Daily Archives: March 9, 2021

Nature Phonography: remotes at 400mm

I set up the chair blind in the back yard yesterday, just to begin the process of getting the birds used to it. I took the iPhone SE 2020 out with me with the Sirui 400mm lens attached to the Moment thin case, and mounted it on a selfie-stand I bought for videos. The stand is handy because it has three broad based feet and then a pole that can put the phone at be any height from 2.5 feet to close to 6 feet. It is just right for working inside the chair blind. I had the phone focused on the meal worm feeder, which was the most active, and was using the bluetooth remote that came with the Sirui lens to shot a burst of photos when a bird would show up. I was hoping, of course, for my first telephoto shots NOT taken through the double glazed glass of our back deck door. As I was sitting there though, getting colder and colder in the mid 30 degree weather, shivering in the shade of the chair blind, it suddenly occurred to me that I could put the phone and lens on its stand outside the back deck door, so there would be no glass between it and the feeders, and I could be inside with the remote, staying warm. Best of both worlds.

So I sat at the kitchen table, doodling around on the iPad, and playing a few tunes on my low whistle and bowed psaltery, sipping coffee, as I kept my eye on the meal worm feeder and shot off bursts when a bird come in. Very enjoyable.

I am still experimenting with different camera apps for the telephoto shots, as a higher shutter speed than the built in Apple Camera App is likely to choose is required, even with the camera on a stand…since the birds do not stay still for long. I took some shots with the ProShot app, which allows you to specify the shutter speed while the camera choses the ISO (you can also set an upper limit on the ISO, but the lowest setting is 400, which is not much of a limit in any kind of light at all). I set the shutter speed to 1/000th. The Chickadee above is with ProShot, at ISO 40, just twice the base 20 ISO, and you can already see that the sensor is straining. I also tried the Action mode on Camera +2, but that chooses a shutter speed in the 1/3000th to 1/6000th range and pushes the ISO up to 125 or more. ISO 125 on the tiny sensor of the iPhone SE provides considerably worse image quality I get at ISO 6400 on my Sony Rx10iv with its 1 inch sensor, and very likely worse than you would get at ISO 125000 on a full frame sensor. So not good.

This is another ProShot image of a Bluebird.

My next step is to use this setup to shoot 4K video, both for the video itself, and to see what a 4K frame looks like as a still photo. Maybe today. 🙂