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Old 6th of February 2013 (Wed)   #1
kin2son
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Default Cheap birding setup?

I currently use the 70-200f2.8mkII with the 2xIII TC for birding. I quite like the result I am getting, but just looking for something dedicated for it.

I don't have a huge budget, so I am looking into 100-400, 300f4 and 400f5.6.

Now I read 300f4 + 1.4x isn't nearly as good as the other 2, is that true?

100-400 and 400f5.6 will get me to 400mm native, but is it gonna be a big upgrade from my current setup?

I use a 5D3 and from what I read, I will be able to AF @ f8 with the upcoming firmware update, do you think it will be good or meh?

Ultimately I want more reach than 400mm, probably via TC (can't afford anything 400mm+ native such as the 500mm...).

Any comment is greatly appreciated. Maybe I should just get an used 7D

Last edited by kin2son : 6th of February 2013 (Wed) at 23:52.
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Old 7th of February 2013 (Thu)   #2
Tapeman
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Default Re: Cheap birding setup?

The autofocus speed is the weakest part of that combo. If you plan on shooting moving targets a lot, one of the 400s may be a better choice. If mostly static shots are taken you won't get much bang for your buck, especially in good light. 70-200 + 2x Not the best way to get to 400mm, but I have a lot of keepers from that combo.
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Old 7th of February 2013 (Thu)   #3
kin2son
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Default Re: Cheap birding setup?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapeman View Post
The autofocus speed is the weakest part of that combo. If you plan on shooting moving targets a lot, one of the 400s may be a better choice. If mostly static shots are taken you won't get much bang for your buck, especially in good light. 70-200 + 2x Not the best way to get to 400mm, but I have a lot of keepers from that combo.
Hi Tapeman thanks for the reply. Yes bifs is extremely hard, in fact I haven't got a single shot that I am happy with. Static aren't bad at all imo. Guess I ultimately want more reach....

I think getting a cheap used crop body is the way to go....even a 550D might suffice

Here's some of my recent shots -


Lunch is served by Kinson C | Photography, on Flickr


Honeyeater by Kinson C | Photography, on Flickr


Baby Kookaburra by Kinson C | Photography, on Flickr
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Old 7th of February 2013 (Thu)   #4
Tom Reichner
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Default Re: Cheap birding setup?

Nice imagery. With that kind of light on your birds, I think a 1.6 crop body and a 400 f5.6 is the way to go. In my experience, the crops only suffer when shooting in subdued overcast conditions, or in total shade under a forest canopy.
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Old 7th of February 2013 (Thu)   #5
kin2son
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Default Re: Cheap birding setup?

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Originally Posted by Tom Reichner View Post
Nice imagery. With that kind of light on your birds, I think a 1.6 crop body and a 400 f5.6 is the way to go. In my experience, the crops only suffer when shooting in subdued overcast conditions, or in total shade under a forest canopy.
Thanks for your kind word Tom. I am still a total noob with birding.

I tend to shoot in good light...but even then, I need ISO1000 to get 1/1000ms @ f6.3 - f8.

Do you use single point and focus on the eye? Because I don't trust any kinds of tracking and I use single point (sometimes expanded) with my 5D3. So I think getting a 550D with my existing lens will be the cheapest way to gain some dirty reach.
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Old 7th of February 2013 (Thu)   #6
Tom Reichner
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Default Re: Cheap birding setup?

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Originally Posted by kin2son View Post

I tend to shoot in good light...but even then, I need ISO1000 to get 1/1000ms @ f6.3 - f8.
Kinson,
Don't be afraid of slow shutter speeds! I routinely shoot at under 1/200th of a second. I am attaching an image taken at f5.6, ISO 400, and 1/125th of a second. As long as the bird is perched, and you have a good sturdy tripod and good long lens technique, there is no reason not to trust yourself at speeds as slow as 1/60th of a second, even at "extreme" focal lengths. The attached image was taken with my 400mm lens and a 1.4 extender - on my 1.6 crop 50D. That is 896mm of effective focal length! And yet no problems shooting at slower speeds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kin2son View Post
Do you use single point and focus on the eye? Because I don't trust any kinds of tracking and I use single point (sometimes expanded) with my 5D3.
I use AI mode and back button focusing, exclusively. I have found it works far better than any other way of focusing, for things that move around a lot like birds.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Cardinal @ 1:125th.jpg (79.2 KB, 531 views)
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Old 7th of February 2013 (Thu)   #7
kin2son
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Default Re: Cheap birding setup?

Thanks Tom for your advice. Nice shot btw.

I am just a hobbyist and although I have a nice, sturdy tripod, I am handholding it (which I have no problem with the weight).

And that raises the other question, the 400f5.6 has no IS, whereas my current setup or 100-400 has IS which means I can afford to use lower ss.

I used 1/1000 because I was trying to catch the moment of the bird taking off from stationary. So far I have been unsuccessfully as even with the expanded points on 5D3, most bird are just too quick for my fingers and the camera lost track of them

Last edited by kin2son : 7th of February 2013 (Thu) at 01:41.
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Old 7th of February 2013 (Thu)   #8
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Default Re: Cheap birding setup?

Problem with the 100-400 having IS is that you have to shoot at f8 to get the best from it, so you lose a stop straight away, plus it only really helps with static birds. If you use a tripod the 400 is the way to go, if you don't then the 100-400 stopped down is a good option, looks like you have some light.

The best birding lens depends on where you live, here in Germany a 500 mostly with TC on a crop body. In Florida or similar, 70-200 can be used quite alot.
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Old 7th of February 2013 (Thu)   #9
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Default Re: Cheap birding setup?

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Originally Posted by Neilyb View Post
Problem with the 100-400 having IS is that you have to shoot at f8 to get the best from it, so you lose a stop straight away, plus it only really helps with static birds. If you use a tripod the 400 is the way to go, if you don't then the 100-400 stopped down is a good option, looks like you have some light.
So what do you mean when you say you have to shoot @ f8 Neilyb? Do you mean the lens is soft wide open compared to the 400 prime?

Ultimately I want more reach (as it's never enough!), both 100-400 and the 400 prime aren't really giving me that. Granted it probably has faster AF, but sharpness is the least concern. If only the 400f5.6 has IS....

I think getting a cheap crop body is the way to go. Which one would you guys go for? 550D or 50D?
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Old 7th of February 2013 (Thu)   #10
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Default Re: Cheap birding setup?

Hi I use to have 600d then I sold it for the 5diii I love the change specially in low light, I also use 70-200 ii with 2x ext and have some good photos of this combination, I just bough the 400 f/5.6 and is fast focus and very sharp still playing with it. Here are some examples
first one with 70-200 f2.8ii + 2xiii and the second one with the 400 f/5.6 both at f/5.6
Attached Images
File Type: jpg O39A1710.jpg (43.1 KB, 518 views)
File Type: jpg O39A4112.jpg (74.6 KB, 522 views)
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Old 7th of February 2013 (Thu)   #11
kin2son
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Default Re: Cheap birding setup?

Thanks for the samples richi914. I can see the 400 prime has faster AF and slightly better IQ, but I also want more reach as well. Just not sure if I can justify getting the prime with exact same reach and losing IS...
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Old 7th of February 2013 (Thu)   #12
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Default Re: Cheap birding setup?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kin2son View Post
So what do you mean when you say you have to shoot @ f8 Neilyb? Do you mean the lens is soft wide open compared to the 400 prime?

Ultimately I want more reach (as it's never enough!), both 100-400 and the 400 prime aren't really giving me that. Granted it probably has faster AF, but sharpness is the least concern. If only the 400f5.6 has IS....

I think getting a cheap crop body is the way to go. Which one would you guys go for? 550D or 50D?
Exactly, at 400mm the 100-400 is OK, but at f8 it is way better. The 400 prime, as with all canon tele primes, is sharp wide open. So the IS will only get you 1 stop advantage and your shots wont be quite as sharp anyway. I am a fan of the 100-400s flexibility but having used a few primes in my time i hardly ever use it anymore.
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Old 7th of February 2013 (Thu)   #13
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Default Re: Cheap birding setup?

I also used it with 1.4ii extender and still a good combination and if with the new upgrade we can use AF at f/8 will be great.
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Old 7th of February 2013 (Thu)   #14
DreDaze
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Default Re: Cheap birding setup?

i wouldn't go to a 550D if you're getting a crop body...i'd try and get a 7D...7D and a 400mm should be a good combo...
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Old 7th of February 2013 (Thu)   #15
kin2son
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Default Re: Cheap birding setup?

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i wouldn't go to a 550D if you're getting a crop body...i'd try and get a 7D...7D and a 400mm should be a good combo...
I know 7D is better, but it costs more.

I tend to use single point even with birding, so I don't really need 7D's AF, although much faster FPS is nice...
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