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Best camera for my mom (she wants to take pix of hummingbirds)?
So I'm researching for my mom she's in her late 60s and not very technically inclined. She's been having fun using a Canon PowerShot (one of the "A" series but I can't remember which model) taking snapshots and so on but what she really wants to do is to capture images of hummingbirds in her garden..

I'm guessing it's mostly the lack of optical zoom on the PowerShot that's preventing her from getting the pix she wants, but I'm not sure what the solution is..

An entry-level DSLR, or something a little underneath that? If it's at all hard to use or requries a lot of menu-fiddling, I know she won't like it so it has to be very user-friendly and pretty smart on it's own in automatic mode. Image quality should be good (obviously) but she isn't going to be as picky as, well, as some of you. .

Any suggestions would be great and greatly appreciated! Oh, price range is flexible but ideally around $300-$600..

Thanks in advance!Han..

Comments (22)

Hummingbirds are fast... usually faster than you can react, and a fast camera is going to be needed. Anything with shutter lag is going to be an exercise in frustration, which pretty much points to going with a DSLR..

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Comment #1

Hummers can be fast, but when they are feeding, they either perch or hover, foe up to about a minute. they are small, but at times, they can make fairly easy subjects. they also tend to have less fear of humans that do most other birde, so they can often be approached quite closely. More than once, I have had them eat from a feeder while I was holding it.Joel Orlinsky.

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Comment #2

An entry level dslr camera would be you best bet (Auto Mode would be user friendly) and eventually maybe better glass (Telephoto)..

I can't wait for spring to get better pictures of hummingbirds myself, they're fun in trying to get good pictures of them..

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Comment #3

Like someone else said, this is a tall order. Faster shutter speed + fast focusing, very short lag too. A DSLR would be your best bet, but you might have to go over your budget..

Canon recently released a 55-250 lens with IS, that could be the ideal lens for hummingbirds, though not so wide. Pair it with a 400D? The prices are dropping fast, so you could get the body for around 500 or less...

Comment #4

Hummingbirds don't seem so tough to me. So long as she can get up fairly close to the birds I would keep it simple with a Canon G9..

Kelly Cook..

Comment #5

If it's any help, here is a 100% crop of a handheld shot of a wild hummingbird taken with a Canon S3 IS (point-and-shoot, not DSLR). Zoom is at full optical tele (12X), IS is ON, ISO 200, both exposure and focus are auto..

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Kelly..

Comment #6

You might look at some of the bridge cameras.Canon and Panasonic, for example, make very nice ones..

On the longer end of the zoom lenses, these cameras get close to 500 mm and have IS built in also...

Comment #7

JRP64 wrote:.

An entry level dslr camera would be you best bet (Auto Mode would beuser friendly) and eventually maybe better glass (Telephoto)..

OP says "If it's at all hard to use or requries a lot of menu-fiddling, I know she won't like it".

That rules out DSLRs. She should just get a P&S camera with a bigger zoom...

Comment #8

If one accepts setting it to "sports mode" or something like that, a dslr can work pretty well. I just checked and my 20d has a figure of a human running that must be sports mode. I've never used it, but I'd guess that in sports mode with a decent lens it could get some very nice pics. Maybe a 300 f4 or a 200 2.8. Someone familiiar with hummingbirds can chime in with advice. -Bruce..

Comment #9

Bruce Gordon wrote:.

Maybe a 300 f4 or a 200 2.8..

Now you are REALLY missing the point of the original post. The OP's mother will not like anything complicated. She won't understand how to set the aperture of the lens. She won't like changing lenses. This isn't the right camera for her...

Comment #10

Set the mode to sports, put a lens on and go. On any camera there will be something to do, and hopefully those 2 prereqs are bearable. Will she have to set an aperture in sports mode?.

-Bruce.

Calico Cat wrote:.

Bruce Gordon wrote:.

Maybe a 300 f4 or a 200 2.8..

Now you are REALLY missing the point of the original post. The OP'smother will not like anything complicated. She won't understand howto set the aperture of the lens. She won't like changing lenses. Thisisn't the right camera for her...

Comment #11

This got me thinking about the last time I went to visit my Folks in Florida, I came across an elderly lady who's hobby was taking pictures of flowers and wildlife. I wish I could have remember what camera she was using, but it looked like was a bridge camera of some sort (a previous jog my memory). Something like that would probably be ideal for her. As for DSLR camera being bad idea, it might be if an entry level dslr didn't have Automatic Modes, but I'm sure all entry level dslr cameras have those modes..

As for hummingbirds being tough to take pictures, no they're not tough to take pictures of, but they very nimble fliers for they can dart anywhere in a blink of eye. Having a hummingbird feeder and lots of flowers help attracts these little birds..

Last year not many hummingbirds were coming around my house or my neighbors (She has hummingbird feeders as well) and other neighbors were noticing dead birds and small animals every so often. Then late in the year I just so happen to take a picture of the villain:.

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(A little blurry I was fumbling around for my camera and didn't have time to see what settings I had it set to).

It's a Coopers Hawk and they prey on small birds and small animals, so needless to say I hope it doesn't come back this Spring. Highly unlikely but predators such as this can make it tough to take pictures of Hummingbirds ..

Comment #12

JRP64 wrote:.

As for hummingbirds being tough to take pictures, no they're nottough to take pictures of, but they very nimble fliers for they candart anywhere in a blink of eye. Having a hummingbird feeder andlots of flowers help attracts these little birds..

Now that I think about it, hummingbirds are scary little things that resemble huge bugs more than they do birds...

Comment #13

Calico Cat, would you like to contribute anything to this thread that is positive and/or helpful? Three negative-toned posts in a row. Stop being catty..

If the lady's only purpose is to catch bird shots from the house, I see nothing wrong with handing her a camera with the NEWBIE mode selected and a moderate lens already attached. A zoom collar isn't too difficult to learn, and can be left alone. Anything with the usual 1~2 second shutter lag is going to be more frustrating. The biggest hurdle with any technophobe is not the camera, but the downloading of the images..

[ e d @ h a l l e yc c ] http://www.halley.cc/pix/..

Comment #14

Hi there, OP here..

Thanks for the replies and the interesting discussion. It sounds like the jury is still out as to whether a bridge aka super zoom camera or an entry level DSLR is the better choice here..

In general, my mom doesn't like to fiddle with knobs or dials that said, she has been taking an online course in digital photography, so clearly there's some interest in learning about this stuff. I'm fairly technically inclined, so if the camera in question has a few easy-to-set features that will allow her to achieve her goal then I think I could probably teach her what she needs to know..

Since she's been using Canons for the past few years, I'm considering maybe a S5 IS (unless Canon is releasing a new version soon!), or a Rebel XT. If I went the DSLR route, what sort of lens would be the best to get?.

Thanks again!..

Comment #15

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Comment #16

New_type wrote:.

IS is very important.

For moving subjects IS is not usually important. You'll need a shutter speed to stop the movement of your subject and that will be fast enough to counteract your own movement. IS simulates a (pretty poor) tripod..

Stopping movement in low light is hard, so better to start with the easier task-stopping it in bright light. Maybe the 70-300IS (yes, it comes with is but it's not vital for the hummingbirds). Not the 75-300IS. Get that plus the 18-55IS and you have a nice starter system. Add in the 50 1.8 and she can do indoor without a flash...

Comment #17

Han Wang wrote:.

If I went the DSLR route, what sort of lens would be thebest to get?.

That depends on how close you can get to them. I've tried 3 lenses - the 24-105F4L IS, the 70-200 F2.8L IS, and the 300 F4L IS. Of those three, the one that worked best for me was the 24-105 because of it's short focus distance. I was able to shoot the photo below from about 18" away. Whereas the other lenses longer focus distances ended up producing a smaller image, even with the longer focal lengths. Also notice the amount of wing motion blur even at 1/1000 second.



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Comment #18

Most Canon cameras will work remotely controlled, tethered to the computer. You can set the camera on a tripod close to a feeder or popular blossom. You can prefocus it to the right distance, then wait for the birds to arrive. Watch from inside the house and trigger the camera from the PC at the right moment. You don't need a long lens and you don't have to worry about scaring the birds off.These were taken that way:.

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100% crop.

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Comment #19

Interesting idea, and great pic! My mom is all about "capturing the moment" though, and I don't think she'd ever go for any kind of setup requiring pre-shot equipment placement...

Comment #20

What's the difference between the 70-300IS vs the 75-300IS that would make one recommended but the other not?..

Comment #21

One is more modern and as reviewed by others far superior. See http://www.the-digital-picture.com/, in particular http://www.the-digital-picture.com/...-300mm-f-4-5.6-III-USM-Lens-Review.aspx and http://www.the-digital-picture.com/...0-300mm-f-4-5.6-IS-USM-Lens-Review.aspx. The review indicates that the lens is not a stellar performer for auto-focus. It could well be a trade off of extra range versus focus speed of the 70-200 f4. They discuss this in the review...

Comment #22

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