blp shabash 430x45

Welcome, Guest
Username: Password: Remember me
Discussions about cameras, lenses, accessories, and image-processing.

TOPIC: Lightest Weight Camera & Lens Setup for quality bird photography

Lightest Weight Camera & Lens Setup for quality bird photography 10 months 3 weeks ago #1559

  • Andrew Browne
  • Andrew Browne's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Senior Member
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 50
  • Thank you received: 22
Following an accident in Nov '17, I'm now faced with lengthy outpatient rehab thru 2018 and most probably a permanent disability causing a decrease in the height I can lift my arms above my shoulders and the weight I can lift. This will mean my 600mm lens will become too big and heavy to easily handle.
Recently I've read on a number of sites of the Olympus micro four thirds camera (specifically the Olympus OM-D-E-M1 II ) coupled with their M.Zuiko ED 300mm f/4 Pro and the MC14 1.4x Teleconverter. This setup weighs in at approx 1.95kg giving equivalent to 600mm at f/4 or 840mm at f/5.6.
The latest article I've read on the above is by Scott Bourne: https://photofocus.com/2016/12/28/the-ultimate-lightweight-high-quality-small-affordable-birdwildlife-photography-kit/ . I realise that this author is sponsoured by Olympus.
I'm interested for any feedback on experience members may have with this camera, any general comments or any other alternate lightweight suggestions.
Thanks in advance,
Cheers AB

Please Log in to join the conversation.

Lightest Weight Camera & Lens Setup for quality bird photography 10 months 3 weeks ago #1560

  • Glenn Pure
  • Glenn Pure's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Moderator
  • Moderator
  • Posts: 143
  • Thank you received: 102
Hi Andrew, I was wondering why I had seen anything from you on BLP for a while. I’m very sorry to hear about your accident and hope you make the best possible recovery.

Regarding your question, I’m not very familiar with anything other than Canon gear but I just had a quick look at the details about the Olympus camera you mentioned. It looks quite impressive but has at least one serious limitation: the sensor size. This is actually a quarter of the surface area of a full frame camera such as your 5D MkIII. My crop sensor Canon 80D has a sensor about half the surface area of a full frame. This will impact on a number of things especially low light performance and ability to photograph at high shutter speeds in non-optimal lighting conditions. Without knowing the detail, I’d expect the Olympus to be quite limiting in poorer light conditions but I’m simply basing that on the small sensor. I also notice is has an electronic viewfinder although the performance of that looks impressive. If I was seriously looking at the camera, I’d want to give it a good try first before buying to see how well this worked in practice. I can’t comment on the lens you have suggested. For a lens to produce reasonable image quality and sharpness on a small sensor like this, the optics would need to be of an extremely high standard. So I’m suggesting you would need to look very carefully at whether you would get suitable sharpness and quality from the lens, especially with the 1.4x converter which is really going to test the optics and ‘magnify’ and deficiencies.

Are there other choices for you? If you were to look at the mainstream brands (Canon and Nikon), I’d suggest you may be better in the Nikon camp at this time. Either way, the crop sensor (APS-C size sensor) cameras from these makers would be suitable and should have significantly better low light/fast action performance than the Olympus. The Nikon D500 is a crop sensor camera but Nikon has had an edge in sensor technology giving their cameras slightly better noise and dynamic range performance compared to Canon. However, the difference is not huge. If you were prepared to wait, there are rumours of a Canon 7D Mark III but I don’t know when that camera might appear. I would expect it to seriously challenge the D500 if and when it comes out although Nikon may still maintain a slight edge with low noise performance and dynamic range. Both of these bodies are going to weigh around 0.9kg. I have seen some very impressive shots down with the Nikon D500 on birdphotographers.net (have a look at images by Bill Dix, for example). For Canon 7D Mark II which is the best Canon crop sensor camera currently available, you could look at Jill Wilson’s shots on BLP along with a number of others such as William Betts. Or Daniel Cadieux on birdphotographers.net who also uses a 7DII. I use an 80D which is very similar to the 7DII and performs well in my hands.

As for lenses to suit the Nikon or Canon, there are a few options that will put you in a similar final weight to the Olympus setup or even a little less. However, a 300 mm lens on the Nikon or Canon crop sensor cameras will be roughly equivalent to a 450mm on a full frame camera. If you could cope with some extra weight, I can recommend the Canon 100-400. This would give you a total weight camera + lens of about 2.5kg and give you equivalent to a 600mm on a full frame at full zoom.

Others like Ian Wilson may be able to add as he stays across camera equipment more comprehensively than I do and also has a better technical knowledge.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Andrew Browne

Please Log in to join the conversation.

Lightest Weight Camera & Lens Setup for quality bird photography 10 months 3 weeks ago #1561

  • Simon Pelling
  • Simon Pelling's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Junior Member
  • Junior Member
  • Posts: 26
  • Thank you received: 24
Hi

I keep reasonably across camera developments and did quite a lot of research last year when buying my current Canon kit; that said I am no expert.

Minor weight savings can be achieved by the Sony A7 series (full frame) or A6XXX (eg A6500) (APSC). However these savings would be largely negated by the fact you would still need a bulky lens and to my knowledge the Sony 100-400 G lens is the longest Sony E mount lens available for these cameras. I am not sure of other manufacturers such as Sigma make long E mount lenses but laws of optics mean they would still be heavy. I used several Sony cameras over many years and for the most part liked them, but they were the SLR-style A mount (ie the old Minolta mount) not the E mount.

The major weight saving in terms of a bird-worthy (ie long telephoto) set up would be smaller lenses, and for this you will need a smaller sensor, as you know. I have read generally good things of the Olympus set up you have researched, particularly the Pro lens, but have never used them. There will definitely be a sensor noise issue in going from full frame to 4/3 as Glenn notes, but on the other hand a high quality f4 lens will pull a little of this back compare to, say, the Canon 100-400 at its longest length. In addition I understand the latest top of the line Olympus has excellent image stabilisation, which will also help limit ISO for static subjects. I think the top of the range Panasonics (which have a common lens mount with Olympus) have similar performance although Panasonic seems to be moving more into video.

I think the only other cameras in the picture, to my knowledge, are the so called '1 inch' sensor cameras which are super zooms (ie all in one). Both Sony and Panasonic make well regarded examples of these. Reviews generally suggest the Sony RX10 mark 4 leads the pack in this area and it sports a high quality 600mm equivalent zoom. The '1 inch' sensor are definitely a step down in terms of noise performance and dynamic range - that said, they are capable of surprisingly good results, and the relative fast zoom and excellent stabilisation also help. I have a first generation RX100 compact which uses the first Sony version of a 1 inch sensor, and I can say that is produces pretty good results up to about ISO 800. These super zoom cameras are very expensive for all in ones, but then so is a pro quality lens for any other kit.

I agree with Glenn's comments about electronic view finders. I have used some quite well regarded EVFs in Sony cameras, and the more I used them the less I liked them. The main problem for me was brightness - in bright sunlight I found them almost unusable as they were too dim compared to the surrounding light levels (and I wear glasses and it is impossible to cut out ambient light). I was constantly cupping my hand around the view finder to cut out light which is not practical with a long, heavy lens. Give me a decent, 100 per cent coverage pentaprism optical view finder any day. However others love them for their size and the fact that 'what you see is what you get' (up to a point) if the viewfinder is set to mimic the picture settings. They also don't suffer from mirror slap which in practical terms means (the potential for) a quieter or even silent shutter and faster frame rate. I understand Olympus has one of the best but I strongly recommend you try before you buy, and use the camera in a variety of real world situations (not just in the relatively dark show room).

Hope these comments help and are not too much 'teaching grandmother...'

Simon
The following user(s) said Thank You: Andrew Browne

Please Log in to join the conversation.

Lightest Weight Camera & Lens Setup for quality bird photography 10 months 3 weeks ago #1562

  • Peter Gower
  • Peter Gower's Avatar
  • Offline
  • New Member
  • New Member
  • Posts: 18
  • Thank you received: 12
Hi Andrew,
I hope your recovery is progressing well.
I own the set up you are considering, and would recommend it in your situation.
Simon and Glenn have summed up the gear reasonably well. Glenn I think your point of view is too conservative.
While generally correct there is not as much difference in practice, compared to larger sized sensors.
One thing not mentioned is the accuracy and consistency of focus. Also the speed of focus is excellent.
Whatever you end up using, I would suggest using a monopod.
Attached are a couple of sample photos.
Attachments:

Please Log in to join the conversation.

Lightest Weight Camera & Lens Setup for quality bird photography 10 months 3 weeks ago #1563

  • Andrew Browne
  • Andrew Browne's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Senior Member
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 50
  • Thank you received: 22
Thanks Glenn, Simon and Peter, for taking the time and effort for expansive replies to my request.
Having just come to grips with my Canon 5DIII/600mm combination, and finally uploading and becoming orientated with DPP4, it is daunting and a nuisance to consider a change to a new system/brand.
My rationale for considering the Olympus setup below was least weight (1.95kg) and physical size, and the ability to use it immediately during my rehab period.
My next alternative but with less reach is my Canon 5DIII/400mm f5.6 combination weighing in at approx 2.5kg. Previously I've trialled the 7DII, but prefer the performance of the 5DIII despite it's full frame and slower fps when compared to the 7DII. Perhaps i could revisit this if the 7DIII becomes a reality in the not too sdistant future. I've not tried the 100-400II,but did try it's predecessor and found I was using at 400mm all the time. At this setting it f factor was5.6....no different from my old prime 400 f5.6 lens (although the former I believe has marginally better optical performance and IS).
Sorry Glenn but ..having been a Canon user from the start.......I would find it hard to change to Nikon, plus I will try to keep my big lens for set locations on a tripod.
From the above on reflection, I've nearly convinced myself to work harder at my rehab to lift the extra weight and stick with my proven Canon 5DIII/400mm f5.6 combination, but I'm interested to continue to follow chasing more experiences with the Olympus setup and perhaps also Sony (but they do still lack a suitable lens).
Thanks again
Cheers AB

Please Log in to join the conversation.

Lightest Weight Camera & Lens Setup for quality bird photography 10 months 3 weeks ago #1564

  • Bruce Terrill
  • Bruce Terrill's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Elite Member
  • Elite Member
  • Posts: 220
  • Thank you received: 38
Hi Andrew,
Firstlt some background. I suffer from chronic back/neck injury and subsequent pain and have done so from birth, I have spent many years trying to improve my strength and fitness but no amount of strength or fitness would take away the pain and discomfort of walking around with a heavy camera combination, either around my nect or hand held.
i have recently had a series of 12 nerves removed from my mid/lower back but although I feel no pain there is still significant discomfort.
All my photographic career I wanted a big prime lens and was finally able to purchase a 300mm F2.8 Nikkor and this is way to heavy for me to carry around at any one time, which is a pity because it is a beautiful piece of glass!
At the moment I am using my D500 with the 'obligatory' 200-500mm F5.6 and this is a wonderful combination, BUT, I am still juggling pain/discomfort against time in the field.
The problem has become sooo bad again that I have been seriously considering selling my 300mm F2.8 and buying one of the newish 300mm F4 PF lenses as my go-to carry around unit. I have currently been using my D500 with the new 70-200mm G F lens with a 1.4X T/C and have no problems with using this outfit and it is actually a joy to use, but lacking in reach.
I have also considered the Olympus/Sony options but can't justify the expense of the changeover and in light of the 70-200 working so well with the T/C I don't see the need to change.
I don't have any definitive answer for you but hopefully this may have been of some help?
Cheers,
Bruce
The following user(s) said Thank You: Andrew Browne

Please Log in to join the conversation.

CONTACT US

The easiest way to contact us is by emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Our People page, in the About Us section, contains email links to each of the committee members.