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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Lens advice for birding and night photography

    I have been looking at dSLR lenses for a couple of weeks, I want a set-up which would be suitable for Night photography. In particular night landscapes brighten enough to make the scenery clearly visible. (Sleeping bird colonies are also cool)

    I also loveto take photos of Birds and other wild life in action (Sleeping birds are only fun in the dark). This would require a telescopic zoom. From time to time I like to take photos of swimming fish (brown trout mostly). I suspect this would be more filter base then lens.

    In my research I have gotten a few options together, all roughly in my price range. I would prefer to spend less rather then more. The options are for lenses which would connect onto Canon 350D, Pentax *??? and Olympus EVOLT E-500

    I would like advice on what would be the best lens set-up , along with general advice on what lenses I should purchase. I have very little understanding on lenses.

    Which lens
    Option A
    Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX HSM
    kit lens(Canon 18-55mm EF-S)

    Option B
    Canon EF 70-200 F4L USM
    Kit lens (Canon 18-55mm EF-S)

    Option C
    Canon EF 75-300mm USM f4/5.6
    Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II
    kit lens (Canon 18-55mm EF-S)

    Option D
    Sigma 70-300MM F4-5.6 Apo DG Macro
    Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II
    kit lens (Canon 18-55mm EF-S)

    Option E
    Pentax DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED
    Pentax SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4
    kit lens (Pentax SMCP-DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6)

    Option F
    Olympus 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5
    kit lens ( Olympus 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6)

    Option G
    Sigma 55-200mm f/4-5.6 DC
    Olympus 35mm f/3.5 Macro ED
    kit lens ( Olympus 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Melbourne, Australia
    I can't say for other mounts but for Pentax, I would grab the K100D (SR gives you a couple of extra stops for low light photography) it will be out in August...

    For low light lenses for landscape it depends on your budget and how wide you want to go?

    You mentioned 35mm in one option so at around that I would suggest the Pentax FA 35mm f2.0 or if you have the money the Pentax 31mm f1.9 Limited... You could go the 50/1.4 as you suggested but it will be 75mm so more telephoto than wide/normal..

    For telephoto the best buy would be the Sigma DG EX 70-200 2.8. The DA 50-200 is amazing quality for the price and size too, but obviously not as bright, if you can live with a 4-5.6 (with SR will be easier to live with) then it is a great buy... The kit lens is good for a kit lens but I would buy the 16-45 f4 instead...

    So for me that would be the
    - Pentax K100D
    - Pentax FA 35/2
    - Pentax DA 16-45/4
    - Pentax DA 50-200/4-5.6 (or if you have the money the Sigma 70-200/2.8)

    I have gone a little over the cost of option E though.. To stay within budget I would say get the 16-45/4 and the 50-200/4-5.6 and drop the 35/2 (or 50/1.4) to start with (save for that)...

    I would perfer to leave it to others to suggest the best options in their prefered mount ;-)
    Last edited by jeisner; 06-14-2006 at 03:56 AM.
    Joel - Canon 50d, EF16-35/2.8 Mk1, Σ 50/1.4, EF100/2.8 Macro, EF70-200/4 IS, 430EX II

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Wild, Wonderful, Wyoming

    Longer lens

    For wildlife in action and birding a 200mm lens in most cases won't be long enough. A 70-200 lens is basically a mid zoom and is a great lens to have in your bag, but mainly for portraiture, larger wildlife, and the zoo. As for a night lens, any lens will do, just stop the lens down, support your rig with a tripod and go with a longer shutter speed. You'll be hard pressed to find any lens that's fast enough to allow fast shutter speeds at night.
    A good photograph is knowing where to stand.
    Ansel Adams

    Rule books are paper, they will not cushion a sudden meeting of stone and metal.
    Ernest K. Gann-Fate is the Hunter.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    You want a lot for little, and that is always going to be hard. I'd suggest a Canon EOS 20D. Why? Because it performs well in high ISOs, and produces noise that either is fine to live with or easily corrected with noise ninja. I know the 20D is more expensive than the cameras you mentioned, but it will be needed, in my view.

    In night shots long exposure times and a GOOD tripod are your friend. A good tripod again will set you back moneywise.

    Then the issue of lenses... you will need a longer lens than 200mm for most wildlife/bird shots. think 400mm... that is either a 200mm with a good 2x tele convertor (Canon 2x extender or Soligor 2x C/D tele convertor), where the lens should at least be f2.8 so you can still have reliable auto focus (the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 being the cost concious choice), or a 80-400 Sigma (with image stabilization) or 100-500 Tamron or 100-400 Canon (with IS). The Canon will perform best, but is also most expensive.

    You want a lot... good low light/high ISO performance, good reliable tele performance... and both require a good tripod, which will on its own already cost a few 100$.
    Canon EOS 350D, Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 macro, Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 DC EX, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM, Tokina AT-X124 Pro 12-24mm F4, Soligor 1.7x C/D4 DG Teleconvertor, Manfrotto 724B tripod, Canon Powershot S30

  5. #5
    JJnp Guest

    magnification factor

    One thing to keep in mind is the magnification factor of D-SLR's.
    I would go with Option C which would be:

    Canon EF 120-480mm USM f4/5.6
    Canon EF 80mm f1.8 II
    kit lens (Canon 28-88mm EF-S)
    (with the Canon 350D which has a 1.6 magnification factor)

    I don't know the magnification factor of the other cameras.
    Last edited by JJnp; 06-14-2006 at 11:06 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Des Plaines, IL

    Lightbulb Tamron Option

    Reviewing the wants and needs... and that untold budget...

    The TAmROn Package

    SP AF200~500mm f/5-6.3 Di LD (this will get the birds and is exceptionally lightweight) (~$850) (43.6 oz)
    Attachment 12953

    AF 18~200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD (a 'gap-filler' until you "pony up" for great glass) (~$389) (14 oz) -This image is the AF18~200 married up to the 'proposed' 350D -
    Attachment 12956

    Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II (for taking brown trout shots) (~$68)
    Attachment 12955

    This package will provide adequate 18~500mm coverage in two zoom lenses and provide a reasonably sharp and fast prime for fixed or low-light shots.

    You might called this package:

    "The two-glass minimum, with a shot on the side."

    Then again, you might not.
    Last edited by DonSchap; 06-14-2006 at 12:06 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Thanks for all of the great and helpful answers. I did not include my budget because I have to try and work it out in USD (or another more recognised currnecy) which involves several variables including exchange rate, dslr body cost, difference in retail value of lenses between countries (pentax products here are often strangly expensive), new vs 2nd hand price ect...

    Roughly the budget would be around $850 USD. I already own a few nice tri-pods so I do not have to budget for them.

    I was going to comment further but my lunch break is quickly running out.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    the minimum focal length that i would go with for shooting birds on a cropped sensor would be around 300mm. which means using a TC if going with a 200mm lens. ideally you'd want 400mm or more (birds can be tiny and even a wee bit if distance between your subject can go a long way in shrinking your subject to objectionable size.)
    couple of things i want to point out:

    shutter speeds will become a problem so you're likely to keep the lens wide open.
    DOF is rather shallow at the longer focal lengths so accuracy is important
    image stabilization of some sort is definately useful
    depending on what you shoot focus speed can also be critical

    the tamron 200-500 actually produces some nice images and covers a very nice range, but i've also heard that the autofocus can be slow, so i skipped this lens when shopping for a tele.

    sigma 80-400 is supposed to be pretty decent, but has a noisy (and maybe slow) motor.

    canon 70-300 IS optically very good, has IS, but somewhat short.

    the other stuff is out of your budget range.

    night photography: you'll need something to assist AF other than the canon's flash strobe if it's really dim and you don't want disturb the subject. the third party offerings i've tried were really poor when attempting to focus in low light
    Last edited by ReF; 06-14-2006 at 07:10 PM.
    canon 17-40 L, 70-200 f2.8 L, 400 f5.6 L, 50 f1.4 & f1.8, 1.4x TC, sigma 15 f2.8 fisheye, flash 500 DG Super, kenko extension tubes

    note to self: don't participate in sad, silly threads unless you're looking for sad, silly responses.

    "anti-BS filter" (from andy): http://dcresource.com/forums/showpos...94&postcount=4

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