Wildlife APS-C upgrade advice

Started 2 months ago | Discussions
Zowlyfon New Member • Posts: 2
Wildlife APS-C upgrade advice

Hi,

I've been shooting wildlife with a Canon 650D and a 75-300mm III lens, and feel it's time to upgrade. I've found the autofocus, shooting speed and high iso performance particularly lacking.

I mainly shoot birds and am looking for a setup with a bit more reach, so ideally atleast 400mm on APS-C. I've been reading on potential upgrade avenues and the following look like the best options for me:

Canon 7D MK II & EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Nikon D500 & 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR AF-S

From what I've heard, the canon setup seems to have better auto focus speed while the Nikon setup has a bit more sharpness and reach. Both of these setups fit into my budget when bought used, at around £2000

I'd love to hear some opinions on which setup would be better or if there is something else that I should consider.

Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS Rebel T4i (EOS 650D / EOS Kiss X6i) Nikon D500
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ChelseaPhotographer
ChelseaPhotographer Contributing Member • Posts: 953
Re: Wildlife APS-C upgrade advice
1

Zowlyfon wrote:

Hi,

I've been shooting wildlife with a Canon 650D and a 75-300mm III lens, and feel it's time to upgrade. I've found the autofocus, shooting speed and high iso performance particularly lacking.

I mainly shoot birds and am looking for a setup with a bit more reach, so ideally atleast 400mm on APS-C. I've been reading on potential upgrade avenues and the following look like the best options for me:

Canon 7D MK II & EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Nikon D500 & 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR AF-S

From what I've heard, the canon setup seems to have better auto focus speed while the Nikon setup has a bit more sharpness and reach. Both of these setups fit into my budget when bought used, at around £2000

I'd love to hear some opinions on which setup would be better or if there is something else that I should consider.

Both are good choices. I definitely prefer the Nikon D500, though. In my experience both focus very fast, but to me the Nikon is a little bit better. I think the 100-400 II is sharper, but for birds I prefer the reach of the 200-500, and when it comes to the sensor of the cameras, the Nikon beats the Canon in terms of dynamic range by a long shot.

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bill winslow hansen Regular Member • Posts: 322
Re: Wildlife APS-C upgrade advice

Invest in a 600mm lens .

Keep the body for now and learn the lens .

Then sell the body or trade it in on a newer canon .

There will be a huge leap forward by switching to a longer reach.

If you are really dead set on a new body getting one of the aforementioned kits either Nikon or canon is good advice .

Flying things start to get fun over 300mm .

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rich_cx139 Senior Member • Posts: 1,746
Re: Wildlife APS-C upgrade advice
1

Both good bodies - I favour ( and have ) the d500 - arguably still the best in class ( apart from a d850 maybe ).

As to the lenses - I have shot bif with a 100-400 but big birds close in. Nice and light to manoeuvre hand held. The Canon is the best of them but both the tam and sig are close and cheaper if you decide on Nikon.

I agree with the previous poster that longer is better and 600 on an aps-c is a sweet spot. The sigma C and tamron 150-600’s are within your budget - faster AF than the 200-500. You might be able to get a good used sigma 150-600 sport which imo is about the best short of a 600 prime at a lot of dosh. Unfortunately it is heavy.

If weight and handling isn’t an issue for you then I would suggest a d500 snd a sigma sport ( the 150-600 or the 60-600 ).

Obviously not on your options but a lighter outfit is an oly em1.2 (used from wex, lce etc ) + oly 100-400 but (a) that is most of your budget and, (b) There are pluses and minuses in looking at m43 for birding all of which have been thrashed out ad nauseum in these forums.

Chris R-UK Forum Pro • Posts: 21,290
Canon 75-300mm
5

Just to let you know that the Canon 75-300mm is a very poor lens, probably the worst lens that Canon still sells. Its only virtue is that it is really cheap which is why it often gets included in a two lens bundle by retailers.

So, whichever option you go for, you should get a big improvement in image quality just by changing the lens.

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OP Zowlyfon New Member • Posts: 2
Re: Wildlife APS-C upgrade advice

Thanks for the advice, I think the Tam/Sig 150-600 lenses are definitely something I will consider, the sport model is definitely a beast.

I did look at the Micro 4/3 options, however the ecosystem surrounding canon and nikon lenses seems much more established, and the option of also being able to get a FF camera in the future is definitely a factor.

rich_cx139 Senior Member • Posts: 1,746
Re: Wildlife APS-C upgrade advice

Zowlyfon wrote:

Thanks for the advice, I think the Tam/Sig 150-600 lenses are definitely something I will consider, the sport model is definitely a beast.

I did look at the Micro 4/3 options, however the ecosystem surrounding canon and nikon lenses seems much more established, and the option of also being able to get a FF camera in the future is definitely a factor.

Just for your info:  on the Nikon side ( D750 and D500 and Z6/7 ), the sigma or Tamron 100-400 and the Tamron G2 150-600 all work well on all bodies though you might need an upgrade on the Tamrons via the Tap-in console.

Don't know about the "beasts' - never tried one - just hearsay.  I think the Sigmas are all fine on Canon/Nikon aps or FF bodies though you would need to check.

Good luck

Richard

Krusty79 Senior Member • Posts: 2,417
Re: Wildlife APS-C upgrade advice
1

I would also consider a setup like the Sony a6400 with the Sony 200-600. I like the reach of that lens, plus it only takes 3/4 of a turn to zoom in all the way. The Nikon 200-500 requires almost two full turns. Try doing that with one hand while tracking a BIF with the other.

A 600mm prime has been recommended. Nothing wrong with that, but I know I cannot shoot with a prime. I need a zoom to locate the subject, then zoom in on it. YMMV.

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Norm Neely Senior Member • Posts: 2,558
Re: Wildlife APS-C upgrade advice

Zowlyfon wrote:

I mainly shoot birds and am looking for a setup with a bit more reach,

Sample 7Dmark ii birds in flight samples:

Vernon Chalmers Photography: Canon EOS 7D Mark II Birds In Flight Photo Gallery

Canon 7D MK II & EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Vernon Chalmers gear.

"The Canon EOS 7D Mark II paired with either the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 USM or EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II"

"My personal lens preference is the 400mm prime lens for its super-fast AF speed for action / birds in flight photography."

I think the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II will do very well for birds in flight. It also works well with a 1.4 extender.

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rich_cx139 Senior Member • Posts: 1,746
Re: Wildlife APS-C upgrade advice

Just a couple more things I have thought of after reading your and other peoples comments:

If you do go the incremental route suggested by a couple of people i.e. just first trying a long lens on your 650D, then it may be that a used 100-400 Li or ii or the 400/5.6 ( which I had forgotten about ) may be worth thinking about first even though they are shorter. They are both great lenses as Norm Neely says and you have the option of a Canon extender if you do up to a 7Dii ( I presume the 650D isn't f8 compatiible ). My experience with both the f6.3 Tamron and Sigma 100-400 's is that they don't really like TC14's - except, maybe, in good light - even on my D500.

How the combo of a 650D and these Canon lenses work for wildlife - I just don't know

Again, with your existing body, you may have to hunt around a bit to get the best copy of a Sigma C or Tamron 150-600. It is not just about copy variation but because you can't micro adjust the AF on the 650D ( as you can on the 7d i or ii or the D500 etc ). My experience is limited to the tam and sig 100-400 and the Tamron 150-600 G1 and G2. I have owned most of these overlapping with owning a D7100, D750 and D500. It may be just that I have been unlucky but the 150-600's both needed around +10 ( say +9 to +13 ) at 600 adjustment on all bodies which definitely makes a clearly visible difference to sharpness. The Tam 100-400 needed less adjustment - maybe around +5 on average and the Sigma 100-400 ( only used on a D500 ) is only +4 which is neither here or there as far as I am concerned - I can only just about see a difference of 5 ). I suspect that the OEM lenses are better than third party in this respect.

My Tamron G2 150-600 is pretty good although the zoom is smooth but a bit on the heavy side if you need to zoom in because its shifting a lot of glass and it is a "pumper". Its about 90 degrees from 300 to 600 and about 150 degrees ( I think ) from 150 to 600. The Sony 200-600 sounds a lot nicer to use with its internal zoom but i have no experience of recent MILC's in terms of AF for birdies other than the Nikon Z's.

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