My telephoto lenses for bird photography.

Started Aug 25, 2013 | Discussions
Birdman7
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My telephoto lenses for bird photography.
Aug 25, 2013

In my case I have 3 very distinct lenses, each occupies a different niche in my workflow.

1.) Kowa 500mm Telephoto Lens / Scope - One of my most used lenses lately for jack-of-all-trade session PRO'S Weather-proof. Amazingly sharp (Fluorite optics), 1/3 cheaper and lighter than equivalent branded lenses, quick modular systems allows to convert to a 350mm, 500mm, or 850mm in a jiffy without any perceivable loss of quality, doubles up as a top quality scope rivalling the best out there, saves you carrying two bag for lens and scope. CON'S strictly maual focus.)

2.) Canon EF600mmL F4 IS USM II - PRO'S Weatherproof. Insanely quick AF & sharp optics, AF range selector & stop buttons, 3 IS modes. Great for the distant mammals, small woodland birds in a hide setup, shore birds and other shy & quick moving birds. CON'S Very expensive! Needs to be lugged around with a good tripod and gimbal-type head, slows down your fieldcraft.

3.) Canon EF400mmL F5.6 USM - PRO's My favourite birds-in-flight lens for a light setup, its light, super sharp and AF in a jiffy. CON'S no IS an issue for action shots in dimmer light.

Any questions, please ask.

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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS II USM
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NancyP
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Re: My telephoto lenses for bird photography.
In reply to Birdman7, Aug 27, 2013

Do you ever shoot the 600mm handheld?

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NancyP

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Paul B Jones
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My Kit
In reply to Birdman7, Aug 27, 2013

1 - Canon 800mm f/5.6 - Sharp, great IS, monster power, works well hand held, on a monopod or with a gimbal head and tripod. Use it on everything from song birds to distant waders, my favourite lens. It is big and heavy but I have got used to carrying it for hours, the strap draped over one shoulder. Biggest practical problem - does not focus very close (about 20 feet I think). Haunted by - do people think I am compensating for something?

800mm - Ruddy Shelduck, hand held flight shot

2 - Canon 500mm f/4 II - Sharp, great IS, decent power. Totally handholdable (especially after working out with the 800). Use it for very close forest work (downed migrants, ant swarm obligates) and pelagic opportunities. Biggest practical problem - a bit weak, especially on a full frame body. Haunted by - should I have got the 600mm II?

500mm - Ruddy Woodcreeper at an ant swarm

3 - Canon 300mm f/2.8 II - Sharp, great IS, awesome low light capabilities, light as a feather. Use it for tame birds and poor light situations. Biggest practical problem - not much magnification. Haunted by - why did I accept $2500 from the dealer instead of privately selling my near mint version I?

300mm - Spruce Grouse in dawn darkness

Wish everyone could be so fortunate.

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Aurangabadkar
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My Birding Setup
In reply to Paul B Jones, Aug 27, 2013

Canon EF 500 f/4 L IS II USM: Pros-Outstanding optics, super sharp, great contrast and color, light and hand holdable for brief periods of time, great build and weather sealed. Works like a charm with extenders. Great flexibility in FL 500mm, 700mm, 800mm and 1120mm when used with 7D and 5D3 and 1.4X Extenders!
Cons: Cost, Better with bean bag or tripod and gimbal

100-400 L: Pros: Light weight and very portable, good IQ and IS, gives 640mm reach on crop. With good field technique gives very nice results.

Cons: 2 stop IS, not as sharp as primes

My flickr link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/40906945@N08/

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Sanjeev

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Gearóid Ó Laoi, Garry Lee
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Re: My Kit
In reply to Paul B Jones, Aug 27, 2013

Paul B Jones wrote:

1 - Canon 800mm f/5.6 - Sharp, great IS, monster power, works well hand held, on a monopod or with a gimbal head and tripod. Use it on everything from song birds to distant waders, my favourite lens. It is big and heavy but I have got used to carrying it for hours, the strap draped over one shoulder. Biggest practical problem - does not focus very close (about 20 feet I think). Haunted by - do people think I am compensating for something?

800mm - Ruddy Shelduck, hand held flight shot

2 - Canon 500mm f/4 II - Sharp, great IS, decent power. Totally handholdable (especially after working out with the 800). Use it for very close forest work (downed migrants, ant swarm obligates) and pelagic opportunities. Biggest practical problem - a bit weak, especially on a full frame body. Haunted by - should I have got the 600mm II?

500mm - Ruddy Woodcreeper at an ant swarm

3 - Canon 300mm f/2.8 II - Sharp, great IS, awesome low light capabilities, light as a feather. Use it for tame birds and poor light situations. Biggest practical problem - not much magnification. Haunted by - why did I accept $2500 from the dealer instead of privately selling my near mint version I?

300mm - Spruce Grouse in dawn darkness

Wish everyone could be so fortunate.

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Love your photos!

One thing.. Lugging something heavy over one shoulder all day COULD damage your shoulder. Better to spread the load over both if you can.

I once finished up with a sore shoulder for six months after a day doing that..

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A good word never broke a tooth.

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garyknrd
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Re: My telephoto lenses for bird photography.
In reply to Birdman7, Aug 27, 2013

Birdman7 wrote:

In my case I have 3 very distinct lenses, each occupies a different niche in my workflow.

1.) Kowa 500mm Telephoto Lens / Scope - One of my most used lenses lately for jack-of-all-trade session PRO'S Weather-proof. Amazingly sharp (Fluorite optics), 1/3 cheaper and lighter than equivalent branded lenses, quick modular systems allows to convert to a 350mm, 500mm, or 850mm in a jiffy without any perceivable loss of quality, doubles up as a top quality scope rivalling the best out there, saves you carrying two bag for lens and scope. CON'S strictly maual focus.)

2.) Canon EF600mmL F4 IS USM II - PRO'S Weatherproof. Insanely quick AF & sharp optics, AF range selector & stop buttons, 3 IS modes. Great for the distant mammals, small woodland birds in a hide setup, shore birds and other shy & quick moving birds. CON'S Very expensive! Needs to be lugged around with a good tripod and gimbal-type head, slows down your fieldcraft.

3.) Canon EF400mmL F5.6 USM - PRO's My favourite birds-in-flight lens for a light setup, its light, super sharp and AF in a jiffy. CON'S no IS an issue for action shots in dimmer light.

Any questions, please ask.

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Bird Photography workshops
Digiscoping courses
Birdwatching tours
Specialising in Spain & Morocco
www.aviantours.net

I have a question about the Kowa 500? I have been photographing birds and like it ok. But have been getting into more viewing and watching lately. Would you say the Kowa is a good spotting scope for me. What camera do you use with the Kowa? I have heard several views on this. With the Olympus coming out on top in one review. Have looked at this scope for the past two years but just cannot seem to pull the trigger on it. Mainly because of the camera issue.

Any advice would be appreciated.

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Presently living in Asia

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Birdman7
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Re: My telephoto lenses for bird photography.
In reply to NancyP, Aug 27, 2013

Yes I have.  You can walk around with the lens strap attatched to the lens & camera over your shoulder comfortably.  Holding it in the shooting position for over 10 seconds is not impossible, but tiring.  With time, iv noticed the gym session are coming in handy!

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Birdman7
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Kowa lens / scope adapter.
In reply to garyknrd, Aug 27, 2013

Yes, you can use it with a Kowa TP-88EC Prism Unit adapter for easily converting your TP-556 500mm Telephoto Lens into a spotting scope. Using a TSN-880/770 series spotting scope eyepiece, the Prism Unit will turn the lens into a full-functioning medium/long-range high-quality spotting scope. The Prism Unit may also be used with the TSN-EC3 eyepiece converter to utilize eyepieces for the TSN-660/600 series spotting scopes.

When used with the new TE11WZ 25-60 eyepiece, viewing is amazing And digiscoping at 60X a real possibility in good light!

More on my blog or contact me if you need more detailed info.

An image taken yesterday of the Kowa lens used as a scope with the TP-88EC Prism Unit adapter whilst digiscoping seabirds

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Digiscoping courses
Birdwatching tours
Specialising in Spain & Morocco
www.aviantours.net

 Birdman7's gear list:Birdman7's gear list
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Birdman7
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Re: My Kit
In reply to Paul B Jones, Aug 27, 2013

Paul B Jones wrote:

1 - Canon 800mm f/5.6 - Sharp, great IS, monster power, works well hand held, on a monopod or with a gimbal head and tripod. Use it on everything from song birds to distant waders, my favourite lens. It is big and heavy but I have got used to carrying it for hours, the strap draped over one shoulder. Biggest practical problem - does not focus very close (about 20 feet I think). Haunted by - do people think I am compensating for something?

I can hand hold my 600 II too but not for long periods, carrying it over the shoulder with the lens strap is comfortable though.

800mm - Ruddy Shelduck, hand held flight shot

2 - Canon 500mm f/4 II - Sharp, great IS, decent power. Totally handholdable (especially after working out with the 800). Use it for very close forest work (downed migrants, ant swarm obligates) and pelagic opportunities. Biggest practical problem - a bit weak, especially on a full frame body. Haunted by - should I have got the 600mm II?

500mm - Ruddy Woodcreeper at an ant swarm

3 - Canon 300mm f/2.8 II - Sharp, great IS, awesome low light capabilities, light as a feather. Use it for tame birds and poor light situations. Biggest practical problem - not much magnification. Haunted by - why did I accept $2500 from the dealer instead of privately selling my near mint version I?

300mm - Spruce Grouse in dawn darkness

Wish everyone could be so fortunate.

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Nice portfolio!

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Bird Photography workshops
Digiscoping courses
Birdwatching tours
Specialising in Spain & Morocco
www.aviantours.net

 Birdman7's gear list:Birdman7's gear list
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS 7D Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM +7 more
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garyknrd
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Re: Kowa lens / scope adapter.
In reply to Birdman7, Aug 27, 2013

Birdman7 wrote:

Yes, you can use it with a Kowa TP-88EC Prism Unit adapter for easily converting your TP-556 500mm Telephoto Lens into a spotting scope. Using a TSN-880/770 series spotting scope eyepiece, the Prism Unit will turn the lens into a full-functioning medium/long-range high-quality spotting scope. The Prism Unit may also be used with the TSN-EC3 eyepiece converter to utilize eyepieces for the TSN-660/600 series spotting scopes.

When used with the new TE11WZ 25-60 eyepiece, viewing is amazing And digiscoping at 60X a real possibility in good light!

More on my blog or contact me if you need more detailed info.

An image taken yesterday of the Kowa lens used as a scope with the TP-88EC Prism Unit adapter whilst digiscoping seabirds

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Bird Photography workshops
Digiscoping courses
Birdwatching tours
Specialising in Spain & Morocco
www.aviantours.net

I cannot seem to access your web page. Can you post your blog address.

Thanks

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Presently living in Asia

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Birdman7
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Re: Kowa lens / scope adapter.
In reply to garyknrd, Aug 27, 2013

Try now it was momentarily down, sorry.

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Specialising in Spain & Morocco
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Birdman7
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Re: My Birding Setup
In reply to Aurangabadkar, Aug 29, 2013

Thats a great setup Sanjeev!

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zigi_S
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Re: My Kit
In reply to Paul B Jones, Aug 29, 2013

Your shots are a joy to behold.

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