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The camera I use is the Canon EOS Rebel T5. It's a pretty good camera, I guess. A little outdated, but it gets the job done. However, I am constantly running into the issue of not enough zoom. Most of the time birds are too far away for my camera to pick up and I have to crop the image way down resulting in a fuzzy ugly picture. I use a 75-300mm zoom lens that came with the camera. It does pretty well, but I can only get decent photos of birds if they are close to me. I am considering getting a Powershot because they have incredible zoom, but I am on the fence about that. I am very inexperienced with photography and have a hard time researching this kind of stuff because I don't speak Camera and it gets overwhelming. My question is, do you have any suggestions for camera lenses that will work with my camera and help me get better photos of far-away birds? Are there any decent lenses that won't cost me a ton of money, or that won't be way above my skill level? What lenses do you guys use for bird photography? Anything to point me in the right direction would be appreciated.

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I'm following this discussion.  I'm once again considering replacing my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70.  The 60X optical zoom is pretty darn good but I'm becoming more frustrated with the slow autofocus and cumbersome manual focus.  Like you, I don't speak Cameraese, esp lens specifications.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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5 hours ago, Colton V said:

I think I'm just going to have to accept the fact that any lens better than this is going to cost me a lot of money 🙃

Yep, anything above 300mm, it seems, goes way up in price.  I went from a 300mm to a 500mm.  The 500mm cost over 9X the 300mm....😬

I wanted to warn you that, if you go from a DSLR to one of the Powershots, you will be disappointed in the autofocus speed and, if you've never used a camera with that much zoom, I think you will have a very hard time getting a distant bird in flight within the frame!  I got very good at using the superzoom bridge cameras before moving on to my DSLR with a 500mm lens, so I didn't have any trouble...well, besides carrying that weight!

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1 hour ago, The Bird Nuts said:

if you've never used a camera with that much zoom, I think you will have a very hard time getting a distant bird in flight within the frame!  I got very good at using the superzoom bridge cameras before moving on to my DSLR with a 500mm lens,

I'll second this.  It takes practice to hold a camera steady when zoomed in at extreme ranges.  Whatever you get, practice with it extensively out in the yard on distant objects, before you hit the field and have shots of a lifer on the line.

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3 hours ago, The Bird Nuts said:

I wanted to warn you that, if you go from a DSLR to one of the Powershots, you will be disappointed in the autofocus speed and, if you've never used a camera with that much zoom, I think you will have a very hard time getting a distant bird in flight within the frame! 

Yeah, that’s why I’m hesitant to get a PowerShot. I guess they both have good things about them. A good bridge camera will get a ton of zoom (and possibly better image quality since some of the newer ones have more megapixels than my DSLR), but it will be slower and more difficult to use. Meanwhile a DSLR doesn’t reach as far, but it’s faster and probably has better sensors or something. 

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4 hours ago, Colton V said:

(and possibly better image quality since some of the newer ones have more megapixels than my DSLR),

Megapixels are nice to have lots of, but the more megapixel you squeeze into a sensor, the smaller the pixels get and the less detail they can collect. Because point and shoot cameras have very small sensors, the pixels are smaller and crammed together and image quality reflects that. DSLRs have bigger sensors with larger pixels and collect more detail than point and shoot cameras and typically produce better images. The same applies to full frame cameras, their sensors are even bigger and allow for bigger pixels which collect even more detail and produce even better images..

Edited by lonestranger
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On 11/3/2020 at 10:50 AM, Colton V said:

Yeah, that’s why I’m hesitant to get a PowerShot. I guess they both have good things about them. A good bridge camera will get a ton of zoom (and possibly better image quality since some of the newer ones have more megapixels than my DSLR), but it will be slower and more difficult to use. Meanwhile a DSLR doesn’t reach as far, but it’s faster and probably has better sensors or something. 

I have a very similar setup to you, @Colton V. I have a Canon EOS rebel t3i with a 75-300 mm lens. It actually works quite well for me. I normally just have to try to either get a little closer to the bird, or crop in somewhat. 

 

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11 hours ago, Seanbirds said:

I have a very similar setup to you, @Colton V. I have a Canon EOS rebel t3i with a 75-300 mm lens. It actually works quite well for me. I normally just have to try to either get a little closer to the bird, or crop in somewhat. 

 

@Seanbirds, what do you mean by 'crop in somewhat' as an alternative to getting closer to the bird?  Is this something you're doing in the field on the camera, or something in post processing?

Thanks.

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6 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

@Seanbirds, what do you mean by 'crop in somewhat' as an alternative to getting closer to the bird?  Is this something you're doing in the field on the camera, or something in post processing?

Thanks.

I do both (kinda) actually. In the field, I will often zoom (crop) in on a photo to make sure it's sharp and looks good. I only actually crop in post-processing. The only other thing i do in there is just make the lighting better if it isn't ideal, and play with the color saturation a bit. Yes, I often do use it as an alternative to getting closer.

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On 11/3/2020 at 2:22 AM, Colton V said:

I think I'm just going to have to accept the fact that any lens better than this is going to cost me a lot of money 🙃

Canon's 100-400 mark 2 is a really nice lens, one that I regret having sold. It is compatible with your T5 and will definitely give you better photos, but it comes with a hefty price tag. The 400 f/5.6 is also a good birding lens in the canon line up, one that I used for years and years. Have you considered looking at used lenses? Keh.com has a wide selection of used camera gear and although I've never used them, I have heard them mentioned often as reputable source for used camera gear.

Edited by lonestranger
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26 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

Canon's 100-400 mark 2 is a really nice lens, one that I regret having sold. It is compatible with your T5 and will definitely give you better photos, but it comes with a hefty price tag. The 400 f/5.6 is also a good birding lens in the canon line up, one that I used for years and years. Have you considered looking at used lenses? Keh.com has a wide selection of used camera gear and although I've never used them, I have heard them mentioned often as reputable source for used camera gear.

This is super helpful! I will definitely look into your suggestions. 

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  • 2 months later...

Hi folks, just ran into this and wanted to share my experience in case this is useful to anyone else. I have a Nikon Coolpix B700 and love it, but it's got some major drawbacks. I like it for how portable it is, and I can get some good pictures. But the autofocus is slow, and the manual focus is quite tough to make work without quite a bit of practice. If lighting conditions aren't great sometimes it has a fair amount of trouble figuring out where I want it to zoom. The real issue though is that I *think* the combination of the smaller lens and smaller sensor with the long zoom means it's pretty dark a lot of the time. The smaller pixels discussed above mean that the photos aren't as fully sharp as they could be. But all that said, I'm focusing on the drawbacks, when it's overall a great little camera: inexpensive, really great zoom (especially for taking photos for ID purposes), and very compact and portable. And the photos can be pretty good if you know what you're doing, or in my case if I'm lucky and the conditions are right. I consider it a good starter camera for getting into birding more seriously.

 

image.png.5bbd162a9bb8cf0af25fc680277b30cd.png

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  • 2 months later...
On 11/3/2020 at 7:41 AM, The Bird Nuts said:

Yep, anything above 300mm, it seems, goes way up in price.  I went from a 300mm to a 500mm.  The 500mm cost over 9X the 300mm....😬

 

I have Nikon DX7500 with an 18-200m lens. The 18-300mm lens didn't exist when I bought my lens, and would be an improvement for $$.

For 2X the cost, Nikon has a 200-500mm f/5.6 ED VR. Does anyone have this lens? What do you think?

For 5X the cost, there is the Canon EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L, with a new body. Does anyone have this? What do you think?

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40 minutes ago, BirdManAndy said:

For 2X the cost, Nikon has a 200-500mm f/5.6 ED VR. Does anyone have this lens? What do you think?

I have that lens paired with a D7500.  It's heavy, difficult to zoom (takes three or more turns), and slightly slower focusing than my 70-300mm, but otherwise very good and sharp with good VR.  I have it on a shoulder strap and I usually just keep it at max zoom while I'm walking around.

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41 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

I have that lens paired with a D7500.  It's heavy, difficult to zoom (takes three or more turns), and slightly slower focusing than my 70-300mm, but otherwise very good and sharp with good VR.  I have it on a shoulder strap and I usually just keep it at max zoom while I'm walking around.

I have the same combo and would tend to agree (only recently upgraded to the D7500 from the D3500 though). As for zoom, I’ve heard that you can push/pull zoom to workaround the long turns. However, I find it a bit stiff, especially pushing out to zoom in. Instead I often find myself grabbing the top of the lens and rotating my hand to position underneath when I know I want to go from 200 to 500. Probably not the best technique but it seems to work for me.

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On 11/3/2020 at 12:44 AM, Colton V said:

The camera I use is the Canon EOS Rebel T5. It's a pretty good camera, I guess. A little outdated, but it gets the job done. However, I am constantly running into the issue of not enough zoom. Most of the time birds are too far away for my camera to pick up and I have to crop the image way down resulting in a fuzzy ugly picture. I use a 75-300mm zoom lens that came with the camera. It does pretty well, but I can only get decent photos of birds if they are close to me. I am considering getting a Powershot because they have incredible zoom, but I am on the fence about that. I am very inexperienced with photography and have a hard time researching this kind of stuff because I don't speak Camera and it gets overwhelming. My question is, do you have any suggestions for camera lenses that will work with my camera and help me get better photos of far-away birds? Are there any decent lenses that won't cost me a ton of money, or that won't be way above my skill level? What lenses do you guys use for bird photography? Anything to point me in the right direction would be appreciated.

Hi, @Colton V-not sure if you are still in the market for a better zoom set-up, but:

Most of the bird pics I take are for ID only and taken with a bridge superzoom camera, which, as others have pointed out, is mostly adequate for ID, but has some severe limitations as far as quality.

If I want to assure I get good pics, I use my Canon with a Tamron 200-600 g2 zoom.  In the field, I keep them mounted on a tripod and treat it as a monopod for quick shots.  

The Tamron is excellent for a non-Canon lens, and at half the price.   Adorama has a used one:

https://www.adorama.com/us 1387318.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI27qcvJW_7wIVBk2GCh1B2Q_hEAQYASABEgKU9PD_BwE&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI27qcvJW_7wIVBk2GCh1B2Q_hEAQYASABEgKU9PD_BwE&utm_source=adl-gbase-p

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2 hours ago, BirdManAndy said:

Ok, the Nikon 200-500 is a good lens, but it is heavy. Thanks for the feedback. I will have to see if I am ready to spend that much on a lens.

Another alternative is the Sigma 150-600mm that comes in two flavors. The normal is cheaper than the Nikon and the sport is more expensive. I ended up going with the Nikon since that's the only one I could rent and test beforehand to make sure I'd be happy with it. Although, there's plenty of time where I wish I had that extra zoom (at the cost of an F-stop). I'd suggest looking up some of the YouTube reviews comparing the lenses (some of which also include the Tamron 150-600).

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On 3/19/2021 at 10:17 PM, The Bird Nuts said:

I usually just keep it at max zoom while I'm walking around.

Does that make it difficult to find the bird?  I usually zoom out about half way between birds or before walking on.  If I stay zoomed out, I spend more time finding the bird than it takes me to zoom in.  Any suggestions?

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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31 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Does that make it difficult to find the bird?  I usually zoom out about half way between birds or before walking on.  If I stay zoomed out, I spend more time finding the bird than it takes me to zoom in.  Any suggestions?

I don't have much trouble, but remember that most of the superzoom point-and-shoots nowadays have a much longer focal length than the lens on my DSLR.  I hardly ever kept my point-and-shoot zoomed in while I was walking.  That would have wasted the battery, but it is helpful anyway to be zoomed out to find the bird and only zoom in when you are locked on the bird.

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On 3/20/2021 at 10:29 AM, floraphile said:

If I want to assure I get good pics, I use my Canon with a Tamron 200-600 g2 zoom. 

Can you take good quality photos with that lens? I mean something that regularly turns out more than three-star photos.

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4 hours ago, Seanbirds said:

Can you take good quality photos with that lens? I mean something that regularly turns out more than three-star photos.

I think so.  As with most long lenses, though, photo quality is best when used mounted on a tripod.   

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