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Need recommendations for beginner camera and lens for bird photography

keenanbare
Apprentice

I'm totally new to photography and want to get a camera that I can use mostly for bird photography and for taking pictures during duck hunting of me, my dad, the birds we harvest, pictures of that sort. I may also dabble in some short video and casual pictures with friends, but would mostly be using the camera for bird photography and taking pictures during hunting.

I just recently purchased the Canon M50 Mark II, but am thinking about returning it. I have recently read some forums that it may not work well with telephoto lenses due to it's small/fragile size and build. Also, it seems that Canon is going away from the EF-M mount and towards the RF mount. I've read some forums that have recommended the R10 and R7, and that's currently what I have my eye on. I want something that I can grow into and with.

My price range is flexible, but would say that the upper limit is $2,000 (camera and lens included). Would be willing to go a bit higher if it's worth it.

58 REPLIES 58

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

Greetings ,

With your budget in mind and the type of photography you are describing, a body with an APS-C sensor might work well for you.

I just want to confirm the following.  Some of the wildlife you'll be shooting will be from a blind at substantial distance?  Or are you just going to be capturing memories of the hunt?  I'm asking because lens recommendations might vary depending on the distance of your subjects.

These recommendations may change based on your answers.  The bodys I would recommend are the R50, R10 and R7.  A good starter lens for shooting wildlife on a mirrorless body is the RF100-400.  

The R50 and R10 are younger siblings to the R7. They have a 24 megapixel sensors compared to the 32 megapixels of the R7. The RF100-400 is a full frame lens.  Using a full frame lens on an APS-C-based camera has an effect on image perspective.  The field of view is a little more narrow.  This is because the the APS-C sensor is smaller than the image a full frame lens is presenting to it.  This is actually a strength of using a full frame lens on an APSC sensor.  

The lens above is not heavy and would be good when taking pictures of wildlife at a distance.  Birds taking off or coming in for a landing on a body of water, etc.  You'd likely be able to identify species easily.

It would not be a good choice if you were trying to take a picture of your group at the blind, in a boat, or standing around a campsite.  For that, you would need a lens with a shorter focal length.  In addition, we also need to be mindful of accessories. You're going to need a few memory cards at least one spare battery and possibly a tripod.  These aren't prohibitively expensive but need to be factored in.  Inevitably, you are going to need at least one lens with a shorter focal length.  This will be the one you use to take group photos, a picture of a dog with a bird in its mouth and maybe a nice shot of the location, estuary, etc.

If you don't need the reach that a zoom lens offers there are alternatives, lenses with shorter focal lengths.  These will still take fantastic photos but you won't get the same level of detail shooting at farther distances.  

Canon sells refurbished gear in their online store.  Refurbished gear comes directly from Canon and is unperceptible from brand new. It also comes with the same one-year warranty as new gear does.  It can help stretch your dollar, so be sure to check out the online store as well.  

I'm sure, others will have additional suggestions.

~Rick
Bay Area - CA


~R5 C (1.0.6.1) ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10, 430EX III-RT ~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw/MF656Cdw ~Pixel 8
~CarePaks Are Worth It

The bird photography that I mentioned would be done at substantial distance and would require a lens with a high zoom capability. The photography during hunting that I mentioned would just be for capturing moments and would not require a high zoom lens such as that with bird photography.

deebatman316
Elite
Elite

What is your budget you have to spend on a kit (body + lens) or just a body. I would look into the EOS R7, R50 or R10. With a 70-200mm or 100-400mm lens. These lenses are designed for a full frame camera. There is a 1.6x crop factor because the image sensor is smaller than 35mm film. The image in the above mentioned cameras are APS-C.


-Demetrius

Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF 16-35mm F/2.8L USM, EF 24-70mm F/2.8L USM, EF 70-200mm F/2.8L IS III USM, EF 50mm F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D

Body + lens, my budget is up to $2,000 but would be willing to go a little higher.

deebatman316
Elite
Elite

I would look into the EOS R10 + RF 100-400mm. This comes in under budget. So you can spend the money on extra batteries, SD Cards and other accessories. Or you can get the EOS R7 + RF 100-400mm lens. But it's over your budget.


-Demetrius

Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF 16-35mm F/2.8L USM, EF 24-70mm F/2.8L USM, EF 70-200mm F/2.8L IS III USM, EF 50mm F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D

krahe
Rising Star
Rising Star

In the M50 group on Facebook a lot of people post photos with lenses up to 600mm focal length and I don't know that I've ever heard anyone complain about the M50 having issues with them because of its small size. Of course with a lens that big the lens itself is going to have to be supported, such as via the adapter you'll be using on the M50, but that's probably true no matter what camera it's attached to.

Kevin Rahe
EOS M50 Mark II

ebiggs1
Legend
Legend

"I may also dabble in some short video and casual pictures with friends, but would mostly be using the camera for bird photography and taking pictures during hunting."

 

As with any photography what you want to do is very likely not possible with one lens. That is the number one reason cameras have interchangeable lenses. With your stated budget you are probably in for a "settle for" combo. Meaning I can't afford what I need so I settled for this. Remember a small bird, like a duck, will be a small bird in any photo unless you are pretty close. A few feet, from the bird.

The  EOS R10 + RF 100-400mm could be a partial solution but it won't be great at the longer distances and won't be useable at all inside a duck blind. Adding the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM would go a long way to  get close up shots and be a stellar low light performer. Is this the perfect kit? No but the stated budget determines that.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

@keenanbare,

Thanks for answering the above questions.  As you can see, Demetrius and I both suggested similar gear.  Megapixels are not everything, but the higher resolution of the R7 would offer additional detail and cropping ability.  Cropping is basically when you remove an unwanted area or change the aspect of the photo. Example, dog sitting with bird in its mouth near a sign.  By cropping, you can remove the sign in the edge of the photo making the dog your main subject without the distraction.  Its easier to do this with higher resolution photos.

M Series.  Canon is doing its best to keep this mount alive.  Its on life-support.  EF-M lenses cannot be adapted to Canon's other body's.  You can however, adapt EF/EF-S lenses to a M Series body.  Canon is not currently developing any new EF-M lenses.  There are currently 8 available.  The body's take nice photos.  However, an R series body is a better investment from a future proof perspective.

So you've identified at least one lens.  The RF100-400.  A refurb is available in the Canon Store.  It will save you about $80.  There are no refurb bodies available in the models we discussed, so you'll have to go new there.  Canon and B&H Photo Video are both good sources.  They are where I buy my gear.

This might help a little.

Compare Canon R50 vs Canon R10 vs Canon R7 vs Canon R8 | B&H (bhphotovideo.com)

Body and lens combos are also available.  This might be where you get the body with a shorter focal length lens for everyday shots.  Please do a little reading / comparison.  This will help in your decision making.  Ask us questions.  Everyone will be happy to help.

~Rick
Bay Area - CA


~R5 C (1.0.6.1) ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10, 430EX III-RT ~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw/MF656Cdw ~Pixel 8
~CarePaks Are Worth It

Far-Out-Dude
Rising Star
Rising Star

Connected to Gimbal with 70-300mm Lens using Canon EF-M to EF/S AdapterConnected to Gimbal with 70-300mm Lens using Canon EF-M to EF/S AdapterAvian Fast FoodAvian Fast FoodBottom Side so you can see the setup again with the 70-300mm lensBottom Side so you can see the setup again with the 70-300mm lensI have the M50 Mark I and have had a Tamron* 150-600mm lens on it with no problem handheld. I am getting ready to get a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM next month. I see no problem. I have used both handheld and more often from a Wimberley WH-200 Gimbal Tripod Head II because of back, knee, shoulder, hip and some people might argue brain problems. I have never had a problem. I normally use the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM almost always for shooting animals and have had no problems at all. Here are some sample images done with the 70-300mm mentioned above.BluebirdBluebirdEnglish Barn SparrowEnglish Barn SparrowEastern Wild TurkeyEastern Wild Turkey

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