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Archive 2012 · Shooting birds, getting started
  
 
Photogert
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Shooting birds, getting started


Hello Forum,

I'd like to start shooting birds, I have done nothing like it untill now. The body for this with will be my freshly purchased 5DIII, however, I'm not sure what I should do with lenses. I do not wish to invest heavily in a lens (for now) and I'd say my budget is at around 2000$.

I already have a 135L and a 70-200F4IS, I was thinking if the easy way could be to go get a 2x extender, however, that wouldn't be usefull for the 70-200 due to the AF limitation on the 5DIII. It would on the other hand give me a 270mm equivalent in the 135L. I've never owned an extender, so I'm not sure if this way to go around would make sense.

Then there is the 300mm F4 IS, which is priced very fair and theres the 400mm F5.6. Also theres the 100-400L which I've owned before, I didn't mind the push-pull zoom, but I wasn't blown away by it compared to most primes I've owned.

If any experienced bird photographers would give their input, it'd be greatly appreciated.

/Gert



Apr 05, 2012 at 11:06 AM
trenchmonkey
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Shooting birds, getting started


Welcome to FM and congrats on the 5DIII
The 400 f5.6L is going to be the fastest focusing bang for the buck,
if you want to stay under budget.



Apr 05, 2012 at 11:16 AM
Rob Whiting
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Shooting birds, getting started


300 f/4L IS + 1.4 or a 400 F/5.6 are good starting points. They'll both leave you wanting more reach though, especially on a full frame.

Be prepared to empty your wallet/bank accounts. Photographing wildlife can become extremely expensive!



Apr 05, 2012 at 11:18 AM
ukkisavosta
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Shooting birds, getting started


I am by no means a pro bird shooter, but I'd agree with the previous comments. I would perhaps get the 400 f/5.6 L myself, as you'd need a 1.4x TC to go with the 300 f/4 L IS to offer the same reach, and the AF would then take a hit. Hopefully PetKal and the other pro BIF shooters of the forum chime in.

I have a Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 OS and a 60D myself, and I've been very happy with the performance. A pro would make this lens sing, but I've gotten some reasonably good shots out of it as well.






Apr 05, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Photogert
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Shooting birds, getting started


Thank you very much for the replies so far, I do realize it can be a very expensive road I've chosen. I do own several L lenses, but none of them come close to the fast big greys.

Also I know I'm partially crippling myself by having FF camera as base, but I do love the IQ of it compared to say the 7D. I haven't gotten too many shots from the 5DIII, but if it lives up to the 5DII just with the improved AF I'm very happy.

Since noone have commented on the 100-400L I suppose I should write it off in this regard?

Ukkisavosta - that is a great shot and the F2.8 absolutely could make a third party lens interesting. Can you go into detail about the lens, good things and bad things? I suppose a 2.8 300mm with an extender could be deadly.



Apr 05, 2012 at 11:58 AM
arbitrage
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Shooting birds, getting started


My wildlife/BIF lens is the 100-400 and I've been really happy with it. If you are really looking to just shoot BIF then go for the 400 f/5.6. For BIF you don't need nor should use IS unless you own one of the supertelephotos. Even then it is debateable if it helps at high shutterspeeds other than stabilizing the VF. I find I get sharper shots with IS off on the 100-400 when doing BIF shots. The 400 f/5.6 has the quickest AF acquisition time and is a very comfortable weight to handhold.

However, with that said, if you use the lens for wildife, perched birds or any general landscape then the 100-400 is the way to go. Why? Because of the ability to frame shots with the zoom, the IS for static subjects and the most important feature I found was the minimum focusing distance (MFD) is much better than the 400 prime. I used my 100-400 in the Galapagos and if I had had the prime I would have been having a lot of trouble with getting far enough away from the wildlife to just allow focus. This is also where the argument for the 300 f/4 with 1.4TC comes into play because it has a better MFD and it has IS and it is very nice to handhold.

Personally I'd consider either the 100-400 or the 300 prime with the 1.4TC.

EDIT: Also would like to add that as others have said 400mm on FF is still fairly short for some wildlife. It depends on what sort of access you have to the animals. If you can go places like Florida or Galapagos where you can get super close access to the birds then even having a 70-200f/2.8 and TCs will be enough. But for most situations you start to lust over the 500 or 600 or 800. I've had the 100-400 for 2 years and now I am going to drop a lot of cash on a supertelephoto because it does become addicting and you always can use more reach.



Apr 05, 2012 at 12:15 PM
janmcn
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Shooting birds, getting started


Why don't you rent a couple of your ??s lenses. That's what I've done and it's given me good feedback about what I like or dislike. I've ended up liking the 100-400 with the 1x4 that I already own…but I only rent it when I need it for travel. Congrats on the 5D3!!!


Apr 05, 2012 at 12:27 PM
ukkisavosta
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Shooting birds, getting started


Photogert wrote:
Ukkisavosta - that is a great shot and the F2.8 absolutely could make a third party lens interesting. Can you go into detail about the lens, good things and bad things? I suppose a 2.8 300mm with an extender could be deadly.


Thanks a lot. I'd say the biggest issue with the 120-300 OS is the weight (2,9 kg) and size. In comparison, the 400mm f/5.6 is much smaller and weighs only a little over 1 kg. Apart from that, there's also the obvious question of getting a good copy, as there have been reports of QC problems with this lens related to focusing. The first batch of these lenses would not focus when pointed straight up, and I've read reports of focus varying between different focal lengths, but I believe the 5DIII's micro-adjust can compensate for this, if this should be an issue. Mine was good straight out of the box, and focuses consistently and accurately on my 60D.

The 120-300 OS takes TC's very well, and I've used it with my 2x Kenko Pro 300. With the 2x, focusing is not as fast, and the image quality in general takes a hit. I actually got a 1.4x Kenko Pro 300 a couple days ago, but have not had the chance to try it out with this lens yet.

Anyway, I'd suggest looking into the 120-300 OS as one option.



Apr 05, 2012 at 12:32 PM
jjoejr
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Shooting birds, getting started


Why the purchase of a 5DIII if your main interest is going to be birding?
John



Apr 05, 2012 at 02:42 PM
galenapass
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Shooting birds, getting started


jjoejr wrote:
Why the purchase of a 5DIII if your main interest is going to be birding?
John


+1. Makes more sense to put a 400 5.6 on a 7D.



Apr 05, 2012 at 02:58 PM
 

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galenapass
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Shooting birds, getting started


Here is a copy paste from another thread (I am too lazy to type all this out again). Use the search function as well, for more info This is a VERY common question.

In some situations I have fond the bokeh of the 400mm to be a little "busy". I sold mine because the 300mm + 1.4TC does a good job and I need the IS. Here is a shot from the 400mm with what I think is busy bokeh (though not really that bad):







Here is one with the 300mm no TC:







The close focus of the 300mm really comes in handy some times (no TC):







with the 1.4x attached to the 300 I find the sharpness to be quite acceptable:







crop







If you want fast BIF, then the 400 is the way to go, other that you will be quite happy IMO with the 300mm + TC.

The 100-400mm is also a great lens. Really not an easy choice but the good news is that there is no way to go wrong.



Apr 05, 2012 at 03:01 PM
dmanky
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Shooting birds, getting started


I use the 100-400mm for my walk around birding lens when setting up a tripod isn't wanted or necessary... it's also great if you get a larger bird suddenly showing up near you - you can back it out back to 100mm. It's a bit soft when wide open but stop it down to f7.1 or f8 and it becomes quite sharp I've found.

On our safari last year I used it extensively - here's my bird shots and pretty much all were with the 5D Mk II and the 100-400mm - mind you some are heavy crops.

http://www.devman.ca/africanbirds/



Apr 05, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Shooting birds, getting started


100-400 shots:






  Canon EOS 20D    260mm    f/5.6    1/750s    1600 ISO    -0.5 EV  






  Canon EOS-1D Mark II    100.0-400.0 mm lens    320mm    f/5.6    1/500s    800 ISO    0.0 EV  






  Canon EOS 7D    EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens    400mm    f/7.1    1/250s    1600 ISO    -0.3 EV  






  Canon EOS 7D    EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens    400mm    f/5.6    1/2000s    400 ISO    0.0 EV  




Apr 05, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Shooting birds, getting started


*




  Canon EOS 7D    EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens    400mm    f/8.0    1/100s    800 ISO    +1.0 EV  






  Canon EOS 40D    400mm    f/8.0    1/400s    1600 ISO    -0.3 EV  






  Canon EOS 7D    EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens    285mm    f/5.6    1/3200s    1600 ISO    -1.0 EV  




Apr 05, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Photogert
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Shooting birds, getting started


I've never stated that wildlife/birds were gonna be my main interest. I've been shooting for many years, done a little birding on a couple of occasions when the chance offered itself.

I've primarily been doing weddings/events and landscapes. The last couple of years I've been shooting with a 5DII and a 7D, basically the 5DII was my preferred house and the 7D was my backup cam and a lifesaver when needing to track anything on the odd occasion. However, when used to the shots from a 5DII the 7D never really became a favourite of mine. The 5DIII has all the things I bought the 7D for combined with the look of a FF sensor, which basically is the camera made for my general use.

I would like to do a little bird/wildlife shooting to expand my horizon, I agree, the range of the FF sensor limits me a bit in this regard. However, without having much experience it's a tradeoff I'm willing to make in order to have a superior sensor. I know not everyone is gonna agree with me here, but since this is just gonna be to feed my own interest I don't see a problem with it as a starter. Who knows, my 5DII might be switched for a 1DIV if I'm getting hooked (But due to my main shooting interests the 5DIII will be the main part of my kit).

I'm appreciating all the lens suggestions, I can't say it's necessarily making it easier for me, but it does show that most of my initial thoughts weren't that far off. The joker being the 120-300 Sigma. Since I'm used to shooting L primes, the 2.8 Aperture of the Sigma appeals to me.

When it comes to renting the lenses, it's not that used where I come from and the few places that offer the service are pretty expensive (around 7-8% of the shelf price a day). Must check with the community in my viscinity to see if anyone would meet up and test lenses.



Apr 05, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Shooting birds, getting started


Photogert wrote:
The joker being the 120-300 Sigma. Since I'm used to shooting L primes, the 2.8 Aperture of the Sigma appeals to me.


Having owned the 120-300, I personally would not recommend it. It does not even have a focus-limiter.



Apr 05, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Wobble
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Shooting birds, getting started


Quick, buy this one:

400 5.6



Apr 05, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Photogert
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Shooting birds, getting started


Great info, really appreciated.

I really do enjoy your 100-400L shots and shot with the 7D which I never really became friends with. Maybe I should have given it more effort, more often it's the one behind the camera that is the limiting factor.

My instant thought is to go get a 100-400L, they're being campaigned just now, so it's a fairly good deal and after all it's better to get started than sitting here wondering what glass to get. For the first while it doesn't seem like I'll be limited by the glass if I choose the 100-400L at least, maybe the focal length due to a FF body, but I suppose I'll learn that very soon



Apr 05, 2012 at 06:37 PM
CW100
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Shooting birds, getting started


arbitrage wrote:
My wildlife/BIF lens is the 100-400 and I've been really happy with it. If you are really looking to just shoot BIF then go for the 400 f/5.6. For BIF you don't need nor should use IS unless you own one of the supertelephotos. Even then it is debateable if it helps at high shutterspeeds other than stabilizing the VF. I find I get sharper shots with IS off on the 100-400 when doing BIF shots. The 400 f/5.6 has the quickest AF acquisition time and is a very comfortable weight to handhold.

However, with that said, if you use the
...Show more


I also prefer the 100-400 for birds and other things




Apr 06, 2012 at 12:18 PM
msalvetti
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Shooting birds, getting started


Don't dismiss using a 1.4x TC on the 400 f/5.6 or 100-400. There's a thread going now that seems to suggest that if you tape the pins, the 5DIII focuses just fine at f/8.

Mark



Apr 06, 2012 at 01:00 PM
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