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Old Apr 17, 2007, 6:11 PM   #11
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Gle, I didn't notice if you specified a price range anywhere, but the camera I used was a Pentax K100D with some manual lenses. The K100D with an 18-55 kit lens can be had for under $500 after a rebate, http://www.beachcamera.com/shop/bask...ks=PKK100D1855,

For the bird shots, I used an old manual focus 135mm lens ($20) with an old manual focus teleconverter ($25). I also have an old 80-200mm f/4 that isn't too bad for wildlife ($45). That's under $600 for a pretty good range of lenses, if you don't mind manual focusing. If you want autofocus, there are 70-300mm lenses available from $130-$210 that may be good enough.
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Old May 4, 2007, 8:51 PM   #12
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I think you are a natual born panner. These photos took tremendous skill. I just received my camera yesterday. So I have a lot to learn. It's the summer heat that gets to me so it may be until next fall that I get out to take photos of wildlife. Thanks again - gle
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Old May 5, 2007, 9:48 AM   #13
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Keoeeit wrote:
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Capturing a bird in flight depends more on the skills and experience of the photographer than it does the model of the camera.
Well yes and no....where most P&S's fail is shutter lag..... a SLR especially prefocusted is near instant.. and even if not pretty darn instant if a big focus shift from last shot isn't needed.

Sure skill is involved..... but someone is SERIOUS about on the fly widlife.... SLR is the only real way to go.

Yes there are some impressively fast high end P&S these days.... but they are much the cost of entry level SLR's with none of the lens flexability.
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Old May 5, 2007, 3:51 PM   #14
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Hayward wrote:
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Well yes and no....where most P&S's fail is shutter lag..... a SLR especially prefocusted is near instant.. and even if not pretty darn instant if a big focus shift from last shot isn't needed.

Sure skill is involved..... but someone is SERIOUS about on the fly widlife.... SLR is the only real way to go.

Yes there are some impressively fast high end P&S these days.... but they are much the cost of entry level SLR's with none of the lens flexability.
Nearly all of the shutter lag on any camera is in the autofocus. If using manual focus, the shutter operates as quickly on a smaller sensor camera as on a DSLR. The only advantages of DSLRs are larger sensors, and the ability to swap lenses for varying conditions. And prefocussing isless criticalwith small sensors due to greater DOF.

As to burst speed, my Minolta D7hi will shoot 7FPS, although only at 1280x960 pixels. That is fine for posting on web, and I have made very nice 4x6 prints at that resolution. I would only give the advantage to my Pentax *ist D if needing to print large.

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Old May 5, 2007, 5:29 PM   #15
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I have seen similar debates in other threads. Now I have not gone digital yet (that's why I'm here) But I'm no stranger to photography. It seems to me that every time a novice asks for advice he/she gets told he/she "needs" things that they really may not. "Image stabilization" – If I can hand hold my Nikon F with a 400mm lens and teleconverter and get sharp pics, I don't think I "NEED" image stabilization. "Fast auto focus" The best thing about auto focus is the ability to turn it off. I'll bet every pic in this thread was taken at infinity. Auto focus only slows you down, no mater how fast it is. "Burst" In 15 years I have turned the motor drive on my FM to "continues" mode twice. All these things can be useful but are not necessary. A person's budget must also be taken into account. The only thing really needed is patients, practice and lots of film…opps I mean memory.
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Old May 5, 2007, 6:00 PM   #16
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I don't think that any digital camera has 'instant' shutter response. Take a look at the prefocused lag times for the following cameras...2 DSLR's and 2 megazoom p&s's...

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/XTI/XTIA6.HTM

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/K10D/K10DA6.HTM

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/H5/H5A6.HTM

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S9100/S9100A6.HTM

In the links provided (all taken from the same review site for consistency), the two p&s cams actually have faster shutter responses when prefocused than the two DSLR's.

the Hun

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Old May 5, 2007, 8:08 PM   #17
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I don't have the figures for film SLRs, but they are probably similar or even longer, with prefocus. The P&S cameras generally use leaf shutters with less mass and smaller movements, which would make them quicker than a focal plane shutter.

The info on the timings didn't mention the exposure mode, so I am guessing it was in one of the auto exposure modes. Set up manually, which is how I normally use them, the time to calculate exposure doesn't enter in either. Slr also has to move the mirror out of the way first.

I use both type of cameras, 5mp fixed lens (definitely not P&S though) and 6mp Dslr. The verical height is virtually the same in pixels, so one would expect similar resolution from the cams. The larger sensor in the DSLR, however, gives quite improved detail at the same equivalent focal length in a side-by-side test., allowing me more room to crop, or larger print size. This is, to me the number one reason for owning it. Shooting wildlife with longer lenses is another.

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Old May 5, 2007, 10:53 PM   #18
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As I've said before, I believe the biggest limitation of the P&S cameras are their LCD screens. They are not as sharp as an optical viewfinder, they're much more prone to glare, and there's a delay between the camera receiving an image and actually displaying it.

Here's a few shots I took today:











These were taken with the Pentax K100D, using a Sears 80-200 stacked on a 2x teleconverter. With the crop factor, 600mm equivalent. Could I have taken these with an ultrazoom? Probably, with a Tcon 17. Would they be as good? Perhaps a bit better. This lens combo is not a good quality setup, slightly stopped down being about F/11 equivalent. This bird was in direct sunlight, circling at not too great a speed, and far enough away for infinty focus.

Here's another shot I took today:





This is a shot I probably would not have been able to shoot with my ultrazoom. It was at about 400mm equivalent. This picture isn't cropped. Just trying to find the bird in an lcd viewfinder in that mess would have been quite difficult, and if it actually stuck around long enough for me to find it, focusing on something that close at that focal length would be a chore to say the least. Autofocus would have likely focused on some branches rather than the bird, and manually focusing with an lcd is rarely a viable option in a rush.

Obviously that was not a bird in flight which is what the original question was about, but I use it to illustrate a point. There is a definite speed advantage with a DSLR when it comes to actually finding your target. In open blue skies it isn't very significant, but if you're trying to track a bird that is moving from branch to branch or is flying below the treeline it can help get you a lot of shots you may not have managed otherwise.

Ultimately, budget is what's going to determine your choice. If you have the cash to spend on a setup like Wacky Roger's, where you're shooting 750mm equivalent at a reasonable f/stop with a portable, stable rig, that's pretty much gonna take you to a very professional level for shooting nature with every conceivable advantage as far as speed and quality. If you've got around $500 to spend without a desire to invest in lenses in the future, an ultrazoom with a Tcon 17 attached and a sports finder will likely serve you better than some low end DSLR with cheap glass.
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Old May 5, 2007, 10:57 PM   #19
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Sure, shutter lag has some bearing on that type of photography, but its not the most important lag involved. The video lag is much more devastating. It feeds you old information and you are making composition decisions based on it.

DSLRs are real time as you are actually looking through the lens and what you see is exactly what the sensor will see when the mirror gets out of the way.Shutter lag will make it impossible to time the exposure exactly, but if you pan to keep the subject in the viewfinder, you will get a shot.

I'll never go back to the EVF for action shots as it isn't as reliable as either the optical viewfinder of the DSLR or the rangefinder (not through the lens) viewfinder for capturing moving subjects.







These shots were made while training the dogs and I was panning with the dog. When I saw something move other thanthe dog, I released the shutter. With my reaction time + shutter lag allowing the bird to get off the ground as far as it does.
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Old May 8, 2007, 3:35 PM   #20
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tjsnaps wrote:
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I have seen similar debates in other threads. Now I have not gone digital yet (that's why I'm here) But I'm no stranger to photography. It seems to me that every time a novice asks for advice he/she gets told he/she "needs" things that they really may not. "Image stabilization" – If I can hand hold my Nikon F with a 400mm lens and teleconverter and get sharp pics, I don't think I "NEED" image stabilization. "Fast auto focus" The best thing about auto focus is the ability to turn it off. I'll bet every pic in this thread was taken at infinity. Auto focus only slows you down, no mater how fast it is. "Burst" In 15 years I have turned the motor drive on my FM to "continues" mode twice. All these things can be useful but are not necessary. A person's budget must also be taken into account. The only thing really needed is patients, practice and lots of film…opps I mean memory.
Not in my case. All the pictures that I take of wildlife that are not macro shots are taken with autofocus turned on. Every photo on my site:
www.esmithphoto.com
was taken with autofocus turned on.

If you are able to do manual focus on live subjects like birds and get as good a result as I do with it turned on.... then I bow down to your amazing skills. The vast majority (and every serious photographer I know) that shoots (non-macro) wildlife uses AF.

Image stabilization isn't necessary but it can be helpful. So I'll agree with you there. It certainly isn't "required". But it can help. I've some serious debate about if IS on Canon cameras slows down initial acquisition of subjects in flight. I don't know who to believe, both were very knowledgeable people with hands-on experience on both sides.

My point wasn't that my list was "required" it was to narrow down the list of things that cameras have to the list of features that I think matter.

Eric
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