Best lens for wildlife and birds

Messages
9
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
Yes
#1
Hi all, I'm a newby looking for help! I've got a Nikon D5600 and use a Sigma DG 70-300 lens. I'm mainly interested in wildlife and birds, and while I get some decent shots, I wonder if I'd do better with better equipment. (The problem of course might be me!)

I've spent hours looking into different lenses and teleconverters, but can't work out what would be best. Basically, if I'm going to spend more money, I want the quality to improve - but I haven't got a huge budget. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I should get? Thanks!
 
Messages
8,139
Edit My Images
No
#3
Hi and welcome to TP

You are asking the perennial question.....................what kit additions will improve my photography/photographs ;)

I you are asking for feedback & insight perhaps you should post some pictures that have pleased you and also those that have displeased you...................also explaining what you see as right/wrong with them? That will give other TP'ers a chance to give some sort of citical feedback :)

Just buying more kit to address a perceived problem will not IMO be the solution.

HTH :)
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
Grumpy Schnoodle
Messages
9
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
Yes
#5
Hi and welcome to TP

You are asking the perennial question.....................what kit additions will improve my photography/photographs ;)

I you are asking for feedback & insight perhaps you should post some pictures that have pleased you and also those that have displeased you...................also explaining what you see as right/wrong with them? That will give other TP'ers a chance to give some sort of citical feedback :)

Just buying more kit to address a perceived problem will not IMO be the solution.

HTH :)
 
OP
OP
Grumpy Schnoodle
Messages
9
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
Yes
#6
Thanks for the honesty! Unfortunately I tend not to save photos that I haven't liked, so I can't really give examples. Getting birds in focus is one issue; I have read that my lens is weak in terms of focus at 300mm, so I was wondering if an upgrade in terms of either length or focus speed would help with that. I'm going to Costa Rica in January and don't want to miss any shots if possible!
 
Messages
9,152
Name
Andrew Cliffe
Edit My Images
Yes
#7
Post some examples taken with your current kit and let the experts decide. As with anything, there is a certain amount that can be improved simply with technique, some of that comes naturally with practise, and some can be taught for instant improvments, and some is a combination of learning and then putting into practise, so don't discount this.

The Sigma 70-300 DG is a pretty cheap lens, and you will definately note an improvement in quality with a 150-600 C or S model. If budget won't stretch to one of those, a the older Bigma (Sigma 50-500) may be worth looking at, but from what I understand it would be worth investing in the newer lens.

Compared to the 70-300 these are significantly heavier lenses, so worth looking at how you're going to hold it - letting a monopod take some of the weight may help.
 
Messages
6,909
Name
Steven
Edit My Images
Yes
#8
You will get better results if you get closer and have better/more light...
I can say that without seeing any examples because that is the universal issue wildlife photographers spend many thousands of dollars trying to overcome. I.e. longer/faster/sharper lenses like the big primes that start over $4k used.

You can spend a good bit of money for mild gains (i.e. Sigma 60-600), you can spend a lot of money for moderate gains (Nikon 500/4 & D500), or you can spend a whole lot for significant gains (600/4 on D850 or D5). But you would still be better off getting closer with better light...
 
Messages
8,139
Edit My Images
No
#9
Thanks for the honesty! Unfortunately I tend not to save photos that I haven't liked, so I can't really give examples. Getting birds in focus is one issue; I have read that my lens is weak in terms of focus at 300mm, so I was wondering if an upgrade in terms of either length or focus speed would help with that. I'm going to Costa Rica in January and don't want to miss any shots if possible!
Fair comment, re deleted poor shots! Though in your OP you mentioned "decent" shots....... so do post those, as that might reveal some user errors that once overcome could improve your overall keeper rate or maybe suggest where a kit upgrade could help???
 
Messages
8,213
Name
Jeff
Edit My Images
No
#10
having used one of those sigma 70-300 lenses when first starting ,they are pants a leftover from before sigma changed there profile . if your looking for something to take to Costa Rica in a few weeks I would in all honesty simply go for a Nikon 70-300 VR no increase in length but far better iq or if you feel you need more length one of the latest generation sigma 100-400os lenses . both are still hand holdable .
I dont in all honesty think you have enough time to acclimatise your self with a 150-600 ..

the one thing you fail to mention is p/p often the most overlooked part of wildlife photography it should read fast camera /medium to long lens /and decent computer with good editing suite
 
OP
OP
Grumpy Schnoodle
Messages
9
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
Yes
#11
That's really helpful, thanks! I guess you've answered a key question, as to whether the Nikon 70-300 us a step up from my sigma, and it sounds like it is. Also within my price range, which is great! Thanks a lot. Wise too about the computer software, I need to improve on that!
 
Messages
4,849
Name
Mike
Edit My Images
Yes
#12
Thanks for the honesty! Unfortunately I tend not to save photos that I haven't liked, so I can't really give examples. Getting birds in focus is one issue; I have read that my lens is weak in terms of focus at 300mm, so I was wondering if an upgrade in terms of either length or focus speed would help with that. I'm going to Costa Rica in January and don't want to miss any shots if possible!
Hi Chris, welcome to TP.

Sooner or later you'll want to get some better kit than you have right now, but its the mention of a Costa Rica trip that I'll respond to here. I've never been myself, but from a lot of comments I've seen from people who have, they all seem to mention how surprisingly low the light levels are. As such, it might be worth considering renting a fast telephoto for the trip to get all the help you can with the light.

Over here, the 150-600mm lenses seem popular as mid price lenses, and the smaller mirrorless setups are gaining popularity by the day, the 4/3 Olympus and Panasonic models giving particularly good value for money.

However, as a one off trip, I'd really go with rented gear.

In the meantime, post some shots up here so you can get some pointers for the trip

Mike
 
OP
OP
Grumpy Schnoodle
Messages
9
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
Yes
#13
Thanks for your thoughts everyone. As requested, here are three images I've taken. I was pleased with all of them, but I think there's room for improvement! I'd appreciate your thoughts/tips. The leopard was probably 30 yards away so I had to crop a lot. The colourful bird was quite close, so I'd be interested in what you think of the level of detail. And the heron is a good example of a flying bird shot which I'd like to improve. Fire away, thank you! 40498975263_ec95a735de_z.jpg 38773405875_9a6ae4aee2_c.jpg 32523305677_61e25b22a9_c.jpg
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
Grumpy Schnoodle
Messages
9
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
Yes
#14
Post some examples taken with your current kit and let the experts decide. As with anything, there is a certain amount that can be improved simply with technique, some of that comes naturally with practise, and some can be taught for instant improvments, and some is a combination of learning and then putting into practise, so don't discount this.

The Sigma 70-300 DG is a pretty cheap lens, and you will definately note an improvement in quality with a 150-600 C or S model. If budget won't stretch to one of those, a the older Bigma (Sigma 50-500) may be worth looking at, but from what I understand it would be worth investing in the newer lens.

Compared to the 70-300 these are significantly heavier lenses, so worth looking at how you're going to hold it - letting a monopod take some of the weight may help.
Thanks Andrew - I've posted up some pics, I'll be glad of your thoughts!
 
OP
OP
Grumpy Schnoodle
Messages
9
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
Yes
#15
Hi Chris, welcome to TP.

Sooner or later you'll want to get some better kit than you have right now, but its the mention of a Costa Rica trip that I'll respond to here. I've never been myself, but from a lot of comments I've seen from people who have, they all seem to mention how surprisingly low the light levels are. As such, it might be worth considering renting a fast telephoto for the trip to get all the help you can with the light.

Over here, the 150-600mm lenses seem popular as mid price lenses, and the smaller mirrorless setups are gaining popularity by the day, the 4/3 Olympus and Panasonic models giving particularly good value for money.

However, as a one off trip, I'd really go with rented gear.

In the meantime, post some shots up here so you can get some pointers for the trip

Mike
Thanks Mike - I've posted up some pics, I'll be glad of your thoughts!
 
OP
OP
Grumpy Schnoodle
Messages
9
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
Yes
#16
Hi and welcome to TP

You are asking the perennial question.....................what kit additions will improve my photography/photographs ;)

I you are asking for feedback & insight perhaps you should post some pictures that have pleased you and also those that have displeased you...................also explaining what you see as right/wrong with them? That will give other TP'ers a chance to give some sort of citical feedback :)

Just buying more kit to address a perceived problem will not IMO be the solution.

HTH :)
Hi - I've posted up some pics, I'll be glad of your thoughts!
 
Messages
8,139
Edit My Images
No
#17
Hi - I've posted up some pics, I'll be glad of your thoughts!
On smartphone now but as you mention (heavy?) crops, can I suggest you add on the full image before cropping.......plus the EXIF data (shutter speed/aperture/ISO and (though you said it was a 70-300 zoom) what focal length as appropriate?

Seeing the full frame as well as the EXIF can aid insight ;)
 
Messages
6,180
Edit My Images
Yes
#18
Nikon D7200 + sigma 150-600C
You'll get many answers but this is the best answer for under a grand, second-hand body, £350 ish, second-hand lens £550-£600ish, and a half decent understanding of post processing.

And I'm taking from experience, I used both for around 2 1/2 years. Still using the Sigma but now on a D500 because of GAS!!

Loads of shots taken with that combo on me Flickr, some even at above average ISO (is there an average?? :thinking::LOL:)

My advice, buy some better gear, definitely a lens, if you are serious about birds/wildlife it wont be a waste.

As for the images posted, the shutter speed is far too slow on the leopard, it was only walking and there's motion blur on the far leg, I can only guess that's also the case on the other 2 images.

Technique- Get the shutter speed up, handheld I rarley drop below 1/1250th more if better light, ISO will be what it is, get the exposure right and deal with noise in PP'ing

..............And welcome to TP
 
Messages
4,849
Name
Mike
Edit My Images
Yes
#19
The leopard - as Phil rightly mentions - really needed a far faster shutter speed to avoid the motion blur. Also you need to think about giving him more space to 'walk into' rather than having the head so close to the edge of the frame

The Egret is too distant - beyond your control on this occasion, but the heat haze and the large crop have ruined the image quality.

The Roller is the best of the 3. Decent details, good head angle, and whilst size in frame is always subjective, I'd say this is pretty close to ideal

For more technical assistance you'll need to provide shutter speeds / ISO etc

Mike
 
Messages
6,180
Edit My Images
Yes
#21
If I'm not mistaken, the D5600 is the same sensor as the D7200. Only the D7200 has better controls, 1 more FPS, and a little better AF (51/39 pts) ; not a whole lot to be gained there really...
I've never used/owned a D5600 so I have no idea of the capabilities. I have owned a D7200 and the Sigma 150-600c, not only owned them but can show their capabilities by having a link to me flickr with exif intact.

I'm sure you would agree Steve, if more people on the forum offered advice from personal experience, with photos to back it up, instead of what they 'think' or 'have heard' is best, it would avoid alot of bickering

And reading further along my post would have probably saved you having to reply at all, especially with the words

If I'm not mistaken
As I said

My advice, buy some better gear, definitely a lens, if you are serious about birds/wildlife it wont be a waste.
 
Messages
6,909
Name
Steven
Edit My Images
Yes
#22
I've never used/owned a D5600 so I have no idea of the capabilities. I have owned a D7200 and the Sigma 150-600c, not only owned them but can show their capabilities by having a link to me flickr with exif intact.
Having direct personal experience and knowledge is of course better. And I'm sure at some point a better lens is in order if the OP sticks with photographing wildlife. But I'm also equally sure that the gear is not the limiting factor at this point, and jumping from 300mm to 600mm (450mm/900mm) is not going to make it any easier to improve the results IMO.
 
Messages
6,180
Edit My Images
Yes
#23
Having direct personal experience and knowledge is of course better. And I'm sure at some point a better lens is in order if the OP sticks with photographing wildlife. But I'm also equally sure that the gear is not the limiting factor at this point, and jumping from 300mm to 600mm (450mm/900mm) is not going to make it any easier to improve the results IMO.
I was a little confused yesterday as to why you'd selectively quoted part of my post, trying contradict what I'd said....................... maybe I'm special or you're after a willy waving competition........ if the later, I'll bow out now to the size of you manhood :LOL: ( note the laughing emotion as I'm trying to make light-hearted from this )

Lets re-cap, highlighted the important bits

Hi all, I'm a newby looking for help! I've got a Nikon D5600 and use a Sigma DG 70-300 lens. I'm mainly interested in wildlife and birds, and while I get some decent shots, I wonder if I'd do better with better equipment
Yes Chris, whatever anyone says about equipment, in bird/wildlife photography, better equipment equals better results, as long as you have understanding of other factors (y)

You'll get many answers but this is the best answer for under a grand, second-hand body, £350 ish, second-hand lens £550-£600ish, and a half decent understanding of post processing.
IMHO I think this is correct

@sk66 - Is the above statement right or wrong for you? What else could you buy for £1000 (1,292.99 USD) that's better........and before anyone else joins in, I have no experince with the Tamron equivalent so that could be an option too ;)

Then this, as I read it, you've actually confirmed my suspicions by quoting the stats, the D7200 is better, if only marginally

If I'm not mistaken, the D5600 is the same sensor as the D7200. Only the D7200 has better controls, 1 more FPS, and a little better AF (51/39 pts) ; not a whole lot to be gained there really...
Then you seem to contradict yourself about lens choice

You will get better results if you get closer

Having direct personal experience and knowledge is of course better. And I'm sure at some point a better lens is in order if the OP sticks with photographing wildlife. But I'm also equally sure that the gear is not the limiting factor at this point, and jumping from 300mm to 600mm (450mm/900mm) is not going to make it any easier to improve the results IMO.
Anyone that takes bird/wildlife shot knows how frustrating 300mm can be, I'm sure it where most of us started. The new (ok not new now) range that Sigma and Tamron brought out gave us all the opportunity to have 600mm for very little money and in my experience, you can't get better for £750 brand new

This is my last post on the subject, unless the OP wants more advice on the gear discussed above but, then again, being a new member and seeing how his thread has gone, he may not be back :LOL:.....( again, a little light-hearted attempt at humour ;))
 
Last edited:
Messages
4,793
Name
Martyn
Edit My Images
No
#24
Better gear often makes it easier to get good shots but I wouldn't rush into this. You're a novice and bird/wildlife photography is one of the more challenging genres because you generally have little, or no, control over many of the variables involved. I suggest you keep practicing before spending a lot of money. Apart from anything else, it will help you to decide what you actually need. Maybe hire a couple of lenses and see how you get on? Join a club and see if any of the other members are bird or wildlife photographers?

One tip, which I read years ago, was to practice on seagulls if that's possible for you. They're quite large, bold, and tend to fly slowly, so they're a bit easier to capture.
 
Messages
1,350
Name
David
Edit My Images
Yes
#25
Better gear often makes it easier to get good shots but I wouldn't rush into this. You're a novice and bird/wildlife photography is one of the more challenging genres because you generally have little, or no, control over many of the variables involved. I suggest you keep practicing before spending a lot of money. Apart from anything else, it will help you to decide what you actually need. Maybe hire a couple of lenses and see how you get on? Join a club and see if any of the other members are bird or wildlife photographers?

One tip, which I read years ago, was to practice on seagulls if that's possible for you. They're quite large, bold, and tend to fly slowly, so they're a bit easier to capture.
I second that - although in strong sun light black headed gulls can over expose - but that shouldn't be a problem at this time of year.
 
Messages
6,909
Name
Steven
Edit My Images
Yes
#26
You'll get many answers but this is the best answer for under a grand, second-hand body, £350 ish, second-hand lens £550-£600ish, and a half decent understanding of post processing. IMHO I think this is correct

@sk66 - Is the above statement right or wrong for you? What else could you buy for £1000 (1,292.99 USD) that's better.......
I'm not trying to attack you/single you out.
The point is that the gear isn't really the issue... I've taken many quite decent images with gear lesser than what the OP is using.
The important part of the original question IMO:
I wonder if I'd do better with better equipment. (The problem of course might be me!)
And my response to that was/is "not really, not now/yet."

Then you seem to contradict yourself about lens choice
No, I said get closer... not use a longer lens. And if you can get closer the results will always trump using a longer lens...
 
Last edited:
Messages
6,180
Edit My Images
Yes
#27
So there you have it Chris @Grumpy Schnoodle, the last 3 posts sum it up.

Despite being one of the cheapest lenses you can buy, the Sigma 70-300 is perfectly adequate for a novice bird/wildlife photographer like you, don't waste your money, you're just not ready to upgrade.

Besides, even though you say one of your main interests is birds/wildlife, you still haven't made your mind up (apparently), you need to hire a lens to decide, no sorry, make that a couple of lenses.

Next you need to get closer to the birds/wildlife, maybe the invisible man has a few tips, if you master this one I need to know too.

And you need to practice on something called a seagull :banghead::banghead:.........:LOL::LOL::LOL:
 
Last edited:
Top