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Birding in Costa Rica: Which Camera+Lens
#1
This is purely opinion I know, but the concept is this:  Much birding would be done in low light.  The rig should be lighter than a Canon Mk IV with a 100-400 zoom, but also have better telephoto capability.  It should not cost more than the Canon.

The only things that come to my mind are one of the better Olympus Bodies, and the Panasonic-Leica 100-400 IS,
and maybe a Sony A7 III with a third party telephoto?  I'm not familiar with economical telephoto options for the Sony that do not require a mount adapter.

I also would consider the Nikon D500 and the 200-500mm zoom.

I would include my EOS 90D with 100-400 Mk II, though you might not think it has low light performance.

Everything except my 90D are cameras I've never used.  This question was put to me, and I want to have an answer that is not just pure speculation on my part.  Anything in the 500/600 F/4 category can't be used due to cost and size.  I think the Nikon 200-500 might be pushing at the size limits, but let's face it, birders love the D500, 200-500 combo, so it might pass.

Any thoughts?
#2
90D should be great for birding, Nikon D500 has the reputation but 90D is already as good for birding, I am a happy owner of 7DMKII and when tried to compared to D500 not much of a difference in performance.
Just make sure the used lens has fast enough focus if you intend to shoot birds in flight, in that case you won't be using fast apertures, remember a photo with missed focus isn't usable regardless of the rest.
Attention push-pull on 100-400 isn't obvious to use, make sure you get used to it before.
#3
(06-06-2021, 12:53 AM)toni-a Wrote: 90D should be great for birding, Nikon D500 has the reputation but 90D is already  as good for birding, I am a happy owner of 7DMKII and when tried to compared to D500 not much of a difference in performance.
Just make sure the used lens has fast enough focus if you intend to shoot birds in flight, in that case you won't be using fast apertures, remember a photo with missed focus isn't usable regardless of the rest.
Attention push-pull on 100-400 isn't obvious to use, make sure you get used to it before.

This is actually a friend of mine from Flickr (the photo sharing site, which I suppose everyone knows).  She is a very good birder, which is to say, better than I am by a wide margin.  She really loves her 5D Mk IV used with the original "push-pull" 100-400L. 

She gave her Canon 80D to her husband (I gather more of an old school birder: Binoculars, and spotting scope) when she bought the 5D Mark IV.  That is what you call a good wife! 

You would think why ask me?  I have been trying to get clues from her on how I can improve!  But we somehow fell into discussing what is next on the camera horizon for us.  We each had our eyes on a different system, and have graciously shot each others dream cameras down.

I only have hands on experience with Canon, and Olympus.  I have become something of a raving bird fanatic over the last couple of years, marked by my relegating my Canon 5D Mark II aside exclusively for macro use, and discovering the 90D as a pretty capable birding camera.

I think Canon 7D Mark II is a good choice.  I think the 80D might be as good if it had decent water sealing.  I doubt that it does.  I think the IS one the 100-400 Mk II really makes it an order of magnitude better.  I was able to get a good shot of an owl yesterday at 1/40th of a second, and ISO 1250.  So maybe..

-Pairing the 100-400 Mk II with, the already owned 80D and 5D Mk. IV.  or...
-With the very robust 7D Mark II.

It might just be my own bad luck, but I had an instance apiece with the 70D, and the 90D where just very light sprinkling rain was enough to stop the camera functioning.  That is scary!  In both cases I immediately removed the battery as a precaution, and dried them at home.  They both came back to life, but it was scary!

Thanks for your reply Toni-a!

-Mac
#4
Sony A6600 w/ Sony 70-350G? That's probably your most lightweight option. One step up - the Sigma 100-400 DN. Beyond that there is, of course, the Sony 200-600G or the new Tamron 150-500mm but then you'd leave the lightweight zone.
Pana G9 w/ Leica 100-400
Oly E-M5 III w/ Oly 100-400
Fuji X-T3 w/ Fuji 100-400
Chief Editor - opticallimits.com

Doing all things Canon, MFT, Sony and Fuji
#5
(06-05-2021, 11:04 PM)Arthur Macmillan Wrote: This is purely opinion I know, but the concept is this:  Much birding would be done in low light.  The rig should be lighter than a Canon Mk IV with a 100-400 zoom, but also have better telephoto capability.  It should not cost more than the Canon.

The only things that come to my mind are one of the better Olympus Bodies, and the Panasonic-Leica 100-400 IS,
and maybe a Sony A7 III with a third party telephoto?  I'm not familiar with economical telephoto options for the Sony that do not require a mount adapter.

I also would consider the Nikon D500 and the 200-500mm zoom.

I would include my EOS 90D with 100-400 Mk II, though you might not think it has low light performance.

Everything except my 90D are cameras I've never used.  This question was put to me, and I want to have an answer that is not just pure speculation on my part.  Anything in the 500/600 F/4 category can't be used due to cost and size.  I think the Nikon 200-500 might be pushing at the size limits, but let's face it, birders love the D500, 200-500 combo, so it might pass.

Any thoughts?

Hi Mac ....

 (I just wrote long thread and accidentally clicked on a button and lost it all .... )

   So I'll ask simply what is the problem using the 90D ??
Dave's clichés
#6
I'm not a fan of how my 100-400 (1st generation) handles with a gripless body, 80D in my case. Though it's YMMV of course as my wife used it without apparent issues with her 650D.

FWIW I feel the input conditions are a bit contradictory: compact but with both long reach AND the good lowlight capability/quality. Correct me if I am mistaken tho.
#7
(06-06-2021, 12:51 PM)Rover Wrote: I'm not a fan of how my 100-400 (1st generation) handles with a gripless body, 80D in my case. Though it's YMMV of course as my wife used it without apparent issues with her 650D.

FWIW I feel the input conditions are a bit contradictory: compact but with both long reach AND the good lowlight capability/quality. Correct me if I am mistaken tho.

That's because you always have to hold the zoom ring of the 100-400L Mk I. I always found it great to use. set stiffness to zero beforehand, than aim at the bird at 100 mm, AF, and zoom in as far as required, AF again, slightly adjust focus if need be, and shoot.

I loved it, because it was so easy to use and very convenient with the push zoom ring. I actually hate the Mk II I currently have the way it works. It is much slower and much more awkward, having two separate rings, unless you own an EOS R6 or R5, which autofocus incredibly well with their bird-eye option.

Kind regards,Wim
Gear: Canon EOS R with 3 primes and 2 zooms, 4 EF-R adapters, Canon EOS 5 (analog), 9 Canon EF primes, a lone Canon EF zoom, 2 extenders, 2 converters, tubes; Olympus OM-D 1 Mk II & Pen F with 12 primes, 6 zooms, and 3 Metabones EF-MFT adapters ....
#8
Dave Manze,

I just wrote a reply to Klaus and did the same thing. What I prefer to do is to write a response with my word processor, and then past it into reply. OK, you said:

Hi Mac ....

(I just wrote long thread and accidentally clicked on a button and lost it all .... )

So I'll ask simply what is the problem using the 90D ??
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
I like the 90D! But really with the 100-400mm Mk.II. I realize the Mk I version is a great lens in it own right, but with a long lens you want the better IS. My concern with Cindy is that she generally has gotten used to shooting at higher shutter speeds with higher ISO's than I think is possible with a 90D. It's sort of funny because all nature shooters develop their own styles. I usually shoot at an ISO speed that is a bit low, and take my chance with a longer shutter speed. I will post that Owl picture later when I read how. But that was extreme even for me. Shooting an Owl at 1/40sec and ISO 1250. The result was good enough though. The focal length was only 300mm.

But you question why not 90D has two answers. I'm not I consider the 70D and 90D adequately water resistant. I haven't had a camera broken from very light rain, but have had them stop temporarily. That does not give me confidence to recommend them. I normally stay indoors when it is wet out, but in Costa Rica you have to take what you get. I would still purchase the 90D over the 7D Mark II, but honestly, I would like to own one. I have really only owned one professional level camera and it is a confidence builder!

Keep in touch, brother!

-Mac

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sorry I lost my reply to you Klaus: Good suggestions all, in short!

-Mac

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rover, you said:

FWIW I feel the input conditions are a bit contradictory: compact but with both long reach AND the good lowlight capability/quality. Correct me if I am mistaken tho.

No, you are not mistaken. I think we can all agree photography is a game of compromises. We start by wanting everything, and we end with what we can live with!

Cindy and I were just discussing what would be our next cameras. She had believed that mirrorless would be lighter...Hah!

She was looking at Sony. I was thinking maybe R6/R5. In both cases they sort of fail.

Weight/Expense/IQ/Reach/ISO noise/Ergonomics/Battery life/Viewfinder/Ease of use/Build Qaulity

If you want them all it is two expensive. Rover, your and your wifes cameras are light with pretty good IQ. The 80D is one I think is a sleeper in the Canon line-up. For me, that would be capable enough I think. I skipped it going 70D to 90D, but I have read it is a great camera! It is 6:00pm here, I am forced to go looking for birds.

-Thanks for the input!

-Mac


P.S. - Wim, I will read your post when I get back!
#9
The Canon EOS 90D and Nikon D500 basically perform the same noise wise, at lower and higher ISOs. So your arguments seem conflated. Who goes birding while it rains by the way?
The Tamron 150-600mm G2 is a good lens for the subject.
#10
(06-07-2021, 01:02 AM)Arthur Macmillan Wrote: Dave Manze,

I just wrote a reply to Klaus and did the same thing.  What I prefer to do is to write a response with my word processor, and then past it into reply.  OK, you said:

Hi Mac ....

(I just wrote long thread and accidentally clicked on a button and lost it all .... )

 So I'll ask simply what is the problem using the 90D ??
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
I like the 90D!  But really with the 100-400mm Mk.II.  I realize the Mk I version is a great lens in it own right, but with a long lens you want the better IS.  My concern with Cindy is that she generally has gotten used to shooting at higher shutter speeds with higher ISO's than I think is possible with a 90D.  It's sort of funny because all nature shooters develop their own styles.  I usually shoot at an ISO speed that is a bit low, and take my chance with a longer shutter speed.  I will post that Owl picture later when I read how.  But that was extreme even for me.  Shooting an Owl at 1/40sec and ISO 1250.  The result was good enough though.  The focal length was only 300mm.

But you question why not 90D has two answers.  I'm not I consider the 70D and 90D adequately water resistant.  I haven't had a camera broken from very light rain, but have had them stop temporarily.  That does not give me confidence to recommend them.  I normally stay indoors when it is wet out, but in Costa Rica you have to take what you get.  I would still purchase the 90D over the 7D Mark II, but honestly, I would like to own one.  I have really only owned one professional level camera and it is a confidence builder!

Keep in touch, brother!

-Mac

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sorry I lost my reply to you Klaus:  Good suggestions all, in short!

-Mac

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rover, you said:

FWIW I feel the input conditions are a bit contradictory: compact but with both long reach AND the good lowlight capability/quality. Correct me if I am mistaken tho.

No, you are not mistaken.  I think we can all agree photography is a game of compromises.  We start by wanting everything, and we end with what we can live with!

Cindy and I were just discussing what would be our next cameras.  She had believed that mirrorless would be lighter...Hah!  

She was looking at Sony.  I was thinking maybe R6/R5.  In both cases they sort of fail.

Weight/Expense/IQ/Reach/ISO noise/Ergonomics/Battery life/Viewfinder/Ease of use/Build Qaulity

If you want them all it is two expensive.  Rover, your and your wifes cameras are light with pretty good IQ.  The 80D is one I think is a sleeper in the Canon line-up.  For me, that would be capable enough I think.  I skipped it going 70D to 90D, but I have read it is a great camera!  It is 6:00pm here, I am forced to go looking for birds.

-Thanks for the input!  

-Mac


P.S. - Wim, I will read your post when I get back!

Ah, Wim, you were responding about the 100-400 Mk I. The names I have heard to describe the two different zoom systems are "one touch" for the combined ring as in the Mark I, and "two touch" for the two ring style that is as far as I know virtually all modern lenses now use. I still own at least three lenses that are of "one touch" design. They are all manual focus lenses, though.
 
I like shooting birds in flight (BIFs).
 
Usually I start with AI Servo focus, lens at 100mm, and if I can keep the focus point anywhere near the bird as I zoom ring, the lens stays in focus. The big problem: Getting from 100mm to 400mm and staying on the bird is no mean feat!
 
You've given me a big clue though! I have been keeping the zoom ring tension at maximum to prevent zoom creep. It never occurred to me to set the ring tension to minimum while I was shooting BIF, and then tighten it back up for travel.
 
You've done it again, Wim. I believe this will be a big improvement! Thank you!
 
-Mac
 
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Back to you, Klaus! Throughout my journey in photography I have found little pearls of wisdom that I believe to be eternal truths. Or if not that, then superstitions. Here is one now:
 
-No truly capable telephoto lens shall be less than 400mm, no matter what the imager size is. MFT, APS-C, FF, it just doesn't matter.
 
While it is true, I have no experience with Olympus 300mm F/4 (I think a surprisingly large lens, and expensive) I still believe it will not have the reach.
 
I like the Oly + 400 zoom on paper
 
I like the Fujifilm + Fujinon 400mm on paper
 
I have to look into the Sony. Do the use the same mount for Full frame and APS-C? I used to hear that their lenses were pricy. Is Sony still developing it's APS-C mirrorless cameras, or is it a dead end as far as moving into the future? Sony is a relative unknown for me. I like them, but I can't keep up with their new offerings. And their specifications that keep moving towards infinity...So the have an EVF now with 9 1/2 millon dots? So their FF sensor is now 63 MB? Or is that already obsolete?
 
Where would one jump in with Sony? (Can the Sigma 150-650 be purchased that natively has the Sony Mount? Adapters are sort of tiresome to me.
 
Thanks in advance!
 
-Mac
  


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