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Thread: Bigger Lens for birding

  1. #1
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    Default Bigger Lens for birding

    I currently shoot with the 400 5.6L lens and I truly am in love with this lens and would never part with it. But, sometimes I think I would like more reach, but often wonder if it would work for me.

    I love walking around the bush for the birds, but at times do sit and wait. I looked at the 500 IS and then sometimes I hanker for the 600. I am a woman, so hand holding the weight at times would bother me, but I always use my monopod, so I would mount the 500 on this and move around. I love moving around and doing bird in flight.

    Actually, do any woman have the 500 or 600 on this forum?

    Your thoughts would be appreciated.



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    Default Re: Bigger Lens for birding

    Stick with the 400mm in my opinion Shelley. What camera are you shooting with?

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    Default Re: Bigger Lens for birding

    Thanks Paul, that is what my brother says - I have the 7d.

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    Default Re: Bigger Lens for birding

    You are working at an EFL (effective focal length) of 640mm with that camera and its subsequent crop factor (x1.6). This is an excellent range and the fact that it is handheld is a really, really big bonus. A 500mm or 600mm will mean you have to cart around a tripod as well. I am fairly physically fit and still find it a really big task to carry lens, camera and tripod even short distances. Before thinking about the big lens I think you should try and hone your stalking skills and maybe invest in a hide.

  5. #5
    Tony Hansford Guest

    Default Re: Bigger Lens for birding

    That's a good point that Paul has made. It took me 19 years to get my 500mm and now I have one I will never get rid of it. But I have found it definitely needs to be supported with something solid. Weight wise it's not that bad but it magnifies shakes and vibration so much that it needs a support under it.

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    Default Re: Bigger Lens for birding

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Randall
    You are working at an EFL (effective focal length) of 640mm with that camera and its subsequent crop factor (x1.6). This is an excellent range and the fact that it is handheld is a really, really big bonus. A 500mm or 600mm will mean you have to cart around a tripod as well. I am fairly physically fit and still find it a really big task to carry lens, camera and tripod even short distances. Before thinking about the big lens I think you should try and hone your stalking skills and maybe invest in a hide.
    Thanks - I do have a hide. Will be using the hide when I go to Mornington Sanctuary in October as I will be after the Purple-crowned Fairy-wren and some other birds. I have been seriously birding for two and half years I think. Birding is something I will always do. I am small, but fit, but getting older I guess.

    I think if I did buy the 500, (I like that it has IS and F4), it would be for areas where I was positioned to get birds. Like the Osprey nest, or certain areas where the wrens nest and so on. I do have my spots.

    Thanks for being honest Paul - and I am not convinced yet in buying anything, as I think I do pretty well with the 400.

    Thanks Tony, I won't be rushing it and probably will try to use before buying.

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    Default Re: Bigger Lens for birding

    There's 3.8kg in the 500 lens alone Shelley, that weight adds up along with the camera, flash, support etc. If you want more than 400mm think about a 300mm f2.8 with a 2x, definitely a lighter package, at 2.7 kg and smaller/easier to handle. If you can wait and spring the $11,000 plus for the MkII 500mm, it's nearly as light as the 300/2x combo.

    The 300mm f2.8 is basically the only lens that really maintains excellent quality with a 2x.
    Chris Ross
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    Default Re: Bigger Lens for birding

    Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens :P

    Shelley, Vanessa Hilliard (who sadly passed away this year :cry: ) used both Canon 600mm/4 and 800mm/5.6. Don't let the size and weight put you off(but be aware of it). Like you mentioned You'll still use your 400/5.6 as a walk around lens.

    I sometimes get a sore back carting my kit around but when the birds are on I don't feel a thing

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    Default Re: Bigger Lens for birding

    Chris - thanks for that option of the 300 2.8 2x - something that I had not considered. Tempting - I am happy to save away for it, as it would be something for life - not like a car or anything.

    Chris - Vanessa Hilliard - wow - i searched her name and found her flickr site - what an inspiration she was, so sad that I did not find her before she passed away. Really interested in finding more information about her. Thanks for mentioning her - she really was amazing - I laughed about how she didn't have new clothes - I am getting a bit like that. Thanks for your thoughts.

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    Default Re: Bigger Lens for birding

    Come on fellas!!!
    I've been using a Sigma 150-500mm lens with my Nikon D60 for the past 2 years.
    We walk up to 8kms in the bush at a time, my arms did initially get tired when I first
    had it, but now I find it not a problem at all and I am 60!!
    Regards Judy



    .Our land abounds in Nature's gifts. Of beauty rich and rare.

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    Default Re: Bigger Lens for birding

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Hansford
    That's a good point that Paul has made. It took me 19 years to get my 500mm and now I have one I will never get rid of it. But I have found it definitely needs to be supported with something solid. Weight wise it's not that bad but it magnifies shakes and vibration so much that it needs a support under it.
    Yep. It's certainly hand-holdable for stretches, but to get good consistent sharp shots, you need support. And that'd be a tripod, not a monopod IMO.

    Quote Originally Posted by shelley
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Randall
    I think if I did buy the 500, (I like that it has IS and F4), it would be for areas where I was positioned to get birds. Like the Osprey nest, or certain areas where the wrens nest and so on. I do have my spots.
    That's a good plan. In which case, the 600 is also an option. So long as you can support it, your only problem is carting it about to the shoot location.

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    Default Re: Bigger Lens for birding

    Thanks Judy, so there is hope for me .

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    Default Re: Bigger Lens for birding

    Yes don't be put off by the weight - as Adam said, just be aware of it when making your decision. Like any photography there are times where one lens will be better than another. Sitting in a hide with a 500/600 on a tripod will get you some magic images. As Chris said the new versions of the super teles are much lighter and the new 600 will weigh almost the same as the current 500. I used my 500 f4 extensively hand held and with a monopod until i got a Mongoose head and carbon fibre tripod (another thing to save for and work out weights etc). Personally i don't think the 300f2.8 will offer as much extra reach as you might want over the 400. I am constantly shooting with a 1.4x on the 500 and still wish for more length for many subjects. Keep fit, get a light but sturdy tripod (with a shoulder pad) and you'll love it
    (Don't forget that Judy's lens is quite a bit lighter than the big Canon lenses - basically half the current/old 500f4)
    Cheers, Dave

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    Default Re: Bigger Lens for birding

    Thank you for all the comments - I have found it useful. I think I will buy a bigger lens, not just sure when, I might wait for the new ones and provided they are not way over the top. I usually wait a while till the initial prices settle and come down a little. My husband says I can buy, but I need to look very carefully and save some more money. I do birding trips as well - so it will take a little while longer.

    Weight is something that I will be taking into consideration.

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    Default Re: Bigger Lens for birding

    Quote Originally Posted by shelley
    Thank you for all the comments - I have found it useful. I think I will buy a bigger lens, not just sure when, I might wait for the new ones and provided they are not way over the top. I usually wait a while till the initial prices settle and come down a little. My husband says I can buy, but I need to look very carefully and save some more money. I do birding trips as well - so it will take a little while longer.

    Weight is something that I will be taking into consideration.
    Good luck with that. Lenses rarely go down in price. The only exception is when the lens is brands spanking new to the market, and the early adopters pay the (usually quite big) premium to own it. Then it settles and stays there pretty much for life.

    If you're looking at a 500 f/4, the price you see now is generally about the same as what you'll pay for years to come.

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