What to get for BIF and general wildlife, camera and lens.

Started Oct 6, 2022 | Discussions thread
Chris R-UK Forum Pro • Posts: 23,464
Re: What to get for BIF and general wildlife, camera and lens.

Fishrman wrote:

I have been putting up with my Panasonic FZ2500 for a few years now. It was suggested to me, many times, I should try something else. Focus with it is often to slow and sometimes it just won't lock focus when I am in tight situations with limbs or a background that is similar to the subject. I have seriously thought about going to the Sony RX10IV but am not sure if it really would be that big of an improvement?? I can sometimes get photos that are respectable but I usually have to spend some time in post processing to get them that way. I have thought about just getting a camera that is designated as my birding or wildlife camera and keep my FZ2500 for travel or family photos etc. If I did this, is there a camera and lens you might suggest that I could get that wouldn't break the bank? Fast focus is important to me and of course not only fast but accurate. Thanks for any ideas and help.

Your current camera has a large 1" sensor for fixed lens camera, a 24-480mm equivalent focal length lens (quite a good range for general wildlife but a little short for birds) and relatively poor continuous AF for birds in flight.  I assume that you want better AF for BIF and a longer zoom range.

If you want to stay with a fixed lens camera, you only have one choice that you already know about, the Sony RX10iv.  I have handled one of these and thought it a very good choice for general wildlife travel.  I don't know about BIF - ask about that on the Sony Cybershot forum or the Nature and Wildlife forum.

The choice of interchangeable lens cameras is much greater, but it is probably best to start with lenses.  You really need a lens that goes to 600mm equivalent, although a lot of people shoot birds with 800mm equivalent.

With an M4/3 sensor with a 2x crop factor, a 300mm lens gets you to 600mm equivalent and 400mm gets you to 800mm equivalent.  An Olympus 75-300mm or Panasonic 100-300mm will be both light and quite cheap.  A 100-400mm lens will be somewhat heavier and more expensive.  For an M4/3 body, Olympus AF is much better than Panasonic's so go for a used EM-1 MkII or an OM-1 if you have a big budget.  M4/3, of course, is mirrorless.

If you go up to APS-C there are a lot more choices.  The Sugma 100-400mm is the cheapest lens that gets you to 600mm equivalent, but, if you are on a budget, look for a used Canon 100-400mm MkI.  To get to 800mm equivalent, you need to get a Tamron or Sigma 150-600mm lens which will be big ang heavy.  There are lots of choices of DSLR bodies, a new Nikon D500 is the best but a used Canon 7D MkII, a Canon 90D or Nikon D7500 would all be good alternatives, plus older, used bodies.

If you want to go mirrorless, then look at recent Sony 6xxx bodies like the 6400 or 6600, or the new Canon R7.  Nikon doesn't yet have a mirrorless camera equal to the D500 DSLR.  Fujifilm is another alternative, but I think that lenses may be more expensive.  Ask on the FujiFilm forum.

For FF, lenses get big and expensive.  To get to 600mm, you need one of the Tamron or Sigma 150-600mm lenses.  800mm lenses are very big and very expensive with the exception of the Canon R 800mm f/11.

My suggestion would be to price out some of the alternatives, decide on a budget and come back here for more detailed advice.

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Chris R

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