Saturday, 13 September 2008

Bird Snapping field test of Sony A200

My primary intended use for my Sony A200 was for bird photography, and I was just dying to know how it would perform in the field. In UK, so much depends on the weather and I was praying to the weather gods to send out some clear weather. Boy, did they hear me; It turned out to be a beautiful day I started off the day shooting sparrows at my feeder:



The dunnocks were not to  be left out and soon joined in:


I had a surprise visitor to the feeder soon after! well actually not one but two- Starlings!



They seemed to like the peanuts, and the sparrows were only too happy to share it with them:



Soon after, I set out armed with my 75-300mm Minolta lens, never having used an SLR in the field ever in my life before. Here`s what I came back with:

Not sure what this bird is:


A great tit in all its colour stopped by:

Great Tit

and then the warblers came out. Before today I had shot just one warbler. Today they were uncountable:

I think this is a Willow warbler but it could be a Chiffchaff

Willow Warbler?Willow Warbler?

I`m pretty sure this one is a Spotted flycatcher:

Spotted Flycatcher?

A goldfinch:


Another warbler decided to give me an easy shot, this one is slightly different because it has black feet compared to the yellowish pink of the one above:

Willow wrabler/ Chiffchaff

A young wren was sunning itself after a long wet week:


and yet another warbler to add more spice:

Willow warbler?

The magpies didnt want to go unrepresented:


Another warbler!!!

Willow warbler?

I didnt think I could manage any close up shots of butterflies with the 75-300, but surprise surprise, these shots are taken with the lens and believe it or not they are all at 300mm!!!

A large white(?)

Large white?

a blue


and a red admiral:

Red Admiral

after snapping so many birds my day wouldn't have been complete without getting a kestrel. I did get it sitting down but the sun was in my camera giving me just a silhouette, but finally after following it for a while, I did catch a few in flight:


…and for those who have read this blog, they`d know my history with Jays. I just cant seem to shoot a decent picture of it ever. I had the best opportunity yet today and this is all I could manage:


but at least I got a picture worth showing.

To summarise I love the camera, but its going to be a steep learning curve getting used to an SLR after the handy abilities of a point and shoot. I love the way the A200 responds in my hand and I love its speed. The auto focus is awesome at most times, but there are tricky situations when I had to switch to manual focus as it couldn’t locate my point of interest, but I suppose I have to check out different combination of settings. I had particular trouble auto focusing  on flying birds against the bright sky. Once or twice I had problems after being used to the live view of the DSC H9. I didn’t realise I had switched to a higher shutter speed and continued shooting in that mode. In the DSC H9 I would have known it instantly with the live view but that is something I`ll have to get used to. Another feature I would dearly loved to have had is a magnification during focusing, especially manual focus, but I suppose that is possible only with live view. Makes me wonder if it would have been worth paying extra for the live view in an a300/350.

However what I felt the need for most strongly today was more focal length. I desperately need a longer lens. All the images above are strongly cropped. If only I had a 500mm lens! Anybody out there knows a cheap 500mm lens?

More of today`s pictures can be seen on my Flickr gallery.



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