Lighter Gear for BIF?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
fairfaxian Regular Member • Posts: 294
Lighter Gear for BIF?

Is there any relatively light/compact option for capturing wildlife & occasional BIF that is light/compact? My gear is heavy, & I will either bring pro tripod or Monopod. But my GF is a runner that loves birds, is a great spotter, but doesn't want to carry heavy gear. She has a pocket Lumix with a fairly long lens, but of course the fingernail size sensor images are soft, and noisy in low light. I know that every rig is a compromise. Just wondering if anyone has had success with compacts.

I once tried the Sony RX 10-IV which is the best option I can think of. But that would be too big for a petite runner with a shoulder injury. I have a pocket Lumix with 1" sensor, that I've won prizes with . But it's useless for BIF or small, distant subjects. I started shooting BIF with a Real & 400mm prime. But again that's too heavy for her.

I can't imagine anything that would give produce decent results of distant birds/BIF that is compact. Suggestions?

Geekapoo
Geekapoo Senior Member • Posts: 2,437
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF?
4

For BIF you need reach AND good AF-C. The Sony RX10 IV is your best option (sorry) and think a compact camera would only = much frustration.

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drj3 Forum Pro • Posts: 10,836
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF?
2

You could check out the Olympus E-M5 MkIII, with the 75-300mm f4.8-6.7 (150-600 mm FF equivalent FOV) lens it is about 250 grams lighter than the Sony RX10 IV.  The MKIII added PDAF so it is okay for BIFs.  Of course that would require changing lenses for anything other than telephoto photography.

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drj3

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Jack Tingle Regular Member • Posts: 245
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF?

Bright sunlight, hand-held my ZS70 is OK. It's handy & quick for small birds. It works OK if there are a lot of birds around. It's fine for larger herons & gulls. For best results you need:

  • A lot of practice panning--I suggest RC model competitions.
  • A bright sunny day
  • A lot of birds--if it's tree sparrows [ed: swallows], make that a LOT of birds.
  • Manual focus (2nd choice, all 49 focus points active)
  • Manual exposure (2nd choice, P or S & EV compensation on speed dial)
  • Drive mode as fast as you can & still pan. I use 2/s & electronic shutter

You may want to use jpg only. That speeds up file transfer & avoids buffer caused lock-up.

 Jack Tingle's gear list:Jack Tingle's gear list
Canon PowerShot SX720 HS Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70 Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II R +3 more
JasonTheBirder
JasonTheBirder Senior Member • Posts: 1,390
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF?
1

fairfaxian wrote:

I can't imagine anything that would give produce decent results of distant birds/BIF that is compact. Suggestions?

Decent results for distant birds? Not sure how distant or decent you are talking about but if you want good bird shots you don't go for distant. And compact is not a word that enters into that discussion, so don't get your hopes up.

In my opinion, you should forget about good BIF shots and get the best equipment for perched birds if you want compact.

However, to answer the question, the lightest setup that I can think of is small Nikon APS-C camera with the 300pf.

Again, I am assuming that you actually want a lens that can perform in challenging tracking situations that is also light.

Lensmate
Lensmate Veteran Member • Posts: 4,886
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF?
2

fairfaxian wrote:

Is there any relatively light/compact option for capturing wildlife & occasional BIF that is light/compact? My gear is heavy, & I will either bring pro tripod or Monopod. But my GF is a runner that loves birds, is a great spotter, but doesn't want to carry heavy gear. She has a pocket Lumix with a fairly long lens, but of course the fingernail size sensor images are soft, and noisy in low light. I know that every rig is a compromise. Just wondering if anyone has had success with compacts.

I once tried the Sony RX 10-IV which is the best option I can think of. But that would be too big for a petite runner with a shoulder injury. I have a pocket Lumix with 1" sensor, that I've won prizes with . But it's useless for BIF or small, distant subjects. I started shooting BIF with a Real & 400mm prime. But again that's too heavy for her.

I can't imagine anything that would give produce decent results of distant birds/BIF that is compact. Suggestions?

The Sony RX10 IV is your best option period!

-Martin P

 Lensmate's gear list:Lensmate's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F717 Sony RX100 Sony RX100 VII Sony Alpha DSLR-A100 Sony SLT-A55 +11 more
p900learner
p900learner Senior Member • Posts: 1,288
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF?

I'm interested in this topic as well. I'm sure no expert, but if you are thinking of a strictly compact camera for BIF I don't think that will work very well because of the reach.

If you are talking about lower and slower BIF as opposed to small songbirds in flight and you are fairly experienced handling and tracking the BIF then perhaps a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 would be workable.

Reason I say this would be a possibility is because the day after I got my FZ1000 - some swallowtail kites were seen in my area. I tried and tried to get a "decent" shot with my Nikon Coolpix P900 - just hopeless. Then thought I've got the FZ1000 let me give it a try. For the first time using the camera, plus I have little to no experience with BIF - in my mind just didn't think it worth frustrating myself, thus I've really never practiced, plus not a lot of lower and slower birds like gulls in my area.

You can see if you think these are "decent" - it was very nice light, no wind, and the kites would swoop somewhat low. Perched ones are Mississippi Kites.

FZ1000 is definitely not a compact camera, but much smaller and less bulky than the RX-10-iv.  And quite inexpensive 1" sensor camera.

https://evsphotos.smugmug.com/Local-Areas-Birding-and-Nature/09062019-Kites/

I'm interested in what others recommend.

Ev

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Panasonic FZ1000 Nikon Coolpix P950 FastStone Image Viewer PhotoScape
Geekapoo
Geekapoo Senior Member • Posts: 2,437
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF?
1

p900learner wrote:

I'm interested in this topic as well. I'm sure no expert, but if you are thinking of a strictly compact camera for BIF I don't think that will work very well because of the reach.

If you are talking about lower and slower BIF as opposed to small songbirds in flight and you are fairly experienced handling and tracking the BIF then perhaps a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 would be workable.

Reason I say this would be a possibility is because the day after I got my FZ1000 - some swallowtail kites were seen in my area. I tried and tried to get a "decent" shot with my Nikon Coolpix P900 - just hopeless. Then thought I've got the FZ1000 let me give it a try. For the first time using the camera, plus I have little to no experience with BIF - in my mind just didn't think it worth frustrating myself, thus I've really never practiced, plus not a lot of lower and slower birds like gulls in my area.

You can see if you think these are "decent" - it was very nice light, no wind, and the kites would swoop somewhat low. Perched ones are Mississippi Kites.

FZ1000 is definitely not a compact camera, but much smaller and less bulky than the RX-10-iv. And quite inexpensive 1" sensor camera.

https://evsphotos.smugmug.com/Local-Areas-Birding-and-Nature/09062019-Kites/

I'm interested in what others recommend.

Ev

I owned an FZ1000 before buying an RX10 IV.  The Lens max us 400mm (vs 600mm for the Sony) but the image produced at 400mm is great, even with the lens wide open. Unfortunately,  400mm is somewhat limiting for BIF and the AF- C is not even remotely as good. Regardless,  I have used it for BIF..ultimately it's a question of the % keepers you get from each effort and learning to get the best possible results from the camera you use. While I loved the Panasonic UI (I don't really like the Sony UI), the RX10 IV is definitely the way to go. The FZ1000 will work, but the reach is much less and %keepers significantly less.

 Geekapoo's gear list:Geekapoo's gear list
Sony RX100 Fujifilm XF 16mm F1.4 R WR Sony RX10 IV Fujifilm X-T20 Fujifilm X-T3 +13 more
p900learner
p900learner Senior Member • Posts: 1,288
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF?

Geekapoo wrote:

p900learner wrote:

I'm interested in this topic as well. I'm sure no expert, but if you are thinking of a strictly compact camera for BIF I don't think that will work very well because of the reach.

If you are talking about lower and slower BIF as opposed to small songbirds in flight and you are fairly experienced handling and tracking the BIF then perhaps a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 would be workable.

Reason I say this would be a possibility is because the day after I got my FZ1000 - some swallowtail kites were seen in my area. I tried and tried to get a "decent" shot with my Nikon Coolpix P900 - just hopeless. Then thought I've got the FZ1000 let me give it a try. For the first time using the camera, plus I have little to no experience with BIF - in my mind just didn't think it worth frustrating myself, thus I've really never practiced, plus not a lot of lower and slower birds like gulls in my area.

You can see if you think these are "decent" - it was very nice light, no wind, and the kites would swoop somewhat low. Perched ones are Mississippi Kites.

FZ1000 is definitely not a compact camera, but much smaller and less bulky than the RX-10-iv. And quite inexpensive 1" sensor camera.

https://evsphotos.smugmug.com/Local-Areas-Birding-and-Nature/09062019-Kites/

I'm interested in what others recommend.

Ev

I owned an FZ1000 before buying an RX10 IV. The Lens max us 400mm (vs 600mm for the Sony) but the image produced at 400mm is great, even with the lens wide open. Unfortunately, 400mm is somewhat limiting for BIF and the AF- C is not even remotely as good. Regardless, I have used it for BIF..ultimately it's a question of the % keepers you get from each effort and learning to get the best possible results from the camera you use. While I loved the Panasonic UI (I don't really like the Sony UI), the RX10 IV is definitely the way to go. The FZ1000 will work, but the reach is much less and %keepers significantly less.

I'm quite sure you are absolutely correct in your assessment of the two cameras -

Yes, I think I demonstrated the FZ1000 will work with my examples.

I thought the RX10-iv was out of the question for the OP's GF because of size and bulk - I suggested the FZ 1000 as a mid-way size wise between a compact and a RX-10iv.

The OP also noted "occasional BIF" thought FZ1000 was half-way decent suggestion.

I did purchase an RX10-iv and returned it - just thought it was practically a professional camera and didn't know if I would have the determination to obtain the necessary skill set to get the most out of it. Maybe just too much camera for me.  Plus I just wasn't sure if I would be satisfied with how the image filled the frame as opposed to at the time my Coolpix P900.  Its quite the nice camera for sure.

Ev

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David Lumsden
David Lumsden Senior Member • Posts: 1,204
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF?
1

The OP specified compact cameras for a good reason. Super telephoto bridge cameras are out of the question for a runner, as opposed to a hiker. For now, sadly, running and truly high-quality bird photography do not co-exist. Canon seems to be thinking in this direction with the new F 11 telephoto primes and the announced ultrazoom 100 MM - 400 MM pocket cam. Let’s wish them luck.

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Olympus Air Nikon Z50 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G ED VR Nikon AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR +7 more
Stefan BW Senior Member • Posts: 1,462
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF?
1

Maybe the Nikon 1V2 combined with a CX70-300 lens? The lens can be collapsed to a mere 100mm or so. Weight <1kg. Still a bit much for a runner, I guess, yet good at BIF.

 Stefan BW's gear list:Stefan BW's gear list
Nikon 1 V2 Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6
OP fairfaxian Regular Member • Posts: 294
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF- or: Birds on a budget

Thanks for the previous suggestions. We're looking to move up the quality ladder a rung or two. Looks like my GF is more serious about BIF than I realized. And we have a new resident bald eagle in the hood.

So we're thinking Canon 90D, and one of the 100-400mm zooms from either Sigma or Tamron. We had looked at the Canon 70-300, which is faster than the 400's. But the subjects in this area are often very distant. I struggle to get close enough with my 400/7DII rig. Even my 600 often doesn't cut it. But the 90D does offer a lot more pixels.

As mentioned earlier,  we're on a budget, and rig needs to be fairly light due to shoulder injury. Anyone here using a 90D with the one of the budget 400's listed above? Thanks.

Greyser Veteran Member • Posts: 6,365
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF- or: Birds on a budget
1

fairfaxian wrote:

Thanks for the previous suggestions. We're looking to move up the quality ladder a rung or two. Looks like my GF is more serious about BIF than I realized. And we have a new resident bald eagle in the hood.

So we're thinking Canon 90D, and one of the 100-400mm zooms from either Sigma or Tamron. We had looked at the Canon 70-300, which is faster than the 400's. But the subjects in this area are often very distant. I struggle to get close enough with my 400/7DII rig. Even my 600 often doesn't cut it. But the 90D does offer a lot more pixels.

As mentioned earlier, we're on a budget, and rig needs to be fairly light due to shoulder injury. Anyone here using a 90D with the one of the budget 400's listed above? Thanks.

If you are Ok with bigger rig, your choice is Nikon D500 and Nikkor 500/5.6PF. The price of the lens might seem stiff a bit, but it is only light and compact high quality 500mm prime available among all brands. And it is quite useful at 700mm with 1.4TC. I used to shoot 500/4 handheld, but find myself more and more leaning towards 500/5.6 PF recently. With twice lighter prime I can be ready to shoot BIF faster and hold the rig longer panning .

Here are a few BIF examples from yesterday. Nothing special, though.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64581954

Also Nikon Z MILC solutions might be an option too instead of D500. The interesting thing is that Nikon recently updated their Z lens road map with 400mm and 600mm options. And they might be PF design.

 Greyser's gear list:Greyser's gear list
Nikon D500 Nikon D850 Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM Sigma 500mm F4 Sport Nikon AF-S 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR +2 more
OP fairfaxian Regular Member • Posts: 294
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF- or: Birds on a budget

Nikkor PF does look like a good deal. But too $$$ & too heavy for GF with shoulder injury.

Also, Canon 90D has almost 2X the resolution as 500D. & if done RIGHT, more pixels CAN be better. (not always, I know)

looking to hear from anyone using 90D with Tamron 100-400 for wildlife/BIF

Greyser wrote:

fairfaxian wrote:

Thanks for the previous suggestions. We're looking to move up the quality ladder a rung or two. Looks like my GF is more serious about BIF than I realized. And we have a new resident bald eagle in the hood.

So we're thinking Canon 90D, and one of the 100-400mm zooms from either Sigma or Tamron. We had looked at the Canon 70-300, which is faster than the 400's. But the subjects in this area are often very distant. I struggle to get close enough with my 400/7DII rig. Even my 600 often doesn't cut it. But the 90D does offer a lot more pixels.

As mentioned earlier, we're on a budget, and rig needs to be fairly light due to shoulder injury. Anyone here using a 90D with the one of the budget 400's listed above? Thanks.

If you are Ok with bigger rig, your choice is Nikon D500 and Nikkor 500/5.6PF. The price of the lens might seem stiff a bit, but it is only light and compact high quality 500mm prime available among all brands. And it is quite useful at 700mm with 1.4TC. I used to shoot 500/4 handheld, but find myself more and more leaning towards 500/5.6 PF recently. With twice lighter prime I can be ready to shoot BIF faster and hold the rig longer panning .

Here are a few BIF examples from yesterday. Nothing special, though.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64581954

Also Nikon Z MILC solutions might be an option too instead of D500. The interesting thing is that Nikon recently updated their Z lens road map with 400mm and 600mm options. And they might be PF design.

OP fairfaxian Regular Member • Posts: 294
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF- or: Birds on a budget

I checked out your gallery images -esp like the last shot with successful catch.

How do you like the Sigma 500/F4? I've been eye that for myself as the Sigma 150-600 S is too slow in low light.

I have too much Canon glass to switch now. But that Nikkor 500 and one of their 800's sound like a great combo.

Greyser wrote:

fairfaxian wrote:

Thanks for the previous suggestions. We're looking to move up the quality ladder a rung or two. Looks like my GF is more serious about BIF than I realized. And we have a new resident bald eagle in the hood.

So we're thinking Canon 90D, and one of the 100-400mm zooms from either Sigma or Tamron. We had looked at the Canon 70-300, which is faster than the 400's. But the subjects in this area are often very distant. I struggle to get close enough with my 400/7DII rig. Even my 600 often doesn't cut it. But the 90D does offer a lot more pixels.

As mentioned earlier, we're on a budget, and rig needs to be fairly light due to shoulder injury. Anyone here using a 90D with the one of the budget 400's listed above? Thanks.

If you are Ok with bigger rig, your choice is Nikon D500 and Nikkor 500/5.6PF. The price of the lens might seem stiff a bit, but it is only light and compact high quality 500mm prime available among all brands. And it is quite useful at 700mm with 1.4TC. I used to shoot 500/4 handheld, but find myself more and more leaning towards 500/5.6 PF recently. With twice lighter prime I can be ready to shoot BIF faster and hold the rig longer panning .

Here are a few BIF examples from yesterday. Nothing special, though.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64581954

Also Nikon Z MILC solutions might be an option too instead of D500. The interesting thing is that Nikon recently updated their Z lens road map with 400mm and 600mm options. And they might be PF design.

Greyser Veteran Member • Posts: 6,365
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF- or: Birds on a budget
1

fairfaxian wrote:

I checked out your gallery images -esp like the last shot with successful catch.

How do you like the Sigma 500/F4? I've been eye that for myself as the Sigma 150-600 S is too slow in low light.

I have too much Canon glass to switch now. But that Nikkor 500 and one of their 800's sound like a great combo.

Greyser wrote:

fairfaxian wrote:

Thanks for the previous suggestions. We're looking to move up the quality ladder a rung or two. Looks like my GF is more serious about BIF than I realized. And we have a new resident bald eagle in the hood.

So we're thinking Canon 90D, and one of the 100-400mm zooms from either Sigma or Tamron. We had looked at the Canon 70-300, which is faster than the 400's. But the subjects in this area are often very distant. I struggle to get close enough with my 400/7DII rig. Even my 600 often doesn't cut it. But the 90D does offer a lot more pixels.

As mentioned earlier, we're on a budget, and rig needs to be fairly light due to shoulder injury. Anyone here using a 90D with the one of the budget 400's listed above? Thanks.

If you are Ok with bigger rig, your choice is Nikon D500 and Nikkor 500/5.6PF. The price of the lens might seem stiff a bit, but it is only light and compact high quality 500mm prime available among all brands. And it is quite useful at 700mm with 1.4TC. I used to shoot 500/4 handheld, but find myself more and more leaning towards 500/5.6 PF recently. With twice lighter prime I can be ready to shoot BIF faster and hold the rig longer panning .

Here are a few BIF examples from yesterday. Nothing special, though.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64581954

Also Nikon Z MILC solutions might be an option too instead of D500. The interesting thing is that Nikon recently updated their Z lens road map with 400mm and 600mm options. And they might be PF design.

First of all these shots above were taken with Nikkor 500/5.6 PF. Regarding my DPR gallery. I haven't updated it for years due to not using Flash. The majority of the latest shots over there were done with various Pentax bodies and older Sigma 500/4.5 lens. So, to see my latest shots you may need to search for my latest threads, where images were uploaded directly from my iMac and not through the gallery.

For the last 3+ years I've been shooting Nikon D500 and D850 paired with newest Sigma 500/4 Sport and more recently with Nikkor 500/5.6 PF.

Sigma 500/4 is exceptional lens. Please read direct comparison of it with the newest Nikkor 500/4 E.

http://www.naturalart.ca/artist/fieldtests/500mmwars_sigma_nikon.html

Also looking for about a year or so later you may read about shooting experience with 500/5.6 PF lens.

One of my Canon friends who was inspired by my experience with Sigma 500/4, bought it about a year ago to replace Tamron 150-600. As I can see he is very pleased with it, and his shots are really good.

Sigma 500/4 is not small and quite heavy, but not really much heavier than other 500/4 conventional primes. And with proper carrying and holding It is pretty hand holdable.

 Greyser's gear list:Greyser's gear list
Nikon D500 Nikon D850 Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM Sigma 500mm F4 Sport Nikon AF-S 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR +2 more
Red Barchetta
Red Barchetta Senior Member • Posts: 2,259
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF?

With the Sony RX 10 IV (an excellent choice) she can use a neck strap or body harness to carry it when she's not shooting and use a light monopod to help with support when she does shoot. Or, maybe that 2.3 lbs. of camera will help with making that shoulder strong again. GL.

 Red Barchetta's gear list:Red Barchetta's gear list
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OP fairfaxian Regular Member • Posts: 294
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF?
3

I tried an RX10 IV awhile back. Nice all in one travel cam. But small sensor not great in low light. And It didn't blow me away with action tracking.

We decided on the Canon 90D and Tamron 100-400 F5.6-6.3. I believe there is a discount on the 90D today at B&H (black friday sale)

We also got a compact telescoping monopod from Manfrotto.

This was a little more than the the intended budget, but fairly light at 4.5lbs for camera/lens. I would say this is a decent system for someone looking for their first general wildlife/bird setup.

Thanks for all the suggestions.

Geekapoo
Geekapoo Senior Member • Posts: 2,437
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF?

fairfaxian wrote:

I tried an RX10 IV awhile back. Nice all in one travel cam. But small sensor not great in low light. And It didn't blow me away with action tracking.

We decided on the Canon 90D and Tamron 100-400 F5.6-6.3. I believe there is a discount on the 90D today at B&H (black friday sale)

We also got a compact telescoping monopod from Manfrotto.

This was a little more than the the intended budget, but fairly light at 4.5lbs for camera/lens. I would say this is a decent system for someone looking for their first general wildlife/bird setup.

Thanks for all the suggestions.

Hmmmm, the one inch sensor is not bad but definitely prefer an APS-C sensor or larger. Re tracking...odd comment, as I've been shooting with the camera for a few years and have used an 80D, the D500 and currently an XT3. I think the action tracking for the RX10 IV pretty impressive, but do appreciate there can be a significant learning curve.

Congrats on the new gear!

 Geekapoo's gear list:Geekapoo's gear list
Sony RX100 Fujifilm XF 16mm F1.4 R WR Sony RX10 IV Fujifilm X-T20 Fujifilm X-T3 +13 more
Merlin5 Contributing Member • Posts: 822
Re: Lighter Gear for BIF?

fairfaxian wrote:

I tried an RX10 IV awhile back. Nice all in one travel cam. But small sensor not great in low light. And It didn't blow me away with action tracking.

We decided on the Canon 90D and Tamron 100-400 F5.6-6.3. I believe there is a discount on the 90D today at B&H (black friday sale)

We also got a compact telescoping monopod from Manfrotto.

This was a little more than the the intended budget, but fairly light at 4.5lbs for camera/lens. I would say this is a decent system for someone looking for their first general wildlife/bird setup.

Thanks for all the suggestions.

Consider the Sony a6600 + Sony 70-350mm 4.5-6.3 too. Great for tracking, wildlife,  compact,  525mm effective focal reach.

 Merlin5's gear list:Merlin5's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Sony a6600 Tamron SP 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD Canon EF 50mm F1.8 STM Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN (E/EF-M mounts) +2 more
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