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What’s your bird photography setup?


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Yes, this is a neat idea! I guess I'll share what I shoot with. 

I just recently upgraded from a Nikon Coolpix P900 to a Micro four-thirds mirrorless camera, and it's been a huge improvement over the coolpix, especially for birds in flight. 

Camera Body: Olympus OM-D E-MI Mii

Camera Lens: Olympus 75-300mm 1:4.8-6.7 ii ED MSC.

The way that a Micro four-thirds camera works essentially doubles the range of the lens, so the range of my lens is equivalent to a DSLR's 150-600mm lens. 

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Camera: Nikon D7500

Lens: Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6

@Birding Boy Your mileage may vary, but I found this video covering all the settings/options rather helpful when I recently upgraded from the D3500. Also, Steve Perry has some good wildlife photo videos and other Nikon-specific content, especially around auto-focus.

I've been considering adding the 1.4x teleconverter for the extra range. Does anyone else use that with this setup?

Edited by neilpa
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I have the same setup as Conners, except I don’t have an extender. I’ve had for maybe 2 months now, and still haven’t exactly figured it all out yet, but I like it.  Very fast autofocus. 
 

However, I still carry around and use my Coolpix p600 as it can fit in my pocket. It’s the only camera I have on me when I go bird in the mornings, mostly used for record shots of notable species. Though, the p600 is sometimes better for further away birds, so I’ve used it for that as well, but it generally stays in my pocket the whole time. Only bring out my other camera if I’m in the yard, driving somewhere to bird, or if I’m expecting/found something interesting in one of my patches. 

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I had the same setup as @Connor Cochrane and @Aaron, Canon 7Dii with the 100-400ii and extender and if I was shopping for a good setup, that's exactly what I would buy again. I had over extended my spending at the time and had to let my good gear go for a while. I thought it was a great setup for birding and wildlife photography in general. One advantage the 100-400ii has over the 400mm F/5.6 prime lens that I used to have is the closer minimum focus distance. You can zoom to 400mm and focus from approximately 3 feet away, which is great for shooting insects and any birds that might land closer than 12 feet away, which is the 400mm prime lens's minimum focus distance. 

When I started looking for a replacement camera a year or so later, I came across a used full frame Canon 5Diii with a 24-105 F/4 L lens, flashes and other accessories that I was going to pair with another 100-400ii when funds allowed. Well, I came across what I considered to be a deal on a 300mm F/2.8 lens and put a 1.4iii extender on it to give me 420mm of reach at f/4. I'm quite happy with my current setup but I honestly think I'd trade it for my old setup, mostly for the extra reach of the longer lens and crop factor. The 100-400mm and 1.4 extender is 560mm with a 1.6 crop factor giving a focal length of 896mm in 35mm equivalent for my old setup compared to my current setup's 420mm focal length.

Canon 5D Mark iii with 300mm f/2.8 L prime lens and 1.4x Mark iii extender is my current setup.

Canon 7Dii with 100-400mm Mark ii, with or without the 1.4x Mark iii extender, would be my recommended setup.

 

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Just now, Seanbirds said:

I want one of those for the times when I just don’t want to lug a big ol’ DSLR with a huge lens around.

I got a used one from Amazon for $260 and it is perfect for me( right now)😉

Edited by IKLland
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7 hours ago, IKLland said:

Panasonic fz80 point and shoot. Any tips are appreciated!

I currently have the fz1000. Definitely set it up so you have optical zoom and digital zoom, giving you more reach. When I first started using it, I was dissapointed about the lack of zoom, then realized I just hadn't enabled the digitals yet. Also, I would suggest using Aperture priority ("A" on the dial) over "P", or even better, use Manual. It's super quick and easy to fiddle with F and Shutter speed with the thumb wheel. Just click down on the wheel to switch between them. And @Clip, as for the image stabilizer, I've only ever used this camera and a smaller CoolPix, I wouldn't really know, though I seem to get more in focus pictures than I used to.

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4 hours ago, Avery said:

I currently have the fz1000. Definitely set it up so you have optical zoom and digital zoom, giving you more reach. When I first started using it, I was dissapointed about the lack of zoom, then realized I just hadn't enabled the digitals yet. Also, I would suggest using Aperture priority ("A" on the dial) over "P", or even better, use Manual. It's super quick and easy to fiddle with F and Shutter speed with the thumb wheel. Just click down on the wheel to switch between them. And @Clip, as for the image stabilizer, I've only ever used this camera and a smaller CoolPix, I wouldn't really know, though I seem to get more in focus pictures than I used to.

Yeah thanks. I have the shutter speed set, thanks!

Edited by IKLland
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20 hours ago, Clip said:

How is the image stabilizer in your Panasonic?

 

I found the image stabilization to be pretty good on the predecessor FZ70 model.  It was definitely better at optical ranges but was acceptable at max digital.

I shoot through the viewfinder, with my elbows hanging down, not through the screen at arms' length.

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3 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I found the image stabilization to be pretty good on the predecessor FZ70 model.  It was definitely better at optical ranges but was acceptable at max digital.

I shoot through the viewfinder, with my elbows hanging down, not through the screen at arms' length.

That is how I do it also. I used to use a Canon point and shoot but the image stabilizer was terrible. Still have one as a back up camera but rarely use it for this reason. Nikon made me mad though when the refuse to re-repair something they were suppose to have fix that I paid for them to fix and was still under the 90 day repair warranty. So when this one goes I'm hoping to find something with a good image stabilization. 

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45 minutes ago, Clip said:

That is how I do it also. I used to use a Canon point and shoot but the image stabilizer was terrible. Still have one as a back up camera but rarely use it for this reason. Nikon made me mad though when the refuse to re-repair something they were suppose to have fix that I paid for them to fix and was still under the 90 day repair warranty. So when this one goes I'm hoping to find something with a good image stabilization. 

I tried a monopod for a while.  I didn't find it noticeably improved stability / reduced shakes and blurs over just handholding the FZ70.

I seriously think it's great entry superzoom / bridge birding camera.  It has plenty of optical zoom for distant birds; the digital zoom isn't great but will definitely produce identifiable photos. It doesn't weigh much and a freshly charged battery usually lasted at least four hours.  It does well in Auto mode and when you're ready to learn manual settings, there are people over at dpreview.com who have experience with the family and can provide assistance.  If you decide you're ready to move up, the product line is popular enough that there's no problem selling it to B&H, Adorama, other big on-line photo retailers.

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On 3/29/2021 at 11:39 AM, IKLland said:

Panasonic fz80 point and shoot. Any tips are appreciated!

Again, DPReview.com.  Look for Panasonic forum and either Birding or Wildlife forums.

Disable the 2-second preview that appears after each shot.  Having it on can keep you from seeing that your target bird has moved out of view.  On the FZ70, you had to switch from Auto to any other mode to do that, although the FZ80 may be different.  You'll want to download the manual to learn how to turn it off.

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

Again, DPReview.com.  Look for Panasonic forum and either Birding or Wildlife forums.

Disable the 2-second preview that appears after each shot.  Having it on can keep you from seeing that your target bird has moved out of view.  On the FZ70, you had to switch from Auto to any other mode to do that, although the FZ80 may be different.  You'll want to download the manual to learn how to turn it off.

mine came with a paper manual. I have that off, thanks!

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