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Old Apr 22, 2009, 7:56 AM   #1
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Hi Guys

I am fairly new to photography and I really want to get into photgraphing wildlife and landscapes, more the former really. I heard great reviews about Sony's new A350 with kit lens and wondered is this what I should be thinking of buying. I dont want to find out that i should have bought a canon camera on its own with a large telephoto lens (500) instead. I cant trust some of the guys in the mainstream electronics stores as they seem to contradict eachother and perhaps just want a sale. My budget is approx 1600 aussie dollars.

Some of my questions are:

1. Would a 55-200 suffice for wildlife shots until I have the money to but a 500 telephoto lens?

2. Some Bird sites say Canon and Nikon are the only bird cameras worth thinking about - how true is this? I think that this is based onboth of these makes having a large variety of lens whereas with Sony you are more limited? Is this true?

3. What makes of Lens can I use with theA350 and are these reputable lens? Can I get 500 telephoto lens for this camera (A350).

4. What's your overall opinion on what I should buy. Is there anything else I haven't thought about?

Thanks folks


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Old Apr 22, 2009, 8:40 AM   #2
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Here are some quick answers to your questions.

1. If birds are your thing then no a 200mm lens won't do you much good at all. Even 300mm is going to be a bit short. 400mm is a good starting point for birding - 300 can be OK for animals like deer or squirel but birding is tough with anything short of 400mm.

2. There are4 reasons for Canon & Nikon dominating.

a. The first is marketing- they have more marketing than other manufacturers and thus more clients.

b. Second is they have pro caliber bodies. It's only in the last year or two that other manufacturers have made pro level bodies and for action shooting none compare yet with canon and nikon offerings. We're not just talking focus - althought that's critical - we're talking lots of other attributes - weather sealing, build quality, viewfinder, customization, burst rate, etc...

c. AF systems. And we're not just talking initial focus lock in single-shot mode - we're talking about the ability to accurately track a subject. The only third party camera I've seen evidenced / heard testimony from qualified sports or wildlife shooters that competes is the sony A700 (competing with the Canon 50d and Nikon D300). However there's a big drop-off in performance below the A700 in the Sony line. The Canon 450D and 500D have the best AF systems of any entry level cameras. You have to jump up to the Nikon D90 to get similar performance in Nikon or Sony A700 in the sony line. Pentax doesn't have an af system comparable. The Oly E3 (their top of the line) may or may not be as good - not enough evidence either way.

d. Lenses - those two systems have more quality AF lenses available than other systems. THere are some great Oly and Sony lenses out there but not the number and variety (with fast focusing motors) that are available for Canon & Nikon.

Having said all that - if you're shooting static animals/birds then focus performance is less critical. There are some very good bird shots in the pentax forum - but 99% of them are static birds and not BIF. If those are the shots you take, then the focus tracking performance of Nikon and Canon are less important. That's why it's important you understand what you really want to shoot. A pentax camera with good lens (like sigma 50-500) is going to outperform a canon, nikon or sony with 200mm lens for static bird shots.

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