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Old Feb 29, 2012, 2:21 PM   #1
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Default What do you use for Wildlife/bird photography?

I have a full frame 5D MkII. Awesome for out and about with the 24-70 F2.8.

When it comes to wildlife though im a bit stuck. I have the Canon 70-200 F4. Great lens but not quite long enough for birds and wildlife.

I am considering the canon 300mm F4 L but would like some recommendations based on what you guys use.

Thanks!
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Old Feb 29, 2012, 2:51 PM   #2
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On a 'Full Frame' body, I don't think you'll have much luck shooting birds and other wildlife at a focal length of 300mm, unless they're big (i.e.: Bison, Moose, Bear, etc.)

I use a 100-300 on an APS-C body and have some luck with soaring raptors. Not much. Just enough to keep me trying.

Take a look at the Wildlife Photos forum, and see what others are using.
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Old Feb 29, 2012, 6:22 PM   #3
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I basically has the same setup you have with a new 5DMKII. I am playing around with a Tamron 70-300mm VC lens trying to photograph birds around my neighborhood and have limited success. The tamron lens does ok with large subjects but for birds, the 300mm is not long enough unless you are shooting them up close. I think you may need a long lens like 500mm or longer to have any success.
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Canon 5D MKII, EF 24-105mm f/4L, EF 50mm f/1.8, EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro, Tamron 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 SP Di VC USD XLD, Sigma DG 150-500mm f/5.-6.3 APO HSM.
Canon EOS T3i, 7D and 70D EF 17-40mm f/4L, EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6, Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM, 430 EXII Flash.
Sony A200, SLT-A58 System with HVL-F42AM Flash.
Mirrorless APS-C camera: Samsung NX100, Canon EOS-M.
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Old Feb 29, 2012, 6:52 PM   #4
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Default My answer...

Hi schmintan

What TCav and WCKSer have posted above should be helpful.

On a full frame (FF) camera body, looking to get a 'long lens' to capture most small birds is going to be expensive (ie a big, heavy L lens). 200mm on a FF isn't very close for many birds / wildlife.

I don't have a FF, but rather a 7D which is generally better for birds and wildlife than a 5DmkII because it has:
- superior autofocus (AF), that is more of them and many good cross-types
- increased frames per second (fps)
- the 'APS-C crop factor', which effectively means it has more pixels density, so when looking at a photo taken through the lens, the photo appears 'closer' at the same magnification compared to a FF

I have the Canon 70-300mm L lens (I bought over a year ago) and on my 7D it can produce very good images of birds and wildlife. Like most things, it often depends how close you can get to the subject and the lighting, as to how good the photo will be.

There are many happy users of the Tamron 70-300mm VC USD, however the Canon 70-300mm L is definitely superior in just about every respect (higher image quality, faster focus, better build quality, etc).

The main advantage of the Tamron 70-300mm is price (it's significantly cheaper) and it's smaller / lighter. You might also want to consider the Canon 70-300mm (non L) which doesn't have true USM and is smaller / lighters as a lens (and about similar price and image quality as the Tamron).

Here is an image or two that I took with the 70-300mm L on my 7D. That's the equivalent framing one would achieve with 480mm on a FF.

Paul
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Old Feb 29, 2012, 7:01 PM   #5
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Default photo example #2

And here's another photo, again with my Canon 70-300mm L on my 7D.

The birds are 'New Holland Honeyeaters' - and are very small and quite quick moving. As both these photos are in my backyard, I was able to allow the birds to get relatively used to my presence (and thus I was about 8 metres away), before taking the photo (I certainly don't surprise these birds by sudden movements, as they usually fly off then). If you are photographing larger wildlife (eg four footed animals) - usually obviously you don't get that close... but of course they're much larger, so it sort of 'balances out'.

I used to have the Canon 100-300mm USM - which was a decent lens and one I bought many years ago. The price was good, USM focus very assuring and fast, plus it gave me my first telezoom. However compared to the 70-300mm L its image quality is nowhere near as good.

Also the 100-300mm needs to be stopped down to f8 to f9 to improve image quality at 300mm (f5.6 is not sharp, and really lacks contrast), and without image stabilisation (IS)... that combination (at f8 and no IS) often meant a problem with camera shake (or needing to use higher ISO - which introduces unwanted noise into the photo).

That's where the 70-300mm L shines: it's VERY VERY sharp wide open (at f5.6) at 300mm, plus with a 4 stop IS I can use the lens at lower ISOs and be confident with very high image quality. Matched to my 7D, it is not a 'huge / heavy / cumbersome' combination. In fact, I can fit my 7D with 15-85mm and 70-300mm (either lens attached) in my medium sized LowePro shoulder bag, and travel with and use it all day!

Hope my post helps.... Regards.

Paul
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Old Feb 29, 2012, 7:55 PM   #6
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You've had some good advice so far. I have a couple of 5DmkII bodies and a 5D, none of them come out when I want to shoot wildlife, I reach for my 7D and put a 120-300mm f2.8 lens on, then if I need a little more I pop a 1.4x TC in the mix.

It depends how seriously you really want to shoot birds/wildlife. If you want to do it with a 5DmkII then you would want to look in the realms of a 500mm lens or pick up a 40D/50D and a Canon 70-300mm IS USM which will be far cheaper and give some good results, or better still the 100-400mm Canon. If you can find a 2nd hand Sigma 100-300mm f4 (they stopped making it) that is a lovely lens and will take a 1.4x TC like a charm giving you 140-420mm f5.6.
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Old Mar 1, 2012, 5:13 AM   #7
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An inexpensive option might be a decent bridge camera- just for long range/good light work.
Though bear in mind bridge camera's are not so good for subjects in flight...
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Old Mar 1, 2012, 5:30 AM   #8
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A few birds captured with "bridges"...
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Old Mar 1, 2012, 5:31 AM   #9
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And a squirrel...!
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Old Mar 1, 2012, 6:28 AM   #10
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Thanks for the advice all. It is making me a little sad however. I didnt think about the loss of reach with moving to a full frame camera, and I actually sold my old Canon 400D.

Looks like some "investment" is required in at least a good 300mm lens and teleconverter, and perhaps a cheap crop body.

Looks like il be sticking to landscape and people photography for the time being.
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