An appropriate lens for bird photography?

Started Nov 29, 2012 | Discussions thread
mrxak Regular Member • Posts: 218
Re: An appropriate lens for bird photography?

Bangers and Mash wrote:

I have developed an interest, over the past week, in pursuing bird photography after my visit to the Riparian Water Park Reserve. In order to photograph birds I am obviously in need of a long, well longer lens than the 40-150mm lens that I have now. There are two lenses that Olympus offers:

75-300mm for $899.99 (m4/3)

70-300mm for $399.99 (4/3). With this lens I would require the MMF-2 adapter for $169.98 which brings those two items up to $569.98

Panasonic also has a 100-300mm for $499.00 (m4/3)

Which lens to choose? Is the IQ of each these three lenses comparable? My guess, not knowing anything about these lenses is that the IQ of the more expensive 75-300mm lens to be more superior, but only based on its cost factor.

When you factor in the adapter with the less expensive 70-300mm lens it still comes up about $330.00 less expensive. Still, one would have the adapter for other lens purchases down the road if needed.

Another option would be to look into other lens manufacturers like Nikon, Sigma etc., and hope that there is an adapter allowing auto focus etc., but from what I have read so far that might be a problem. I had noticed one photographer at the reserve using a Sigma 150-500mm lens on his Nikon D7000. Full camera functions come to play for him with that lesn, but mounted on my E-P3, then there are issues, especially with auto focus.

Any thoughts on this? Are any of you doing this sort of photography, and what would you suggest that I do?

Thank you for your assistance.

My experience has been with the GX1 and the Panasonic 100-300mm. It's not an ideal set-up (I'll be upgrading to a better body eventually), but I've been very impressed with the results. The focusing speed is good enough. I've had no problems with sharpness or CA, at least to my eye it's a fine lens. My biggest problem has been with low light, but naturally that's more to do with the GX1's usable ISO range than the lens.

You should be aware that you'll probably be shooting at 300mm, or close to it, almost all of the time. If anything, I wish it was more like a 400mm. With birds of course, some are braver than others. Being able to shoot from farther away is helpful with the shy little ones. I don't think I've shot any birds with less than 200mm, maybe not even less than 250mm.

The other thing you should be aware of is the aperture considerations. When you're shooting close-up, it can be rather helpful to get as much light in as possible for as much detail as possible. The faster you can have the shutter, and the lower the ISO you can use, the better your pictures are going to be to see all the detail in the feathers, eyes, and feet. I think you'll be amazed just how close 300mm can get you, so when you do get that close, you might as well get the sharpest noise-free pictures you can take. Let's also not forget bokeh and subject isolation. The difference between 6.7 and 5.6 might not be much, but it might make all the difference.

If there really is a 300mm prime coming with a larger aperture than both native zooms, that will probably be THE lens for birding. The rumor isn't confirmed or anything, but if you're not too impatient, and you don't need OIS, it might be worth waiting to at least see if it comes true.

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