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Old Sunday 15th October 2017, 07:13   #1
HeadWest
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Will More Megapixels Help Me Here?

I photograph birds for identification and record shots. I don't care so much about actually taking good photos, but photos that are good enough to serve as a good ID. Often this entails going full zoom and then heavily cropping in post processing. This usually leads to a fuzzy picture, but of course this is not unexpected.

I am wondering if I had more megapixels, would these cropped images come out sharper? I currently shoot with a Nikon D5000 - 12.3 megapixels. 300mm lens.

Below is a link to an original and a cropped version of one of these shots. If I upgraded from my 12.3 MP to, say, a D500 with 20.9 megapixels, would I get more detail in the zoomed/cropped version?

Appreciate any input here.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/YM24uRr7EyQSyCPm2
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Old Sunday 15th October 2017, 07:53   #2
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Or possibly identify the birds live before converting them to pixels? A good scope and bins and lots of practice will make the need of record shots a very occasional affair. This is cheaper than a 20 mp camera and one acquires a skill that will increase with time and bring much pleasure.
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Old Sunday 15th October 2017, 08:01   #3
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A longer lens would help so less cropping, i hate to say it but a much later camera with more MP and better iso handling plus better DR.
If you have the money steady hands and want to do much BIF my basic Nikon recommendation would be D7200,300mm f4 and 1.4 tc.
Would like to see some of your static bird images that you are happy with as it would be easier to recommend kit to beat it.
I opted for the D500 and Sigma `100-400 as i like to do BIF but for mainly static birds the D500 is over kill IMO.
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Old Sunday 15th October 2017, 11:39   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadWest View Post
I photograph birds for identification and record shots. I don't care so much about actually taking good photos, but photos that are good enough to serve as a good ID. Often this entails going full zoom and then heavily cropping in post processing. This usually leads to a fuzzy picture, but of course this is not unexpected.

I am wondering if I had more megapixels, would these cropped images come out sharper? I currently shoot with a Nikon D5000 - 12.3 megapixels. 300mm lens.

Below is a link to an original and a cropped version of one of these shots. If I upgraded from my 12.3 MP to, say, a D500 with 20.9 megapixels, would I get more detail in the zoomed/cropped version?

Appreciate any input here.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/YM24uRr7EyQSyCPm2
Been looking through mine for a similar shot but i dont have one, this is the closest i have with the D500 and Sigma 100-400.
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Old Sunday 15th October 2017, 19:08   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadWest View Post
I photograph birds for identification and record shots. I don't care so much about actually taking good photos, but photos that are good enough to serve as a good ID. Often this entails going full zoom and then heavily cropping in post processing. This usually leads to a fuzzy picture, but of course this is not unexpected.

I am wondering if I had more megapixels, would these cropped images come out sharper? I currently shoot with a Nikon D5000 - 12.3 megapixels. 300mm lens.

Below is a link to an original and a cropped version of one of these shots. If I upgraded from my 12.3 MP to, say, a D500 with 20.9 megapixels, would I get more detail in the zoomed/cropped version?

Appreciate any input here.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/YM24uRr7EyQSyCPm2
If you just want a digital record of what you saw, and don't want to rely on expensive kit and fast reflexes, I'd suggest a Video Camera rather than a DSLR. Any brand with a decent zoom will do... others might recommend make/model etc.
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Old Sunday 15th October 2017, 19:16   #6
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I would also recommend shooting in RAW rather than jpeg if you can because it captures all the photos details not just a compressed image . So more can be done to enhance using suitable software.
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Old Sunday 15th October 2017, 23:06   #7
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Personally I prefer photos for identification, like the OP. Even with scope or bins I often have trouble to see the details fast enough with my 55 year old eyes. No doubt an experienced birder can identify most birds easily with binoculars, as he or she knows voice, behaviour, habitat and other stuff that provide additional orientation. I can't do that (yet). Also, for me it is much of the fun of birding that I can walk through my photos in front of the computer and have all the time in the world to ID them and simultaneously study my books to learn more.

Last week I visited the German North Sea coast. In two days I saw 14 new species. In such a situation it is extremely valuable for me to have the Nikon V2 + CX 70-300 for birds in flight. The camera nails almost every bird that flies by. The example below, a spotted redshank, was one of the birds that I had seen before. It can nevertheless be a problem for me to ID a single, fast flying wading bird. Other birds were closer, this one might have been 40 or 50m away.

From my series of 7 photos that showed this bird the first shot is one of those in original size. The others are unedited crops. Another shot (missing here) also shows the dark upper side with the oval white patch characteristic for the species. This series was taken with 5fps. In many situation I prefer 15 fps, sometimes 30fps. Cases where I don't find the details necessary for ID are rare.

The Nikon V2 has 14MP, the Nikon V3 would have 18MP. I guess other factors are just as important as megapixels - a good AF, sharp lens and high fps can all be useful.
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Old Monday 16th October 2017, 04:31   #8
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Thanks for the input everyone.
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Old Tuesday 17th October 2017, 03:20   #9
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Originally Posted by nikonmike View Post
A longer lens would help so less cropping, i hate to say it but a much later camera with more MP and better iso handling plus better DR.
If you have the money steady hands and want to do much BIF my basic Nikon recommendation would be D7200,300mm f4 and 1.4 tc.
Would like to see some of your static bird images that you are happy with as it would be easier to recommend kit to beat it.
I opted for the D500 and Sigma `100-400 as i like to do BIF but for mainly static birds the D500 is over kill IMO.
Appreciate the feedback. I shoot both BIF and static. I've never used a TC. Does that alter the effective f-number? What does the D500 offer that makes it better for BIF than a D7200? I gather from your post that a modern D7200 or D500 are both large improvements over my older D5000. Using my camera with the Nikon 55-300 4.5-5.6, I often have a hard time with the autofocus at full zoom (when the light is tough).
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Old Tuesday 17th October 2017, 05:39   #10
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Appreciate the feedback. I shoot both BIF and static. I've never used a TC. Does that alter the effective f-number? What does the D500 offer that makes it better for BIF than a D7200? I gather from your post that a modern D7200 or D500 are both large improvements over my older D5000. Using my camera with the Nikon 55-300 4.5-5.6, I often have a hard time with the autofocus at full zoom (when the light is tough).
You will lose light with a TC the 1.4 loses 1 stop thats why i suggested pairing it with a 300mm f4,one would not work on your 55-300.
You actually need to upgrade lens and body i had the D5100 and 55-300 took some nice shots and kept the lens for quiet a while as it was nice.
I dont see the need for you to get a D500 unless your interest moves more to photography than bird watching and ID.
The D7200 would give you better noise control at higher ISOs better AF and better cropping,other things as well but thats the three that you are asking about.
Lens is more difficult to answer as i dont know what you would be happy carrying around but as you talk about cropping it needs to be a good one.
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Old Tuesday 17th October 2017, 05:53   #11
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Originally Posted by nikonmike View Post
I dont see the need for you to get a D500 unless your interest moves more to photography than bird watching and ID.
The D7200 would give you better noise control at higher ISOs better AF and better cropping,other things as well but thats the three that you are asking about.
Lens is more difficult to answer as i dont know what you would be happy carrying around but as you talk about cropping it needs to be a good one.
Thanks again for your input. I actually am into photography, but I shoot mostly landscapes and people. When it comes to birds, I am mostly shooting for records and ID, but it's always awesome to get a great photo. That said, I do think a D7200 or D7500 would fulfill my needs.
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Old Tuesday 17th October 2017, 06:05   #12
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To follow up on that, before shooting birds, I rarely used telephoto and rarely was significantly cropping my photos. So I am a bit inexperienced here (obviously), and unfamiliar with where to look for gains. This has been helpful. Here is a link to an example shot (cropped + original) that I wish could have been a bit sharper. A bigger zoom would help here, that much I realize.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/lA46AU1TtMgbPs592
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Old Tuesday 17th October 2017, 07:25   #13
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To follow up on that, before shooting birds, I rarely used telephoto and rarely was significantly cropping my photos. So I am a bit inexperienced here (obviously), and unfamiliar with where to look for gains. This has been helpful. Here is a link to an example shot (cropped + original) that I wish could have been a bit sharper. A bigger zoom would help here, that much I realize.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/lA46AU1TtMgbPs592
Yes a bit more size initially would have helped, i belong a Nikon forum and there has been some discussion as to if the D7500 is worth the money over the D7200
not sure thats been resolved yet .
Not suggesting you join but if you look at the bird threads and hover over the images you can see the exif, then most members have their gear listed, so if the exif says 150-600 you can check below the image if its Tamron or Sigma.

https://nikonites.com/forum/#axzz4r4HLVBwC
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Old Tuesday 17th October 2017, 09:21   #14
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Or possibly identify the birds live before converting them to pixels? A good scope and bins and lots of practice will make the need of record shots a very occasional affair. This is cheaper than a 20 mp camera and one acquires a skill that will increase with time and bring much pleasure.
Simon, I don't carry a scope, but often when trying to find roosting birds at long distance (especially well camouflaged ones, or young birds hiding in survival mode) my 8x43 just aren't up to it. I can locate a bird by taking a pic (using D7200 + 600mm Tamron in 1.3x crop mode) of where I think they are (or have known them to be before) and then zooming in review to find them.



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Old Tuesday 17th October 2017, 10:07   #15
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Thanks again for your input. I actually am into photography, but I shoot mostly landscapes and people. When it comes to birds, I am mostly shooting for records and ID, but it's always awesome to get a great photo. That said, I do think a D7200 or D7500 would fulfill my needs.
The D7200 is going to offer you better resolution 24MP vs 20.9MP, and better Dynamic Range up to about 400 ISO. It only does 6-7fps vs 8, but that won't matter. I would say that it's sensor is preferable especially for landscapes where you can mount on a tripod, use mirror lock up, and delayed shutter release. I use a Tokina 12-28 f4 DX ATX-PRO which I find to be a great performer, and great value for money. Using the 1.3x in-camera crop gives you an equivalent focal range from 18mm to 56mm. I highly recommend it.

As far as birds go, focal length, speed, and quality rule - often at the expense of heavy weight and high cost. Reasonable results can be had with either the Tamron or SigmaC 150-600 f6.3, though they are a little softish from 500-600mm at longer distances and f6.3 can run out of puff as light levels drop. Other options are Nikon's 200-500 f5.6 which is better, but both heavier and more expensive. For a few more dollars still there is Nikon's lightweight (about a 1/3rd of the weight!) 300mm f4 PF which takes a 1.4xTC well. For these 3 options the equivalent focal lengths are 900mm f6.3, 750mm f5.6, and 630mm f5.6, or using the 1.3x in-camera crop they become 1200mm f6.3, 1000mm f5.6, and 840mm f5.6 repectively at 15.4MP.

The D7200 represents great value, and if you need incrementaly better performance the D500 would be a better bet than the D7500, though about double the price of the D7200. For your purposes the D7200 would be the one I would get



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Old Tuesday 17th October 2017, 12:30   #16
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I would also recommend shooting in RAW rather than jpeg if you can because it captures all the photos details not just a compressed image . So more can be done to enhance using suitable software.

Totally correct but be aware that the file size of each shot will be much bigger than jpeg so you may need a couple of extra memory cards if you're taking a lot of pictures.

Back to the OP, surely the simple answer to his question is yes!


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Old Tuesday 17th October 2017, 13:17   #17
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Simon, I don't carry a scope, but often when trying to find roosting birds at long distance (especially well camouflaged ones, or young birds hiding in survival mode) my 8x43 just aren't up to it. I can locate a bird by taking a pic (using D7200 + 600mm Tamron in 1.3x crop mode) of where I think they are (or have known them to be before) and then zooming in review to find them.



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Fair enough, its hard to carry a scope and a proper camera.

With photos, I often wonder how long we spend actually admiring them, in minutes. I'd just rather spend the time drooling over them in real life - 30 minutes goes fast. So for me, scope and bins over a camera - though I'd push myself to carry a camera as well.

Of course I do love photos, so someone's got to take them
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Old Tuesday 17th October 2017, 13:54   #18
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Also remember that more megapixels the more you are at risk of ‘camera shake’
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Old Tuesday 17th October 2017, 14:36   #19
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Also remember that more megapixels the more you are at risk of ‘camera shake’
Many lenses have in built stabiliser these days.

My wife uses a D810 with the Sigma sport 150-600 and gets some great results.

https://www.parkcameras.com/p/G24726...yABEgKRzPD_BwE



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Old Tuesday 17th October 2017, 14:39   #20
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Fair enough, its hard to carry a scope and a proper camera.

With photos, I often wonder how long we spend actually admiring them, in minutes. I'd just rather spend the time drooling over them in real life - 30 minutes goes fast. So for me, scope and bins over a camera - though I'd push myself to carry a camera as well.

Of course I do love photos, so someone's got to take them
This is where the lines blur and at some point you have to decide if your'e a birder with a camera or a photographer who likes birds and a compromise on whater you conclude will have to be made?

Luckily for me, my wife is a photographer who carries all her kit on all our walks.


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Old Thursday 19th October 2017, 06:01   #21
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Appreciate the input everyone. I am planning on upgrading my kit, with a new body + lens. Looking at the D7200 + 80-400mm AF-S VR. I probably can't afford both at once, so will stagger my purchases. I've got a trip to Australia coming up. If I could only buy one before I depart, which do you think would offer the biggest improvement? The body or the lens? I figure the lens, but am curious to hear any input. And again, thanks for all the help.

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Old Thursday 19th October 2017, 10:42   #22
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Appreciate the input everyone. I am planning on upgrading my kit, with a new body + lens. Looking at the D7200 + 80-400mm AF-S VR. I probably can't afford both at once, so will stagger my purchases. I've got a trip to Australia coming up. If I could only buy one before I depart, which do you think would offer the biggest improvement? The body or the lens? I figure the lens, but am curious to hear any input. And again, thanks for all the help.
The 80-400 is a nice lens and if you can run to it ok but do some on line checking with the Sigma 100-400 and depending how long you can wait Tamron are going to launch one.
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Old Wednesday 25th October 2017, 11:13   #23
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Last week I visited the German North Sea coast. In two days I saw 14 new species. In such a situation it is extremely valuable for me to have the Nikon V2 + CX 70-300 for birds in flight. The camera nails almost every bird that flies by. The example below, a spotted redshank, was one of the birds that I had seen before. It can nevertheless be a problem for me to ID a single, fast flying wading bird. Other birds were closer, this one might have been 40 or 50m away.
The bird in the photo looks more like a (Common) Redshank. Legs and bill look too short for a Spotted Redshank.
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Old Wednesday 25th October 2017, 20:33   #24
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The bird in the photo looks more like a (Common) Redshank. Legs and bill look too short for a Spotted Redshank.
Many thanks for the hint! Looking at the photos again, you are absolutely right. One photo clearly shows the white on the upper side of the wings. That's a new species for me, great. I had met migrating spotted redshanks in the Black Forest, now I recognize that the "common" is more common at the coast.
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Old Thursday 26th October 2017, 08:25   #25
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Glad to be of help. They can often be tricky to separate, rather like Bar- and Black-tailed Godwits, amongst others.
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