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Archive 2012 · Looking for a wildlife setup
  
 
dbehrens
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p.2 #1 · p.2 #1 · Looking for a wildlife setup


Good glass is essential. Bodies to a certain extent can be compromised. From there it depends on your subjects and conditions. Mammals and/or birds? Birds suck up every available focal length you can deliver. What about shooting platform? Car? Safari? Blind/hide? Tripod or hand carry? Ideally you need two lens to meet all these needs. First priority should be a lens that you can shoot w/o a tripod - lightweight and IS are major considerations - as well as zoom or prime. For me that lens is the 100-400 L IS.

Then you can start looking for that super telephoto. For me it is the 500 f/4. It is very fast and super sharp - but if I could only have one lens it would be the 100-400 - but only because its more versatile.

As for bodies - I would consider a good used 1Ds Mk2. An amazing camera for the price you pay today. (BTW I currently shoot with the 1D Mk4 and have the 1Ds Mk2 as a backup).

Dave






Jan 31, 2012 at 11:15 PM
GeneO
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p.2 #2 · p.2 #2 · Looking for a wildlife setup


That is a tough call. I voted for the 7D because you more better reach and better glass. OTOH, there is nothing like a 1D series for action, IQ, reliability and AF.



Feb 01, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Kisutch
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p.2 #3 · p.2 #3 · Looking for a wildlife setup


I see a lot of dead boring shots taken with super teles. just saying you don't need super expensive glass to take good shots. Content limits most shots I see, and nothing limits content like having a $5k Lens that you can't handhold, hike with, get any DOF out of, or zoom. I love nature photography, and I dislike the notion that you need $10 k in gear to be serious. Most nature photogs wouldn't need a 500 + 1.4 if they adopted a quarter of the skill set of the hunters they talk smack about. My 2cents is get 100-400, save money for travel.


Feb 01, 2012 at 06:53 AM
OCphotography
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p.2 #4 · p.2 #4 · Looking for a wildlife setup


galenapass wrote:
I also have the 300mm and 500mm f/4 and find that this combo works quite well. As noted above, for wildlife I see no need for a 300mm f/2.8. Sports...now that's a different story. One attribute that many forget is the short MFD of the 300mm f/4 which yields pseudo macro shots when needed. I find this to be very useful.

http://mlschragphotos.zenfolio.com/img/s3/v38/p637368157-4.jpg


This is one of the reasons that I find the 300/4 very attractive too, it makes some nice macro'ish images.

I have thought about getting that lens 2nd hand and then save up for 500/4 as many of you suggest.

I appreciate all your inputs, very informative.

On a last note, how are your thoughts on the 1D MKIII these days, compared to say the 7D?.. I know its "only" 10MP, but still seems to be a great perfomer with longer lenses.

Thanks once again!



Feb 01, 2012 at 07:08 AM
galenapass
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p.2 #5 · p.2 #5 · Looking for a wildlife setup


I like the files from the 1DMIII MUCH better.


Feb 01, 2012 at 07:50 AM
OCphotography
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p.2 #6 · p.2 #6 · Looking for a wildlife setup


galenapass wrote:
I like the files from the 1DMIII MUCH better.


How?.. Details, noise?..



Feb 01, 2012 at 12:53 PM
PetKal
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p.2 #7 · p.2 #7 · Looking for a wildlife setup


In your situation I'd probably choose 1DMkIIN + 300 f/2.8 IS + MkIII TCs.

Then, in the future you can upgrade to 1DMkIV once their price drops to a more reasonable level.



Feb 01, 2012 at 03:17 PM
galenapass
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p.2 #8 · p.2 #8 · Looking for a wildlife setup


OCphotography wrote:
How?.. Details, noise?..


Better noise and I like that way the MKIII handles tones. To my eye looks much smoother than the 7D.



Feb 01, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Edward Rotberg
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p.2 #9 · p.2 #9 · Looking for a wildlife setup


I would say of the 2 choices, the 7D + 300mm f/2.8L IS is the better choice for wildlife. Neither is what I would call an ideal wildlife setup, but I'd prefer the first choice because the lens will outlast the body. I'd prefer the 500 f/4 over the 300 f/2.8, but with an extender, you can get pretty good reach with the 300 and a 7D.

No doubt the IQ from the Mk IV will be better, but it's easier to upgrade the body later. The bodies become obsolete much faster than the lenses.

= Ed =

The 300mm f/2.8L IS is one of the very best lenses that Canon makes. It does make sense in a lot of situations from large subjects to small, but not as many as the 500 would.

7D with 300mm f/2.8L + 1.4x






1D Mk II with 300 f/2.8L IS







Feb 01, 2012 at 06:58 PM
OCphotography
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p.2 #10 · p.2 #10 · Looking for a wildlife setup


Thanks, once again. Those are awesome shots, Ed - thanks for sharing. What aperture is the Cheetah shot at?.. (blazing sharp!)

Cheers



Feb 02, 2012 at 10:07 PM
 

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OCphotography
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p.2 #11 · p.2 #11 · Looking for a wildlife setup


One other question that came to mind.. Many of you suggested 7D, a few 1D MKII.

How about the 1D MK III compared to 7D?.. I can see that 2nd hand prices on the 1D are about the same as a new 7D.



Feb 02, 2012 at 10:33 PM
OwlsEyes
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p.2 #12 · p.2 #12 · Looking for a wildlife setup


OCphotography wrote:
One other question that came to mind.. Many of you suggested 7D, a few 1D MKII.

How about the 1D MK III compared to 7D?.. I can see that 2nd hand prices on the 1D are about the same as a new 7D.


The 1DIII is a great camera if you get a late model or one that has had the mirror fix. It will have better noise control than the 7D and the current Lithium battery that is much improved over the earlier 1-series batteries. I regret selling my 1DIII and would gladly move in that direction again.
regards,
bruce



Feb 02, 2012 at 11:11 PM
galenapass
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p.2 #13 · p.2 #13 · Looking for a wildlife setup


OCphotography wrote:
Thanks, once again. Those are awesome shots, Ed - thanks for sharing. What aperture is the Cheetah shot at?.. (blazing sharp!)

Cheers


It's there in the EXIF - f/5.



Feb 03, 2012 at 01:51 AM
alundeb
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p.2 #14 · p.2 #14 · Looking for a wildlife setup


Noise comparisons between the 1DIII and the 7D is one of the most controversial topics we see. It is my serious opinion that for wildlife, it is irrelevant to compare the two cameras at the same ISO, and this goes beoynd the usual pixel density and focal length limitation considerations.

What matters for wildlife, if you have sufficient pixel density with either camera and don't crop the image (you are not focal length limited), is the Field of View, the aperture and the shutter speed, not the ISO setting. The three former affect image composition, exposure and motion blur, but the latter is only an operational parameter in the camera to electrically amplify the signal from the sensor after the exposure. The Field of View you get with a 7D and 300 2.8 you cannot get with the 1DIII and the same lens. The closest you can get, is to use a 400 f/4 lens or mount a 1.4 teleconverter on the 300 2.8. To get the same shutter speed, you will then need to compensate for the lower exposure due to the f/4 aperture by using a higher ISO setting on the 1DIII. It also turns out that the Depth of Field and effects of diffraction on the image will be equivalent. When people say that the 1DIII has better noise control I am not sure if they factor this critical consideration into the picture.



Feb 03, 2012 at 10:21 AM
dmcharg
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p.2 #15 · p.2 #15 · Looking for a wildlife setup


I would start with the 7D + 100-400L or 300 F4LIS or 400 5.6L. You really do not need to buy a 1D series body & canon super telephoto to get great wildlife pictures. Canons big guns such as the 300 2.8, 500 F4, 600F4 etc etc are really excellent but you have to remember the size and weight of these sort of lens and factor in how mobile you want to be and what sort of wildlife you want to photograph. For bird photography your always going to want more reach but that doesn't mean you cannot get really nice shots with any of the smaller lens i mentioned above. Most folks who have the big telephotos also tend to have one of the lens i mentioned above because of there size/weight and portability. If your going to opt for one of canons big guns its worth renting one of them for a week and see how you go, it really is the only way to find out if its the right lens for you in terms of focal length, size, weight, portability etc. I tried the 500F4 and much as i loved the results the size weight was too much. In the end i have settled for the 100-400 because of its flexibility.


Feb 03, 2012 at 12:16 PM
NDP_2010
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p.2 #16 · p.2 #16 · Looking for a wildlife setup


OwlsEyes wrote:
The 1DIII is a great camera if you get a late model or one that has had the mirror fix. It will have better noise control than the 7D and the current Lithium battery that is much improved over the earlier 1-series batteries. I regret selling my 1DIII and would gladly move in that direction again.
regards,
bruce


+1 on 1dmk3 + 300 f/2.8 IS



Feb 03, 2012 at 01:46 PM
ragebot
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p.2 #17 · p.2 #17 · Looking for a wildlife setup


Not everyone has the same definition of serious wildlife photography so you may want to start with your definition.

As several folks have said the 100-400 a great lens to start with; it is inexpensive compared to a lot of other options, light in weight, and capable of great IQ.

A lot of folks think the 300/2.8 is focal length limited even with a TC; but some like it better than a 500/f4 because they can manhandle the 300 and the 500 is too big, bulky, and heavy to lug around.

Which means you need to seriously look at your physical capabilities, are you able to swing a 500, or even a 300, around fast enough to keep a flying bird or running animal in the FOV.

I have the 400/5.6, 100-400, Sigma 120-300/2.8 (a great fast lens for some sporting venues with zoom the super great Canon 300 lacks), the 500/f4, and a Sigma 300-800. It is a close call as to which one I use the most between the 100-400 and the 500/f4. For IQ the 500 has an edge and as a rule I can manhandle it over a long day; but when I am in my kayak or hiking in the boonies I would take the 100-400.

A lot of conventional advice is to buy lifetime keeper lens for your bodies; and upgrade your bodies when necessary. My advice is that the 100-400 is a lifetime keeper lens that you could put on your 5d and use for long enough to make a reasoned decision about which direction you want to go in defining serious wildlife photography.



Feb 03, 2012 at 08:18 PM
OwlsEyes
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p.2 #18 · p.2 #18 · Looking for a wildlife setup


alundeb wrote:
Noise comparisons between the 1DIII and the 7D is one of the most controversial topics we see. It is my serious opinion that for wildlife, it is irrelevant to compare the two cameras at the same ISO, and this goes beoynd the usual pixel density and focal length limitation considerations.
...


I respectfully disagree with your assessment of noise between the two bodies. There is no question that the 7D will aid a photographer who is focal length limited. This is actually my case. I have a 7D w/ a 300 f2.8IS L. If I could swap my lens for the 400 f4 DO or 500 f4 IS, I would do so in order to take advantage of the superior imaging sensor in my 5DII. But life is filled with compromise that include financial realities.

My only complaint with the 7D (and I've had two thus far) is with noise in the sky or non-textured background. While my subjects are quite sharp, I find that the out of focus and detail free areas of my images exhibit more noise than I would expect at iso 100 and iso 200. I find that this noise can, on occasion, appear to be patterned and banded. This is the case with images that are properly exposed with histograms illustrating good use of highlights.

Interestingly, this type of noise is far less objectionable in the iso 400 and 800 images. Its not that these images are less noisy, it just that the noise detracts less from the total image.

cheers,
bruce



Feb 04, 2012 at 01:10 AM
galenapass
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p.2 #19 · p.2 #19 · Looking for a wildlife setup


I agree ^^^
Yes, the background/sky suffers. I don't know how many time I've seen images in the Wildlife/Nature forum and thought "I bet I know which camera was used to take that shot", and sure enough when I check the EXIF it says "7D". Usually this occurs as described above when there is excessive noise in the sky or non-textured background. It's easy to spot, IMO.



Feb 04, 2012 at 02:06 AM
OwlsEyes
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p.2 #20 · p.2 #20 · Looking for a wildlife setup


galenapass...
This is why I suggested the 1DmkII or 1DmkIII... but, given a choice of a 7D w/ a 300 f2.8IS or not having the 300 2.8IS, I choose the 7D. When I shoot birds in flight... (mostly winter trumpeter swans, spring nesting great blues and migrating sandhills) I expect to apply noise reduction. Unlike most of the younger photographers who did not learn w/ film (I'm 46 & been shooting since I was 15), I am a base iso guy. I shoot 90% of my work @ iso 100 and feel like a sell-out when I push it to 200 or 400.

I process my work w/ Aperture and use Topaz NR software to tame the skies. It's taken a while to refine the workflow, but the 7D now seems like less of a compromise than it once did.

let us know what you decide.
regards,
bruce



Feb 04, 2012 at 02:38 AM
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