Crop vs Zoom ?

Started Feb 10, 2010 | Discussions thread
Guidenet Forum Pro • Posts: 15,748
Re: Crop vs Zoom ?

It all depends on how serious you are about shooting birds. If you're on a budget and have plenty of light, a superzoom point and shoot will work. You won't have the best feather, skin, beak, and eye detail but that's the trade off.

The same goes for a DSLR and a consumer something to 500 zoom. You have to have a lot of light because the lens is slow at f/6.3 or so. There are some cheap mirror lenses with f/8 and some not so cheap mirror lenses that are still f/8. Again, you need a lot of light. There's a lot more birds in the early morning and evening when the light is challenging.

Another solution is digiscoping. That's where you use a point and shoot or DSLR combined with a field scope. You get a lot of reach, but again, poor dim light perfomance.

If you want to really be into photographing birds, the least budget system is something like a Nikon D90 or Canon 50D combined with a Nikon 300 f/4 and teleconverter or a Canon 400 f/5.6. You're pushing $2000 with either.

If you get even more serious, a birding photographer has a good DSLR and a 300, 400, 500 or 600mm fast lens with quality converters. You're looking at $8000 to $12000 for a kit including a good tripod. Many birders consider a 500 or 600mm fast prime the minimum lens needed.

I use a 300 f/2.8 Nikon with a 1.7 Nikon converter and a 500 f/4 with the same converter. Even then a severe crop can result in a poor image.

Here's a postage stamp size crop that ended up at less than 800 pixels at the long side of an Osprey taken last weekend. I was 30 meters away with the 300 f/2.8 without a converter using a 12 megapixel full frame camera. That's not the best of choices but I was set up for closer shots. This was also hand held. You'll notice that the image lacks fine detail. It's not bad, but wouldn't stand up to enlargement at all. This is about a $8000 rig.

Below is a Wood Stork taken with less crop and only 7 meters distance, with the same lens and camera. Much better detail. This is just for illustration purpose.

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Cheers, Craig

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