bx338 wrote in post #16710276
I am wanting to do more wildlife/bird photography with my 60d.
What i have in mind is going to a prime 400mm f5.6 L USM lens as a first choice (i have a 1.4TC) or another lens to consider is a sigma 50-500mm.
I would like some feedback on the choices listed if anyone is using either with the 60d body or a pending 7d body.
Thanks in advance.
Depends what kind of birding you want to do. If you just want to shoot passive (not birds in flight) birds in environment, wild life in environment, etc, then any long telephoto lens that is decently sharp will do the job for you. So your budget simply dictates what you get here. If you want to do serious birding in flight, then your pockets need to be deep, or you need to get really skilled with lesser equipment. Tracking a bird in flight will need a lot of reach, and a lot of autofocus speed (which comes from a really long telephoto lens with wide aperture). Since you're looking at $1500 lenses here, I'm guessing you're interesting in the entry point to birding and not looking for the F2.8 and F4 level telephotos that are premium for this.
First, don't consider using the teleconverter yet. Focus on getting the lens that you want at the length you want.
Also, I suggest you get a zoom instead of a prime unless you know you will always be a minimum distance to your targets. That takes experience on your end to know if a 400mm prime will work for you, because you have to know, anything that gets too close means you can't zoom out, so it limits or prevents framing up on something that is too big or too close for your distance to them to frame up properly. This is why most people suggest the 100-400L instead, so you can be as versatile as possible. The 400 prime is great if you know you're always going to be further away (such as raptors, surfing, skiddish animals like deer, etc).
Some lenses to consider:
When it comes to birding/animals, you'll always find that more reach is what you want. More. More. More. Teleconverters make it hard. They introduce difficulty to autofocus (sometimes, especially in lower light). They also can degrade image quality. Use them if you know for sure you're ok to use it for your purpose (missing focus on a bunch of shots is a waste of your time, right?).
Some lenses will let you shoot at max aperture and be sharp. A lot of them however, even the big `L lenses, are sharpest when stopped down a bit. So when selecting a lens, based on your shooting conditions, understand that you may be shooting at F7.1~F8~F11 even sometimes, depending on what lens you go with. You'll still get great bokeh with that, due to focal length.
Also consider, you'll need high shutter speeds with these high focal lengths, moving targets, to avoid blur and keep it as sharp as possible. When I bird, I shoot at 1/640s as a minimum nearly. This means at F8 or so, I need some ISO, so I generally find myself around 800~1600 ISO. I shoot in RAW so I can keep noise clean up possible later on.