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Old Jan 30, 2007, 2:07 AM   #11
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mtngal,

Thanks for the info regarding the lenses, and the camera, it's sounding more like going with the cheaper camera and better lenses. The only thing I'm worried about is when I want to start blowing the shots up. Really like that 1st picture.

dave
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Old Jan 30, 2007, 2:12 AM   #12
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John G.

You've got a good point regarding the longer reach and something that I can hand hold as well. I know I'll want to use a tripod for low light shots, but it would be much easier for the birds with hand held longer range, and then I'll have to find another lens for everyday shooting. Out of curiosity, what kind of canon do you have?

Dave
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Old Jan 30, 2007, 4:14 AM   #13
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Hi Dave, I'm another Canon shooter (30D) and John uses the 20D. 6pm is not going to be a problem even for larger prints as long as you have got a good exposure and good focus/sharpness in the first place. A lesser body with better glass is really going to be a better option than the other way around. I shoot predominantly sports and before switching to Canon I was using a Konica Minolta 5D which is 6.1mp and have had advertising material blown up to 30"x20" with great results indeed. I did resize the shots a little but that was not a problem due to getting tack sharp in the first place and then having them printed by a quality firm. Also don't forget that the larger the photo the viewing distance is generally further away (the standard distance for viewing a photo/picture is at least the diagonal length of the said photo/picture) so even though quality might be falling as you go larger the appearance to the eye is still very good.

As for which glass to get it is always difficult and trust me it will start to eat into your pocket if you let it as there is always something extra you want. Depending on what you really want to be able to produce then this will impact the quality of the lenses needed. For the long end the good options are Sigma 100-300mm f4 + 1.4x teleconverter (for when you need the extra reach), Sigma 80-400mm f4.5-5.6(this lens has inbuilt optical stabiliser which is helpful for certain types of shooting if you don't have IS/OS in the camera), if you went Canon then their 100-400mm f4.5-5.6, if you go Nikon then they also have a 80-400mm f4.5-5.6range lens. If you are looking at spending a little less then I would suggest having a look at the Tamron 200-500mm f5-6.3 as this gets better reports in general than the Sigma 50-500. Going below that the you get Tamron 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 and the Sigma 135-400mm f4.5-5.6 and then down to the shorter ranges of the 70-300mm f4-5.6 which will come in Sigma, Tamron, Nikon, Canon flavors and possibly more. Lens choice is a pain and it's not until you know what you are shooting and have been shooting it fora while that you really know what you want to go with. I agree with John though that you are going to benefit from a lot of range for birds as even a short distance requires a long lens due the size of your subject. If you are feeling really rich then I think there is a Sigma 300-800mm f5.6 with your name on it!!!

Hope that has given you something to think about on the glass side of things. Now for the camera get something that is comfortable in the hand and will take the lenses that you might want in the future. I personally would not touch the Nikon D40 as there are limitations on the lenses that it will take so if Nikon is the way you are thinking of going then go D50 or D80. Don't forget you will generally keep the lenses for longer than the body's (which are getting cheaper all the time) so a D50 with good glass would make a nice package. Have a play with the Canon XT/350 and see how they both feel. Also look at the Pentax and other dSLR options but be aware that as you move forward you might not be able to get the glass you want (one reason I switched to Canon) and changing a whole system is not cheap (as I found out lol).

Well there you have it, I'm sure your brain needs a rest from all of that.

Mark www.photographysmith.co.uk
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Old Jan 30, 2007, 7:38 AM   #14
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MT/Sarah,

you should really check your EXIF--the gull shot was at 70mm with the 18-70.

The indoor shot was at ISO 200, f/2 and 1/100, so it wasn't too low light, I'd say.

Cheers.
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Old Jan 30, 2007, 8:30 AM   #15
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One of the nice things about the Pentax is that any lens you get will be stabilized because the stabilization is in the camera body.

Quite a few Pentax birders use the Pentax prime 300 f4/f4.5lens (the earlier versions of the lens were f4, the F andFA is a 4.5)because it is so sharp and can be used with a teleconverter without a big loss in quality, something you might see when using a cheaper 70-300 zoom lens. Remember that the longer you go with your lens, the more problem you will have with camera shake, so there's going to be a personal limit (depends on how steady you are) as to how much you can hand-hold. Check out some of the pictures posted in the Pentax dSLRsection of this board - there's at least one person who has had excellent success with the Sigma 50-500, several others who use the FA*300 and a TC. Since my budget doesn't stretch to the FA*300, I bought a used A*300 (don't mind the manual focus). I had thought about looking fora screw mount 300 lens (some of the old ones are awesome, incredibly sharp), but wasn't quite willing to go that manual. It's amazing what you can get for Pentax lenses by wandering around pawn shops, ebay and the want ads (any Pentax K mount will work on the Pentax cameras, and screw mount lenses will work with an adaptor. Just remember that a manual focus lens doesn't suddenly become auto focus!).

Lenses are partly a personal thing - for instance, you might want to get a manual 50mm 1.7 lens and a set of extension tubes for macros - the 50mm 1.7 is very sharp and the going rate for a manual one on ebay runs between $50 and $100. Or you might prefer a macro lens - both options work well.
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Old Jan 30, 2007, 9:54 AM   #16
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The Bac-

I just reached for my D-50 that is right in front of me on the desk. It has the Nikkor 12-24mm mounted on it. And I took the photo with the seagull in it at about 5pm local time and have not used the camera since.

The indoor existing light shot had plenty of light, it was nailing the WB that was the challenge.

MT/Sarah
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Old Jan 30, 2007, 5:49 PM   #17
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Mark,

Not only does by brain hurt, but I think it's slowed to a crawl, WOW, thats a lot. Thank you for all your time and info, you've definitely given me a lot of great options to think about, not only price wise butcameras also. I agree with yourself and John that the longer range lens would be better. I'm going to have to weigh what I'm going to be doing the most and invest wisely so that I can maximize usage for whatever I buy. I must go and digest all this wonderful info, everyone on this site has been great.

Dave
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