the Canon 7D Mark II has 66 focus points, all cross type.

Cross type focus points are able to focus faster and more accurately than non-cross type points. You can rely on them to nail focus every single time. 

I always choose my autofocus area as “single point”, and select the relevant point where I want maximum sharpness. I align that focus point with the eye of the subject. 

You must also know that the focus points on the D500 that fall along the rule of thirds are not cross type. Which is a bummer when I want to align something along the thirds. But it’s not always that the eye of the bird needs to be along the thirds. And even though there are no cross type focus points at the thirds, we have non-cross type points there. That’s better than no focus points at all.

The autofocus speed is fast. With some practice, you should be able to nail focus on your subjects even in challenging situations.

The camera has a 20.9 megapixel sensor. And can click 10 frames per second which is exceptional. 

It has a buffer size of 200 RAW images. So as long as you have a fast enough card, which you should when clicking wildlife, your camera shouldn’t slow down because its buffer is full.

When clicking pictures of birds in flight, for example, we need shutter speeds in excess of 1/2000th of a second, sometimes even 1/4000th. That means higher ISO values. The image quality is exceptional, even at 1600 ISO.

The Nikon D500 camera checks all boxes and that’s why it’s still one of the best cameras you can lay your hands on, even in 2022. 

The thing that makes it most appealing is the Nikon 200-500 mil lens. This lens has a fixed maximum aperture value of 5.6 through the entire range of focal lengths. The 500 mil focal length is extremely essential when clicking pictures of birds. Canon, unfortunately never considered providing an affordable 500 mil lens for DSLR cameras whereas Nikon offers two, the 200-500 and the 500 5.6 prime lens.

But the Canon 100-400 Mark II lens is much smaller and lighter, ideal for jeep safaris if you’re going to click tigers, leopards, rhinos, and other mammals.

Please see www.girishmenon.com to know more about the bird and wildlife photography workshops and tours that I teach and organise

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Is the Canon 7D Mark II Camera worth buying for wildlife photography in 2022?

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Ok, so you want to click wildlife, and you are considering the Canon 7D Mark II. You’re in the right place!

I have a 5-point checklist to decide whether a camera is good enough for wildlife photography and they are:

Number of autofocus points
Autofocus speed
Burst speed
Buffer size and
Image quality

I find that if these specs are good enough then all other factors also fall in place.

Now before we talk about these specs in detail, I want to tell you that the camera is, as they say, built like a tank, Completely weather sealed, resists water and dust like a champion!

It has 66 focus points, all cross-type. Cross type focus points are able to focus faster more accurately than non-cross type points. You can rely on them to nail focus every single time even in challenging conditions such as low light, and when clicking photos of subjects in action.

I always choose my autofocus area as “single point”, and select the relevant point where I want maximum sharpness. I align that focus point with the eye of the subject.

On the Canon 7D Mark II, you can choose a smaller AF area within the focus point for even more accurate focusing.

The autofocus speed is super fast. I have no words to describe how quick and accurate it is in any situation.

It has a 20.2 megapixel sensor. And can click 10 frames per second… which is exceptional.

Its buffer can hold 31 RAW images which is significantly less when you compare it with something like a Nikon D500 which has a buffer size that can accommodate 200 RAW images.

However if you use a fast memory card, which is very affordable these days, your camera will never slow down just because its buffer is full. You can keep clicking at 10 frames per second, uninterrupted.

When clicking pictures of birds in flight, we need shutter speeds in excess of 1/200th of a second, sometimes even 1/4000th of a seocnd. That means higher ISO values.

The image quality is exceptional, even at 1600 ISO. And produces acceptable images even at 12800 ISO. These images that I clicked at 12800 ISO would be much muddier and unusable if I had clicked them with some other cameras.

The Canon 7D Mark II camera checks all boxes and that’s why it’s still one of the best cameras you can lay your hands on, even in 2022. But if you’re interested in photographing birds, you must consider the fact that Canon does not offer us an affordable 500 mil lens for their DSLR cameras… unlike Nikon which has two lenses, the 200-500, and 500 5.6 prime lens.

On the other hand, Canon has an exceptional 100-400 lens that’s probably the sharpest super telephoto zoom lens out there at the moment. The 100-400 Mark II is also a lot smaller and lighter than the Nikon 200-500. So if you’re going on jeep safaris to click tigers, leopards, rhinos, and other mammals, then the 100-400 Mark II lens is more comfortable to handle. It does exceptionally well with the 1.4X Mark III teleconverter. Please see the link in the description for my review on using the teleconverter and extending the focal length from 400 mil to 560 mil!

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Attractive Behind the Scenes Bird Photography with Nikon D500 and 200-500 mm lens

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I all began in December 2020. I started putting together short videos about my wildlife photography experiences. I used to stay up all night to record my narration videos.

Up until that point, I had never stayed up all night ever. Not even if I had an exam the next day. Consequently, I fell ill. Once I had recovered, and that took a while, I had to figure out alternate ways of recording my voice-over.

So I went into the nearby jungle and filmed with an OSMO Pocket. You see, my apartment is on the first floor of a noisy street. So recording during the day isn’t an option.

There are many challenges with using an OSMO Pocket. The lens isn’t wide enough. So I have to use this wide-angle lens adapter that sits over the main lens via magnets. The audio adapter that lets you connect external microphones to the OSMO Pocket is out of stock. So they gave me a third-party adapter. I only just realised that it doesn’t work! The on-board mics did the recording, which turned out okay, but not as well as a directional mic would. I just got a mic that connects directly via USB-C, so that’ll solve that problem next time I’m out filming.

If you’re into vlogging, I recommend getting the GoPro HERO 10 Black. It’s a bit pricey, but will serve you well for at least a decade.

I put together this video, it’s the second video with my narration recorded on the OSMO Pocket. I recorded 2-3 videos that morning. I think they’re all still very sketchy with things that need to be ironed out. But I wonder if that’s really required or if I’m over thinking. I reckon this is my worst video production till date—it’s a behind the scenes look at me clicking a bee eater.

Please watch the video and lmk what you think.

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Wildlife photography | Apes in India | Canon DSLR

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“Are gibbons so violent that we need guns”?, I asked

“The gun isn’t for gibbons. It’s for leopards, and elephants!”, he said

This vlog is from the Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary in the northeastern state of Assam, the only region where we find apes in India.

Apes are different from monikes, are more intelligent, can use objects found in their environment as tools; sticks to dig, stones to crush, things like that. 

We’re were led by a gunman, and a guide.

“Are gibbons so violent that we need guns”?, I asked

“The gun isn’t for gibbons. It’s for leopards, and elephants!”, he said

They obviously don’t fire at the animals, but in the air to scare them away 

Shortly after our arrival we saw a group of stump-tail macaques on top of a tree. 

This group of 46 macaques is known as the rebel group, they broke away from a bigger group of macaques that were over 250 strong even after the split. 

We clicked some pictures of these macaques up the tree, but they were way too high, and the light was poor for photography. 

At this time, we heard haunting sounds of gibbons from deeper inside the jungle. I had never heard anything like this before. 

Our naturalist offered to wait under the macaque tree so that he could track their movements while we wandered into the jungle with our guard. 

I have no words to describe the joy of wandering into a dense jungle on foot. Eventually we made it to the gibbons. There were two of them, and judging by the nature of their calls I wondered if they were preparing for war.

Around noontime the macaques started to make their way down and wandered into the forest in search of food. We followed them. 

Watch all the events in the video.

I have more wildlife vlogs on my Youtube Channel, The Open Image.

Learn photography with Girish Menon

I teach photography online via live video calls—not pre-recorded videos that you sit and watch by yourself. You can be based anywhere in the world, own any camera, and still learn photography from me—HOW COOL IS THAT!

Please see www.girishmenon.com to know about the courses that I offer.

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Bird photography with Canon DSLR | Behind the scene

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We’re going to an area where we see raptors such as ospreys, harriers, and peregrine falcons. While still operating his boat, Nitin spotted a bird miles away. And I mean, miles away. The bird was sitting on the bark of a tree jutting out of the water. It appeared like a little dot, it could be any bird. But Nitin suspected that it was an osprey and asked me to take a test shot with my camera and zoom in to see if we could identify it. I clicked a test shot and magnified the picture fully. Even then it occupied a very small portion of my screen, but we could tell from the shape of its body that it was indeed an osprey.

It took us about three minutes to get closer to the bird, that’s how far it was. Once we got closer, Nitin switched off the engine and rowed closer towards it. I clicked a few pictures, but then the osprey flew away and sat on top of an electric pole miles away. So we turned towards that direction hoping that I could click more photos. But before we could get to it, it flew away again and sat on top of another pole, even further away.

But Nitin was confident that it would soon fly back towards us, because there were some fishermen fishing in that area, and that would disturb our osprey. Nitin was right, yet again and the osprey came and sat on top of the tree where we had first seen it.

I was using a Canon 100-400 Mark II lens with a 1.4 extender, and a Canon 300 millimeter f/4 prime lens on Canon 7D Mark II cameras. The 1.4 extender extends the 400 millimeter focal length to 560 millimeters. I like to photograph a creature’s habitat along with it, and I used the 300 millimeter lens for wider photos.

The light got better for photography as time went by. We were cautious not to go too close to the osprey too quickly. Nitin is an expert at maneuvering the boat with his oars, inching closer towards birds. 

I didn’t stop clicking.

Learn photography with Girish Menon

I teach photography online via live video calls—not pre-recorded videos that you sit and watch by yourself. You can be based anywhere in the world, own any camera, and still learn photography from me—HOW COOL IS THAT!

Please see www.girishmenon.com to know about the courses that I offer.

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