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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 24 Apr 2013 (Wednesday) 11:45
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Lens for full frame & shooting birds...

 
Stillwater ­ Gold
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Apr 24, 2013 11:45 |  #1

I've got a 5D MKlll and am trying to shoot birds with a 70-300mm 1:4- 5.6 L IS USM lens with a KENKO C-AF 1.4x teleplus Pro 300. I'm not getting nearly enough reach as can be seen by these shots.

BALD EAGLE....

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8117/8674172816_8e9909b36d_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/80658038@N05/8​674172816/  (external link)
A74A4157 (external link) by StillWaterGold (external link), on Flickr

TURKEY VULTURE....
IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8404/8674173030_882ed6a416_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/80658038@N05/8​674173030/  (external link)
A74A4161 (external link) by StillWaterGold (external link), on Flickr

I'm thinking about adding a Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Super Telephoto Lens...will this give me the reach I'm looking for? This is a hobby so money is a concern and I'm not willing to spend $6,000 to $10,000 for a lens.

I thought about picking up a 7D instead of the lens and I'd only be spending another $50.00 for the body verses the lens. Thoughts?

Pete



  
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amfoto1
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Apr 24, 2013 11:55 |  #2

I'd get the 7D...

Except even with that there's no such thing as a "long enough" lens for birding! Even if you get a 1000mm lens some day, and use it on a crop camera, there will always be small subjects just out of reach. Those are the times to just put the camera down and enjoy the show... wait for your subjects to come closer.

The 400/5.6 is a fine lens, sharp with great color rendition and fast AF. But it won't give you more reach than your 300mm + 1.4X added (actually not quite as much: the zoom + TC is effectively 420mm equiv.) It also isn't stabilized and it's awfully nice to have IS on longer lenses. Of course you can add the 1.4X to the 400/5.6, for an effective 560mm f8... but good luck getting a steady shot with it! You'll probably want to use a tripod or at least a monopod most of the time.

I use 300/4 IS a lot, with and without 1.4X.... It's easily handheld. This is on 7D (at high ISO)....

IMAGE: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5249/5247149798_a8963e6c24_z.jpg

And this is the same lens on 5D Mark II (lower ISO, but ridiculously high shutter speed because I had been shooting in shade when this hawk showed up, didn't have time to change my camera settings)...

IMAGE: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2762/4020576990_92f91d384d_z.jpg?zz=1

One of the most affordable longer lenses is the Sigma 150-500 OS. It sells for $1000-1100 US new. It's a fairly large lens... about 10 inches long (at the shortest/when retracted at infinity focus), uses 86mm filters, and weighs about 4 lbs. But I mention it because, even with a 7D, shooting birds you will still find yourself wishing you had more lens at times. I guarantee it!

A 7D and/or a longer lens will only partially help with examples like you show... You still need to get closer, fill the viewfinder. You may need to use a blind, lots of patience, and/or some sort of attractants to bring the subject closer. Study your subjects and learn their habits. The hungry waxwing and hunting redtail hawk in the above photos let me get unusually close. I know the waxwings tend to come to a certain group of trees each Winter, feeding on the berries for a few days until there's no food left.

For water birds, some photographers use floating blinds. You also might look for birds acclimated to people being around, or work with them to acclimate them to your presence. I sometimes shoot in busy parks, on active piers, and other similar places where the birds largely ignore and tolerate us flightless critters...

IMAGE: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7072/7314502710_a34b50d436.jpg
IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8157/7314606954_1ed9c64f59.jpg

Though sometimes the subject might get too close. This Canada goose in a local park was begging for handouts and bit my finger a moment later...

IMAGE: http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6191/6107899580_9601292372.jpg

Alternatively, you can gradually accustom animals to your presence. I first saw a coyote regularly coming around my neighborhood in September or October last year. She was fairly accepting, but still a bit wary. By being quiet, parking and using my car as a blind, I was able to get in range to use the 300/4 and, in this case, the 300 + 1.4X...

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8062/8188386737_929f2d414d_z.jpg

Over several months, she got to know me and allowed me closer, never was the least bit threatened or threatening toward me. I'd wander out back, no coyote to be seen... Then I'd spot her a short distance away. Often when she saw me, she'd come trotting over to see what I was up to. At times she'd yawn, then lay down and nod off while I sat nearby. Patience paid off. Early in January I was able to photograph her with 135mm and even 70mmm focal lengths...

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8364/8346991484_597904a0ec.jpg
IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8083/8345945651_d551a3cb2d_z.jpg

A few days later she disappeared from the neighborhood. I'm hoping she returned to the nearby hills looking for a boyfriend. After all, Spring is in the air!

Like has been said before get closer, also with a 7D you're not gonna get any extra reach just a cropped image.
You can do that in post and get the same magnification with the full frame.

Sorry, but that's not entirely true. With an 18MP 7D you get more "pixels on target" than you would cropping down an image from a 21/22MP full frame camera. The 7D has more than twice as many pixel sites per square millimeter as the FF cameras. If you do the math you'll find it doesn't work out the same as the lens factor (1.6X). It's more like a 1.3X teleconverter effect with the APS-C camera... "Free" teleconverter (i.e., no loss of light, as will occur with an actual teleconverter).

There is some "reach" advantage to using the 1.6X crop camera. It's why I keep a pair of 7Ds and use them alongside a FF camera (5DII in my case, so it's also a question of focus with action vs stationary subjects, and the crop cameras get about 10X as much use as the full frame!)

Even with long lenses and a crop camera, you still need to get as close as possible and try to fill the viewfinder, to get the best possible image. A flash with an Xtender (i.e. Better Beamer) can be a valuable addition, too.


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frugivore
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Apr 24, 2013 11:59 |  #3

I think you need to get closer to the birds. The difference between 300mm and 400mm is not that much, but the 400mm prime should give you much better IQ. I've never used one but have looked at many samples as I'm looking for such a lens as well.

Another option might be to get a 300mm f/4 IS with a TC on the 5D3. Since we are getting AF with f/8 lenses, this might be a good balance between cost, IQ and versatility (300mm f/4 + 600mm f/8 with IS).




  
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Scott ­ M
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Apr 24, 2013 11:59 |  #4

I kept my 7D after buying a 5D3 for exactly this reason. My longest lens is 400mm, and while I would love to own a 500mm or 600mm prime, that is just not in the budget.

Having a 2nd body can be very handy. I can leave the 100-400L telephoto on the 7D for wildlife shots, and keep a 17-40L or 24-105L on the 5D3 for landscape shots. That reduces the number of lens changes I need to make tremendously, and I am always ready for any type of outdoor shot.


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maverick75
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Apr 24, 2013 12:01 |  #5

Like has been said before get closer, also with a 7D you're not gonna get any extra reach just a cropped image.
You can do that in post and get the same magnification with the full frame.


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gasrocks
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Apr 24, 2013 12:02 |  #6

Yes, 7D.


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Scott ­ M
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Apr 24, 2013 12:05 |  #7

maverick75 wrote in post #15862451 (external link)
Like has been said before get closer, also with a 7D you're not gonna get any extra reach just a cropped image.
You can do that in post and get the same magnification with the full frame.

Cropping in post processing will result in fewer pixels on target that just shooting with the 7D and it's built-in cropping.


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gabebalazs
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Apr 24, 2013 12:06 |  #8

maverick75 wrote in post #15862451 (external link)
Like has been said before get closer, also with a 7D you're not gonna get any extra reach just a cropped image.
You can do that in post and get the same magnification with the full frame.

You're right about getting closer.
But I don't agree with the crop comment. Cropping the 5DIII to achieve the same FoV as the 7D will yield a roughly 8.2 Mp image. The 7D is better for this kind of stuff (I own a 6D and and kept my 7D for birding).


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Tom ­ Reichner
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Apr 24, 2013 12:17 |  #9

Stillwater Gold wrote in post #15862379 (external link)
I'm not getting nearly enough reach as can be seen by these shots.

I'm not willing to spend $6,000 to $10,000 for a lens.

I thought about picking up a 7D instead of the lens and I'd only be spending another $50.00 for the body verses the lens. Thoughts?

Pete,

If you don't want to shell out the $ for a new supertelephoto, then I think you would benefit enormously from having a 1.6 crop body.

I shoot wildlife with both a full frame 5D and a 1.6 crop 50D, and the 50D gets just about 100% of my bird in flight opportunities. In fact, for birds, the only time I use my 5D is when I am too close for the 50D, and cannot fit the bird in the frame, or for those times when I want the bird to be small in the frame, intentionally, so that I can showcase the habitat the bird lives in.

I think that the best route for you to take might be to get both the 400 f5.6 and either a 50D or 60D (preferably, used) for a total cost of around $2000. Add those to what you already have. That combination of bodies and lenses would give you a great range of options when it comes to how you want to frame your bird shots, and would also give you great image quality.


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Apr 24, 2013 12:20 |  #10

amfoto1 wrote in post #15862421 (external link)
One of the most affordable lenses is the Sigma 150-500 OS. That might help, too.

Check out THIS THREAD for the Sigma 150-500 OS


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Stillwater ­ Gold
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Apr 24, 2013 13:32 |  #11

Great advice one and all, thank you. It looks like I'm going to go with the 7D and I'll pick up the 300mm/4 IS somewhere down the road. Amfoto 1 your wildlife pictures are inspiring and your advice is worthy...I do a lot of fly fishing and patience in stalking fish is a true virtue... why should shooting birds be any different. And I couldn't agree more that there are those times when it's best to just sit back and enjoy.

Thanks...

Pete




  
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vengence
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Apr 24, 2013 15:46 |  #12

300->400mm on crop = 1.3X FF->Crop = 1.6X




  
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01erionracing
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Apr 24, 2013 16:23 |  #13

I am currently have 300 and will soon go to 500 either Bigma or Bigmos


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Apr 24, 2013 16:24 as a reply to  @ vengence's post |  #14

Based on the picutures in your thread, I can tell you that you definitely need to be closer.
I wouldn't take that shot with my 600 MK II and 1.4 ext. (840 mm)

Even with my super-tele, shots like that will lack detail and sharpness. I will, however, recommend the 400 5.6 with a 7 d. It's a very sharp combination. I had both 'till I made the move to the "big lenses"

Al




  
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Apr 24, 2013 16:32 |  #15

400mm will help, ... but as already indicated by some clever observers, the problem is mostly not gear related.

You ABSOLUTELY should not be talked into considering a different camera for the question you pose!
This is just silliness.


As for lenses, with the 5D3, in less than a week you will also be able to put a 1.4x T-Con on the 400mm f/5.6L and still have decent auto focus.

I refute the claim that you need a 7D or any other camera with a smaller sensor.
The 5D III is my first full frame, and it has enough pixel density, and such amazing image quality per pixel that you still can crop quite a bit. It crops to more pixels on target than my previous main birding camera, the 1D3 thus making that crop camera less useful. It can not compare in pixel density to the 7D, no but it beats it in many other ways.

I came to a 5D3 specifically for birding. I came from a crop body with 10MP, ( 1D3 ) and clearly the 5D3 is out resolving that. As of now, I am shooting it almost exclusively with a 400mm f/5.6L no TC.

It's a superb birding combo!

Now your real problem.

No combination is going to get you good photos when the subject is a dot overhead.

go the the birding forum and look at what is being posted,. and take a look at the stickies at the top of the Bird discussion forum, there is a lot of good info on how to get close to birds.


I do also highly recommend you look seriously at the 400mm f/5.6L
It is a dandy of a lens, relatively affordable, and amazing bang for your buck.
You will get similar or better AF spend than lenses costing 5-8 times as much, and likewise similar image quality.
nor will it break most bank accounts or any ones back.


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Lens for full frame & shooting birds...
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