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Old Aug 12, 2012, 5:07 PM   #1
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I am an amateur birder and want to take bird photos for identification purposes. I don't intend to publish / sell photos. I have past (old) experience with 35mm Canon with telephoto & wide angle lens.

I am considering the purchase of a Canon Rebel T3i body & Canon 70-300L lens to use for this purpose. Is this overkill or adequate?

As a much cheaper alternative, could the Nikon Coolpix P150 (42X) be used for this purpose?
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Old Aug 13, 2012, 2:59 AM   #2
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You might want to try posting on the What Camera Should I Buy forum. You'll probably get more attention.

It seems to me that to get a good shot of a small bird even at 50-60' takes more like 600-1000mm in 35mm terms.

I'm not sure which would be better. The speed of the dslr or the reach of the superzoom. Or maybe split the difference with an OMD-EM5 and 75-300 or GH2 with a 100-300. Either would be quick and have the extended teleconverter to get to 1200mm. Each would reach 600mm equivalent as native.

Some of the superzooms, like the Panasonic FZ150 have ultra high speed bursts that can freeze a hummingbird in motion if you can track them.

You really should ask on a forum where you can get another opinion. I'm just guessing. I've never really taken an interest in birds.
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Old Aug 13, 2012, 7:02 AM   #3
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I moved to thread for you What Camera Should I Buy? so that it will more likely get some responses

BTW, Welcome to Steve's
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Old Aug 13, 2012, 8:34 AM   #4
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You might want to consider one of Sony's Digital Recording Bioculars. They have optical image stabilization, GPS Geotagging, record 7MP still images and full HD video, and they can record 3D video (but you need a 3D television to see it.) Something like this will definitely save you from spotting with binoculars and then switching to a camera when you see something.

Otherwise, I don't think a 300mm lens will do much for you, even on a Canon APS-C dSLR body. I use a 100-300mmm lens on a Nikon APS-C dSLR for shooting soaring raptors:



I wouldn't even try to use it to shoot anything smaller, except in situations like this:

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Old Aug 13, 2012, 10:01 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RalphS View Post
I am an amateur birder and want to take bird photos for identification purposes. I don't intend to publish / sell photos. I have past (old) experience with 35mm Canon with telephoto & wide angle lens.

I am considering the purchase of a Canon Rebel T3i body & Canon 70-300L lens to use for this purpose. Is this overkill or adequate?

As a much cheaper alternative, could the Nikon Coolpix P150 (42X) be used for this purpose?
It's difficult to give you much input without getting a better handle on the type of image quality as well as the birds you're going to photograph. How close you expect to get to your subjects and wether or not they will be inflight or stationary.

One thing you can do to get a better idea of the equipment necessary is to go on a few photo hosting sites such as smugmug.com or PBase.com and run some searches for birds. You'll get a huge number of photographs that will provide info such as the type of camera and lens used as well as the EXIF data.
I 'm suggesting this to allow you to determine the minimum quality you'll accept.

For my part, I typically use a Nikon D7000 along with a 70-200mm F2.8 VR lens. If I need more magnification, I use a 1.4 teleconverter.

There is no substitute, however, for getting as close to your subject as possible in order to get the best clarity and feather detail. Most of my images are taken at a distance between 3 to 20ft to the subject. Anymore than that, and feather detail will be severely limited.

FWIW, you can take a look at some of the images I've taken here:
http://zig123.smugmug.com/Nature/bir...s-of-Cape-Cod/
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Old Aug 13, 2012, 6:10 PM   #6
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Hi RalphS...
One thing you may want to factor in to your birding adventures is portability.
If you're stuck in a hide,you can have all the DSLR's and toys you like- however,if you're on the move,prowling around quietly,and need a quick shot(without changing a lens..!), you may appreciate a "Big Zoom" bridge. You can practically put it in a large coat/jacket pocket and move around as if it wasn't there..!
I cannot comment on the P510- but it does have one heck of a range.
If you're considering one it might be an idea to try one first- to see how effective the image stabiliser is at full zoom- and how swift the autofocus is at full zoom.
I have owned the Canon SX40HS with it's more than ample 24-840mm zoom and found it great for distant birdy shots... with the AF speed adequate and the stabiliser excellent.
Image quality was also excellent for the class of camera,in my humble opinion.

Of course,as light conditions become less than favourable, a DSLR with its high iso capabilities and with a fast zoom lens attached will prove far superior- though prepare to lighten your wallet somewhat..!
Here's a couple of shots taken with an SX40HS- the Buzzard taken in iAuto (I leapt off my bike to take this shot- and kinda cements my earlier point..!)- iso 100,840mm,f/8 at 1/320th sec.
The Chaffinch was taken in dropping light- shot in shutter priority,auto iso(which selected iso 1000),1/250th sec at f/5.8- 840mm.
Both,I think you'll agree are more than ample for identification purposes...!

I currently own the Panasonic FZ-150 superzoom/bridge- and as it's a little shorter in the zoom stakes,I'll be adding a tele-converter onto it shortly...
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Old Aug 13, 2012, 10:00 PM   #7
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Thanks to all for a lot to digest. Looks like I need save-up a little more seriously.
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Old Aug 14, 2012, 10:32 AM   #8
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hey, SIMON40 - did you do any/much post processing on those pics? those are very nice!
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Old Aug 14, 2012, 11:17 AM   #9
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Hi pcake- the only PP I can remember was to drop the Cyan a touch on the Buzzard shot- and a slight shift on the mid-tone contrast. The other was "as shot".
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