View Full Version : Which lens for migrating birds?

17-03-10, 05:49 AM
Hi all
now that spring comming, many migrating birds are flying and resting in the county side on their way north. I had a chance to take pictures with my nikon D300 and 18-200m, but at 200mm the image was not that sharp and the zoom range was a little far ro get all the details. I was wondering what other zoom lens that could help me get closer and capture more details. Bare in mind that i don't usually shoot wild life so i'm not looking to buy a very expensive, long zoom lens

thank you for
Dr. M. Al-Qatam

17-03-10, 06:27 AM
Hi There,

You say; "Bare in mind that i don't usually shoot wild life so i'm not looking to buy a very expensive, long zoom lens"

What sort of budget do you have in mind?

17-03-10, 06:27 AM
Hmmm let us say around 450 or so

Nigel Atherton
17-03-10, 10:46 AM
Sounds like you'll need a telephoto of least a 500mm, but a decent new one will cost well into four figures.

You have several options:

1. Look on eBay for a second hand Nikon, Sigma or Tamron. Right now there's a 500mm Nikkor with a current highest bid of 215 (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Nikon-Reflex-Nikkor-500mm-f-8-Lens-EXC-Leather-case_W0QQitemZ150423507337QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_Ca merasPhoto_CameraAccessories_CameraLensesFilters_J N?hash=item2305f09189) but that will go up.
2. Look at one of the cheapo mirror lenses by names like Samyang (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/SAMYANG-500mm-f-8-0-Mirror-Tele-Lens-for-NIKON_W0QQitemZ180465875222QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_C amerasPhoto_CameraAccessories_CameraLensesFilters_ JN?hash=item2a049ab916). These are very cheap (like, 100 cheap) and almost certainly pretty nasty (though we haven't tested any of them yet). They have fixed apertures (usually f/8) and a tripod is essential.
3. Look at digi-scoping. Attaching a DSLR or compact to a telescope with a focal length of around 800mm will be much cheaper and lighter than the equivalent photo lens. I did this recently and wrote about it in my blog (http://www.whatdigitalcamera.com/blogs/news/442463/my-introduction-to-telescope-photography.html). I found that even 800mm wasn't enough to fill the frame with distant birds though. Although it was a 2000 Swarovski telescope I was using, there are cheaper alternatives, though I don't know much about them as they're beyond the remit of WDC.

One point about your technique. You say your shots aren't sharp. Were you hand holding the camera by any chance? The more you zoom, the mor important a tripod becomes because your body movements are magnfied. Even ignoring the camera shake it would be hard to hold a big telephoto lens steady.