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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> What lens for bird photography?
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09/26/2005 04:06:09 PM · #1
A friend of mine lives near a field and wants to photograph birds from about 10-30 metres distance. He wants to buy the 300D and asked me which lens he should get with it to do this. Any experiences/suggestions? 300mm or 400mm? I'm worried about light and motion blur at 400mm, but even with 300mm it must be hard to shoot handheld? Shuttertimes must be fast though in order to catch the bird? I have no experience in this, maybe someone wants to elaborate? I'm getting quite interested while I type this myself. Thanks!
09/26/2005 04:11:10 PM · #2
According to a pro bird shooter (i forget the name) the 400L 5.6 is the best birding lens made by canon. However, if you went with the 300L 4 IS and a 1.4x teleconverter you have basically the same lens with IS.
09/26/2005 04:15:20 PM · #3
You need at least 500mm to get a desent close-up shot at that distance. A 300mm with 2x converter or 400mm with 2x converter, will work. Hand held you'd have to shoot at 1/500, so light has to be good or high ASA (400+). Tripod, you could shoot with slower speeds and ASAs. So, I'd go for the 400mm and get a 1.4 or 2x converter to move it above 500mm.
09/26/2005 04:19:36 PM · #4
In some cases, 17mm can be enough... :-)
09/26/2005 04:20:31 PM · #5
How much does your friend wnat to spend? Good value is Sigma 135-400, but likes good light.

Steve
09/26/2005 04:21:26 PM · #6
I agree, sometimes you have to backup to get to minimal focus. But for 10-30m, ya need a bit more.
09/26/2005 05:07:02 PM · #7
Originally posted by kyebosh:

According to a pro bird shooter (i forget the name) the 400L 5.6 is the best birding lens made by canon. However, if you went with the 300L 4 IS and a 1.4x teleconverter you have basically the same lens with IS.


What about the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS which would be about the same price as the 300 + TC. I am not saying it is better, just asking because after my alimony is finished in a couple of months I will be in the market :-)

09/26/2005 05:09:53 PM · #8
I took these with the 75-300 at 300mm. I have the utmost respect for any bird photographer. I couldnt beleive how hard it was to catch them.

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09/26/2005 05:27:32 PM · #9
get a tweet new one; bet it won't be chirp.
09/26/2005 05:35:52 PM · #10
I have the 100-400mm L and I love it. Does a great job with birds.
09/26/2005 05:37:42 PM · #11
the easiest way to get bird pics is to get them in captivity.
these are 2 of many taken at the weekend at a farmers fair/ploughing match
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edit forgot to say these was with a 75 to 300 mm as various lengths

Message edited by author 2005-09-26 17:40:28.
09/26/2005 05:40:42 PM · #12
I like the results I get from my Tamron 200-500mm f5-6.3 Di LD IF. And handheld at max zoom works well even is less than optimal light conditions if you increase the ISO.

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09/26/2005 05:58:58 PM · #13
I have the Sigma 50-500 and it can do the job, but if most of the shots are going to be birds, I would go for the Canon 100-400L is.

Luminous landscape said "For a while after it was first introduced this was one of the most used lens in my selection. I used it for compressed landscapes as well as wildlife when the 300mm f/2.8 was too bulky to carry. It is a remarkable value for the money and is capable of decent results, even wide open. Stopped down it is very good. My only real complaint is that the zoom is a push/pull design — not one that I'm very partial to and the lens hood attachment point is flawed. Every one I've ever seen has a lens shade that falls off easily. It also can be a bit soft at 400mm wide open.

The IS capability has allowed me to hand-hold the lens at 1/125sec while at 400mm, while achieving very fineresults. But, once I got the Canon 1Ds I found that the lens was not as good as I had originally believed, since this camera shows up every deficiency in lenses attached to it. Today it is among my least used lenses.


Top bird shooter generally go with long primes, but those come at a heavy price as well as a heavy tripod and heavy everything else.

09/26/2005 06:34:02 PM · #14
I don't know the other lenses very well, but I've had a ball with the Sigma 50-500. All the birds, except two, in my portfolio were taken with the Sigma.

I just added this one which was handheld, proving that adrenaline can do anything if you want the picture bad enough...

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09/26/2005 07:07:34 PM · #15
Originally posted by sfalice:

I don't know the other lenses very well, but I've had a ball with the Sigma 50-500. All the birds, except two, in my portfolio were taken with the Sigma.

I just added this one which was handheld, proving that adrenaline can do anything if you want the picture bad enough...

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Lovely bokeh on that one. I haven't tryed the sigma 50-500mm but I've heard a lot of good stuff about it. I know even people that does sports photos that use it... if you get enough light. Me in other hand I'm inlove with the sigma 120-300mm f2.8, but it's big as a rocket launcher and heavy as hell, and you'll probably have to use it with the 2x teleconverter to get near the birds, but it will be 600mm f5.6 in the top end. If I won the lotery this is my buy.
09/26/2005 07:07:56 PM · #16
For bird photography the longer the better...but then cost comes into consideration. Knowing your birds will help a lot, some are not too shy. This is shot with the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS

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09/26/2005 08:51:36 PM · #17
Originally posted by coolhar:

I like the results I get from my Tamron 200-500mm f5-6.3 Di LD IF. And handheld at max zoom works well even is less than optimal light conditions if you increase the ISO.

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I'll go with coolhar. I use this lens and have even used it with a Tamron Pro 1.4 tele. As for handheld you better be pretty steady. Works best with a tripod or at least a monopod. But then again all the long lenes do as none are desined for handheld unless they are IS/VR which does not stop subject motion blur.

Now if you want the ultimate in long zooms then get the Nikon 200-400 F4 VR. Only $5k. Nikon does not make a lens close to it. But if you are spending that much go with a long fast prime, 600 would be nice. Both Canon and Nikon make a great lens in that range.

Message edited by author 2005-09-26 20:52:55.
11/04/2009 04:05:57 AM · #18
The best birding lens across the board is Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM. All the others possess some significant drawbacks. Nikon doesn’t have anything like this.

Now, among all other lenses Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM is the supreme best on earth. However it is 5.5 kg in weight and thus hand holding is out of question other than by someone from TNA wrestling. The f/5.6 version is 1.25 kg that any grown up can handhold which is necessary for BIF. It auto focuses quietly and fast. Absence of IS is never an issue as birders normally shoot in daylight wherein shutter speeds jump to more than 1/800 all the time – if it doesn’t; bump up the ISO a little bit say upto 400 or 800. From shutter speeds of 1/800 onwards IS has no role play as action is frozen nicely at that speed. Rather IS can be deterrent for auto focus. I got it recently, love it deeply and feel proud as the owner of an excellent birding and wildlife lens.

Some fans are craving for an IS version of this lens – hope Canon doesn’t heed it. Please note, addition of IS will increase the weight substantially and push up the price as well. Therefore, my suggestion to Canon is; please continue producing this wonderful lens for as long as possible so that nature and wildlife lovers can fill their hearts with the joy of viewing great images of beautiful birds and animals of our mother nature.

Message edited by author 2009-11-04 04:11:04.
11/04/2009 05:40:16 AM · #19
I have a Sigma 150-500mm lens and love it. If cost is an issue I would recommend you having a look at it.

Some I have taken here Sigma 150-500mm f5-6.3 APO DG OS

Message edited by author 2009-11-04 05:40:59.
11/04/2009 05:53:42 AM · #20
You guys do realize this thread started and ended over 4 years ago? Not that it matters, But I am sure the OP has made his choice by now.
11/04/2009 05:58:49 AM · #21
Nikon has This This and This

Originally posted by sanjeedbd:

Nikon doesn’t have anything like this.

11/04/2009 06:04:07 AM · #22
Originally posted by Bugzeye:

You guys do realize this thread started and ended over 4 years ago? Not that it matters, But I am sure the OP has made his choice by now.


lol ! No, did not notice that !


11/04/2009 06:13:14 AM · #23
I used my 15 year old workhorse a 1994 Sigma 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 APO Macro for Nikon (@1.5x crop factor on APS-C Small Frame CMOS = 450mm effective) for this shot. (The low quality JPG @ Flickr doesn't do the original justice.) You can pick them up on auction/2nd hand for dirt cheap and results are exceptional.
Yes I have better and bigger glass but the point I am making here is that with knowledge, practice and patience older and slower glass can give surprisingly good results, is lighter and thus more manoevarable wrt action/panning.
For those with unlimited funds, replies you have received above about f/2.8 400mm glass etc are very valid.

Edit: Ouch! Neither did I. Still there will be a few who may find new replies useful as new glass has come a long way since then!

Message edited by author 2009-11-04 06:24:40.
11/04/2009 08:16:51 AM · #24
Originally posted by Bugzeye:

You guys do realize this thread started and ended over 4 years ago? Not that it matters, But I am sure the OP has made his choice by now.

I blame it on Ken (' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Art Roflmao) or Slippy (' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Strikeslip), or possibly this guy. A trick like this certainly wouldn't be outside their range of humor (you know, creating a new registered account, then resurrecting old threads like this on the same day). :-D
11/04/2009 08:26:43 AM · #25
hahaha excellent necrobump, nearly got me, but i read the other replies first...

however, i'm going to have to agree with ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31_N.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31_N.gif', '/') + 1) . ' sanjeedbd, the canon 400mm f/5.6 L is awesome for birds, light enough to hand hold (although i don't really), super sharp, and "affordable." i can't recommend it enough.
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