Help My Uncle Shoot Nature!

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by qpawn, Jul 2, 2006.

  1. qpawn macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2003
    Location:
    California
    #1
    Howdy howdy,

    My uncle is interested in taking up nature photography as a hobby. He's an avid hunter and loves nature. (loves it so much that he must destroy it!! j/k) At least now he can "shoot" the animals in a much better way! ;)

    We were just at a family event where another relative was showing off his new Canon 30D.... so let's say my uncle buys that model... (he says the 5 fps continuous shooting rate would be nice)... so there goes $1400 right there... then comes the fun discussion on which telephoto lens and possible tele-converter... money money money!... :eek:

    I'm not sure exactly how close he gets to these animals, but he pointed to a fence pretty far away when I asked him. Is he gonna need something more than a 400mm lens with a tele-converter?... and can he keep the lens cost anywhere around $4000?... (I'm not sure if that budget includes tripods, filters, etc)... :rolleyes:

    Of course there's a speed issue... is he gonna need a faster lens than f/4.0 or f/4.5... (and you'd have to take into account the tele-converter eliminating all the light in the world!!)... or can he just up the ISO to counter? :confused:

    So there's a bunch of questions!!... If anybody out there has any advice, I'd appreciate it! Thanks! :)
     
  2. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2003
    Location:
    with Hamburglar.
    #2
    I've had great results with the 30D and the 300mm f/4L IS + 1.4x teleconverter (taking it to 420mm). If you are outside, the speed issue won't be a problem. (You can also read that as: anything faster than f/4 @ more than 300mm will cost you $3500 just for the lens.)

    30D + 300mm f/4 IS + 1.4x TC + Hoya filter = ~$2900

    Another great lens is the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS -- it's fast enough for indoor photography and wicked sharp! (~$1700)
     
  3. ScubaDuc macrumors 6502

    ScubaDuc

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2003
    Location:
    Europe
    #3
    In my experience from the parks in Namibia and Botzwana, a 500 mm is the the best focal lenght to have for some close ups of wildlife. I still use my mirrired Nikkor 500 mm f8 because it is still a size one can travel with If your uncle is just starting out and is willing to compromize a bit on the CCD side, either the Lumix with the or the coolpix 8800 feature long range zooms that are also optically stabilized.
     
  4. seenew macrumors 68000

    seenew

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2005
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    #4
    Just wanted to add to that- I had an 8800 up until recently, and the zoom on it was excellent, the vibration reduction was awesome as well. With a 2x-3x tele convertor, you could have a pretty nice, inexpensive setup for starting out.
     
  5. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #5
    He doesn't need the 30D for 5fps shooting, the 20D does that as well. The 30D just has a larger LCD and spot meter.

    Anyway, coming with a $4000 budget for lenses REALLY opens my horizons.
    I would normally suggest something like either the 300mm IS f4 lens that was mentioned earlier, or either Canon 100-400mm f4-5.6 IS, or Sigma 80-400mm f4-5.6 OS. They are very similar lenses, since money is no real object (for these lenses that both cost well under the $4k) then I'd say Canon since it has USM.

    You could get a Sigma 300mm f2.8 HSM for just over $2.1k
    Sigma 500mm f4.5 HSM for $3k

    Sigma 100-300mm f4 DG HSM $800 (my pick, but I'd never have the budget you have)
    Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 DG HSM $2.1k
     
  6. iGary Guest

    iGary

    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    Randy's House
    #6
    Tell him to go to the Fred Miranda.com "Nature and Wildlife" section. ;)
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #7

    What is his background in general photography? Even if someone has $10K available to spend I would not suggest spending hat much unless he has a strong background and a strong potographic portfolio. You really do have to start wth he basics

    Some of the things to look at...
    1) Solid, light weigt camera support. The ideal or "gold standard" is
    a carbon faber Gitzo tripos and acra swiss ball head. But theat is not cheap. Work down ward from there. You really DO need a sold tripod and a ball head. The lenses we are taling about just can NOT be hand held

    2) some way to transport the gear. I like my Domke photo backpack. It is a full size backpack with a good hardness system and it is large enough to also for lunch, water and a jacket. You never take just the camera.

    3) the camera body matters the least. there s little reason to spend big $$ here. The oly features that will be used are the shuttr realease, aaperture and exposure time.

    4) Lens. Here is the expensive items. I can't imagine not having a wide angle to moderate tele zoom. My 18-70 works great. but them you will want a long, fast tele. a 400 f/2.8 would be ideal (remember the DSRL "crop factor" makes the 400 act like a 600. The other lens that is nice is the 80-200 f/2.8. In soe place you can get close to animals In Yellowstone I was one able to walk close with a medium format camera with a "normal" lens.
     
  8. whocares macrumors 65816

    whocares

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    Location:
    :noitаɔo˩
    #8
    Ditto. The most money should be spent on tripod + lens (though a camera with lockable mirror is nice for long focals). Avoid P&S as they have too much latency between shooting and shutter release. Also choose a DSLR with a smaller sensor as the crop factor will artificially increase focal length.

    The ideal lense is indeed a 400 mm f/2.8. This is a very big, very heavy, very expensive lens. A teleconverter will complement it nicely (the idea of buying an expensive, fast lens is you can put a teleconverter on it and not loose too much in quality). Failing the 400, a 300 mm f/2.8 + 1.4x/2x teleconverter is the second best option IMO.

    I have a 300 mm f/2.8 + 1.4 teleconverter + 1.5 crop factor combo. This is equivalent to a 600 mm f/4 and yields excellent results. It is also very heavy to carry around!
    I might get me a 2x teleconverter ("900 mm f/5.6") at some point: 600 mm is still too short for birds. :(

    Birds/wildlife is the only area of photography where better equipment helps (but *only* helps) get better pictures. You still need to be a good photographer & "hunter". ;)
     
  9. ScubaDuc macrumors 6502

    ScubaDuc

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2003
    Location:
    Europe
    #9
    The guy is just starting out....:confused: He can get a Lumix with a 12x zoom (equivalent to 420mm) for way less then 500 bucks and is a Leica lens with optical stabilizer. True, not tecnically as good but there is no need to sink 4000 bucks to start out either. You deal with latency by anticipating the shot a bit, as it was done in the old film days...

    I agree with you in that although good equipment helps, it is not the camera that makes the photographer, but the skills in framing, exposure, etc. A good photographer will take decent pics even with a point and shoot. Otherwise, all Nikon's owners would be...pros! :p
     
  10. whocares macrumors 65816

    whocares

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2002
    Location:
    :noitаɔo˩
    #10
    :confused: :confused:

    Care to expand on this? Film SLRs are wicked fast compared to many digital camera. ;)

    The OP did state he would like to keep the lens around $4k... :cool:
     
  11. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #11
    Think of it like a hobby or something. The guy would buy a camera and lenses and go "shoot" some animals which he thinks will be fun. Or he could buy a convertible. Just because you don't have $5k+ to spend for fun doesn't mean you need to dump on everyone else's dreams.
     
  12. qpawn thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2003
    Location:
    California
    #12
    thanks for all the responses! :)

    i just had lunch with my uncle and we discussed his camera needs. i have some new information that might be helpful in choosing a lens... or two.

    the subjects: big game (elk, deer, me flexing), birds (any kind, even larry), reptiles (snakes, toads, lawyers), nature (trees, mountains, clouds, lakes, the earth's core)

    the shots: close-ups, macros, wide shots, things sitting, running, soaring, jumping, swimming, dancing

    the distance: a bird could land on a nearby branch, an insect could be sitting on a small leaf, or a massive elk could be 100 to 300 yards away

    the lighting: could be a bright, bright sunshiny day one shoot, but dusk or dawn the next

    the shooter: new to photography, but wants very high quality

    the camera: canon 30d very likely

    budget
    ------------
    the camera: $1400
    the lens(es): around $4000
    the accessories: no clue

    some miscellaneous questions:
    how long does it take to switch lenses?
    how much difference in quality between a zoom and a prime?
    what filters to use?
    any recommended tripods?

    ok, so that was a lot of stuff... if you got this far, congrats! no need to tackle all of this at once. i was just trying to throw in as much info as i could. i'll gladly take any advice! thanks for your time! :)
     

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