About Zoom Lenses Pt.3

Having discussed various lenses and uses for them as well as samples ( See PT.1 & PT.2), I have been waiting for an opportunity to crank off a few shots of something a little more interesting than the shed outback.

Compounding the problem is the lack of mobility in the form of another Covid-19 lockdown, now into our third week. With the days getting longer and the weather warming up I was hoping to get out and take a few photos with the zoom lenses previously discussed.

Well as it happened, last week serendipity arrived in an aerial form on two consecutive, and importantly, fine warm days. What do I mean by aerial form?, well the photos below tell the story, with urea the first day and seaweed fertilizer the second day.

The day started out pretty ordinary with a monkey errrr – I mean an arborist swinging in the trees trimming the lower limbs of the neighbors driveway. Approx. 350 meters from my backdoor. It was around this time that I heard the Heli-Ag chopper start up on the neighboring farm to our south. The resulting aerial display shot over the next two days yielded around 650 useable images.

All the images were shot with the EF-S 55-250 STM lens and a Canon 600D. Settings were as follows.

  • ISO 200 & 400.
  • Shot in Jpeg Fine – using P Mode.
  • EV set to +0.5
  • AWB for whitebalance.
  • Continuous Shooting
  • Auto Lighting Optimser – Low ( How to use ALO)
  • Metering = Evaluative ( Best comprise for the shooting conditions)
  • Shutter speed and aperture vis “P Mode”
  • Color profile #1 ( My custom vivid profile  for Jpeg).
  • Focus point – single center focus point.
  • These are the settings I selected for this series of photos and in most cases match the settings I use for 90% of all the images I take with this camera for general photography.

One thing to note here is that shooting in RAW with continuous shooting is a waste of time. The camera is simply too slow to capture and write to the card anywhere near fast enough. I was lucky to get a series of shots with more than 4 frames before the buffer was overloaded and the camera basically ground to a holt. Switching to Jpeg Large/fine images allowed up to 15-20 frames before the buffer overloaded, which allowed me to reliably get nice 5 – 10 shot bursts with no appreciable slow down. The 600D is no frame monster but if you take the time to set it up right it can deliver the goods without you needing to dash off for a coffee while it empties its buffer to the SD card. 

You might be wondering why I used AF Focus rather than AI Servo.  AI Focus doesn’t try to guess where the focus will be based on your subjects movement as it tends to in AI Servo mode, but rather constantly updates what is under the single focus point area and adjusts focus  accordingly. Using the camera set this way gave me a very high percentage of shots in focus. I found that in a ten shot series almost every frame was in focus every time and when this wasn’t the case it dropped to around the 90% percent mark. While Canon suggest that for fast moving targets AI Servo is likely to yield better results, with the 600D I have found the opposite to be true. Other models may vary.

As to the use of the Auto Lighting Optimizer, I usually run this in the Low setting just to help raise the shadows in Jpegs, which helps in post processing. The effect can be very subtle and may seem like its not working, however comparing Jpegs to RAW files using the  different settings definitely shows a small increase in shadow performance. Give it a try, it may well help your images. As I generally prefer to shoot Jpeg for most general photography any improvement to an image is welcome.





2 thoughts on “About Zoom Lenses Pt.3”

  1. I have found Faststone editor really good at lifting details from jpeg shadows without a noticable increase in noise. Re- P mode, I have tried it but keep going back to the other 3 modes.


    1. I haven’t really tried Faststone, did a few years back but didnt get to grips with it. Moved more towards Lightroom and never gave it another try.
      To be honest, using Aperture or shutter priority would be difficult in this instance, you need to deal with the changes on the fly from directly overhead at about 150 feet to up to to a mile away or more and rapid changes in lighting. Shooting RAW would help but not with the 600D. Even my 700D would struggle.


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