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Old Mar 15, 2008, 5:26 PM   #11
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Personally, I would lean towards the Bigma (Sigma 50-500mm) for birdiing (if you don't mind it's size and weight).

It's longer than the other lens choices you are considering (reaching out to 500mm), and you wouldn't have to worry about any optical degradation with a TC, since you wouldn't be using a TC with it. It also has Sigma's HSM (Hypersonic Motor Focusing), and it's got a more flexible focal range (50mm on the wide end, 500mm on the long end).

If you don't mind a one year warranty (versus the longer 4 year warranty you get with Sigma lenses from authorized U.S. dealers), you can get this lens for $889.95 now at sigma4less.com (also note that they have the 100-300mm f/4 for under $1k, too).

Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX APO DG HSM Autofocus lens for $889.95 at sigma4less.com

In order to get some feedback from Canon DSLR users on other choices and how they compare, you may also want to start a new thread in our Canon Lenses Forum and ask about what lenses may be more suitable for birding on a $1000 budget.

If you think you may want to try and get by with 300mm (giving you the same angle of view you'd have using a 480mm on a 35mm camera), I'd probably go with the Canon 70-300mm IS lens (and it would be a smaller and lighter solution ocmpared to a lens like the Bigma). I wouldn't rule out the Sigma 100-300mm f/4 either (and you could buy a TC for it later if you decided you needed one, if a TC puts you over budget for right now).

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Old Mar 15, 2008, 5:43 PM   #12
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What about the Sigma 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 EX OS APO RF Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras ($939)?
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Old Mar 15, 2008, 5:46 PM   #13
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Or, new Sony DSLR-A200 with 18-70mm lens ($599 for this kit now at bhphotovideo.com) with a used Minolta 100-400mm f/4.5-6.7 APO Autofocus lens with hood, caps and case for $645 in Excellent + condition at keh.com (they have one listed now). This would bring your total kit price to around $1244 for both camera and lenses (and both lenses would also be stabilized). ;-)

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Old Mar 15, 2008, 5:50 PM   #14
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ecelis wrote:
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What about the Sigma 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 EX OS APO RF Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras ($939)?
Well, as I mentioned in my previous reply to your lens choice options, I see some comments in user reviews indicating that it's AF speed is slow. If you're taking photos of stationary birds, that's one thing. But, if you want to capture Birds in Flight, that's another thing, and AF speed is something you should take into consideration.

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Old Mar 15, 2008, 6:15 PM   #15
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Jim,

Thanks for your input. I would consider the Sony A200 with the Minolta 100-400mm lens. Is the autofocus in this combination fast and the quality of the lens as good as the Canon? Does the combination Sony/Minolta work well and do I risk it by getting a used lens?
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Old Mar 15, 2008, 6:25 PM   #16
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This particular lens has a good reputation for quality, and I've seen Sony DSLR-A700 owners say that it's AF speed is fine for Birds in Flight (although on the older DSLR-A100 it may not be the best choice, the new A200 should be pretty fast, too). I remember looking at a bird photo from one yesterday that I was impressed with (taken with the aperture wide open at 400mm with an A700). If I can find it, I'll post a link.

On an older body, it would probably be a bit slow/boderline for birds in flight. But, the newer Sony bodies have a much faster Autofocus System. It's also a smaller and lighter lens than most alternatives going to 400mm, and it would have the advantage of being stabilized on a Sony DSLR body.

Here's a link to the one I see at keh.com. Note that you can usually find one in the $500's in Excellent condition. But, this one is rated Excellent Plus by Keh.com (and they have extremely conservative ratings). So, it's probably almost indistinquishable from a brand new lens. They also have a short term warranty on used gear.

Minolta 100-400mm f/4.5-6.7 APO Autofocus Lens in EX+ at keh.com with hood, caps and case for $645

keh.com is my favorite vendor for used gear. I wouldn't be afraid of bargain conditon gear from them, much less gear they rate at EX+. Of course, now that I've posted a link to it, someone else may grab it. To be frank, I'm a bit tempted to get it myself (I shoot with a Sony DSLR-A700 now). :-)

They come up pretty often on the used market though (keh.com has them in stock often), and I see one on Ebay now, too.

P.S. -- Keep an eye out for Steve's review conclusion and sample images from this camera. It should be finished soon (it's currently in "first look" status, with everything except for the conclusion and samples), and it's already been added to Steve's Best Cameras List (models deemed to be a good value within their market niche).

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2008_..._alpha200.html

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Old Mar 22, 2008, 11:46 AM   #17
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Sorry to "beat a dead horse"...

What about the SuperZoom cameras such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50?

I guess the quality of birding photos taken with this camera would be far inferior to the ones taken with a regular SLR (e.g., Canon EOS with a Sigma telephoto)?
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Old Mar 22, 2008, 12:02 PM   #18
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A lot will probably depend on the conditions, which can impact how well a given camera model can Autofocus. For moving birds, a dSLR is probably your best bet. For still shots in good light, a superzoom type camera has it's benefits (including smaller size and weight).

One model I'd keep an eye out for is the new Fuji F100FS

It should be shipping soon.

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Old Mar 22, 2008, 12:31 PM   #19
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Jim, as always, thanks for the reply. I am leaning towards the Panasonic because of the great Steve's Review, excellent reviews in Amazon and cost (one half of the Fuji). Do you know anything regarding whether the Panasonic LT55 Teleconverter is worth getting?
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Old Mar 22, 2008, 2:23 PM   #20
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I'm not familiar with it. You may want to ask if anybody is using one in the Panasonic forum.

You have to be careful with TCs, especially on super zoom type cameras, or you'll limit the focal range you have available without vignetting (darkening of corners that can look like "tunnel vision" when severe). Most will degrade optical quality a bit, too.


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