On the morning of our last day in New Zealand my wife and I decided to visit the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. While in the New Zealand Gardens section, I had the opportunity to photograph a small group of New Zealand fantails.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
The New Zealand fantail is one of the country’s best known birds. I had seen a few specimen in dark wooded areas earlier during our travels, but had been unable to capture any usable photographs of these erratic flyers.
While they individually stayed for only a couple of seconds, I noticed that the birds were frequently landing in a specific area. I captured a number of test images, quickly determining that I would need to shoot at ISO-6400, f/5.6, and with a shutter speed of 1/400 in order to get a reasonable exposure.
This precluded any attempt to capture images of the fantails in flight as the shutter speed was far too slow. I also knew that at ISO-6400 I was pushing the boundaries of my Nikon 1 V3’s 1″ CX sensor performance in terms of image quality. The photographs in this article would be considered marginal at best, but at least I was able to get some images of the fantails.
I knew that not only would the images be noisy, but I would also lose a large degree of the sensor’s already challenged dynamic range and colour depth. At base ISO the Nikon 1 V3’s sensor has 10.7 EV of dynamic range and 20.8-bits of colour depth. At ISO-6400 these fall to only 6.4 EV of dynamic range and 10.9-bits of colour depth.
To try to compensate for the shooting conditions and resulting poor image quality, I used the PRIME noise reduction function in DxO PhotoLab. I also bumped the yellows by +15, and the reds by +25 in CS6 to try to bring back some of the breast colour of the fantails.
I also added some micro-contrast in PhotoLab, a bit of clarity in CS6 and even some structure in Viveza 2, one of the programs in the Nik Collection. I kept all of these adjustments to very modest levels, hoping that the combination would enable me to get some details back in the images.
While the overall results were not stellar given the original shooting conditions, I was happy that I got a few usable images that I could share with readers.
All photographs were captured hand-held in available light using Nikon 1 gear as per the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection.
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