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Which lens to take?

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Old Wednesday 30th January 2019, 16:19   #1
HnehpetS
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Which lens to take?

I'm off to Costa Rica for a couple of weeks in March. Although it's a family holiday, I expect to do a fair bit of bird watching (nature watching). My dilemma is which lens to take. I'll be taking my 18-135mm tourist lens, but I have room for another, either a 300mm f4 or my 70-200 f2.8.
I started off with the idea I'd take my 300mm - but I'm coming round to the idea that a fair bit of time will be spent in jungle and 300mm may be a bit long for larger birds/animals - the 70-200 will give me more flexibility. (The camera is a canon 80d, so I'll be getting a bit from the frame size.)

Would anyone have thoughts on this?

Thanks.

Stephen
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Old Wednesday 30th January 2019, 17:05   #2
Jim M.
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300mm f4 would be my choice; in most cases you will wish for more reach. The stuff you typically see in Costa Rica isn't that big, and what is big won't be very close.
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Old Thursday 31st January 2019, 10:34   #3
HnehpetS
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Thanks, Jim!

I've been giving it some further thought...… I do have a 100mm macro lens which doesn't weigh much..... I may take that and the 300. I suspect my imagination of what it's going to be like vastly outstrips the reality (I've not been anywhere so 'exotic' before). The reality being awesome, but at a distance.

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Old Thursday 31st January 2019, 14:29   #4
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We went there last year and I took my 100-400 Mk 2 and found that most snaps were taken at 400mm. I used to have a macro lens but sold that to finance the 100-400 which has a minimum focal distance of around 75cm.
Hope this helps. Enjoy - an amazing place.

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Old Friday 1st February 2019, 20:45   #5
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I know with the Nikon 300mm f/4 PF works very well with the 1.4 TC. I'd take that combo. I agree that more reach is what you want.

What I would do is take something about the size of the birds you expect (e.g. a can of soup or pasta sauce or a magazine, or even cut out some cardboard) and put it at the distance you think the bird will be (then probably move further away!). Then try your lenses. If you have good light and a fast shutter speed, you will be able to crop pretty well, but I'm not sure how bright it will be where you are going, so you might not have the shutter speed or low enough ISO to get crisp enough images to crop heavily.

I have used a 70-200 f/2.8 on a Nikon d850 (full frame) for birding, but only in very special cases. For example,I was at a pond and there were some swallows swooping over it taking little drinks (I assume, maybe feeding?). They fly so quickly that it is hard to spot and track them with a long lens. So I used the 70-200 at about 100mm and set a very fast shutter speed (hurray 2.8). This gave me enough field of view to find the ones swooping right over me and get a small number of keepers when the area AF was able to lock on.
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Old Saturday 2nd February 2019, 17:47   #6
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Thanks Colin, marcsantacurz.

Thanks for you input. Your advice is well received. I've spent an hour this afternoon taking pictures of a few garden birds (when the deem it appropriate to visit me). Looks as if I might need a 1000mm!! It will have to be the 300mm. I do have a 1.4 TC but rarely use it, but it takes up no room, I can give it a go.

I suspect light levels will be a problem, as you mention. So I will have to push the ISO a bit.

Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to get some practice with various options of camera settings. But it looks as if I may have to take a tripod to stand any chance of holding a camera still, but I don't relish that thought. My 80D does have wi-fi and I've had a play with that, so I may be able to wangle some 'bird on a stick' photos at my lodgings.....


Thanks again
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Old Saturday 9th February 2019, 19:07   #7
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I'll throw this out in case it is actually an option for you. here in the states, we have places like BorrowLenses where you can rent gear. A Tamron 150-600 (not the g2) is $165 for 21 days. The Canon 100-400 IS II is $236 for 21 days. The canon 400mm f/4 DO II is $570. The DO II, I understand, takes 1.4x and 2x TCs very well. I picked 21 days as you said "a few weeks." Anyway, if you are spending a few $K on the trip, a couple extra hundred on a better lens might be worth it. You will, of course, want to get the insurance on it :)

According to Ken Rockwell, the 100-400 works well with the 1.4x (at least on a 5d4). It is f/8 so only has center autofocus. That would be 560mm native, or about 840mm on the 80d (it's 1.5x, yes?). The 100-400 is not much heavier than the 300mm f/4 IS.

The 400mm f/4 DO II would be fantastic, but it is just over 2kg and a fair bit bigger.

Marc
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Old Saturday 16th February 2019, 16:24   #8
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Thanks Marc!

That's a really good idea, and not something I'd considered. On balance though, particularly knowing my mentality, I would be forever worrying about the safety of somebody else's lens! (Even thought it might be insured etc).
The 100-400mm is vying for top place on my wish list with the Canon 5d mk IV.

My next debate is about my tripod..... it can fit in my suitcase... but do I really want to lug it around in temperatures well over 30 deg C...….. but then can I hand hold 300mm with a x1.4 still enough .. nope...…. a monopod isn't much use either. I was surprised how much more critical stability was when I moved from 8M pixels to 24 (on a cropped sensor).

All fun!

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Old Monday 18th February 2019, 23:38   #9
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I always bring a monopod. I use the Sirui P326 (0.4kg weight). Sometimes with a Kirk MPA-2 tilt head (0.4 kg too). I find it really helpful having a rest for the lens -- I like to try and get pictures of birds landing or taking off and it can take a lot of waiting with the camera ready. No way I could hand hold it. I usually leave the monopod attached to the lens and walk around with the whole thing on a sling (I have an arca swiss foot long enough for the monopod and to attached a 1/4-20 for the sling).

Tripods are usually too slow to use for me in the field and I get enough support with the monopod. I'm not trying to use really slow shutter speed. Leave your VR (IS) on with the monopod and you can get really good results.

For BIF or birds really high up in a tree, having the tilting monopod head is a big plus. Otherwise, I can just tilt the monopod.

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Old Saturday 23rd February 2019, 13:12   #10
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I have a decent monopod with a tilting head (which I use up and down direction) but, to be honest, my experience tends to suggest it's not so positive for me - better than nothing but not so good as tripod. In addition, I'm expecting to do a bit of macro photography and remote shutter firing (bird on a stick). I've a wireless remote release and I have a canon wifi app I can use on my tablet.

At this moment in time I just want to be there, so I can get into the groove as soon as possible!
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