Digital SLR's for Birding

To: Craig Williams <>
Subject: Digital SLR's for Birding
Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2005 11:14:55 +1000

Regarding Sensor Dust,  Olympus has released its E-500 DSLR which has a built in "Supersonic Wave Filter" which attempts to 'shake' the dust off the sensor when the camera is first powered up. If only olympus had a good range of suitable birding lens!

Hopefully Canon and Nikon will follow suit shortly and implement something similar into their DSLR range, as dust has been a  big problem for me personally using both the 10D and 20D.  Australia, Birding and Dust seem to go hand in hand.

I'm interested in Craig's comments that Canon will do sensor cleans for free! Not in my experience...they charged me $80 with no guarantees that the sesnor will be totally clean (and it wasn't!). Fairly dissappointing considering the price of these cameras and the obvious continuing design flaw that allows this problem to happen.
Just a couple of notes on the Canon 20D (350D):  It has a VERY LOUD shutter noise, produced when the mirror flips back down after taking a shot.   It scares the beduggery out of most passerines and other smaller birds, using a 400mm or less lens. This is the single biggest problem with the 20D or 350D as a birding camera.  The 10D is much quieter, and birds quickly get use to the sound of the mirror slap, however with the 20D, one shot and the bird is out of there.

The 20D is a much better camera than the 10D (possibly not as sharp because of the low-pass filter???), however if i was going to recommend a Canon body for birding, i'd have to say that the 10D/300D (going for less than $1000 second hand now) is the better choice primarily because of the mirror slap noise factor. The 20D may be a better camera, but if it scares away the bird then you wont have the photos to compare.  

Another downside of the 20D is the smaller central AF area, which can make locking onto distant subjects difficult.  At the same time this could be an improvement if you want to achieve accurate focus on a bird 'through'  vegetation (e.g. dodging branches and  leaves etc).  In most cases, however, i find it too small.

Lets hope Canon can rectify some of these issues in future releases. I'm not sure the 5D has added any improvements in any of these areas.



Craig Williams <>
Sent by:

28/10/2005 10:29 AM

Re: [BIRDING-AUS] Digital SLR's for Birding


I would suggest you take care to consider some of the issues emerging for many Canon 20D users regarding dust on the sensor: there is some growing evidence to suggest that this might be a distinctive problem for some cameras.  There are a few experts out there who believe more work needs to be done by Canon, for example, in either the design and/or prospects for sensor protection and cleaning.  Canon's warranty for example is voided if you lose your mind with dust-spot frustration and take the risky option of directly swabbing the sensor to remove the apparently very stubborn dust particles that seem to have stuck on the sensor.  Canon's manual recommends only cleaning with a blower, for instance, but if you know blowers, you'll be aware they are not usually very successful when you can't get a good side angle to lift sticky dust particles.  Canon offer a free sensor clean service, but you have to live near a Canon service centre for this to be of any great practical use, else you send your beloved camera away - three weeks, six weeks, all depends on canon's capacities here, so you would be well advised to take these matters into consideration.  Some bloggers I've encounted make the joke that their cameras came with "free" dust: very cute.

>>> "Peter Johnson (ITD)" <> 10/28/05 9:58 AM >>>
Thanks to David, Mike, Gary, Paul & Mark for their replies. I have  a wealth of info now to start the search!



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