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Author Topic: System for bird photography  (Read 2770 times)

armand

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2019, 01:32:34 am »

Quote
Peter Ait mentioned the 1" sensor Sony bridge camera RX10 IV, with 25-600mm equivalent lens. This is the hot item for bird photography now, because the autofocus is said to be capable of capturing birds in flight reliably. I have not used it, but I have seen good reviews of it for birding, and there's no question that this is one of the simplest and least expensive options, and is lighter weight than the APS-C format dSLRs and appropriate lens. I would love to try it - it would be a great travel and hiking camera for birding.

Focus is decent but zooming the lens takes a while and doesn’t really focus during zooming. You need good light otherwise the ISO will go up fast.

HSakols

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2019, 08:49:17 am »

I know your wife is considering a full frame system, but I really would look at micro four thirds.  I thinks it is absolutely perfect for this type of photography.  Don't underestimate what it can do. 
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David S

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2019, 10:55:57 am »

I am currently using a Panasonic G9 and the Leica 100-400 mm lens hand held with good results. I am mostly shooting water fowl (stationary) and small birds (Warblers, semi stationary) and when I switched to this combo, my positive comments from others went way up.

Dave S
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Dan Wells

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2019, 09:23:00 pm »

The faster Micro 43 bodies (E-M1 mk II, or even E-M1x) with the 100-400 PanaLeica or the forthcoming (and probably expensive) Olympus Pro 150-400 would be a really interesting combination here, especially if a D500 and the 500mm PF Nikkor isn't long enough.

Nikon will get you to 750mm focal length equivalent (1050mm with a 1.4x teleconverter - although that brings the combo to f8 and reduces focus performance) in a somewhat reasonably sized and priced package (a little over $5000 for a D500 and the 500mm lens). Anything longer, and you're in the realm of huge, $10,000 lenses.

Olympus and Panasonic will get you to 800mm equivalent for around $3000, in a much smaller package. I've handled an E-M1 mkII with the 100-400 PanaLeica, and it's not a huge setup at all.

Next year, the Olympus PRO 150-400 lens will be out, which is f4.0 throughout the zoom range (the PanaLeica is, disappointingly, f6.3 at the long end although it's a nice lens in other respects). The Olympus PRO lens is not going to be small or cheap, but it doesn't look any bigger than the Nikkor 500mm PF, although it's hard to tell from the pictures.Since it's f4, it'll take a 2x teleconverter - 1600mm equivalent (at f8, which still autofocuses, although with reduced performance)! It actually has a built-in 1.25x converter, which Olympus claims will stack with the 2x converter and still autofocus, even though it'll be f9.5. Using the built-in converter ONLY, it'll get to 1000 mm equivalent at a very manageable f5.

As far as I know, there's only one way besides the new Olympus PRO lens to get to 2000mm with AF, and it's wildly impractical. It involves the Canon 1200mm f5.6 (the wildly impractical part - it's a 36 lb, $100,000 lens) on an APS-C body. That's 1920mm right there, and a 1.4x converter will fit for 2,688 mm! That's got to be the world's longest AF lens.

If you drop the AF requirement, what qualifies as a lens? I know at least one birder who digiscopes a Celestron 8" telescope with a native focal length over 2000mm (so it's equivalent to a bit over 3000mm with an APS-C camera, or 4000mm or so with Micro 43).

On the same principle, you could drop a DSLR into the prime focus of the Hale Telescope :), which is a 16,760mm f3.3 lens. As for attaching a camera, there's a Nikon F mount in there somewhere, although adapters to whatever else you might want are the least of the problems (it will also natively attach an 8x10" view camera). It's f3.3, so it'll take at least one teleconverter easily enough. Good luck getting the Hale Telescope off Mount Palomar, let alone to where the birds are
« Last Edit: January 30, 2019, 09:28:47 pm by Dan Wells »
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stever

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2019, 12:08:42 pm »

if weight and bulk is a consideration, the 43 is worth consideration.  however you're giving up a stop of low light noise (not inconsequential with long fairly slow lenses) and the Pany 100-400 isn't the sharpest tack in the box.  The forthcoming Oly 150- 400 on the other hand should be an excellent birding choice - but also not so small, light, or cheap - when it is available.
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BJL

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2019, 07:11:15 pm »

if weight and bulk is a consideration, the 43 is worth consideration.  however you're giving up a stop of low light noise (not inconsequential with long fairly slow lenses) and the Pany 100-400 isn't the sharpest tack in the box.  The forthcoming Oly 150-400 on the other hand should be an excellent birding choice - but also not so small, light, or cheap - when it is available.

The noise difference is only if one compared to lenses for the larger format covering the same FOV at the same minimum f-stops so that the same needed shutter speed can be achieved at the same ISO speeds. For the above lens examples:
- the roughly two stop less noisy alternatives for 35mm format would need about 200-800/4-6.3 and 300-800/4.5
- the roughly 0.6–0.8 stop less noisy alternatives for APS-C format would need about 130-530/4-6.3 and 200-530/4.5

Of course, in reality, those longer focal lengths would probably instead be achieved by lenses limited to higher minimum f-stops—perhaps through using teleconverters—and thus needing higher ISO speeds, canceling out some or all of the imagined noise advantage.

Roughly, if the lenses are of the same bulk, the f-stop and ISO speeds scale up and make noise levels about equal for equal shutter speed. It's the lenses that are faster or slower at gathering light from subject, and "there's no substitute for square mm of entrance pupil area".
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Jack Hogan

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2019, 04:18:46 am »

Roughly, if the lenses are of the same bulk, the f-stop and ISO speeds scale up and make noise levels about equal for equal shutter speed. It's the lenses that are faster or slower at gathering light from subject, and "there's no substitute for square mm of entrance pupil area".

Right, complemented by sensor area.  So for performance with the same angle of view in such situations "there's no substitute for square mm of sensor and entrance pupil area".

The same angle of view tells you that the D500's APS-C sensor needs about 1.3x the focal length of a uFT sensor.  If the entrance pupil area is the same  that means that APS-C's f-number is about 1.3x uFT's. Therefore both formats receive the same amount of light on the sensor and are equally clean/noisy. All else being equal.

Which means that - excluding sweetspot situations for either system at the edges of the envelope - in order for the performance of both formats to be roughly the same, the lenses will end up being roughly the same size.  If they are not the same size it typically means that the relative manufacturer has taken shortcuts - hoping you will not notice that you are no longer comparing apples to apples vs the competition in terms of IQ metrics like resolution, distortion etc. etc.  For instance the resolution one gets out of the Nikkor 500PF at 500mm f/8 on a D500 is substantially better than what one gets out of the Leica/Panasonic 100-400ASPH at 384mm f/6.3 on a uFT sensor.  Plus the D500 would have the flexibility of shooting with more light at f/5.6, if one so desired.

But there are considerations other than noise or resolution.  One of the reasons my birding friends tell me they don't use uFT for their hobby is that it's very hard to see the bird entering the field of view on a zoomed out, out of focus EVF, say in a BIF situation.  On the other hand this is not on issue with the D500's optical view finder.  And so it goes, to each their own.

Jack
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Robert Roaldi

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #27 on: February 01, 2019, 07:16:17 am »

But there are considerations other than noise or resolution.  One of the reasons my birding friends tell me they don't use uFT for their hobby is that it's very hard to see the bird entering the field of view on a zoomed out, out of focus EVF, say in a BIF situation.  On the other hand this is not on issue with the D500's optical view finder.  And so it goes, to each their own.

In some circumstances, this device (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1116753-REG/olympus_ee_1_dot_sight_for.html) can help with that. It works surprisingly (to me) well but is one more contraption to fiddle with. If I practiced more, I could probably get better at using it. I don't know if other manufacturers make something similar.
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Peter McLennan

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #28 on: February 01, 2019, 12:09:07 pm »

...it's very hard to see the bird entering the field of view on a zoomed out, out of focus EVF, say in a BIF situation.  On the other hand this is not on issue with the D500's optical view finder...
Jack

With my Sony RX10 IV, this is the case.  Once it locks on, it's pretty good.  But quickly achieving framing and lock can be difficult with this EVF.
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BJL

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #29 on: February 01, 2019, 10:04:02 pm »

Jack,

    I think we are saying the same thing here about noise levels, which is all I was responding too—though as far as noise, I do not understand the point about "complemented by sensor area": entrance pupil ares alone measures "photons per second per bird", regardless of sensor area.

Right, complemented by sensor area.  So for performance with the same angle of view in such situations "there's no substitute for square mm of sensor and entrance pupil area".

... If the entrance pupil area is the same ... both formats receive the same amount of light on the sensor and are equally clean/noisy. All else being equal.

For instance the resolution one gets out of the Nikkor 500PF at 500mm f/8 on a D500 is substantially better than what one gets out of the Leica/Panasonic 100-400ASPH at 384mm f/6.3 on a uFT sensor.
Quite likely a prime lens (with larger entrance pupil size) will perform better than a wide-ranging zoom, but way off the topic of the comparison I was addressing—and there are primes for MFT too! And on another off-topic comment:

One of the reasons my birding friends tell me they don't use uFT for their hobby is that it's very hard to see the bird entering the field of view on a zoomed out, out of focus EVF, say in a BIF situation.  On the other hand this is not on issue with the D500's optical view finder.
Maybe true, though am enjoying using the Olympus dot site with the very narrow FOV at 300mm on my E-M5!
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Jack Hogan

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #30 on: February 02, 2019, 04:02:00 am »

—though as far as noise, I do not understand the point about "complemented by sensor area": entrance pupil ares alone measures "photons per second per bird", regardless of sensor area.

Yes we agree on noise BJL, as mentioned.  I responded to you but my comment was more general in nature.

BTW, out of curiosity, are there any 400mm primes for uFT, or would one need to use a teleconverter?  It'd be interesting to compare resolution etc.

Jack
« Last Edit: February 02, 2019, 04:47:08 am by Jack Hogan »
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BJL

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #31 on: February 03, 2019, 03:33:53 pm »

... are there any 400mm primes for uFT, or would one need to use a teleconverter?
Well, we seem to have strayed a long from Peter Alt's original topic of a system for someone stepping up from a bridge camera (the Lumix FZ-1000, with a 1" format sensor and a roughly 9-150mm f/2.8-4 zoom lens) to lenses limited to a single super-narrow FOV like 400mm for 4/3" (FOV of 800mm in 35mm). No, such lenses are as rare for MFT as the FOV-equivalent 800mm primes are for the 35mm format systems from Sony, Pentax, Leica and Panasonic, and were until a few years ago for Canon and Nikon! I suspect that even the 600mm that would be a FOV match in APS-C formats is not a likely option here.

On the other hand, that narrow FOV can sometimes be desirable, but most likely to be obtained with cropping and/or a teleconverter. Let me suggest that after cropping, most bird photography is fairly well served by enough resolution for "normal viewing", not the huge print/close viewing that some landscape photographers aspire too, and for that, about 12MP after cropping is probably fine, while more (20MP?) is desirable on the sensor, for loose framing and such. So it is interesting to me to look at what focal lengths are needed for "800mm FOV at 12MP crop", which also matches about "600mm FOV at 20MP". I get:
- 300mmm with a 20MP 4/3" sensor
- 370mm with a 24MP 24x16mm sensor (the Sony-Nikon-Pentax-Fujifilm version of APS-C)
- 560mm with a 24MP 35mm format sensor (which is the only option in "entry-level 35mm format", with any substantially higher pixel count starting at about $3200 body-only).

For the first two, there is the great advantage of being available with a zoom lens, which then has far more use cases than a super-narrow prime.
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Telecaster

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #32 on: February 03, 2019, 04:12:07 pm »

I have the Pana-Leica 100–400mm, which is pretty darn good but hardly small or light, so the long m43 lens I travel with is the Panasonic 100–300mm. I used it a lot on my recent Big Island holiday. It's CA-prone at the long end but this can be dealt with. Great size-weight/performance ratio, and fairly inexpensive too.

-Dave-
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Dan Wells

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #33 on: February 03, 2019, 06:18:47 pm »

As far as I know, there's no prime longer than the (excellent) Olympus 300 mm f4 Pro. There's also not an extremely high quality zoom longer than that right now. There are a couple of midrange-quality lenses that go to 300 mm (the Panasonic is f5.6 at the long end, and the Olympus is a very disappointing f6.7).

Above that, there's only the PanaLeica that goes to 400mm, also slow (f6.3 at the long end), and about the quality of the good Canon or Sony 100-400s. A friend has it, and it's a nice lens, but not as sharp as the 100-400 Fujinon I use for wildlife, and certainly not at the level of the 180-400 and 200-400 professional options from Canon and Nikon.

The forthcoming Oly 150-400 seems like it's probably aimed at those expensive Canon and Nikon zooms, and what we know about Olympus PRO lenses suggests it'll be in that rarefied company. If it's that good, it's probably going to be (at least) a $5000 lens... The Canon and Nikon are closer to $10,000 - but earlier versions weren't quite that expensive, and the Oly is 1/3 stop slower.

Right now, Nikon actually has an advantage over Micro 43 if you want higher quality than the PanaLeica can provide. The 500mm PF is a relatively manageable lens from a size and weight perspective (not as easy from the perspective of finding one, and it's more expensive, although much cheaper than most exotic telephotos), and it's significantly longer (on APS-C) than the Olympus 300mm, even once you take differing crop factors into account. It's about the same speed or a little slower, depending on how you account for the crop. The Nikon 200-500 is a less expensive (and easier to find) alternative that is faster and sharper (although heavier) than the PanaLeica.

The new Olympus lens will probably give Micro 43 a lead once again
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Rory

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #34 on: February 04, 2019, 12:49:55 am »

My advice, at this time, is to go for an optical viewfinder and a good focus system.  I've been a serious bird photographer for over 20 years and have owned pretty near everything on the market.  The only systems that focus effectively for bird photography are Canon 1 series, 7D2 (so-so) and the 5 Series(so-so), Nikon (1 series, 500 and 800 series) and the Sony A9.  The olympus camera focus will leave you disappointed, as will panasonic.  Birds move quickly, and often have complex backgrounds and branches to confuse the AF.  As far as AF goes right now:

Best - D500 / 850 / 5: excellent focus and tracking, except for small birds flying at close range
Amazing - A9: excellent at tracking small flying birds, not so good at acquisition against brown and green backgrounds at a distance
1DX2 - Great at acquisition except as noted for A9 and does not track well in some circumstances.  Other Canons are worse.

What folks shoot with:

Lower budget - 7D2 + 100-400 f/5.6
Modest budget - D500 + 200-500 or older 500/4
Medium budget D850 + previous generation 500/4

Cheers
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David S

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #35 on: February 04, 2019, 05:55:42 pm »

Back to the original question - what camera and lens "system" would be best.
Your wife's current camera seems to work well for her. To spend a considerable amount of money to move to another camera and lens might be great but at what cost for money, weight and convenience.

I would suggest renting a camera and lens for a week or so to try it out. Then another system combo to try it out and to talk about the differences and advantages etc.

Weight - key if walking a lot or hiking. Cost is not insignificant. Clearly from the posts here, personal preferences play a big role.

She has to try the options out and then decide.

I started with I then Canon 100-400 mm lens - way too heavy and the Pany GH2 with 75-200 mm lens (not long enough) Then some years later I tried Fuji with the 100-400mm lens with 1.4 X tele-converter and still too heavy and now finally the Pany G9 with 100-400 mm lens which works for me and I find I can do manual focus if needed.

She needs to try the combs herself.

Dave S
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Lightsmith

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #36 on: March 24, 2019, 03:27:00 pm »

I shoot with Nikon full frame cameras and lenses and my wife uses Olympus MFT cameras and lenses. I can produce a wall size print with the image files from the D850 but for a 14x16 size print our two cameras produce equivalent image quality and enlargement potential.

The difference with her mirrorless MFT kit is that her 300mm f/4 lens provides the view angle of my Nikon 600mm f/4 lens but the Olympus lens weighs 3.2 lbs and cost $2500 whereas the Nikon lens weighs over 8 lbs. and cost me $12,300. Her MFT kit with 3 other lenses, two bodies, flash, etc. all fits in a 18L backpack and weighs about 16 lbs in total. My kit fits in a 32L AND a 18L backpack with a total weight of 37 pounds.

Mirrorless provides perfect autofocus. With a mirror SLR there needs to be an adjustment factor to tell the camera that the measure AF distance using the mirror is off from the actual distance to the camera senor and this adjustment is only accurate for the one lens at a given target distance. It is why I tend to use manual focus a great deal of the time with my Nikon pro cameras and lenses.

Mirrorless also means having an electronic viewfinder. This allows the user to fully view the scene and subject in very low light. With my DSLR cameras in low light I shoot and chimp, make adjustment and reshoot and chimp. With the mirrorless any EV adjustments can be seen in the electronic viewfinder before the shutter is tripped.

Olympus also provides excellent image stabilization in its lenses and in its cameras and when the two are used together the IS is increased in an additive manner. This is not available from Sony or Nikon or Canon with their cameras and lenses.

Olympus has had for two years pro constant f/2.8 aperture lenses with its 40-150mm f/2.8 IS, 12-40mm f/2.8, 7-14mm f/2.8, and has added a 12-100mm f/4 IS (full frame would be a 24-200mm) along with its 300mm f/4 IS prime and 60mm f/2.8 macro. Olympus provides three levels of mirrorless cameras with the E-M5, E-M1, and new E-M1X. For someone going from a small camera the MFT approach is a much smaller incremental step than any APC-C or full frame camera based system.
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TonyVentourisPhotography

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Re: System for bird photography
« Reply #37 on: March 26, 2019, 11:27:17 am »

The new e-m1x is pricey...but it’s plane ai seems to track birds fairly well too.  Certainly well beyond their other cameras.  It would be interesting to see what some good bird photographers think once they spend some time with this new one. 

Size and weight are a factor for a lot of people, especially if you want to be more mobile and hand held for longer periods of time.  An Olympus with the 300 is hand holdable all day, and even more so with the 100-400 Panasonic.
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