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  • #262597
    Profile photo of KingfisherKingfisher
    Member

    Hi,

    I have tremendously enjoyed the pictures you guys post on this website and must say I am in awe of the quality, not only of the pros who enter the monthly contest, but also of those who are "eager to learn" – frankly, this is a bit discouraging, because a lot of those picutres are extremely good and I wonder whether I will ever be able to take anything like what I see on the site.

    There is only one way to find out I suppose and that is to give it a try. I would be extremely grateful for tips on how to best get started and what equipment to buy to be able to take decent shots and really anything that may help me in my quest to get anywhere near what you guys produce.

    I got on the way by buying a Canon (sorry Nikon lovers) EOS 5D Mark II with an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, a dry cabinet and a Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod, that’s from where I start.

    Now it seems to me that what I need is a marcro lens where I was thinking of the EF 100mm f/2.8 USM. Does that make sense and do I need a ringflash for that or can I add that later?

    Then come the tough ones – do I want a general zoom such as one of the 70-200mm ones, either with an f/2.8 or f/4 – might as well spend the extra S$ 1,300 or thereabouts if I need it otherwise will always regret or not? For longer lens it gets really tough and into the bigger bucks – what about the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM? Read some articles that a prime lens with performs much better especially when it comes to the full 400mm, on the other hand the EF 400mm f/2.8 IS USM at well over 12,000 bucks is very dear indeed. Alternatively also came across the Sigma APO 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM, does anyone have experience with that and is it suitable for shooting birds? Do any of the above work well with either the 1.4x or 2x extender?

    Sorry, a lot of questions, but would be grateful for help on some or all of the above.

    Cheers
    K

    #286762
    Profile photo of tridenttrident
    Member

    Hi K,
    Welcome to NPSS, sure you have some interesting questions. I’ll try to answer some of them.
    The EF100mm Macro is solid but I’ll recommend the 180mm instead. I use the 100mm and
    most of the time I am caught short and have to use a Teleconverter.
    For flash, the ring flash is a specialized macro flash with amazing results. If you are are into macro, it’s a good tool but the downside is, you can’t use it for general photography. On the other hand, the normal flash unit can be used both for general photography and for macro. If you have the extra cash, sure, go for the ring light.
    For birding, the 400mm f2.8 is great, but for that price the 500mm f4 would be a better choice, the other choices would be the 400mm f5.6 or 400mm f4. The f5.6 is cheap and very popular, good newbie lens while
    the f4 cost around 7.5K
    The S 150-500 and 100-400mm are solid lens but can’t beat a prime lens for birding.
    Hope that helps.

    Hi,

    I have tremendously enjoyed the pictures you guys post on this website and must say I am in awe of the quality, not only of the pros who enter the monthly contest, but also of those who are "eager to learn" – frankly, this is a bit discouraging, because a lot of those picutres are extremely good and I wonder whether I will ever be able to take anything like what I see on the site.

    There is only one way to find out I suppose and that is to give it a try. I would be extremely grateful for tips on how to best get started and what equipment to buy to be able to take decent shots and really anything that may help me in my quest to get anywhere near what you guys produce.

    I got on the way by buying a Canon (sorry Nikon lovers) EOS 5D Mark II with an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, a dry cabinet and a Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod, that’s from where I start.

    Now it seems to me that what I need is a marcro lens where I was thinking of the EF 100mm f/2.8 USM. Does that make sense and do I need a ringflash for that or can I add that later?

    Then come the tough ones – do I want a general zoom such as one of the 70-200mm ones, either with an f/2.8 or f/4 – might as well spend the extra S$ 1,300 or thereabouts if I need it otherwise will always regret or not? For longer lens it gets really tough and into the bigger bucks – what about the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM? Read some articles that a prime lens with performs much better especially when it comes to the full 400mm, on the other hand the EF 400mm f/2.8 IS USM at well over 12,000 bucks is very dear indeed. Alternatively also came across the Sigma APO 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM, does anyone have experience with that and is it suitable for shooting birds? Do any of the above work well with either the 1.4x or 2x extender?

    Sorry, a lot of questions, but would be grateful for help on some or all of the above.

    Cheers
    K

    #286768

    Hi K,

    First welcome to NPSS, hope we can help you along your pursuit of this hobby that hooked many of us here. :P

    On camera, 5DM2 is a great camera for landscape and portraits, however, the frame per second and the full frame does not help bird photography and to certain extend macro as well. We will need that extra 1.3x or 1.6x crop to make the subject bigger in the frame :D , also for action shots, particular birds and animals, you will need 6 fps and above. Therefore 1DM3 or 50D will be a better camera for bird and macro photography, in my opinion.

    On lenses, as Richard mentioned, go for 180mm, go for Canon 180mm (one of the best of canon lens) or Tamron 180mm. You will appreciate the extra reach when photographing tiny bugs or spider in the field. For birding lens, if budget allows, go for 500mm f4. Even at 500mm plus a teleconverter, it is often still too far for a decent bird photo. 100-400mm is a great safari lens, but if you are looking f0r 400mm, I will recommend 400 f/5.6 prime. Other than the lens, one other accessories to have is teleconverter. Get a 1.4xTC.

    For flash, I will recommend to skip the ring flash and get 2 normal flash as fill. It is more practical and flexible to play with creative light, it may be cheaper too.

    Other items to consider are ball head and tripod. equipment set up for nature photography is quite heavy, you have to make sure the rating of your ballhead and tripod are suitable. Other accessories to get are macro flash brackets and wimberley head (For birding lens) and flash bracket.

    Hope the above helps.

    Cheers,
    SC

    #286769
    Profile photo of ong_wsong_ws
    Member

    Hi King,

    Welcome to NPSS. Do agree that the photos posted here are great, but dont be discourage cos with lots of practice and the guideance from the pros here you will be able to do as well as most of us :razz:

    Now what u need :? I will let the Avian Masters to advice you on those 400mm or 500mm stuff, as for Macro i do agree with Triden to get a 180mm instead of a 100mm lens as 180mm will give you a longer working distance. Flash, i dont use a ring flash. Mine is an external flash mounted off the cameras Hotshoe using a Wimberley’s F2 flash bracket ( you will need a sync cable for this )
    refer to the link :
    http://www.tripodhead.com/products/flas … ackets.cfm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

    Sorry i cant really understand your sentence, have you got your tripod ? If not may be u can consider this

    Next is Tripod, few months back i am considering should i get a Manfrotoo 055Xprob ( about SDG200+) or a Gitzo GT2330 ( about SDG440) :? decision was made when i visit TKfoto and have a actual look at both tripod comparing both side to side. Gitzo was my choice as its more fleixable and has a minimum height of only 3cm
    refer to the link ( link leads you to G2220 cos have photo for you to see but G2220 is no longer in production GT2330 was its replacement )
    http://www.gitzo.com/Jahia/site/gitzo/p … ARKET:MKT1" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

    other then tripod u also need a ballhead .. right now i am using Markin M10 ( SDG540 )
    refer to the link
    http://www.tkfoto.com.sg/public/product … 2&id=P0158" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

    the price is base n what i can remember when i got the staff, you might want to source around for better offers.
    hopt this info are helpful :dance:

    Cheers
    WS

    #286814
    Profile photo of bluekitebluekite
    Member

    Hi K,
    Since you have the 5DmkII, focus on landscape first. I believe it will make you busy for awhile. ;)
    Cheers,
    Kt

    #286835

    Hi K,

    Welcome to NPSS. I am a newbie too, having just bought my first DSLR a month ago.

    I thought I will share my thoughts and hope it may be helpful to you. Please take it with a pinch of salt…

    I too was awe-struck with the photos here that I finally made the plunge to get my first camera. Initially, I dream of getting all the filters (nd, gnd) to do all the sea landscapes when I saw those beautiful seascapes, I also want to get those magnifying glass by tchuanye and also the T180.., of course I love the long lens for the bird photos..I love them all…….. but I realised that each category requires much time to study different techniques, and requires different lenses, different accessories, and even different outings for shoots! :twisted:

    Since I have only Sat free to do shooting and budget for one camera body, I know I wont see much improvement if I dont choose one subject to concentrate and learn. Didnt want to end up as Jack of all trade and Master of none, I finally choose avian photography – my most passionate subject of all.

    With this decision, choice of camera was easy – 5DMII was out because of the slow fps. Choice btw Nikon and Canon was more difficult for me, but I ended up with Nikon by sheer frustration of indecisiveness…. I followed the basic rule of getting the best lens that I could afford without filing for bankruptcy :cry: . I bought a 500mmf4. If you are big and strong and love to carry weight, I think 600mmf4 would be even better for getting that reach :dance: . Tripod and tripod head choices were dictated by my lens, flash bracket dictated by tripod head and so forth for the rest of the accessories…all the necessary equipments that I need become easier to decide once I know what I want to shoot.

    I love bird photography but I do believe the rest of categories will be just as engaging if that is where the passion is…. Have fun……..enjoy.

    #286837
    Profile photo of KingfisherKingfisher
    Member

    Wow, thank you guys very much for the overwhelming help. Also nice to hear words of encouragement. Fantastic, what a nice group of people – think nature has something to do with respect for creatures and creation, and it looks like that may include people who ask silly questions like me. Don’t want to get philisophical, but thank you Richard, SC, WS and Kt very much.

    Of course initially I was a little disappointed with myself, having thought that I bought a great piece of equipment with 5DmarkII and finding out that it is actually not the best I want for shooting animals, however, it is what it is and I will try to make the best of this camera time being and not go out and buy a second 50D or so until I find out if I get hooked or not.

    Looks like I may want to shoot some landscapes first to get started as Kt suggested for which my camera (and lens) may just be ideal and then I think I may start with one aspect first, which may be getting a macro 180 (thinking of the Canon – might as well). Tripod I have, so need a flash and a bracket. Is the Canon 580 EXII the flash I want to buy and what do you mean SC by saying I need 2 flash as fill?

    As to the birds, very confused – it seems all of you don’t like zoom lenses and then it looks like the longer the better, but must be prime. Hmmmm, will have to give this a think, frankly, stil tempted with the 100-400mm from Canon, but I better listen to you guys and may try the 400 f/5.6 first. I am very lucky with where I live – right next to part of the forest with lots of bird waking me up in the morning – fun to watch them from my balcony (where I can also put tripod and shoot away) – have regular Kingfisher visiting, hence the name,

    Few more questions please:
    – does above make sense?
    – is there a good book to buy on nature photography and and/or macro that you recommend?
    – what bird guide do you use/shall I buy?
    – do you birders also have nice binoculars to find them first or not necessary – if yes, what do you recommend?

    Cheers
    K

    #286842
    Profile photo of KingfisherKingfisher
    Member

    Hi Peacefuldove,

    thanks your nice words – good to see that I am not the only newbie in this field, but you seem to have made good progress and your approach makes sense. Will give it more thought, but with my location shooting some birds is just a natural choice, but with my camera maybe not ideal and therefore will try marco as well. What tripod and bracket did you end up buyig?

    Cheers
    K

    #286847

    there was one npss here that uses 5dmII for birds (dont know name), so dont worry, you still will get very good shots of birds…probably you might just get a little bit pressurised by those loud sounds of shutter blazing away behind you if you are shooting with other photographers :D :D .

    tripod – Gitzo 3531S (this is a shorter version – why? because I am not that tall… :oops: ). Wimberley Head II and corresponding F9 flash bracket. I also bought all those accessories recommended to me by SC in an earlier thread when I asked for advice (like you)…with more questions asked, I added flash sync cord and remote shutter release. Now I am eyeing the battery pack for my D300 so that I can shoot 8fps :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:
    (by the way, most of my pics are out of focus – maybe i blaze away too fast… :? )

    Hi Peacefuldove,

    thanks your nice words – good to see that I am not the only newbie in this field, but you seem to have made good progress and your approach makes sense. Will give it more thought, but with my location shooting some birds is just a natural choice, but with my camera maybe not ideal and therefore will try marco as well. What tripod and bracket did you end up buyig?

    Cheers
    K

    #286855

    :oops: before i mislead readers, i just want to clarify that i found out later that the source of my problem was due to wrong AF mode setting …. :x

    (by the way, most of my pics are out of focus – maybe i blaze away too fast… :? )

    #286862

    Hi K,

    What I meant is we usually use flash as filled light rather than main source of light. Having 2 flashes will mean you can be creative in using the flash and position your flashes at the place needed most or create backlit effect, etc. If you have ring flash, the application will be quite limited.

    Is the Canon 580 EXII the flash I want to buy and what do you mean SC by saying I need 2 flash as fill?

    You are asking good questions, questions I wish I asked when I first started. As a result, I make mistakes in buying some unnecessary accessories.

    A couple of books that I recommend for nature photography are:

    1) Nature Photography Field Guide by John Shaw
    2) Closeups in Nature by John Shaw
    3) The Art of Bird Photography by Arthur Morris (Revision II is in CD-Rom)

    These books were written in film era, but many of the techniques and concept used are still very relevant in digital age.

    As to the Bird Guide, most of us use Birds of Southeast Asia by Craig Robson. There is a new revision, but I only see the new revision in hard cover, which is a problem to bring that in the field.

    Many of these books are available in the Library. Borrow a copy and you can start learning from these experts.

    Yes, most of us use binoculars when finding birds, it is a lot easier than just looking through the viewfinder from your camera. I am using Nikon Monarch 8×36, it is not too heavy and it serves my purpose. other to consider is 8×42.

    Cheers,
    SC

    Few more questions please:
    – does above make sense?
    – is there a good book to buy on nature photography and and/or macro that you recommend?
    – what bird guide do you use/shall I buy?
    – do you birders also have nice binoculars to find them first or not necessary – if yes, what do you recommend?

    #286876
    Profile photo of KingfisherKingfisher
    Member

    Hi SC,

    thanks for your continuous help, really appreciate it. Also loved your website, 174 fantastic shots of birds in SE Asia were my favourite and really wets my appetite for giving it a go, but as said, with my camera will probably try to shoot some from my balcony first to see how I fare – what is your take on zooms – you really don’t like them and stick to prime lenses for birds only?

    What do you or others think of the canon 580 EX2? What bracket do you use when you have 2 flashes?

    Cheers
    K

    #286882

    Hi K,

    Thanks for visiting my site and the compliments. :cheers:

    If you have not invested in telephoto lens, I will recommend to go for prime lens. Of course, a zoom lens is versatile, but as you progress you will find the different in quality of your images. I started off with 100-400mm, but now it is always in my dry cabinet. the last I used that lens was about 1.5 years ago at a safari.

    I have both 580EX and 580EXII, both are equally good, but my 580EXII has some exposure issue last year, after sending it in for servicing, it has been good so far. I use 2 flashes only for my Macro works, I have Wimberley Macro Flash bracket to mount one of my flashes and the other one I handhold it and use master/slave to trigger. For birding, only one flash is used. Set up for macro and birding are quite different. Do join us for our local outing and you can have a look at some of our set up.

    We are collaborating with Botanic Gardens in offering an introduction to Nature Photography in June, where we will have instructors bring participants through macro, birding, landscapes, etc. The instructor will also spend time talking about equipment and accessories. There are total of 6 sessions, after each classroom session there will be outdoor photography around the Gardens.

    IF you are interested, you can find out more information at http://nparks.eventshub.sg//ems_wb_Details.aspx?CalID=5&EventID=27204

    Cheers,
    SC

    #286884
    Profile photo of tridenttrident
    Member

    K,
    I see you have half your mind set on the 100-400. The thing is, at it’s max at 400mm it’s too short for birding.
    Usually have to add a TC to get that extra reach, and a TC will degrade it’s quality. It’s frustrating to come back from a day’s shoot to see your picture a bit "Soft". A good prime lens can usually work well with a TC, 1.4 or 2x.
    The 580EX2 is the best in Canon’s range of flashes.
    It’s good to shoot around your house first to get a feel of the camera, then ask questions if you get stuck with any issues.
    I started the same way, shooting sunbirds from from corridor :D

    #286889
    Profile photo of KingfisherKingfisher
    Member

    Thank you again SC and Richard . :smile: The course looks really good and would make a lot of sense, but unfortunately I will be out of town for at least 3 out of the 6 sessions, so will have to wait for the next one which hopefully coincides better with my schedule. Off to buy bird guide now – hope to find it in Singapore somewhere, otherwise saw that Amazon sells the softcover. Also made up my mind on the easy bit such as the Nikon Monarch 8×42 – any idea what is the best shop to buy that? As to long lens, you guys have me convinced and I will probably go for the easy beginners prime to start with 400mm f/5.6 should get that somewhere around 2k (still surprised they don’t make that with IS) – can always choose a shorter zoom for general pictures later – need to convince the famly that I bought the camera to shoot kids, dogs and fishes in tank (good stuff to justify the macro).

    Have bothered you guys enough now and will start taking some pictures first – thanks a lot for everyones’ help – fantastic and hope to meet many of you NPSS friends in person sometime.

    :cheers:
    K

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