DSLR & Lenses?

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DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 8:42 am

I'm starting to run into the limits of my camera in attempting shots of very small, very distant objects. An example would be trying to get a picture of a prairie racerunner sunning itself on a yucca stump; these lizards 10" or so long, lightly built and *very* flighty. i'm doing good to get within 20-30 yards without them taking off and hiding. I'd also like to start trying to take pictures of some of the local birds (red-wing blackbirds, thrushes, meadowlarks, etc) and they're pretty similar in their tendency to take off and fly.
I'd also like to do more extreme macros than my camera seems capable of; small spiders, the eyes of toads and frogs, the stamen of plants. I don't know that I'll find a point and shoot with this capability, so...
I'm looking for something with interchangable lenses. I plan to take a photography course at the local junior college when it's offered this winter too, since I might as well get the most of my new toy.
I'd like some guidance, or even any good buying guides...I find tons of stuff when I look up buying guides DSLR in google, but I'm not comftorable evaluating them, so I don't know how good they are.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 9:23 am

It's good that you've identified which types of photography interest you. You should next think about how much you are prepared to budget for this hobby. You can spend anywhere from a few hundred up to tens of thousands of dollars on lenses. Don't be afraid to buy used equipment to save some money.

In the DSLR world, the two dominant players are Canon and Nikon. Sony is third, then there are smaller players like Pentax, etc. If your friends and/or relatives already own Canon, Nikon or Sony (Minolta Maxxum) equipment, you should choose that brand so that you can borrow/share lenses and accessories.

For photographing wildlife, you'll want a minimum of a 250 mm lens. With the 1.6x or 1.5x field of view crop factor associated with entry-level and mid-range DSLRs, you'll have the equivalent field of view of a 400 mm lens mounted on a 35 mm full-frame camera.

For close-up macro photography, you'll want a 1:1 macro lens or extension tubes to allow a regular lens to focus closer than is normally possible. You'll also want a tripod and a good flash.

A refurbished EOS Rebel XSi kit for $545 wouldn't be a bad place to start. Add a telephoto zoom lens for your lizards, and all you'll lack is a macro solution.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 9:46 am

One thing to keep in mind is that for subjects as small as your lizards, if you want to fill the image with them you will need to be closer. Your current Sx100 goes to 360mm (35 mm equiv.) in terms of lens - about the same field of view as the 250 JAE suggested as a minimum. Realistically speaking, you're not going to get that much more ability to fill more of the image with the subject, even with spending significant money on SLR stuff. Getting a monster lens like a 500mm would only make the lizard look twice as large. An SLR with decent lens can certainly be used (with additional care...) to create images of higher technical quality than a point and shoot, but it straight-up terms of "making stuff look closer" I would not expect a dramatic improvement. Wildlife photography, for those who are successful at it, is very much about patience and fieldcraft.

On the macro side, both image quality and ability to get very close can be greatly improved by an SLR.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 9:47 am

You're getting into the hobby at an interesting time. There are many options available now that may suit your needs. I think you are correct in wanting a camera with interchangeable lenses. The fact that you want to get the pictures you describe indicates to me that you have the bug for this hobby, and a point-and-shoot camera won't give you the breadth to grow your skills.

First, some prelims. You're going to want to have at least a 300mm-400mm equivalent reach on your long-range lenses, and a dedicated macro lens for close-up shots. Since 35mm cameras are the standard, every other size of camera has a certain crop factor that you need to apply to find out the 'standard' reach of each lens. For example, my Canon 7D has a crop factor of 1.6x, meaning everything is magnified by that amount. A 300mm lens on my camera is really a 480mm lens (barely enough for wildlife like birds and so forth). Macro lenses are labeled as such, and can also double as regular lenses.

You'll want to consider price, features, size (weight), and user interface when deciding what camera to purchase. Price speaks for itself. Features are more important to users who have used cameras for a while and know there is a particular feature set that is important to them, like video, exposure bracketting, etc. Novice photographers shouldn't worry about this too much at the start, as its hard to determine what means a lot to you when you haven't used any of it.

If you are really into photography as a hobby, size (weight) of the camera isn't all that important. Most of us don't mind carrying around our equipment if our focus is on the pictures we're going to get. Size and weight becomes more of a concern when photography is more of a casual thing. For example, if you just want something that you can whip out quickly, take a few pics, then shove back in your pocket or knapsack, a large, heavy camera will be a burden no matter how great the pictures end up looking.

Finally, user interface refers to how you hold the camera, select settings, etc. This preference varies from person to person, and it is well worth it to go to a camera store or find a friend who has cameras and shoot for a while with different kinds of cameras. Most systems are functional, but you need to find one that makes sense to you.

Next you want to take a look at format. There's a new breed of camera out there these days that have very small camera bodies (nearly point-and-shoot-sized), but have regular DSLR image sensors and interchangeable lenses. The Panasonic micro-4/3 system, Sony NEX, etc. are in this group. The reasoning behind these cameras is that they are much lighter and smaller than traditional DSLRs but have much the same in terms of image quality and features. I like that idea, but the tradeoffs are too much for me. While the cameras themselves are nearly as small as a point-and-shoot, their lenses make them nearly as bulky as a traditional DSLR. This means that you still need to make provisions to take the camera with you as opposed to throwing it in your pocket as you would with a point-and-shoot. There are all sorta of tradeoffs that these cameras have in terms of image quality and usability. The whole idea seems like a middle-of-the-road compromise that blends some of the good, of each SLR and p&s, but retains the bad of each as well. Some other gerbils here have such cameras and love them, but they're just not my thing.

The established world of full-size DSLR photography is going great guns now. My personal favorite (based on image quality and user interface) is Canon. Canon has a line of DSLRs ranging from $600 up to thousands. Fortunately, even the low-end Canon DSLRs are worth the money, so you can enter at that price without worrying that you're getting a compromised product (it may not have the latest features, but older != unworthy). In this range you're looking at the Canon Rebel 450D or 500D. The sweet spot for entering photography, imho, is the Rebel 550D, but it'll run you closer to $1,000.

Lens-wise, if price is a concern, this is a good entry level macro lens to get closeups of bugs, and it'll also double as a great portrait lens for taking portraits of people, and this or, preferably, this for your zoom lens. I selected these zoom lenses because to do serious long range photography, you really need at least 300mm reach. The second lens is more expensive, but is also much better.

With this setup, you'd have a great starting kit for well under $1,500.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 9:53 am

The EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS lens has a minimum focusing distance of 3.6 feet, yielding a maximum magnification of 0.31:1. That's not the 1:1 of a true macro lens, but it does focus closer than most telephoto zoom lenses. If you add extension tubes, you can focus close enough to bring the magnification above 0.5.

The EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 doesn't have very good image quality. It may be Canon's worst currently-produced lens. I'd get a third-party lens like the Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO instead if I couldn't afford the 55-250 or the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM.


P.S.: Here's a deal on the EOS Rebel T1i, new with the 18-55 IS, 55-250 IS and 75-300 lenses for $665:
http://slickdeals.net/forums/showthread.php?t=2077478
You may be able to unload the 75-300 to someone else for a profit to bring your net cost down to under $600 for the T1i, 18-55 IS and 55-250 IS kit.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 11:19 am

I'm still figuring it out, particularly the macro stuff. Two situations I run into a lot:
I like to shoot bugs. There's lots of very tiny (I'm talking eraser sized) inverts I'd like to get good shots of, and I simply don't seem to be able to. They're never quite in focus. I don't know why but I can't get the focus on the dang bugs (using manual focus). The ground, leaves, whatever are behind them are perfectly sharp. If I back it off a bit, the bug's too small to be visible even what picture there is is crisp and clear.



As far as the lizards go: this is a shot of a sceloporus undulatus, taken with my current point and shoot. I'd like to be able to get similar shots with the cnemidophorus, but they dash a lot sooner than the sceloporus. I don't need to fill the frame with them, but I've been nearly unable to get any shots where they're really visible. Going out in the early AM can help, when they're still a bit sluggish, but the best behaviors occur mid-day when they're all warmed up and ready to go tearing off.

Image
I wish I could have gotten a better composition; gotten that rightmost plant out of the shot maybe, and come down an inch or two...oh well
on a related note, composition is a PITA with animals. Lots of waiting for a shot while hoping they don't run off!

Image

crotophytus collaris
Image
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 11:43 am

paulWTAMU wrote:I'm still figuring it out, particularly the macro stuff. Two situations I run into a lot:
I like to shoot bugs. There's lots of very tiny (I'm talking eraser sized) inverts I'd like to get good shots of, and I simply don't seem to be able to. They're never quite in focus. I don't know why but I can't get the focus on the dang bugs (using manual focus). The ground, leaves, whatever are behind them are perfectly sharp. If I back it off a bit, the bug's too small to be visible even what picture there is is crisp and clear.
This is likely a case of your camera just not being able to focus closely enough. A good macro lens, maybe with some extension tubes and other close-up accessories as well, would do better.
paulWTAMU wrote:As far as the lizards go: this is a shot of a sceloporus undulatus, taken with my current point and shoot. I'd like to be able to get similar shots with the cnemidophorus, but they dash a lot sooner than the sceloporus. I don't need to fill the frame with them, but I've been nearly unable to get any shots where they're really visible. Going out in the early AM can help, when they're still a bit sluggish, but the best behaviors occur mid-day when they're all warmed up and ready to go tearing off.
Roughly speaking, it's going to be possible to roughly double your magnification from what you currently get for the long-distance critters. To do this you would need a 500mm lens on a crop body. The cheap end of "ok" lenses at that focal length is going to start around $1000.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 11:55 am

mattsteg wrote:Roughly speaking, it's going to be possible to roughly double your magnification from what you currently get for the long-distance critters. To do this you would need a 500mm lens on a crop body. The cheap end of "ok" lenses at that focal length is going to start around $1000.
The Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 OS is $1000. The Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 OS is $1600. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM is $1441 (at Amazon). The Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D VR is $1650. The Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6G is $1500.

Any of those is a pretty big chunk of change for your first lens purchase.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 12:04 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:
mattsteg wrote:Roughly speaking, it's going to be possible to roughly double your magnification from what you currently get for the long-distance critters. To do this you would need a 500mm lens on a crop body. The cheap end of "ok" lenses at that focal length is going to start around $1000.
The Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 OS is $1600. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM is $1441 (at Amazon). The Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D VR is $1650. That's a pretty big chunk of change for a starter.
Additional options you didn't list include the unstabilized version of the sigma or their 150-500 around 1k, or the tamron 200-500 which is also decent at about 900.

I agree that the price of a lens that's at least usable at that long of a focal lens is a big chunk of change for starting out. If Paul wants an increase in reach over what he's getting from his point and shoot (beyond better per-pixel image quality) he's looking at a minimum of ~1k, along with the commitment to carry a relatively heavy, bulky lens. Going further in terms of reach is largely impractical as at that point you're firmly in the range of supertele exotics, TCs, etc. While it is a common entry-level DSLR choice, grabbing a DSLR with a cheap xx-250 or 300 zoom isn't going to get him a whole lot in terms of reach vs. what he has now. It's important that that be clear going in so that any decision be made with a clear understanding of the relevant information.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 12:26 pm

So far very informative. I'm hoping to keep 2k or below starting out. Which means the 500mm lens is probably out of reach >.> I can likely start with a Canon, a good macro lense, and at least a decent lens that's got the same reach as I have now though, something in the 250-300mm range.

Any good books or anything I should read before I dive in?

Thanks :)
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 12:34 pm

paulWTAMU wrote:So far very informative. I'm hoping to keep 2k or below starting out. Which means the 500mm lens is probably out of reach >.> I can likely start with a Canon, a good macro lense, and at least a decent lens that's got the same reach as I have now though, something in the 250-300mm range.

Any good books or anything I should read before I dive in?

Thanks :)

One good thing to do before settling on a brand is to check out the ergonomics of their bodies (and make sure that they have the lenses and accessories available to do what you want now and in the future as you are buying into a system). Canon and Nikon are pretty different in ergonomics and pretty similar in terms of capabilities. The entry-level Canon bodies in particular have ergonomics that can be very suboptimal if you don't have small hands. If possible, I'd avoid making a brand decision before at least trying out different bodies briefly in a camera store, unless you have access to an existing collection of equipment for one brand or the other.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 12:41 pm

Under $2k? Let's see what B&H has to offer. A Rebel T1i costs $610 new. An EF-S 60mm macro runs $422. An EF 70-300 IS USM is $549. So, a very nice starting setup for $1,581 + shipping.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 12:47 pm

FireGryphon wrote:Under $2k? Let's see what B&H has to offer. A Rebel T1i costs $610 new. An EF-S 60mm macro runs $422. An EF 70-300 IS USM is $549. So, a very nice starting setup for $1,581 + shipping.

For critters I'd strongly lean toward a 100mm or longer macro for better working distance, and it'd also likely be a good idea to add *something* at a focal length <60 for general-purpose shooting if there are plans for photography other than critters large and small. Could squeeze the 200-500 in that budget if the extra reach and higher specialization are definite desires and outweigh stabilization in importance. That'd be a fairly drastic step, though.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 1:24 pm

You need to get in a bit closer with the 60mm than a longer 100mm macro, but it's certainly doable. I've gotten pretty close to bugs (not with the 60mm); just depends which ones, I guess. For ~$500 more you can get the 100mmL which is an awesome lens and will give more freedom. That's still in the $2k range, but right near the limit. Might be worth it. The other consideration is that with the 60mm lens, it can double as a walkaround lens; it's not REALLY a walkaround lens on a crop body, but as a secondary duty, it could work.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 1:37 pm

Don't forget the Canon 400L f/5.6 prime lens! It's my first lens besides the kit lens. It's around $1260 new, but it's a SUPER lens and 100% worth the cost. The AF is really quick and quiet and it's SHARP. It really doesn't get any better when you stop it down past wide open so mine's always at f/5.6 when that gives me enough DoF to work with.

That and a used 40D would be around $1900. I do mostly wildlife photography and that's my setup. That gets you 640mm of 35mm equivalent which seems like a lot, but when you get down to it, you always want more reach for the small critters. However, it's often too long on things like deer though (at least in my yard).

The biggest factor in getting good shots of animals comes down to your stalking ability. Many people use blinds to photograph birds and other skittish animals. Not sure that'd work for the lizards, so that's where you have to practice the most at getting close without spooking your subject.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 7:33 pm

I am a big supporter of buying a very inexpensive DSLR and spending the money on lenses. The bodies will depreciate in value considerably faster than the lenses. So here's my suggestion (prices from Adorama):

Canon XS Kit with 18-55 IS (refurbished): $399
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro: $409
Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 OS: $999

Grand Total = $1,858
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 8:56 pm

Another voice for investing in glass rather than bodies.

Legacy lenses also give some very interesting options, especially if you don't mind losing autofocus. Not a problem for snakes (they don't tend to move fast) and maybe lizards (you probably want to manually override focus if they're in grass).

Something like the Minolta Rokkor 500/8 catadiatropic lens would give you an 800mm equivalent reach (1000 on a micro four thirds camera), is about the size of the Canon kit zoom, and can be had for under $200. It's capable of some nice results, but you'll have to understand that with a cat lens you lose aperture control and can get some funky looking highlights. You can mount the Rokkor on a Canon or Sony body with a MD to EF and MD to Alpha mount adapter. Unfortunately, I don't think there's an adapter for Nikon because of Nikon's long flange back distance.

Hm... apparently there's a modern 500/8 cat lens with AF for the Sony Alphas... (haven't seen or heard of it until I googled the Rokkor).

As to Macro lenses, I find 60mm to be plenty for insects on APS-C - this translates to a 100mm macro on FF. I'm currently enamored with the Tamron 60/2 as it doubles as a nice portrait lens, and unlike the Tamron 90/2.8, has full time MF (I think the clutch mechanism on the 90 is pretty 'meh').
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Sun Jun 13, 2010 9:53 pm

I have the EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM. It has recently been replaced by the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, but the older lens is still widely available in stores. With internal focusing, non-rotating filter, full-time manual focusing and superb image quality, I believe that it was worth it to spend the extra few dollars to get this Canon lens over the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro, Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Macro or the Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:09 am

Personally, I would suggest the Canon Rebel XSi, the non-L 100mm f/2.8 macro, and the 70-200mm f/4L. If you wait for sales and buy used glass, that package can be done for about $1600. Save your remaining budget for that day when it dawns on you that the 18-55mm kit lens is pretty lousy in anything other than bright light, and then get the 28mm f/1.8 prime for general walk-around and low-light indoor settings.

200mm may not seem all that long, but the 15mp effective resolution of the XSi and the sharpness of the f/4L might get you the images you desire by simply cropping the image during post-processing rather than trying to fill the entire frame when shooting the initial image. If you disagree after trying it for a while, note that used L-glass in good condition has about an 85-90% resale value retention regardless of age, so you wouldn't be out much if you had to sell and upgrade.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:10 am

I bought an Olympus E-PL1 about 3 weeks ago and have really liked it so far. I'm not a big photography person (though starting to get into it) so I wouldn't take my opinion too seriously. The camera seemed like the best compromise between image quality and size. I picked up a cheap Olympus OM to m4/3 adapter and have started collecting old OM lenses. I have to say using the camera in full manual mode (by necessity) has been fun and educational. I love the feel of the manual focusing ring. The Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 lens is IMO pretty nice for $10. With the 25mm extemsion tube it's not bad at macro work though I have to get uncomfortably close to the subject.

There seem to be either micro four thirds or four thirds (plus adapter) lenses that will fit your needs. It's something to consider.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Mon Jun 14, 2010 3:28 am

OK, so I did some more research, and was surprised to find that Sony's AF-capable 500mm f/8 catadiatropic lens was actually quite affordable than I expected: going for around $700.

With in-body IS, this might be a fantastic safari/birding/wildlife lens.

Some pages here:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000GFZGCG?tag=glnow-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=B000GFZGCG&adid=0K5ESJ3ZFFWTVE62CC5F&
http://www.dyxum.com/lenses/Sony-AF-Reflex-500-F8_lens310.html
http://www.dyxum.com/dforum/topic11513.html

If you do get a sony alpha, take care to get an A450 or higher body, as the lower end models have CCD sensors and are not the best for low light photography as a result.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:22 am

Voldenuit wrote:Something like the Minolta Rokkor 500/8 catadiatropic lens would give you an 800mm equivalent reach (1000 on a micro four thirds camera), is about the size of the Canon kit zoom, and can be had for under $200. It's capable of some nice results, but you'll have to understand that with a cat lens you lose aperture control and can get some funky looking highlights. You can mount the Rokkor on a Canon or Sony body with a MD to EF and MD to Alpha mount adapter. Unfortunately, I don't think there's an adapter for Nikon because of Nikon's long flange back distance.

Hm... apparently there's a modern 500/8 cat lens with AF for the Sony Alphas... (haven't seen or heard of it until I googled the Rokkor).


I just got an old 500mm "Ensinor" lens of this type (no AF) for £30. Obviously this isn't a quality item but if there's plenty of light it does seem to produce some quite nice results. In fact considering the price it produces excellent results! The lack of AF doesn't seem too much of a problem for me as I don't seem to be skilful enough to be able to walk around just snapping off photos with it :wink:
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:47 am

Take the deal on the EOS Rebel T1i + 18-55 IS + 55-250 IS + 75-300 that I posted earlier and sell the 75-300. Add the Sigma 150-500 OS that mattsteg recommended, a tripod, a Speedlite 430EX II or 580EX II flash, a camera bag, memory cards and the EF 50mm f/1.8, and you've got a nice kit for your $2k.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Mon Jun 14, 2010 7:36 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:Take the deal on the EOS Rebel T1i + 18-55 IS + 55-250 IS + 75-300 that I posted earlier and sell the 75-300. Add the Sigma 150-500 OS that mattsteg recommended, a tripod, a Speedlite 430EX II or 580EX II flash, a camera bag, memory cards and the EF 50mm f/1.8, and you've got a nice kit for your $2k.


Why does he need a flash for wildlife photography?
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Mon Jun 14, 2010 7:52 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:Take the deal on the EOS Rebel T1i + 18-55 IS + 55-250 IS + 75-300 that I posted earlier and sell the 75-300. Add the Sigma 150-500 OS that mattsteg recommended, a tripod, a Speedlite 430EX II or 580EX II flash, a camera bag, memory cards and the EF 50mm f/1.8, and you've got a nice kit for your $2k.


I don't agree with this build for the OP's requirements.

He wants a tele for wildlife and a macro for closeups.

He also treks out to take his shots, so suggesting a 2 kg lens like the 150-500 is pretty excessive, IMO.

And flash for wildlife macro takes too long to set up to be much use in the field.

Don't forget he's coming from a P&S, so there's probably a limit to how much gear he's prepared to carry out with him to get that better IQ.
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Voldenuit
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:57 am

Agreed.

The macro is simple, and can be cheap. You don't need a fast lens - and you don't even need af. A decent manual will do. Olympus OM lenses are adaptable not only on oly/panasonic bodies but also canon. You can get good results without too much expenditure.

Even on my p&s - an fz28, I was killing AF simply because i was focusing by moving the camera back and forth anyway. Use a tripod if you can, but if you're running around, you can't - shoot in bursts and try to capture the object in focus as you rock to and fro.

For macros, you can
1 - use a regular lens with a close up filter/extension tubes
2 - use a macro lens

A regular lens can be used anytime - but, you're sacrificing on iq. Good achromatic filters are pricey. You're looking at $100 for a 67mm canon 500d "filter". ~60 for a raynox 250.
You can just get a old manual focus macro.



If you're 30 yards away and want to catch something 10 inches, you're doomed. 250mm isn't enough. Even 500 is pushing it.
If you're looking to shoot something smaller farther away with a larger sensor, you will probably not be satisfied.
Your first upgrade then should be figuring out how to get closer, or lure the subject to make 250mm-400mm a reasonable enough zoom.

I shot this critter at ~15 yards with a 70-300mm @ 300mm WITH a 1.7 teleconverter (tcon 17) on a 2x crop body - that's 1020mm effective.
Image
Image
here's a monkey at 20 yards, 600mm effective
Image



If you go the slr route, I'd suggest used lenses (after you read positive reviews on them - you know, google....)
e.g. Here's what you may look at upgrading to when you're comfortable with spending large amounts of money on your slr, and weighing yourself down.
http://www.keh.com/camera/Nikon-Autofoc ... 2397N?r=FE
http://www.keh.com/camera/Canon-EOS-Fix ... 40360?r=FE
F4 300mm without completely breaking the bank.
http://www.keh.com/camera/Canon-EOS-Fix ... 6011K?r=FE
F4-F5.6 100-400mm

Couple a good 300mm F4 with 1.4x teleconverter, and you'll be F5.6, 420mm, and still good in the IQ dept.

If you want 500mm, you can get it for a little less than the 150-500.
http://www.keh.com/camera/Nikon-Autofoc ... 4361R?r=FE
just remember that with third party lenses, you CAN run into quality control trouble.
I don't want to suggest 500mm though. It really does require vastly different use from your p&s. You can "get away with" not using a tripod with 300mm if you brace yourself, 500 is just that much harder that you really need a pod - and if you're new to dslrs, you'll probably cheat, and try to do without - everyone does. But that can lead you with a bad taste. So you need a tripod, it's an off brand where you may have issues, costly - and it's dark @ F6.3.


Start here http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/index.php select the lens you want to read up on, and look for the "blur index" chart. You want a lens sharp when zoomed in.
start a spreadsheet
camera tele macro otherlens cost

e.g.
nikon d90 (800) + 70-300 vr (450) + 30-200mm mf macro(225) = 1475
nikon d5000 (625) + sigma 70-300 (160) + canon 250d filter(80) = 855 add a tcon17 to boost that zoom (510!) for $95 off amazon. beware of the weight on your lens though. The TCON will work best on the nikon IF (internal focus) lens, where it's less likely the weight will damage moving parts.


Decide what's important to you - lens speed (aperture), high iso, cost, size, image quality etc.
Use the spreadsheet and put several choices down. Then start eliminating based off of research cost/sharpness etc.

I ended up with an Olympus e620 as a result of that. The 2x crops is useful on tele and macro depth of field. I cannot suggest Olympus SLRs at this time since their future in SLR is unknown and bringing out doomsayers.

If you are accustomed to p+s and want small, consider micro fourthirds however. Panasonic's GF1, and the olympus pens can use either's lenses. 2x crop factor.
Panasonic is releasing a 100-300mm this fall.
Olympus pen will work with the existing 70-300mm from their slr lines (albeit with sluggish af)
Almost any manual focus lens can be adapted. So you have cheap available lenses if you don't mind manual focus. This gives you a lot of cheap macro and low light lenses.

Sorry for the ramble. Just be aware if you want good IQ, you will have to pay. Do your research and take your time selecting the lenses/accessories you'll desire.

HF
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:00 am

Do yourself a favor and look at some Olympus gear. They probably have one of the best zoom/IQ/size ratios out there, plus some really good glass. Their equivalent mm due to the 4/3 sensor crop brings you even closer. The weather seals are even more of a plus, especially in the dusty desert. I have seen some excellent up-close shots taken with a 300mm fixed plus a TC over on the fourthirdsphoto site. Folks there rave about their Oly gear for birding and nature due to a variety of factors, least of which is portability.

No, I don't have first-hand experience. Nikon and Canon are NOT the only game in town, and in this case may be too bulky to deal with. Just not as good in low-light.

-LS
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:40 am

I've got the lower end Olympus E-PL1 Micro 4/3 camera and its been fabulous. I bought a 70-150mm Olympus OM lens for $25 shipped along with a $40 adapter ring and it works FABULOUSLY. I also just paid for but have yet to receive an Olympus OM 28mm f2.8 Macro lens for $55 shipped. There are adapter rings for every type of lens under the sun for the Micro 4/3 setups (and I'm sure every other kind of camera too), but the biggest thing for me on the M4/3 was that if I'm going to a baseball game, its not HUGE. I can take it and still get killer photos without taking something thats going to weigh a ton hanging around my neck all day.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:27 pm

liquidsquid wrote:No, I don't have first-hand experience. Nikon and Canon are NOT the only game in town, and in this case may be too bulky to deal with.

This is true, although for a beginner, there's a much larger used lens market for Canon and Nikon, which improves the odds of locating what you want at a tolerable price. Currently I've got six pretty good Canon lenses (seven after my EF-S 60mm macro arrives later this week). Not one of them was purchased new, and yet four of them are nearly indistinguishable from brand new hardware while the other two have only minor problems that don't affect the glass or focusing. For all of that, I saved a total of perhaps $600 over typical new retail prices, which is real money.
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Re: DSLR & Lenses?

Postposted on Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:00 am

ludi wrote:
liquidsquid wrote:No, I don't have first-hand experience. Nikon and Canon are NOT the only game in town, and in this case may be too bulky to deal with.

This is true, although for a beginner, there's a much larger used lens market for Canon and Nikon, which improves the odds of locating what you want at a tolerable price.


True, but one of Micro Four Third's advantages is compatibility with almost every format ever made. There is a huge range of legacy formats you can get adapters for, from $25 C-mount lenses to $11,000 Leica M lenses. Of course, you lose autofocus, but that does not have to be a deal-killer depending on what you shoot and your skills. And among the endless choices of old lenses are some legends and classics. I got my S-M-C Takumar 50/1.4 for free as a generous gift, but you can pick one up from $50-100, with workmanship and build quality that is unrivalled today (my lens is over 40 years old and still in great shape). Zeiss Contax G lenses, Voigtlanders, Canon FD, Rokkors, Hexanons, you name it. Walk into any used store, and there's a good chance you'll find something you could put to good use on a MFT camera just sitting on the shelf gathering dust.

Although I will candidly say that this is not a solution for everyone, probably not for a beginner coming off a P&S (although some of the most enthusiastic legacy adopters in the MFT forums came from a P&S).

It's also not necessarily the best format for birding/wildlife even with modern AF lenses (such as the 100-300/4-5.6 Beomagi mentioned, which works out to a 200-600 FF equivalent), because CDAF still isn't up to the best PDAF systems out there, and it can't track moving subjects anywhere near as accurately. On the other hand, CDAF is (supposedly) immune to backfocus issues.

Still, as liquidsquid mentions, the size advantage is considerable, even with legacy lenses, because a. legacy lenses don't have AF motors and are generally more compact than modern lenses, and b. the 2x crop factor.

The Rokkor 500/8 samples I linked to included some mounted on a MFT camera. Imagine a 1000mm equivalent camera+lens combo that weighs under 1 kg. I went trekking in the jungle a few months ago with the GF1, 7-14, 20/1.7 and the S-M-C Tak 50/1.4, and all my camera gear combined weighed about 1 kg. A similar FL coverage with the 40D would have weighed 2.5 kilos, give or take.

That said, I'm not in the habit of recommending MFT cameras to everyone because it is a system with a very specific set of compromises (and advantages). For most enthusiasts willing to put up with the weight and bulk, an entry level DSLR is still more capable in most areas. But if you want to travel light, be unobtrusive, and most of all have a system so small that it is always by your side, Micro Four Thirds can give you IQ close to an APS-C DSLR in a much more portable package.
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