Reply from Toronto Sightings - Ally

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Reply from Toronto Sightings - Ally

Postby Shortsighted » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:05 pm

In reply to your request for photo gear recommendations, let me first get up and turn off the flashing red light that serves as a warning that I’m about to step off a figurative precipice. I hazard to advice whenever a serious amount of money is tabled. I have an absolute genius for misdirection and that makes my input pyrrhic. Besides, I’m not a gear-head and therefore do not follow the tech trends. What I might offer you herein is most likely a reiteration of what you already know.
You have two choices for camera sensor format. A full-frame sensor (FX-sensor) is too expensive. It represents the digital equivalent of 35mm film. It is great for landscapes and architectural photography. The lenses for this sensor provide the field-of-view that one normally associates with 35mm film photography. In review: 50mm standard (normal) lens / 35mm wide angle / 28mm ultra wide angle / 135mm medium telephoto lens for portraits / 200mm long-medium telephoto / 300mm to 500mm long telephoto.
Choice #1
A cropped sensor (DX-sensor) aka APS-c sensor has about half the area of an FX sensor. The area of the sensor largely determines the cost of the camera, so a DX camera costs half as much as an FX and therefore it is well within your budget. Conclusion: - any entry-level DSLR with an APS-c sized sensor. Both Nikon and Canon have a contender and also offer a wide selection of telephoto lenses.
Choice #2
Somewhat smaller than an APS-C sensor is the Four-thirds sensor. As the sensor size shrinks the apparent field-of-view in your viewfinder narrows, imitating what you would see if you coupled a longer telephoto lens to your camera body. This is called the cropping factor. For a full frame sensor the CF is unity; in other words it’s the same. For an APS-C sensor it depends on the camera make (Nikon 1.5x / Canon 1.6x). A Four-thirds sensor has a cropping factor CF = 2. Put a 300mm lens on one of these cameras and what you see in your viewfinder is what someone else might see if using an FX camera with a 600mm lens (300mm x 2 = 600). This 2x crop factor camera type does not autofocus quite as accurately or as quickly as a camera with DX and FX sensor size because of the “method” of AF employed, but the performance gap is closing with newer models. Olympus makes this sensor size camera and they also offer a 300mm lens. I have no idea what either the camera or the lens cost.
What I use:
I use whatever someone gifts me. I started with a Canon G9 point-and-shoot (crop factor = 4) and coupled it with a 2X teleconverter to double its focal length. The autofocus of a PAS camera is too slow for bird photography. The sensor is too small to allow cropping of the image in post. Small sensor means more digital noise and this noise becomes very apparent upon heavy cropping.
I now use the old Canon T4i entry-level DSLR with a cropped sensor (DX), which is about a dozen times bigger than what was in the G9 camera. BIG DIFFERENCE! The camera was originally offered as a package with an 18mm-55mm lens and a 70-300mm cheap telephoto lens; or a single lens – the 18mm to 135mm IS STM lens. This was the one I got. It is optically better than the other two and has a very quick, dead-quiet autofocus designed for live-sound videography. Nikon has a comparable camera and probably comparable kit lenses. I used this camera and lens for bird photography for a year before I was gifted a used Canon 70-200mm f4 L USM lens. It does not have image stabilization (IS) so I need to keep my shutter speed high by shooting at a higher ISO setting than I would prefer to use, or by keeping the lens wide open at f4, which narrows my depth-of-field to the point where the whole bird is not in acceptable focus. I also need to crop in post … a lot! That’s why my photos seldom have that realistic look because there are too few pixels on the subject. The target bird is also small in the viewfinder and therefore the autofocus doesn’t always quite know what to focus on. A longer lens would be wonderful but costs too much money … even as a gift … even when used … even if purchased in the US.
If you are just learning then a less than stellar cheap zoom lens that reaches 300mm but has “IS” should provide you with enough reach to hone your skills. Just don’t spend a lot of money getting started. Any decent photo kit will provide you with something to chronicle your longest walk.
$800.00 is a reasonable amount for an intro kit, whether new or used. You will also want some photo processing software such as Lightroom, Picasso, Photoshop … whatever.
One of my patients saw my Canon T4i with the 18mm-135mm lens and liked it so much that he went out a bought himself one (a couple of years ago) and subsequently bought a 70-300mm entry-level telephoto zoom. He still loves that kit. He was using a bridge camera before that and would never go back to tiny sensor cameras.
There are members of this BB that could text volumes about photo gear. They might be able to steer you to a sweet spot under a grand.
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Re: Reply from Toronto Sightings - Ally

Postby thouc » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:32 pm

I have a relatively new high-zoom point-and-shoot pocket camera (Sony Cybershot DSC-HX80) which I got for just over $400. It has 30x optical zoom (24-720mm) and 2x digital zoom. It's a good option if you are like me, that you want to document what you see and don't want to carry something heavy around (scope and binoculars are enough already) or anything complicated. It takes good pictures, particularly in good lighting conditions (the Hermit Thrush in the photo section was taken with that camera). It has a view finder (I often have trouble seeing the screen because of glare so that was a big selling point) and takes pictures fast (previous camera had annoying lag) so I'm very happy with it. Doubles very well as a general use camera too (no need for lens changes or anything).

If you want to get into photography more seriously you should of course go with a DSLR.

Just my two cents,
Thomas
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Re: Reply from Toronto Sightings - Ally

Postby Ally » Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:50 pm

Thank you both for your kind answers, I will check out the cameras in stores and try them. I had the similar experience purchasing binocuars, and I love my Nikon Prostaff 3S 10*42 after some of you guys offered great advice.

So happy to be in the world of birds. I don't know how I missed them all these years.
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Re: Reply from Toronto Sightings - Ally

Postby Ally » Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:34 pm

Hi, I'm trying to use Photoshop to crop photos. what DPI should I set to avoid posting huge yet unclear photos like the downy today? Thank you.
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Re: Reply from Toronto Sightings - Ally

Postby Shortsighted » Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:35 am

I think there was a reply to that query in an old post on submitting photos to this forum.
It has probably been preserved near the top of the list under the photography section.
I would imagine that even a 100 dpi would look fine on a monitor.
I don't even know what the dpi is on one of my photos.
Heavily cropped shots might actually be less than a 100 dpi.
I have no experience in posting directly to a forum from a jpg without utilizing a hosting site
(which in my case is smugmug). I'm not really into on-line sites but the photo site that I'm
using was set up for me as a gift and is being serviced on my behalf.
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Re: Reply from Toronto Sightings - Ally

Postby Ally » Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:39 am

Thank you for your reply. I read the previous posting, and tried their suggestion. But no success. :( :(
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Re: Reply from Toronto Sightings - Ally

Postby JW Mills » Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:19 am

Ally wrote:Hi, I'm trying to use Photoshop to crop photos. what DPI should I set to avoid posting huge yet unclear photos like the downy today? Thank you.

DPI or Dots Per Inch is a setting used for printing. You do not need to play with it when posting to the web.
What you need to do is resize your image. Try resizing to something like 800 pixels on the long side. If you want the image a little smaller try 750 pixels, a little larger try 1000 pixels.
An analogue guy in a digital world.
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Re: Reply from Toronto Sightings - Ally

Postby Ally » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:20 am

Thank you so much. I think I got some improvement with the Cooper's hawk yesterday. Have a nice day!
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