What equipment?

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What equipment?

Post by alphan on Wed May 09, 2012 3:44 pm

Being a beginner in this hobby, I would love to hear what equipment does the SIFUS here use. I only use a MF 600mm f7.5 modified refractor. Many a time I miss the shots as the birds beat me to the finish line and very often came out not in focus. So I am interested to know what you guys here use. I saw most of the photos here sui sui and can use to shave. Some of you want to poison me so I need to know whose poison are too strong and can kill me so have to stay further away LOL.

What I mean is lens and camera that are suitable and affordable. Would love the Nikon/Canon 500 f4 but those would be beyond my reach. My current camera is Sony 550 which I am thinking of the need to retire soon. Anybody here uses the Sigma 500 4.5 or the older Canon 500 4.5 ? Would like to see some photos and where can I find used ones. Would the D7000 or 60D be a good enough? Someone say the 7DII would be coming out soon so can wait for the price of the first model to drop?

Thanks.
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Re: What equipment?

Post by wahoo on Wed May 09, 2012 4:29 pm

Since you're using Sony, you might consider SAL 500 f/8 reflex lens. Yee have been using the lens for so long and the image he produce is just awesome..
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Re: What equipment?

Post by jhseow on Wed May 09, 2012 6:41 pm

wahoo wrote:Since you're using Sony, you might consider SAL 500 f/8 reflex lens. Yee have been using the lens for so long and the image he produce is just awesome..

Agreed with wahoo if budget is a concern.
You may also can consider sigma 150 ~ 500 if it have Sony version .
Else, go for the new Sony 500mm F4.
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Re: What equipment?

Post by wahoo on Wed May 09, 2012 9:54 pm

Or you maybe can opt for Minolta lenses.
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Re: What equipment?

Post by JKC on Thu May 10, 2012 9:26 am

Is more on individual expectation. I would say a lot of the birders poison them self. lol

when you reach to a level of details expectation you will dig out bullet or bite the bullet to buy whatever to reach what you want. all those entry gear will be worthless after that. that is why some will advice you to walk the right path or waste some learning fee start from entry level.

But the fun start with what you can archive.


just my point of view.
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Re: What equipment?

Post by alphan on Thu May 10, 2012 12:08 pm

When i first started my interest in birds, I get the Tamron SP500 which is the older of the Sony 500 Reflex. Then I find the contrast and donut bokeh limitation. So I switch to Tamron SP200-500 as the Sony 70-400 are more expensive and lesser reach. I still find the lack of sharpness and contrast with the SP200-500 but my greatest problem was still no AF as most of the time it just hunts, unless I shoot only zebra which will lock focus faster.

Yes, Yee's pics are stunning. Some of them shot using the old A100 and some shot through the branches. Donut are evident on some shots only. That is excellent control. I can never match that . Must meet this great Sifu to learn some tricks from him before I migrate.

Then I was introduced to the Astro telescope for birding. I use a 600mm f7.5 ED Refractor, which works just like the MF lens but bigger and longer. Pics are quite good but lacks the speed and AF.

When I bought the SP200-500, Sigma have not launch their model for Sony mount plus also Sony being body motor driven AF, tends to rip their gears easily.

The scope's contrast and sharpness are much better then Sigma Bigma or 150-500 HSM OS. The new Sony 500 f 4 can buy me the new Canon f 4 plus balance for a body. Currently selling for US13000 .

Old Minolta lens are good but not so suitable for Digital. They are like wine, only gets more expensive as they age. A used lens (400 mm and above) easily cost double now when compared to new price.

Sony's lenses are limited and hard to come by. So I am thinking of jumping ship. It's painful but what to do. Go for cheaper used ones first then slowly take it from there. A Canon 400 5.6 would be a good start, as I can still keep it as my walkabout lens when I go jungle trekking or just bring around with me on my usual day.

Yes, bite the bullet as we call it but not to the extend of getting murdered by the auditor at home LOL. I have seen a few friends using the Canon 400 5.6 (non IS) and the pics are quite good though after too much cropping, lost some details. Then I will let my auditor to use it sometime before I save more to get the real thing. Now keep it to ourselves and no reporting to MACC LOL.

So please help me.

BTW, my this problem only started when I came here. My salute to all of you here for putting up a splendid place.
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Re: What equipment?

Post by JKC on Thu May 10, 2012 5:04 pm

Actually myself are still learning from all the sifu here. but would like to share what I have gone through.

1. understanding the gears you have are very important. function, to me techniques come second.
2. have you squeeze every single drop of water out from your gear
3. how you normally snap your shot? on tripod, handheld
4. using remote, wireless during shooting?
5. what is your slowest shutter speed to get a sharp and clear photo?

Good photos doesn't always come by gear. it's by the photographer. NO doubt high end gear produce the best quality photos but if the user doesn't know how to used it. it won't happen also.

I'm using EF400 f/5.6 without TC, with 5D2. I crop a lot, that is why I need sharp photos to crop or else it won't reach my hardisk lol.

but I came from the hard way, so wasted a lot of bullet before. that;s why I said have you squeeze every drop of the water your gear can produce. Yee shot next to me a lot. so I know how difficult about reflex mirror lenses, until today he are still using it. He might be going for canon next year.

btw! When ever my MOF ask me about the price I bought I always said I got a good discount. 1/3 of the actual price. lol



Smile
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Re: What equipment?

Post by alphan on Sat May 12, 2012 1:43 pm

JKC wrote:Actually myself are still learning from all the sifu here. but would like to share what I have gone through.

1. understanding the gears you have are very important. function, to me techniques come second. Agree
2. have you squeeze every single drop of water out from your gear With the correct person, it can do a lot more but being MF and f 7.5 and my failing eyesight, it gets very frustrating. To get better focus, I need to use MF peeking at 7X or even 14X, which takes a lot of time and most birds simply doesn't wait for me.
3. how you normally snap your shot? on tripod, handheld Done handheld before but extremely difficult. Use a sturdy tripod 99%.
4. using remote, wireless during shooting? With 600mm and shutter speed of 1/150 above, can manage without cable release. If slower or I use TC, cable release is a must. Cable release on camera most of the time.
5. what is your slowest shutter speed to get a sharp and clear photo? I went as low as 1/60 if my subject are near but my tripod must be tighten to high friction (not free tilt/rotate.

Good photos doesn't always come by gear. it's by the photographer. NO doubt high end gear produce the best quality photos but if the user doesn't know how to used it. it won't happen also.

I'm using EF400 f/5.6 without TC, with 5D2. I crop a lot, that is why I need sharp photos to crop or else it won't reach my hardisk lol.

but I came from the hard way, so wasted a lot of bullet before. that;s why I said have you squeeze every drop of the water your gear can produce. Yee shot next to me a lot. so I know how difficult about reflex mirror lenses, until today he are still using it. He might be going for canon next year.

btw! When ever my MOF ask me about the price I bought I always said I got a good discount. 1/3 of the actual price. lol



Smile

Most if not all wasted bullets along the way. It's called tuition fees. Some can afford top gears straight away but never really tap into it and end up as white elephants. Sony are meant for beginners, but for crazy birder like us, the dead end will come pretty soon. Their camera are good in many ways such as ISO, compactness, price etc but they do not have enough lens support.

Your photos are excellent by any standard even though you only use 400 5.6. Do you always manage to get close to birds or you just crop and crop. Here in Sarawak, our birds are quite spooky. Most birds wouldn't let us get nearer than 30M, unless in hide. With camouflage clothing and hat, it's difficult to get nearer than 200 m when approaching CSE, unless it landed nearby without our any movement.

I quite often buy 2nd hand gears for a few reasons. Being used, it comes cheap and my Auditor will not query so much. Also when I resell, need not loose too much.
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Re: What equipment?

Post by JKC on Sun May 13, 2012 8:57 pm

Don't feel shy what you want to ask for advice. These will help you when you are alone without any other birders to share with you in Kuching.

When you gear has limitation such as MF lens, don't pick the super active subject. There are still a lot birds that you can get. You must learn to study the bird habitat. Approaching the bird when they are looking for food. Find out what kind of fruit trees your subject like to go. We do that here also or else we won't able to get close to our target. Get close to the bird need technique too. There are comfort zone within the subject, your gear focusing distant.

Good to know you used tripod. It make a lo tof different. When you in a low light condition but you subject give you time to snap your shot. Try to use mirror lock up. Because during low shutter speed. The shutter will creat vibration. That will causes image blur.

When you reach to a another level. Birds far from 30ft away you don't take a shot, unlesss the subject can fill up 1/3 in your sensor. You will see what I mean when you come to these stage.


Last edited by JKC on Tue May 15, 2012 4:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: What equipment?

Post by alphan on Mon May 14, 2012 10:53 am

No worry. I will not be shy. Yeah, not many serious birders in Kuching. We do have a few who carry top birding equipment and some of them take photos for sale unlike us, just enjoying birds and photos for free sharing. No chance to learn from them as they are so secretive. Most birders here use the Sigma Bigma and the Sigma 150-500.

With the lesser bird density here, we do not have much choices with what to take and not. In my 2 years of birding, I only came across this Dollarbird 3 times and the nearest I can get is about 100m back lighting. Every time were over swampy ground. This was taken with TC on my 600mm to about 1500mm FL x 1.5X crop sensor. No PP and croping. Only resize for uploading.

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And this Grey Capped Pygmy Woodpecker. My Lifer and never knew when will I see it again. Its on a dead tree about 20 tall on a small hill top. Also on 1500mm x 1.5X crop sensor.

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A good birding lens may not produce better result but just because this fella sits there for a while, I can use MF 7X Zoom focusing otherwise I would not be able to catch it. So when out birding and enjoy walking, if I saw a lifer and not getting a reasonably good shot at it just spoil my day ha....


This CKF, I waited for a year for it to return. Came for two weeks only and manage to give it a shot twice. It's on a branch overhanging a lake and I use an orchid nets to cover myself and stake right to the edge of the lake and its about 10 m away. Can get as close as 6m but the lighting will be from the side.
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All photos here are un processed but resize for uploading only. Again I am quite happy with the results (not expecting top quality pic from my poor eyesight). Because it sits there for about half an hour for me to shoot.

Along the way, I did learn a lot about habitat, food, behavior etc, resulting in me getting closer to them but not so many species. I goes back yard birding once a week and nearby forest reserves/Parks about once a month.

My Sony A550 no longer have mirror lockup as in A100. they seems to be going backward.


Know of anybody using the Canon 500 f 4.5 or Canon 400 f 2.8 (old lenses without IS) and Sigma 500 f 4.5? Would like to see their pic quality and hear from their owners what their pros and cons are.

Would love to learn from the Sifus here on how they do birding ha....

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Re: What equipment?

Post by JKC on Mon May 14, 2012 4:46 pm

Don't worry. we are here to share, learn and improve together.

you are facing the same problem Yee now are facing. he didn't know the A550 doesn't have the mirror lock-up feature.

Is good to know your target is Canon. it's just my personal preference. Canon has the lens to choose. not only canon lens itself. but also the 3rd party lens.

I only come across one birder using the 500 f4/5 but he is from singapore and I have forgotten his name and contact. we meet during the hot rufous backed KF nesting.

But for Ef400mm f/2.8. these are a super'd lens but also the heaviest of all canon lens. Roger used EF400 f/2.8 with x2 TC but he is using a EF600 f/4 IS now.

If you don't mind about my comment? I would point out a few problem about your shots.
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Re: What equipment?

Post by alphan on Tue May 15, 2012 1:38 pm

JKC, thanks for sharing so much but never too much.

Sony never meant to target wildlife or birders as there are simply not that many. they only target the mass group. Actually Canon and Nikon camera have poorer value than Sony when compared feature to feature and IQ but not the durability. their design are only meant for 2 years as I heard it from the Head of Sony Division in Malaysia. Canon have more lens choice and got chance for used lens which we can upgrade with minimum devaluation.

Were you at the RBKF nesting at Panti last year? Met a few Sinagporean birders there with big lenses but we hardly got time to talk. Everybody were sort of glued to the spot. ..ha..

Yeah, go ahead, critique and comments on my shots. If nobody tell me, I would not learn anything. One day I will buy you a drink and have a good laugh over it.

At Sony we have this website [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] Are there something similar with Canon? What would be the usual price for a good condition used Canon 400 5.6 (non IS)? Or where to get a new one with good price?

Cheers.
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Re: What equipment?

Post by JKC on Tue May 15, 2012 4:13 pm

alphan wrote:JKC, thanks for sharing so much but never too much.

Sony never meant to target wildlife or birders as there are simply not that many. they only target the mass group. Actually Canon and Nikon camera have poorer value than Sony when compared feature to feature and IQ but not the durability. their design are only meant for 2 years as I heard it from the Head of Sony Division in Malaysia. Canon have more lens choice and got chance for used lens which we can upgrade with minimum devaluation.

Were you at the RBKF nesting at Panti last year? Met a few Sinagporean birders there with big lenses but we hardly got time to talk. Everybody were sort of glued to the spot. ..ha..

Yeah, go ahead, critique and comments on my shots. If nobody tell me, I would not learn anything. One day I will buy you a drink and have a good laugh over it.

At Sony we have this website [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] Are there something similar with Canon? What would be the usual price for a good condition used Canon 400 5.6 (non IS)? Or where to get a new one with good price?

Cheers.

OK. let's start with Gear first.

1. camera body - which suite you the best?
Base on Canon. it has crop factor body of 1.6x, 1.3x (1D series), FF. each give you different quality and the most important are which to choose.

Important factor - Noise control, color Grain (are the worst) - Noise are sometime created by higher ISO, under exposure. Color grain are due to image sensor. Is the design of the image sensor from all the 3 difference quality body. Higher Megapixel with smaller image sensor doesn't give you extra benefit. it can create more color grain when you crop into your images.

Start with 1.5x crop body - you will have to study what's the highest ISO you can used that produce less noise level. Not to mention when you crop in to your photo. that's mean you are magnifying the images. When you do that. the noise will be more obvious, color grain come next and the images has less dynamic detail, less details you can see or sometime it become pixelate. you need to know what the maximum percentage you still can crop with crop factor body. that is how you fixed you distant within your subject.

Shutter vibration - each body has it's own mechanical design. you need to know what's the lowest shutter speed that body has less vibration. than you use mirror lock-up or life view to reduce the percentage of vibration. sometime it also causes by photographer finger pressure when he/she press the shutter.

LCD accuracy - you need to study and compare with you laptop or desktop. Best are to print it out to compare. because it will be the factor of exposure, white balance, contrast accuracy. When you do printing. set printer to default. Understanding it will help you because you will have to set to suite the lighting and environment condition. sometime are due to the subject color also.

AF point selection - NO doubt high end body wins all. my 5D2 are the worst of all.


Lenses
No doubt the highest grade lens make a lot of different but which suite your wallet and your health.

Anyway! all these are just my personal point of view and preference. Some might have other opinion.

EF 400mm f/5.6 are a very good entry lever lens but you will have to know the lens sharpest distant. that mean you will have to find the sharpest point. I found out each lens are different even it is the same model. the only negative point of this lens are it doesn't come with IS.

EF 300mm F/4 IS are pretty good also but when you used it with TC. it create softness. that's why I change to EF400 f/5.6

If you are looking for a place to read review. Fredmiranda are a very good place [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] Sometime I post my photos there also.


Smile


Last edited by JKC on Wed May 16, 2012 7:39 am; edited 2 times in total
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Re: What equipment?

Post by JKC on Tue May 15, 2012 4:22 pm

btw! I didn't go to Panti for the RBKF. our hot time with the bird was in Ulu Langat Perdik. I covered some shots here [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

About your 3 photos above.

1&2. a little OFF,, might be also due to the TC. shots are under exposed, even after you PP. you won't see much detail because you will have to crop quite a lot, by doing that the image will be pixelated and causes lose of detail. another issue is you have selected a disadvantage location which are against the natural light. sometime we have to pick the right natural light condition.

3. much better but you must be using auto WB? Is a bit too cool. a little under. the white patch are very difficult to exposed.
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Re: What equipment?

Post by alphan on Wed May 16, 2012 5:10 pm

What a co-incidence. The Panti one was late June/early July last year. Didn't know there were another pair so near ha...

C&C. 1. About 200m over swampy ground, middle of the day, terrible atmospheric distortion. Even with tripod lock, cable release, even if high shutter speed will still get blurr pic.

2. Was there waiting for the Ruddy KF to come then this fella appear. 1st time and only time in 2 years, what to do? Shoot or just wave hello? Ha.....

3. Yes, AWB but shot in RAW. Only convert from RAW to JPEG with most setting to zero. Here's my simple processing.
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C&C my processing too. Thanks.
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Re: What equipment?

Post by JKC on Wed May 16, 2012 5:47 pm

alphan wrote:What a co-incidence. The Panti one was late June/early July last year. Didn't know there were another pair so near ha...

C&C. 1. About 200m over swampy ground, middle of the day, terrible atmospheric distortion. Even with tripod lock, cable release, even if high shutter speed will still get blurr pic.

2. Was there waiting for the Ruddy KF to come then this fella appear. 1st time and only time in 2 years, what to do? Shoot or just wave hello? Ha.....

3. Yes, AWB but shot in RAW. Only convert from RAW to JPEG with most setting to zero. Here's my simple processing.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

C&C my processing too. Thanks.

You should start to used manual WB setting even shot with raw because sometime when the subject color has higher contrast it tend to over Saturated and sometime it can't be recover.

Natural light condition and situation are not control by us. So we have to suite the environment instead, plan the time or wait for better chances. that's the only thing we can do. the others are base on luck most of the time and when it comes. than only we talk about technique.

About your PP, is not bad actually. the stamping are a bit obvious. but photo came out consider good. just that you can't ask for more on crop factor body.


Last edited by JKC on Thu May 17, 2012 6:02 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: What equipment?

Post by JKC on Wed May 16, 2012 5:52 pm

btw! the EF 400mm f/5.6 are around RM3600. I think . much much cheaper than I got it last time for RM4300. go go go. Smile
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Re: What equipment?

Post by JKC on Thu May 17, 2012 12:01 pm

btw! here are a sample how sharp the EF 400mm f/5.6 lens can produce.

original file. just downsize to web upload
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crop. no major pp just increase 5% sharpness
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Re: What equipment?

Post by JKC on Thu May 17, 2012 12:14 pm

subject at the minimum focus distant which is 12ft.

orginal
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crop like above
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Re: What equipment?

Post by JKC on Thu May 17, 2012 12:15 pm

So! what do you think about these cheapest entry lens?
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Re: What equipment?

Post by alphan on Thu May 17, 2012 5:14 pm

That's one lens I am definitely going to get. I know of a few guys using it and they came out with fantastic result. The price I can get would be RM3630 with 2 years Canon warranty.

Not decided about the body yet. I can get the 600D as starter and when I got rid of my Sony gears, my auditor can take over. She hates heavy equipment. By then I may get another 400 5.6 or if I can get a cheap 500 4.5 or something. I saw at Dpreview, the 60D aren't that fantastic over the 600D and neither the 7D over the 60D. The only thing really goes up is the price. Let me start with something first, then do some comparison before moving forward again.
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Re: What equipment?

Post by alphan on Thu May 17, 2012 5:18 pm

Anybody can offer any advice between the Canon 1.4X TC II and 1.4X TC III?
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Re: What equipment?

Post by JKC on Thu May 17, 2012 6:12 pm

for your info. the crop factor body will lost AF when you used TC with EF 400mm f/5.6. another thing to take note is sharpness lost.

so far the best crop factor body I see is 7D.


I think there are many version II TC for sale because a lot has change to version III. Smile
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Re: What equipment?

Post by alphan on Fri May 18, 2012 9:04 am

I heard from some 400mm 5.6 users that they can still AF with good lighting on the 1.4X. Sharpen lost will always be there but the pixel remain compared to cropping.

The 7D cost more than double the 600D, and 1.5X the 60D. is it worth the little extra? Plus additional weight.

How much have the III version improved over the II version?
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Re: What equipment?

Post by JKC on Fri May 18, 2012 10:02 am

the AF works when you tape the last 2 pin of the TC but AF are slow, in low light is hard to lock the subject.

Adding TC will have light lost, lower shutter speed, Thiner DOF becaue the camera body won't register itself to f8, it will still be at f5.6. focusing range are never be enough. even with big gun.

I think comparing 600D, 60D with 7D are actually in different category. 600D are DLSR entry level body. 60D are a bit better. 7D body built material are different. for sure 600D are the lightest.

If you used these crop factor body. the image sensor are design with pre-crop percentage. than when you crop your images again to a certain percentage. it will become pixelated. adding the TC will increase both. Later you will understand what I mean. because you will start to question ????? why I can't get the sharpness like others? Because I I have friends told me that.

the optical quality between II & II TC are different. III has better contrast details.
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