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Birding On a tight budget - should I buy less now or wait to buy right?


Hi all. I love nature and am tired of using only my iphone. I've had cameras in the past but it has been years. So long in fact, when I tried to hook my old Pentax DSLR up to my Macbook, it was incompatible, so no way to download my photos. So, now I am looking at Canon Rebels including the SL2, T7i and also the D77.


My goal, other than being able to take photos of my kids, is to shoot nature. I love to garden and we have many birds, bees and butterflies that come into the garden on a regular basis. I also have lots of flowers and want to capture them as well. My husband would like to use the camera for video capture of his Tankganyikan Cichlids (fish). 


My dilemma is I've watched so many Youtube videos and it seems I "need" at least the Canon T7i or D77 to be able to even get a mediocre shot (according to all of the "experts"), and I honestly can't afford the price point of either of these with all the lenses. I can afford the D77 body only, which obviously does me no good. The T7i is slightly better but only with the 18-55 lens. I can just afford the SL2 with the kit 18-55 and the 55-250. 


I'm at a loss. To hear most of the Youtubers anything less than at least one of these is a waste of money. No camera means no pictures but I am wondering if I should just hold off and save up for the better camera, the D77 or maybe even the D80. What are your thoughts and experiences?


Thank you!


Hey, Kido, you have to walk before you can run.  We all were there once.

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

These are a little better today but fish are much easier. 🙂 33383680_10216049587143490_961101320205369344_n.jpg33383695_10216049586823482_4364480920778964992_n.jpg33447581_10216049586143465_1601535902440488960_n.jpg

Nice photos.


Every photographer has some place, or some type of subject, that they use as “reference standard” when evaluating new gear, or their technique.  For me, for most of my lenses, it is an outdoor landscape location.  It has become my “training ground.”

Pay special attention to these photos that you have posted, right down to the last detail.  Save them.  It will take you some time , through repeated photos as your technique, or gear, evolves to build a large enough sample of photographs to allow a critical evaluation of what you are doing.

in other words, keep shooting, and don’t stop.

"The right mouse button is your friend."

Congrats on getting into bird and wildlife photography! I am also a beginner photographer who is just getting started too. If you want a lens with good reach and is affordable, I would get the 55-250mm STM lens which costs $300 new. The focusing should be quick enough and allows you to get closer to the animals.


I also have 3 good tips that will improve your wildlife photos:


1. Fill the frame. In other words, get as close as you can on your subject, especially with smaller animals while trying not to disturb it.


2. Use a fast shutter speed. Set your camera in shutter priority (Tv Mode) with the aperture wide open and on Auto ISO. For fast action, set your shutter speed at 1/500 or in fact 1/1000 of a second or higher to freeze the animal's movement. For subjects staying still or on a perch, shoot at a shutter speed as slow as you can get away with while making sure that the subject is sharp and in focus.


3. Don't be afraid to raise the ISO if you need to. A noisy sharp photo will be better than a less noisy blurry picture.


I hope this helps you out. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to ask us.





Nature Photography Hobbyist / Enthusiast
Canon EOS Rebel T6i

@kneale wrote:

I used the kit lens, Canon EFS 18-135 USM. 

I use the STM version of that lens, and I think you made a wise choice. I did not fall into the trap of believing that I needed pro-level or even enthusiast-level lenses in the beginning. There is a lot more to photography, I am learning, than focal length or "L" glass. A great and expensive lens would have been a waste for me as I didn't know diddly about composition, light, framing, manual control, Tv/Av priorities, etc. I wanted to learn about DSLR photography and I discovered I didn't need a high-end lens, or camera, in the beginning.


I don't shoot birds, but I do consider myself more of an "outdoor photographer" than a portrait, fashion, sports photograper, etc. I am often shooting in the desert, mountains or by tidepools. I did not need to mess up an "L" lens before I had a clue about what I was doing. So I think you took a very sensible approach in sticking with the 18-135mm. No doubt by the time you really want to get that 600mm glass, you'll have come a long way in understanding DSLR photography and what makes the difference between a good shot and a great shot. 

I caught my first hummer today! There is a lot of noise in these pics but I will get it right in time. If anyone has some tips on that please let me know. used the EF-S 18-135 USM and set my camera to shade, ISO 1000 (I think) and shutter speed was I believe at 1200, f8. I'll have to double check and if I'm wrong I'll come back and edit. Ran out of battery so can't look at the moment. I'm also posting a shot I took last night of a Chickadee in my mulberry tree. Not sure of the settings for that at all. Will check later. Also, All off these were uploaded to FB first and then downloaded to my computer. I need to figure out how to upload photos directly to my computer because I'm sure I lose quality with all of the uploads and downloads. Karen33584509_10216062043934902_8915309189652283392_n.jpg33597405_10216062020694321_3704966040820645888_n (1).jpg33743068_10216062025774448_1672552761478086656_n.jpg33584509_10216062043934902_8915309189652283392_n.jpg




You know the 135mm FL is too short.  It is going to be difficult to get the best bird shots with it. I image you are severely cropping your shots?  Some of the advice you have gotten isn't good either.  You mostly want to use Av. Not Tv.  Set the aperture to f8 and let the camera choose the SS.  It will select the fastest SS to get a proper exposure.  ISO needs to be in the 1600 range.

Lastly always, I mean always shoot Raw.  Forget jpg exists.  Keep using the gear you have until you can buy a 300mm or longer FL lens.  Look used it that helps.

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

Ebiggs1, is it Ernie? Yes, I understand about the lens. So my pictures are grainy because I am trying to shoot with the 135 and cropping them too close? I am shooting raw and jpeg, so I have all of the data in the originals. Just not sure how to upload them to my computer. I've got the app on my phone so I upload there and then to Facebook, then download and post here. I know it's ridiculous. I'll have to see if I can download the app to my computer to cut out several steps and degradation of the original.  


Thank you for the input. I truly appreciate it. I definitely need the better lens. 



"Ebiggs1, is it Ernie?"


It is !  Smiley Happy


Forget the jpg.  You don't need it or even want it.  You got a free app from Canon (or you can d/l it for free) that will do the task..  It is DPP4.  You can use a USB cable to u/l to your computer and DPP wil convert them to jpg and let you do a bunch of editing.  When you get some budget for a new editor get Lightroom.  At this point is is only available with a rental mode from Adobe.  It is $9.99 per month and it includes Photoshop.  These two are the most powerful and most used editing packages on the planet.  

I have been on a shoot in New York for the Fleet Week.  I was unable to get on FB but here is a shot or two I took.




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

Nice shots, Ernie, especially the first one. Is that an HDR composite, or did you just turn up the color saturation?

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