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Please, PLEASE help me find a camera!
Hi all! I am a birder and nature lover. I am an ecology major. Right now, I have a little Canon point and shoot. I want to get something better. Obviously, 3x zoom isn't enough for birds, and it's autofocus always messes up close shots..

I can't decide what camera to get..

I was thinking the Panasonic FZ-18. It has 18x lens, and I am hoping it would do well for close shots. However, pics I have seen online have not really satisfied me, they seem blurry, not sharp at all. It does have IS onboard, though..

Then, we get into SLR's like Nikon and the Digital Rebel. The images I have seen from those cameras are clearer, but, cameras are much more expensive. I could also only afford a 70-300mm lens, with no IS. Is 300mm good enough, even, for birds?.

I'm hoping for some advice as to what to do. I admit, these cameras are advanced for me, and I do not understand a lot of the features. I have started reading up, and am going to take a class at the local shop. I would like a camera with these features, to give me room to grow, and more professional features. However, I can't afford to drop 1,000 dollars on a camera, but I don't want blurry images.....

Help!!..

Comments (23)

Outgoing models, so cheap, and image stabilised bodies mean IS for all lenses, useful for the telephoto shots you will do as a birder, plus compatible with most lenses ever made by Pentax. K10D is weather sealed too..

Comment #1

I'm looking them up right now.  I haven't heard much about Pentax, are they pretty good?.

Will a 300mm lens be okay for birding? I apologize again, I am a bit confused going from x to mm.  I will remedy my lack of knowledge asap. ..

Comment #2

Also, do I need something like IS out in the field? It makes things so much more expensive...

Comment #3

I am not a birder so more experieinced people than I should answer the 300mm question, though remember your multiplication factor for digital ie 300mm on most systems is around 450mm equivalent. IS is only useful for blur due to camera shake and will not help with blur due to subject motion, nor will it be helpful if the camera is on a sturdy tripod. However with the Pentaxes you will find you are not paying too much of a premium for in body IS anyway. I have an Olympus e410 myself and great deals are to be had on that but it is not IS and long lenses are expensive in that system.Others may have ideas to add..

Comment #4

A lot depends on what you're doing in the field with regards to IS. If you're shooting birds at rest or perched, then IS can be a great help. If you are shooting birds in flight, it's nearly useless..

The reason it's not important for in-flight shots is that you need a fast shutter to freeze the bird. I use around 1/1250 sec for this. This freezed the bird and compensates for camera shake better than IS could..

Bird photography is fairly expensive. It's hard to do on a budget but possible. Many consider 400-500mm to be the minimum focal lengths for birding. I agree, but you can sometimes get by with 300mm with luck and a stealthy approach. Point and Shoots don't make good birding cameras because of the lag time. You often only have a second to catch the shot.



Also, 2 1/2 to 3 frames per second come in extremely handy for birding. In fact, I keep my camera on 6 frames per second. Birds move fast and sometimes you have to let it rip to catch that great photo. Maybe only one in 40 frames is a keeper, so we often machine-gun the bird in flight..

As a minimum, I'd consider the Nikon D40 with the 70-300 VR lens. You'd be under $1000 but not by much. You'll also need a solid tripod..

Here's a photo I took last Monday with a 70-300 VR and Nikon camera..

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Here's my gal with her D40 and a 70-300 VR.

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Here's another with the 70-300 VR.

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Comment #5

Andremw wrote:.

I was thinking the Panasonic FZ-18. It has 18x lens, and I am hopingit would do well for close shots. However, pics I have seen onlinehave not really satisfied me, they seem blurry, not sharp at all..

Yep, and that's what you will get with a compact or 'bridge' camera. There will always be an upper limit to the quality you can achieve, and you will hit it surprisingly quickly..

The usual recommendation for bird photography is 400 mm on a cropped-sensor DSLR. I have a 70-200 with a 1.4x teleconverter making 280 mm, and I can confirm that is not really enough. On the other hand it does teach you the skills you need to get closer to your subjects, and if you can do that it is better than relying on longer and longer lenses. And you have to be realistic when you are on a budget - a 400 mm lens is an expensive item. 300 mm will be ok..

Yours is one of those cases where it will probably pay to choose a DSLR body and lens based not just on what you can do now, but what you will move on to later. An entry-level Canon body - the new 450D or the less expensive 400D (older model but still very good) together with the best lens you can afford is what I would recommend. This opens the door to Canon's excellent longer lenses at some point in the future...

Comment #6

Look for an Olympus E330 on Ebay. It's a very good camera. You could get this DSLR for under 400 used. If you want to save $$ and start slow. Look at the Olympus E510 and get the 2 lens kit. I have an E510 which is an excellent camera with on board IS.

It's well below $1,000 and will do a great job for what you said you want to do. Here are a couple of shots..

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Olympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #7

I would be deciding between Canon and Nikon, I believe. That's what the local store has, and that's actually what I have been attracted to, except for the fz18. I'd like to be able to hold the camera, and take a look at it..

Would you say for birding, there is a big diff between, say, the 8mp Rebel, and a 6mp Nikon, quality wise?.

I'd be shooting birds on branches, most likely, so I really think I need IS. Canon's IS lens for 300 mm is 500 something!! *has a heart attack*..

Comment #8

Now that I look at it, that Olympus isn't too bad, since it has IS in it, the lenses are about 200 less.....

Comment #9

I've just started trying to do birds (at least flying). ALL DSLRs will take great pictures. All of them regardless of manufacturer. I went with the Oly because it gave me the most features for the $$. I don't have any experience with the Canon or Nikon systems although I do know folks that have both and are quite happy. I have heard them say when they see the Oly.



If you are going with long lenses in less then bright light (like woods) then I think that IS is a must. I didn't want to pay for it in every lens so I went with the Oly. however I think Sony and Pentax also have inbody IS..

Good luck.

JimOlympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #10

Passion is bird pictures. He uses a Canon S5 IS and is quite happy with it..

Bottom line, you need long zoom and image stabilization. You are not often shooting at high ISO, unless you're an owl guy..

Long zoom and image stabilization on a DSLR can be pricey.Patrick T. KellyOaxaca, Mexico..

Comment #11

I agree. I'm thinking, maybe I should go for the FZ18 right now, due to my low budget, since it has a long lens, and IS. This way, I can use my money to take photography classes and buy books. When I come into more money, then I will have the skills to use a top quality SLR...

Comment #12

Keh.com.

Used e300 <$205 8mp+new oly 70-300 = 140 - 600mm reach $379.

+ shipping, <$600.

Great bang for your buck... can hardly go wrong at those prices.

Add other fantastic Oly lenses and you'll have a great birding kit....

Add the sigma 50-500 down the road for <$1k.

Or a 2x converter for $400 and you have 1200mm reach for less than $1k.

Oly will give you the best reach on a budget..

E300 is a well built body with good mp count..

It's really worth looking at..

Comment #13

I really think a P&S is a mistake for a birding rig, and IS if not used that often. You're on a tripod for long work and you need fast shutter speed when hand holding. Birds are skiddish and move fast. I'm not just talking about flight. Their head and tails move rapidly. Also, they're on a perch on moment and gone the next.



Moreover, you do a lot of cropping with birds. You need to be able to sometimes crop a postage stamp out of a much larger image..

Down the road, you're going to want a long lens. Only Canon and Nikon have the type of lenses you'll want eventually. Talk to bird photographers. Tryhttp://www.birdforum.net..

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Comment #14

Guidenet wrote:.

Only Canon and Nikon have the type of lenses you'll want eventually..

That's incorrect......

Comment #15

Andremw wrote:.

Hi all! I am a birder and nature lover. I am an ecology major. Rightnow, I have a little Canon point and shoot. I want to get somethingbetter. Obviously, 3x zoom isn't enough for birds, and it's autofocusalways messes up close shots..

I can't decide what camera to get..

I was thinking the Panasonic FZ-18. It has 18x lens, and I am hopingit would do well for close shots. However, pics I have seen onlinehave not really satisfied me, they seem blurry, not sharp at all. Itdoes have IS onboard, though..

Then, we get into SLR's like Nikon and the Digital Rebel. The imagesI have seen from those cameras are clearer, but, cameras are muchmore expensive. I could also only afford a 70-300mm lens, with no IS.Is 300mm good enough, even, for birds?.

I'm hoping for some advice as to what to do. I admit, these camerasare advanced for me, and I do not understand a lot of the features. Ihave started reading up, and am going to take a class at the localshop. I would like a camera with these features, to give me room togrow, and more professional features. However, I can't afford to drop1,000 dollars on a camera, but I don't want blurry images.....

Help!!.

Well this might be "sleeping with the enemy" But I have a P&S Canon with IS and a very nice Nikon SLR. Given what sounds like a limited budget I would seriously check out the Canon IS series I have a discontinued model an S2IS with a 12x zoom with a digital multiplier (4x) Although the quality is absolutely not SLR quality (shutter lag is a bother) I've taken "birding photos" that are acceptable and better (if I may say) than those taken by an SLR in the hands of a less experienced photographer.Hope this helps. Good luck...

Comment #16

Freealfas wrote:.

Guidenet wrote:.

Only Canon and Nikon have the type of lenses you'll want eventually..

That's incorrect.....

Well it's an opinion and one that's shared by the majority of pros. However, the circumstances described in the original post does support a P&S...

Comment #17

Freealfas wrote:.

Guidenet wrote:.

Only Canon and Nikon have the type of lenses you'll want eventually..

That's incorrect.....

Sorry. I know you're an Oly fan, but I was referring to serious birders in case the OP decided to go that way in the future. Oly's problem is that they are more limited in cropping and the lack of serious long glass..

We're talking 500 f4 and 600 f4 and 200-400 vr. We're not talking Sigmas and Tamrons, when I say serious. We're not talking 2x crop values on 10mp sensors when we take a postage size crop out of an image. We're talking serious overhead in DR..

Again, an Oly might make a good starter birding rig, but long term and serious, I don't think so. I"m not sure why Oly fans try to make their brand a do-anything brand. Why does a 4/3 sized sensor and a max 300 f2.8 $6500 lense make it a great birding rig? You bought Olympus. You don't have to constantly push them to justify your decision. Enjoy it. I'd rather have more choice in my system.

Why the Nikon and Canon envy from some Olympus owners?..

Comment #18

Andremw wrote:.

Hi all! I am a birder and nature lover. I am an ecology major. Rightnow, I have a little Canon point and shoot. I want to get somethingbetter. Obviously, 3x zoom isn't enough for birds, and it's autofocusalways messes up close shots..

I can't decide what camera to get..

I was thinking the Panasonic FZ-18. It has 18x lens, and I am hopingit would do well for close shots. However, pics I have seen onlinehave not really satisfied me, they seem blurry, not sharp at all. Itdoes have IS onboard, though..

Then, we get into SLR's like Nikon and the Digital Rebel. The imagesI have seen from those cameras are clearer, but, cameras are muchmore expensive. I could also only afford a 70-300mm lens, with no IS.Is 300mm good enough, even, for birds?.

I'm hoping for some advice as to what to do. I admit, these camerasare advanced for me, and I do not understand a lot of the features. Ihave started reading up, and am going to take a class at the localshop. I would like a camera with these features, to give me room togrow, and more professional features. However, I can't afford to drop1,000 dollars on a camera, but I don't want blurry images.....

Help!!.

Hi.

You have been given some good advice and some that is brand blinkered..

ANY dslr system will have something that will fit you. Having said that if you want to do this properly you will need to spend a LOT of money...you could buy a decent car for what some people spend on birding photos..

Eg for Canon and Nikon there are 400 2.8, 500 f4 and bigger lenses that are stabilised and very expensive. Oly has the only 2 f2 zooms and some very nice longer lenses that are just as, if not more, expensive for what they are..

Even Pentax you can get a 600mm lens by ordering. Sony has some decent lenses as well...even a auto focus mirror lens..

Birds are not completely my thing but make great test targets and I do like to go for a walk and they are, well, there (usually though they mock me and if I have a short lens they stay away from me and if I have a long one they buzz me.).

As the number of pixels increases in each new camera the reason to have a longer lens decreases...ie with a 14mp camera and a decent fast 200mm lens you can probably get as good or better than with a 300mm lens and 6mp or 8mp camera..

Off course you can have both the more pixels AND fast lenses for even more "reach" (by cropping)..

The Oly and other 4/3 cameras would be good for birds due to the longer effective focal length...though again that advantage is going as you can crop a (say) Pentax K20d photo to Oly dimensions and have even greater effective field of view..

Putting on MY blinkers for the moment...

For your budget NOW you could consider a stabilised body and a manual focus 300 2.8...you would be right about there with either a Oly E510 or pentax K100d and Tamron 300 2.8 adaptall lens....just an idea...actually the cheapest way of getting a stabilised auto focus 500mm lens faster than 5.6 is to use a K100d, tamron 300 2.8 and a 1.7x auto focus adapter...which will take you between $300 and $700 over budget, and you would only have centre point af and centre weighted metering....this is just to show there are plenty of alternatives...

For in flight birds then Canon 40D or Nikon 300d for about twice your budget with a reasonable lens would be the best semi serious option...though you CAN do it with any system, just with a few less keepers...for perching birds, something like a pentax K20d would be ideal..

Anyway here are a few.

This was with a Nikon 85 1.8 and the 1.7x auto focus adapter on a pentax K100d.

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Pentax k100d Tamron 300 2.8 and 1.7x auto focus adapter..

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Same combo.

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Same combo...one of my failures..but I still kinda like it..

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Old manual focus 135 1.8 with the 1.7x afa.

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This was with an old manual focus 80-250 3.8-4.5 Tamron lens stopped down a little (lens cost $27 Australian).

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Neillink back to flickrhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/26884588@N00/..

Comment #19

Just so the O.P. can see for themselves what is possible with Olympus cameras, rather than having to listen to various peoples bias either way, back and forth, check out this link..

Http://forums.dpreview.com/...ms/readflat.asp?forum=1022&message=27460708.

And one from me with the E-510 & 'budget birder' 70-300.

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Comment #20

Kurt Petersen wrote:.

Just so the O.P. can see for themselves what is possible with Olympuscameras, rather than having to listen to various peoples bias eitherway, back and forth, check out this link.And one from me with the E-510 & 'budget birder' 70-300.

Nobody said that you can't take images of birds with an Olympus. No need to be defensive. Moreover, anyone can take an image of a cormorant or anhinga. You can walk up within 3 feet of them and they'll stand still. LOL.

Same with most larger birds. Birds in flight are trickier..

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Birds move fast and sometimes you need a fast camera, lots of DR and a large lens to catch them just when you want that expression. You sometimes need that 6-8 frames per second for "Serious" all day, you're main hobby, birding..

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One moment it's there,.

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And one moment it's gone..

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For budget birding, I agree, most any SLR is fine. For serious birding, most shoot Nikon or Canon. Actually more shoot Canon because of the cheaper super telephotos. Go to a birders blind in North Wales and you'll see mostly white lenses. We Nikon owners are just making inroads with the serious birders...

Comment #21

Sure, BIF can be difficult.

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Some birds can be really shy, I hear these Bul Bul all the time, rarely see them.

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This White Faced Heron is really flighty, I have to stalk him for ages for a clear shot.

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As is this Spoonbill.

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I've only ever spotted this Kingfisher the once, he landed for the space of a few shots. This is cropped a fair bit BTW.

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These Masked Lapwings are not only shy but quite territorial, I see them frequently from a distance, but managed to sneak up on them a couple of times..

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Only ever got the one chance at this Dotterel (also cropped).

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So, not to be defensive, but your assertion that Nikon or Canon is the only way to go is just rubbish. My 'entry level' E-510 and 'budget' 70-300 is doing quite well. If I want an upgrade path it's there, there is a fast, responsive camera to move up to and some of the finest glass around, and they're only just filling the lineup out! I agree that Nikon have a fine system, the D300 is probably the best (and most costly) semi-pro camera around and the D3 is without peer(how many people will buy one however), but the SLR world is changing and the 'big two' are no longer the only viable option..

BTW, you've got some pretty good photos. Why don't you come over and join in "The Sunday Bird' thread on the Oly SLR forum, every sunday. Anyone, using any system is welcome, as long as they don't wish to argue about who has the 'best' camera. It's about the pictures...

Comment #22

You're bird pictures are great too. I might join you guys. You might want to join us athttp://www.birdforum.net. Everyone is welcome..

Name's Craig, from Florida. Nice to meet you. You have just a little Nikon envy, I can tell. **duck** .

Taken today at Merritt Island.

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Comment #23

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