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View Full Version : A digital SLR question.



PeterSibley
10-05-2012, 09:40 PM
I'd like to buy a digital SLR but not a new one. The new ones are outside my budget but also take far larger images than my old computer can process. My main use will be small images ,up to 3 kb of birds and other wildlife, largely for identification purposes.

I'd like to be able to fit a 80 to 300 mm zoom lens and have spot metering so that I can take photos of birds in poor light and get the exposure right on the small section of the image that I'm interested in. The spot metering is important.

I have no particular brand preferences but something capable of withstand 'field use' preferred.

My current camera is a Canon PowerShot G6, an excellent camera that would be entirely suitable if only it would take a telephoto lens. I've been reading through DPReview but not knowing the intricacies of all the camera specifications it difficult to compare one model with another.

All and any recommendations are welcome !

PeterSibley
10-05-2012, 10:38 PM
Bump!

JBreeze
10-05-2012, 11:00 PM
I'll throw in my 2 cents from a rank beginner.

Last year at this time I purchased a Nikon P 500 "superzoom" ($300) and a cheap tripod. I wouldn't buy this had I know the limitations for avian photography. You can see some of my mediocre images here (skip the 1st 20 or so to get to waterfowl):

http://s185.photobucket.com/albums/x92/jbreeze_albums/

Note that most of the pics are relatively large birds...unless you are very close in a blind, you need a really good lens to get a decent photo in even good light, particularly when the birds are in motion and won't "pose" for you.

My conclusion is I need a Canon 7D with at least a 400 mm lens (L series if the light isn't ideal). So even used, with a decent tripod, I'm looking at a minimum of US $2500.

Sigma supposedly made a decent 150-500 lens which is no longer in production. The problem with this lens is the type of mount (canon vs. nikon) as well as the fact it isn't compatible with all the bodies of a given mfg., even w/the correct mount.

I wish I could find something decent < $2K, but I don't think it can be done. Especially if you are interested in smaller songbirds.

purri
10-05-2012, 11:28 PM
S/H Pentax K20D with kit lenses 18-55 and 50-200 or a Sigma "macro" 70-300. Pentax is weatherproof (read "Tassieproof") above all others.

BrianW
10-05-2012, 11:36 PM
Did some checking on the Canon line, because that's the only one I know, and it appears the Canon EOS 450D (Rebel XSi in the States) is the oldest with spot metering...

http://www.dpreview.com/news/2008/1/24/canoneos450d

...at 12megapixels, the files shouldn't be too large, and there are lots of ways to reduce file size without losing (much) quality. That would be the last of my worries.

Here's a good wiki link for the whole line of Canon DSLR's...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Canon_EOS_digital_cameras

...it doesn't say which one have spot metering, but it has links you can follow to find out.

The 1.6 sensor should give you a head start on zooming. I'd think the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM...

http://www.amazon.com/Canon-400mm-Super-Telephoto-Cameras/dp/B00009USW3

...would be a good pick. Maybe add a 1.4TC to it? I'm not sure about that.

PeterSibley
10-05-2012, 11:56 PM
Thanks all.
Purri, I'll check the K20D.
Brian, I looked at the eos400D and found it didn't have spot metering .I didn't know there was a 450 I'll chase it up .

As I mentioned about fine photography isn't the aim of the venture ( but it could morph that way). Right now it's picking up a decent enough image for ID purposes . I live close to forest with lots of small ground and thicket nesting birds. You almost always see them in low light and trying to remember details to look them up in the book is frustrating .

Was that a log runner or a ground thrush ?

BrianW
10-06-2012, 12:02 AM
You mentioned buying used, and I wanted to say that I do that with little reservation from reputable sites. I like the Canon site...

http://photography-on-the.net/forum/index.php

...and this site for all brands...

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/

I've bought used lenses from the first one, and tomorrow I'm expecting a package in the mail with a used Canon camera body.

PeterSibley
10-06-2012, 12:05 AM
Used can be fraught but I've always been lucky .

Ted Hoppe
10-06-2012, 12:28 AM
Remember it is not the megapixels but the lens. A Nikon d50 is a great camera with 6 megapixels... Image quality to see on a computer screen or 4/6 prints do match the same as my Nikon 7000 or the canon d5 mark ii. A used price for such a camera is 125 with low atenuations - a thousand or more in savings. save the money on the body and get a few pieces of great glass.

PeterSibley
10-06-2012, 01:03 AM
I've found a Nikon D3000 with a little pile of lens.

This is the description .....






Nikon DSLR D3000 10.2 MP Digital SLR Camera - Black (Kit w/ Customized Lens)
This is my D300 camera. Auction is for everything in the picture. Camera body 10.2MP and in perfect working order no scratches on the screen. 18-55mm Nikon lens. 55-200 Nikon lens. 70-300mm Tamron tele macro (180-300mm) lens. All lens are perfect no damage. 2 Lens caps are included. Recipts for both the twin lens camera kit and tamrom lens are included. There is still extended warranty on the twin lens kit. Instruction manual included. I have rarely used this camera. I bought it in 2010 and honestly used it about 4 times. It needs a loving home. Battery and charger included too. . this camera is in perfect near new condition and perfect for a gift as its got all the lens you need !!!!

also comes with a mini tripod not in pic. Used only once. Comes in a carry bag extends to about 1.5 m high.

What do you think? About $400 A .

purri
10-06-2012, 02:44 AM
Nice but for the lack of weathersealing gaskets and in body shake reduction. Yer pays yer money and makes yer choice.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
10-06-2012, 03:14 AM
Having grown up with film SLR cameras I have been staggered by the features and performance of the low-to-mid price "Bridge Cameras".

EXAMPLE (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006UD5K2Y/ref=asc_df_B006UD5K2Y9992689?smid=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&tag=googlecouk06-21&linkCode=asn&creative=22206&creativeASIN=B006UD5K2Y)

For ID on small birds at even modest range focal length is king - 200mm does not cut it and 500 is barely enough - so hand holding without some shake reduction system is a real challenge.

Light weight, small size, built in shake reduction and lenses with 20x zoom ratios - effective focal lengths to over 700mm in 35mm terms make a compelling case for the format.

PeterSibley
10-06-2012, 03:24 AM
I agree, here's my current camera. A Canon Powershot G6.

I used a friend's 300mm lens on a Canon eos 550D last weekend and it was entirely satisfactory for my use.


http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_g6-review/camera-front-angled.jpg

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
10-06-2012, 03:37 AM
Have you met these (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Bundle-Tele-TelePhoto-Lens-LADC58D-Tube-Adapter-Canon-Powershot-G6-Digital-/270978560499) Telephoto adapter for G5/G6 range.

I met them for the earlier canon range of compacts - handy tool.

PeterSibley
10-06-2012, 04:04 AM
Very nice but not quite sufficient for the use in mind.

elf
10-06-2012, 05:37 AM
Look at the top of the line Lumix.

The fact of the matter for me is that my Canon 70-300 is too short for many bird situations, especially small birds. And, of course, not fast enough either.

However, recently when working on flowers (which mostly stay still and the movement of which can be anticipated) I have been thankful for those monster 18MP (55M) images, as they have plenty of data to permit serious cropping.

I have also been thankful for that high end camera body, as the noise at high ISOs (1000 or even more) is quite acceptable except in skies.

PeterSibley
10-06-2012, 05:50 AM
One of my problems Elf is that my ancient computer won't handle large images, it just freezes up and sulks. In reality 6 mp would be entirely adequate and about all my computer can digest, yes I know I should invest $1000 in better computer equipment but I'm resisting. The high capacity cameras are a bit wasted in this situation.

elf
10-06-2012, 08:36 AM
Have you got all the RAM you can handle?

That might be the least expensive way to deal with that problem, Peter.

If so, then check out eBay for a used computer. I haven't bought a new Mac in years. Surely PCs are cheaper, if you must use a PC.

elf
10-06-2012, 08:38 AM
Alternatively, you can buy a used Canon 30D or 40D for a reasonable price. Then invest in the lenses you need, but generally I'd advise only buying OEM lenses. Look for lens tests in Popular Photography online and I think you'll see why you should avoid Sigma.

Ted Hoppe
10-06-2012, 10:01 AM
You could also buy a older, new iPad with 16 or 32 gig memory. You can transfer and even edit with the some very cool apps using the card reader. Veiw, transfer and edit in the field. All done for under 300 dollars.

U can also have a digital reference book and WBF if you have questions.

PhaseLockedLoop
10-06-2012, 10:52 AM
All and any recommendations are welcome !

I used Canon SLR film cameras and had several lenses, including a 200L 2.8 image-stabilized prime lens and a 2x extender. Then I got one of the very early Digital Rebel bodies--maybe the earliest--with, as I recall, 6MB which uses Compact Flash cards. The sensor size gives me an effective 300mm at 2.8 (without the extender), and 560 (or is it 640?) focal length max. There are image-stabilized zoom lenses of somewhat lesser quality that would do fine for your purposes. The image stabilization is in the lenses, not the camera body. I'm pretty sure the camera does have spot metering, but I'll have to check--it's up in Traverse City, and I'll be there this evening. Those old low megapixel cameras bodies should be pretty inexpensive if you can find one.

The trouble with long lenses is that most of 'em need a lot of light. That's why the Canon 200L 2.8 (effective 320 or so) is so great, but it's not cheap.

PeterSibley
10-06-2012, 04:34 PM
Thanks all,Loop , I'll wait on your update.

ChaseKenyon
10-06-2012, 05:12 PM
Em and I have talked about new digitals vs old SLRs. I still have my TL Electro X and two bags of lenses. Some of them are Pentax but most lenses are Fujinon. My father before me with 8mm movie camera fanatic and then myself the Fujinon and Yashica (same same) lenses are superior.

Now as to your situation I highly recommend consideration of the meaga feeaature packed Fuji pix 4500.
http://www.hsn.com/electronics/fujifilm-finepix-s4500-14mp-720p-30x-optical-zoom-digital-camera-black_p-6761911_xp.aspx

It has features like choice of viewfinder or lcd picture view to chose from. view finder nescessary for high light on watere and snow just to see the subject.
the big LCD is grreat in low light situations to see the subject. The viewfindeer is a high resz color mini lcd with incredible resolution. THe fact that it is a electronic view means that like a regular
SLR you can see exactly what the picture wil be. This saves time adn shots. Ithas man Manyfeatures that I never thought I would use when purchases 3 months ago. I am now using not the 20% I jbought it for but 50% andor more and it grows weekly. Took Brother inlaw jup to see the MT Kearsarge lookout for th eview that goes all the way to the cost over an hjour away oon the interstate. So I tried out the Panarama ffeature and WOW. spin the selector t it and then shoot the left side of you view. The camera then comes oup with a horizontal and virtical grid to line up for shot 2. When you move to therigt place or just close t it the cameera fires automatically. If needed it corrects your lining up of the gridlines. (no need tO spend half hours each to line up the sequence on youR pc photoprogram.) Then go to the thired shot adn it fires. yoou can then view the shot on the LCD and see the panorama and if it is to you liking. If not shoot again with differrent start shot. NEAT The feature to shoot a group of people when they smile actually works as well. Same for the shots of the cats, or othere animal or babies crawling on the floor. ou can run manual Fstop and vs speed for control of depth of field or just set the depthof field . It goes on and on.

The opticaol Zoom a 30X covers most needs adn teh electronic Zoom extends that. Special olightin and zoom even in bright sunlight on snow can be seen inthe viewfinder.
Excuse typos hrt right wrist adn Measto is helping again.

It has super memory card capability adn tells you wha you have left. I spent 1 week researching digital SLRs and went to best buy to check them out. THe sales person asked if I had looked at the Fujipix, no so I did. One week on the net adn I went to Kmart to buy the 4500 on special inteenet sales deals subscription at significant discount.

The only negative I have found is the time it takes to recharge the flash.

All I can say is the Best Buy sales person saved me over $700 ove what I expected to pay for for what I needed.

JUst check it out before you buy. and and thnk about how often you would use features beyound the 4500 capabilities.

It is often dismissed as a top of the point and shoot cameras, but it is much more than that. It owuld be a waste of money to buy it and use it only as as regular point and shot as the only gain would be the high rez zoom. It is the first digital I have had (5) that may cuase me to never take out my Yashica TL agian.

BrianW
10-06-2012, 05:51 PM
The salesman at Best Buy turned you on to the Fujipix, saving you $700, and then you bought it online at KMart?

Dude. :)

ChaseKenyon
10-06-2012, 06:15 PM
The salesman at Best Buy turned you on to the Fujipix, saving you $700, and then you bought it online at KMart?

Dude. :)

I wasw loking at SLRs of the digital bent and hoping to be able to still us some of themanylenses I have for my SLR. No deaal and to get what I wanted would have cost upwartds of $1000 between body and lenses. I had expected only about $500. I looked adn compared all of the options between $499 adn 1000. The guy at Best Buy when I stoped in , for something else (a new artist tablet formy daughter) asked whta I wanted to use the camera for . He then explained "bridge cameras" to me. He showed me several and I could not digest all of it at once. Since MyYashica days I have always had Canon cameras. So I went home adn did my research. Found that Fujipix was superceeding he 4500 with two models one lower priced and one higher priced. The thing was neither offered all the features of the 4500. I drew up a KemperTregno type descision chart and copareddeveloping costs and lower end digital SLRs adn then some of the bridge cameras. Bottom line was the 4500 osuld do 90% of what I wantged a new camera for adn the rest I could keep my TL and all my lenses for it as I have three spare bodies for parts. Yes I did get the online price but was able to use that for in stock nearswt Kmart stores. Went to Claremont 30 miinutes the next day and picked it up.Cnfused the heckout of th esalesguy and had to have the asst manager handle teh transaction. Next time jjust to avoid the hassle I have something ship;ped on two day fedex.

Silly thing is the bigest thing I miss over my
TL is the ability to use the twin crosshatch filters to frame stuff.

BrianW
10-06-2012, 06:19 PM
...I drew up a KemperTregno type descision chart and copareddeveloping costs and lower end digital SLRs adn then some of the bridge cameras...

Hmmm...

I usually wake up very hungover, and see what I ordered the night before in my email inbox and credit card statement.

Maybe your way is better?

ChaseKenyon
10-06-2012, 06:22 PM
P.S. Brian I spend more than enough ($1500 average/yr) at BB to justify going there and then finding the best deal elsewhere. Besides I prefer to shop in the country like Claremont rather than go down to the city in Concord the state capitol and some 45,000 population. I am not a city person adn the older I get and not working in one the less I enjoy and tolerate going to the city.

JBreeze
10-06-2012, 08:36 PM
...

Now as to your situation I highly recommend consideration of the meaga feeaature packed Fuji pix 4500.
http://www.hsn.com/electronics/fujifilm-finepix-s4500-14mp-720p-30x-optical-zoom-digital-camera-black_p-6761911_xp.aspx

...

Ya didn't read the original post... he wants a camera/lens to take pics of small birds in marginal light. I provided input on a bridge camera (Nikon P-500 - 36x) as well as a link to pics of medium birds in poor light. I don't recommend a bridge camera for this purpose. Got any pics of small birds in marginal light?

purri
10-06-2012, 09:39 PM
Peter, you could always shoot in j.peg.

PeterSibley
10-06-2012, 10:11 PM
Thanks Chase, the 4500 comes very close and I'll go and inspect one in person but from the comparison page here
http://www.dpreview.com/products/compare/side-by-side?products=fujifilm_s4500&products=nikon_d3000&products=nikon_cpp500
it doesn't appear to have spot metering. I had thought that spot metering might prove very useful to me but then I'm such an amateur at this that I could be quite wrong . I'm trying to buy something as closely tailored to my needs as I can , it's very easy to end up with huge numbers of features and capacity that will never be needed .... by me at least.

Lew Barrett
10-07-2012, 02:13 AM
Don't forget a tripod if you are shooting long, Peter.

PeterSibley
10-07-2012, 02:49 AM
Thanks Lew, I have quite a good one already.

ChaseKenyon
10-07-2012, 03:16 AM
.I provided input on a bridge camera (Nikon P-500 - 36x) as well as a link to pics of medium birds in poor light. I don't recommend a bridge camera for this purpose.

You may be a Nikon fan and more up to date than I on current digital cameras.

One of the many things that nixed teh p500 for my use was lousy color capture.

Well here’s a result nobody saw coming. Nikon is one of the top manufacturers in thebusiness (http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/content/Nikon-Coolpix-P500-Digital-Camera-Review/Color.htm#) and typically aces our color test. So we were shocked to find the Coolpix P500 is not accurate at all. Blues, greens, and yellows are all much darker than they should be, and unfortunately those latter two are thought to be the colors us humans are most sensitive to. Scenes were also undersaturated by about 5-10% depending on color mode. We really expected more from Nikon here. More on how we test color.
(http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/content/How-we-test-digital-cameras-20069.htm#color)With an error rating of approximately 4.3, this score is the worst of our comparison group, which does include Nikon’s own P100, this camera’s predecessor. Both of these Nikon ultrazooms were relatively inaccurate, and lagged behind the Canon PowerShot (http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/content/Nikon-Coolpix-P500-Digital-Camera-Review/Color.htm#) SX30 IS as well as the extraordinary Panasonic Lumix FZ47.

source
http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/content/Nikon-Coolpix-P500-Digital-Camera-Review/Color.htm

Not a bellringer for scenery or car photos or I would think for pictures of birds.

Excellent noise handling (http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/content/Nikon-Coolpix-P500-Digital-Camera-Review/Noise.htm)

Great resolution performance (http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/content/Nikon-Coolpix-P500-Digital-Camera-Review/Resolution.htm)

A massive 36x zoom lens (http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/content/Nikon-Coolpix-P500-Digital-Camera-Review/Hardware.htm)


Surprisingly disappointing color accuracy (http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/content/Nikon-Coolpix-P500-Digital-Camera-Review/Color.htm)

same source


Conclusion


So the Coolpix P500 performed horribly in our color accuracy test, especially for a Nikon. But here’s the thing: during our time with the camera, the images produced were actually very attractive. If you’d handed us sample photos from this model before testing, we’d have predicted much higher scores. Sharpness is a little off in places, but overall we get the sense that this lens is of much higher quality than the competition.
Continuous shooting performance was also extremely impressive. The P500’s maximum speed burst–although limited to five shots–rivals the speed of the fastest SLRs. Not to mention the fun high-speed camera mode, which in this case reaches a whopping 240 frames per second.
We also love Nikon’s noise reduction algorithm, which is significantly better than other comparable models and–coupled with this camera’s excellent dynamic range–ultimately results in more attractive shots, especially in very low light. Unfortunately, this is one of a few qualities that our fixed-lens tests don’t fully account for. The Coolpix P500 should therefore be considered an all-around excellent camera, even though some of our tests cannot do it justice.
http://content.reviewed.com/products/10422/vanity.jpg

Like the comment I made about the panorama pictures


Picture Effects (0.00)

No picture effects are available while shooting, so your only option is the edit them in later using playback mode. Again, Nikon is targeting this camera for the more serious shooter, so options are limited compared to the competition.


mine is actually the s4200.

Review Highlights
Great grip, weight, and feel

A long list of manual control features


Not the best video quality on this bridge model

If I want movies I'l use a movie camera, Duh.



Conclusion



The S4200 is a high-end bridge model from Fujifilm, designed as a successor to the S4000 from last year. The top of this line, the S4500 was not available at CES, the only difference being that the S4500 has a 30x zoom and the S4200 has a 24x zoom.
The camera certainly looks like a DSLR, the large lens, the curved hand grip and the electronic view finder make the user feel very much in control of the artistic side of photography. We really loved the weight and the grip on this model. It was so light that one-handed shooting would be no problem, but more importantly for a bridge model, carrying it around on a strap will not be a burden on your neck. The zoom is excellent and the list of customizable modes really filled out the SLR-like nature of this super-zoom.
We were a little surprised that, with such a fast shutter speed and continuous photo shooting options, the S4200 can only record 720p video. Many people look to buy a nice camera these days because it not only takes great photos, but can double as a fine camcorder as well. With this bridge, you will not be able to record the best videos.
We noticed in this first impressions review that many if not all of the specs were exactly the same as the S4000 from last year. We sure hope that they didn’t just add a 200 to the name, but to know about any picture quality upgrades, we will have to wait till we get a good look at this Fuji in our labs. The S4200 ships out this February for $229.99, only in black.

http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/content/Fujifilm-FinePix-S4200-First-Impressions-Review.htm

http://content.reviewed.com/products/14072/Fuji-S4200-vanity.jpg


one of the best features is the controls equal to the dNikon but some extra user setting capabilities in my choice. I found the auto tracking auto focus feature invaluable for pictures of our cats in motion. For race cars i can preset to have in focus vehicle with the background blurred or the opposite adn any ratio of them i choose.
I have found the auto stabilization more than compensates for the seemingly high Fstop rating. It really boils down to the CCD array and how much boost you can get to have a picture and still have some decent color capture.

Mine is actually the 4200. To anyone not into photography the Nikon and the S4200 look the same from top back front with the same controls.


Picture Effects

There is a hefty handful of standard preset scene modes that adjust color, brightness and focus for the following settings: Portrait, Landscape, Night, Macro, Night Portrait, and Backlit Portrait, and many more. Some interesting ones we saw were the Text Mode, for if you are a spy and need to take pictures of confidential documents, and Baby Mode, which optimizes settings for capturing photos of younger people. THat is not all of them and I prefer to find I need to take another picture while still in the field before uploading and editing on PC or Mac time.

ChaseKenyon
10-07-2012, 03:17 AM
Nikon Coolpix P500$399.95
By Christopher Snow August 24, 2011

with 12 MegaPix

And the low light abilities are a bit "fudgy"

Lens Performance
The P500 offers a much broader focal range than the P100, but with slower maximum apertures at each end of the zoom - f/3.4 and f/5.7 at wide and telephoto, respectively. Gone too is the "distortion control" setting that helped correct lens distortion at the peripheries of the frame. The P500 lens seems to do quite well on its own, however - there's a bit of pincushion distortion at the wide end, but as you zoom toward telephoto that goes away and the lens looks fairly distortion free at telephoto.

And in this corner with 14 MegaPix

Fujifilm calls the S4200 a step up from last years mega-zoom model, the FinePix S4000, but the main features hit the same marks: a FUJINON 24x, 24mm wide angle zoom, a 3-inch LCD viewing screen, 720p HD video capture, powered by AA batteries. On all the selling points, we see the same numbers. When we get a chance to review it this year, we will probably see some differences from last years model, but the specs rate it about the same. The S4200 ships out this February for an MSRP of $229.99, available in black.

I find no way to justify paying double the price for the Nikon. I could not find any bridge camera with the level of manual and semi manual features I desired. So I gave up multiple lenses for the incredible 14 MP resolution (great for macro pics of violin purfling and other minute objects.).

I did my homework with no preconceptions and was pleasantly surprised.

:d:d

PeterSibley
10-07-2012, 03:44 AM
I find no way to justify paying double the price for the Nikon. I could not find any bridge camera with the level of manual and semi manual features I desired. So I gave up multiple lenses for the incredible 14 MP resolution (great for macro pics of violin purfling and other minute objects.).

I did my homework with no preconceptions and was pleasantly surprised.

:d:d

Therein lies my problem Chase, I'd need a better computer than my current kerosene powered one... it kinda gums up at much over 4mp, so camera optics especially with stability controls are my best bet..... I think! More RAM is coming , but not yet.

elf
10-07-2012, 03:47 AM
Everything can be fixed in the software except sharpness. If I were wanting to shoot small, high metabolism things like birds, my primary concern would be with focussing speed.

Aside from that revealing review of that Nikon, and my earliest experiences with the first NIkon DSLR which give me an awful blue cast in daylight balance mode, I would be looking for the fastest possible focus, and accurate focus tracking long before I'd be concerned with trying to spot meter something like a chickadee.

But I would also be looking for the ability to shoot in RAW mode, which would give me the complete range of options to correct any problems which resulted from using a standard averaging meter.

Everything can be fixed in the software except sharpness. If your bird isn't sharp, and if you don't get a catchlight in the eye, you haven't got a baseline acceptable photograph of a bird.

PeterSibley
10-07-2012, 05:18 AM
Agreed Elf and this degree of competence may actually come to me one day but at the moment I will probably be happy with photo you would reject out of hand .

The initial purpose is bird identification, not high quality photos. I do appreciate some of the requirements for the later and suspect my budget is inadequate for such at the moment.

Ted Hoppe
10-07-2012, 09:22 AM
Sounds like to me, a good jpeg setting on a basic DSLR camera with a 4.5f 300mm lens would be perfectly adequate for your intentions. You might want to stay away from cameras other than Nikon or canon for various lens choices which are more likely available to you. Don't let slow computers or new cameras get in your way. Once again really consider using something like an Nikon d50 or its line. Turn off auto focus and embrace the manual focus - practice in the light conditions and distances you will use - i promise you will get good. I would also consider using other prime lens if you go this route - electronic photography makes things easy and possible. When you go out to really shoot, most likely you will crop anyway.

Think of cameras as like iPhones. The oldest iphone still does 90 percent of the newest iphones things. the rest is hype and hip. one still needs it to make a call or take a text... The rest is fluff and bandwidth.

JBreeze
10-07-2012, 11:11 AM
I'll throw in my 2 cents from a rank beginner.

Last year at this time I purchased a Nikon P 500 "superzoom" ($300) and a cheap tripod. I wouldn't buy this had I know the limitations for avian photography. You can see some of my mediocre images here (skip the 1st 20 or so to get to waterfowl):.....


.

Yikes:confused:

I'm dissing superzooms for bird photos....when I purchased (Last year at this time ) the P-500 had the longest reach on the market and $300 was a good price. I was generally dissatisfied with the quality of images (mediocre images) at the long end. Since then, all the major mfgs. (including Nikon) have marketed new, improved models. I doubt these improvements are sufficient to overcome the inherent limitations of the lenses.

The purpose of my original post was to dissuade newbies from thinking the superzoom bridge cameras are a reasonably priced alternative for wildlife photography. Yes, they do all sorts of nifty things like movies and panoramic shots if that's what you want to do. If you want to photograph small birds in low light, I recommend trying the camera for that purpose before spending the money.

Is that clear, Chase ?

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
10-07-2012, 11:22 AM
Therein lies my problem Chase, I'd need a better computer than my current kerosene powered one... it kinda gums up at much over 4mp, so camera optics especially with stability controls are my best bet..... I think! More RAM is coming , but not yet.

Every digital camera I've used has offered the option of a range of different sized pictures -you don't have to use all the pixels.

Paul Pless
10-07-2012, 12:26 PM
Good photography almost never has anything to do with the camera or the lenses. Except in rare technical instances like Peter laid out in his initial post.

Screw the point and shoots and superzoom bridge cameras Peter. You were right to think that you need a DSLR for long distance bird photography. Sure a seven or eight year old Nikon or Canon or Pentax with six megapixels will do adequately for bird identification - and they will be or should be cheap. But for not much more money you can gain a noticeable improvement in image quality by stepping up to not the current but the last generation of DSLR's. A D3100 or D5000 or D90 from Nikon or its equivalent from Canon will get you a faster and easier to use camera with a wide low light ISO range that is easy to adjust and a superior image sensor and processing engine for high picture quality. They are all gonna offer more megapixels than you need but you can opt to take smaller pics or you can opt to perform in camera editing to make them smaller before downloading them to your computer. Your only real decision is which brand and legacy of lenses that you want to opt into. Pentax is cool and offers some great glass, they just don't offer as much glass as does Canon. And Canon, which is equal to Nikon in quality, doesn't offer as much backwards compatibility as does Nikon. But all of the DSLR's of the previous generation (say 2008 and forward) are gonna be about equal. And there ain't a single person on this forum, not Emily, not Brian, not JCSOH, not Lew and surely not me, that can tell the technical difference between a photo of bird taken with a Nikon D90 and Nikon 70-200 f2.8 zoom and a Canon 50D with a big white 70-200 f2.8 zoom.

So just go find a camera that fits your hands and eye well and one that in your area offers good access to new and used lenses and start taking pics.

elf
10-07-2012, 12:36 PM
A Canon 30D used will be just fine for even an older computer. And you'll have plenty of growing space with that body, no matter how old it is, so when you get the next computer you won't have to go get the next camera.

Even if you're running Windoze ME you can still deal with the files from that camera. I suppose if you're still running DOS 3.0, however, you might have more of a problem, although I used a PC running DOS in 1999 to run a version of Photoshop at the newspaper and we were able to scan film at a publishable size.

I don't know about Australia, but modern PCs at WalMart run around $350 here on MA. They're running Windoze 7. Of course, to a Mac user $350 is dirt cheap unless you count the time and worry of the thousands of malware attacks that you have to spend time combatting with a PC.

I think you're making too big a deal of this ancient computer thing, Peter. I think you'd be surprised what even a 8 or 9 year old PC could do with a 4 or 5 year old digital SLR.

PeterSibley
10-07-2012, 04:24 PM
Elf, I can slowly process images of around 4 mb so that's the largest I ever use and because I'm never going to print them that is quite satisfactory . The PC isn't that ancient and fine for everything else and runs Linux. A replacement here is about $1000 +.

PeterSibley
10-07-2012, 04:29 PM
Good photography almost never has anything to do with the camera or the lenses. Except in rare technical instances like Peter laid out in his initial post.

Screw the point and shoots and superzoom bridge cameras Peter. You were right to think that you need a DSLR for long distance bird photography. Sure a seven or eight year old Nikon or Canon or Pentax with six megapixels will do adequately for bird identification - and they will be or should be cheap. But for not much more money you can gain a noticeable improvement in image quality by stepping up to not the current but the last generation of DSLR's. A D3100 or D5000 or D90 from Nikon or its equivalent from Canon will get you a faster and easier to use camera with a wide low light ISO range that is easy to adjust and a superior image sensor and processing engine for high picture quality. They are all gonna offer more megapixels than you need but you can opt to take smaller pics or you can opt to perform in camera editing to make them smaller before downloading them to your computer. Your only real decision is which brand and legacy of lenses that you want to opt into. Pentax is cool and offers some great glass, they just don't offer as much glass as does Canon. And Canon, which is equal to Nikon in quality, doesn't offer as much backwards compatibility as does Nikon. But all of the DSLR's of the previous generation (say 2008 and forward) are gonna be about equal. And there ain't a single person on this forum, not Emily, not Brian, not JCSOH, not Lew and surely not me, that can tell the technical difference between a photo of bird taken with a Nikon D90 and Nikon 70-200 f2.8 zoom and a Canon 50D with a big white 70-200 f2.8 zoom.

So just go find a camera that fits your hands and eye well and one that in your area offers good access to new and used lenses and start taking pics.

Thanks Paul, that's pretty well the conclusion I have reached myself after my reading and this thread . One of those big white lens would be very nice indeed !

ChaseKenyon
10-07-2012, 06:57 PM
Therein lies my problem Chase, I'd need a better computer than my current kerosene powered one... it kinda gums up at much over 4mp, so camera optics especially with stability controls are my best bet..... I think! More RAM is coming , but not yet.


THat is precisly why I recommend a camera with as shot editing features. YOu still have those features even if you choses a 640 by 480 shot to limint your file size. Whatever file size your PC can handle will be less than what it can edit comfortably. So you get to have digital pictures but want to be able to edit or pre-edit the shot by your settings as on a film SLR. You IMHO absolutely need that ability since you do not have real ability to edit with your PC. Hence for different reasons I recmmend you seriously consider a camera by whomever that has those in caamera features. THe Nikon asumes you have a full bore mac or PC wiht good m3echanics for serious editing after the fact o ftaking a picture. You do not have that.. On that feature need the Nikon scores 0.0. As I siad you can control the file size at the camera. So set that and use the as being taken field editing capabilities. That is the reasohn I put the links up and posted the features section. I have not used it but IIRC the FinPix has the ability to edit and crop adn change file size after taking the picture at highe resolution. This does accomplish what yhou p;oisted you need. With the money saved you could even by a low budjet extra internal or external hard drive just for your pictures.

PeterSibley
10-07-2012, 07:26 PM
Off to a camera shop to look and compare the merchandise.

BrianW
10-07-2012, 07:27 PM
In camera editing would indeed be handy, if ones computer is not capable of running a basic editing program.

Another choice is online editing. Photobucket has a pretty good online editor. After you upload the picture, you select "edit", make your changes, and then you can overwrite the original, or save it as a new image with a different name. Other image hosting sites may be even better. I've done it a few times, and my internet speed sucks.

PhaseLockedLoop
10-07-2012, 07:31 PM
Thanks all,Loop , I'll wait on your update.

I was a little off. The camera body, which is the DS6041--apparently the same as the 300--doesn't have spot metering, but does have a 9-percent blob. That's not center-weighted; it is a cross-shaped area in the center. My experience with genuine 1- or 2-percent spots led me to believe they're best for b&w zone system photography. I can't imagine using one with AE, but others may know better. The 200L 2.8 doesn't have IS--you've got to have a steady hand, or a tripod. You can set the file size to be quite small.

I don't use the Canon nowadays unless I'm trying to do something serious. Most of the time I use a Panasonic P&S with a 20x zoom and optical IS, or my wife's Canon S-95 (slightly better shots, but not much zoom). If I were shooting bird for identification, with 3k file sizes, I'd use the Panasonic, and avoid hauling a bunch of heavy stuff around.

That Canon 70-200 2.8 would set you back $1,500--or over $2,000 for IS. great lens, but not appropriate, I think.

PeterSibley
10-07-2012, 07:52 PM
Thanks mate, I've got a lot of catching up to do, it's not that easy wading through all the lists of the available tech although I've pretty well worked out my needs if not how to meet them.http://www.dpreview.com/products/compare/lenses

elf
10-07-2012, 07:59 PM
That Canon 70-200 2.8 would set you back $1,500--or over $2,000 for IS. great lens, but not appropriate, I think.

My 70-300 is too short for most birds.

elf
10-07-2012, 08:05 PM
This guy is the peak of bird photography right now:

http://www.birdsasart-blog.com/

Paul Pless
10-07-2012, 08:20 PM
This guy is the peak of bird photography right nowHe starts off with a $14,000.00 800mm lens!!!

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/images-85/mr-800.jpg

http://www.birdsasart-blog.com/baa/wp-content/gallery/new-mexico/sandhill-crane-silhouette-bird-lightened-_y9c0138-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm.jpg

PeterSibley
10-07-2012, 08:26 PM
Entirely reasonable if you are professional.

Paul Pless
10-07-2012, 08:27 PM
I agree

ChaseKenyon
10-07-2012, 08:28 PM
hope all is well for all of my friends out there.

While watching H2 on wild horses I did a pop up that was on the laptop from my search.

I loaded the two FinePix and the Nikon for full comparison. You all can load up your choices up to 20 an run a compare and move them to the drop side or keep side as you wish. It also has comparisons for lenses and more.

http://www.dpreview.com/products/compare/side-by-side?products=fujifilm_s4200&products=fujifilm_s4500&products=nikon_cpp500

Paul Pless
10-07-2012, 08:35 PM
so that I can take photos of birds in poor lightSo how big/small are these birds and how close can you get to them?

http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6105/6308349227_a95939246c_z.jpg

elf
10-07-2012, 09:06 PM
Ostriches? They stand about 4.5' tall at the top of their heads, and are of a very sour disposition. Kinda truculent like llamas.

Around here they're fenced in and one can get as close to them as being on the other side of the fence. I've shot them when they're 5' away and gotten heads and eyes just fine.

But, of course, depending on the size of the pen they can be far away too and you need the same gear you need to shoot a group of people in a park or other public place.

BrianW
10-07-2012, 09:14 PM
He starts off with a $14,000.00 800mm lens!!!

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/images-85/mr-800.jpg

Hmmm... wonder what SWMBO'd would think if I came home with one of those?

;)

BrianW
10-07-2012, 09:17 PM
So how big/small are these birds and how close can you get to them?

http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6105/6308349227_a95939246c_z.jpg

Back focusing problem. Better micro adjust in camera! :D

elf
10-07-2012, 09:18 PM
https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/1959_42905014916_4007_n.jpg

Uncropped file, f9 @ 125th, shot with 70-300mm fully extended from about 5', original file 18M from Canon 10D

leikec
10-07-2012, 09:22 PM
Hmmm... wonder what SWMBO'd would think if I came home with one of those?

;)


I'd keep the pink rifle out of her reach for a while... :D


Jeff C

elf
10-07-2012, 09:28 PM
https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/292616_10150969899324917_1250577539_n.jpg

This one is on program mode, f5.6 at 150th with hot shoe flash bounced off ceiling. Used 17-85 fully extended, from about 6', cropped, original file 55m, cropped from 10+x17+ down to 6x9, file size reduced to 16M, Canon 7D. Bird too close to ceiling to get catchlight in eye.

Michael Beckman
10-07-2012, 09:34 PM
Hmmm... wonder what SWMBO'd would think if I came home with one of those?

;)

Honestly I feel you'd be better suited to the Sigma 200-500mm, with a 2x tele-extender.

http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/8e/25/01b151c88da08ddc655c0210.L.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/Sigma-200-500mm-Ultra-Telephoto-Nikon-Cameras/dp/B0013DAPNU/ref=cm_cmu_pg__header)

elf
10-07-2012, 09:43 PM
Hmmm... wonder what SWMBO'd would think if I came home with one of those?

;)
Y'know. shooting with one of those puts you in a similar situation to shooting with the kind of big wooden box that Adams began with. You can't move around much, tripod notwithstanding, since the lens is really heavy. You're stuck with a prime so you have to crop in the "darkroom". The one advantage Artie now has over Ansel is that he can get nearly noise-free images as ISOs that Adams only dreamt of.

And keep in mind that nearly a quarter of that lens is lens shade.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
10-08-2012, 12:20 PM
Many of the serious bird nuts dont use conventional looking lenses - but a spotting scope and adapter.

http://www.digiscopediary.co.uk/digiscoping-adapters.html

Old Dryfoot
10-08-2012, 02:54 PM
If you can live with manual only and don't care about image quality a mirror lens will give you good value for the money. On a 1.6x crop body DSLR you can get 800mm at F6.3 for less then $200, possibly a lot less. It might be enough if you are only looking to ID birds.

http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/tutorials/mirror/tamron500-8a.jpg

PeterSibley
10-08-2012, 04:29 PM
Many of the serious bird nuts dont use conventional looking lenses - but a spotting scope and adapter.

http://www.digiscopediary.co.uk/digiscoping-adapters.html

Thanks for the link, useful reading !

wardd
10-08-2012, 04:53 PM
to take good bird shots you have to get up close

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7IPGkIlsQV0/UF3rtP9hGyI/AAAAAAAAACI/lFyYzU2eD6o/s720/IM001580.JPG

The Bigfella
10-08-2012, 06:53 PM
Getting good photos of small Aussie birds - many of which are hard to get close to is going to be difficult.... even for ID purposes. You might be better off with a couple of really good pairs of binoculars for a lot less money and a few decent bird books for reading up beforehand. Some general viewing ones and something high powered for the difficult ones.

My current setup, the D7000 with the 18-200 is fine for happysnaps but pretty much useless for the purpose you are looking at. I brought my 80-400 (both lenses are Nikkors) over to try and get some bird shots, but its just too much gear to be carrying on my current ride and I've left it in Chiang Mai. Even the 400 is marginal for what you are trying to do... and its far too slow. Chasing small bird shots would get you to 600mm and up in the glass and pin you to a spot with a tripod.

..... and if you think birds are difficult... try getting shots of snakes and butterflies. Phew.

PeterSibley
10-08-2012, 07:10 PM
Yep, I've tried the butterfly game, frustrating !

Ian, I have the glasses and the books but sometimes (usually) a permanent record, no matter how dodgy it is good to have back at the house, as I mentioned earlier, is it a ground thrush or a log runner ? Some of those super birdos do field ID from an encyclopaedic memory but not me!

The Bigfella
10-08-2012, 07:32 PM
Hey.... I've been spotting the most amazing birds and going... "wow... amazing bird.... wonder what that was"

When I was in Ban Pindong, the village I got stranded in, I walked down the track to the paddy field to take a pee (I never did spot a single toilet facility of any kind... and when I asked, I was pointed to the paddy field) and a young Coucal Pheasant (or their local cousins) popped out of the brush right at my feet. I resisted the tempation to grab it for the pot.

There's a pair of talking/singing birds here at the guesthouse. I've got absolutely no idea what they are.... but they are lovely

PeterSibley
10-08-2012, 07:57 PM
That's been me for years but our tree covering is up to such a level now that we are getting lots of new "I have no idea!" , most flitting just behind an obscuring leaf . I need help!