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Old Mar 12, 2006, 3:50 PM   #1
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I can't decide between a super zoom or a dSLR, could go either way. I don't care about movie mode at all.


What I really want is something that can take good clear pictures of eagles in action and from a distance. I'll be posting them on the web and printing them too.

But, the price should be around $1000 or so total, so I guess that means an ultra-zoom? I'm a little worried about noise problems that I've been reading about in the ultra-zooms.
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Old Mar 12, 2006, 6:20 PM   #2
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Go for a Rebel XT and buy yourself a nice 300-400mm zoom.
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Old Mar 12, 2006, 8:15 PM   #3
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I have seen some great arial bird shots from the Canon S2.. but the comparison between any consumer cam to a DSLR is very different.

If you have the coin.. invest in a dslr.. if you want to save some, and are ok with 'fine' shots, go for a consumer cam.
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Old Mar 13, 2006, 6:21 AM   #4
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JJG2006 wrote:
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What I really want is something that can take good clear pictures of eagles in action and from a distance. I'll be posting them on the web and printing them too.

But, the price should be around $1000 or so total, so I guess that means an ultra-zoom? I'm a little worried about noise problems that I've been reading about in the ultra-zooms.
Well, this is a loaded statement. What do you mean by, "from a distance". How far of a distance? Shooting birds can be very difficult. I currently have a Canon 20D, and when I shoot wildlife I use a 100-400mm lens. Because of the 'crop factor' on the 20d, that lens behaves like a 160-640mm lens. And I will tell you, that 640mm is often quite short for shooting birds. There are alternatives to get more length, but my point is: depending on your shooting situation you may be far, far short even with a superzoom. In some places, however, it seems as though the eagles get fairly close. So, how far away are you?
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Old Mar 13, 2006, 10:48 AM   #5
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By "from a distance" I mean the eagles are in the tall trees above me, maybe 50 feet,and they're across the river, about 300-400 feet.

Terry, I'm going to look at the Rebel XT, thanks for the suggestion. I have a Soligor 78-210 mm lensthat I used with mydear old Canon AE1 that I wish I could use with a new camera, don't suppose that would be possible though.

JohnG, could you explain what you mean by the crop factor with the 20D...is that something that applies to just that particular camera?
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Old Mar 13, 2006, 10:50 AM   #6
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vwmom wrote:
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I have seen some great arial bird shots from the Canon S2.. but the comparison between any consumer cam to a DSLR is very different.

If you have the coin.. invest in a dslr.. if you want to save some, and are ok with 'fine' shots, go for a consumer cam.
A dSLR is very tempting. I guess that would be better for birding, wouldn't it?
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Old Mar 13, 2006, 11:06 AM   #7
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JJG2006 wrote:
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By "from a distance" I mean the eagles are in the tall trees above me, maybe 50 feet,and they're across the river, about 300-400 feet.

Terry, I'm going to look at the Rebel XT, thanks for the suggestion. I have a Soligor 78-210 mm lensthat I used with mydear old Canon AE1 that I wish I could use with a new camera, don't suppose that would be possible though.

JohnG, could you explain what you mean by the crop factor with the 20D...is that something that applies to just that particular camera?
First, the easy one: the 'crop factor'. SLR lenses were originally built with 35mm film as the image receiver. On many digital SLR bodies, the image sensor is smaller than 35mm film. So, you end up only using a smaller portion of the image circle coming through the lens. It is very similar to cropping an image - there is a whole other thread arguing what it really means. But for simplicity sake, we'll say a 100mm lens BEHAVES LIKE a 160mm lens on a Canon 20d. Canon 20d, 350D, 300d all have a 1.6 crop factor. The Canon 5d has no crop factor - it is a 'full sized sensor'. The Nikon bodies have a 1.5x crop factor. Others will have to mention what Olympus and Sony/ Konica Minolta have.

So, in short, if you were using a 20d say, take the focal length of the lens and multiply by 1.6. So, a 100-400mm lens behaves like a 160mm-620mm lens on the 20d.

Now, as to the distances - 50 up and 300-400' away across river. This is a scenario very similar to a place I spent a few weekends trying to get some Eagle shots - what a coincidence. The eagles weren't there, but their nest was. With my 20D and 100-400 (620mm equivelent) the nest was still a bit small for my tastes. I have a 1.4x teleconverter (which turns the 100-400mm lens into 896mm (400*1.4*1.6) and the nest was decent enough size to have gotten good photos had the eagles been there. There are other birders here far more experienced than I, but I'm guessing using a lens of 400mm equivelent would be a bit short for shots at that distance.

I took a shot of a Blue Heron in flight which is about the same size as an eagle (6' wing span vs 7' for eagle if I recall) at about 200' awayand the 620mm equivelent lens was about right.

So, bottom line - IMHO I think the superzooms are going to be a little short.

Now, there are some other things to keep in mind: the cost of the lens. 3 options that come to mind are: 100-400l ($1400), 400mm 5.6 prime ($1100), Sigm 50-500 ($900) - that cost is above and beyond the camera body.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 12:58 PM   #8
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Thanks for the crop factor explanation, JohnG. That is very helpful.

I'm leaning toward a dSLR, but every time I decide, someone tells me something else good about the super zooms. For instance, if I got the Panasonic, I could add a teleconverter to get some extra reach.

So many choices are out there, it's hard to decide!

Thanks again.
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