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Old Thursday 26th October 2017, 13:25   #26
kb57
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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.
I'm going to set out a dissenting view and suggest you change the camera first. The D7200 will be a significant improvement, not just in IQ - more megapixels, higher DR etc. - but in usability. Having two dials to change shutter speed / aperture and a decent size top display means shooting in manual with auto ISO is easy. Admittedly with your 300mm lens you won't have as much reach as the 80-400 you are contemplating buying, but the additional MP will allow for fairly heavy cropping and still give more than adequate record shots (I have the 300mm PF and D7200). The other advantage over the D5xxx series is you have twin SD card slots, which increase the options for (e.g.) shooting in RAW and letting the shots spill over to card 2 for higher capacity, or shooting RAW +JPEG for quick sharing.
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Old Thursday 26th October 2017, 19:18   #27
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To take better pictures you don't need more megapixels, you need a better lens.
It's the lens that dictates the quality of the image not the number of megapixels.
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Old Friday 27th October 2017, 13:17   #28
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To take better pictures you don't need more megapixels, you need a better lens.
It's the lens that dictates the quality of the image not the number of megapixels.
But the OP states he has a 300mm lens - surely capable of capturing a quality image?
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Old Friday 27th October 2017, 13:39   #29
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Can I go against the grain here and suggest a decent bridge camera such as the Canon SX50 which has an amazing zoom - 1200mm - and is portable for birders wanting to carry a scope, tripod and binoculars. No, you'll never get your pictures published by National Geographic but as an aid to id and pictures ok for personal use mine has been amazing. I would never use it for aviation shots, my favourite photography, when my SLR and various lenses come out, but then I would never be lugging a scope and tripod around then. As I am fortunate to travel a lot with work including short trips abroad it is so easy to throw into hand luggage and has helped me get reasonable pictures of stuff I would otherwise have missed. Not for everyone and it will never replace my SLR but been a constant travelling companion for years. It won't suit bird photographers, but maybe birders who want a photograph.
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Old Friday 27th October 2017, 15:38   #30
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But the OP states he has a 300mm lens - surely capable of capturing a quality image?
Only if it's a quality lens.
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Old Friday 27th October 2017, 20:23   #31
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Thanks for the additional input. I do realize that a longer and better lens will produce a better image (both by getting me closer, and rendering a more crisp image). I guess my ignorance is more around if and how a higher resolution sensor could potentially lead to a sharper image when employing a significant crop. For the photo I posted:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/lA46AU1TtMgbPs592 (Original + Cropped Image)

Would a higher resolution sensor have resulted in a sharper cropped image? Am I losing detail there because the image is too low a resolution? Or am I thinking about this wrong?

Thanks

(Original image taken zoomed full at 300mm)
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Old Friday 27th October 2017, 21:27   #32
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I started with a Canon 350D (8 MP) + Tamron 70-300. Birds were frustratingly small. My photos looked similar to your example. Adding a 1.5x TC helped, going from the zoom to a 400mm prime was another improvement. In behind sight I'd say that 600mm is the minimum to have fun at birding. My gut feeling is an upgrade with more MP is less important. My Canon SX50 hasn't as many MP as a 650D or the Nikon J5, but if you shoot at 1200mm equivalent, it is less urgent to crop in the first place.
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Old Friday 27th October 2017, 22:39   #33
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I would suggest you are thinking wrong. Just adding mp's is still going to give you a small image unless you add big lenses and you are adding weight and cost all the way. For the type of field photography you want have a good look at the super bridge cameras like the Canon sx50. You'll get close up pictures you won't need to crop, portability, no lens changes from a close up dragonfly to a distant bird all at less than $350.
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Old Friday 27th October 2017, 23:25   #34
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I would suggest you are thinking wrong. Just adding mp's is still going to give you a small image unless you add big lenses and you are adding weight and cost all the way. For the type of field photography you want have a good look at the super bridge cameras like the Canon sx50. You'll get close up pictures you won't need to crop, portability, no lens changes from a close up dragonfly to a distant bird all at less than $350.
I agree entirely with Foxy! My point and shoot bridge camera a Lumix FZ1000...current cost 500+ has given me images that I wouldn't have believed possible...and so light to carry around. For me the Essentials are: Lighting (from behind), Subject, Posture and Proximity (Yellow Warbler) shot from within 2m+...the rest within c3-4m...and all at 8mp.

Cheers
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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 00:43   #35
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I agree entirely with Foxy! My point and shoot bridge camera a Lumix FZ1000...current cost 500+ has given me images that I wouldn't have believed possible...and so light to carry around. For me the Essentials are: Lighting (from behind), Subject, Posture and Proximity (Yellow Warbler) shot from within 2m+...the rest within c3-4m...and all at 8mp.
Cheers
Great shots, and the Yellow Warbler is superb. - I was tempted to suggest a bridge camera myself, but the OP showed a Merlin in flight, and bridge cams are not the best choice for BIF. It can be done, of course ... What's your experience with the FZ1000?
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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 03:40   #36
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Great shots, and the Yellow Warbler is superb. - I was tempted to suggest a bridge camera myself, but the OP showed a Merlin in flight, and bridge cams are not the best choice for BIF. It can be done, of course ... What's your experience with the FZ1000?

The new Sony RX-10 IV might be the answer if the OP were to consider a bridge camera.



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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 06:35   #37
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Thanks all for the input. My wife actually does have a bridge camera. Not sure the model, about a 5 year old Nikon that I believe is ~600mm equivalent. I admit it is great in certain situations. The zoom is tremendous. Often though I am frustrated by it in how slow it is to zoom, autofocus, and release. I think once used to zooming/AFing/releasing with a DLSR, it's hard to enjoy doing the same with a compact (my opinion, I realize not shared among most). Much of my own frustration comes from fast-moving birds in flight, or birds that are skulky and move in and out a sight very quickly. At this point, I think I have gained a decent understanding of what the different types of solutions offer.

I still remain curious: can you get sharper cropped images with more MP? If not, what does high resolution do?
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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 08:02   #38
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What does higher resolution do?
Well, for the everyday user, not a great deal.
If you are going to blow your pictures up so they can be posted on a billboard or the side of a bus then it may have use.
But if all you are going to do is look at them on a computer screen then, truth be told, once you go over 8mp (and possibly really as little as 5mp) then it's a waste.

The reason you see such numbers trumpeted with a fanfare by marketing departments is because it is a lot easier and cheaper for manufacturers to boost the pixel count than it is to put in a decent lens and sensor. And the overwhelming majority of the population has no idea what the technicalities of a lens or sensor data mean so it's wasted on them.
But they know that 20mp is bigger (and therefore better) than 10mp, so it must mean the camera is better. And the advertisers play up to that.
But anyone who knows anything about photography will know that's just smoke and mirrors. Again, once you go over 8mp (for a hobby photographer) it's pointless. Instead of looking at the megapixel count you should be looking at the quality of the lens - that's what decides whether you get a good picture or not.
In fact, too many megapixels can start to distort the image when looked at in sizes normally found in print or on screen - it's something to do with the compression (it was explained to me by a press photographer, who said that he takes his pictures with the camera set at 5mp).
My camera can take images at 20mp but I have it set at 10mp.

It doesn't matter how many megapixels there are, if the lens is incapable of taking a sharp picture then you'll end up with a blur.

In the same way a motorcyclist shouldn't scrimp money on a cheap helmet, or a camper buy cheap when it comes to a sleeping bag, a photographer should be focussing their money on a quality lens. That's the most important thing.
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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 09:16   #39
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Great shots, and the Yellow Warbler is superb. - I was tempted to suggest a bridge camera myself, but the OP showed a Merlin in flight, and bridge cams are not the best choice for BIF. It can be done, of course ... What's your experience with the FZ1000?
The Pallid Harrier shots were taken through a slight mist, and the sun was NW to my lens (not ideal).

Cheers
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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 11:02   #40
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You can get good shots of birds in flight with bridge cameras but not so easy as an SLR. But playing the percentage game, the 5% of the time I get a realistic chance of a good flight shot seems a shame to persevere with tiny images that need cropping to blurred images. A bit self-defeating?
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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 13:29   #41
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Only if it's a quality lens.

Instead of looking at the megapixel count you should be looking at the quality of the lens - that's what decides whether you get a good picture or not.
Yes, to a point, but as you allude to earlier, many (most?), people, really are not that adept with the tech side of photography.

The time you invest in camera settings is also important, for those that just point a press, like me, results won't be as good as those who prepare their camera and understand light, relative to shutter speed, exposure etc.

Even with the best equipment, you need to know what you're doing with it, if we have a stationary subject, my wife will spend a lot of time setting the camera, taking sample shots and getting things just so but that's not always possible in wildlife photography.

The OP has also stated that blowing up his images is an important factor so MP count will definitely be a factor at least as important as the lens.

Lets not forget that even with a big lens, a Willow Warbler at 50m will be a challenge so the object is also a consideration whereas a stationary Hippo at the same distance is another matter.

Bird photography, IMHO, provides the most challenging variation of conditions for photographers, it's not always hides and bird feeders, it's often tiny birds in a high dark canopy or skuling in undergrowth. It's also possible that polar opposite condition can be experienced within a few metres which will mean totally resetting your camera.

Given the right conditions i.e light, distance, relatively still subject, even low end cameras these days can capture images to challenge even the top end equipment. My wife has a samsung phone and the macro lens on that is just unbelievable, coloure reproduction is fantastic, it's acually better than my Olypmus Tough in many cases!


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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 13:40   #42
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You can get good shots of birds in flight with bridge cameras but not so easy as an SLR. But playing the percentage game, the 5% of the time I get a realistic chance of a good flight shot seems a shame to persevere with tiny images that need cropping to blurred images. A bit self-defeating?
For me it's the overall package, weight perhaps 2.2lbs (1k) which enables rapid deployment of kit to target, yes more light gathering power from the bigger sensor, and the big manual ring...a big plus, especially on a dull day. However direct sunlight on the subject can level the playing field somewhat, especially within the shorter distance range (1-10m). I've held a full frame kit (c10-12k), a day in the field with that round your neck then there's the cost....an eye watering 00000's. Yes undoubtedly overall a better image!...but for lb...I'll stick with the Bridge.
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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 13:51   #43
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For me it's the overall package, weight perhaps 2.2lbs (1k) which enables rapid deployment of kit to target, yes more light gathering power from the bigger sensor, and
What you also need Ken is a lens with a Honey Buzzard / Goshawk detector!!!




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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 14:47   #44
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Thanks all for the input. My wife actually does have a bridge camera. Not sure the model, about a 5 year old Nikon that I believe is ~600mm equivalent. I admit it is great in certain situations. The zoom is tremendous. Often though I am frustrated by it in how slow it is to zoom, autofocus, and release. I think once used to zooming/AFing/releasing with a DLSR, it's hard to enjoy doing the same with a compact (my opinion, I realize not shared among most). Much of my own frustration comes from fast-moving birds in flight, or birds that are skulky and move in and out a sight very quickly. At this point, I think I have gained a decent understanding of what the different types of solutions offer.

I still remain curious: can you get sharper cropped images with more MP? If not, what does high resolution do?
HeadWest ,

The sharpness has to be there to start with. To get this in all conditions requires really high quality fast glass, accurate AF, and a sensor that performs well at the given ISO, the right shutter speed and good technique. You will get larger details with cropped images, but they may not necessarily be better (still it could help in making an Id though).

For example, the Tamron G2 and Sigma C 150-600 f6.3 exhibit a bit of relative image softness beyond 500mm ie. the last 100mm to 600mm - the most useful bit! Thus Nikon's 200-500 f5.6 zoom would likely serve you better, though it is ~10-20% heavier, and ~ 40% more expensive than the Sigma, but about line ball with the Tammy. At f5.6 it is a half stop faster than both.

Even though the options you will be considering have Vibration Reduction (or Image Stabilization) to help with sharper images at slow shutter speeds, a higher shutter speed (~1/2000th of a second or quicker) is needed to reduce motion blur of the subject itself - Birds In Flight, or little geewhizzits that can't sit still, dart their heads and tails from side to side, or flit from branch to branch. Therefore you want the fastest, longest, best quality glass you can afford and can carry.

The new Sony RX-10 IV is perhaps the first bridge camera to offer DSLR levels of performance due to its new phase detect AF system which borrows heavily from the algorithms of Sony's flagship mirrorless models. It will handle BIF shots that other bridge cameras find difficult or impossible (giving the typical frustrating bridge camera experience that you mentioned). It's 20MP stacked BSI-CMOS sensor is cutting edge technology, and the 600mm equivalent f4 Zeiss glass is absolutely top notch. It will also shoot 900mm @10MP, and 1200mm @5MP. Its minimum focus distance is only 0.72m too. Check out its performance on BIF in this review here - I think you will be quite pleasantly surprised: https://www.cameralabs.com/sony-cybe...ark-iv-review/
Also, check out the review of the superceded MkIII version (note the IQ is comparable, but the AF on BIF of the MKIV will be a quantum leap ahead) and look at the zoomed and heavily cropped photo of the high altitude jet airplane and see if that is enough IQ for a record shot! http://www.kenrockwell.com/sony/rx10-iii.htm

As I see it, your choices (for a given minimum BIF, quality, reach benchmark) are going to come down to 3 things - weight/size/cost.

1. Sony 1" 20MP RX-10 IV 24-600mm f2.4-f4 ..... 1.1kg ..... 145mm length .... 1700 USD.
2. Nikon APS-C 24MP D7200 (765gr/$900) + Nikon 300 PF f4 (=450mm equiv.) 755gr ..... 1.5kg ..... ~205mm length ..... 2900 USD total. NB. using 1.3x in-camera crop gives 585mm equiv. f4 @14.2 MP
3. Nikon APS-C 24MP D7200 (765gr/$900) + Nikon 300 PF f4 (755gr) + Nikon 1.4x TC III (=630mm equiv. @f5.6) ..... 1.7kg ..... ~230mm length ..... 3400 USD total. NB. using 1.3x in-camera crop gives 820mm equiv. f5.6 @14.2 MP
4. Nikon APS-C 24MP D7200 (765gr/$900) + Nikon 200-500 f4.5-f5.6 (=300mm-750mm equiv.) 2300gr ..... 3.1kg ..... ~325mm length ..... 2300 USD total. NB. using 1.3x in-camera crop gives 390mm-975mm equiv. f5.6 @14.2 MP

Compare these to your suggestion of the D7200 + 80-400:
5. Nikon APS-C 24MP D7200 (765gr/$900) + Nikon 80-400 f4.5-f5.6 (=120mm-600mm equiv.) 1570gr ..... 2.3kg ..... ~260mm length ..... 3200 USD total. NB. using 1.3x in-camera crop gives 155mm-780mm equiv. f5.6 @14.2 MP

All these rigs will perform about the same as far as AF and IS/VR and body size go. The Sony will give you about 3x the fps, and much better 4K video and slow motion capabilities, the least weight and length by about 1.5x - 3x. The Nikon D7200 + either of the lens setups mentioned will give slightly better Dynamic Range and battery life.

Finally, you will really need to hold/point/shoot all of the options mentioned to see if the ergonomics suit, and what the balance, point ability, start up times, and speed of acquisition are like.

Given you mostly want record shots - if you're doing that in good light, and moving around quite a bit, then why not save on the weight and expense of the DSLR setup and get the Sony RX-10 IV? - I'm sure it will show a tangible improvement over your current rig. Ultimately you will have to decide which compromise suits you best. Good luck with whichever way you go.


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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 19:17   #45
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The Pallid Harrier shots were taken through a slight mist, and the sun was NW to my lens (not ideal). Cheers
Incredible photo of a stone-curlew in flight, and the others are just as good! Looks like this camera is doing very well for BIF. - With the Canon SX50, it's possible to shoot raptors in flight. E.g. a bussard chased by a crow - I had posted an example in the SX50 thread. Raise the camera, focus and release - all within two seconds or so. However, there are a couple of limits: you need to have the SX50 constantly powered on, or risk to miss a fast BIF. It shoot only 3-4 fps. And small birds BIF are almost impossible.
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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 19:31   #46
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The new Sony RX-10 IV is perhaps the first bridge camera to offer DSLR levels of performance due to its new phase detect AF system [...] Check out its performance on BIF in this review here - I think you will be quite pleasantly surprised: https://www.cameralabs.com/sony-cybe...ark-iv-review/[...]
1. Sony 1" 20MP RX-10 IV 24-600mm f2.4-f4 ..... 1.1kg ..... 145mm length .... 1700 USD.
[...] Chosun
Great link - the photos showing a dog running towards the camera are indeed impressive. I've never tried that, yet the Nikon V2 might struggle. It does definitely struggle with small birds flying towards the camera, the AF of the Nikon V2 cannot adjust so fast.

By the way, are you tempted to buy this Sony bridge camera yourself? You are presently using a Nikon D7200, right? For an enthusiastic birder, will 600mm suffice in "most" situations? I used to consider 600mm rather as a (lower) point where the fun begins.
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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 19:32   #47
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Incredible photo of a stone-curlew in flight, and the others are just as good! Looks like this camera is doing very well for BIF. - With the Canon SX50, it's possible to shoot raptors in flight. E.g. a bussard chased by a crow - I had posted an example in the SX50 thread. Raise the camera, focus and release - all within two seconds or so. However, there are a couple of limits: you need to have the SX50 constantly powered on, or risk to miss a fast BIF. It shoot only 3-4 fps. And small birds BIF are almost impossible.
I've set my camera to extend to max optical...as soon as I switch on...this saves on time and battery. When shooting a bird against a background (trees, bushes etc), it focuses very fast, however against the sky, it can "hunt" momentarily, the brighter the sky the better, grey skies can take a little longer, also another BIF image.

Cheers
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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 19:56   #48
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What you also need Ken is a lens with a Honey Buzzard / Goshawk detector!!!



A
Both present and detected Andy.
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Old Saturday 28th October 2017, 21:09   #49
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If you discuss bridge vs Nikon 7200, then I also feel I should mention the mirrorless option of m4/3. I have the Pana G85/PL100-400 combo which gives equivalent reach to 800 mm. Weight is 453 g + 985 g according to listings on DP review - in practical terms I have no problem with having it hanging over my shoulder for a couple of hours.

The last about 40 pictures here is with this combo: http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...00/ppuser/7427 (back to about May 2017).

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Old Sunday 29th October 2017, 00:08   #50
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I've set my camera to extend to max optical...as soon as I switch on...this saves on time and battery. When shooting a bird against a background (trees, bushes etc), it focuses very fast, however against the sky, it can "hunt" momentarily, the brighter the sky the better, grey skies can take a little longer, also another BIF image.
Cheers
Very nice photo. It happens often enough: a smaller bird molesting a raptor, say a buzzard. Maybe this genre should be used as "test standard" for cameras when it comes to BIF. I remember an impressive sequence "blackbird chases a buzzard" by Thomas Stirr, at the end of the article he gives a link to an amazing Youtube video set up with these photos.

Last edited by HermitIbis : Sunday 29th October 2017 at 00:12.
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