Used to Portrait photography and want to enter in the birdwatching world

Started 3 months ago | Questions
Tofynation New Member • Posts: 1
Used to Portrait photography and want to enter in the birdwatching world

Hello you all,

my first time here, hope I am doing it the right way.

A bit of context, I have loved portrait photography for years - used both DSLR and analogic cameras for that, mostly 50 f 1.4/2.8 lenses, and have had many cameras and lenses.

For the last 3-4 years I kind of lost interest in photography and now I am back - and with only an old canon a-1 analogic for now.

I am looking for a mirrorless camera that I could have lenses for both portraits but also to become - who knows - a beginner bird photographer.

I would prefer not to spend a lot on the camera so I can have 2-4 lenses for different scenarios.

Was looking at some:

- The M50 looked good for a beginner, and would also have the possibility of choosing between many lenses. But the battery life and quality seem to be not the best.

- The TX-3 also looks good, but a bit more expensive and especially expensive if I want to go deep into birdwatching as they don't offer many macros.

- Also saw some of the sony ones, but wonder about their cost + cost of lenses. Seems a bit too much just for a hobbyist.

Would love any feedback/tips on a camera + lenses that would make sense for my use case without cost a fortune.

Hope this is enough info.

Thanks a lot

ANSWER:
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Canon EOS M50 (EOS Kiss M)
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PhotoTeach2 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,407
Re: Used to Portrait photography and want to enter in the birdwatching world
2

What is your budget ...

If you still want to do portraits I would suggest FF (used if on a low-budget).

But bird-watching lenses can get (very) expensive on FF (or even DX/APS).

The smallest-sensor Interchangeable-Lens-Cameras (ILC's), are m4/3 so lenses will have a 2X crop (for longer TELE). Their inherent DOF is not as shallow but faster prime-lenses are available at higher cost.

But a "bridge" camera can offer the speed & convenience of continuous-zoom that is wider/longer/faster than typical "kit" lenses.

The longest-economical TELE is via "bridge" camera, and the longest are Nikon P950/1000 (24mm to 2000/3000mm-EFL respectfully). But would not recommend it for portraits.

A compromise (bridge) could be Sony RX10-IV with 24mm to 600mm-EFL @ f/2.4-4. It has a unique ("stacked") sensor that is capable of (PD) "Continuous"-AutoFocus @ 25fps and only a 39ms shutter-lag. This could be a good "birding/wildlife" camera.

It could be used for portraits with a Post-Processing program like EXPOSURE-X6/BOKEH to simulate (shallow) DOF.

The RX10-IV is $1700 new (and not much cheaper used).

The best "value" bridge is Panasonic-Lumix FZ1000-ii @ $800, but with a shorter 25-400mm-EFL lens.

It has a Fully-Articulating rear-LCD (FA-LCD), and "leaf" shutter that can allow SUN-light fill-flash up to 20' w/built-in flash. (Both features can dramatically increase your shooting position/opportunities.)

NOTE: The FA-LCD can be reversed for selfies, and PROTECT the LCD from scratches when carrying.

The (new) FZ1000-"II" has both "Post-Stacking Focus", (for deeper DOF), and "Pre-Capture" for catching the "peak"-of-action AFTER the "peak".

(Note: used original FZ1000's are available <$500.)

lehill
lehill Veteran Member • Posts: 6,308
Re: Used to Portrait photography and want to enter in the birdwatching world
1

Tofynation wrote:

Hello you all,

my first time here, hope I am doing it the right way.

A bit of context, I have loved portrait photography for years - used both DSLR and analogic cameras for that, mostly 50 f 1.4/2.8 lenses, and have had many cameras and lenses.

For the last 3-4 years I kind of lost interest in photography and now I am back - and with only an old canon a-1 analogic for now.

I am looking for a mirrorless camera that I could have lenses for both portraits but also to become - who knows - a beginner bird photographer.

I would prefer not to spend a lot on the camera so I can have 2-4 lenses for different scenarios.

Was looking at some:

- The M50 looked good for a beginner, and would also have the possibility of choosing between many lenses. But the battery life and quality seem to be not the best.

- The TX-3 also looks good, but a bit more expensive and especially expensive if I want to go deep into birdwatching as they don't offer many macros.

- Also saw some of the sony ones, but wonder about their cost + cost of lenses. Seems a bit too much just for a hobbyist.

Would love any feedback/tips on a camera + lenses that would make sense for my use case without cost a fortune.

Hope this is enough info.

Thanks a lot

For bird watching the quality of the photo just has to be enough to identify the bird. Bird photography is more like portraiture which has a higher bar. Here are some photos from my local nature preserve uploaded to a bird-watching website. You'll see plenty of poor to good photos but all are acceptable for bird identification. For my Firefox browser, I can <right-click> on a photo, then "open in new tab" to see a large image with the type of camera and lens used.

I think the big choices to be made will be related to budget and how much weight you're willing to carry around. The minimum recommended lens focal length is usually 400mm (eqv). You can spend US$500 to ~$20,000 (and more) and carry a camera in your pocket or haul around 10-12 lbs of equipment (that's one camera+lens). There are lots of choices between these two extremes.

Some typical examples of smaller bridge cameras are here. I'm a Sony shooter so I can point you in the general direction of an A6600 (APS-C) or any of the latest models of the A7 series cameras (FF) plus one of their >400mm lenses. I see the Nikon D500+200-500mm or Canon 7DII+100-400mm recommended often in the forums. You may find some other discussions in the Nature and Wildlife forum.

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BGD300V1
BGD300V1 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,161
Re: Used to Portrait photography and want to enter in the birdwatching world
2

Tofynation wrote:

- The M50 looked good for a beginner, and would also have the possibility of choosing between many lenses. But the battery life and quality seem to be not the best.

The M50 is a dead end camera. There are many superior models with a much better selection of native and lenses.

Since it was first announced in 2012, there are only 8 native EF-M mount lenses and none longer than 200mm.  You will want longer lenses for birding.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_EF-M_lens_mount

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Krusty79 Senior Member • Posts: 2,657
Re: Used to Portrait photography and want to enter in the birdwatching world
2

Do you plan on shooting birds in flight? If not, then almost any decent camera with good reach will do. If so, then the AF is critical and that will really narrow down your search.

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BGD300V1
BGD300V1 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,161
Compact superzooms might be your best bet
1

BGD300V1 wrote:

Tofynation wrote:

- The M50 looked good for a beginner, and would also have the possibility of choosing between many lenses. But the battery life and quality seem to be not the best.

The M50 is a dead end camera. There are many superior models with a much better selection of native and lenses.

Since it was first announced in 2012, there are only 8 native EF-M mount lenses and none longer than 200mm. You will want longer lenses for birding.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_EF-M_lens_mount

For birdwatching a lot of folks find that a compact superzoom is a good camera. These would include the Nikon P950, P1000, or B600 offer the chance to use a supertelephoto at a budget price.

Comparable Sony's would be the RX-10. Canon has the SX series which offer the same capabilities.

These aren't cheap (used can be) but are a lot less expensive than a DSLR with similar telephoto capabilities.

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NikonNature Veteran Member • Posts: 4,696
Re: Used to Portrait photography and want to enter in the birdwatching world
1

Unless you live somewhere like Florida, where birds are used to people, you really need 400mm or more. 300mm will lead to a lot of heavy cropping and missed opportunities. 400mm is a better starting point. 500mm or 600mm will lead to more keepers, less cropping, and more detail.

You listed the TX3 as an option... I assume you meant the Fuji XT-3(?). If so, that would be a great option. If you visit the Nature and Wildlife forum on this site you will find some who use that model and may have some lens suggestions too.

If you do some research and feel that a body and suitable lens are beyond your budget, then a superzoom bridge camera is an option. The Sony RX10v4 is not cheap, but generally considered the best in this category.

A final thought would be to look at older DSLR's. I know you said you were looking at mirrorless, but cost-wise DSLR's offer a great value. Something like a Canon 7Dmk2, or Nikon D7200 would be up to the task and a little easier on the budget.

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A Marcus Regular Member • Posts: 189
Re: Used to Portrait photography and want to enter in the birdwatching world
1

If you mount a lens with a focal length that is approximately the same as the corner-to-corner (diagonal) measure of the format (film or digital sensor), that lash-up is considered to deliver a “normal” angle of view. While not engraved in stone, portrait photographers generally gravitate to a moderate telephoto. This will be a focal length about 2X thru 2.5X normal.

For birding, one generally uses a long lens. A focal length about equal to the diagonal measure is often considered magnification 1. Birding enthusiasts generally work with binoculars 8X (magnification). Now we are talking 8 times the diagonal measure.

When using a full frame 24mm by 26mm 35mm camera, “normal” is usually rounded up to focal length 50mm. Portraiture centers around 105mm and 8X telephoto = 50 x 8 = 400mm.

If the camera is an APS-C (16mm by 24mm) the crop factor is 1.5. For this format 30mm is considered “normal”, portrait centers on 75mm and 8X magnification = 30 x 8 = 240mm.

I think the camera model is not the key issue, it is focal length. Most any camera with super zoom will do this deed.

KenBPhoto New Member • Posts: 23
Re: Used to Portrait photography and want to enter in the birdwatching world
1

How funny. I moved to the UK last year and discovered seabird colonies. Puffins, Gannets, and all kinds of cool birds. I normally do landscapes but find birds really interesting. The park near my house has a bird hide and I've spent many hours in it waiting for birds.

First, I am using a Nikon D750 that has a 3D focus. This is great for birds flying away or towards you.

I also have a Sigma 150 - 600. Telephoto is important. The closer you can get the better off you are.

I also started trying to photograph kingfishers with mixed results. I downloaded kingfisher sounds off of youtube and I have a Bluetooth speaker I play them within the bird hide. That seems to have worked great.

Finally, I use a moderate F-stop and a continuous shooting mode for flying birds. That gives you a little depth of focus to play with when the bird is moving. It also lets you get plenty of images so you get the bird posing at its best. https://youtu.be/8ufTR6FQI6k

Good luck with the birds.

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