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Archive 2011 · Lens for eagle photos?
  
 
Shackleton
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Lens for eagle photos?


Fairly new here, posted a bit last spring(mostly comments on peoples' photos). Decided it's time for a bigger lens. At the moment all I have is a little Canon 75-300. A friend got me into eagle photography with a Sigma 50-500MM-I like the lens, and while looking for one I came across a Sigma 170-500. A LOT less money(there's one on ebay with a current bid of $311). Since I'd mostly be using it at the 500 length anyway, would this lens do the job, or should I stick to the 50-500?


Mar 08, 2011 at 06:04 PM
David Israel
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Lens for eagle photos?


As this is really an equipment question, the Canon DSLR forum or General Equipment Forum might be a more appropriate venue for this question and you may get more response there.

I have no experience with the Bigma (Sigma 50-500) but have heard from others tht it is a fine lens. My son owned the Sigma 170-500 and found it to be a sharp copy. The biggest problem that you may have could be AutoFocus speed with either of those lenses, when shooting the eagles in flight. However, I do think that either of them would prove capable.

If you demonstrate any of the tenacity and perserverance of Ernest Shackleton then no matter which lens you use, you will succeed!


Dave



Mar 08, 2011 at 06:31 PM
Michael.Carr
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Lens for eagle photos?


Honestly the saying holds true "the poor man pays twice." Not to say that the 50-500 is a cheap lens.

I once used it for a Thunderbirds airshow and while you get the reach, it's IQ is not up to too good standards, even when stopped down. Also, it's a little slow. No sure what body you're shooting, but for a f/6.3 lens, you'd be a little limited to the time of day of shooting.

Others might find the 50-500 ok, but I'd rather save and get a higher model lens. What's your budget?

~Michael~



Mar 09, 2011 at 12:14 AM
Shackleton
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Lens for eagle photos?


Trying to find something under $700, which limits me to the used market for anything remotely decent. The 170-500 caught my eye as I commonly see them at sub-$400 levels and am somewhat familiar with the 50-500. If the 170-500 will do similar work to the 50-500 it would work fine for me. I'm just hoping the tradeoff between the two lenses isn't huge and would like to find out a bit before spending money. I also know the 50-500 is a f4-6.3 and the 170 is a f5-6.3-don't think the differences there would matter for the shots I take. I usually don't bother going out unless the natural light is good. Nesting season is in full swing here, and four of the five eagle nests I watch have eggs with forecasted hatch dates in the first week of April. Hoping to have my lens by then, if not I can borrow the 50-500 for a few days again until mine arrives.


Mar 09, 2011 at 12:50 PM
John Wolff
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Lens for eagle photos?


When I shoot eagles, my season is short. What I did is rent a lens. I rented a Canon 500 F4L IS for around $300 for 1 week and it worked out great. I got the use of a $6000 lens for the time I needed it. Unless you are in a place where the eagles are close and cooperative, you need a very good fast lens to get quality photos.

John



Mar 09, 2011 at 01:33 PM
Shackleton
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Lens for eagle photos?


Good points, and yes, the eagles I watch cooperate quite well. The pair at one nest is so accustomed to being watched or driven by that I'm able to park my car within 25 yards(nest is about 40 yards from the road) of the male while he sits in a tree and the only thing that happens is he looks at me for half an hour. I don't get many action shots, but I do get a lot of the females feeding the babies at two of these nests. Two of the others are about half a mile out on posted land so photos don't work too well. I've got it pretty easy as there are 5 nests within an hour and a half of my house. The closest pair doesn't even seem to migrate-I've seen them every time I have driven by the farm where their nest is located.


Mar 09, 2011 at 01:45 PM
Karl Witt
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Lens for eagle photos?


I will share some insight on the 170-500 Sigma
The focus speed of the lens on a 1D Canon body is very adequate for Eagle shooting provided you are not planning a lot of shots coming directly at you. It does fine keeping up with the slower moving Eagles and can be very sharp but may suffer some (CA)Chromatic Aberration but not enough to say don't use the lens
The lens is not internal zooming so it become very very long when zoomed out to the 400-500 range and actually when carried pointing downward will drift out to full extension, it is awkward to carry like that.

It will give you good reach and that will save from a lot of cropping up that can degrade and image. I think for under $400 it is a good value, use and learn with it and then it is easier to justify the more expensive lenses

Where are you located

Karl




Mar 09, 2011 at 05:52 PM
Shackleton
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Lens for eagle photos?


Located in NE IA. Actually, Harsha watches one of the same nests as I do(or at least he did last year) and gave me a few much appreciated tips last year. I decided I wanted to try and find a 500MM that I could pay for instead of borrowing one all the time-you wear out your welcome that way. With taxes coming back there are a few lenses within my price range. If I spend $300-$400 I want it to do $400 work(I don't expect it to be a $6500 lens)-looks like this might be the way to go.


Mar 09, 2011 at 06:20 PM
Larry Williams
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Lens for eagle photos?


You might consider either the Canon 400mm f/5.6 prime or Canon 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 lens. The 400 prime is a bit less money but does a fanstastic job shooting eagles. I use a 100-400 and Canon's 500mm prime. I have many many great photos of eagles shot with the 100-400 and still use it. Both len's are popular and come up for purchase on the Buy and Sell Forum.

Larry



Mar 09, 2011 at 06:52 PM
xjetjock
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Lens for eagle photos?


Larry gives some good advice. This was my first season to shoot BEs using a 400 f/5.6 on a FF body. It worked well. It focuses rapidly and accurately. If you can get fairly close (like at LD14), you can get some fine shots without having to spend the big bucks. It's also light so hand-holding is very easy. (It's my primary airshow lens, too)

Paul S



Mar 11, 2011 at 02:00 AM
 

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hnilsson
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Lens for eagle photos?


Larry Williams wrote:
You might consider either the Canon 400mm f/5.6 prime or Canon 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 lens. The 400 prime is a bit less money but does a fanstastic job shooting eagles. I use a 100-400 and Canon's 500mm prime. I have many many great photos of eagles shot with the 100-400 and still use it. Both len's are popular and come up for purchase on the Buy and Sell Forum.

Larry


+1

You know, I started the same way you're thinking. My first "long lens" was a Sigma 80-400. While it was ok, in hindsight I should have waited a little longer and gone for the Canon 100-400. In the end I ended up getting it of course and sold the Sigma for cheap. After that I saved my pennies and eventually got a 500 f4. But I still have the 100-400...it's one versatile lens.

Best of luck.

Henrik



Mar 11, 2011 at 03:42 AM
brede
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Lens for eagle photos?


I would also vote for a bit more saving to get the 400 f5.6. Having all the big monsters, I still pull the little 400 out when I can't have the extra weight of another long lens, but need the reach it provides. So for me even after I upgraded to far more expensive equipment, this is one that I still find myself using and liking.


Mar 11, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Gary Lee 44
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Lens for eagle photos?


I have been in the same boat when it comes to choice of and price that I needed to pay for a lens. Karl and Larry give very good advice. I have owned the Sigma 50-500mm for a number of years and have been very happy with it. While I know it is not a Canon 500f4L or any of the other Canon's mentioned. I have been very happy with the purchase. 50 to 500 is a lot of coverage that has been just what I needed at times. If price matters The Sigma, if not hands down Canon L. For me at the time , price was the issue. Now, my next lens will be the 500F4 after I sell the Sigma. You can always upgrade if you need to later.
Gary



Mar 11, 2011 at 06:37 PM
kbarrera
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Lens for eagle photos?


I too started the same way, with a cheaper third party lens. I then graduated to the Canon 400
F/5.6 lens. From there I moved up to a Canon 300 f/ 2.8. I now have a Canon 500 f/4 and use it mostly for BE photography. After reviewing my pictures from the last 4 years, I can honestly say there is not much difference from the 400 f/ 5.6 and the bigger Canons. Ther's no doubt that the Canon 500 is THE lens for wildlife photography. However, considering your budget, and what your using it for , the 400 5.6 Canon is a great lens. It's light and focus's super fast. There are times I still wish I had it. It,s great for stills and perfect for BIF. Remember most of Us turn off our is for moving birds, for faster focus, so I don't think you'll miss it that much.
In summary, get the Canon 400 f/ 5.6 . There are a lot of great deals on used ones right here on this forum.

Al



Mar 13, 2011 at 01:53 AM
brede
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Lens for eagle photos?


Do you really turn off IS for BIF? Why? It in no way slows AF down, if anything it improves accuracy because the user can see what they are focusing on in the viewfinder. And have you found when using any of these lenses mentioned that the AF can't keep up? I guess depending on the body it is on, but the lenses can easily keep up with any moving animal. Just curious on your thoughts.


Mar 13, 2011 at 02:35 AM
kbarrera
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Lens for eagle photos?


The is on most Canon big lens definitely slows down autofocus. After researching everything I could get my hands on regarding photographing Eagles in flight I Accepted the fact Is would have little or no benefit when tracking such a fast moving bird.
There is no doubt that the is is invaluable when photographing still wildlife with my 500.
by the way there is a very interesting post on PTON, comparing the Canon 400 5.6 to the Sigma 500. I had trouble cut & pasting the link. Just enter Canon 400mm f/5.6 in the search box and you'll find it. The Canon clearly wins in every category.
Let me know how you make out. Betcha you'll get the Canon after reading this.

Al



Mar 13, 2011 at 08:07 PM
munzir.khan
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Lens for eagle photos?


another vote for 400mm 5.6 L a lens between 900 to 1000$

sample taken with 30D handheld

http://i.pbase.com/o6/52/832052/1/131245235.iCORkQzt.IMG_0073.JPG



Mar 13, 2011 at 08:28 PM
brede
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Lens for eagle photos?


Ok, I've have never experienced that, when having IS off that the autofocus is slower. And since most modern DSLR use phase detection AF, I can't see how having a potentially shaky image would improve AF, it should only cause problems for the AF sensor with the image moving around. If you could please provide some of this research, it would be very interesting to see. Thanks.


Mar 16, 2011 at 02:48 PM
Johnny Bravo
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Lens for eagle photos?


Bite the bullet--get either a 300mmf4 with a 1.4, or a 400f5.6. Frankly, I'd get the 300 since the IS is so beneficial. There are good shots taken with zooms, but their versatility comes at a heavy price in sharpness--to me it a poor trade off so I no longer use any long zooms. (They're like old girlfriends---you just THOUGHT you loved them)


Mar 16, 2011 at 11:05 PM
kbarrera
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Lens for eagle photos?


I think you mis-read my post. What I said was the autofocus is slowed down when IS is turned ON. I have shot thousands of pictures of Eagles in flight and tested the theory using my Canon 500 f/4 IS hand-held and with a tripod and sidekick.
I always get the same results. I have much more difficulty tracking a moving bird in focus with IS turned on. Believe me, I was skeptical myself at first.
Just research the subject on this forum or do a Google on the subject. The overwhelming consensus is that autofocus is slower when IS on when tracking moving birds.

Al

ps. I have a friend who uses a 300 f/4 IS with a 1.4 tc and gets tremendous results.



Mar 16, 2011 at 11:39 PM
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