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Old Monday 6th February 2017, 14:50   #1
Camperdown9
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Help with picking a camera

Hi

Basically I need help with choosing a camera.

Last week we were in South Africa on holiday and spent a few days at a private game reserve near Kruger. I only had my iPhone with me and it did ok for photos of Elephants, Leopards etc but it was hopeless for bird life.

A guy who was also staying at the same resort had a Canon T6. He suggested that I downloaded the Canon app onto my iPad and then I was able to connect with his camera and download his photos and videos from his camera.

This got me thinking that I would like to get a decent camera.

Requirements/Budget

-I would like a Canon camera as I liked the iPad app
-I would like to be able to buy better lenses when I have more money.
-I am told that the T6 is now called the 1300D. However its only an 18 MP, should I be looking for a 24mp camera?
-Budget is "up to" about £700 for basic set up.

Any suggestions ?

Should I buy a 1300D and then maybe an additional lense? Or should I buy a more expensive camera and then wait till I can afford another lense?

With regards to the lense what should I be looking for? I know you can spend lots on these. I am not looking for a top of the range. At lest for now I just want to be able to photograph a few birds in the garden.

Any thoughts?

Thanks

Alex
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Old Wednesday 8th February 2017, 13:48   #2
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Bird photography is a very deep hole, financially. There is also a significant learning curve.

I think the cheapest you could put together a kit with a DSLR is maybe $1500. A relatively inexpensive Canon body with a Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary for example. Another good choice would be the Canon 400/5.6. I really wouldn't go less than 400mm for birds. However, these are very large (physically) combinations and you have to be ready to commit to lugging it around. You also have to understand that your results will be poor until you start to understand shutter speed, aperture, ISO and what settings to use in different situations. This will take a little bit of reading and several outings. If you decide to go this route there is a good chance you will spend closer to $2000 as you may want a more top of the line body like the Canon 80D or 7D mark 2.

If you are not ready to go down that rabbit hole, I would recommend one of the new superzooms. You will get good bird photos and it will provide record shots for identification. It will also inform you on what to look for if you do decide to go to an interchangeable lens system and give you experience in shooting. Something like the Canon SX60 or Nikon P900. There are lots of others to look into if that's the route you choose.

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Old Wednesday 8th February 2017, 14:19   #3
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I will support the option of a superzoom unless you are very strong in your knowledge that you will use a large camera for a good long while. In addition to the two models used, I would encourage you to look at Panasonic superzooms from the FZ range (several relevant threads in the panasonic part of this section of birdforum).

If you do go the dSLR route, look at second-hand stuff to get the price within your range.

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Old Wednesday 8th February 2017, 14:42   #4
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One camera I'd avoid is the Canon 700D (known in America as the Rebel T5i) which I have. It's entry-level, and in most ways a perfectly good camera, but there's no facility for AF micro adjustment for specific Canon lenses. The concept is explained here, if you're not already aware of it. (That site tends to produce a "Can we stay in touch?" pop-up, just ignore it). There are videos on the subject at YouTube.

I use a Canon 100-400mm (Mark 2) with my 700D. It's pretty sharp, but results might be even better if the 700D allowed micro adjustment.
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Old Wednesday 8th February 2017, 15:11   #5
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I've spent a few thousand dollars on camera equipment. The best money I ever spent for photography was a $180 two-day workshop with detailed lessons on how to use a SLR. That made a bigger difference in my photography than any lens or camera body. I'd strongly recommend a lesson from a pro. I did my lesson through Rocky Mountain School of Photography (they do workshops all over the country) and it was great but there are many similar programs.
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Old Wednesday 8th February 2017, 15:34   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcl05 View Post
I've spent a few thousand dollars on camera equipment. The best money I ever spent for photography was a $180 two-day workshop with detailed lessons on how to use a SLR. That made a bigger difference in my photography than any lens or camera body. I'd strongly recommend a lesson from a pro. I did my lesson through Rocky Mountain School of Photography (they do workshops all over the country) and it was great but there are many similar programs.
Agreed - go on a local course first. I used Park cameras at Burgess Hill in the UK.

Super zooms are fine for record shots, but the shutter delay on some makes them difficult for moving birds and virtually useless for birds in flight. Canon's 70D is the best entry level DSLR in my (limited) experience and either 100-400 zoom, or the 400 prime. This allows point focus and micro adjustment. Get a shoulder strap like a Black rapid or similar and the combination is OK to carry all day with bins of course. 7D2 or earlier secondhand 7D1 are better still.

But this is a deep hole as said above .......

Mick
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Old Thursday 9th February 2017, 13:24   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njlarsen View Post
I will support the option of a superzoom unless you are very strong in your knowledge that you will use a large camera for a good long while. In addition to the two models used, I would encourage you to look at Panasonic superzooms from the FZ range (several relevant threads in the panasonic part of this section of birdforum).


Niels
I agree, and would point out the FZ200 is a particularly good deal for what you get as it has been superseded by newer models. I've now gone down the DSLR route, but only after a few years with the FZ200, which my wife still uses with some success for bird photography.
For sure they are not as good for birds in flight or poor light, and pictures will not stand much cropping due to the small sensor size, but the OP will see a massive improvement in image quality relative to a smartphone. They will also be able to get to grips with general photography skills and be in a better position to make the most of DSLR or M4/3 kit if they decide to take the plunge with an interchangeable lens system.
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Old Thursday 9th February 2017, 15:02   #8
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Super zooms are fine for record shots, but the shutter delay on some makes them difficult for moving birds and virtually useless for birds in flight.
Going to disagree there. It may be easier to lock-onto a BiF with a DSLR (can't deny that a EVF can't match an optical viewfinder), or find moving birds, but I think I can say you can do better than "record shots" once, like any other camera, you learn how to use it. Also doesn't hurt to learn to use Photoshop or other post-processing software so you can then use ETTL to maximize the small sensor.

For smaller cameras like superzooms use shutter priority mode. Depending on your camera, you may wish to force the camera to not use ISO above 400. Shutter speed should be at least 1/400, though I prefer 1/650 to 1/800 normally but can't go above 1/1250 successfully.

It can be done, feel free to check out my gallery. Can I do it as often as my girlfriend with her D700 and 70-300mm NIKKOR? Nope, but she has better viewfinder and wider FoV because her lens isn't as long. Does she have range envy because of my 1200+mm reach? Yup.
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Old Thursday 9th February 2017, 15:42   #9
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Quote:
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Super zooms are fine for record shots, but the shutter delay on some makes them difficult for moving birds and virtually useless for birds in flight.
I would agree with this statement when considering my old FZ18. However, most of the newer models are far better than stated here. They are not dSLR, neither in quality of output nor in how they work, but they can definitely be used to learn a lot about photography and a lot about whether to truly take the splurge into some very expensive lenses.

Here is a link to my gallery in birdforum: http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...00/ppuser/7427 -- the last many pages are with a m4/3 exchangeable lens camera, but those previously (going back around 750 pictures and looking back from there) were with the now seriously outdated FZ18. I was happy at the time with many of these.

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Old Tuesday 14th February 2017, 10:42   #10
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In good light, superzooms make nice photos like this: http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...30/ppuser/7427

In poor light, you get this: http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...77/ppuser/7427

Unfortunately many birds are most likely to be spotted in poor light conditions :(
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Old Tuesday 14th February 2017, 12:33   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katastrofa View Post
In good light, superzooms make nice photos like this: http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...30/ppuser/7427

In poor light, you get this: http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...77/ppuser/7427

Unfortunately many birds are most likely to be spotted in poor light conditions :(
You can get that with any camera in poor light
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Old Tuesday 14th February 2017, 12:38   #12
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In poor light, you get this: http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...77/ppuser/7427

Unfortunately many birds are most likely to be spotted in poor light conditions :(
That's straight off the camera, I suspect. With the right camera settings and Photoshop (or I assume Lightroom) that photo might have been recoverable.

These photos originally looked far worse than your examples but are now...at minimum passable:I keep meaning to show before-and-after on these kinds of shots, never get around to it.

I'm just trying to point out that if you're on a budget like I am, and have issues with your shoulders and neck, big heavy expensive cameras and lenses are not an option. But if you have or develop some skills in post-production, smaller cameras can do a fair-to-good job. Never DSLR quality, but I think more than acceptable in all but the worst conditions.

Okay, I'll stop beating this dead horse now.
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Old Tuesday 14th February 2017, 13:22   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katastrofa View Post
In good light, superzooms make nice photos like this: http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...30/ppuser/7427

In poor light, you get this: http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...77/ppuser/7427

Unfortunately many birds are most likely to be spotted in poor light conditions :(
Given that both shots are mine and taken with my old FZ18, two items:

1) I strongly believe newer superzooms are better even using OOC jpgs. I have seen shots with good light that are far better than the one linked to here.

2) The FZ18 was too slow to even contemplate using RAW. Modern superzooms can use raw very well is what I understand from the relevant threads, and as such, the use of photoshop, ACDSee or other post-processing software can make a world of difference. It does with shots taken with my GH2.

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Old Wednesday 15th February 2017, 10:10   #14
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Can you do post-processing with OOC jpgs?
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2017, 10:52   #15
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Can you do post-processing with OOC jpgs?
Yes you just have to be gentle
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2017, 12:34   #16
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Can you do post-processing with OOC jpgs?
Yes you can. Almost all the images in my gallery have some amount of post-processing of JPEGs. I only shoot RAW under specific circumstances (if I had a DSLR I'd shoot RAW all the time, in case you're wondering).

I could go into all the settings I use (which apply to most small-sensor cameras), post-processing techniques, etc. but that would be a bit too much like hijacking this conversation. Best to start a new one if you're interested.
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2017, 13:22   #17
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Can you do post-processing with OOC jpgs?
yes, additional noise reduction, sharpening, etc are all possible. What you cannot do is to regain details that the camera processing has lost, for that you need the raw image.

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Old Saturday 18th February 2017, 14:40   #18
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I had a superzoom and took great photos with it. They look like many of the ones posted here - some amazing close ups. Eventually I went out and bought a DSLR and lens and to me the difference is large. The other big difference as stated is that I can get lots of shots that are completely impossible to get with my superzoom.
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Old Saturday 18th February 2017, 14:55   #19
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I started thinking about buying a DSLR after wasting too many opportunities to take a photo of a wonderful small bird due to slow autofocus of my superzoom. Of course, many cameras may struggle to focus on a fast moving object obscured by leaves and branches in front of it.
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Old Saturday 18th February 2017, 16:32   #20
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I started thinking about buying a DSLR after wasting too many opportunities to take a photo of a wonderful small bird due to slow autofocus of my superzoom. Of course, many cameras may struggle to focus on a fast moving object obscured by leaves and branches in front of it.
How old is your superzoom? Has the current crop significantly improved over what you are used to?

Behind leaves and branches, you should expect to have to switch to manual focusing, and the question is how easy that is. It is extremely easy on my Pana GH2, just start turning the focus ring after having done the best you can with AF.

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Old Saturday 18th February 2017, 21:04   #21
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How old is your superzoom? Has the current crop significantly improved over what you are used to?

Behind leaves and branches, you should expect to have to switch to manual focusing, and the question is how easy that is. It is extremely easy on my Pana GH2, just start turning the focus ring after having done the best you can with AF.
It's Canon Powershot SX700 HS. Using manual focus in it is not as easy as you describe it on your Panasonic :(
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Old Friday 25th August 2017, 17:51   #22
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To all who is in need of good I would recommend to look into some articles about them. Cause only you know your financial limits and needs. There is great article about best camera look into it. http://fixthephoto.com/blog/tech-tip...tographer.html
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Old Monday 28th August 2017, 17:42   #23
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Another great reference is: Secrets of Digital Bird Photography: Tools and Techniques by William H. Majoros.

Much of this can be adapted to any camera, not just DSLR. Techniques like ETTL and little post-processing details can help get every ounce of quality out of even JPEGs from a small-sensor camera.

Actually, I can't stress learning to use ETTL and post-processing enough for any small-sensor camera. I've been using this technique this on my cameras before I even knew it had a name because it compensates for small cameras' tendency to blow-out highlights.

It's gotten to where I've adapted as much as I can of these techniques even to consumer pocket cameras and I find myself using basic post-processing techniques on even basic everyday photos sent to friends. It's just become part of my photography habits.
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Old Tuesday 29th August 2017, 05:21   #24
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Take a look at the following options:

1. Panasonic FZ300 superzoom. Pros - Great Ipad app, fast 600mm f2.8 lens, decent MF once you get used to it, also good for BIF shots, very light. Cons - Small sensor, ISO800 max before serious quality issues, only 12mp. Overall a very decent camera for birding at less than US$500.

2. First Gen Olympus OM-D EM5 Used for US$300 plus new Panasonic 100-300 ii lens for US$650 for a total of US$950. Pros - MFT 16mp sensor as good as current models, Decent lens, Better IQ than Option 1 due to larger sensor, ISO to 1600 ok. Cons - Challenging for BIF shots, bulkier than superzoom.

Check my gallery for pictures since 2015 where I have Option 1 (and I still use the FZ300) and also Option 2 but with a slightly better lens (the 100-400 which is 3x the price).
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Old Tuesday 29th August 2017, 05:30   #25
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If you have a bit more cash, for Option 2 consider Panasonic GX85 which has good pricing new for US$200 extra for a total of US$1,200 for camera and lens. I would easily go for this as a good starter kit.

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Take a look at the following options:

1. Panasonic FZ300 superzoom. Pros - Great Ipad app, fast 600mm f2.8 lens, decent MF once you get used to it, also good for BIF shots, very light. Cons - Small sensor, ISO800 max before serious quality issues, only 12mp. Overall a very decent camera for birding at less than US$500.

2. First Gen Olympus OM-D EM5 Used for US$300 plus new Panasonic 100-300 ii lens for US$650 for a total of US$950. Pros - MFT 16mp sensor as good as current models, Decent lens, Better IQ than Option 1 due to larger sensor, ISO to 1600 ok. Cons - Challenging for BIF shots, bulkier than superzoom.

Check my gallery for pictures since 2015 where I have Option 1 (and I still use the FZ300) and also Option 2 but with a slightly better lens (the 100-400 which is 3x the price).
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