Equipment advise for bird photography


Jun 15, 2011
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#1
Hi,

Just joined the club yesterday. So not sure if this is the right place to post my question.

I'm using a Nikon D7000 with kit and plan to explore bird photography. Due to budget, I may not be able to go for those big guns. I read some reviews and am thinking of either a Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 VRII with a 2.0 TC or Nikkor 300mm F4.0 ED-IF with 1.4 TC. I would prefer the 300mm F4.0 due to the extra length but worried that it may be due for replacement from Nikkor.

Need advise from the experienced birders.
1. For shooting of small birds like sunbird, etc. What kind of distance are we talking about if I'm using either of the lens mentioned above, to get a nicely framed picture without going thru' post pocessing or cropping?

2. Any suitable tripod to go along with such combination? I would prefer one that has shorter centre column so that I can also use it for low level micro photography.

Thanks and regards,
ancientmoon
 

PeaceL

New Member
Apr 6, 2011
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#2
U can start with 70-200mm with TC if u already own this lens. Else I feel that the reach is still not enough. Sigma 150-500 is another alternative if budget is a concern. Or break the bank to get 300 f/2.8 or 400f/2.8 or 500f/4 or 600f/4.

For birder, we wish we can get as close as possible but will the bird allow us?? Go out and keep shoting and you can get the answer.

Tripod, do ur math. Gitzo 3 series/Wimberley will stay with u even if u plan to upgrade in the future but again its not cheap. Others, I really not sure abt what lens u will be using.

Birding is always not cheap, anyway......
 

fmeeran

New Member
Nov 5, 2010
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Clementi, Singapore
#3
I believe 2x TC brings down the quality more than if you were to use the 1.4x and then crop. That was the impression I get from reviews and forums. Haven't personally used it. Any bros can clarify?

So, if that is the case, your option no 1 is not very good. And 300mm f4.0 with 1.4x gives you f5.6 at 420mm. I personally went for the sigma 150-500mm because it was lot cheaper and a bit more flexible. The problem of course if that it hunts a bit during focussing. The better option would be to go straight for the 300mm f/2.8 or the other nikon exotics.

I would suggest Gitzo tripods, and if you don't have the money manfrotto or sirui.

For sunbirds, I had to use 500mm and then crop 2x. But that was in the forests of India and you may have more luck with the local species or can get closer if you creep in slowly over ~30 minutes.
 

Jun 15, 2011
12
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#4
I believe 2x TC brings down the quality more than if you were to use the 1.4x and then crop. That was the impression I get from reviews and forums. Haven't personally used it. Any bros can clarify?

So, if that is the case, your option no 1 is not very good. And 300mm f4.0 with 1.4x gives you f5.6 at 420mm. I personally went for the sigma 150-500mm because it was lot cheaper and a bit more flexible. The problem of course if that it hunts a bit during focussing. The better option would be to go straight for the 300mm f/2.8 or the other nikon exotics.


I would suggest Gitzo tripods, and if you don't have the money manfrotto or sirui.

For sunbirds, I had to use 500mm and then crop 2x. But that was in the forests of India and you may have more luck with the local species or can get closer if you creep in slowly over ~30 minutes.
Thanks, bro fmeeran, for the advise. You have the Sigma 150~500mm zoom? What's your comment on that lens, in terms of IQ?

Regards,
ancientmoon
 

Jun 15, 2011
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#5
Thanks PeaceL for the fast response.

Is the 300mm with 1.4 TC a good starter? With a D7000, there is a crop factor of 1.5 and this is equilavent to 630mm F5.6. As an advise to newbie, can you help to give a guide, with this lens, am I able to get a reasonable size image of the frame without cropping, at a distance of about 5 to 10m away?

Regards,
ancientmoon
 

kcchew

New Member
Dec 7, 2010
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#6
I'm using an AF-D 80-200 f2.8 with no TC on a D300. For your reference, here's a shot of a sunbird at about 8-10m away at 200mm:




100% zoom:




Personally, I'd go for the 300mm F4 first, then decide if I need the TC later. 70-200mm is an awesome lens, but as you can see 200mm is barely sufficient.
 

Reno

Senior Member
Jan 22, 2005
2,324
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Land of the Teddy Bear
#7
Birding is never a cheap hobby..... for a start, since you using D7000, i would suggest you to get a second-hand tamron 200-500mm F5.6-F6.3. It is a pretty fast lens even it does not have a built-in motor. I am not sure about sigma 150-500mm and 50-500mm lens, but i believe that the 50-500mm lens is slower than the three lens.

Do a search on the user called "Strobby" and you will be able to see how well is the tamron 200-500mm lens perform. Previously i was using the same 200-500mm lens before i upgrade to 500mm F4.

As for tripod, the recommended setup is either Gitzo 3 series carbon fiber tripod with Full Wimberley head, this setup would last you to all the way to 500mm Prime with pro-body. For 600mm you got to go for Gitzo 5 series tripod.

For your case, i would recommend you to get a gitzo series 2 tripod or similar with a decent acra-swiss ball head and wimberley sidekick. How does a wimberley sidekick looks like? Checkout http://www.tripodhead.com

Teleconverter (TC) are not really meant to work with zoom lens as they greatly reduce the picture quality and the speed performance of the lens. They are much more meant for prime lens like 300mm F4, 300mm F2.8, 400 F2.8, 500 F4 and 600 F4.

For canon setup, a 400mm F5.6 and any body would done the trick.
 

fmeeran

New Member
Nov 5, 2010
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Clementi, Singapore
#8
Thanks, bro fmeeran, for the advise. You have the Sigma 150~500mm zoom? What's your comment on that lens, in terms of IQ?

Regards,
ancientmoon
The IQ is ok. Not as good as the Nikons though. But be warned that Sigmas have a lot of QC issues and you need to check your lens before buying it.

The focussing is leisurely and can be irritating at times. Pre-focussing helps a lot.

The Tamron 200-500mm is sharper, but I prefer the Sigma 150-500mm for the OS. It is not a fast lens being f/6.3 at 500mm. You'll need to stop it down to f/8 for it to be reasonably sharp. But the OS makes it handholdable at upto 1/50s. That wouldn't help in BIF, but certainly helps when the bird is sitting in a shady tree.

Having said that, if I had the money I would go nikon exotic in a blink. :D
 

Cowseye

Senior Member
Mar 7, 2010
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www.ttlo-cowseye.com
#9
Had a lot of money you mean? :p haha

My 150-500mm is reasonably sharp at wide open. The only hinderance is shutter speed. It's either you are shaky or the bird just like to move a little too much.
 

Reno

Senior Member
Jan 22, 2005
2,324
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Land of the Teddy Bear
#10
OS, VR, IS do not really help when on tripod, unless you handheld... instead, if you turn on VR, OS, IS on when on tripod, you will cause more vibration when you shoot at low shutter speed, it is best you off your VR, IS, OS when you shoot on tripod.
 

fmeeran

New Member
Nov 5, 2010
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Clementi, Singapore
#11
Had a lot of money you mean? :p haha

My 150-500mm is reasonably sharp at wide open. The only hinderance is shutter speed. It's either you are shaky or the bird just like to move a little too much.
Yes. :) A couple of exotics and enough money to travel first/business class all the time so that I can carry all my lenses in cabin. :D
I am very shaky to start with, but I usually brace when I shoot. Plus the shots at f/8 come out sharper than the ones at f/6.3, even though longer exposure. That's what makes me believe that at least my copy is sharper at f/8.
 

PeaceL

New Member
Apr 6, 2011
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#12
Its common that we shot 1 full stop or half stop down to get the sharpness and more DOF. So shooting at f/7.1 or f/8 is the most ideal if ur biggest is @ f/5.6 or f/6.3. Again, light is the most important factors. But with Nikon latest D7000, ISO can uppered all the way to 800-1600 to get the ideal shuttle speed with min noise.

Btw, TS, had you went out and shoot before. Do you like the sun, heat, rain and other elements? What type of pix you are trying to capture?
 

nikerocks

New Member
Nov 27, 2009
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#13
Its common that we shot 1 full stop or half stop down to get the sharpness and more DOF. So shooting at f/7.1 or f/8 is the most ideal if ur biggest is @ f/5.6 or f/6.3. Again, light is the most important factors. But with Nikon latest D7000, ISO can uppered all the way to 800-1600 to get the ideal shuttle speed with min noise.

Btw, TS, had you went out and shoot before. Do you like the sun, heat, rain and other elements? What type of pix you are trying to capture?
sorry to hijack this thread,i am a canon 50d user,and i am a newbie to dslr but i wana take photos of birds to show my girl the beauty of nature(i like taking photos of animals and trees also but birds are more hard..)i am using a 70-300 lens.i dont mind the sun,heat and rain.hopefully can capture the bird at their natural moments.
 

Dec 12, 2009
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#14
So what are you trying to ask nikerocks? Are you asking about your setup?
 

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