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Thread: Gear for 'Birding' - Advice appreciated!

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    Gear for 'Birding' - Advice appreciated!

    I have had a trawl through past threads looking at different lenses and gear suitable for birding.
    I am not trying to re-open Pandora's Box..... There are some fairly 'feisty' discussions in past threads but I didn't quite find the info I was looking for...

    I have a Canon 50D and one lens - 70-200mm f2.8 plus a 1.4 TC - and a monopod.

    I have improved my stalking skills enormously but I need to get much closer.

    I have noted (jealously) the wonderful images taken by members with the Canon 100-400 and I certainly have lens envy of all the longer lens.
    However, I do not have unlimited funds and I would like to be able to carry the lens around without the need for a back brace.

    My thoughts.. feel free to point out faults in my logic.

    I am not inclined to sell the lens and TC that I have to buy a 100-400. It seems to me that to have both the 70-200 plus TC and 100-400 is doubling up a little on length, and with no other lenses in the bag perhaps not a clever idea. (??)

    I would love a 500mm f4 but the price is the biggest killer here.

    300 f4... Would no doubt be much better/ than the 280 currently achievable with my present setup..... to me not much difference in length. Is there some other advantage compared with what I already have that I am missing with the 300?

    400 f5.6..... Good price compared with other L series lenses. Comments/reviews seem to labour the old technology angle. Is this a problem? My greatest concern is that it appears not to be weather proofed like the newer lenses. In practise what does this mean? No been outside in damp weather??..... Could be a problem as I live in Vic in the ever-dripping Dandenong Ranges. I believe this lens will AF on the 50D but not with the TC attached. (Although I did read somewhere that if the connectors (?) were taped AF would work.- not sure if this causes any issues.)
    No IS..... Is this a problem?
    Most people's bird images appear to have been shot at either f5.6 or f8 so I'm hoping the f5.6 of this lens would be OK. Would a flash be desirable for use with this lens and perhaps compensate (?) for the focal length?
    I would love to hear from anyone who is using/has used this lens for birding.

    Should I suck it up and wait a few years and perhaps buy a 500 f4? ..... I have to say I'm hoping the answer to that is no because that means I'll have to wait for ages.

    Any other options?

    Once I have bought ? lens I am planning on buying another body. I thought a 7D as I'm yet to find someone unhappy with theirs.... considered a 5D but again the cost is greater plus I was thinking that the extra length from non-full frame might be an advantage when shooting small birds.
    Again...please comment.

    And yes... I do realise that without the proper user skill any lens/camera can be a total waste of money.

    Thanks for your help, all points of view appreciated!

    Cheers
    Lal
    The Impressionists hoped to........" Capture the transient effect of light and colour"........ I wish I could!

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    Hmm..

    Your best option is usually always the most costly, and nothing differs here. Long glass, a support for it and lots of $$ will give you the best bird gear.
    The 100-400 dust pumper is a great birding lens, Richard Hall has excellent success with it, but I'm sure his ability to get physically closer is of great benefit, his exif often shows he is shooting the smaller subjects at about 5m distance. It would make no sense as you noted to buy the 100-400 and rid yourself of a very versatile 70-200.
    I have a friend with the 400/5.6 and he likes it, but I have never used it, and we live in the desert, only rains here for the wet season over a few weeks in summer.

    The Nikon 300/4 with 1.4TC also works very well, but I'm unsure about the Canon equal, perhaps a Canon user can help. If you are ok with manual focus lenses, you may be able to get some 500/600mm glass for not a great deal of $$. The DX or crop fame body will definitely be an advantage for birds and wildlife over a ful-frame body, although with the likes of Nikon's D800 pixel monster, for us Nikon shooters it is now moot.

    People will often say IS is not really an issue at higher shutter speeds, but I disagree. I think on really long glass or at long focal lengths it helps when composing, tracking especially when handheld, and not all birding shots are taken at really high shutter speeds, so it is certainly an advantage to have it alot of the time.

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    It's all about the Light!
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    A lot of birders use the Sigma 150-500 OS with good results.
    regards, Kym Gallery Honest & Direct Constructive Critique Appreciated! ©
    Digital & film, Bits of glass covering 10mm to 500mm, and other stuff



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    Wayne ...Thanks for your input and for taking the time to give me such a detailed response.


    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks Kym I'll check it out.
    I was thinking that the 400 plus TC would give me 560. It wouldn't give the versatility of the 100-500 tho'. I'm presuming a TC can't be used with it but I'll look into it.
    Thanks for the suggestion.

    Cheers
    Lal
    Last edited by la lumiere; 03-09-2012 at 2:46pm.

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    It would be fruitless to use a TC with the Sigma mega zooms. They are quite slow at the long end, and I'm fairly sure AF won't work.

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    Canon 400/5.6 prime seems to be the favoured lens for birders I have one and it's very very good, sharp as a tack, fast focus and not too heavy I use mine hand held for birds as a tripod limits any BIF shots. Price wise you wont get better bang for your buck... Good luck with whatever you decide on..

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    I'll give another vote for the 400 5.6, I have the 100-400 as well and even though i love it, it is just not quite as quick focusing and I find that it is a little soft at 400 (that I am sure is more to do with my technique than anything else as my other half uses it all the time and gets great results), it is also an easy lens to carry around, not too heavy/bulky.

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    100-400mm is more versatile. IQ-wise I am satisfied

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    Marion - Thanks for your reply... pleased to hear you are happy with your 400/5.6 and that you can use it successfully hand held.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Cris ... Thanks for your comments.... seems like another vote for the 400/5.6. Portability is a huge plus.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Aalex ... I agree the 100-400mm is more versatile and I have no doubts about the IQ when I look at Richard Hall's (and others) images. My dilemma is that I already have a 70-200 / 280 with TC and it seems that I would be purchasing a second lens with a similar range.
    I'm pleased you are happy with your lens..happy shooting.

    Thanks for your replies I appreciate you taking the time to reply and I'm very interested to hear what works for you.

    Cheers
    Lal

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    Don't avoid the 100-400 because it overlaps with your 70-200. The whole point of a zoom is that you can change focal length without constantly swapping lenses, which has some potential value when birding. Pick the lens that suits your style and the end results you are after.

    Re: bodies, I'm not sure if you want to replace the 50D, or run 2 bodies at the same time with different lenses mounted. If it's a replacement, I would think to keep the 50D unless it is not delivering the performance you need. The 7D won't make a big difference to static IQ, and a full frame has the disadvantage for birding that it 'shortens' your lenses.

    If running 2 bodies together, the 50D on a long lens and a 5D on the 70-200 is not a bad idea.

  11. #11
    are you serious? Shelley's Avatar
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    Just saw this thread, so sorry for the late response. People contemplating a lens for birding usually narrow it down to the 400 5.6L and 100-400L and in the end you have to decide which is more important feature to you as they both are good lens at a reachable price to get going in birding. One always wants more reach and 400 is the least you want in length.

    I use the 400 5.6L and love it. Reason I purchased it in the first place was because I used my brothers and saw the sharpness immediately and I wanted that lens full stop. I have not used the 100-400, but there are a lot of talented birders out there who do.

    I have heard recently rumblings of a new 400 5.6L possible being announced. http://www.canonrumors.com/2012/09/a...photokina-cr1/

    In low light you would need flash and your shutterspeed really wouldn't want to go below 400 (I have got good shots at less, but keeper rates goes down). I keep thinking for the conditions you speak of - not sure if the this lens would be what you want. I am in sunshine a lot here when birding.

    If you have any questions about this lens, I am sure I can answer as its my workhorse - I am saving very hard for the 500 F4 - this lens I have tried and I am sold on it .
    Shelley
    (constructive criticism welcome)

    www.shelleypearsonphotography.com


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    Ausphotography Veteran Speedway's Avatar
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    I have the Sigma 150-500 on my 7D and have been very happy with it. See here.
    Cheers
    Keith.
    Keith

    Canon 400D Gripped, Canon 7D LCD Timer Gripped, Canon 70-200 f2.8L is ii. Canon 2X iii Extender, Canon 50mm 1.8, Sigma 150-500, Sigma 18-250, Sigma 17-50 F2.8, Sigma 10-20, Tamron 90mm Macro, Yonguno YN460 & 460ii Speedlights and a Hanimax TZ 1 Flash, Wireless Triggers ,LED Macro Ringlight, Extension Tubes, 3 tripods, 2 monopods, PS Elements 5 & 10, PSP9 and canon s/ware, various filters and other photographic paraphernalia all packed in a computrecker backpack + 3 smaller bags and an aluminium case.

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    A lot of good advice given and answers questions ive been wanting to ask also. I do at present own the 100-400L and love this Lens but attatched to my 5D2 just doesnt get the reach i wish for and am looking towards purchasing the 7D some time in the future(near future hopefully).
    As for the 100-400L?? "Great Lens"" and easy to walk around with , without too much effort so long as you have a steady hand and get in nice n close to your subjects.
    Went out for a Birding session with a friend of mine yesterday afternoon looking at capturing very small subjects , i with my 100-400 and he with his 400 f2.8 and 2x tele converter and sad to say i wasnt anywhere in the running lol.
    His outfit also opened up my eyes to the value of a wenmbly support for his outfit with the camera and Lens just floating on such a commbination but $$ wise for this kind of an outfit again leaves this little vegymite out of the equation lol.
    There was some other advice mentioned regarding light with some of these bigger lenses especially in low light areas such as Parks and gardens shooting in among nushes etc and yes that s correct. can purchase a flash extender easy enough off the net or for a few $$ you can make your own as i did by purchasing a sheet of A4 magnifying reading perspex, some cardboard and masking tape and throws mor light also..Plenty of plans about on the net too..
    Cheers
    We didnt inherit this land, we merely borrow it from our Children

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    Firstly to all of you who have been kind enough to reply.....big THANK YOU plus sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you but the storms thru our way last week left us without power for approx 5 days. At one stage we had 1 phase which allowed a few lights but nothing else to work. Luckily we have a small generator so we can plug in for water and a shower. However the last couple of days have been spent cleaning up and catching up with washing, cleaning(didn't miss that!) etc. Computer is now charged!

    Quote Originally Posted by Arg View Post
    Don't avoid the 100-400 because it overlaps with your 70-200. The whole point of a zoom is that you can change focal length without constantly swapping lenses, which has some potential value when birding. Pick the lens that suits your style and the end results you are after.

    Re: bodies, I'm not sure if you want to replace the 50D, or run 2 bodies at the same time with different lenses mounted. If it's a replacement, I would think to keep the 50D unless it is not delivering the performance you need. The 7D won't make a big difference to static IQ, and a full frame has the disadvantage for birding that it 'shortens' your lenses.

    If running 2 bodies together, the 50D on a long lens and a 5D on the 70-200 is not a bad idea.
    Thanks for your comments.
    No I'm not planning on selling the 50D but had planned to run one lens on each body.
    Regards
    Lal

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedway View Post
    I have the Sigma 150-500 on my 7D and have been very happy with it. See here.
    Cheers
    Keith.
    Thanks for your reply Keith... I checked out your link and they are pretty interesting birds. Helpful to see what you are taking with your lens...Thank you!
    Regards
    Lal

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Shelley View Post
    Just saw this thread, so sorry for the late response. People contemplating a lens for birding usually narrow it down to the 400 5.6L and 100-400L and in the end you have to decide which is more important feature to you as they both are good lens at a reachable price to get going in birding. One always wants more reach and 400 is the least you want in length.

    I use the 400 5.6L and love it. Reason I purchased it in the first place was because I used my brothers and saw the sharpness immediately and I wanted that lens full stop. I have not used the 100-400, but there are a lot of talented birders out there who do.

    I have heard recently rumblings of a new 400 5.6L possible being announced. http://www.canonrumors.com/2012/09/a...photokina-cr1/

    In low light you would need flash and your shutterspeed really wouldn't want to go below 400 (I have got good shots at less, but keeper rates goes down). I keep thinking for the conditions you speak of - not sure if the this lens would be what you want. I am in sunshine a lot here when birding.

    If you have any questions about this lens, I am sure I can answer as its my workhorse - I am saving very hard for the 500 F4 - this lens I have tried and I am sold on it .
    Thanks for your comments Shelley.
    I had heard the rumours re the new 400 5.6 also.. but thinking I won't hold my breath..... besides Spring is here and all the birds are arriving back in my garden.... and I'm frustrated.... I need to get closer!
    I am also concerned re the light down here in the forest in Vic...... but most other options are simply too $ I have been looking for a secondhand 500 f4 (not current model) they still appear to be very many $'s.... we'll see.
    Thanks for your comments re the 400 5.6...... do you hand hold?....monopod?.... do you use a flash with this when photographing small birds? If so, which one?
    Regards and thanks
    Lal

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Papou View Post
    A lot of good advice given and answers questions ive been wanting to ask also. I do at present own the 100-400L and love this Lens but attatched to my 5D2 just doesnt get the reach i wish for and am looking towards purchasing the 7D some time in the future(near future hopefully).
    As for the 100-400L?? "Great Lens"" and easy to walk around with , without too much effort so long as you have a steady hand and get in nice n close to your subjects.
    Went out for a Birding session with a friend of mine yesterday afternoon looking at capturing very small subjects , i with my 100-400 and he with his 400 f2.8 and 2x tele converter and sad to say i wasnt anywhere in the running lol.
    His outfit also opened up my eyes to the value of a wenmbly support for his outfit with the camera and Lens just floating on such a commbination but $$ wise for this kind of an outfit again leaves this little vegymite out of the equation lol.
    There was some other advice mentioned regarding light with some of these bigger lenses especially in low light areas such as Parks and gardens shooting in among nushes etc and yes that s correct. can purchase a flash extender easy enough off the net or for a few $$ you can make your own as i did by purchasing a sheet of A4 magnifying reading perspex, some cardboard and masking tape and throws mor light also..Plenty of plans about on the net too..
    Cheers
    Not sure I could even carry the 400 2.8 plus extender around!.... but wow... Did you get a chance to try it?
    I know nothing about flash extenders or even different types of flashes suitable for birding in the forest. Interested to hear more....I'll ask google for some help also.
    Thanks for your comments... appreciate your help.
    Cheers
    Lal

  15. #15
    are you serious? Shelley's Avatar
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    Again I apologise for the late reply Lal. I always have a monopod attached to my 400. I will when doing flight hand hold.

    I do not use flash with my bird photography, preferring natural light where possible. But, in saying this we get plenty of sunshine.

    Hope you are coming to a decision. All I can say is when you decided on what you want, don't look back, but concentrate on getting the best from your new lens.

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    Thanks Shelley
    I haven't made the final decision but think the $$$ will be making the decision for me.
    Certainly leaning heavily towards the 400 5.6....... and let's face it your images are a good reason to go that way.
    Thanks again.
    Last edited by la lumiere; 15-09-2012 at 10:13pm.

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    I don't own the 400/5.6 (I'm not a Canon shooter) but I regularly go birding with someone who does own it. Very good lens - fast & reliable AF, good sharpness, good bokeh, & not too heavy to carry & shoot hand-held. Sure it lacks IS, but then you're not paying $$$ for it either - if your camera has good high ISO you probably won't miss IS that much.

    One thing to consider though. Minimum focus distance is 3.5 m, which is rather long for a 400 mm lens. You'll miss those rare (but golden) chances at close range. Despite that, it would still be my choice if I was looking at Canon & didn't want to spend mega-bucks.

    Merv

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    Quote Originally Posted by Merv66 View Post
    I don't own the 400/5.6 (I'm not a Canon shooter) but I regularly go birding with someone who does own it. Very good lens - fast & reliable AF, good sharpness, good bokeh, & not too heavy to carry & shoot hand-held. Sure it lacks IS, but then you're not paying $$$ for it either - if your camera has good high ISO you probably won't miss IS that much.

    One thing to consider though. Minimum focus distance is 3.5 m, which is rather long for a 400 mm lens. You'll miss those rare (but golden) chances at close range. Despite that, it would still be my choice if I was looking at Canon & didn't want to spend mega-bucks.

    Merv
    Thanks for your comments Merv.
    Interested ..What do you rate as good high ISO? (at present I have a 50D.... looking to add a 7D to the arsenal within the next year..... thought I'd buy a lens first.)

    I agree about the 'golden chances' close up... however at present VERY frustrated with 'platinum chances' out of reach! ..... ( I wonder if any photographer is ever satisfied? )

    Cheers
    Lal

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    7D is an excellent camera with good high ISO performance. I have no experience with the 50D, but if you get fairly clean images at ISO 1600 then you should be fine for most situations. With a non-stabilised, hand-held 400 mm lens you generally want shutter speeds at 1/400 or faster for perched birds, to avoid blur due to camera shake.

    Is any photographer ever satisfied? Maybe, but never for long!

    Merv

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    EF 100-400 is good enough for me

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