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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Bird Talk 
Thread started 27 Sep 2017 (Wednesday) 08:47
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Camera & Lens for Bird Photography

 
setagate
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Sep 27, 2017 08:47 |  #1

I‘m thinking about buying a long telephoto lens, maybe a Tamron SP 150-600 f 5.6-6.3, for photos of birds and other distant objects. I have a Canon 6D full frame camera and wondered if it would be a good idea to buy a used crop frame camera like a Canon 40D so that I would get a longer range. Apparently, with a 1.6 crop factor the range would convert to 240-960mm. Or, can I get photos that would be just as large, and maybe of better quality, by shooting with my Canon 6D and enlarging the photos in Photoshop or Lightroom and then cropping so that the image of the bird fills the frame? I would appreciate any advice.




  
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PCousins
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Post edited 9 months ago by PCousins. (2 edits in all)
     
Sep 27, 2017 09:33 |  #2

setagate wrote in post #18461357 (external link)
I‘m thinking about buying a long telephoto lens, maybe a Tamron SP 150-600 f 5.6-6.3, for photos of birds and other distant objects. I have a Canon 6D full frame camera and wondered if it would be a good idea to buy a used crop frame camera like a Canon 40D so that I would get a longer range. Apparently, with a 1.6 crop factor the range would convert to 240-960mm. Or, can I get photos that would be just as large, and maybe of better quality, by shooting with my Canon 6D and enlarging the photos in Photoshop or Lightroom and then cropping so that the image of the bird fills the frame? I would appreciate any advice.

Hello,

I suggest you have a good look at the thread "Post your best bird Portrait" https://photography-on-the.net …showthread.php?​p=18461231, it will give you a good ideal what bird photographers are using and the quality of the images they are capturing with their equipment. There are many wonderful photo's to look at and the users of this thread are friendly and very helpful and encouraging.

I use a crop Canon body (1.3x) and permanently have a 1.4x TC on a 500mm Prime and for me personally it's still not enough mm. I end up cropping all my images even with this set-up. I like to keep my distance from the birds so I do not disturb them in their environment. Also I do not use Photoshop or Lightroom, I find them over complicated. I use only Canon's free DPP software to make very slight changes with contrast, saturation, light, sharpness.

Just to point out if you intend to use a 1.4x or 2x Teleconverter with the Tamron lens in question f6.3 at 600mm I believe becomes f9 and with a 2x TC f6.3 becomes f12.6. AF will not work on certain bodies at these Apertures.

Hope this helps and what ever your decision I and many would love to see any bird photo's that you may happen to post.
Regards Paul Cousins


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MalVeauX
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Post edited 9 months ago by MalVeauX.
     
Sep 27, 2017 09:39 |  #3

setagate wrote in post #18461357 (external link)
I‘m thinking about buying a long telephoto lens, maybe a Tamron SP 150-600 f 5.6-6.3, for photos of birds and other distant objects. I have a Canon 6D full frame camera and wondered if it would be a good idea to buy a used crop frame camera like a Canon 40D so that I would get a longer range. Apparently, with a 1.6 crop factor the range would convert to 240-960mm. Or, can I get photos that would be just as large, and maybe of better quality, by shooting with my Canon 6D and enlarging the photos in Photoshop or Lightroom and then cropping so that the image of the bird fills the frame? I would appreciate any advice.

Stay with the 6D for a while.

Later, if you feel the need to have higher pixel density, greater FPS, etc, then explore something else maybe. But glass comes first if you want to get into birds. You're already on a good budget track for getting reach, as reach is important depending on your subject and how you approach them. A 150-600 of any flavor will do you very well starting out (excellent for all stationary birds of all sizes, great for birds in flight in good light). On a full frame, you'll spend a lot of time at 400~600mm on that lens most likely. I found myself living at 600mm on mine no matter the sensor size, because unless I could get close, they were always distant. Once you get used to having a long lens and you feel you need other things from the camera body, then explore a new body. But don't go from a 6D to a 40D, that's backwards for your purposes. The 6D is totally fine for birding. And the high ISO performance and decent low ISO dynamic range will be very useful with a long slower lens like this.

Ultimately it depends on what birds, where, how you approach them, what kind of light, what kind of look you want etc. I've changed my birding setup many times. But I don't regret starting with a 600mm out of the gate. I still use it. I've done it full frame, APS-C, APS-H, etc. I actually am totally happy on an APS-C when it comes to wildlife/birding. I found my happy medium was APS-H for right now, both with a 150-600 and with my 300 F4L IS (plus TC's if I need it). If I were shopping a new body today, for birds, it would likely be the 7D2 or 80D. But I would again stress to have glass before a new body. The 6D is totally great for birding! Especially big birds, or small ones up close.

But I'd start with what you have first. Stay with the 6D. It focuses fine, it is great for this. Get a long piece of glass first and practice.

Very best,


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saea501
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Post edited 9 months ago by saea501.
     
Sep 27, 2017 10:48 |  #4

I get very good results with the 6D and the 100-400 II.

Keep in mind the longer the focal length the harder it is to hold steady at distance. Some people are better at this than others and I see many birders using a tripod. Personally, I can't imagine trying to shoot birds while using a tripod. But then I shoot primarily birds in flight as opposed to stationary. I guess it depends on what it is you want to shoot.

Buying a crop body does not increase your focal length, it decreases your field of view. This point has been discussed (argued about) ad nauseam, but before going into a crop body purchase thinking it is going to give you 'more reach'......you might want to be aware of what actually happens with regard to crop factors.

I love shooting birds, but it takes a great deal of practice and even more patience. Sometimes I'll stand doing nothing for a long time, then within 5 minutes or so I'll fire off a hundred pictures.


Remember what the DorMouse said.....feed your head.
Bob
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setagate
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Sep 27, 2017 19:33 |  #5

PCousins wrote in post #18461382 (external link)
Hello,

I suggest you have a good look at the thread "Post your best bird Portrait"
https://photography-on-the.net …showthread.php?​p=18461231, it will give you a good ideal what bird photographers are using and the quality of the images they are capturing with their equipment. There are many wonderful photo's to look at and the users of this thread are friendly and very helpful and encouraging.

I use a crop Canon body (1.3x) and permanently have a 1.4x TC on a 500mm Prime and for me personally it's still not enough mm. I end up cropping all my images even with this set-up. I like to keep my distance from the birds so I do not disturb them in their environment. Also I do not use Photoshop or Lightroom, I find them over complicated. I use only Canon's free DPP software to make very slight changes with contrast, saturation, light, sharpness.

Just to point out if you intend to use a 1.4x or 2x Teleconverter with the Tamron lens in question f6.3 at 600mm I believe becomes f9 and with a 2x TC f6.3 becomes f12.6. AF will not work on certain bodies at these Apertures.

Hope this helps and what ever your decision I and many would love to see any bird photo's that you may happen to post.
Regards Paul Cousins

Thank you very much for your recommendations. As you have suggested I started to review the thread "Post your best bird Portrait" https://photography-on-the.net ...showthread.php?p=18​461231. Based on the first few pages that I’ve reviewed it seems that the majority of these bird photographers shoot with 400mm, 500mm or longer lenses on crop frame camera bodies with very good results. So, it would seem that is the route I should take. Does anyone reading this have strong objections to this conclusion, I wonder?




  
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Phoenixkh
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Sep 27, 2017 19:42 |  #6

setagate wrote in post #18461784 (external link)
Thank you very much for your recommendations. As you have suggested I started to review the thread "Post your best bird Portrait"
https://photography-on-the.net ...showthread.php?p=18​461231. Based on the first few pages that I’ve reviewed it seems that the majority of these bird photographers shoot with 400mm, 500mm or longer lenses on crop frame camera bodies with very good results. So, it would seem that is the route I should take. Does anyone reading this have strong objections to this conclusion, I wonder?

I can usually get away with my 100-400L ii because here in Florida, I can get closer to the birds. That isn't the case in many venues. That's when the longer lenses come into play. Until fairly recently, it was very difficult to get even decent quality above 400mm but Sigma and Tamron both have 150-600mm lenses that are cost effective.

Based on what I've seen online, the hmmmmm quality of the photographs is a bit less than with the Canon 100-400L ii and certainly below one of the Canon big whites (500, 600 and 800mm respectively). Of course, the cost differential is painful. ;)


Kim (the male variety) Canon 1DX2 | 1D IV | 16-35 f/4 IS | 24-105 f/4 IS | 100L IS macro | 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II | 100-400Lii | 50 f/1.8 STM | Canon 1.4X III
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Larry ­ Johnson
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Post edited 9 months ago by Larry Johnson.
     
Sep 28, 2017 10:37 |  #7

setagate wrote in post #18461784 (external link)
Thank you very much for your recommendations. As you have suggested I started to review the thread "Post your best bird Portrait"
https://photography-on-the.net ...showthread.php?p=18​461231. Based on the first few pages that I’ve reviewed it seems that the majority of these bird photographers shoot with 400mm, 500mm or longer lenses on crop frame camera bodies with very good results. So, it would seem that is the route I should take. Does anyone reading this have strong objections to this conclusion, I wonder?

With a good quality 400mm or longer lens, your 6D is a quite capable camera for bird photography. It will be better with bird portraits than with birds in flight (BIF) photography due to the relatively low frames per second of the 6D, but don't let that stop you from using it Many people don't use a crop sensor camera for bird photography. Don't get caught up in the fallacy that "I need more reach, I need more reach". Start with getting a lens. No matter what camera/lens combo you have, there will always be subjects out of reach. The key is to get closer and accept the fact that many birds will simply be too far away and you'll never be able to get close to them due to water features or other obstacles. Also, keep in mind that it becomes increasingly more difficult to get a sharp image with an increase in the distance between you and your subject. There's a ton of threads on here regarding camera and lens recommendations for bird photography. Read through them. Here's a free online book that I found useful. http://www.digitalbird​photography.com/conten​ts.html (external link)

..and here's a thread that helped me early on. https://photography-on-the.net …/showthread.php​?t=1361888

Have fun out there.


_______________
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Shooting 7D2 with Canon 400mm, f/5.6.
60D, canon 18-135 EFS, and 1.4 extender in the bag.
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setagate
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Sep 28, 2017 17:56 |  #8

Larry Johnson wrote in post #18462147 (external link)
With a good quality 400mm or longer lens, your 6D is a quite capable camera for bird photography. It will be better with bird portraits than with birds in flight (BIF) photography due to the relatively low frames per second of the 6D, but don't let that stop you from using it Many people don't use a crop sensor camera for bird photography. Don't get caught up in the fallacy that "I need more reach, I need more reach". Start with getting a lens. No matter what camera/lens combo you have, there will always be subjects out of reach. The key is to get closer and accept the fact that many birds will simply be too far away and you'll never be able to get close to them due to water features or other obstacles. Also, keep in mind that it becomes increasingly more difficult to get a sharp image with an increase in the distance between you and your subject. There's a ton of threads on here regarding camera and lens recommendations for bird photography. Read through them. Here's a free online book that I found useful. http://www.digitalbird​photography.com/conten​ts.html (external link)

..and here's a thread that helped me early on. https://photography-on-the.net …/showthread.php​?t=1361888

Have fun out there.

Thank you very much for this valuable information.




  
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Duane ­ N
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Sep 29, 2017 04:29 |  #9

Some sound advice given thus far and I have to agree with the ones that said stick with your current camera body and invest in the lens first. Once you outgrow that combination explore options on upgrading the camera body or a longer lens.

Each situation is different, each bird/animal you're targeting is different so it's hard to say exactly which is the best option in your situation but a few things I would consider before making any decisions are:

1. You can rent a lens and try it out before buying it.
2. Study the behavior and habits of what you're photographing so you are able to put yourself in the right position when an opportunity comes up.
3. Hides or blinds work well if you're able to set one up.
4. Work on approaching your subject without disturbing it and learn/remember how it reacts for future encounters.
5. Do not rely on cropping or processing to make a mistake on your part into something usable..it's a wasted effort IMHO.
6. Fill the frame as much as possible.
7. Most importantly...be patient and don't expect too much each time you go out....just enjoy each moment and learn from it.


I do more observing now than actually taking pictures. I tend to search for cooperative subjects by reading their body language and remembering how they react when/if they see me or someone else. I'm often shooting at 840mm-1200mm on a crop body and still want more reach but for me I'd rather not be seen by what I'm photographing for more natural looking images with natural behavior.


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Sibil
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Sep 29, 2017 04:48 |  #10

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Duane ­ N
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Oct 02, 2017 05:03 |  #11

I was able to get out this weekend and I was hoping to run into a Red-tailed Hawk I've been photographing for the last 4 years to show you an example of why getting a longer lens or a new camera body isn't necessary all the time. Although I do shoot with a 600mm lens and use extenders on it I could probably photograph this hawk with a 200mm lens because of how cooperative it is.

This is a crappy cell phone picture but it shows you how tolerant this hawk is. This young man was walking into a local YMCA and walked right under the hawk as it perched on one of the lights in the parking lot. It didn't even look down at him and actually flew into a fenced in child area and caught a frog as the gentleman walked into the building.


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I found out about this hawk from another photographer because he knows how much I like photographing them. I've been following it ever since. Cooperative wildlife does exist...you just have to be patient and keep looking for them. I also photograph a male Bald Eagle close to my home that is somewhat tolerant and I found the nest and the male eagle by driving around and observing him and hos mate. (she hates people so I leave her alone...lol).

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bobbyz
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Post edited 9 months ago by bobbyz. (2 edits in all)
     
Oct 04, 2017 04:59 |  #12

Personally I would use an older 1.6x crop body and something like 400mm f5.6. Yes no IS but man that lens will beat most others unless you talking superteles. Even then it is very comparable and probably even better in AF speed due to little longer min focussing distance. And it can be easily had for $700 or so used. FF vs crop for same pixel density I agree no difference but if you have same MP bodies (crop and FF) I will take crop body for birding anytime. 6d is dog for action.


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saea501
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Oct 04, 2017 06:41 |  #13

bobbyz wrote in post #18465714 (external link)
6d is dog for action.



.....perhaps for you....


Remember what the DorMouse said.....feed your head.
Bob
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bobbyz
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Post edited 9 months ago by bobbyz. (2 edits in all)
     
Oct 05, 2017 04:45 |  #14

saea501 wrote in post #18465731 (external link)
[/B]

.....perhaps for you....

What do I know, but would love to be proven wrong. Had 6d and 5dmk3 side by side for more than a yr.


5dmk3, 35L, 85L II, 300mm f2.8 IS I, 400mm f5.6
Fuji XT-1, 14mm f2.8, 23mm f1.4, 35mm f1.4, 56mm f1.2, 90mm f2, 50-140mm f2.8

  
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nwyman
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Oct 27, 2017 22:53 |  #15

Shot for a long time with the 40D and the Tamron 150-600. My gear was stolen and I replaced it with a 6D and another Tamron 150-600. Started shooting in TV mode rather than AP and the results have pleased me very much.


EOS 6D, SX50HS, Tamron 150-600
C&C welcome and invited

  
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