Bird photography - the most versatile lens?

To: michael hunter <>
Subject: Bird photography - the most versatile lens?
From: Chris Sanderson <>
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2004 13:21:02 +1000
A few points Michael,

Paul is dead on about the cropping/magnification.  For Nikon D70 it is
1.5x magnification (unsure of Canon 10D, but I'm sure it's easy enough
to find).  The other important thing to know about this phenomenon is
that it is almost exactly like putting a teleconverter on your lens. 
Sure, you get better magnification, but your f-stop goes down, meaning
less light into the camera, and poorer shutter speeds.

The magnification you can hand-hold at is very dependent on how bright
the day is.  On a cloudy day you may have to use a tripod for 200mm,
while on a bright day you may get away with hand-holding on 400mm+. 
It is worth noting that the better the lens, the less likely a tripod
will be required (i.e. Nikon VR lenses have virbration reduction, but
they come with a hefty pricetag).

The magnification achieved will change for each photo.  From personal
experience on a 6.1 megapixel camera I can take about 1/10th of the
frame from a good shot and still have perfect focus, but the shot
*has* to be perfect focus to start with.

And finally, for bird photos in particular, monopods are the way
forward.  Unless you are photographing something like a Bush
Thick-knee which doesn't move, you will find yourself constantly
frustrated by tripods (or at least I do).  Even something as simple as
changing their height takes 10+ seconds, often making you miss the
shot.  Monopods on the other hand are quick to adjust, and under most
conditions provide adequate stability.

Hope this helps, sorry about the length.

Chris - Brisbane
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