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Starling photography with a D500

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Old Wednesday 27th November 2019, 21:14   #1
Digbee
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Question Starling photography with a D500

I'm looking for some advice.
I spend weekends watching Starling murmurations.
There are some superb photos all over the place.
i am looking to take better photos, and want to know peoples opinion on the best lens to use to photograph large flocks of them. They can occur twice a day once as they leave their roost just after sunrise (Little known), and maybe 30 min before sunset. My opinion is this is similar to bees telling the rest of the hive (or roost) where the food is.
Fixed or Zoom, Sigma or Nikon Prime. (Money no object).
Thanks
Peter
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Old Wednesday 27th November 2019, 23:09   #2
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(Money no object) eh? Well there's a nice new Nikkor 100-300mm f2.8 coming out or the 180-400mm x1.4, both very expensive.
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Old Thursday 28th November 2019, 00:24   #3
Chosun Juan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digbee View Post
I'm looking for some advice.
I spend weekends watching Starling murmurations.
There are some superb photos all over the place.
i am looking to take better photos, and want to know peoples opinion on the best lens to use to photograph large flocks of them. They can occur twice a day once as they leave their roost just after sunrise (Little known), and maybe 30 min before sunset. My opinion is this is similar to bees telling the rest of the hive (or roost) where the food is.
Fixed or Zoom, Sigma or Nikon Prime. (Money no object).
Thanks
Peter
No budget constraints is one nice thing to have, but you'd better ask yourself how much weight you want to be lugging around / how do you want to shoot .....

As Jpac said at the high end there are the nascent 120-300 f2.8 likely around 4&1/2~5&1/2lbs, or the 180-400 f4 w/1.4xTC built-in at around ~8lbs

If you need wider there is the new Sigma S 60-600 f5-f6.3 at 6lbs

Or much lighter the Sigma 100-400 f5-f6.3 at ~3lbs ......

Or the faster but shorter, Nikon 70-200 f2.8 at around 3&1/2lbs.

There are others of course, but I think that just about covers the extremes of the ranges as examples while retaining reasonable quality ......

All depends what you are looking for most





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Old Thursday 28th November 2019, 00:39   #4
marcsantacurz
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Well, it really depends how close you are and how big the flock is. What field of view do you need?

Sometimes a 200mm is all you need for a flock, maybe even less if it's a big flock or you're up close. Or if it's distant, you might need 400 or 600.

With money as no object, really the best lenses are 70-200/2.8 (or 200/2), 300/2.8, 400/2.8, 500/4, and 600/4, or even the 800/5.6. The other zooms like the 180-400/4 or 100-300/2.8 (replaces the 300/2.8 fixed) would also be excellent choices. These are all native Nikon glass. Maybe the new Sigma 70-200/2.8, but I'm not positive on that compared to the Nikon 2.8E.

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Old Thursday 28th November 2019, 02:54   #5
Chosun Juan
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Just to clarify - the new Nikon Pro lens on the way is 120-300 f2.8 (as per the press release). It seems to be the 'FL' replacement for the 300/f2.8 that never arrived. As such you could probably expect excellent IQ across the frame and range, and I think it's likely to be released alongside the new D6 flagship camera body.

Using a lens like this will give you a 180 - 450mm equivalent focal range on the crop body D500.

There's no free lunches though - if you are looking at fast aperture lenses to keep the ISO down then they will be heavier than their slower aperture equivalents.

I'd imagine you'd want as much light as possible and zoom capability for maximum flexibility.




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Old Thursday 28th November 2019, 06:39   #6
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Good point it depends how close. I thought if the lens is top quality after shot cropping would mean less artefacts. Perhaps.
Anyway distance has been from 25m to about 400m away. I suppose video would also be used,on the D500. I have a few toys like the Panasonic Fz200 but quality is no where good enough Imho.
Hence the D500 route. The Panasonic is a fixed f2.8 Leica lens.
Last winter on my D500 I used a Tamron 150-600 v2 but doesn’t like low light.
Also have a Nikkor 70-300 f4.5-5.6 G Ed vr lens.
The new lighter Nikon lenses are utter rubbish for this sort of photography imho suited mainly to tourist stuff in strong light.
The Tamron can give superb results right up until the light drops, which is when the birds Flock.
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Old Thursday 28th November 2019, 06:54   #7
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I’ve often thought is this the right camera for what I am trying to achieve. I.e. would a Canon or Sony or a full size sensor be better with a fixed F2.8 lens. Life cv is too short to buy and use rubbish Imho.
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Old Thursday 28th November 2019, 07:09   #8
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Read elsewhere folk are using 18-50mm and 10-24mm / 24-70mm and 150-500mm as well as just a 50mm.
Yes landscape type photos in low light.
I don’t think the above are Nikon. But that’s not the aim.
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Old Thursday 5th December 2019, 18:14   #9
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In regards to d500 vs full frame (sony vs canon): The d500 does pretty well with low-light focusing so long as you have a fast lens. The d750 is even better, maybe Nikon's best low-light camera (I'm not sure how the d5 compares, but that's way more expensive).

I would say you want an f/2.8 or f/4 lens. f/4 = x2 light of f/5.6, and f/2.8 = 4x light. Nikon and Canon will focus at fastest f/stop and then stop down (in most cases). Most sony's focus at the set f/stop, so they are not low light champs if you want to stop down. The A9 and A7RIV have a focus priority mode that will focus wide open. I'm not a sony expert, so maybe there's a way others can be used for low-light stopped down. Though if you shoot wide open, it doesn't matter. Of course, different lenses will have different issues with focus shift between f/stops, so your results may vary.

Low light focus performance and high ISO performance usually improve with lager sensor pixels, so an A7III (not R) or A9 or d750 or d4/d5 do well or similar in the Canon line up. But I suspect it's more of a lens speed issue than a low light focusing issue with the d500.

The Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 DX is a great lens on the d500. They also have an older 11-16/2.8 that is great, but the 11-20 is newer. I had the original 11-16 (model I) back with the d7000 (or d7200 I don't remember any more) and really liked it.

Nikon has a lot of f/2.8 and f/4 glass in most every focal range, so you could find it if you look for it. The Sigma art line is also very good from what I hear, but I have not used them.

If you can find good DX lenses in 2.8-4 they will be lighter and smaller than the full frame.

I agree about the Tammy 150-600 v2. It is great when there's enough light, but then its performance falls off pretty fast due to focus hunting. That's life with an f/6.3. I don't think it's an issue with only the tammy. No f/6.3 lens is going to be great in lower light.

Personally, I would think the 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 or a 24-70/2.8 or 70-200/2.8 would be the ticket, depending on your distance and the size of the flock. I use the 70-200/2.8 on the d850 (and d500 when I had it) and it really is a champion of a lens for sports and low light shooting in that focal range. It stays with super fast focus even in poor light. The 70-200/2.8 is quite a bit better than the 70-200/4 for low light, but it is noticeably heavier.

If you want to save on your gym membership, the 400/2.8 D or G lenses can be had for $3000 - $5500 on auction. As the D lenses don't work on Z mount with AF, I'd stick with at least a G if you plan on going that route in the future.

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