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FORUMS General Gear Talk Camera Vs. Camera 
Thread started 24 Oct 2021 (Sunday) 04:31
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Stepping up my Bird photography from beginner to enthusiast.

 
StateOfPlay
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Oct 24, 2021 04:31 |  #1

I am ready to step up from my Canon EOS 250d to the next level to improve the quality of my bird photography. I mainly take my shots in the local countryside/woods and we are also fortunate to have a great variety of birds visiting our garden. I have the Sigma 150-600 lens and a kit lens, so will be looking for a decent main lens early next year. I also have an EF 20-35mm 1:3 5-4.5 but I don't like the quality of the images this takes.
I have narrowed my choices to the 90D and the EOS R (which I understand now have compatibility with EF lenses?).

https://smile.amazon.c​o.uk …?smid=A3P5ROKL5​A1OLE&th=1 (external link)
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Any thoughts, advice/suggestions most welcome.


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Mark Hawkins
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takesrandompictures
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Oct 25, 2021 14:59 |  #2

The 90D is somewhat faster focusing than the R and will fit all your lenses without an adapter. The R on the other hand is lighter but will need an adapter ($100-$200 likely numerically same in pounds given my past experiences) for you to use your existing lenses. The EF-S lens will also put it in crop mode reducing the number of megapixels but no issues on the Sigma or the EF lens. I'd suggest renting them both and seeing which one you like.

There's a lot of possible upgrades in terms of glass and bodies but usually working on technique will help more, the Sigma is well regarded as a birding lens and I've seen so many amazing shots from it.




  
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MalVeauX
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Post edited 2 months ago by MalVeauX.
     
Oct 25, 2021 15:03 |  #3

Hi,

Better birding photos is less about having specific gear and more about getting to know your subject, ie, their habits, their habitat, their life cycle, feeding habits, mating habits, etc. Getting closer or being in a position where they likely come to you is more useful than just getting bigger lenses and a better sensor. Not trying to be cheeky. Just pointing out that the rational from going to enthusiast or beyond level is more than just equipment, equipment is the easy part. You just buy something. The challenge and interesting part is learning your subject(s) and the behavior and planning that goes into this. Otherwise, any bean can buy a big lens and stomp out into a park and proclaim themselves master birding because their lens is big.

So I would instead challenge you to dig deep and think about what of your equipment is truly holding you back and to examine your approach to birds in the first place. How do you plan for specific species. How do you find them. When do you position yourself for them and why? Do you consider the entire view for composition so that it looks natural, versus staged, versus random bird in a dumpster or on some fence? Again, not being cheeky. But these questions are the differences when you're talking about stepping up your skill level in this. You can do it! It's a mindset and information and putting it to use; more so, than just buying some random new gear. Gear helps. But it's not the answer.

Very best,


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drsilver
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Oct 25, 2021 20:58 |  #4

The advise above is good. Bird photography is basically hunting and the fastest way to become a better bird photographer is to become a better hunter.

Still, your question is a good one. You're at a crossroads. You can only take that little SL3 so far.

Really, you should go mirrorless. That's the way things will be from now on. If you can afford it, get an R5 or R6. You'd have to buy one new. They're not showing up used yet. Personally, I can't afford one so I'm still shooting with DSLRs.

I don't know anything about an R except that I don't think I want one. They're starting to show up used and reasonably priced. But I get the impression that it was kind of a beta model. I've found with most technology, never buy the first one. It becomes ancient in a year. Again, though, no personal experience.

I do have a 90D. It's awesome. It's on the other side of the line from the R. The R is brand-new, untested technology. The 90D is the apex of the technology the R is replacing. The 90D is the last in a long line of Canon DSLRs. It's bug free.

A 90D and a 400 5.6 make up my bird kit. They ride together almost exclusively. So much fun to use. I also own a 5Div and a 6Dii and in a lot of ways, the 90D is the best of them all. Not as robust and not as configurable, but the internal components are the state of the art as it ended. And even though it's a crop sensor, it's a 32.5 mp, Digic 8 crop sensor that gives me 640mm of reach from that 400 5.6. You'd get almost 1000mm with that Sigma.


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gonzogolf
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Oct 25, 2021 21:27 |  #5

Unless you can afford an R5 or R6 your best bet is to go with the 90D. While the high end mirror less cameras have some advantages focusing the 90D is a huge step up from your existing gear at a much smaller investment.

While I'm not really a bird photographer I am a wildlife photographer who shoots birds as a target of opportunity. The 90D is plenty capable of doing the job and then the above advice about becoming a better hunter applies.




  
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Tom ­ Reichner
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Oct 26, 2021 00:38 |  #6

StateOfPlay wrote in post #19298539 (external link)
.
Stepping up my Bird photography from beginner to enthusiast.

I am ready to step up from my Canon EOS 250d to the next level to improve the quality of my bird photography.

Any thoughts, advice/suggestions most welcome.
.

.
I find it interesting that when you think about stepping up to the next level to improve the quality of your bird photos, that your thoughts go in the direction of the gear you are using. . That is the last thing that comes to mind when I think of getting better bird photos than those I am getting now.

I suppose that getting a high-end mirrorless rig with state-of-the-art animal eye auto detect focusing could really help for many types of bird photography, but other than that one feature, I don't see that a camera upgrade would make much, if any, difference.

As others have already suggested, what would make a huge difference is the amount of time and effort you put into research, travel, and developing set-ups. . Those things will make a huge and immediate impact in the quality of the work you produce.

Using blinds and learning how and precisely where to set them up will have a much greater positive impact than in your image quality than getting a better camera or lens.

Learning how to identify birds by sound alone, and then becoming adept at the use of playback calls in season will have a similarly huge impact on your bird photography. . May I suggest buying the iBird Pro app and a bluetooth speaker, instead of upgrading your camera?

In addition to, and sometimes in conjunction with blinds and calls, decoys can be used to great advantage. . I suggest getting some cheap foam core board, some colored markers and paints, and a razor knife, and learning to make some quick decoys for use in drawing birds near or for eliciting certain photogenic behaviors. . For example, if I want quality photos of a Painted Bunting, and I go out one day and see a Painted Bunting that is aggressively chasing and attacking all of the Lazuli Buntings in the area, you can bet I would come home that evening and spend a half hour making a male Lazuli Bunting decoy our of foam core board, and then I would get back out to the location and pin the decoy to a perch in a prominent location, to lure the Painted Bunting in to close photo range. . Likewise for Loons, various ducks, warblers, etc., etc., etc.

It also greatly helps to set things up so that the birds land on aesthetically appealing perches in front of distraction-free natural backgrounds of colors that are complimentary to the plumage of the target species.

Finally, doing diligent research on where birds are currently will also have a great positive impact on your bird photography. . Get on sites like eBird daily. . Develop a network of bird photographer friends who all share info with each other on a frequent basis. . Get to know local birders and be in contact with them regularly so that you can learn when and where they see any species that you are interested in photographing. . Get on Instagram and search the hashtags for all of the species you want to shoot, then contact the people who are photographing those species effectively to get information from them about how and where they are shooting those species.

All of the stuff I just detailed is what results in great improvements in someone's body of work. . Getting a marginally better camera or lens won't have nearly that much of an impact in the quality of your photos.

.


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greyswan
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Post edited 2 months ago by greyswan.
     
Oct 26, 2021 19:10 |  #7

The R is a very capable camera (certainly not a beta test as someone suggested) and competes easily with the 5DMK4. It also works very well with EF lenses, of which, if the OP is budget-minded, there will be a lot of good deals around. It also works very well with the Sigma 150-600.

With regard to wildlife, the burst mode is 5 FPS, (the 5D MKiv is 6 FPS) and I have found that quite comfortable for my needs. I love shooting wildlife, but it's not my primary usage which is commercial product photography. Going to mirrorless has a learning curve, so it does take a little bit of playing around to find the right settings, but the R handles BIF and wildlife quite nicely. It's not an R5 or R6, but that is reflected in the price.

The R is also great in low light. I take images at around 3200+ quite comfortably, and it has a 30MP sensor, which really does make a difference. 45MP would be great in some circumstances, but I really don't want huge files that require more and more storage. You'll see that difference reflected in your images right away. It doesn't have IBIS, but all my lenses have IS (all EF lenses). IBIS would be nice, but I'm not going to pay for that premium, considering my usage. The EF lenses are sharper on the R than on the dslrs I own, some of which have had to be MF'd to calibrate.

The electronic viewfinder is brilliant (coming from a dslr, I can't tell you how many shots I've missed exposure on because I didn't notice in the heat of the moment!) You will see the exposure is off as soon as you look through the eyepiece and can compensate immediately.

The customisability of the R is great, with an easily parsed menu.

The adapter is comfortable to use and doesn't intrude on my shooting style in the least. The control wheel is very useful to me, as is the slider bar, which I use for changing AF points from spot to zone quickly.

I don't own a 90D, but I have seen really excellent images with it and the Sigma from many people, certainly you won't go wrong with that camera either. Although I do think the R may have better low light capabilities. I don't know enough about the 90D to be sure about that though. I'd also suggest you might be future-proofing yourself a little more with mirrorless.

All that said, learning to get closer to your wildlife subjects is key, no matter which camera you choose. As is learning the best settings for different situations. Local birders will usually know all the best spots, and learning patience, sneaking up and staying still, waiting for the perfect moment, is all part of the game.

Unlike many people, I think you should buy the best camera you can afford rather than sticking with something 'to learn on'. The problem I found was that I had to re-learn everything on the newer model anyway, so why bother? I found that by stepping up gradually through the models, I soon outgrew the older ones, they simply didn't do what I wanted them to do within a year or so of getting them. YMMV of course. I can't justify an r5 price-wise for my needs, but the R is a nice compromise.

Here's a sample from the R with the Sigma.


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Chris
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takesrandompictures
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Oct 27, 2021 12:59 |  #8

greyswan wrote in post #19299692 (external link)
The optical viewfinder is brilliant (coming from a dslr, I can't tell you how many shots I've missed exposure on because I didn't notice in the heat of the moment!) You will see the exposure is off as soon as you look through the eyepiece and can compensate immediately.

You mean electronic viewfinder right? I don't believe any of the Rs have an optical viewfinder.




  
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greyswan
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Post edited 2 months ago by greyswan.
     
Oct 27, 2021 15:25 |  #9

takesrandompictures wrote in post #19300001 (external link)
You mean electronic viewfinder right? I don't believe any of the Rs have an optical viewfinder.

Yes, indeedy - I KNOW it is an electronic viewfinder :) my mind is still stuck in the dslr world, lol. Thanks for catching that. I corrected it in the original post.


Chris
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avondale87
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Oct 27, 2021 16:14 |  #10

I don't own Canon gear but a long time back when the R came out a very talented bloke here, Pondrader, bought one and was derided by some, but he persisted and showed us the results
https://photography-on-the.net/forum/member.p​hp?m=355695
If you want to see what an R will do then check his work too.
You can browse R images here https://photography-on-the.net/forum/gearinde​x.php?id=3671

So I can't help other than mention I've admired many R photos on this site, and Greyswan photo above is one such.

I concur with comments on getting to know your subjects, their habits and being able to mingle with them.
That's where you can start to really enjoy the birds, wildlife in their natural state.

All the best with your choice and ventures.



Richard

  
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StateOfPlay
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Oct 29, 2021 13:25 |  #11

Thank you all for your replies, I really value the time and care you have taken with your advice and I will take all of it on board.
I have a local woods that I walk through and I always hear the voice of the green woodpecker at the same clearing. I joke with my wife that it is mocking me as it never stays around long enough for me to get a good quality picture. So that is what I am going to focus on and I will leave the new camera until next year.
Cheers.
Mark.


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Tom ­ Reichner
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Oct 29, 2021 13:49 |  #12

StateOfPlay wrote in post #19300777 (external link)
.
I have a local woods that I walk through and I always hear the voice of the green woodpecker at the same clearing. I joke with my wife that it is mocking me as it never stays around long enough for me to get a good quality picture. So that is what I am going to focus on and I will leave the new camera until next year.

Cheers, Mark
.

.
Mark,

I love that you have a specific objective, such as getting a quality photo of the Green Woodpecker in your local woodlot. . Knowing exactly what you are after makes it easier to come up with a plan that will succeed.

You are fortunate in that Woodpeckers are cavity nesters, and also that most of them do not migrate, but rather live the entire year in one area. . That means that in the spring or early summer, your Green Woodpecker should be tied to whatever nest site he/she and his/her mate has chosen. . That means that you know for sure exactly where it is going to be, dozens of times each day, every day, for about two months!

So I think that if I were you, and had your objective, what I would be doing is to work hard to find the Woodpeckers' nest cavity next spring. Then you can strategize about how to get yourself up to eye level for the best quality photos (orchard ladder, tree stand, ropes and pulleys with remote shutter release, etc).

In the meantime, most species of Woodpeckers respond well to suet, especially during the winter and early spring. . So perhaps you can get out there in your woods, find the Woodpecker, and then establish a feeding station .... or at least just put some suet out in a less obvious manner, if a feeding station is not permitted in that woodlot.

You can just smear suet into the nooks and crannies of the bark of trees that have coarse bark, and once they find it, just keep replenishing the suet regularly. . Then you will have them perching right on the tree trunks at eye level when they come to eat the suet, so you should be able to get some really high quality photos with nice distraction-free backgrounds.

If the Woodpecker is at all skittish, then you'll just have to set a blind up by the tree trunks that you put the suet onto. . A blind can be portable and makeshift - something that you take in with you, pop up, get into, shoot from, then take down and pack out with you when you leave each day. . With a blind set up just 25 or 30 feet from the suet, and your 150-600mm Sigma, you should have no trouble getting frame-filling photos!

.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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greyswan
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Oct 29, 2021 19:19 |  #13

StateOfPlay wrote in post #19300777 (external link)
Thank you all for your replies, I really value the time and care you have taken with your advice and I will take all of it on board.
I have a local woods that I walk through and I always hear the voice of the green woodpecker at the same clearing. I joke with my wife that it is mocking me as it never stays around long enough for me to get a good quality picture. So that is what I am going to focus on and I will leave the new camera until next year.
Cheers.
Mark.

They do. :)

My friend swears they send out a memo with our names on it when we go hunting birds.


Chris
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chuckmiller
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Nov 03, 2021 09:24 |  #14

Pondrader has not posted in 2.5 years. His photos were always top quality. Pity.


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Stepping up my Bird photography from beginner to enthusiast.
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