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Lens For Birds

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#1 jjohn



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Posted 31 October 2009 - 10:32 PM

i'm a novice birder and totally uninformed photographer. and i'm broke (grad student) after buying a used Canon dslr, so i'll probably wait a little before i consider buying any equipment. what kind of lens would let me take a decent picture of a song bird 40 feet up in a tree? by decent pic, i mean i can see main characters of the bird clearly, but it doesn't have to fill the whole frame or show me the color of the eye's iris. i guess in terms of magnification, i'm thinking of 10x or so, for a minimum. i'm not going to try to take pictures of hawks a half mile away or publish a photo, just something for my own interest.

#2 mad-donna


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Posted 06 November 2009 - 12:56 PM

It depends how much you want to spend really....but I think the Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM is a good lens to start with. That's the lens I started with and I was happy with the results. Or you could step up to the Canon L series lenses, but they are mega expensive.


#3 jjohn



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Posted 08 November 2009 - 01:51 AM

your response was helpful, it coincided with something someone else told me. thank you.

#4 tumrumble


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Posted 09 December 2009 - 03:21 AM

Rent or borrow a lens. It is the best way to get a feel for what you gain or lose depending on focal length and quality. Most good bird photographers are shooting birds in flight with 400mm or longer and 600mm to isolate in the field. 300mm with a 1.4x multiplier can work too but you lose some clarity.
I think of it this way.. The camera and its megapixels are what many people focus on but it is usually the lens that is more important. If you invest in a high quality lens, you will find you will be buying new cameras but keeping the same lens. It is a much better long term investment. So aiming for the best lens you can afford is the smart thing to do.

300mm on a song bird 40 foot up a tree will not do much for you. Half the trick in bird photography is not to have the bird 40 foot up a tree smile.gif
One trick i use is to find a cliff or overlook roughly level with the tree tops in a known habitat for the bird i am interested in. Now your 300mm might work for you. There are plenty of other tricks if you read around and talk to other photographers that help you when you have a shorter lens.

#5 sandrophoto



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Posted 08 February 2010 - 11:31 AM

erm, 70-300 and if it's not enough u can always for an extender.
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