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Charlie Spencer

Considering moving from P&S to DSLR - Advice, please.

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Posted (edited)

I'm considering switching from my 'bridge' point-and-shoot (Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70) to a DSLR.  I take bird photos primarily to capture images of those birds I can't immediately identify in the field, so I can research them at home.  Secondarily, I want a record of the birds I've seen and identified.  Third priority goes to creating artistic photos, but that's well behind the other two.

I have a couple of major complaints with FZ70.  The camera actually takes darn good photos in Auto mode.  The problem is the camera is programmed to display the image for two seconds after it's captured.  You can turn that off in other modes, but not in Auto.  As we all know, two seconds is plenty of time for a bird to hop to another branch, if not leave the area entirely, so I rarely use Auto unless shooting something slow to stationary.  My other gripe is when I need to manually focus.  These times are usually when there's something in front of the bird that partially obscures it - branches, vines, etc.  The autofocus is slow but to make up for it, the manual focus is cumbersome.  It shares a wheel with the exposure, and it's clunky to switch between the two.  My minor complaints are that it can be slow to write to RAM, and the RAW format it uses (.RW2) is apparently only accessible with the … challenging … 'SilkyPix' app that comes with it.  I haven't found anything free or cheap that will open .RW2.  Fortunately, I only edit photos a couple of times a year, so I usually work with the .JPGs.

Now I'm not looking to start another 'What camera should I buy?' debate.  I'm asking for advice and experiences regarding making the transition from a P&S to a DSLR.  This is a lot of money for me to commit for something I have no experience with.  What questions should I ask when choosing a camera?  How much time should I expect to spend learning the device before I can take to the field without swearing at it?  What particular features or settings should I master first?  The FZ70 has a built-in 60X optical zoom (which is why I chose it originally); what lenses will provide me similar capability without a price that will scare me off the entire idea?

Thanks for any responses.

EDIT - and no, I'm not thinking about a mirrorless camera.  Everything I've read says the batteries don't yet last long enough to suit the way I bird.  On a four-hour trip yesterday, I took over 400 shots.  These included over 50 to get five of blurry but identifiable Tree Swallows.  The FZ70 will take over 900 without batting an eyelash.  I'm not going put up wit to swapping batteries in the field and dropping something in the mud.  Besides, I already provide the fire ants with enough chances to gnaw on me.

Edited by Charlie Spencer

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I love my DLSR (canon) but I must confess that I probably don't use it to its full potential.  I have read the manual and refer to it often.  You will likely start by using auto mode on the new camera.  This is a good beginning and gives you a chance to get images with much higher resolution.  For pictures that really "pop", you will need to learn more about the settings.

I would suggest taking an into class to learn the ins-and-outs of your new camera.  I am taking a class this spring and although I have been shooting this camera for 10 years I am still learning stuff.  There is always a learning curve. 

questions to ask:

1.  resolution?   Most DLSR's have 18+ so that should not be a concern 

2.  frames/second shooting?  I use this frequently.  The more shots you can choose from the better.  "shoot them all and let photoshop sort them out"

3.  What program can I use to process my images?  To get the most out of the camera, you should shoot is Raw.  I use paintshop pro (~80 permanent license).  I want to use photoshop/lightroom but I refuse to pay a subscription fee.  ...just my pet peeve.

4.  Probably even more important than the body - is the lens.  Good lenses with good reach and a large aperture will cost you some money.  I'm not good at translating the zoom to mm so I will let some of the professionals answer that one.

 

Good luck

btw - here is my photostream...

https://flic.kr/ps/3gxxst

 

 

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Posted (edited)

A couple of additional notes.

I'm not likely to print any of these pictures, and the only place they'll be shared is here and Macauley.  They'll likely always be viewed on a 24" monitor, and nowhere else.

I have a mental block on post-processing.  The applications I've looked at (GIMP, SilkyPix, IrfanView, a couple of others I've forgotten) just intimidate and confuse the heck out of me.   The big stumbling block is I''m very goal-oriented, and I don't know what the results are expected to look like.  I don't know where to start or more importantly, when to stop.  Until or unless I figure out what the end product is supposed to look like, I won't be worried about what program I (don't) use to accomplish it.  Heck, I can't even tell where to crop.  My primary goal is to get sharp images of unfamiliar birds so I can look them up when I get home.   Artistry may be a concern in the future but that's way down the road.  It will be enough for me to learn the camera; I don't want to add having to learn an application too.  Both cut into time I could be learning more about birds.

Thanks.

Edited by Charlie Spencer

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Posted (edited)

You can learn all about the different settings and change the aperture and shutter speed and ISO and shoot in RAW and get a huge, expensive lens...OR you can just keep it simple like I do.  I recently switched from a bridge point-and-shoot to a DSLR, as you know, and I just discovered that the "sport" mode is great for birds.  It is basically auto mode (for fast-moving subjects) and all you really need to know is how to set the exposure compensation and turn on continuous shooting.  If you already know how to crop and lighten your photos afterwards (just to see the birds better), you'd be good to go.

My camera is the Nikon D3400, an entry-level DSLR. My lens is the AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR.  It doesn't have the most reach and it doesn't have a huge aperture, but it's really quick to focus and gets the job done.  "VR" (which is Vibration Reduction in Nikons) is very important when shooting handheld (I'm sure your point-and-shoot had something similar).  The photos I take with this combination are similar in quality to my Canon Powershot SX50's, but I can now take clear photos of birds at a moment's notice which is so helpful!

I bought the camera and lens off eBay.  The lens was a little over $100 and the camera was probably around $200 (it came in a bundle), so it all cost about as much as a point-and-shoot.

Edited by The Bird Nuts
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Oh, and the reason I don't normally shoot in RAW is because the files are so huge!  jpegs work just fine for me.

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1 hour ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Maybe what I really need is a bridge with faster auto focus, and a manual focus that's easier to control.

For what you want to do, that may be the best option

 

 

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On 4/23/2019 at 2:10 PM, Charlie Spencer said:

Maybe what I really need is a bridge with faster auto focus, and a manual focus that's easier to control.

With new technology advancing in leaps and bounds, you just might find one like that in the near future. I'm not sure current technology has gotten there yet, though. I will say that the extra zoom on super zoom cameras can often zoom you past the obstacles between you and the bird. My Nikon P900 has an optic zoom of 2000mm and has often gotten me past obstacles that are between me and the bird. The obstacles are still there but it's much easier to find enough of the bird for auto focus to lock on the bird and not the branch in front of it when more of the bird fills the viewfinder. I'm not promoting any particular camera, but in my experience, more zoom helps get me past obstacles that my DSLR and 100-400 lens might not be able to get past with auto focus. Having said that, I'd still reach for my DSLR before my P900 if was photographing a bird. The manual focus ring on the lens and the ease of adjustments on the camera makes the bigger, heavier DSLR more enjoyable to shoot with, even if it is only 1/4 of the focal length of the P&S. 

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54 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

The manual focus ring on the lens and the ease of adjustments on the camera makes the bigger, heavier DSLR more enjoyable to shoot with, even if it is only 1/4 of the focal length of the P&S. 

I definitely prefer gear I can wrap my hands around.  I love my Zeiss 10x50s but I wish they were about 50% bigger.   That's another reason I'm not considering mirrorless.  A bigger camera means more room for physical controls.

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On 4/22/2019 at 2:43 PM, Charlie Spencer said:

I'm asking for advice and experiences regarding making the transition from a P&S to a DSLR. 

I switched from P&S to DSLR for a few reasons. I wanted a faster camera with more frames per second. I wanted more megapixels, because more is always better, right? I wanted better photos, and DSLRs are capable of out performing P&S in image quality. Basically, my first few P&S cameras got me hooked on wildlife photography and then I wanted bigger, better, faster, etc. After doing some research, I bought my first DSLR and a 70-300mm lens. My image quality instantly jumped to a whole new level and I was quite happy with my purchase. After a while I started to get frustrated though, my lens didn't have the reach that I really needed to get me close enough to most of the birds I shot, so I invested in a 50-500mm lens. The longer lens quickly took my photography to another whole new level and I was quite happy with my purchase. After a while the camera manufacturer came out with a new model that had some features that I thought I needed so I bought a second DSLR and I was happy with my purchase. After a while I started to notice that my images had a lot of noise/grain/speckling in them and soon realized that the 2x crop factor(smaller sensor) in my DSLR was contributing to my noise issues, so I changed manufactures and bought a whole new set up. I bought a camera with a 1.6 crop factor and a 400mm prime lens(no zoom) since most of my shots were always at maximum zoom and seldom did I need a shorter focal length. My image quality jumped to a whole new level, again, and yet again I was happy with my purchase. After a while I bought a 2x extender for my lens and although I seldom used it, I was quite happy with it's performance when it did get used but that 2x 400mm combination was limited to being mounted on the tripod so it got used less and less. The 2x extender also wouldn't auto focus on my camera so using it had the added frustration of trying to manually focus my shots, sometimes I got it right, sometimes I missed. A newer version of my camera came on the market that allowed for centre point auto focus with a 1.4 extender so I bought the new version camera and the 1.4x extender and was quiet happy with my purchase. After a while I decided that I wanted the newest version of my camera manufacturer's 100-400mm lens, which not only had image stabilization that my 400mm prime lens was lacking, the 100-400 zoom lens was also claimed to be as sharp as the 400mm prime lens, which I can't dispute, it's a great piece of glass. I am now noticing that my images are often noisier than I'd like, especially in low light conditions such as early morning or late evening. I push my ISO up higher than I should so that I can get fast enough shutter speeds in those situations, and the results often show noise that I'd rather not be there. In order to get rid of the noise from high ISO settings I will need to invest in a full frame camera with a bigger sensor that produces little to no noise at the same or hopefully even higher ISO settings than I currently limit myself to. A full frame camera would also allow for multi-point focus options with either extender. Yes, a full frame camera is now on my wish list. So that's my experience in purchasing camera gear, I learned a lot of lessons about what I needed/wanted the hard/expensive way. Knowing what I know today, I would have saved myself a bundle of money and bought a full frame camera, a third party 150-600mm lens, and then round out my setup with a 70-200 F/2.8, which is a workhorse of a lens, and a shorter zoom lens for the fewer landscape shots I take.

All the while I was making mistakes about my camera gear purchases, I was learning more and more about photography. I started off in auto mode with my P&S cameras and tried the various semi-auto settings like Program Mode, Sports Mode, Aperture Priority Mode, Shutter Priority Mode where I could control things a bit but the camera still took care of getting the exposure right for me. I found that I could use Aperture priority to set my lens to it's fastest/largest aperture, set the ISO to a fixed setting of my choosing, and the camera would come up with the right shutter speed for a proper exposure, most of the time. When I got my first DSLR I started playing around with exposure compensation, which is used in the semi-auto modes to adjust the brightness of the shot. I was getting too many silhouette images when I was photographing birds with a bright sky behind them so I learned that I needed to set my exposure compensation to +1, +2, or sometimes +3 in order to get the bird exposed properly in those situations. I had a hard time remembering to reset my exposure compensation after shooting birds up high with the sky/clouds behind them when it came time to take a shot of a bird with a darker background behind it. I think it was about that time I decided to try full manual exposure. After all, I was setting my own aperture, setting my own ISO, and fine tuning my own exposure with the exposure compensation feature in the semi-auto modes so why not try full manual exposure. Yep, I botched a bunch of my first attempts at manual exposure but it didn't take long to learn from my mistakes and before I knew it, I was controlling the exposure and getting satisfying results. I found it so much easier to control the exposure in manual mode than in any of the auto modes, including the ones that allow exposure compensation. If a bird was in the sun, it wouldn't matter if it had a bright sky behind it or shaded bush behind it, the exposure usually didn't need to be adjusted. If the bird moved out of the sun and into the shade, I simply adjusted one setting on the camera and I was good to go. As I learned more and more, through practice, reading online sources, and the hard lesson of learning from my mistakes, I kept getting better and better shots in manual mode and would never go back to any of the auto modes. There are three basic adjustments in manual mode, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, which are easy to adjust on most DSLRs. Learning which adjustments to make and when you need to make them is something that comes with practice/experience but once you set your exposure in manual, it doesn't need to be adjusted often, or adjusted much. If you have already learned how and when to use exposure compensation in the semi-auto modes, you already know how to set the exposure manually, you're just not doing it in manual mode.

So, that's my experience in both purchasing and learning the controls of my cameras. Am I great photographer that you should take advise from, probably not. I consider myself to be a decent photographer with decent equipment that takes some decent photos but I admit I still have a lot to learn. If I was to offer advice on purchasing camera gear and learning how to use it, I would recommend getting a decent long lens, the longest quality lens you could afford. The better the glass is, the more likely it is that you'll like the results it produces, now and in the future. While I know that full frame cameras have better image quality than crop cameras do, I'm not sure if starting with a full frame camera is something that I'd recommend, I might suggest the idea but I wouldn't consider it a necessity. I would advise against cameras with the smaller sensors though, a 2x crop factor might give the illusion of a longer lens, but the smaller sensor simply can't capture the same detail that larger sensors can. Small sensors with 18MP means 18MP of small receptors(for lack of a better word), larger sensors with 18MP means 18MP of larger receptors. The larger the receptors, the higher the dynamic range, meaning more versatility in capturing the brightest and darkest elements without over exposing and/or under exposing the image, and less noise in the image too. As for what to learn first with a new DSLR, I'd recommend learning the cameras controls for ISO, shutter speed, and aperture, learn how to adjust them so that you can do it efficiently in the field, regardless of what mode you're using, manual or semi-auto. I highly recommend going straight to manual mode though, it's not as complicated as it may seem and it will teach you a lot quicker than any other mode on the camera. I also find it much more gratifying when I get the shot right with manual exposure, knowing that I was the one controlling the outcome of the photo and not letting the camera control it for me just brings a greater sense of satisfaction for me. 

If something I've written is confusing, feel free to pick my brain. Just don't start asking what camera you should buy. :classic_laugh:

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Posted (edited)
49 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

As for what to learn first with a new DSLR, I'd recommend learning the cameras controls for ISO, shutter speed, and aperture,

I have a reasonable understanding of shutter speed and aperture, and some notion of the effects that changing them can have on the image.  I've never understood ISO.  What little I know is it originally defined film 'speed'.  I never understood that, and I don't know how the concept applies to digital photography.

I'd do more with the manual mode on my current bridge but the controls are so awkwardly placed and cumbersome to operate that it discourages me.  Mind you, I have absolutely no basis for comparison, since my only previous cameras were true old-school one-button-only P&Ss.  For all I know, all bridges and DSLRs require a 13-fingered pianist with side jobs typing term papers and dealing crooked card games.  Maybe I should download the user's guides for the models I'm considering, or ask questions on forums specific to those models.

Do I understand from your post that you have a ton of used hardware you'd like to sell?  :classic_biggrin:  I'm definitely trying to avoid buying new gear on a regular basis.  The photography is primarily to support the birding; I'm not interested in it becoming more than that (at this time).  Since the photos will likely never be seen other than on my own monitor, I can sacrifice some of the quality others look for in prints, enlargements, etc.

Edited by Charlie Spencer

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19 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I've never understood ISO.

ISO, put simply, is just one of the three settings that controls the exposure/brightness. With everything else being equal, meaning the same shutter speed and aperture settings, a higher ISO setting will produce a brighter photo than lower ISO settings. By increasing the ISO from 100 to 200, the photo will be twice as bright, increasing the ISO to 400 means the photo will be 4x brighter than when using an ISO setting of 100. Doubling the ISO can also allow you to double your shutter speed though. As an example, lets say that I have properly exposed shot if I set my ISO at 100, my shutter speed at 1/100, and my aperture wide open at F/5.6. If I double my ISO to 200 and double my shutter speed to 1/200, I will end up with the same exposure. If I increase my ISO to 800 that means I can increase my shutter speed to 800 and still have the same exposure. If I double that again to ISO 1600, then I can double my shutter speed again and still have a proper exposure at 1/1600 shutter speed. Exposure is a balancing act, increasing the ISO will brighten the photo to the point of over exposure unless you balance it out with one of the other settings. While increasing the ISO is prone to increasing the noise, not increasing it can lead to using too slow a shutter speed which is prone to the blurring effects of camera shake and/or subject movement. Film speed or ISO is the same on digital cameras as it was on film cameras. The faster/higher the film speed or ISO is, the faster shutter speed you can use. 

That's my spin on ISO. For a more professional description and tips on how to best utilize the setting,  I found David Peterson's writings to be easiest to comprehend. http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/tip/1625/your-cameras-settings-iso-speed/

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1 hour ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Do I understand from your post that you have a ton of used hardware you'd like to sell?  :classic_biggrin:

Unfortunately, no. I still have some of my old gear for specific situations but I have sold most of the redundant gear to recoup some of the money spent on newer gear. If you had of been in the market this time last year, I could have set you up with a decent DSLR, a 400mm prime lens, a 2x extender, and a 100mm macro lens. If you're in the market for used gear, I suggest checking out keh.com, if nothing else, it'll give you an idea of what kind of prices to look for and/or avoid on amazon or eBay.

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Here's a couple of links with some basic tips related to bird photography.  I found that reading some of the online tips and tutorials helped answer some questions that I didn't even know I wanted to ask yet. 

 http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/tip/3825/take-beautiful-bird-photos/

http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/tip/3070/photographing-birds-in-flight/

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11 hours ago, lonestranger said:

Here's a couple of links with some basic tips related to bird photography.  I found that reading some of the online tips and tutorials helped answer some questions that I didn't even know I wanted to ask yet. 

 http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/tip/3825/take-beautiful-bird-photos/

http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/tip/3070/photographing-birds-in-flight/

Excellent tips - I will bookmark this site.  I am a big fan of lifelong learning.

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Hi Charlie

I am an avid bird photographer with Nikon equipment so I can make recommendations for that brand.  There are other good brands--I just don't have experience with them. What you are prepared to pay for a DSLR and lens will ultimately affect what equipment you get. With modern DSLR equipment you can preset your camera before you start and not have to readjust your settings for the rest of the day --i.e. your camera will behave as if its on automatic but you have set the parameters.  For bird photography then: 1. single focus point, 2. center weighted light metering, 3. Aperture mode, 4. Setting your metering to sunshine, cloudy, open shade, etc., 5. setting the ISO high enough e.g. 800-1600 so that  you shutter speed stays around 1/1000 s. Once this is done you are set to go.

My suggestion is to buy a cropped sensor camera over a full framed one -- you will have more reach with a given lens. For example: a 300 mm lens on a cropped sensor camera will behave as if it were a 1.5 x 300 = 450 mm lens; on a full framed sensor camera it will be 300mm. You will have more reach. As for a body: D7000, D7100, or D7200 are great bodies to be had for affordable price. If you want the best birding body, the D500 is the one to get--it will cost more than twice the price  of  the others. As to lens: a minimum would be a 70-300 mm lens with VR. Nikon has a full frame 70-300 mm G VR lens which has been superseded by a newer version and should be reasonably priced. If you want the best birding lens than the 200-500 mm f5.6 VR lens is the way to go--its price is a bargain for what you get--it will set you back ~ $1500.00. It is also large and heavy and you might not want to carry it around for a full day of shooting-- I use it with a tripod.

I am on Flickr and you can see my photos. https://www.flickr.com/photos/enthalpy5/with/46863423585/

 

 

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20 hours ago, peter571 said:

3. Aperture mode,

That's the second recommendation to aperture mode I've read in the last week.  Until now I've left aperture on auto, assuming I would get better results by not messing with something I didn't understand.  I don't get how the amount of light I let in will lead to sharper images, but I don't need to understand it to play with it.

Thanks.

 

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40 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

That's the second recommendation to aperture mode I've read in the last week.  Until now I've left aperture on auto, assuming I would get better results by not messing with something I didn't understand.  I don't get how the amount of light I let in will lead to sharper images, but I don't need to understand it to play with it.

Thanks.

 

If you're going to use one of the semi auto modes, I would also recommend Aperture Priority and peter571's suggestions. By setting the Aperture wide open and allowing maximum light to reach the sensor, you'll see sharper images because of the faster shutter speeds you'll get. Less light means slower shutter speeds, which runs the risk of blurring from camera shake or subject movement. Whether you use Aperture or Shutter Priority, you'll need to set two of the three variables yourself in order to get the desired effect. If you only set one of the variables, you're allowing the camera to control the other two variables and you'll have to trust me when I say the camera will get it wrong under certain conditions. As an example, if you set your camera on Shutter Priority and just set the shutter speed to 1/800, the camera might use an aperture of F/5.6 and an ISO of 800 or it might close down the aperture to F/16 and push the ISO up to 6400 to get the same exposure. By dialing in two of the three variables, shutter speed and ISO or aperture and ISO, the camera only has one variable to control and it's more likely to give you the desired results. I hope that's helpful and not more confusing.

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Random stuff from me, basically the cliff note version of what I teach my students the years I do a high school photography class. (some of this might have already been talked about above, but I'm lazy and didn't read all of it.)

ISO-these days, it's essentially how sensitive you want the sensor to be. High ISO=very sensitive, which is great in low light, but it also makes for more noise. 

Aperture-the higher the number, the more of the photo is in focus. (i.e.-depth of field). But with how physics works, to get more of the photo in focus, the hole needs to be smaller, which means less light is let in.

Shutter speed-self explanatory. Slower means lets in more light, but things blur, because they have time to move before the hole closes. You shouldn't ever go below 1/60, unless you are using a tripod.

There is a thing photographers refer to as the triangle, which is essentially the three items above, and how they interact with each other. I won't get into it, though.

Shoot in JPEG. (RAW is really for pros. Amateurs that aren't printing the photos shouldn't even worry about it.)

If you aren't objectionable to a bit of adult language, there is a GREAT site I can message you that is very easy to understand and very informative.

DSLRs can be used just like your point and shoot, with a bit more control of focusing, and you can take multiple pictures in a row pretty quickly.

Ok, /random rambling from me. 

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On 5/7/2019 at 1:10 PM, Charlie Spencer said:

That's the second recommendation to aperture mode I've read in the last week.  Until now I've left aperture on auto, assuming I would get better results by not messing with something I didn't understand.  I don't get how the amount of light I let in will lead to sharper images, but I don't need to understand it to play with it.

Thanks.

 

Hi Charlie

For bird photography you don't need a great amount of depth of field as you want the bird to be in focus but preferably the background be blurred (otherwise it can act as a distraction). That means for a zoom lens  indicated previously an f5.6, f6.3, or possibly f 7.1 setting. (The largest f-value available depends on the lens you have-- a professional lens in the 300 mm range would be f2.8, f4). Also, if you check-out multiple lens reviews you will find all lens will be sharpest when they are set to around  f8  not at a wide open f-stop.

The amount of light available will be a major factor--sunny (lots of light) will afford f7.1, f8 setting; a dull cloudy day a setting f5.6, or f6.3 would be a more suitable. The Nikon models I mentioned allow you to set the minimum shutter speed you want in the ISO category of the camera menu. By setting the maximum ISO high you want, say to 800, on a sunny day and using say f6.3 will guarantee the camera will use an automatic 1/1000 s or faster shutter speed. If there is not enough light for 1/1000 s speed the camera will automatically go to the next lower shutter speed, e.g. 1/800 s for a proper exposure. If you are not happy with that lower speed--raise the maximum ISO value to a higher number, e.g. 1600. (i.e. you control the shutter speed with the ISO value).

However, understand that by raising the ISO value (sensor sensitivity) you will introduce digital noise in the JPG picture you take (the higher ISO setting the more noise) .  The noise can be mitigated in post processing. Also, to some extent, the more expensive a camera the less noise will be introduced. At times, under very poor lighting conditions you may need to accept digital noise in order to get a picture.

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Posted (edited)

Hi Charlie - sorry I'm a bit late to this post, still exploring more of the forums.

My thoughts (I've speed-read most of the prior advice - which is very good) and will throw in my 2 pennies fwiw.) Like peter571 I shoot Nikon and am on my second one in twenty years - the first got rain-damaged, expansive lesson learned.

  1. For birds FPS is pretty important as you already know how movement is unpredictable most times.
  2. I agree with the crop sensor comment - adds some versatility and with the newer tech, minimal sacrifice to a non-pro.
  3. There are gobs of tutorials online for both hardware and software. Nikon, Canon, Sony, etc, are all well supported.
  4. Software - I have a long history with Adobe products - started on V.1 and currently use their Photographers subscription (Lightroom/Photoshop.) note: but also agree with spyonabird's pet-peeve on that 😉
    1. While I very rarely use Photoshop on my bird pics, for organization (keywords, rating, sorting, creating collections and quick post-processing I am a Lightroom junkie
  5. What I did was follow a camera that was in my price-range and waited until a newer version came out and the price dropped significantly. The camera I ended up getting was out for over three years when I bought it as a kit (with lens.) Edit: Also look at what lens you may want to use - my recent lens costs almost as much as my camera!
  6. Lastly, maybe look into an  Intro to Photography community college class. It will get you into using the camera through regular instruction and assignments. It's also a nice way to network. But again - if you're disciplined, there is a wealth of online instruction/advice.

And, like meghann, there's my ramble of the day - best of luck and stick to your signature; "I get outside...", that's what it's all about!! 🕊️

Edited by G_kayaker
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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, peter571 said:

For bird photography you don't need a great amount of depth of field as you want the bird to be in focus but preferably the background be blurred (otherwise it can act as a distraction).

Maybe I'm not following you, but this advice sounds contrary to one of my issues.

I would agree with you if my goal was to take artistic photos, but my primary goal is to take identifiable photos.  If I want to get a bird who's partially obscured by a leaf, branch, etc, wouldn't I be happier with a lot of depth?   I don't want the bird in the background blurred; he's my subject.  And in other situations, the background environment can give clues to the bird's identity.  Wouldn't greater depth give me a better chance of having the obscured bird in the near background be more in focus, reducing how accurately I have to focus  and saving time before taking the shot?

Edited by Charlie Spencer

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Maybe I'm not following you, but this advice sounds contrary to one of my issues.

I would agree with you if my goal was to take artistic photos, but my primary goal is to take identifiable photos.  If I want to get a bird who's partially obscured by a leaf, branch, etc, wouldn't I be happier with a lot of depth?   I don't want the bird in the background blurred; he's my subject.  And in other situations, the background environment can give clues to the bird's identity.  Wouldn't greater depth give me a better chance of having the obscured bird in the near background be more in focus, reducing how accurately I have to focus  and saving time before taking the shot?

Your logic is sound, Charlie Spencer, isolating the bird and having a blurred background is not necessary for ID purposes, it's an artistic preference. There are disadvantages to more depth of field though. More depth of field means a smaller aperture which means less light reaching the sensor. To compensate for the reduction in light you'll need either a slower shutter speed or a higher ISO setting, or a combination of both, to achieve a balanced exposure. In my opinion, a faster shutter speed is preferred over depth of field and I'd rather achieve that with a larger aperture than with a higher ISO setting. Check out this Depth of Field Calculator to get an idea of what you get for DOF at various distances, apertures, and lens lengths, just pick one of the cameras from the list and change the other numbers around a bit. I've used my camera which has a 1.6 crop factor and a 400mm lens for an example. According to the calculator, if I wanted one foot of depth of field to include a bird that is 25 feet away, I would need an aperture setting of F/22. That would give me roughly six inches in front and six inches behind the bird that was in focus, which would be desirable for your intentions. I'd have to slow my shutter speed down 4x what it could be if my aperture was wide open at F/5.6 though, and slower shutter speeds are typically not desirable for bird photography. Alternately, I could increase my ISO 4x higher but that's not usually desirable either. It's that exposure balancing thing, there's trade offs with each setting and slower shutter speeds and/or higher ISO settings are the trade off for more depth of field from using a smaller aperture.

Edited by lonestranger
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