September 20, 2014, 04:38:16 PM

Author Topic: Budget lens for birding ?  (Read 10626 times)

vikram1988

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Budget lens for birding ?
« on: April 20, 2013, 03:06:10 AM »
Hi all,

I'm from India and i'm new here. I am very interested in bird photography. I currently shoot with 550d (t2i ) and a 55-250 IS 1 lens.
The 55-250 lens is an amazing lens and i'm very happy with how sharp the pictures turn out to be.  I feel the lens's af is fast enough to even capture birds in flight in-case the backdrop is sky. I havent used any expensive lenses till now. The only problem with the 55-250 lens is, reach . I'm missing out on too many good opportunities because i simply am not able to approach a bird by foot and get a good shot without having to crop a lot in PP .
So considering this , i'm thinking of upgrading my setup with a budget 1500 $'s ( My bro can buy the equipment in US and send me here ). What do you guys suggest ?
1.100-400 lens ?
2.what are the different versions of this lens ?
3.how does it couple with 550d (t2i) . how fast would be the autofocus with this body and lens ? I'm not sure how much the body would affect the speed of autofocus. It would be of great help if someone can explain how/how  much the autofocus of the body would affect the performance of the lens .
4. I can wait for a couple of months too if there's an oppurtunity of the price going down for the lens. whats the lowest price you guys have seen on this lens ?
5. Or do you guys suggest me to buy a better body first and then rent lenses till i find the budget for the lens ?

Thanks for reading :)

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Budget lens for birding ?
« on: April 20, 2013, 03:06:10 AM »

AlanF

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2013, 04:33:12 PM »
It's the best lens in your budget. There is only one version, and it should focus fine on the 550D. But, this is one lens you must test before buying - there are some soft copies.
5D III, 70D, Powershot SX50, 300/2.8 II, 1.4xTC III, 2xTC III, 70-200/4 IS, 24-105, 15-85, Sigma 10-20, Tamron 150-600.

jcoz

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2013, 04:55:26 PM »
In my humble opinion, for birding you need 400mm and more. I never go birding with my Canon 70-300 L because it is just not enough - I also use a crop sensor camera -, instead I ended up buying the Canon 400mm f/5.6 L. It is light, small, focuses very, very quickly and pretty affordable for an L lens (around $1350). And the great thing is that it is already a good 10 years old so the price is pretty low.

It does not have an IS so bring a sturdy tripod or ramp up the iso speed, but it will focus a lot faster than the 100-400 which my dad owns and I was able to try, and the IS will not help with moving subjects anyway. Birds move very quickly !

Now if you don't want a fix lens I still think the Canon 70-300 L is better than the Canon 100-400 in terms of size, weight, sharpness and focusing speed but is a little short...

« Last Edit: April 20, 2013, 05:01:44 PM by jcoz »
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AlanF

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2013, 05:47:03 PM »
The OP already has a 55-250mm, which is too short, so it would seem a bit pointless just going up to a 300mm zoom, which is also too short. The issue of 100-400mm vs 400mm f/5.6 has been argued over for years. The prime was originally greatly championed by Arthur Morris, who described it as his favourite toy lens. But, even he has now discarded it in favour of the 100-400mm - see http://www.birdsasart.com/b13.html

I have become so fed up with people stating that the 400mm f/5.6 is much better than the 100-400mm zoom that I started a thread http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=14296.0 with the numbers that both lenses are of similar sharpness. The 400mm L is now 20 years old and should have been updated years ago. In my opinion, the advantages of zoom and 2 good stops of IS make the 100-400mm a much more versatile and useful lens. It also packs away nicely.
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crasher8

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2013, 06:31:53 PM »
The push me pull me is a dust hog. Birding is field photography ergo I find the 400 prime a better selection.

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2013, 07:49:07 PM »
I also went from the 400 5.6L to the 100-400L.  Its not a dust hog, at least the two I've owned are not.  There is really no competition in the price range other than the 400mm f/5.6 which has a bit faster AF but is missing the zoom and the IS.
If you are tracking a bird in flight, I find the push pull to be excellent to operate, its just a matter of spending a little time to get used to it.
 
The main issue is that even 400mm is a bit short.

jcoz

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2013, 09:29:11 PM »
I do agree that in terms of quality you won't see much difference in the real world and the 100-400 is a lot more useful than a prime 400. My dad owns a 100-400, I have a 70-300 and 400 because I couldn't do with the first one only -  I ended up buying the 400 when I realized 300 was not enough. I also agree 300mm for birding is far from enough, 400 is barely enough as well.

However, I always found the AF to be unbeatable on the 400mm which can be very useful for birds in flight and I rarely get close enough to a bird to need less than 400mm. When the birds are not moving much, I do wish I had IS so in the end it's true that the 100-400 L is going to make you very happy, especially if you come from the 55-250 (which I had when I started).

This conversation made me want to check on the latest 100-400 rumors :)
Canon 7D + Grip, Canon 50D + Grip, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS, Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2013, 09:29:11 PM »

AlanF

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2013, 12:46:19 AM »
The push me pull me is a dust hog. Birding is field photography ergo I find the 400 prime a better selection.

The "dust hog" epithet is another myth.  Mine has never accumulated any dust, as also other CR members ones have not.  Many used lenses of all types are sold with the description "contains some dust", so what is your evidence that the 100-400 is any worse?
5D III, 70D, Powershot SX50, 300/2.8 II, 1.4xTC III, 2xTC III, 70-200/4 IS, 24-105, 15-85, Sigma 10-20, Tamron 150-600.

vikram1988

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2013, 12:53:54 AM »
Thanks guys for all the suggestions :) i'm leaning more towards 100-400 as well.

I've read that the autofocus is fast with both the 400 f/5.6 and 100-400 lens. Is that correct ?

How does the body affect the AF ? as a simple question , would a 7d focus faster with 100-400 lens compared to a T2i with 100-400 lens ? The answer seems obvious but i'm looking for some explanation.

At the moment the 100-400 is priced around 1400. Whats the lowest you've seen on this lens ?


rpt

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2013, 01:53:12 AM »
I vote 100-400L. I have one since 2007. I have not had any dust problem with it. I used it with the 300D and now with the 5D3 and it works fine. I have used it to shoot the moon hand held at 400mm with a shutter speed of 160 and it came out sharp! So the IS works well in my experience.

CarlTN

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2013, 04:06:53 AM »
vikram1988...I bought the Sigma 120-400 f/4.5-5.6 OS.  I like it a lot.  The "OS" works well, but seems to be flawed (on my copy anyway...perhaps on all copies).  It imparts softness, even though it is stabilizing up to 4 stops.  It is usable only if your final image will be printed 5x7 or smaller...or 8x10 if you don't mind a slight softness. 

With it switched off, the lens gets extremely sharp in the center at 400mm, especially at distances closer than 100 feet...even wide open at f/5.6.  Closed to f/9, it's sharp to the image borders on both full frame and a crop sensor, at 400mm...at infinity focus, and everywhere else.  Closed to f/11, it's razor sharp even on a full frame, to the corners, throughout the focal range.  At the wide end, it's sharp to the full frame corners, by f/6.3.  However, it's sharp to the full frame borders even wide open at f/4.5...at 120mm. 

Despite much negativity heaped on this lens and its supposedly "sluggish, inconsistent autofocus"...I have found that not to be the case, with my copy.  It focuses very fast and accurate, even in low light in servo mode.  For just over half the price of the Canon 100-400, I say it's a no brainer.  Color and contrast via this Sigma, are at least on par with, if not superior to the Canon...up to about 250mm.  Beyond that, it's possible the contrast and color saturation are slightly less than provided by the Canon...but the Sigma color balance is warmer, which I much prefer.

I've rented the 400 f/5.6L, it's vastly sharper than either of the above zooms.  However, I suggest if you must have a Canon lens, forget the 100-400, and the 400 prime, and instead go with the 300 f/4L, plus a 1.4x TC.  It will give you very decent image stabilization, light weight, compact size, much faster aperture, nice bokeh, and almost the sharpness of the 400 f/5.6L prime (at 300mm), and perhaps a bit more sharpness at 420mm f/5.6 (via even the older version 2 1.4x TC), than the 100-400L at 400mm...but with an extra 20mm thrown in.

If you simply must have a walk around zoom, budget for the 70-300L.  If you want a vastly better lens than your 55-250, with slightly less reach for not much more money, try the 70-200 f/4L (non-IS)...and save a while longer for a full frame, or a 70D, or a 7D2.

CarlTN

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2013, 04:16:34 AM »
300mm f/4, 100% crop, EOS 1D Mark IV, hand-held.

vikram1988

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2013, 04:27:49 AM »
Carl , thanks soo much for the detailed write up! would you suggest the sigma even for hand help bird photography ?

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2013, 04:27:49 AM »

vikram1988

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2013, 04:28:19 AM »
*hand held

Rienzphotoz

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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2013, 06:02:16 AM »
Vikram, I used to have EF 100-400L IS, which is a great lens but I sold it and got Sigma 150-500 OS for better reach ... my copy of the Sigma 150-500 OS is just as good as my earlier 100-400L IS lens if not better.
The Sigma 150-500 OS sells for about $1000 (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/549255-REG/Sigma_737101_150_500mm_f_5_6_3_DG_OS.html) which is well within your budget, giving you enough money left over to buy:
1. a good quality filter
2. a Lens Coat Lens cover (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/652524-REG/LensCoat_LCS150500M4_Sigma_Lens_Cover_Realtree.html)
3. an external flash
4. a Better Beamer flash extender (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=better+beamer&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=ma&Top+Nav-Search=) this will come in handy to illuminate the birds so your images get a nice separation and pop.
By the way, you can easily hand hold this lens ... and on your 550D, the reach will be awesome at 800mm, perfect reach for bird photography ... also, if you are buying it from USA, you get 3 years warranty.
Here are a couple images made last week with the Sigma 150-500 OS (using an external flash + better beamer) both images made during a dust storm.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2013, 06:18:18 AM by Rienzphotoz »
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Re: Budget lens for birding ?
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2013, 06:02:16 AM »