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09-25-2014, 09:55 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by MikeW Quote
First, I am not attempting to hijack the thread. I, too, have a 55~300 lens and like it a lot. It does a very nice job for not so much money. 400 and up would also be nice, although certainly more expensive. But, it has occurred to me that it might be just as effective photographically and certainly so from a cost standpoint to set up a blind in an area where one is fairly sure the birds are going to be, bring a decent chair, a good tripod, and wait for them to show up. Have others tried this?

Great Portable Blind for Photographers | Cardinal Photo
You don't really even need a blind if you are willing to sit still...

My biggest problem when birding is that I tend to stick to trails. I could get much better pics if I was willing to risk ticks. And Deer Ticks are a major problem in Upstate NY...

09-25-2014, 10:42 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
You don't really even need a blind if you are willing to sit still...

My biggest problem when birding is that I tend to stick to trails. I could get much better pics if I was willing to risk ticks. And Deer Ticks are a major problem in Upstate NY...
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09-25-2014, 11:12 AM   #18
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yeah, insects... long pants, gaiters, boots, shirt - even mosquito net jacket. That's just for mosquitoes, chiggers and regular ticks. Lyme disease is a concern, though - that's for sure.
09-25-2014, 11:28 AM - 1 Like   #19
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Looks like you don't have thousands to spend. I have had a lifetime of competing with people with gear 10 times more expensive than mine.

I'm old school and have been taking photos of birds for nearly 40 years. When I had a young family film was expensive and I had to make every shot count. Up until I got my sigma 500mm prime I have always used a flash with my bird photography. You can get close to my 500mm prime if you can get a strong flash with all manual settings on flash and camera to light up your bird. I've published hundreds of bird photos using a cheap lens and a powerful flash.

If you are really serious about getting some good bird photos consider the Godox 850 manual flash ($150). See the pentax Forum review. TTL worked brilliantly on film cameras. In my opinion it's rubbish on digital cameras and I have gone back to manual settings.

09-25-2014, 02:12 PM   #20
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I don't know if cross posting is allowed, but I'm selling a very nice DAL 55-300 right now (and it's cheaper than KEHs offering.. wonder if I need to crank the price up! )
09-25-2014, 06:05 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
All consumer telephotos are better the closer you get.
I couldn't say whether this is true of all, but it is certainly true of the ones I have (Tamron 18-250, Pentax 55-300 and Sigma 170-500), which are probably a fair sample. These are all good lenses, but you need to be aware of their limitations. A novice mistake (one I made) is to assume that you can just buy any lens that goes to 300mm or more and suddenly you will have perfect photos of small birds 50m away. I agree with MikeW that the best trick is to get as close as possible. At 5-10m, in good light, any of my tele zooms can produce really good images. For a small-medium sized bird, the 55-300 is good to about 20m or so in good conditions, and the 170-500 stopped down to f8 to about 40m (if I'm lucky). At these distances, a lot of cropping is required - and that tests the IQ. This is where a pro quality lens will pull ahead of a consumer lens, and where the extra weight and cost pays off.

And work on your technique (e.g. steady stance - see Heie's excellent article about this). Tripod or monopod is good, but you can get away without it with a consumer zoom if the light is good enough to allow fast shutter speed and/or the bird is still for long enough and/or you are close enough.
09-25-2014, 10:36 PM   #22
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I have shot a lot of birds over the past few years, started with used Tamrons and Sigmas, then the DA55-300, and now the DA*300. I have also rented a Sigma 50-500 for birding. I have gotten many good photos with the 55-300, but there are limitations and technique involved. It does need to be stopped down a bit and it shines if the light is decent. The screw drive autofocus sound will flush birds in an instant, you can defeat that by quick shifting first to get close to focus manually and then hit the autofocus, eliminating most of the noise. You can only do that with the DA version, not the DA L since it does not have quickshift. I think it is much more effective to shoot birds freehand than with a tripod. That of course depends on the type of birds you are shooting and the location. A tripod is great for a nest or someplace you know the bird is going to be, you'll definitely get better shots when you get them. The birds I usually shoot are small and move a lot, and are pretty impossible to track with a tripod, at least for me. With 300mm you will crop a lot, I did find I prefer the DA*300 over the Sigma 50-500, seems to me the IQ and speed negated the extra 200mm of the Sigma. I did not have a problem shooting handheld with either, and that is carrying them as long as dawn to dusk.

Knowing the habits and habitat of the birds is key. Migration time is the best to catch birds. There are certain paths they take at certain time of the year and they are usually interested in feeding because they are replenishing energy spent from long flights. The past few years I always go to Magee Marsh, Ohio for a few days in May for the Warbler Migration. There are a lot of warblers and other migratory birds that gather near the Lake Erie Shores to feed and rest before flying across Lake Erie. Thousands of people come to the area to watch them and the birds seem to get somewhat used to people there. Opportunities like that are golden. Birds in urban areas are much easier to approach that those in rural areas, they do get used to people. Try to get near a duck in a wildlife preserve and they will fly, but they will come to you in the city park, it's the same with mammals like squirrels and chipmunks too.

09-26-2014, 04:32 AM   #23
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I am not a birder, but have always been interested in it...I never knew flash extenders were that popular. I saw them as gimmicky, but i guess i was wrong (not the first time, ask my wife).

09-26-2014, 04:41 AM   #24
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And in a few years...... you will want to take pics of birds in flight......

Now that is a challenge in itself ! ! !
09-26-2014, 05:26 PM - 1 Like   #25
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We should have a competition for a caption to Tom's photo. I'll start: "Look everyone, there's a guy up there shooting Pentax".
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