Author Topic: Wildlife lens question  (Read 646 times)

Tim Hall

  • Bright are the stars that shine Dark is the sky
Wildlife lens question
« on: February 08, 2018, 09:51:59 pm »
I'm off to Islay later this year and have half a mind to snap some wildlife. They've got Golden Eagles, I've seen them on the telly.

I have a Pentax K200D (that's an APS-C sensor)  with a Tamron 18-250mm lens. Should I learn the art of silent creeping to get up close and personal, or buy/hire a longer lens for the week.  I've got a solid tripod.

I've found a Pentax HD D-FA 150-450mm F4.5-5.6 for £200 for the time I'll need it, which might fit my budget. They're two grand new.  Or there's a 300mm for £121
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Maverick

  • One of the rural idle
    • Twoberries
Re: Wildlife lens question
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2018, 08:37:16 am »
Having spent many holidays on the west coast of Scotland (I'm off to Mull again next month  :thumbsup:) a 250mm lens will not capture very much unless you are very lucky. I've seen plenty of Golden & Sea Eagles, otters, dolphin, deer etc and other than the deer I have not managed any decent photographs with a 300mm lens. I think you will need 400mm as minimum, 600mm would be better.

LEE

  • "Shut Up Jens" - Legs.
Re: Wildlife lens question
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2018, 08:42:51 am »
My Dad is a "twitcher" & Photographer.  He has lenses worth more than my car.

It's really not my area but I do know one thing about Wildlife photography: If it ain't tack sharp then it's nothing.

You're up against it with a 10Mp camera and low frames-per-second.  I think you need all the help you can get.  Take the sharpest and longest lens you can because you can't crop into 10Mp very much.

My Dad uses a crop-sensor Canon 7D mk2 with a 300mm f/2.8 + 2x Teleconverter.  It's a razor-sharp setup that equates to 960mm f/5.6 (I think)  It's like a machine gun going off when he presses the shutter button.
Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: Wildlife lens question
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2018, 09:27:55 am »
Eagles are huge, except when you are trying to photograph them.

I'd say unless you are getting close to the lair, or somewhere they go, you'll have quite a challenge. An absolute minimum 500mm equivalent, and that will most likely just help confirm the type of bird.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

T42

  • Old fool in a hurry
Re: Wildlife lens question
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2018, 10:03:01 am »
One of your rental lenses with a 2x converter might be the way to go, but you'd need to be careful as to choice. I have a 70-300mm Tamron that is very sharp at full stretch, but much less so with a 1.4x converter.
I dare eat all that may become a man.

But hold the oysters.

Re: Wildlife lens question
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2018, 01:32:20 pm »
I'm off to Islay later this year and have half a mind to snap some wildlife.
I don't think wildlife are very amenable to being snapped, unless your trip is just to take photos, I'd just take what you have on the odd chance that you'll get lucky, or buy a lens that's likely to get plenty of use afterwards.  I wouldn't go to the expense of hiring unless you're going to be sat all day, everyday with it and then accept that you may be giving it back without a photo worth keeping. 
Those wildlife photos that we'd all have loved to have taken tend to have been the result of a bigger investment in time than money, and I say that even after looking at lens prices :o  When I started working with a keen wildlife photographer, I made the mistake of thinking the dozen photos he was showing me were from their latest trip, not from the last decade.  They were good, one of them was sold for a postcard, but that was it, all of them, they had nothing else they deemed good enough to show. 
OTOH, I wouldn't go to Scotland without a decent pair of binoculars, I've seen the Sea Eagles, Puffins, Arctic Skua, Great Terns, then bought the postcards.   Also heard but didn't see a  Corncrake, the couple at the same hostel had made the trip to see it and despite all the kit hadn't got a photo in a weekend.

LEE

  • "Shut Up Jens" - Legs.
Re: Wildlife lens question
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2018, 03:18:06 pm »
I've thought about this some more.

Take Binoculars (as suggested above) and submit the magic moments to memory, the images in your memory will be far more beautiful than any you take with "average" gear.

Take the camera gear you have just in case an eagle comes very close.  We all know what eagles look like and, if we want to confirm it, we can always look at Professionally taken images of one.

Here's an image from my only foray into the world of Bird photography

]

It was taken at the Hawk Conservancy near Andover where I live.  It was thoughtfully tethered to a perch about 20 feet from the fence rather than flying about in an annoying, and inconvenient, manner miles away.
Not challenging I know but it IS tack sharp (and only my honesty prevents me from saying it was taken on an expedition to Northern Minnesota...where I have actually seen them in the wild....thoughtlessly perching very far away, up trees).

Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.

T42

  • Old fool in a hurry
Re: Wildlife lens question
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2018, 04:00:21 pm »
One of the most frustrating moments of my life was watching vultures sail past the cliff path we were on, maybe 10 metres out, when I only had a 24-45mm with me. They were nesting not too far off, too. Down in the Gorges de la Jonte, that was. The lassie who was guiding us had saved them as a surprise.

You know, it might be worth taking a flyer on an el cheapo like this:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Opteka-500-1000mm-Definition-Telephoto-Digital/dp/B001NMX1XC

Dirt cheap, 100% manual and needs a bit of brainwork, but I've used el cheapo Danubia lenses on my old OM-2 and been very pleased. Main drawback is all the calamari fritti in the bokeh, if you're not careful.
I dare eat all that may become a man.

But hold the oysters.

Re: Wildlife lens question
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2018, 04:46:37 pm »
Birds are bloody hard.   I took a 100-400 zoom and a 7d2 to africa and it wasn't really long enough except for the very occasional shot (or stupid bird that didnt fly away).  All the ones I've posted are cropped to hell, starting from a 20mp file. 

It also needs really sharp focusing system and like lee said, machinegunning the shutter, and I found that adding a teleconverter slowed the focus down too much.  Actually getting the damn bird in the frame at > 400mm is *hard*, I got a lot of shots of empty sky as a bird flew across before I got my eye in.


LEE

  • "Shut Up Jens" - Legs.
Re: Wildlife lens question
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2018, 05:10:58 pm »
One of the most frustrating moments of my life was watching vultures sail past the cliff path we were on, maybe 10 metres out, when I only had a 24-45mm with me. They were nesting not too far off, too. Down in the Gorges de la Jonte, that was. The lassie who was guiding us had saved them as a surprise.

You know, it might be worth taking a flyer on an el cheapo like this:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Opteka-500-1000mm-Definition-Telephoto-Digital/dp/B001NMX1XC

Dirt cheap, 100% manual and needs a bit of brainwork, but I've used el cheapo Danubia lenses on my old OM-2 and been very pleased. Main drawback is all the calamari fritti in the bokeh, if you're not careful.

That's an f/16 lens at 1000mm !!!  The K100D is an old camera so I expect high ISO won't be up to much and you need a high shutter-speed if you want to capture a bird in flight (I wouldn't go below 1/500th).  I don't think the sums are going to add up at 100-200 ISO. (Hence the astronomical price of the Canon 300mm f/2.8  ).

Luckily I'm interested in portraits and landscapes which keeps me at the (relatively) cheap end of the gear options.  Wildlife is 50% expensive gear and 50% patience.  I have neither.
Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.

Re: Wildlife lens question
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2018, 06:53:22 pm »
Try a different tack maybe?

I had a Fuji HS10 bridge camera which zoomed (IIRC) to 720mm, and when that fell to bits I bought a used Canon SX50HS (other high performance bridge cameras are available), which has an even longer zoom.  I've used these in the African game parks to great success.  OK, they won't be as good as semi-pro kit with long lenses, but if you take your time to learn how to get the best out of the camera, and use a tripod, you'll get some very good results.  And, you'll have a camera to do the job which will take a good photo at very short notice, without sitting in a hide for a week, waiting for those 5 seconds when you can use the semi-pro kit.

You can buy a used SX50 for the price of your hired 450 zoom (it's probably a better camera than its sucessor the SX60)

Horses for courses - a good chance of an acceptable image, or a very low chance of an outstanding image.  You pays your money....

Some people don't rate the bridge cameras, but for value for money, giving really very good amateur photos, they take some beating.


LEE

  • "Shut Up Jens" - Legs.
Re: Wildlife lens question
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2018, 08:09:45 pm »
Good point.

The SX50 & SX60 are enormous fun.  Simply colossal zooms. 
They won't be "tack sharp" but you'll be spending significantly less than the price of a new family hatchback.

They make good VLOG cameras as well, with the flippy out screen.
Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.

T42

  • Old fool in a hurry
Re: Wildlife lens question
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2018, 09:45:52 am »
Chum of mine in Oregon regularly turns in stuff like this:

http://www.pbase.com/fotabug/image/148021241

He's using a Nikon Coolpix P900 these days, unless he's updated it.

US wildlife is much less skittish than ours. Dunno how it would compare with Africa.

I'd suggest that if you're interested in a given camera, go into http://www.pbase.com/cameras and find the one you're interested in. You'll (usually) get between a few dozen and several thousand sample shots to look at, e.g. http://www.pbase.com/cameras/nikon/coolpix_p900

Quite a few less savvy folk don't resize their pics before uploading, so with luck you can pixel-peep.
I dare eat all that may become a man.

But hold the oysters.

Re: Wildlife lens question
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2018, 10:38:57 am »
Slightly off topic, as it's for February only, but lenshire have 50% off at the moment.

I.e. You can hire a D500 and Nikkor 200-500 for a week for £126