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Cameras, Lenses and Accessories: Discuss birdwatching lens for 350D...I'm looking for help in identifying the best realistic lens option for bird watching. I already have a Canon 75-300 ...
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Old 20-09-2005, 04:26   #1 (permalink)
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birdwatching lens for 350D

I'm looking for help in identifying the best realistic lens option for bird watching.

I already have a Canon 75-300 DO IS but its not long enough for use from hides at the nature reserves and I'm not sure how effective an extender would be on this lens.

I am considering the Canon 100-400, 300mm F4 and the 400mm F5.6 all coupled with a 2x Canon extender. My preference is probably for a prime lens and for the AF to work with the extender fitted. Image stabilisation is also desirable to allow realistic handholding of the larger lens.

Any suggestions/help would be appreciated.

Regards

Mark
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Old 20-09-2005, 07:47   #2 (permalink)
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This all depends on your budget.

The minimum you should be looking at is 500mm, and as you plan to use a teleconverter with it you will need to be looking at an f4 lens.
When used with the TC you will need to compensate for light loss depending on which converter you are using, see below:

1.4x with 500 will become 700mm f5.6
2.0x with 500 will become 1000mm f8

The camera body will not be able to auto focus once you go past f5.6, if you want auto focus past f5.6 you will need a pro body like the 1d mk2.

Have a look at the Sigma 500mm, this is the cheapest option available to you out of the prime lenses available.
You will also need a very sturdy tripod, with a head to match (see this Article).


HTH

Matt
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Old 20-09-2005, 09:30   #3 (permalink)
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... oh and you'll need to re-mortgage your house too.
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Old 20-09-2005, 09:35   #4 (permalink)
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I would suggest swapping the 2xTC for the 1.4TC.
The 2xTC will degrade the image more and lose 2 stops of light.

I have the 100-400L and the 300F4L and the prime is very good with the 1.4 TC. The zoom, however, is not so great at 400 ( for birds you will mostly be at the max reach). The zoom becomes F8 at 400 with the 1.4 TC and will AF on my 1D MKII in good light.

I don't have the 400 F5.6 prime but I have seen many great bird shots taken with it.
If you have a 1 series body I would suggest the 400 prime with a 1.4 TC ( for birding ).


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Old 20-09-2005, 10:22   #5 (permalink)
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Lots of good things said about the Bigma, Sigma 50-500. Though it's not the fastest or the quietest lens around it takes a sharp picture.
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Old 20-09-2005, 17:37   #6 (permalink)
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From experience, I found a zoom lens isn't good enough for quality images of birds, especially when using a Tele Converter.

I got my 800mm on fleebay, and got myself a bargain.
If you go down the fleebay route, make sure you meet the person selling the item before handing over any money.
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Old 22-09-2005, 00:23   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks guys.

I'm not sure I'm up to a 800mm lens yet either financially or technically but I'll keep checking ebay for a bargain. I will also look at the 500mm more seriously (would have to hide the price tag from the wife though :icon_eek: ).

I seems a shame Canon don't make a non DO version of the 400mm F4 IS as that with a 1.4TC on a 1.6 crop factor body would probably meet my current needs.

Matt, thanks for the pointer to the 393 head - it looks a substantial bit of kit even compared to normal Manfrotto build standards. What tripod are you using with it? I had been looking to buy a Manfrotto 055 to go with my Manfrotto 682B monopod and 322RC2 head and would like to make the right purchase now rather than have to replace it when I get a bigger lens.

Regards

Mark
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Old 22-09-2005, 00:28   #8 (permalink)
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Matt has a Gitzo 2227 tripod, same as mine !
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Old 22-09-2005, 01:29   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfwild13
I had been looking to buy a Manfrotto 055 to go with my Manfrotto 682B monopod and 322RC2 head and would like to make the right purchase now rather than have to replace it when I get a bigger lens.

Regards

Mark
How do find the 322RC2 head in use? I'm looking to possibly get one of these to replace the 3 way head on my Manfrotto tripod. The tripod itself is alloy and quite light but the head is big and heavy so I should make a good weight saving.

I get the impression that the 322RC2 head should be quick and easy to adjust for macro work? I'd be interested in your views and experiences.
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Old 22-09-2005, 11:32   #10 (permalink)
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I havent had it for long and have not had a vast experience of tripods etc but ..

I really like its rapid manoeverability all from the one control. The downside of this is the hand grip is rather stiff and needs quite a bit of pressure to operate so I would imagine that extended use would be hard on the hand muscles.

It does feel pretty solid when fixed into position even on the lowest friction setting.

I wouldnt say it was a particularly lightweight ball head at 1.5lb. but I suppose it depends what you are comparing with.

Mine came delivered for right handed operation but its straightforward to flip over so you can have your right hand on the camera.

I tried the 222 before buying this one but didnt feel it gave enough range of movement. It is also fairly tall so adds quite a bit of height to the setup.

Would I buy another if I lost it ?... yes.

Regards

Mark
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Old 22-09-2005, 11:52   #11 (permalink)
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Thanks for that!

My current head weighs 4.5 lbs! :icon_eek:

The more I look at this head, the more I like it. I see they're now doing a heavy duty version which is the same price.
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Old 06-10-2005, 00:02   #12 (permalink)
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Just thought I would let you know I decided that I couldnt justify 500mm+ so actually bought a Canon 400mm f5.6. Once I get the hang of it, I will get a 1.4TC as well. Mind you, I will keep my ebay searches going looking for a bargain

I have put a few images taken with it here:
Rat
Duck Landing
Crow
Magpie
Grebe
Early days but but looks promising especially given the relatively poor light conditions this morning. All were handheld as well.

Thanks for the advice.

Regards

Mark
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Old 06-10-2005, 18:56   #13 (permalink)
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looks ok!
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Old 07-10-2005, 18:13   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfwild13
..so actually bought a Canon 400mm f5.6. Once I get the hang of it, I will get a 1.4TC as well.

Regards

Mark
I don't know if you know or not but unless you are using a Pro body then adding in a 1.4x convertor will stop AF working. There is a workaround which involves masking some of the contacts on the TC to fool the camera but depending on the light and how much contrast the scene has the AF may still hunt or be slow.
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Old 16-10-2005, 11:49   #15 (permalink)
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Also using a teleconverter such as the Kenko pro 300 1.4x may fool the camera into thinking there's just an 5.6 lens in front of it and it will get some AF... though only in good light, contrasty subject and not quick AF for moving subjects.

Personally, there's nothing wrong to me in using good old manual focus, it's reliable (compared to iffy AF) and bird photographers managed very nicely before AF arrived on the scene. Your lens is a great one, so adding a tc (of suitable quality, don't skimp) will provide good sharp images... albeit you'll need pretty good light with the f8 of light coming through.

cheers,
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Old 23-11-2005, 00:44   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pink Fairy
Also using a teleconverter such as the Kenko pro 300 1.4x may fool the camera into thinking there's just an 5.6 lens in front of it and it will get some AF... though only in good light, contrasty subject and not quick AF for moving subjects.
Just to follow up, I bought one of these via onestop and it arrived a couple of days ago - shame about the fog here which has limited my opportunity to test it out!!

The new version of the Kenko (Kenko 1.4x Teleplus Pro 300 DG) does not allow the AF to work with the 400mm (unless you do the sticky tape mode) as it now much more closer mimics the operation of the standard Canon TC's.
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Old 23-11-2005, 07:51   #17 (permalink)
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Interesting information about the newer DG version of the Kenko TC.

Thanks for sharing.
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