UKC

/ Camera for birding.

Please Register as a New User in order to reply to this topic.
Stuart (aka brt) - on 03 Jan 2018

Thanks for the patience of a much asked question.

Got an Olympus T2 which is my action camera (mountains/caving/letting the kids loose with it). The last few years I've got into birdwatching and recently invested in what for me was a decent set of binoculars.

Inevitably I now want to take pictures of said birds. So, which camera/set up? (It'll be mainly bird/wildlife pictures during daylight).

Something that can take good close up shots from 30+ metres away, that doesn't cost the earth. Budget is no more than £400. Don't mind if it's multiple lenses to be carried.

A few online retailers have a Canon EOS1300d bundle (18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 & 75-300 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens) which comes in at budget. Anything similar but better (better for the money/job in hand)? What second hand recommendations would be better?

I realise that money can dissappear pretty quickly on such things (I'm into road cycling and that is a money pit!), but the budget is fixed and not really looking towards a pathway to upgrades.

Thanks.
Post edited at 14:45
cb294 - on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Any decent spotting scope. The cheapest one I have tried that had OKish optical performance is the Vanguard 60mm with the 15 to 45x zoom ocular, about a third of a used Leica or Zeiss which are quite a bit better still. Not so much of a problem, though, for photography, as most often you will crop your images anyway, and performance in the centre is less of an issue.

Add to that any digital camera you like, either a small point and shoot model with a digiscoping adaptor that allows you to swing it in front of the eye piece, which would work with your T2.

Alternatively, there are dedicated adapters for camera with exchangeable lenses that are clamped over the ocular. Such adapters are typically specific for the ocular, so you would have to pick the spotting scope first.

CB
Stuart (aka brt) - on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to cb294:

I had to Google most of that to get what you meant! It's an option, though some downsides spring to mind:

Scopes look pretty hefty in size and weight. Much more than a basic dslr?

What are they like in use? Holding a camera to the eye and then to the target feels natural. Looking down seems counterintuitive, especially if you have to then re-spot the target by eye. How have you found it?

I suspect it's not viable unless I can try it out but will see what or who has got what when I'm next out.

Thanks for the food for thought.
Tom V - on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

I'd spend my money on the best bridge camera I could afford, on the grounds that a good bridge camera is much more chuckable than a DSLR with a similar lens range. Unless you expect all your subjects to sit prettily for you.

If it's only for your own use I can't see why , say, a Lumix FZ82 won't do what you want.
Obviously a FZ 2000 would be nicer but....
Mountain Llama on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

I am interested in wildlife and been snapping away for almost 2 years.

I read a great deal on the Web and it was a toss up between a bridge camera ( nikon p900) or canon dslr plus ef 400mm 5.6 lens.

I went down the dslr route for image quality reasons but a year later I bought the p900 after meeting other folk who had them and looking at their pics on twitter etc. The main reason for the p900 purchase was to get descent size images of birds at medium quality.

I think you will struggle with a 300mm lens to get close enough to wildlife to get good image sizes.

The p900 is available for approx £400 and has a dedicated bird setting, plenty of reviews online.

The p900 is also smaller to cart around and very useful for general pics as well

HTH Davey
Stuart (aka brt) - on 03 Jan 2018
Thanks all so far.

Food for thought, and investigation.

Stuart (aka brt) - on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to Mountain Llama:

Just seen some YouTube video reviews on the P900... Blimey!
alx on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Hi Stuart

Myself and Lil’K predominately take photo’s of wildlife, it really depends on how close you can get to the animal or bird and when they tend to be around (how much light you can get into the camera).

I would work with what you have to find out what types of situations you want to use your setup in. Are you going out looking for them? Are you sat in a hide where they will come close?

It’s all a balancing act on how close you can get, how fast they move and how much light you have to work with.

We don’t have an amazing setup but that taught us to stalk better, we can now reliably get within 5m of mountain hares in the Peak.

https://flic.kr/p/234PYzx That was taken with a 400mm EF on a 70D. If you can get a lens with a low F-stop, buying a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter will be a cheap way of increasing your range.

Stuart (aka brt) - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to alx:

Most of the time we're slowly wandering around reserves and spotting as we go (with the kids in tow - an added burden/complication!).

Appreciate the advice.

alx on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):
I would probably go with the bridge camera for the first step, photographyblog.com ran some tests on the P900 which help you see the image quality when put through different conditions.

- small note that the P900 doesn’t shoot in RAW format which could be an issue for you if you like to process your own images.
Post edited at 09:22
cb294 - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

A proper camera with tele lens will be better for photographing a bird, but the spotting scope will be vastly superior for finding, observing, and identifying it in the first place (and also for showing it to the kids!).

The scope will be heavier than a DSLR, but not heavier than the huge, low f stop tele lenses with comparable focal length usually carried by bird photographers. Taking photos through the scope will in addition require a tripod and is a bit slower, as you typically do not look through the camera. A camera can be used from the hands or with a light monopod, but is annoying to use for finding the motive.

If you don't like the angled ocular scopes you can also go for straight models. They may be better for photographing, but are a pain to adjust for different viewers as you will have to set them to around eye level for each viewer. Especially if you go bird watching with children, it is much more convenient to set an angles scope for their eye levels, and have the adults bend down. Straight scopes are also a pain to use if the birds sit further up from your POV, as pointing them up requires bigger and heavier tripods, but conversely are great for sitting in a chair, sea watching....

Guess it really depends on your priorities.

CB
cb294 - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to alx:

Great picture!

CB
Stuart (aka brt) - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to cb294:

> Guess it really depends on your priorities.

> CB

Suspect working out the compromises will be the clincher. Swaying towards a Panasonic bridge (FZ82) as there's a cashback offer on at the minute. Plus the images I've seen taken with it seem to match my aspiration.

It's definitely one of those 'if money was no object' dilemmas!

Thanks.

alx on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

> It's definitely one of those 'if money was no object' dilemmas!

That is a bonus of the DSLR in that you can upgrade parts.

Just a small note, I would try and get a GPS camera. We now have over 30k images and are faced with the prospect of having to sort them. Having something automated other than time and date to help file sorting would have been helpful.
Brian - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to Stuart (aka brt): Google wildlife photographers and take a look at their equipment - I would assume Nikon and canon for obvious reasons = lens choice, frame rate, good focusing and weather proofing.

alx on 05 Jan 2018
In reply to Brian:

Most popular Canon stuff seems to be a 7D with a 300mm EF f2.8L with either a 1.4x or 2x MK III teleconverter to give you an equivalent of 600mm. We follow a number of wildlife photographers on Flickr which reports the setup used.

I’m beginning to favour a good prime lens nowadays as you can get better optics and lower aperture for you money. Whilst I love the range a good telephoto lens (like the 100-400mm I’m currently using) gives, the action of extending and retracting acts as a bellows and can suck dust into the lens in dusty environments.
Tom V - on 05 Jan 2018
In reply to Brian:
Stuart's budget was £400
For his requirements (personal use, no desire to publish , no apparent need to go beyond A4) I still think the best bridge camera in the £400 bracket would be the best choice.
Post edited at 19:25
thlcr1 on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

To be honest it will be difficult to do at £400 with a DSLR. 300mm isn't really long enough. Ive got a Sigma 150-500 and you have to get pretty close even with that. I got that used for £500 probably double that new. To be honest though its to slow both in f stop and focusing, is hugely heavy and is difficult to get good results. Tripod is essential. I hardly use it any more, and am still looking for an alternative that doesn't cost over 2-3k. At £400 id have thought a descent bridge camera would be your best option.

Lee
Stuart (aka brt) - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to thlcr1:

Thanks. Having spoken to a relative who is quite into photography, they've suggested pretty much the same. In fact The Panasonic FZ82 is on order having seen some of the pictures that have been taken with it. Might not be the perfect option but it's probably right for me.

malk - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

compares well with G7 +100-400..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7E17UtQlBGQ
Toerag - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Are you looking to shoot static birds, or birds in flight? If it's the latter then you pretty much need a good DSLR for their autofocus capabilities. If shooting static, then anything will work providing it has a wide enough aperture for low light (if you're going to shoot in low light), and enough 'reach'. The smaller the camera sensor the longer the 'reach' for the same focal length, i.e. a 300mm lens on a micro4/3rds camera has the same reach as a 600mm on a 'full frame' camera.

Please Register as a New User in order to reply to this topic.