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What to get... or what to do different... (1 Viewer)

getset

Member
I will preface my remarks by saying that I am basically a novice at photography. I used to have a Canon A-1 for casual photography and used it a few times to take photos with my Kowa TSN2 spotting scope (with Kowa adapter and Bushnell T-ring Canon camera mount). I've been birding for about 40 years, fyi.

Anyway... there are a couple hawks here that I am trying to figure out what is going on. There seems to be an adult male with an immature female (yellow eyes, streaking on the breast, not barring, --- Cooper's, I think) raising at least two little white babies.

It is a long way off to get a decent shot --- about*100 yards.

The camera that we have*now is an entry level camera, Nikon D3500, with a 300mm maximum zoom lens. Actually, it is not too bad zoom-wise, to get a photo of the bird and then crop it, to bring up a little more details (although blurry). But the problem is the focus. It seems really hard to get a good focus on the bird itself.

Not sure if getting another lens would help with the focus or not.*If I could get a better focus, somehow, maybe it would not be necessary to get a different*camera.

Considering getting a Nikon P900, or P950, or P1000.

It would be nice to possibly use the*camera as a substitute for carrying binoculars. So, I guess I'm asking another question, is there such a thing as a camera that could substitute for carrying binoculars?

Not trying to shoot birds in flight necessarily, but it would be nice if it was possible to get a photo in flight that would help with identification.

Not looking to get the highest quality*images to compete for any magazine covers or anything, but would like to get pretty good images that will be nice to show others, but mostly for the purpose of identifying the bird I am seeing.*

A couple concerns that I have with purchasing a P900, P950, or P1000 (or any camera for that matter) is how well it takes photos in darker shaded areas like under bushes during a cloudy day or at dusk or dawn, or when trying to take a photo of a bird at the top of a tree against a cloudy overcast sky. It is such a challenge*to see birds (from underneath especially) with binoculars at the top of a tree against a cloudy overcast sky. So I'm asking, is it difficult to get a good photo of a bird in these instances with any of these models?

The P1000 is 49 ounces. The P950 is 35.5 ounces. The P900 is 32 ounces.
My binoculars weigh about 35 ounces so I'm used to carrying something fairly heavy.

The P1000 has a 77mm lens (you can get a lens hood, if that is useful).
The P900 and P950 have 67mm lenses.

They all seem to have the same sensor.

The P1000 has a 125X optical zoom, 24mm-3000mm (35mm equivalent).
The P900 and P950 have 83X optical zoom, 24-2000mm (35mm equivalent).

The P1000 can switch between autofocus and manual focus, and use a manual focus ring. The other two use a switch on the side of the camera.

The P950 and P1000 can shoot in full 4K it sounds like (this not something I would need).

The P950 and P1000 have a "bird watching" mode, but not sure how useful that would be.

The P950 and P1000 have a*hot shoe*mount so you can mount a dot sight (to track subjects at a distance), or a light, or a*microphone.

The P950 and P1000 shoot in RAW (not sure exactly what that means, if that is something I would be using or not).

Maybe there are some other differences, but those seem to be the main ones to*me.

Looking for any advice or suggestions.

Dennis
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
For advice and experience with those particular camera models have a look at the relevant threads and ask your specific lighting and aspect condition question there (if you haven't already).

I just wanted to chime in and say that often I will use my camera instead of binoculars to check if distant birds are present (around twice the distance you mentioned) - simply because on static subjects it works better, because I can zoom in on the LCD screen to get much higher magnification than just the bins.

There have been times when I was unsure if anything was there when looking through the bins (Zen-Ray 8x43 ED3) , so I took a shot with the camera of where I thought it might be (couldn't tell for sure through the viewfinder either - Nikon D7200 + Tamron G2 150-600 f6.3, used in 1.3x crop mode, so about 1150mm @ 14.2MP - which is equivalent to a pair of 23x binoculars). Upon zooming in (a few 100%) on the taken shot on the rear LCD screen - sure enough I could detect something there !

My rig weighs ~ 2.7kg (6lbs) , I carry it on a Black Rapid sling, and I shoot handheld (braced where possible). It is a pretty good value compromise - quality/$/weight-wise, which will also manage BIF pretty well. By shooting in the 1.3x in-camera crop mode, not only do I get the extra magnification, but the welcome benefit of an extra fps (now up to 7) , and smaller file sizes too (mostly just cuts out extraneous sky etc). I shoot in RAW + Jpeg mode which simply means that you capture the information (still seeing an image) and are able to process it better later.

You should be able to do something similar with the cameras you mentioned (they don't have the extra 1.3x in-camera crop as far as I'm aware) , if not investigate a rig like mine.

You trade off a smaller, lower resolution sensor in the small bridge cameras you mentioned, versus greater magnification (although with slower lenses, looking through an EVF, and with an autofocus system of lesser capability - which is likely to be most apparent on quick fast moving BIF shots). They are also circa half the weight of a rig like mine. Several people here are quite happy with them, and use them well.








Chosun :gh:
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
Swarovski has come out with a strange concoction https://aa.swarovskioptik.com/birding/dg-c210111

I personally carry binoculars And a camera lens combo, and frequently leave the telescope at home because the camera-lens combo does the job. I use a setup corresponding to 800 mm reach. It isn’t Nikon so I cannot comment on the models you mentioned.

Niels
 

getset

Member
Thank you for your comments Chosen. Great thoughts and ideas.

It sounds like you have a pretty nice set-up. Especially liked the BIF possibility.
 

getset

Member
Niels,

Never heard of the Swarovski dG 8x25, very interesting device.

Yeah, I don't think I will be using the spotting scope much anymore if I get a camera and zoom lens setup.

It looks like I have a lot more reading and studying up on the possible options.

Thanks for your help, too.

Dennis
 
Last edited:

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
Swarovski has come out with a strange concoction https://aa.swarovskioptik.com/birding/dg-c210111

I personally carry binoculars And a camera lens combo, and frequently leave the telescope at home because the camera-lens combo does the job. I use a setup corresponding to 800 mm reach. It isn’t Nikon so I cannot comment on the models you mentioned.

Niels
That's an interesting development from Swarovski - the sort of thing we've all been speculating on for years.

A bit concerning though - even the birds may have difficulty escaping the matrix !





Chosun :gh:
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
Thank you for your comments Chosen. Great thoughts and ideas.

It sounds like you have a pretty nice set-up. Especially liked the BIF possibility.
Yeah, it's a great setup. You don't notice the weight shooting it, but more so carrying it a long way. The sling is essential.

Since Niels brought up that new fangled device - it reminded me of another lightweight possibility. With mobile phones now offering optical zooms (I think the latest Samsung S20 Ultra is 102mm equivalent ? - so 2x) you could pair that via dedicated adapter (if someone makes a good one) with a pair of binoculars. Say you paired it with a Swarovski 10x32, you would end up with 20x optical zoom (equivalent to a 1000mm lens) and still have the ability to zoom in once the picture is taken on your mobile phone screen.

When I get my next phone, I'm planning on doing something similar.

Just to show you what's possible - here is a shot taken with my Samsung Note 3 (31mm lens or 0.6x) and my 8x Zens for a combined equivalent focal length of 250mm (5x). Getting it all lined up and focused manually though required the patience of a saint ! You would definitely want a purpose designed dedicated adapter.
I have to say, I was quite pleasantly surprised by the IQ.
https://www.birdforum.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/564335/ppuser/92780







Chosun :gh:
 

poledark

Well-known member
Hi Getset, I have both the 900 and the 1000, and the 1000 definitely gets me better pictures. It has the edge all round over the 900 except in size and weight, but well worth the extra for the manual focus ring, such a bonus when searching in foliage or long range shots of birds on water. I would never consider any camera that did not have a similar function.
The 1000 should come with a lens hood, mine is always on, mainly to help protect the very large front lens. The Bird setting is by default set to start off at 800mm and burst mode, I never use it, prefer to use the Shutter setting, mostly set at around 1000sec with burst, usually a burst of 3.
Image quality is excellent, and used as a scope it is a delight to use, set the EVF to brightness 3 and the monitor to 5 and not much will be hidden from you 😀
Never use Raw, never worry or notice any “noise” mostly just switch on, point camera, zoom if needed and click".............job done.
Den
 
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getset

Member
Yeah, it's a great setup. You don't notice the weight shooting it, but more so carrying it a long way. The sling is essential.

Since Niels brought up that new fangled device - it reminded me of another lightweight possibility. With mobile phones now offering optical zooms (I think the latest Samsung S20 Ultra is 102mm equivalent ? - so 2x) you could pair that via dedicated adapter (if someone makes a good one) with a pair of binoculars. Say you paired it with a Swarovski 10x32, you would end up with 20x optical zoom (equivalent to a 1000mm lens) and still have the ability to zoom in once the picture is taken on your mobile phone screen.

When I get my next phone, I'm planning on doing something similar.

Just to show you what's possible - here is a shot taken with my Samsung Note 3 (31mm lens or 0.6x) and my 8x Zens for a combined equivalent focal length of 250mm (5x). Getting it all lined up and focused manually though required the patience of a saint ! You would definitely want a purpose designed dedicated adapter.
I have to say, I was quite pleasantly surprised by the IQ.
https://www.birdforum.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/564335/ppuser/92780



Chosun :gh:

Hi Chosen,

The option of using a mobile phone with a binocular (or occasionally with my old TSN2) is something that I have also considered.

There is an adapter made by Opticron that might work for attaching a phone to a binocular. In this video it is used to attach a phone to a spotting scope:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73UYFYEZ09Q

Dennis
 

getset

Member
Hi Getset, I have both the 900 and the 1000, and the 1000 definitely gets me better pictures. It has the edge all round over the 900 except in size and weight, but well worth the extra for the manual focus ring, such a bonus when searching in foliage or long range shots of birds on water. I would never consider any camera that did not have a similar function.
The 1000 should come with a lens hood, mine is always on, mainly to help protect the very large front lens. The Bird setting is by default set to start off at 800mm and burst mode, I never use it, prefer to use the Shutter setting, mostly set at around 1000sec with burst, usually a burst of 3.
Image quality is excellent, and used as a scope it is a delight to use, set the EVF to brightness 3 and the monitor to 5 and not much will be hidden from you 😀
Never use Raw, never worry or notice any “noise” mostly just switch on, point camera, zoom if needed and click".............job done.
Den


Thank you, poledark for your comments.

It is especially nice to hear from someone who has actual experience with the equipment you are considering.

Well, I am getting the Opticron Universal Smartphone Mount... for now at least... maybe a P950, or P1000 in the future.

My concern was that I may not be satisfied with the images that I get spending $800 for the 950, or $850 for the 1000. Besides, I am having trouble deciding between the 950 or 1000, and those chicks on the hawk nest are growing fast and I don't have a lot of time to make a decision to get some better photos of them.

The other day, I just put my cell phone up against the 20xW eyepiece of my TSN-2 and took a few photos. They were not really very good, but in a way, they were surprisingly good for the way I was taking the picture. So, I figured that I would get even better images using the Smartphone Mount.... and it was only $90 compared to $800+ for a new camera. Maybe I could carry it with me in the future and attach it to my binoculars (or carry a spare pair with it already attached) to get a somewhat quick image for ID purposes anyway.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond to my inquiry.

If I have more questions about the P950 or P1000 in the future, I will let you know.
 

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