Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

June 17, 2011

Lucy’s Warbler – Better Results than Expected

Filed under: Birds, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, digital benefits, favorite places — richditch @ 8:37 pm
Lucy'd Warbler

Lucy's Warbler

I’ve had my gently used Nikon D300 for only a few weeks now, but I’m reaping the benefits of this upgrade to my trusty Nikon D200. I expected the slightly larger sensor (12MP vs. 10MP) would be a small advantage when I needed to crop my work for compositional reasons. But I figured the much better auto focus system would be the major benefit, with 51 AF points vs. 11 in the older D200. And both of these features have been nice to work with.

But the biggest change for me so far has been better performance at higher ISO settings.

With the D200 I find the image quality at ISO 400 good enough that I keep it set to that for most of my bird photography. And with easier subjects than birds I can drop down to ISO 200 for better IQ, or even ISO 100 for the best IQ from that camera. In extreme conditions I reluctantly bump up the ISO to 800, but I rarely bother to keep any of the images taken at that value because the loss in IQ is too big of a price to pay.

I’m happy to report that the D300 does a much better job at ISO 800 than the D200 does, and the IQ at ISO 800 is high enough that I don’t hesitate to switch to it when the conditions require it.

In the case of this Lucy’s Warbler at Boyce Thompson Arboretum the light was so low that I even ventured to ISO 1000 just to get 1/40th second wide open at f/5.6 with my 300/2.8 coupled to the Nikon TC20E 2x converter.

This was shot in raw (as is all my work), converted in Adobe Camera Raw, and post processed in Adobe Photoshop CS3 on my 2004 vintage Mac PowerBook. There is no Noise Reduction used in this image (neither in camera nor in processing).

I was even able to crop this significantly for better compositional balance (Lucy’s is the smallest of the warbler species here and even at 600mm it is difficult to get one big in the frame in an uncontrolled situation). This is 55% of the full frame.



  1. Rich,

    A lovely image, I like the pose of the warbler and the setting. The leaves add a nice airy feeling to this.

    Comment by Mia — June 18, 2011 @ 7:19 am

  2. Good to see you are liking the D300, I also will not hesitate to go ISO 800 and can still get an good IQ on my D300 and D300s. Wonderful overall composition to showcase the warbler.

    Comment by Jim Hackley — June 20, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  3. So neat, the image goes so well with the sweetness of the warbler…

    Comment by Therese — July 17, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

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