Light lens for birding?

Started Jun 16, 2013 | Discussions thread
Avi Lewis
Contributing MemberPosts: 659
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Re: Light lens for birding?
In reply to kipling, Jun 16, 2013

I'm sorry to say that I doubt any DSLR/lens combination will really fit your criteria because anything that reaches over 300mm w/any reasonable f/ stop will be heavy, and I don't regard 300mm as adequate for general birding shots; I've seen too many photographers try to get too close to subjects because they were shooting w/ a 250 to 300mm.  Perhaps the answer is a "super zoom", especially as you say your only looking for reasonable quality.  A super zoom could probably generally yield pix adequate to document sightings (as in Cornell's e-Bird), and will be far lighter than any DSLR + lens.

Of course it all depends on what you feel is reasonable IQ and what you feel is a reasonable weight.  I've shot a lot w/ various Pentax DSLRs (K100D Super, K200, and K5) and an original Bigma (50-500) with reasonable satisfaction.  (My photostream at flickr.com/photos/avipix is mostly shot w/ that combo.)  But that still leaves the question as to whether you'd think of that as adequately light.  Incidentally, the quality of the Bigma "improved" as subsequent bodies worked well at higher ISOs, and therefore tolerated smaller apertures.  The advantage here w/ Pentaxes (which would also apply to Sonys, I guess,) is the in-body SR).

When I really wanted to minimize weight & size I also have carried the same bodies w/ a 500mm f/8 mirror, but with significantly less success (smaller %-age of shots in-focus, adequate IQ, acceptable bokeh.)   That size/weight/focal length was certainly pretty reasonable; just the maximum aperture and final IQ were lacking, although some do much better than I did with that combo; take a look at flicker groups devoted to mirror/reflex lenses.

Hope the above is in some way helpful.

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