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Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: What zoom to buy?

Ernie wrote " A good tripod is absolutely a necessity."

He took the words out of my mouth.  Smiley Happy  Your original post said that your pictures are not focused, and tripod was the first thing that came to mind.  While the lens you mentioned in your original post is not the best of lenses, it should still at least achieve focus.

If you do not have a very sturdy tripod, then invest in one.  Like your lenses, a tripod is an investment where you do not want to skimp.  Ernie did not mention the load capacity of his setup, but I would bet that it is at least 4-5 times the weight of his worst case camera/lens combination.

A better camera can also achieve better focus because of better focusing systems.  As far as a lens goes, pretty much all of the bases have been covered.  Birds are fast creatures, and faster lenses will capture better images.

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Registered: ‎11-16-2015

Re: What zoom to buy?

[ Edited ]

"Another option that was glossed over is the Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM Lens.  Yes it is only 300mm.  Add to the fact I don't like tele converters but in certain cases they work.  This is one where it works.  The Canon 2x tele converter and EF 300mm f/4L IS USM Lens combine to make a 600mm f8 lens with IS !  This combo is very good."

 

Sorry, but I don't see how this option is any better than the 600mm Sigma or Tamron because they both have IS, according to the specs. Therefore, why buy the 300 w/converter unless it adds something significant to the photo? Also, since the 600's cost around $1080 at B&H, what would the 300 w/converter cost? And we have to consider weight: I can't use a tripod because it limits my shooting flexibility.

 

Norm

 

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Re: What zoom to buy?

[ Edited ]

"Your original post said that your pictures are not focused, and tripod was the first thing that came to mind.  While the lens you mentioned in your original post is not the best of lenses, it should still at least achieve focus."

 

I think that "magnified" would have been a better word than "focused" - maybe it's a combination of both. Could not clearly see what I shot at 80' using my 300mm. Blowing up the image on an editor did not help.

 

I already explained why a tripod won't work with my setup: - 80 feet away at a lunch table behind a french door: I need the flexibility to shoot at the 6' high feeders and the ground feeders and to shoot at birds perched high in the trees or on the wing, although I admit that the first 2 scenes will comprise 95% of my shooting. A tripod with a 600mm would not view both the feeders and the ground, 6' below, simultaneously. I could not shoot the last 2 scenes; would have to use another camera for those.

 

Your comment about lens quality provokes another question: Suppose I started from scratch. What camera and lens will get all 4 scenes done best?

 

Norm

 

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Re: What zoom to buy?


@Norm53 wrote:

"Your original post said that your pictures are not focused, and tripod was the first thing that came to mind.  While the lens you mentioned in your original post is not the best of lenses, it should still at least achieve focus."

 

I think that "magnified" would have been a better word than "focused" - maybe it's a combination of both. Could not clearly see what I shot at 80' using my 300mm. Blowing up the image on an editor did not help.

 

I already explained why a tripod won't work with my setup: - 80 feet away at a lunch table behind a french door: I need the flexibility to shoot at the 6' high feeders and the ground feeders and to shoot at birds perched high in the trees or on the wing, although I admit that the first 2 scenes will comprise 95% of my shooting. A tripod with a 600mm would not view both the feeders and the ground, 6' below, simultaneously. I could not shoot the last 2 scenes; would have to use another camera for those.

 

Your comment about lens quality provokes another question: Suppose I started from scratch. What camera and lens will get the job done best?

 

Norm

 


This is not what you want to hear (you've said as much, very plainly), but the lwas of physics are what they are. At the distance you've chosen, you need a 600mm lens. And a lens that long without a tripod isn't going to get the job done at all, on any camera. In such a setup there is no "best".

 

Take a look at your picture of the squirrel trying to raid the bird feeder. Compositionally, it's a great shot. But it's too blurry to use for any serious purpose.

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
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Re: What zoom to buy?

[ Edited ]

"At the distance you've chosen, you need a 600mm lens. And a lens that long without a tripod isn't going to get the job done at all, on any camera. In such a setup there is no "best"."

 

Thanks; you just saved me a lot of money, although I still haven't solved my setup problems. Therefore, I will suggest another solution.

 

I buy a tripod that can be quickly switched and secured from feeder to ground (small change in elevation angle). That switch should not require a camera refocus since they are both at 80'. The tripod will have an electronic shutter button so I don't disturb the camera when shooting. Using a satisfactory camera & lens, are my problems solved at the feeder station?

 

Camera and lens purchase: What camera + lens combo to put on that tripod to get quality shots?

 

I use my current t3i + 55/300 lenses (package deal) for the birds perched high and on the wing.

 

Are all my problems now solved?

 

Norm

 

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Re: What zoom to buy?

[ Edited ]

@Norm53 wrote:

"At the distance you've chosen, you need a 600mm lens. And a lens that long without a tripod isn't going to get the job done at all, on any camera. In such a setup there is no "best"."

 

Thanks; you just saved me a lot of money, although I still haven't solved my setup problems. Therefore, I will suggest another solution.

 

I buy a tripod that can be quickly switched and secured from feeder to ground (small change in elevation angle). That switch should not require a camera refocus since they are both at 80'. The tripod will have an electronic shutter button so I don't disturb the camera when shooting. Using a satisfactory camera & lens, are my problems solved at the feeder station?

 

Camera and lens purchase: What camera + lens combo to put on that tripod to get quality shots?

 

I use my current t3i + 55/300 lenses (package deal) for the birds perched high and on the wing.

 

Are all my problems now solved?

 

Norm

 


Yeah, I think that's largely doable. (Disclaimer, though: I'm not a bird photographer, so wait for confirmation from one of the group who is.) The shutter button has nothing to do with the tripod, but there are both wired and wireless triggers that will communicate with the camera. I've never used any of the lenses that are being kicked around. Ernie Biggs probably qualifies as our resident expert, and he's going to tell you (I guess he has already) that you need a longer lens than the 55-300. As for the camera, start with what you have, and then see whether it works well enough to suit your needs. The ideal would probably be the 7D Mark II. (As a crop-frame camera, it maximizes the reach of your telephoto lens.) But it's silly to shell out that kind of money until you're sure it will make a significant difference. (After all, the T3i is a crop-frame camera too.) As Ernie is fond of pointing out, in cases like this the lens is the most important element.

 

One more thing. There are three things you want a tripod to be: light, cheap, and stable. You can have any two of those, but not all three. You're not taking it anywhere, so for your purpose, stability is more important than weight.

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
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Re: What zoom to buy?

[ Edited ]

"The ideal would probably be the 7D Mark II ..."

 

(I also plan to add a hummingbird feeder at the station in the spring.) Suppose that I buy the 7D Mark II with Sigma 600mm lens and a heavy duty tripod with electronic trigger. Will this setup give me excellent photos?

 

If the answer to my question is "yes", which tripod do you experts suggest?

 

Norm

 

PS. I can use my t3i for everything else, including family pics at the beach (south Jersey).

 

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Re: What zoom to buy?

[ Edited ]

There is really not much to add here. The guys have pretty much said it all.  The unfortunate truth is, to get high quality photos of birds is going to require some monetary investment into pretty decent gear.

The 80 feet is a killer.  It is going to require a long focal length lens.  The down side is the perceived resolving power goes south as the distances increase.  Now you have added a French door into the light path?  You expect a $1100 dollar lens to give you good shots shooting through a 50 cent piece of glass?

 

Again close to your subject is the key word here.  Below is a Cardinal shot at 25 feet with a 400mm lens.  This is not possible at 80 feet even with a 600mm lens.  Is this what you are after?  Or are you just wanting to say there is a bird on the feeder?

IMG_1514.jpg

Canon 7D with a EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM at 400mm. 1/64 sec;   f/5.6;   ISO 320.  Normal program; Spot metering.

 

The suggestion of the ef 300mm f4L IS plus 2x was just another option.  The advantage is f4 aperture when you decide to use it as a 300mm prime stand alone.  It is extremely sharp when used alone and will tolerate a lot of cropping.  It is lighter and is totally hand holdable.  Remember in photography there is no free lunch.  You give to get.

 

As to what is the best rig for your situation, I will tell you what I would do if I were you.  Not what I would do as myself.

Get a 7D Mk II with the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens for Canon EF.  The reason for buying the Sigma over the Tamron is the Sigma can use the Sigma USB Dock for Canon Lenses.  It allows fine focus adjustment of the lens and firmware updates to be installed.  If you are not into that level of detail, I have no preference in the two lenses. 

Your choice.  But that rig will get you as close as reasonably possible without a real money investment.

 

That rig will be hand holdable but that isn't going to get you the absolute best results. So, a tripod is almost a requirement. The movement from ground to feeder is no problem for a quality tripod.  Where did you get that silly notion?  Yes, you will not likely get BIF (birds-in-flight) on a tripod but otherwise no issues.  Re-read Bob from Boston's advise on buying a tripod.

I already listed my tripod.  It is a discontinued model but Manfrotto makes an upgraded model.  Mine was in the $500+ range.  I also have a lighter Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 Aluminum Tripod with a gimbal head.  It would suit you better.

Warning: Gimbal heads are very expensive so be sitting down when you shop for one!

 

There is one more thought.  Great photos usually, not always but usually, require some carefull thought and set-up.  They are not mere snap shots.  I have spent several hours at my work setting up a shot that took less than a half second to actually take!

 

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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Re: What zoom to buy?

[ Edited ]

(I also plan to add a hummingbird feeder at the station in the spring.) Suppose that I buy the 7D Mark II with Sigma 600mm lens and a heavy duty tripod with electronic trigger. Will this setup give me excellent photos?"

 

The correct answer to that question is, yes, it can.  But it will still be up to you, the photographer.  Equipment only takes you so far and the rest is on you. Hummingbirds are a whole different ballgame.  They are extremely difficult to shoot.

 

123.jpg

EOS 1D Mk IV with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens for Canon at 600mm. heavily cropped in Photoshop.

Distance was about 15 to 20 feet.  Hand held, no tripod.

 

 

 If the answer to my question is "yes", which tripod do you experts suggest?

 

The one that works best for you. Not the one that works best for Ernie Biggs.  I like my Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 Aluminum Tripod a lot.  But some will say it is too heavy to cart around.  I don't.  Go check some out.  The tripod in the first picture is not portable at all.

 

" PS. I can use my t3i for everything else, including family pics at the beach (south Jersey)."

 

If you buy the EOS 7D Mk II, you will never use the T3i again.  So sell it or give it to the kids to learn photography on. Canon's Rebel line is great but not in the same solar system as the 7D Mk II.

Here is a thought.  Get the 7D Mk II along with the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens.  Now we are talking.  This is a fantastic combo. Add the big Siggy or Tammy and go shoot the beach or the birds to your hearts content! Smiley Very Happy

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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Re: What zoom to buy?

Which tripod to buy?

 

The best tripod will be the one that fulfills your needs.  Also, don't forget that the tripod head is at least as important as the choice of tripod.  With the 7D MkII and the 600mm Sigma, I would not invest in a set of legs that cannot handle at least 30 lbs.  While there are some pretty good deals on tripod/head kits, most compromise on the quality of the head, unless you spend upwards of several hundred dollars.  I paid the bucks to learn that lesson.

Decide what type of head is best.  Ball heads are most flexible for shooting stills, where you can take time to compose the shot.  The most accurate heads, though, will probably of the pan and tilt variety.  By accuracy, I mean that you set it up today, and then come back tomorrow and be able to precisely reproduce the same tripod and head settings. 

I have a heavy duty tripod with a ball head that I use for toting around.  A ball head with a friction/drag adjustment on the ball is a must.  I have a less totable tripod with a heavy duty monopod tilt head, mounted on a panning base, all of which is mounted on a leveling base/head.   The ball rig weighs about 8 pounds, while the tilt rig weighs about 15 pounds.

Both of my setups can handle at least 30 lbs.  The tilt head setup can handle over 60 lbs, which makes positioning my 500mm lens at the moon a breeze.  It doesn't drift when I fully tighten it down. 

Consider how tall you need the tripod to be without the center column extended.  Extending it only adds instability on a lighter duty tripod, which is another reason why a heavy duty model is a must.

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