Becke, you're doing pretty good with your setup you have now I'd say. Keep at it and you'll find there's lots of growth your camera has in it yet as you gain experience with it. I've shot mostly in the 200mm range my whole life and while I'd take a 300mm in an instant, I've done pretty good with the gear I have once I got the hang of it. The aspect of learning about your subjects will come too where you start to predict their movements and behaviour which translates into better pictures as well.
Really enjoyed everyone's comments on this thread. Very informative.
Gord Fraser Valley Birding Administrator eBird Regional Editor (Fraser Valley)
That's the kicker though Gord... I don't have a camera. I have this one (borrowed from a friend) until the end of March and then I'm out of luck! Since I'm saving up for a camera - I want to get one that does have lots of room to grow into because I won't be able to buy another, that's for sure. It's going to take a year of saving up, so I don't want to make a mistake and get the wrong one! LOL Everyone's opinions have been great here - I really appreciate the answers and comments. It's a great start to my researching!
You are very right about the habits of the subjects too though! I've been watching YouTube videos on just that topic tonight! I love the internet! LOL
Becke, if it helps I use a Canon 7D, and have a 100-400, I find is really good except for versatile shooting, the only isssue is that it sucks a tiny bit of dust in due to the zoom bellow effect of the lens in and out. If you get a zoom try to get a twist type not a in and out bellows type.
I also have a large telephoto and use a 1.4x extender. but this is a high cost(if get a 1.4x you will need a lens with low f stop below f4, otherwise the autofocus will not work)
A 300mm f 2.8 with a 1.4x extender would be excellent if you can swing it.
Other than that play around with your camera try different settings and take lots of shots , they are free now the added benefit with digital.
I am really leaning towards the 7D with a 400mm 5.6, or the Nikon equivalent, but with the new 7D coming out, I can perhaps get a deal on the current model. I think the 300mm with teleconverter will run more than a 400mm by itself, but I would love the little bit of flexibility. I'll just keep saving up and eventually what I have to spend will meet up with some kind of deal I come across! LOL
Right now I'm working with a Canon Rebel XSI with a 55-250mm with IS and it's not got the reach that I want. I'm getting some decent stuff... but it is a bit frustrating. I'd like to go up from that.
Sorry Becke, I forgot you mentioned in your first post that you were using a 250mm.
The Canon 60d would be a great camera body.
The lens might be tough though. I really only know Canon lenses but I believe there is quite a big price jump from the 250mm to the 300mm or 400mm with image stabilization. When I bought my camera I don't think there was a 300 option. I know the 100-400mm was about 2000. so I went for the 250mm which was only around $300.
I just got a used 100-400 Canon lens. It's used but is 90-96% of original condition. Still need to go pick it up but we didn't pay $2000 for it, well under that. New at London drugs they are $1700. Mine was around $1300. New it seemed that the Canon L class lenses seemed the jump up $200 from 70-200 f/4 (1300ish), 70-300 (1500ish), and 100-400 (1700ish). Roughly. I was in the same spot lens wise a few weeks ago. My 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III USM Lens did not have enough reach and seemed to lack detail. I adjusted my aperture and it helped but still I wanted closer. So my husband got me the 100-400. Have yet to take it out but here's hoping its everything I wanted. We'll see this weekend!
In short there are options to get less expensive lenses if you are OK with used. I saw some not brand new quality 100-400's going for under $1000 USD. Kerrisdale had one for $1100 last month, it was a layaway so not sure if that price is normal for them. Also there is grey market just buy from a good store that offers a non-Canon warranty.
Last Edit: Feb 26, 2014 13:21:12 GMT -8 by tortuga55
I bet that there are quite a few differing opinions, but I'm interested to hear them!
I am saving up for a camera. I'd like to know what you would recommend. I can't have a huge lens, there's just no way I could afford that, but I'd like better than the 250mm that I'm using now for reach. What camera/lens/teleconverter combo do you like best that would get me to about 400mm or more, but not cost more than my car? LOL
I may be able to get my hands on a Canon 60D after I have to give this current camera back... is that a good one for birding?
I've been a photographer for over 50 years and a fan of Olympus Cameras for over 30! I resisted the switch to digital as long as I could but finally broke down and purchased an Olympus E-3. That darned thing is twice as large as my old OM bodies and weighs 813 grams. It was an instant turn off for me and I went back to 35mm film cameras. The weight of a system is very important to me as I still do moderately long hikes in all kinds of terrain. I always carry 2 bodies and 3 or 4 lenses so the thought of carrying 2 Olympus E-5 [813g] Canon 70D [755g] or Nikon D800 [900g] plus those HEAVY lenses for 10-20 km was perturbing!!
Olympus came to the rescue with their Micro Four-Thirds system of Mirrorless Digital cameras back in about 2008. Half the size and weight of the E-3 system, camera and lenses but using the same 4/3 sensor. They currently have the OMD series with built in Electronic Viewfinders and my favourites the PEN series with detachable viewfinder [extra cost] Pic of camera/lens comparison attached
The advantage of the micro 4/3 format is that all lenses give twice the magnification of 35 mm equivalent so that my 50-200 Digital lens from my E-3 system becomes a 100-400 35mm equivalent lens! Couple that with my 2x tele extender and I have a 200-800 mm equivalent lens. Most of my bird shots have been taken with this combo.
Oldfulica mentioned Neil Fifer from Hong Kong who was shooting with a Panasonic GH3 This is also a Micro 4/3 camera and all of the Panasonic Bodies and lenses are interchangeable with Olympus M4/3
Good luck in your search
ps All of the bodies have Really Right Stuff L Brackets attached which makes them bigger, of course!
Last Edit: Apr 27, 2014 14:37:20 GMT -8 by birderbert
OLYMPUS MICRO 4/3 SYSTEM, Oly 300/4 Pro and 40-150/2.8 Pro + MC-14 or MC-20 teleconverters
Thank you so much for replying. I guess I should have dug up this thread when I was gifted with my new camera about a month or so ago. I ended up with a Canon 70D and a 400mm prime and I'm just thrilled with it so far!
Birder, I think the best place to start is to decide whether you want a DSLR or a bridge point and shoot. I opted for the point and shoot for a few reasons:
1. I like something very compact 2. It's possible to be both a birder and a photographer, but I am one who is much more a birder. I don't have the patience to be a photographer 3. These cameras take some great pictures and are very useful for ID/documentation due to the high zoom (often 35-50x). However, they are difficult to take photos of birds in motion, birds in bushes, etc. 4. They are much more cost-effective. Generally they are less than $500.
I use a Canon SX30IS which has 35x zoom. I'm very happy with some of the pictures I've gotten. Virtually all are slightly overexposed, which needs to be adjusted as well as turning down the highlights.
Anyway, if you have other questions about this option let me know. DSLRs certainly have a lot of other advantages.
I just recently purchased a bridging camera and I went for the Panasonic FZ200 because of the fast F2.8 lens that was consistent from 24 to 30X ( I prefer existing light to flash) and the pixel rating for the EVF. They were quite a few options available if I wanted to purchase later such as a tele extender. Listed below is a comparison chart I came across with many of the available bridging cameras on the market right now that you may be interested in looking at. There is a fair amount of choices out there for a bridging camera. I hope that this can be of some help.
A quick reply.....we are just ending our 3 weeks in Hawaii and photography and specifically bird photography have been a big part of my enjoyment on this trip. I use a body plus lens system. As posted before I now have a Pentax K3 + 300f4 set up. I also carry a K5 plus 10-24 and 28-200 zooms. This cover all situations. I also carry a small pocked point and shoot when I'm on a birding trail as I do not want to carry other lens with me.
Some cameras do have the reach to be used for birds but just carrying one camera for all situations means if something goes wrong you are now out of luck. That may be okay at home but just try and find a good camera store in Kauai.
My camera and the 300f4 are water resistant....which means they have rubber seals. This has been good because of the humid conditions here, We have had rain, mist and salt spray to contend with.
Post by theanimal on Sept 29, 2014 19:13:08 GMT -8
Becke, one of the lenses that I find is really good is the 3rd party lens Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 A little darker and slower than the 300mm f/4, but still packs a heckuva punch for the value. Or if you have a bridge lens of 18-200mm then you could probably go for it's cheaper cousin, the 150-500mm. It's a way to go out to 500mm. Either way when you stick a teleconverter on your 300mm f/4, you're still putting glass and end up losing a stop of light. On a prime lens 300mm f/4 will end up giving you a 420mm f/5.6. For bird photography, shutter speed is critical because that will give you your "frozen frame shot" of a bird-in-flight.
My Birding Gear: Nikon D300s, TC-20EIII, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, AF-S II 600mm f/4 D IF-ED
If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands. ~ Douglas Adams