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Old Nov 29, 2013, 2:36 PM   #1
oyz
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Default Options for bird ID photos?

Hi.

I've been wondering for a while how to best cover my wish for taking shots to ID birds from distance.

I currently possess a Nikon D7000 dslr, with the Nikkon 18-200 mm as my longest option (which should be 300mm equivalent in 35mm terms, I assume).

In many instances that is not enough when looking for birds. Often they are at a distance, out to see - or at distance from a observation shed. Splashing out for a pure telephoto lens is not an option economically. So far, I see these options (there might be other):

- Buying a Bigma lens (150-500mm), or the more expensive 50-500 mm. This would get me to a 750mm equivalent and using my dslr. A downside is that it is a slow lens. But probably better at higher ISO than superzooms, I would assume?

- Buying a superzoom camera like Canon SX50, which would give me 1200mm equivalent - but a p&s-tiny-sensor - and a slow lens.

- Then there is a superzoom camera like Panasonic FZ200. This would give my only 600mm, but with a F2.8 throughout the zoom range. That is pretty much faster lens, which might be very favourable for getting photos without motion blur or the need for very high ISO. It can also be used with a 1,7x teleconverter for what I find.


So my question is, which of these (or other) solutions will give me best possibilities to get photos of birds at a distance!
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Old Nov 29, 2013, 3:26 PM   #2
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The Sigma 150-500mm is a Bigma Junior. The Sigma 50-500mm is the Bigma. I own the Bigma MkII and, trust me, once you start using it for your wildlife captures, you will wonder how you got on without it. I teethed on super-zoom bridge cameras and still own a Fujifilm HS25EXR that I keep in my car. And, while you can get some really decent images from them, the one's you'll get from a dSLR with a Bigma are far superior. You'll need a decent, SOLID tripod, too. If you plan on doing birds in flight, I *highly* recommend a Gimbal head.
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Old Nov 29, 2013, 3:54 PM   #3
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The Sigma 150-500mm is a Bigma Junior. The Sigma 50-500mm is the Bigma. I own the Bigma MkII and, trust me, once you start using it for your wildlife captures, you will wonder how you got on without it. I teethed on super-zoom bridge cameras and still own a Fujifilm HS25EXR that I keep in my car. And, while you can get some really decent images from them, the one's you'll get from a dSLR with a Bigma are far superior. You'll need a decent, SOLID tripod, too. If you plan on doing birds in flight, I *highly* recommend a Gimbal head.

Thanks!!

A few questions as follow up here:

- This decision will depend on how much detail I can get in the long end. With that as a criteria will Bigma be worth the extra money over the Bigma Jr.?

- The SX50 can reach further than the Bigma (750mm vs 1200mm in 35mm eq. terms). Will I still be able to bring out more details from the Bigma than than the superzoom camera?

- How do you view the trade off between slow Bigma vs fast FZ200? For a given shutter speed and using their fastest F-stop, I believe that would be the difference between ISO100 and ISO500? or ISO400 vs ISO2000?
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Old Nov 29, 2013, 4:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oyz View Post
Thanks!!

A few questions as follow up here:

- This decision will depend on how much detail I can get in the long end. With that as a criteria will Bigma be worth the extra money over the Bigma Jr.?
Before I got the Bigma, I had the Sigma 170-500mm. The Bigma MkII stand head and shoulder over the 170-500mm. And, think about the extra range you'd have (1 or 2 less lens to carry around)

Quote:
- The SX50 can reach further than the Bigma (750mm vs 1200mm in 35mm eq. terms). Will I still be able to bring out more details from the Bigma than than the superzoom camera?
Yes, you'll have a better crop factor. Have a look through either of my galleries. Then, you tell ME about details. I believe you'll find some images I captured with some of my bridge cameras if you go back far enough.

Quote:
- How do you view the trade off between slow Bigma vs fast FZ200? For a given shutter speed and using their fastest F-stop, I believe that would be the difference between ISO100 and ISO500? or ISO400 vs ISO2000?
I think you have the wrong impression of the Bigma. You're talking apples and oranges comparing a bridge camera to a dSLR. They're two different animals.
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Last edited by gjtoth; Nov 29, 2013 at 4:35 PM.
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Old Nov 29, 2013, 7:01 PM   #5
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Before I got the Bigma, I had the Sigma 170-500mm. The Bigma MkII stand head and shoulder over the 170-500mm. And, think about the extra range you'd have (1 or 2 less lens to carry around)

Yes, you'll have a better crop factor. Have a look through either of my galleries. Then, you tell ME about details. I believe you'll find some images I captured with some of my bridge cameras if you go back far enough.

I think you have the wrong impression of the Bigma. You're talking apples and oranges comparing a bridge camera to a dSLR. They're two different animals.

Hello again. I might very well have the wrong impression. I am clueless. There is huge amounts of photos around for all those cameras. Many of them great looking. But hard to find comparable photos that shows what the difference is in reality. So, without trying myself, it is not that easy to see what the how much difference those apples and oranges are.

But what you say is basically that there will be more details to get from a 750mm equivalent D7000+Sigma (1)50-500mm than any 1200mm equivalant can give.

In that case, it is case closed, because my need is to render enough details of distant birds to ID them. That is my, more or less, sole criteria.
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Old Nov 29, 2013, 7:27 PM   #6
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I'd agree that the 170-500 wasn't as good as the others, but I'd say flip a coin when deciding between the 50-500 and the 150-500.

And I definitely think you'd be better off with a good long lens on your D7000 than with a superzoom P&S. A lot of what you'll be shooting is birds on branches with sky in the background, a perfect recipe for chromatic aberration. Sigma supertelephoto zooms are pretty good about CA, and superzoom P&S cameras are pretty bad.
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Old Nov 29, 2013, 7:37 PM   #7
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If you have a local camera store, go in and test drive the cameras/lens in question. And, bear in mind the most important part of the equation -- the photographer. I've seen a great photog pull masterpieces out of a cheap Hello Kitty camera. By the same token, all the great gear in the world isn't going to make ANYONE a great photographer. Someone once said, "Buying a Nikon doesn't make you a photographer, it makes you a Nikon owner." So, once you get your dream equipment, work with it, massage it, play with it, PRACTICE! Scott Kelby, in his book, "The Digital Photography Book", says, "If you want professional results, you have to do what the professionals do." Professional photogs did not get where they're at overnight. Just like like a musician, or any other professional. It takes time, study, and practice!

Hope this helped.
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Old Nov 29, 2013, 8:03 PM   #8
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I heard a story a while ago:

A woman is throwing a dinner party. Among her guests is an accomplished photographer. Prior to dinner, the guests are mingling, and the hostess is praising the photographer to the other guests, when she turns to him as says "You must have a great camera!"

After the meal, the photographer is praising the hostess to the other guests, when he turns to her and says "You must have a great stove!"
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Old Nov 30, 2013, 2:00 PM   #9
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Thanks for all input.

The range of options never ends, though. Someone just told me to consider a combination of Nikon V1 + FT1 adapter + Sigma 50-500, which should give me a 1350mm equivalent focal length. Is that something worth considering?
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Old Nov 30, 2013, 3:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oyz View Post
Thanks for all input.

The range of options never ends, though. Someone just told me to consider a combination of Nikon V1 + FT1 adapter + Sigma 50-500, which should give me a 1350mm equivalent focal length. Is that something worth considering?
You seemed to be focussing (no pun intended) on that long focal number and, while that may be impressive and something to use as PART OF your criteria, bear in mind, the bigger that number gets, the more light you're going to need. Everything effects everything else... just like in life. It's all a big trade-off.
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