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Author Topic: Gear for shooting Birds of Prey?  (Read 2409 times)

FunPhotons

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Gear for shooting Birds of Prey?
« on: September 16, 2012, 07:25:15 PM »
I've got a thing for birds of prey, especially Owls, Eagles and Falcons, and I'd like to take some pictures of them while I'm out hiking around doing landscape photography. I have a 5DMKII with 8-15, 16-35II, 24-105, and 70-200 plus a few primes.

Following criteria for gear ...
  • Lighter is better since I'm already carrying a lot of gear
  • Price isn't critical but this isn't my primary thing so would like to keep it down
  • L/pro gear is fine, so is non pro (if it's lighter, cheaper and produces reasonable shots)
  • I'm OK with say, getting a longer lens and swapping.

On the other hand, there's a place I go where I flush owls out all the time, and need to just be able to very quickly pull a camera out when opportunity presents itself. It's by the ocean in the early morning when the owls are hunting, so there isn't always a lot of light.

Thanks for suggestions!

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Gear for shooting Birds of Prey?
« on: September 16, 2012, 07:25:15 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Gear for shooting Birds of Prey?
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2012, 08:24:13 PM »
A 500mm L is popular for birds in flight, but not something to carry everywhere.  The 400mm DO can be carried with you and is a good lens, but expensive.
I like my 100-400mmL, but it is not that good for flying birds, just sitting ones.  The 400mm f/5.6 is the low cost BIF body, but in low light, you need a 1D X.
No matter which way you turn, it takes big $$$ to cross the boundry into first class wildlife equipment.
I wonder if the small format mirrorless bodies like the Nikon 1 series coupled with a adapter and a 200mm f/2.8 lens would be a low cost way to capture wildlife in low light.
IQ might not match a 1D X with a 500mm f/4L, but neither does the price.

FunPhotons

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Re: Gear for shooting Birds of Prey?
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2012, 10:17:11 PM »
I like my 100-400mmL, but it is not that good for flying birds, just sitting ones.

Thanks! That was one of my questions, I wasn't sure if a 100-400 would work for BIF.


Quote
No matter which way you turn, it takes big $$$ to cross the boundry into first class wildlife equipment.
I wonder if the small format mirrorless bodies like the Nikon 1 series coupled with a adapter and a 200mm f/2.8 lens would be a low cost way to capture wildlife in low light.
IQ might not match a 1D X with a 500mm f/4L, but neither does the price.

Thanks, like I say it doesn't have to be first class.

earwaxxer

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Re: Gear for shooting Birds of Prey?
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2012, 12:16:33 AM »
I like my 400 f5.6L on the 7d. I can crop it in a bit if I need to.

weixing

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Re: Gear for shooting Birds of Prey?
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2012, 01:43:12 AM »
Hi,
I like my 400 f5.6L on the 7d. I can crop it in a bit if I need to.
    I'm using 400mm F5.6L (500mm and above are out of my $$$ reach) on a 60D for birding. I'm not sure about your country Birds of Prey, but in my country, they are very difficult to get close in the wild compare to other birds. For most of my shot, they seldom exceed 50% in my 60D frame, so after cropping, I'll get around 4MP. If I'm using a FF camera, it'll only be 2MP (I hope my maths is correct).

    So, IMHO, it's best for you to get a >= 500mm lens + 1.4x tele-extender for your 5D3 or get a 60D or 7D and a 400mm F5.6L (which is the cheapest option).

    Have a nice day.

IIIHobbs

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Re: Gear for shooting Birds of Prey?
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2012, 06:02:32 PM »
A crop body like the 7D is key to your solution. With the 1.6 magnification factor any lens you select will have a longer reach as a result. With a 7D and a 300 f4, you effectively have a 480 f4 in a very compact package. If budget alllows, the 300 f2.8 will give you twice the speed (but twice the weight) of the f4. Adding a 1.4x will give you a 670 f4.

If you are sticking with the 5D, then the 400 f4 DO is the lightest most compact lens with decent reach. The 500 f4 is the preferred lens, but much more difficult to manage hiking and quickly responding to your subject. Adding a 1.4x will give you a 560 f5.6.

revup67

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Re: Gear for shooting Birds of Prey?
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2012, 01:33:03 AM »
I've got a 7D and a 5D Mark III.  Previously I was concerned about shooting the 5D and loosing the 1.6 advantage, not so.  You can crop to your hearts content and the quality of the 5D after cropping will surpass (at a 1.6 equivalent) a 7D especially in the noise dept.  I know hard to believe but it's true since I own both.

To get to your question, the 400 5.6 L USM is a reasonably priced excellent BIF lens which I have been using for some time.  The trick is to play around with it until you find the right settings.  For me, when a BIF is in flight in the sky as a specific example, I push the EV to about +1 or +1 1/3, AI Servo of course and the Af selection I use is Zone AF.  If the bird is stationary on a branch I might drop down the EV and use Spot AF on the birds eye.  I don't use Evaluative metering, I sometimes shoot for Center Weighted or even Spot Metering for additional improvement.  I'll put the ISO on 200, 400 or even 800 to gain the additional light advantage if needed.  here's some shots you can reference - these are all hand held and with NR applied in DPP and in Post Processing.  The first two are with the 7D and the second three shots are with the 5D Mark III.  Hope this helps you.  PS this lens does not fair well with UV filter.  Use only with built in lens hood to get sharpest picture.  The more you use this lens the better you will get as at first it "may" seem disappointing..just keep at it..this is my proof.


Brandt's Cormorant by Revup67, on Flickr


Great Blue Heron in Flight (Ardea herodias) by Revup67, on Flickr


Dunlin in the Mud by Revup67, on Flickr


"Hung Out To Dry, then Eaten" Great Blue Heron with Ground Squirrel by Revup67, on Flickr


Great Blue Heron with Squirrel In Flight (Pt. 2) by Revup67, on Flickr

Thanks
Rev
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Re: Gear for shooting Birds of Prey?
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2012, 01:33:03 AM »