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Old Nov 6, 2007, 1:54 PM   #11
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Thanks for the links, JimC. I'm going to spend some time this evening checking them out.



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Old Nov 6, 2007, 2:05 PM   #12
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P.S.

Also keep in mind that he'd only had the camera for a couple of weeks when he posted most of those images. :-)

I'm seeing comments from all around about what a sweet camera the Sony DSLR-A700 is for birding. Maybe I should give it a try myself one of these days. lol

It's got better and faster Autofocus algorithms and a beefed up, high torque focus motor system that allows it to move heavier optical groups for focusing in larger lenses very fast.

So, you've got a huge variety of used lenses around in Minolta Autofocus (a.k.a., Minolta A, Dynax, Maxxum, Alpha) mount that can now focus fast and accurately with this new camera (and they're all stabilized, thanks to the in body stabilization system in the Sony Alpha 700). I'd probably start with this for birding:

Sony DSLR-A700 with 18-70mm Lens for $1499.95 at B&H
Sigma 50-500mm for $999 at B&H

Then, decide what you want in a Flash System. I'd probably go with a Metz 54MZ4 in a Shoe Mount Flash (around $389), or a Metz 76MZ-5 (around $889) in a powerful handle mount if budget permits. That way, you'd have a flash powerful enough for almost anything.

With this kit, you'd also have a small and light 18-70mm lens to use for walk around purposes when not birding (at a very low price in a camera kit) until you use the camera for a while and decide if you need anything more. Or, in a "walk around" with a greater distance from wide to long, I'd look at the new Sony 18-250mm.

The Sony 18-250mm is geared to focus approximately twice as fast as the Tamron 18-250mm lens it was based on in order to take advantage of the higher torque focus motor system in the A700.

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Old Nov 6, 2007, 3:19 PM   #13
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JimC wrote:
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Or, slap a Bigma (Sigma 50-500mm) on a Sony DSLR-A700

You wouldn't have a 2x crop factor (it's closer to 1.53x). But, it would give you an extra 2 Megapixels to work with for cropping compared to the other models mentioned so far (and the OP is only interested in prints up to 8x10" anyway). It would also give you stabilization.
I agree - That's why the other camera I'm considering is the Nikon D300...
With a 2x crop in Photoshop you're still down to ~8Mp, about where I'm right now with my 1DMrkII with the Canon's but the Sony will also give you in-body IS

What's nice about the Oly's 4/3 is that if you are enlarging to 8x10, or most print size for that matter, all the 10Mp goes to work for you. On all other dSLRs with the 2/3 format you're already cropping the two sides that can't be printed (unless you're using 8x12 paper)
-> The Oly 10Mp is really equivalent to a 16Mp camera if you're cropping the two sides and their new E3 "claims" to be the fastest camera in AF at this point - In most other system a 600 f/2.8 (300 f/2.8 @ 2x crop) can not be handheld: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=25484814




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Then, decide what you want in a Flash System. I'd probably go with a Metz 54MZ4 in a Shoe Mount Flash (around $389), or a Metz 76MZ-5 (around $889) in a powerful handle mount if budget permits. That way, you'd have a flash powerful enough for almost anything.
Metz also just came out with a very nice 58AF series that are upgradeable through USB and will work with most cameras... At least it has an Auto feature that will work will all cameras.
-> Only Canon can get away with this: :-)
(Add the Metz's feature to their 580EX-II that only a new dSLR can use!)
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=25424375
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Old Nov 6, 2007, 3:37 PM   #14
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NHL wrote:
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The Oly 10Mp is really equivalent to a 16Mp camera if you're cropping the two sides and their new E3 "claims" to be the fastest camera in AF at this point
That claim is very lens specific and is has not been tested against cameras that were not even shipping when it was announced. Read the part about "when coupled with...." the new Zuiko SWD lenses carefully. ;-)

Quote:
Speed: When coupled with three new ZUIKO DIGITAL Supersonic Wave Driveā„¢ Lenses (SWD) announced today, like the ED 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 (24-120mm equivalent), the E-3 offers unmatched AF speeds, and the fastest AF speed in the world with that lens. It employs a newly-developed high speed 11-point biaxial cross type AF system, 5 frames-per-second continuous shooting, and 1/8000 second top shutter speed for the quickness required in any shooting situation.
http://www.steves-digicams.com/pr/ol...007_e3_pr.html

Slap a Bigma on one with heavier optical elements for focusing and let's see how fast the AF is. I'm curious myself. I'm also curious how good the AF algorithms are for subject tracking.

Only time will tell what camera is fastest (and more accurate, including subject tracking) with a greater variety of lenses.

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Old Nov 6, 2007, 4:47 PM   #15
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ntubb wrote:
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...He has just started working on shooting birds in flight and knows that it will take lots of practice. ...
If he wants tophotograph birds in flight, the Olympus is definately the way to go. Olympus makes the smallest, lightest dSLRs on the market, and, for equivalent magnification and angle of view, the smallest, lightest lenses as well. That will be a lot less mass to swing around as he's panning to capture his prey.

And Olympus has some very good, long, fast lenses, as does Sigma.
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Old Nov 6, 2007, 4:58 PM   #16
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TCav wrote:
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ntubb wrote:
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...He has just started working on shooting birds in flight and knows that it will take lots of practice. ...
If he wants tophotograph birds in flight, the Olympus is definately the way to go. Olympus makes the smallest, lightest dSLRs on the market, and, for equivalent magnification and angle of view, the smallest, lightest lenses as well. That will be a lot less mass to swing around as he's panning to capture his prey.

And Olympus has some very good, long, fast lenses, as does Sigma.
Here's my problem with this recommendation. Tcav, in your experience how is the servo focusing of Oly as compared to say Nikon or Canon? I realize NHL doesn't use servo but many people shooting BIF DO use it and it's a critical success factor.

Have you used the gear for BIF?

Not picking on you - but again, this is the danger with recommending something based on some but not ALL of the factors that are critical to success and especially without first hand experience (given the difficulty of the task).

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Old Nov 6, 2007, 9:06 PM   #17
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JohnG wrote:
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Tcav, in your experience how is the servo focusing of Oly as compared to say Nikon or Canon? I realize NHL doesn't use servo but many people shooting BIF DO use it and it's a critical success factor.
I'd say use an aperture small enough to let you use a fast shutter speed yet still have a large depth of field, and focus manually at just shortof infinity. Then it doesn't matter how fast the autofocus is.

It works well for my BIF shots, but my birds are probably bigger than the one's the OP's father will be shooting. But they're faster too. [suB]:-)[/suB] (I'm still working on the CA. [suB]:sad:[/suB] )
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Old Nov 6, 2007, 9:52 PM   #18
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I don't know... I realize this is just one opinion, but TCav has some very valid points

Autofocus speed is only one factor, however anyone thinking that a super fast AF camera that can track and take a BIF picture for them is in for some big surprise! The other points that were brought up are equally valid: Remember we're talking about a 500mm+ lens here with the Oly and the compactness of this set-up and how light it is, all need to be balanced with one another as I believe they are just as important:

Let take the Canon system since I'm most familiar with. A 500mm f/4 which I have is about ~8lb with an equivalent reach of around 700mm @ f/5.6 when combined to a 1.4x teleconverter. However this is not all... You can't live with a 500mm prime alone in an outing so I always end up also carying either the 100-400L or the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 with me depending on the lighting, that's another 1.5-2.2lb load!
-> The Bigma with the Oly on the other hand can do both job of the prime and zoom with the same range only weights 1.8lb, but that's not all. It can reach 1000mm @ f/6.3 - IMO a 1/3 of a stop is a very small sacrifice for that kind of reach. If you have to go to a 600 f/4 with a TC (840mm @ f/5.6) on a Canon that's at least 12lb before the required tripod!

Granted a Canon Pro series 1 body may focus faster but it is also much slower in handling because of its sheer bulk!!! I imagine one can "swing and pan" much faster with a lighter Bigma on an Oly to compensate for the AF (i.e. buy time for the AF so to speak :-)). You can always add a gymbal to the tripod set-up on the Canon to make it more swift but that can add even more weight and render you really immobile and fixed to one spot. When I go birding for example I rarely stay @ one place, but tend to chase the bird for the best angle. Beside I also tend to travel by air for my trips so I can't imagine how to manage anything more than a 500mm f/4 with all my other carry-ons...
-> Also how fast the AF is also relative since I can shoot BIF just fine with my 1st generation and "slow" to AF 10D (Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 with 2x TC - I must think any modern dSLR should focus faster without a teleconverter):





BTW this is a Bigma with a 1.4x on an Oly - How much weight is that on a Canon??? Oh and how many $$$... :idea:
http://www.outdooreyes.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=40494
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Old Nov 7, 2007, 1:47 AM   #19
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My birding experience is very limited (mostly due to lack of interest, but that means I don't have the right equipment) but Normcar used to very much like his Bigma, although he got good results from practically every lens he owned and his favourite was his 200mm f1.8! (I think he can turn invisible to get within a couple of meters of his subjects.)

I also have a friend with a Bigma on the K10D and he's getting some very nice results too.

I'm not convinced how useful AI Servo is with (small) birds myself (from my vast range of inexperience). Of course for sports work I can see the point, but if the subject isn't big enough to span more than one AF point I don't see how the servo can really get into its stride.

So for me a fast one-shot AF with good centre focus would be what I would be looking for. I think NHL and JimC have made some very good points about the Bigma + E3 or Bigma + A700 being attractive.

I recommended the Canon 40D setup above because I do actually go down to our local bird sanctuary quite frequently and talk to the photographers there - and they are pretty much all using Canon bodies and mostly Canon lenses but some Sigmas in there, I've seen a few Sigma 120-300 f2.8 around, and of course NHL has posted plenty of examples with his.

A lot of them are using 500 & 600mm Canons, but those are out of the budget range here.

If it were my money I'd be tempted to take a punt on the Oly E3 + Bigma + flash system NHL was talking about.

For small birds in flight I think that there may be an advantage to getting closer with a small lens if you can. I'm sure it's quite difficult tracking with a big lens for any extended period.

Just to join the posting party - I shall post one of my few bird images, taken with the famous birding lens the 70-300 DO (I may be the only person every to try it for birds) used at around the 200mm mark (it took me a couple of hours to get the little blighters used to me)!!

Obviously a bit of photoshop to sort out the sky afterwards because I wasn't using a flash, so it was mostly blown out.



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Old Nov 7, 2007, 6:34 AM   #20
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TCAV,

EXIF says that's a KM camera. I asked how the Oly worked.

To both you and NHL - all I'm saying is both of you are looking at specs and saying - hey that should be a good solution but you've never tested that setup in the field. It may absolutely be a good setup - but the truth of the matter is no one in this thread has ever tried it for BIF. That's the whole point of my argument to the OP - you want first hand experience and photogrphic evidence.

No offense but a shot of a fighter plane from a KM camera doesn't tell the OP a single thing about how well the Oly will do shooting BIF.

ANd, NHL, again shots from a 10d are hardly relevant. You ASSUME a modern oly has better AF than your older 10d. But have you ever actually tested that theory? It absolutely may be true. I admit I don't know. ALl I'm saying is your advice is dangerous because you have no actual first hand experience upon which to base it. You haven't used the kit you're advising someone to consider. Now, if like Jim, you at least had some threads where a birder WAS using the kit that would be different.

For example, do you know if the focus hunts with a particular Oly body and Bigma as compared to another combo? It isn't in an mtf chart, so unless you've used or spoken with someone whose used it for BIF and can compare to another system, how do you know? I'm not saying there aren't valid points to TCAVs argument - I agree, a light kit would be nice - but only if it produces quality results. And the only way to know if it produces quality results is to view some photos and get first hand experience from someone whose used it. Does that make sense?
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