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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Bird Talk 
Thread started 03 Jan 2015 (Saturday) 08:11
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tight budget lens for birds

 
Tyguy
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Jan 07, 2015 08:38 |  #16

I just picked up a used Tamron 70-300 4.5-5.6 VC for $300. A used Canon 70-300 IS USM goes for the same price. How are they in comparison to the cheaper 55-250?


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ddd778
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Jan 08, 2015 07:51 |  #17

I'm deciding between a 400 5.6 or 100-400, anyone have thoughts?




  
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John ­ Sheehy
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Jan 08, 2015 08:57 |  #18

ddd778 wrote in post #17372130 (external link)
I'm deciding between a 400 5.6 or 100-400, anyone have thoughts?

They both have pluses that the other doesn't have. The zoom allows you to focus much closer than the prime, which is nice when you find an oblivious small bird in a bush or in the weeds, or on the low branches of a tree. It is also hand-holdable at shutter speeds down to 80 - 160 depending on how steady you are, where the prime might require 1/32o to 1/640. And of course, the zoom zooms out when you encounter something big and close.

The prime, however, has better bokeh (smoother edges in out-of-focus areas), faster AF (especially with BIFs), and sharper than most copies of the v1 zoom wide open at f/5.6 at 400mm. The prime is also much lighter, and has a sliding hood, so you don't have to waste time taking the hood off and putting it on, and you can't lose it, and it doesn't have grooves to wear out).

So, no one can recommend one over the other to you with a guarantee of no regrets. In the world of photography, every choice we make has regrets, if we are honest with ourselves. Even if you fork over the money for the 1200mm f/5.6, you might regret how huge it is, and how much attention it draws.




  
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Jan 08, 2015 10:03 |  #19

John gives good advice.

Since I was after the BIF more than static shots at the time is why I went for the 400 5.6, the IQ and fast focus was what I was after. I will say though that there have been plenty of times where a large bird comes flying by close and I can't fit it in, so the versatility of a zoom does come in handy. Other than that I love my 400 5.6, I thought that I would sell it when I got my 500 F4. Definitely not, on long hikes I really don't want to carry that anchor with me... The 400 packs so well!


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ddd778
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Post edited over 4 years ago by ddd778.
     
Jan 08, 2015 10:45 |  #20

Thanks for the detailed summary regarding the pros and cons of those two lenses. I was also considering the 300 f4 but leaned towards the 400 5.6 as many people highly recommended the longer reach. Since Nikon is releasing a new 300 f4 hopefully Canon will update their 300.




  
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Jan 10, 2015 19:07 as a reply to  @ ddd778's post |  #21

I do a lot of BIF shooting. When I got serious I started with a Nikon 300f/4, then went to a Canon 400 f/5.6, then a Canon 300 f/2.8, then a Canon 500 f/4, then a Canon 600 MK II f/4. I just bought another Nikon 300 f/4 to compliment my Big Lens.
I always stayed away from the third party lenses, and given a choice... I will always choose the Nikon or Canon super sharp 300's, if I couldn't afford the Big Lenses. When shooting birds you need fast focus and sharp images more than reach. You can always throw a 1.4 extender on a Canon 300 f/4 or a 400 f/5.6 to get more reach and Stillwater get sharp images.

Hope this helps.

Al




  
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MalVeauX
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Jan 12, 2015 11:30 |  #22

mamaof2 wrote in post #17366410 (external link)
Well I was hoping to stay around 300...but looks like that is prob not realistic.

Heya,

Sure it is.

Basically 200mm on APS-C for this price range. You want sharp optics if you can't get tons of reach.

You can bird large birds with this no problem, like large water fowl, marsh birds, and birds of prey.

But more easily, you can simply make bird feeding stations or go to bird sanctuaries and take a blind, or build one, so you can setup shop and let the birds come to you. It's a lot harder goes to birds, they're spooky. But if you plan it out and track behavior, you can simply go to a place and put out feed and let them come to you. This makes up for lack of reach.

If you find you are really into it, save up, and get the longest lens you can get for the money. Tamron's 150-600mm comes to mind at $850 used. Or the older Sigma 500mm at $600~750 used.

Very best,


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mamaof2
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Jan 12, 2015 13:15 |  #23

Thanks for all the help!


Jessi
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andyjensen
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Feb 03, 2015 23:32 |  #24

To that end, check out the "Birds at 200mm or under" thread in the bird image sharing forum. Haven't looked in a while, but usually a lot of great examples of getting around being "focal-limited."

mamaof2 wrote in post #17366410 (external link)
Well I was hoping to stay around 300...but looks like that is prob not realistic.

I would recommend saving until you can afford something more. As others have said, the Sigma 50-500 or 150-500 would be a good option, and versatile if somewhat cumbersome. The 300 f/4 and 400 f/5.6 are great options, the latter possibly holding the edge. The 300 has the added benefit of a MFD of about 5 feet, so it's useful for light macro work (even better with a 1.4x TC on, which preserves the MFD).

Of these, I've only shot the 300 (with and without a 1.4x TC), but I also have some good bird shots with the 200 f/2.8 and the 100 2.8L macro, the latter two being only on birds in captivity and a raptor demonstration.


Some clicking occurred, a few lenses were involved, that's about all I know ...

  
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MalVeauX
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Feb 04, 2015 15:18 |  #25

mamaof2 wrote in post #17379049 (external link)
Thanks for all the help!

Heya,

By the way, what kind of birds are we talking about here? Large birds? Coast birds? Water fowl? Birds in flight specifically? Raptors? Song birds?

Birding can be all kinds of things, from trying to capture diving eagles with a massive lens on a mount, to sitting in a garden with a little blind and stationary shooting song birds at feeders with a short lens. Either way is fun. It's all about what you plan or want to do. It will help dictate what you need.

Very best,


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johnf3f
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Feb 04, 2015 18:54 |  #26

MalVeauX wrote in post #17415362 (external link)
Heya,

By the way, what kind of birds are we talking about here? Large birds? Coast birds? Water fowl? Birds in flight specifically? Raptors? Song birds?

Birding can be all kinds of things, from trying to capture diving eagles with a massive lens on a mount, to sitting in a garden with a little blind and stationary shooting song birds at feeders with a short lens. Either way is fun. It's all about what you plan or want to do. It will help dictate what you need.

Very best,

Good point MalVeauX!
Whist I am wedded to my idiotically long lens for my uses, for others lenses in the 200-400mm range are just as good. It is all down to what subject (how big) you are shooting and how close you can get. If you can get a Canon 200 F2.8 L into position for a frame filler then you will normally get a better shot than I can with a distant shot with my Canon 800 F5.6 L IS, for far less than the cost of my tripod and head - let alone the lens! It's all down to your personal needs but, as a general rule, closer is always better.


Life is for living, cameras are to capture it (one day I will learn how!).

  
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MalVeauX
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Post edited over 4 years ago by MalVeauX. (6 edits in all)
     
Feb 04, 2015 20:28 |  #27

johnf3f wrote in post #17415656 (external link)
Good point MalVeauX!
Whist I am wedded to my idiotically long lens for my uses, for others lenses in the 200-400mm range are just as good. It is all down to what subject (how big) you are shooting and how close you can get. If you can get a Canon 200 F2.8 L into position for a frame filler then you will normally get a better shot than I can with a distant shot with my Canon 800 F5.6 L IS, for far less than the cost of my tripod and head - let alone the lens! It's all down to your personal needs but, as a general rule, closer is always better.

Heya,

It does bare the point. For example, I have a local trail that I frequent here in Gainesville, FL that is called La Chua, which is a public trail with no fences or security, etc, so the wildlife is wild, but they are used to humans being there, so the big Heron, Egrets, and Gators are really tame and you can get within 8~10 feet of them without much of a problem. The spookiest will still allow about 15~20 feet before they start to kind of move away. So when I'm there, my 600mm lens can do frame filling head shots of their beaks, which is not useful to me (but interesting sometimes) and I actually can get away with my 200 F2.8L and still more than fill a frame sometimes. I'm sure there are parks like this all around, where there's tame wild wildlife, and especially large birds that have no real predators after a certain size.

And lately, for me, I've built a blind and perch/feeder system, so I sit 10 feet away from birds, and I've been putting my 200mm and 600mm to work, playing around with that.

At the coast, I can bird with the 200mm, or a 400mm (using a 2.0x TC) just fine on larger birds like Pelicans, Gulls, Skimmers, Terns, Osprey, Woodstork & King Fishers, etc. Sure, I I'm not filling the frame all the time, but you just incorporate context in the shot to make it more interesting, or crop heavily if the quality can take it. Sure, I enjoy my 600mm more in those situations to get more pixels on the bird, even as larger birds, but generally they're more spooky at the coast and not like at the trail where I cannot walk within 40 feet of them without them taking off.

Having gone through the pain of thinking I was reach-limited with a 250mm as my first and longest lens a few years ago, when I really got more interested in wildlife & birds in general, I thought I'd never be able to do much with such a short focal length. But the more you just get out and go places, you find creative ways to get closer, or bring things closer, so that the focal length isn't such a limitation. At this point, having gone from 250mm to 200mm and then to 600mm (I skipped the 300/400/500 inbetween stuff), as much as I like the physical raw reach, it's also a handicap sometimes because I'll want to use it at 600mm from a distance, and shoot through atmosphere, water, heat, etc, and that makes it horrible to impossible sometimes, where if I was closer with a shorter lens, I'd avoid that (to a degree). There are times when long reach really doesn't work well. And others where it's the only way to go.

End of the day, I walk around with both just in case. I take my 600 and 200 all the time, and a TC for the inbetween.

That said, someone starting out and serious for birding, they have to figure out really based on what's local and accessible to them. If it's just song birds and it's winter half the year, that's totally different than a swamp marsh full of massive water birds that fight for a fishing hole where it's hot all year round and humid. Parks versus wild habitat also pose a massive difference.

Also, a lot of times, people like the TS/OP will often want to produce images that they see on the web, and don't realize they come from a bird habitat, sanctuary, raptor zoo basically, or from baiting/feeding. So method and access matter a lot, based on where they are.

Just more food for thought!

Examples to give the OP/TS an idea of versatility of 200mm lenses, if you just research your species and either go places where you can get closer, or go places early and be still and silent and let them come closer to you (you can get small and large birds no problem with 200mm if you're simply patient and take the time to be a bit more clever than walk over, point and shoot).

200mm on APS-C:

IMAGE: https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5501/12060724374_8725402e75_z.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/jnLn​aG  (external link) DPP_0101 (external link) by Mwise1023 (external link), on Flickr

200mm on APS-C:

IMAGE: https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8682/15869131326_cf624d89cf_z.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/qbir​Sw  (external link) IMG_1547 (external link) by Mwise1023 (external link), on Flickr

200mm on APS-C:

IMAGE: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7555/15894293132_77570e348b_z.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/qdwp​AL  (external link) IMG_1541 (external link) by Mwise1023 (external link), on Flickr

200mm on APS-C:

IMAGE: https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8660/15892957731_1ec45d02ef_z.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/qdpy​CB  (external link) IMG_1525 (external link) by Mwise1023 (external link), on Flickr

200mm on APS-C:

IMAGE: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7575/15714295734_291a01b63c_z.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/pWBS​Dm  (external link) IMG_3157 (external link) by Mwise1023 (external link), on Flickr

200mm on APS-H:

IMAGE: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7558/16310786266_b6461479e0_z.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/qRk3​uS  (external link) LE1M0433 (external link) by Mwise1023 (external link), on Flickr

And sometimes, 600mm is not even close to enough, because I just couldn't get close enough to the super spooky King Fisher that is also very small. Not even 800mm. Even if I doubled it to 1200mm (I have a 2.0x TC and it works in Live View on my APS-C, for a field of view equivalent to nearly 2000mm from a full frame). I'd probably need like a 4000mm lens for this particular shot to even begin to fill the frame lol. If I stepped closer, even one step, he'd move down 20~30 feet, he was super spooky. The only way for me to photograph this bird would be to go out where it feeds, early in the morning, and set up a blind and camp out for hours, and wait for it to show up and even then, hope the shutter doesn't spook it to move, because once you're hidden, you can't move or it will take off. I may try this some time, as I can't seem to photograph a King Fisher to save my life...

600mm on APS-H:

IMAGE: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7448/16189265759_872a6b4fb0_z.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/qEAd​FH  (external link) LE1M0836 (external link) by Mwise1023 (external link), on Flickr

And lastly, from a blind, where I have feeders and perches 10 feet away, I can use any focal length, so I go between 200mm and 600mm depending on the species.

600mm on APS-H from 10 feet away hiding in a blind:

IMAGE: https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8562/16443887062_9204397f2b_z.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/r46d​Jb  (external link) LE1M1034 (external link) by Mwise1023 (external link), on Flickr

Very best,

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Michael ­ Rumsey
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Post edited over 4 years ago by Michael Rumsey.
     
Feb 05, 2015 11:56 |  #28

mamaof2 wrote in post #17366410 (external link)
Well I was hoping to stay around 300...but looks like that is prob not realistic.

*The EF-S 55-250mm IS II can be found under $150 at times on ebay (I've had this lens and really enjoyed the quality/$ ....just passed this one on to my daughter and am seriously thinking of buying another)

*The EF 70-300mm IS USM Gives you a bit more reach for around your budget (I got mine for $275 used) It's what's hanging on my camera the most these days, it seems.

*A somewhat controversial old lens is the Tamron 200-400mm f/5.6 LD IF. If you're feeling adventurous, you can take a chance on getting a good copy of this one. I've owned 2 of these...Hated the first copy (Nikon mount on Nikon body)....but I get some use out of my current Canon version. The focus is slow (don't expect to capture birds in flight), but for fairly stationary subjects it can do pretty well for the price ($100-250). I picked mine up for $150.

Examples of my Tamron 200-400mm with a Tamron-F AF 1.4 Tele-converter:


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Michael ­ Rumsey
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Feb 05, 2015 12:05 |  #29

Two more with my cheap-o Tamron 200-400:


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mamaof2
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Post edited over 4 years ago by mamaof2.
     
Feb 05, 2015 12:15 |  #30

Thank you all for posting! I also love seeing the pics of the birds with cheaper lenses.

I am going to get a 55-250 stm right now and then upgrade later when I can.


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tight budget lens for birds
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