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Need advice on a lens or camera upgrade for bird and other wildlife shots!

john098
Apprentice

I take mostly landscape, street photography, and bird/wildlife shots.

 

I've had a canon eos M50 mark ii for 2 years now (15-45, and 55-200mm lens) and love it for landscapes, but of course it struggles at range for birds. I've heard good things about the Tamron and Sigma 600mm, but also that they may struggle in lower light or with autofocus for my particular camera.

 

Does it make more sense to buy one of these, or look into a new canon camera for the future? Budget friendly is nice but I plan to further develop my wildlife photography and am willing to spend if its something I'll use for a long time.

8 REPLIES 8

Waddizzle
Legend

Does it make more sense to buy one of these, or look into a new canon camera for the future?” 

The best answer is that it depends on your budget and your use case.  Almost any camera can be made to work with almost any lens.   Some pairings are better than others.  

The 150-600mm lenses are beasts compared to your 55-200mm.  Because of the very compact body size of the M50, shooting handheld will be a much different experience compared to using a DSLR camera body.  The pairing almost requires the use of a monopod or tripod, which is not a bad thing.  

The lenses are heavy and could produce a lot torque on the lens mount of the camera.  This would not normally be a major issue.  But, I think having to use an EF-EFM mount adapter makes it a potential major problem.  One would need to always support the lens, never allowing the lens to “hang” on its own weight from the lens mount adapter.

I think a better match for the M50 body size would a Sigma/Tamron 100-400mm lens.  Still, shooting handheld with this combo will come with a learning curve, just as it would with a larger DSLR or MILC body.  But, it is much more doable than a 150-600mm.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."

amfoto1
Whiz

Without knowing your budget, I would highly recommend considering either a Canon EOS R10 or EOS R7 camera, and some appropriate lenses for use upon them.

These are the two relatively new APS-C format R-series cameras, which are gradually replacing both the Canon DSLRs and the Canon M-series mirrorless like yours.

These R-series have a vastly superior AF system which is particularly good for action shooting such as sports and wildlife. The cameras can literally find and focus upon a bird's eye. They also have very fast frame rates that can be useful for that type of photography. Both can shoot 15 frames/second with their mechanical shutter. With their electronic shutters the R10 can take 23 frames/sec and the R7 can shoot 30 frames/sec. The R10 is 24MP camera, like your M50II. The R7 is 32.5MP (like M6II and 90D). The R10 uses a smaller LP-E17 battery and a single SD memory card. The R7 uses a larger LP-E6NH battery and has dual SD memory card slots. The R7 has in-body image stabilization, the more affordable R10 doesn't. The R10 is selling for $979 (body only) and the R7 costs $1499 (body only).

After just 4 years since the first R-series models were introduced, there are already far more lenses for the new system than there have ever been for the M-series. And where most EF-M lenses are zooms with STM focus drive, there are both affordable STM and more advanced premium USM zoom and prime RF lenses to choose among. And, same as with M-series, it is possible to adapt  EF and EF-S lenses for use on the R-series cameras. In fact, many users think their EF/EF-S lenses work better adapted onto the R-series than they did on DSLRs! 

An RF-S 18-150mm f/3.5-63 IS STM lens is offered in kit with either camera, where it will cost $400 (reg. $499).

A more compact RF-S 18-45mm f/4.5-6.3 is offered in kit with the R10, where it adds $120 to the cost of the camera (reg. $299). It's not offered in kit with the R7.

But for birders like you a much bigger benefit is the selection of available telephotos for R-series! .

RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM is a "dream lens" for birders who want to travel light and is currently on sale for $499. That's $300 less expensive than the Tamron or Sigma 100-400mm, for which you'd also need an adapter to use on either M-series or R-series because those lenses are only available in EF mount. Plus, this Canon 100-400mm is slightly smaller and more than a full lb. lighter weight than the Sigma or the Tamron. It's more than 2 lb. lighter than Canon's own EF 100-400mm!

Or, if you have a bigger budget, the RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens would be superb for birding, although it's bigger and a little more than 2X the weight of the RF 100-400mm. As an L-series the 100-500mm is also optically superior and better sealed for weather and dust resistance. And it works well with an RF 1.4X Extender, if you need more reach. But, it's also is moderately expensive at $2899. The 1.4X teleconverter costs an additional $499.

There are also affordable and handholdable fixed-aperture RF 600mm f/11 IS STM ($699) and RF 800mm f/11 IS STM ($899) lenses available. An old saying among bird photographers is "You never have a 'long enough' telephoto". But you already know that!

With your other interests you'll likely want other lenses.. Perhaps some compact ones for street photography (RF 16mm f/2.8, RF 24mm f/1.8, RF 50mm f/1.8). Or, possibly some wider ones for landscape photos (RF 16mm f/2.8, RF 15-35mm, or adapt an EF-S 10-22mm or EF-S 10-18mm).

Of course there are options to keep using your M50II, if you prefer. It all comes down to how much you want to spend.

***********

Alan Myers
San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7DII (x2), 7D(x2), EOS M5, some other cameras, various lenses & accessories
FLICKR

 

 

Tronhard
Elite

Hi John:

Given your determination to be prepared to invest for the long haul and your enthusiasm for wildlife photography, I tend to go with the advice of my esteemed colleagues when they suggest the Canon EOS R7.  The M-series has been stagnant for some time, and Canon's release of the R7 and R10 suggest that they are offering those as a replacement as they move all of their line across from the DSLR and M-series bodies.

The R7 would be my suggestion for a couple of reasons.  First the R7 has animal + human + people in cars eye tracking, so you can be far more likely to get the eye of your subject (which is critical).  Second, it offers In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS), that will make it much, much easier to get steady shots at long focal lengths and lower shutter speeds.  Third, it uses Canon's larger capacity battery, which for a Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera (MILC), is significant, as they chew through capacity far faster than DSLRs, especially if you are using the EVF - which you should be using.

A body is no good without lenses, so the question is what glass?  This is where knowing a budget would be extremely helpful.

The R7 body comes with a 18-150mm kit lens, that would likely work for general and street photography.
For animal work, there are a couple of choices that might fit your needs.
a) The Sigma 150-600 f/5-6.3 Contemporary lens is an excellent optic, and is very light, and for its range quite a fast lens.  It is available only in the Canon EF mount, so you would have to get the Canon EF-RF adapter.  There is some discussion of pulsing at minimum focus distance with this lens, but I have one and have not had that issue.
b) The Canon RF 100-400 f/5.6-8 is a native RF mount Canon lens, and while economical, is receiving praise for its optics.  It is light and can take the Canon RF 1.4 extender to boost your focal range to 140-560mm, although you will lose one stop of light to do so f/8-11.  It can also use its own optical image stabilization with that of the body to produce even higher combined levels.

If you want to see some good quality reviews of these options, I would suggest the following:

Canon EOS R7 Review by Duade Paton    R7 with the Canon RF 100-400 

More general review of the R7 by Gordon Liang     Canon RF 100-400 for Bird Photography 

Sigma 150-600 review, Duade Paton  Sigma 150-600 config to reduce pulsing with R-series bodies 

Sigma 150-600c lens for wildlife photography, by Pangolin Wildlife 

It is worth looking at these reviews.  They are by respected reviewers who do not get paid by the manufacturers and that is important.  If you get the R7 body, you could rent a Sigma lens to try it out and see how you like it, that way you know what you are getting before you commit to a purchase.

I hope this is helpful.

 


cheers, TREVOR

Before you ask us, have you looked in the manual or on the Canon Support Site?
"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

There is some discussion of pulsing at minimum focus distance with this lens, but I have one and have not had that issue.”  

I think the best description of that discussion from Duane Paton is “bad science.’  For example, let’s say the listed MFD for the is is 3m/10ft.  

He will then set up a target at roughly that distance, BUT then try to focus on it with the lens zoomed out to 600mm.  “Look, ma.  It pulses.”

He does not understand that MFD can increase as you zoom out to the longer focal lengths.  He also has an older video out where he uses a 40D under similarly unwise test conditions, and gets the same result.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."

I tend to agree, but the issue is that a lot of folks have taken that and run with it, and expanded that one experience to a blanket statement that the lens pulses - full stop, despite the fact that Duade clearly stated the limits of his experiment.

Personally, I love the 150-500c and 60-600s on the R5 and R6 bodies, sure the RF100-500 is a bit faster and more consistent in focus, but it's a lot more expensive!


cheers, TREVOR

Before you ask us, have you looked in the manual or on the Canon Support Site?
"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

“I tend to agree, but the issue is that a lot of folks have taken that and run with it, and expanded that one experience to a blanket statement that the lens pulses - full stop, despite the fact that Duade clearly stated the limits of his experiment.”  

I saw that video, too.  He was once again zoomed out 600mm with a subject at the rated MFD for the lens. This time it was a 40D that was experiencing the pulsing. 

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"The right mouse button is your friend."

And why reviews should just be an entertainment outlet. Due to error prone reviewer or misunderstanding reader/watcher.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

ebiggs1
Legend

"Without knowing your budget, I would highly recommend considering either a Canon EOS R10 or EOS R7 camera, and some appropriate lenses for use upon them."

 

I agree! Perhaps not the cheapest but it may be in the long run. Certainly your nerves and frustration levels will be more happy. The M series isn't a good platform for long teles perhaps why Canon didn't make one.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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