I'm looking for recommendations regarding what DSLR camera would best suit my needs. I'm really interested in doing some more wildlife photography, but I want to get opinions on which camera body is best. As I am not professional, I am looking for something not too expensive, and so far have been tossing up between the canon EOS 80D and the canon 7D mark II, but I'm open to anything within that sort of price range that meets my requirements. Has anyone had any experience with these two models, or perhaps any other models that work really well when shooting fast-moving animals?
Thanks in advance! 🙂
What type of wildlife? What is your total budget? Wildlife photography may cost more than you realize.
There is more to DSLR photography than a camera body. They use interchangeable lenses, which means the camera body is only one half of the equation, and a lens is the other half. It is also highly recommended that you have photography software, so that you process your images in a “digital darkroom”.
Then there are accessories like a camera bag to protect your gear when you carry and store it, a tripod/monopod to provide support for a heavy super telephoto lens. You will also want to have a protective lens filter to protect the front of your super telephoto lens. I use clear protective filters on all of my lenses. It is easier and safer to clean a lens filter, than it is to clean the front element of an expensive lens.
Most wildlife photography lenses tend to fall into the super telephoto category, 400mm or longer. The most expensive lenses on the market fall into this category. This is type of purchase that you want to “buy it once, and buy it right.” Most hobbyists who are into wildlife photography have a super telephoto lens that easily costs $1000, or more.
You mention the 80D and the 7D2. Either camera body is capable of capturing excellent wildlife photographs, but only when paired with a capable lens. Each body has advantages over the other. While the 7D2 may have the better body build, the 80D may have the better auto focusing system. In my experience the 80D easily outperforms the 7D2 when it comes to tracking subjects. The 80D also produces lower noise images at higher ISO settings, ISO 6400 and higher.
I have two super telephoto zoom lenses. One is a 150-600mm Sigma, which sells for nearly as much as the 80D. The other is a 100-400mm Canon, which sells for more than twice the price of the Sigma. Each has an advantage over the other. The Sigma has the longer reach, but it is must useful only on bright sunny days. The Canon is good at less than ideal lighting conditions, which is probably half the reason why it cost so much.
There are less expensive telephoto zoom lenses from both Tamron and Sigma that each have 100-400mm focal lengths. They are smaller and lighter than their super telephoto big brothers, 150-600mm. Either of these are good entry level [lenses] for wildlife hobbyists.
Many Canon camera kits come with a telephoto zoom, either a 75-300mm or a 55-250mm. The 55-250mm lenses tend to be of a newer design than the 75-300mm kit lenses, and will produce sharper images. If you wanted to dabble into wildlife photography, testing the waters, just to see what it is all about, then a Canon EF-S 55-250mm STM lens would be a good start.
"Has anyone had any experience with these two models, ..."
Yes I have. The choice seems to me is between whether you want a professional build or a prosummer build. The 7D Mk II and 80D are fairly similar. Slight pluses and minus in each with the build being the real determining factor. Either camera is very nice.
"... or perhaps any other models that work really well when shooting fast-moving animals?"
Don't rule out the Rebel T7i either. There again a lighter build but still a very capable camera. Costs less which leaves more money for lenses. Plus, plus!
The current, best, wildlife lens is the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 and/or sticking with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens. If you prefer to stick with a prime check out the EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens, it is a fantastic choice. It is light and totally hand holdable fo rlong periods of time. My last favorite choice is the EF 300mm f/4L IS USM Lens with a 1.4x tel-con. Basically a 420mm f5.6 lens only it has IS where the 400mm f5.6 does not. Not a big deal to me but to some a real deal breaker.
Waddizzle gave you some great sugguestions and food for thought. I would suggest studying his reply well.
You mentioned the 80D, which I would think would be a great choice and is affordable. I started with a $349 refurbished T6 kit, which for me was an excellent choice to learn about DSLR photography. I live in SoCal and knew I would often be in the harsh environment of the desert and didn't want to wreck a high-end camera and lens before I had a sense of what I was doing. Just handling the hardware took a little while before I was comfortable with it, so I am glad I didn't spend a fortune out of the gate. In the beginning, I dropped the camera and lens a time or two because of basic unfamiliarity with their contours and how they fit together.
If you are just getting started there is no need to spend outlandish amounts of money on pro-level lenses. However, it depends on what you're interested in shooting.
Everybody and his brother shoots birds (I don't), which require a lot of reach. I shoot mostly in the desert, around tidepools and in mountain forests. We have all three out here. In the desert, the wildlife can be very fast and skittish (lizards) and some racers, slow or medium (rattlesnakes, kingsnakes, gopher snakes, scorpions, etc.), or very slow (desert tortoises and wildflowers, though they can flutter around in the wind and require a fast shutter speed). A big lens would just slow me down and is too awkward in that environment. I've been walking around with a Canon 18-135mm STM and it suits me fine. I like to get on my belly and shoot the subject (desert wildlife) eye-to-eye if I can, as opposed to shooting from top down. YMMV. In time I'll spend higher amounts of money on a higher-end rig, but can't justify it now. In any event, decide what your likely environment and subjects will be and go from there. And use Waddizzle's suggestions as a guidepost.