As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/240191/forum-advertisement-faq-and-reports-thread/
Options

Picking a 2nd lens for 7D (birding/wildlife/general use)

DracilDracil Registered User regular
edited May 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
So, currently I basically have the EF-S 17-55mm on my 7D all the time. It's great and useful for most of the time, but I feel like just using one lens is pretty limiting to the things I can photograph, and I'm starting to get a little bored with wide-angle to normal-angle all the time.

Every once in a while, I'll come across some birds when I have my camera and want to take pictures of it (pigeons, seagulls, chickadees, blackbirds). For the most part, it's mostly urban birds (I'm in San Francisco) and I don't exactly have an easy way to get out in the remote wilds to shoot exotic birds. If I can get close enough, it's ok for still shots. But getting close would mean enticing them with food, which is not really a good thing to do. I'm finding I generally can't get really sharp photos of birds in flight with this, even the gulls that hang around the piers that you can get relatively close to. Could also be technique or camera settings (which I've found were less than ideal after I looked it up later). But could also be the lens which means tracking a bird in flight at close-range means pretty quick movements of the camera which may be why the photos aren't sharp.

Which is why I've been looking at and thinking about the new 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II. It seems to be very highly rated. It's quite expensive, but still affordable and would complement my 17-55mm as another more general purpose lens but with a longer reach, which means I'm not stuck with just using it for birding. It also seems a bit heavy at over 2x my current lens' weight. I know even with my current lens, if I was just taking videos of something, my arms would start getting tired after a few minutes of keeping it steady and start to droop if I don't pay attention.

On the other hand, I've read that the minimum serious birding lens is 400mm, which is why the 400/5.6 prime is also enticing. It's slightly lighter and aesthetically looks nicer. It's also a lot cheaper. But I'm not sure how useful a 400mm would be for other photography purposes.

The 100-400mm would be better for general purpose and good for birding too, but it's a lot slower at f/4.5-5.6 so would be less useful at the wider angles compared to the 70-200mm IS II's constant f/2.8.

The last alternative is the 70-200mm f/4. The main thing I like about this lens is the weight. I don't like that it has a different filter size than my 17-55mm so I can't reuse my filters, and of course it's not as fast.

I'd be happiest if Canon would just produce some nice long lens for the EF-S because it would be much lighter and probably cheaper, but alas, that's not an option.

3DS: 2105-8644-6304
Switch: US 1651-2551-4335 JP 6310-4664-2624
MH3U Monster Cheat Sheet / MH3U Veggie Elder Ticket Guide
Dracil on

Posts

  • Options
    spazmojackspazmojack Hangin on the corner of 52nd and BroadwayRegistered User regular
    edited May 2010
    you might find better success for this over in the artists corner photo thread. they offer up some good photography stuff.

    spazmojack on
  • Options
    saltinesssaltiness Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Dracil wrote: »
    I'd be happiest if Canon would just produce some nice long lens for the EF-S because it would be much lighter and probably cheaper, but alas, that's not an option.

    They do. Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS. Although it sounds like you've limited yourself to $600+ lenses for some reason.

    Judging by the problems you're describing with sharpness (focus or motion blur?) and camera settings, you need to focus on learning how to use your camera - shutter speed, aperture, ISO, focusing modes and point selection. Often, when people first get into photography they get stuck on wanting the latest and greatest gear; thinking if they just spend more money their pictures will be better. This isn't the case. Knowledge and experience are key.

    Also, as a fellow SF dweller I recommend against spending $2,000 on a lens for birding in the city. You'll soon grow tired of super close-up shots of pigeons and sea gulls.

    Anyway, I second the advice of checking out the photo thread. You'll get much more detailed info there.

    saltiness on
    XBL: heavenkils
  • Options
    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I don't do much long telephoto shooting, certainly not much of fast moving animals. I really don't think f5.6 is going to cut it at 400mm.

    Better to get the f2.8 and a tele-converter. I haven't checked on the lens itself, but 70-200 f/2.8 IS sounds like an expensive lens (like $1000+) so be real sure it's what you want before buying.

    If you're having trouble getting in-focus shots with your kit lens you might try a wide to short tele f/2.8 w or w/out IS (there are several available from canon/sigma/tamron) as the kit lens is a bit slow. But it doesn't address the boredom with the angle of view you're having.

    If you have a good local camera store they should let you try out lenses on your rig, but they probably won't let you take it out of the store w/out a rental fee and heafty deposit.

    Djeet on
  • Options
    saltinesssaltiness Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Djeet wrote: »
    If you're having trouble getting in-focus shots with your kit lens you might try a wide to short tele f/2.8 w or w/out IS (there are several available from canon/sigma/tamron) as the kit lens is a bit slow. But it doesn't address the boredom with the angle of view you're having.

    Unless he's mistyping he is using the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS which is not a kit lens.

    Also, Dracil, you can buy step-up and step-down rings to fix the different size filter problem.

    saltiness on
    XBL: heavenkils
  • Options
    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Yeah if that's the case then he should be able to get sharp results with just more practice and familiarization with the gear.

    Djeet on
  • Options
    desdinovadesdinova Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I would probably go with the 70-200 F4 L. It's reasonably priced and constant aperture. At the long end, it's 320mm on the 7D. "Serious" birding is a gigantic money pit. The cheapest way to head there on canon is probably the 300 f/2.8 and and 1.4x tele.

    desdinova on
    wat
  • Options
    DracilDracil Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Thanks for the input. I might try the photo thread later after I try again with better settings on the camera. To clear up the confusion, I'm definitely using the 17-55mm, not the kit lens. I will admit I've probably been spoiled by using it for so long that I'm sorta reluctant to go back to the 55-250mm that I have which is why I'm looking at these lenses.

    I definitely know I had less than ideal settings when I was trying to shoot the birds. I think I only went down to f/5.6 at the time but it seems like most people recommend f/8 because I didn't want to sacrifice ISO. In retrospect, I should've just increased my ISO to get a fast shutter speed at f/8. Time of day wasn't right either, as it was in the hours around midday, and I tossed a lot of shots because of shadows in the eyes.

    As far as sharpness goes, I'm thinking part of the problem is that I'm probably guilty of pixel-peeping. At the same time, if my subject is only filling <5% of the frame because the lens isn't long enough, then I'm probably going to have to do some heavy cropping anyway which might have the same result. I'm honestly not sure if my photos aren't sharp enough or if I simply have unrealistic expectations here about keeper rate/sharpness (I guess the photo thread would be good for this). I've also sometimes noticed what I think are chromatic aberrations when the birds are a very small part of the frame (blue-ish outlines on part of the bird)

    I do like shooting other animals, like squirrels in the park, which is why I'd like a longer lens. But in the case of squirrels, I've found most of them have been conditioned to get really close to you if they hear the sound of plastic bags because they think there'll be food, so long lenses isn't strictly necessary there and I think I've been doing okay there. Better than the birds anyway.

    Dracil on
    3DS: 2105-8644-6304
    Switch: US 1651-2551-4335 JP 6310-4664-2624
    MH3U Monster Cheat Sheet / MH3U Veggie Elder Ticket Guide
  • Options
    EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited May 2010
    If you're shooting a single distant subject, why are you upping your aperture to get a wider depth of field?

    I mean if you're planning on shooting everything at F5.6-8, why do you want a lens that goes to F2.8? Professionals tend to buy big fast lenses so they can get up close to, say, an athlete on a field but still separate that subject from the rest of the shot.

    You *have* a 55-250; why not put that on your camera and focus on shooting some birds and other animals, and see what you think?

    As for picking a lens, one tool I've found invaluable is to spend some time looking through flickr groups based around the lens, or to search tags. For a lot of shots, technique and post processing will come into play. But there are also shots that can only be achieved with certain lenses. Seeing what some of those are (such as particularly shallow DOF) would help to show you what you'd gain from having the lens in your bag.

    EggyToast on
    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
  • Options
    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    He was going with a wider aperature so he wouldn't have to dial up the ISO to hit a shutter speed that would produce a usable image, probably cause he was concerned about noise/color accuracy at high ISO.

    I can see why you'd get more CA. CA is worst at high contrast edges (e.g. dark subject against an overcast sky), and you're magnifying this effect if you are heavily cropping the image so that you can increase the prominence of the subject.

    Shoot around with that 55-250 for awhile and dial up the ISO. If the subject is still too small invest in a teleconverter before buying an expensive lens. Don't worry too much about noise or color accuracy at high ISO, just dial up the ISO til you can get the shot composed and in-focus. Once you can do that you can adjust your shooting params to address the noise, or perhaps get the faster longer glass if you decide you need it.

    Djeet on
  • Options
    DracilDracil Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Only one of the four lenses I was looking at goes up to F/2.8, one of the 70-200mm lens, and that's because at those lengths, I can still use it as a more general purpose lens, including low-light situations like concerts. The other lenses (another 70-200mm, 100-400mm, and 40mm prime) are all F/4 or lower.

    I'll try the flickr thing and maybe play around with the 55-250mm kit lens some more.

    Dracil on
    3DS: 2105-8644-6304
    Switch: US 1651-2551-4335 JP 6310-4664-2624
    MH3U Monster Cheat Sheet / MH3U Veggie Elder Ticket Guide
  • Options
    EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Djeet wrote: »
    He was going with a wider aperature so he wouldn't have to dial up the ISO to hit a shutter speed that would produce a usable image, probably cause he was concerned about noise/color accuracy at high ISO.

    But he was using a smaller aperture. He's shooting birds with an f2.8 lens at f8.

    EggyToast on
    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
  • Options
    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Dracil wrote: »
    I think I only went down to f/5.6 at the time but it seems like most people recommend f/8 because I didn't want to sacrifice ISO. In retrospect, I should've just increased my ISO to get a fast shutter speed at f/8. Time of day wasn't right either, as it was in the hours around midday, and I tossed a lot of shots because of shadows in the eyes.

    Which I took to mean he was stopped at f5.6 when the tutorials he was working from suggested f8.

    I've done the same thing, going wider aperature so as to obtain a workable shutter speed at a given ISO. But my subjects are much more fogiving (slow moving people).



    When shooting and the lighting is too hot you might have to dial up the exposure compensation to properly expose for shadowed bits. Though this will likely result in areas of the picture getting blown out.

    Djeet on
Sign In or Register to comment.