Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

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adonetok Regular Member • Posts: 138
Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

I have a Canon 90D camera and want to take photos for birds.

Which telephoto lens is good to buy?

Canon or Sigma?

Do I need a big number like 500mm above?

Mark B.
Mark B. Forum Pro • Posts: 27,773
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

adonetok wrote:

I have a Canon 90D camera and want to take photos for birds.

Which telephoto lens is good to buy?

Canon or Sigma?

Do I need a big number like 500mm above?

On an APS-C body, bare min would be 400mm.  Canon 100-400 f/4-5.6 L II has gotten extremely good reviews.  You can save some money & weight with the Sigma & Tamron alternatives, but 1) they are a tad slower (smaller max aperture) and IQ isn't reported to be as good as the Canon.

There are also 150-600mm options from Tamron & Sigma, but again the IQ in the range they overlap the Canon isn't quite as good.  Report are that the Canon with Canon's latest 1.4x converter is quite good.

Then of course there are the super-teles like Canon's 500mm f/4 L II.  It's a fantastic lens but comes with a fantastic price.

Depends a lot on what your budget is, and what type of bird photos you will be taking.  There are a lot of birders here with much more experience than I who I'm sure will be responding as well.

Mark

Dave
Dave Veteran Member • Posts: 5,639
Re: Which telephoto lens for talking birds?
4

Talking birds?  I'd use a directional microphone.

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OP adonetok Regular Member • Posts: 138
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

How about CANON 400MM F/5.6 L USM EF MOUNT LENS?

Which one will get fast focus at max lenth, 400MM or 100-400MM?

Mark B.
Mark B. Forum Pro • Posts: 27,773
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

adonetok wrote:

How about CANON 400MM F/5.6 L USM EF MOUNT LENS?

Which one will get fast focus at max lenth, 400MM or 100-400MM?

Couldn't say, I've never used the 400.  I would guess they're pretty close since both the Canon 100-400 and 400 f/5.6 L are f/5.6 @ 400mm.  The newer version of the 100-400 may be a little faster than the original, but I have the older one.

Mark

YWG Contributing Member • Posts: 964
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

adonetok wrote:

I have a Canon 90D camera and want to take photos for birds.

Which telephoto lens is good to buy?

Canon or Sigma?

Do I need a big number like 500mm above?

I've run the Canon 100-400mm mkI on my 7D1 which equats to 640mm on the long end. Also do the 100-400mm Panasonic on my E-M1 which is 800mm on the long end. I find both can be adequate for large birds like Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, buzzards, various cranes etc with a little luck when they pass close or sneaking up on them inch by inch.

Hawks and harriers, some owls tend to be smaller and tiny birds like chickadees, sparrows, hummingbirds require a lot of luck to get placed and sneak up (without baiting).

I've used the Sigma 800mm F5.6 for eagle season which is 1280 equivalent. It is a huge lens but the reach is good.

I find my 16-20MP sensors crop well at 2x and okay at 3x. The 90D with the additional resolution could stand better at 3x but I'd still opt for as long as possible -150-600mm third party might be an option without incurring too much expense.

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wave01 Regular Member • Posts: 435
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?
1

I have a 7d2 with a sigma 150-600c I really find this a good combination. I really don't like tele converters so the extra reach of a 600 is good. I did try out the canon 100-400mk2 before I settled on the sigma. It was a very good lens but I want for the extra reach

H2ODoctor
H2ODoctor Regular Member • Posts: 338
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

I have both the 400 F5.6 and the 100 - 400 II.  I use both.  If my intent is to photograph BIF only, I use the 400; if I expect to get perched birds, always the zoom.  The main advantage of the prime is that it s lighter, while the zoom has IS.  When I use a tripod the IS loses it’s advantage.

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OP adonetok Regular Member • Posts: 138
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

How about focus speed to catch birds?

H2ODoctor
H2ODoctor Regular Member • Posts: 338
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

Both are good.  I am attaching some examples with both. One is perched using a 1.4X teleconverter, the other are BIFs.

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Old Greenlander Veteran Member • Posts: 4,337
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?
1

If you are beginner in BIF you want a zoom

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Jim Ehrmin Junior Member • Posts: 32
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?
1

I'm using a Canon 80D with a Canon 100-400 II lens for birding. I'm getting excellent results with the crop sensor.

I have one of the custom modes set to focus on one focus point. If I can get the one point on the bird's body, I usually get the shot. The other custom mode is set to nine focus points and Al servo. The focus is very fast. I don't feel a need for more "reach". Works great on tiny birds in trees or on drippers and large birds.

We moved to Corpus Christi, Texas a year and a half ago from Seattle. I've shot landscapes for decades but not much in the way of landscapes here. CC is a birding migration route and amazing birds and many good viewing platforms. I love this lens. It is tack sharp and the IS works great. I never use a tripod.

Jim Ehrmin

wave01 Regular Member • Posts: 435
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?
1

This was taken with my 7d2 and 150-600c

aglake
aglake Regular Member • Posts: 393
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?
1

Jim Ehrmin wrote:

I'm using a Canon 80D with a Canon 100-400 II lens for birding. I'm getting excellent results with the crop sensor.

This is what I use as well.  When I went looking for a telephoto, I tried both the Sigma 150-600C and the Canon 100-400 II.  For me, the large objective lens way out on the end of the Sigma was just too difficult to handhold but the 100-400 balanced better.  I'm not doing as well for BIF (except for the red-tailed hawks soaring above me) as I'd like, but that is a problem with my technique, not my camera.

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Old Greenlander Veteran Member • Posts: 4,337
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

wave01 wrote:

This was taken with my 7d2 and 150-600c

Absolutely beautiful!

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Old Greenlander Veteran Member • Posts: 4,337
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

H2O

You talk ospreys you get my attention !

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Jim Ehrmin Junior Member • Posts: 32
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

This is an image taken on my Canon 80D with the Canon 100-400 II lens.

CameraCarl Veteran Member • Posts: 7,551
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

The minimum lens you need is the Canon 400mm f/5.6 for large birds. I have a 7D Mark II and usually use a 1.4x extender on a 400mm lens for anything smaller than an eagle. I haven't tried the Third Party zooms, but would seriously consider one of them if you can't afford a super-telephoto lens.

SMOKENMIRRORS Forum Member • Posts: 50
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

Jim Ehrmin wrote:

I'm using a Canon 80D with a Canon 100-400 II lens for birding. I'm getting excellent results with the crop sensor.

I have one of the custom modes set to focus on one focus point. If I can get the one point on the bird's body, I usually get the shot. The other custom mode is set to nine focus points and Al servo. The focus is very fast. I don't feel a need for more "reach". Works great on tiny birds in trees or on drippers and large birds.

We moved to Corpus Christi, Texas a year and a half ago from Seattle. I've shot landscapes for decades but not much in the way of landscapes here. CC is a birding migration route and amazing birds and many good viewing platforms. I love this lens. It is tack sharp and the IS works great. I never use a tripod.

Jim Ehrmin

Jim you can shoot crabs at the beach, boats on the bay or those massive windmills lol. Yea south Tx is pretty flat compared to where you come from. I'm in McAllen three hours south of you. Welcome

Doneworkin Junior Member • Posts: 42
Re: Which telephoto lens for taking birds?

H2ODoctor wrote:

I have both the 400 F5.6 and the 100 - 400 II. I use both. If my intent is to photograph BIF only, I use the 400; if I expect to get perched birds, always the zoom. The main advantage of the prime is that it s lighter, while the zoom has IS. When I use a tripod the IS loses it’s advantage.

Have used both, sold 400 5.6 after I got zoom.  Used 400 5.6 for several years with excellent results.  Bif the better of two.   Yes agree for perched birds  zoom is better.  Sold the 5.6 to fund zoom.  Wish I would have kept it

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Canon EOS 7D Mark II Canon EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS II
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