Stephen Duffy Images 10:25am, 24 June 2010
Im a relative newcomer to photographing birds and often look at other peoples images to check out the "Tags" and "Metadata/Exifdata" to find out the shooting parameters (ISO,shutter speed and aperture) and also what focal length of lens was used and if possible the make and model of the lens.

This sort of information can be usefull especially if your buying your first birding lens and not sure what to get,though not everyone "Tags" or includes "Metadata/Exifdata" with their images.

I know that not everone can afford the £/$4000+ super primes and wondereing what lens you use ?

If your happy with your purchase and what your "Lens of choice" would be for birding if differnt from the one you already own ?
Stephen, can you tell us all which body you use as this will have some bearing on the lenses available. Also its changes geographically, in some parts of the world a long lens isn't important where as in the UK its considered normal to have a long lens as the birds are not always on top of you.
Look forward to the response so the members can assist further
Stephen Duffy Images 8 years ago
I use a full frame Canon 5Dmk1 body and my current birding lens is the Canon EF300mm f/4 IS L USM, and I often use the EF1.4xII TC/Extender with it, as theres no significant loss in image quality and it becomes a 420mm f/5.6 lens.

Ive not started the post because im seeking a new lens as I spent a great deal of time deliberating what lens I wanted in my price range before choosing the 300mm prime.

Its just a general purpose enquiry that maybe of interest to others thinking about getting into bird photography (as well as myself),and im well aware that some people use crop sensor camera bodies and some people use full frame bodies,and the choice of lenses can be a deciding factor depending on the sensor size.
striped flag [deleted] 8 years ago
I also use the 300 f/4L IS. No complaints. Now my lens of choice? The 300mm f/2.8L IS. I probably like it more than the f/4L because of the better sharpness and weather sealing just as much as for the f/2.8 aperture.
Let there be light (Andy) PRO Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Let there be light (Andy) (member) 8 years ago
The 300 2.8 with a 2X converter is great. Many of my bird images were made with this combination. I started using it with film and now use it with a 1.3X crop body. What's best for you really comes down to your needs and budget, of course. The size of the birds you want to photograph, the layout of your favorite shooting sites and how mobile you need (want) to be are all important factors.
john.dart 8 years ago
Sigma 150 500mm, always with me and on the camera. On a Nikon D80, a Nikon 80 400mm looks tempting on Ebay! :)
Alan S Willis 8 years ago
I always use a 70-400 on a full frame camera. I specialise on Kingfisher shots, use a hide and get very close. The zoom helps frame the pic, By the way I am not good enough to use photoshop Regards Alan
Stephen Duffy Images 8 years ago
I like the idea of the 300mm f/2.8 and 2xTC combo Andy.

I was researching the EF 300mm f/2.8 a few weeks ago and The Digital Picture site claimes that it works better with the 1.4 and 2x TC than most if not all the Canon Super Primes.

I also came across another site where a husband and wife photographed birds in the film days,and the husband used the Canon 600mm f/4 L and his wife the EF 300mm f/2.8 with a 2xTC and when they got the films back had difficuly in deciding which shots were taken with the 600mm or the 300mm + TC as the IQ was so good from the 300mm and 2x TC combination.

The 300mm f/2.8 is definatally on my wants list though if I ever saved enough money to get one, id also be torn between it and the 500mm f/4 L.

Nikon users have it easier as im sure ive seen used Nikon 300mm f/2.8 VR lenses for around £1500-2000 and the equivilent used Canon lenses would be an extra £1000 or so.
acceptable dogs [deleted] Posted 8 years ago. Edited by acceptable dogs (member) 8 years ago
Hi I use a canon 400 5.6 prime lens you can walk round with it and use handheld and the quality is excellent, I do think if i could afford it i would buy a 500 f4 or a 400 2.8 but the difference in price is huge as is the size and you can pick up a good second hand copy of the 400 5.6 for around £800 and you would not be dissapointed.
as for focal length i dont think you would notice much difference between a 400 or a 500 lens and if planning to use a converter it will give better results with a prime lens over a zoom
but what ever the size of the lens the closer you can get to the birds the better the results
hope this may help colin
peckhamryecrow PRO 8 years ago
Like others my favourite lens is a Canon 300 F4 IS and a matching 1.4 teleconverter. I like to be able to handhold for many of my shots and the IS helps with this. Though it is another electronic component which can fail - he says after having to have this replaced recently after several years of faithful service.

This lense combination is relatively light and can easily be carried along with binoculars and a scope.

Not sure if my preference will change but have recently aquired Sigma's 300-800 as unfortunately I've still not developed the ability to walk on water and the thought of using a floating hide and more importantly what could go wrong when using one are just too scary.
Gerry Gutteridge PRO 8 years ago
Hi... I can certainly vouch for the 300mm... I use the EF 300 2.8 IS L series and I wouldn't swap it for anything... except a 600.. :) and I fear I will have to get a divorce to buy one of those...
This lens is extremely sharp and performs well with the 1.4 & 2x extenders. And is great for low light conditions..
Although the extenders do give a slightly 'softer' image.. It is worth experimenting with the lens/extender combination and finding out which aperture gives the sharpest image.
Another tip, it's well worth calibrating the Camera body/Lens/Extender to each other using micro-adjustment in Custom Functions... It's surprising the diffeence in sharpness it makes...
Many people I talk to have never calibrated Camera & Lens....! Which is fine if you have a perfect match of course...
HTH.... Gerry
gary1844 PRO Posted 8 years ago. Edited by gary1844 (member) 7 years ago
I have the Sigma 300mm f2.8 lens and It is a very good lens. I use it with the 1.4 at 420 with no problems at all. It is a great walk around lens. I use it on a Pentax body for the in camera stabilazation. Sharp as a tack. But I am slowely learning to love the Sigma 500mm f4.5 lens.
Withe the 1.4 t.c. It is so sharp and accurate it makes me wonder if I took the shot or not... :). Also with a pentax body for in camera stabilization.
I have heard bad things about Sigma but i am one of the lucky ones i guess.
It is a good Idea to get the camera and lens adj. on the 300 f2.8. As stated above.

Update 7/13/2011
Well the Pentax people are calling me a trader. I love the new K-5 but am slowly changing to Canon. I just bought a 300mm f2.8 lens and am so impressed I ordered the 500mm f4 L IS. It should be here next week. The quality of Canon and the sharp L lenses are just unbelievable. I have both now but will probably sell the Sigma 300 f2.8 and the 500mm f4.5 I really love the hobby and will peruse it more now.
My everyday lens is a Nikon 400/2.8, takes the 1.4 and 1.7tc's with no noticable loss of quality and with no TC is a superbly fast in-flight lens. just ordered the Nikon TC20 Mk3 with the ED glass (when they get into the country) so should have a rather nice range from 400/2.8 to 800/5.6.
Needs a good head so all mounted on a Wimberley MkII and a superbly stable Gitzo 3531 Tripod.
For a walkabout option my trusty 300/4 with the 1.4tc connected a light and sharp 420/4 lens which only needs a monopod for a bit of support.
birdwalkers 8 years ago
My field lens for the Rebel XS is usually a Canon 100-300 f5.6 autofocus I'm not sure I'd recommend it. I bought it on impulse used I just got the Canon and went to the local camera store for kicks. A nice zoom for $80 It works OK most of the time A litle grindyA little research found that it is an ARC motor A design from the 1980s No way as nice as a USM motor. Nice glass if you shoot fast Hope to move it to the back of the shelf in 2011 when I get the same with IS and F3.I do my all work handheld Got to be a lot of these lenses out there
I find that my combination of a Canon 7D with my 400 F2,8 IS lens works really nice for my bird photos. On a nicely lit day, I can add either my 1.4 or 2.0 converter to get that extra reach and am very happy with the results.
AGOODAY 7 years ago
I've a canon 50D (1.6 crop). Started with a Sigma 150-500mm and upgraded to the 400mm f5.6 which is much sharper all the way through from f5.6. Both are portable, the 400m is very portable. The lack of stablisation and relatively large minimim focus distance on the 400mm mean it's not for everyone. With a TC you're likely to lose autofus (unless you've a 1D I think.). Hire a 400mm f2.8. Stunning lens. Really sharp even with 2x TC and you keep autofus. But, such a large lens isn't portable and you need to know what you're going to shoot. Would like a 500mm f4 one day, but for now extremely happy with the 400mm f5.6, which are about £1100 new.
featherandfur 7 years ago
I use a Nikon D300 body (1.5 crop factor)with either a Sigma f2.8 300mm Prime which i have found to be a great walkaround lens and a good allrounder for avian photography, I also favour my Sigma 180mm Macro which has returned some great results. Sharp with a Macro Telephoto result for Bird flight shots.

Guess I`ve been lucky with my Sigma lens choice !
mick revell PRO 7 years ago
I was using a canon 100-400 L zoom, but I found I was always at the long end, I now use a Canon 300mm F4 L is and a canon 1.4 convertor. on the 40d body the 300mm is a good lens for walkabout and grab shots.
fishandsnap 7 years ago
Nearly all mine (static or in-flight) are taken with my Sigma 150-500, which is mounted on either the D300S or D7000. I take some bird shots with the 70-300VR or 80-200 2.8 AFD. That said the above three are also my airshow and sports lenses, and the again most are with the 150-500 Sigma.
bawdy pin [deleted] 7 years ago
All my early shots taken with a Sigma 150-500mm and now I use a Canon 400mm F5.6 - It blows away the Sigma with sharpness and focus speed. The best birding lens for the money.
d1ngy_skipper PRO 7 years ago
My favourite lens is the Nikon 200mm-400mm F4 lens.This lens is so versatile and pin sharp.I use it with1.4 and 1.7 convertors also.I mount this lens on a Nikon D3s a fantastic pairing.
michael.smith86 PRO 4 years ago
Canon 400mm f5.6 It's the best I can afford!
Canon 600f/4 (I use the old version and just love it!)
fyimo PRO 3 years ago
Canon 400mm f5.6 L lens on my Canon 7D
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