M4/3 for birding

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
jwilliams Veteran Member • Posts: 6,182
Re: What's missing ...

Ontarian wrote:

Thanks for your reply Jonathan.

jwilliams wrote:

Ontarian wrote:

Want to increase my current reach for birding from 480mm (35mm equiv) to 600mm or 800mm without the kit getting any heavier than my 3.25 lb / 1475 gm Canon kit. That pretty well puts me into the bridge or M4/3 camps.

I was thinking of the Lumix G9 IV or the Olympus E-M1 II as good options and pairing them with either the 100-300 or 100-400 lenses.

Anyone have experience with either of these setups?

Not worried about video performance, but AF and IQ are important.

What's missing from this discussion is what gear do you currently have (I haven't read every sub-post if it's hidden in there somewhere)?

Sorry, did not realize that my gear wasn't listed.

You say you have a 480mm equiv. setup now. I'm going to take a wild guess that is a 300mm lens (or zoom) on a Canon crop body as that matches nicely.

Yes. I have a Canon 60D (18mp) and use a Canon EF70-300 f4.5-5.6 DO IS USM for birding. I think the lens is reasonable sharp and AF is fast in good light, but for small birds I feel I need more reach.

Now you say you want to go to 600 or 800 equiv. using m43 and assuming the 2x crop is going to help you. What you seem to be missing is that your APSC Canon (assuming I'm right) can also do a 2x crop as can any FF camera. Nothing magical about a sensor the size of m43. All bigger sensors also have smaller sensor inside them.

Here are a couple of my better shots:

But keeper rates are getting lower as I get older. Here is a typical recent birf photo.

I don't seem capable of holding the kit still anymore due to its weight and recent changes in my health. Note: I only do a limited amount of PP, and that is using the photos software that came with my MacBook Pro.

Software can help but it always is a good idea to start with a technically decent image. The number of software processing options now is dizzying and others can probably do a better job there than I.

As far as holding the camera/lens still there are many things at play there. First your lens is rather old and the IS system is probably a good bit below the capabilities of most current lens or in body IS systems, so anything new you buy should be an improvement to some degree.

Weight might not be as big an enemy as you think as far as steadiness goes. It is actually easier to hold a heavier camera still than a lighter one. The weight actually helps stabilize the camera.

Now carrying the weight may be a problem, but I recommend you not fuss over a small bit of weight too much. More important is what you carry the camera/lens in. A good camera bag or backpack or sling bag is very helpful. I'd rather carry around an extra pound or two in a good bag than something lighter in a poorer bag. Sling bags are generally a good compromise between most shoulder type bags and larger backpacks. They also make accessing and storing your gear easily. Among the many bags and backpacks I own, the ThinkTank Turnstyle 10 is a nice compromise of size and capability. There are others including Peak Design which makes a sling bag with some nice features. Spend some time researching bags as this is actually as or more important than worrying about a few ounces of camera weight.

Both your camera body and lens are a bit old so it probably makes sense to replace both, but your camera body really is fairy capable if not current state of the art.

I'm sure you got a ton of m43 options by now so the only thing I'll add there is I have found all the consumer type m43 tele zooms I have tried to be mediocre at best. If going the m43 route I highly recommend the high end glass (Oly Pro or PannyLeica) which also means the setup in the end isn't going to be very light/small. A camera like the Sony RX10 IV would seem to make lot of sense for you if not wanting a larger ILC camera setup and any good m43 setup will still be fairly large as will most other ILC options.

If you want to try a simple upgrade for your current gear, the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM gets very good reviews and should be a noticeable upgrade (both in IQ and IS) to your current lens which really isn't known for its sharpness at the long end. Here is a link to it at B&H.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM Lens 0571C002 B&H Photo Video (bhphotovideo.com)

You could try that and you might be happy and done, but you can always upgrade your camera to one of the 24MP (many models) or 33MP (90D) APSC DSLRs or even an M camera with an adapter. That lens on a Canon 90D would be a very nice setup for your intended uses.

Another fantastic and light Canon tele zoom is the EFS 55-250 IS STM which I have used quite a bit. Light and cheap but only goes to 250 instead of 300. IQ is amazing for a lens in its price range. I don't even have any APSC Canon gear anymore but I keep that lens to use on my RP as a lightweight setup. That's how much I like it. I'd rather crop that lens whatever amount is needed than use any of the consumer m43 tele zooms I have had.

Often people worry about the number of pixels and forget the quality of those pixels also matters. Sensor area is just as important as MP.

Canon has both mirrorless and DSLRs with 33 MP APSC sensors. Crop one of those to the size of a m43 sensor and you'll still have something very close to the 20MP in a m43 camera and you always have the option of using the whole sensor or some other crop.

Some more info on your current setup would help. Maybe a new m43 setup is the answer but I'd take a good logical look at how you can get to the same place with some of your current equipment.

Perhaps better PP software(s) would make a difference ??

Hope some of this helps.

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