Equipment suggestions

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2,749
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Patrick
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#1
I have recently started to get into wildlife photography and am keen to take it further. If I get a good image that's a bonus to watching beautiful creatures in the wild. My previous experience is mostly portrait/people especially studio, but have dabble in most genres.

I've always used Nikon DSLRs, but have no strong brand loyalty. I've been doing a lot of reading/research about a good equipment set for wildlife and am starting to get bogged down.

My equipment requirements are:
1. Wildlife including small birds, but not BIF (yet).
2. Reasonably light for hiking.
3. Budget of around £1500 for body and lens/es - I usually buy 2nd hand.

I absolutely understand that there is no "right" answer and that the photographer's skill/patience is the most important factor. However, I'd be very interested to hear people suggestions. I'm open to any brand and system: FF, APS-C, MFT, mirrorless, whatever.

Thanks in advance, Patrick
 
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95
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Nick
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#2
With Nikon, the 'usual' recommendation for the best wildlie camera would be a D500. The Nikon 200-500mm lens would be a good lens to put with it. For small birds, you might want a longer lens (maybe one of the 150-600mm to keep the budget reasonable?). However, bought new, a D500 with one of these lenses would be outside your biudget by a fair margin. I don't know the 2nd hand market well enough to know if you could pick these up within your budget.

I expect that you will get lots of other suggestions :)
 
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138
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Glynn
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#3
D500 with 200-500mm will take you slightly over budget (second-hand), but you will never feel the need to upgrade after purchase, so worth stretching your budget, if you can.

APS-C, will give you more 'reach', which is exactly what you want for your targets.

Having said that, you will soon want to add a decent monopod/tripod, gimbal, pop-up hide, etc, etc...........so keep saving!
 
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PatrickO
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2,749
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Patrick
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#5
With Nikon, the 'usual' recommendation for the best wildlie camera would be a D500. The Nikon 200-500mm lens would be a good lens to put with it. For small birds, you might want a longer lens (maybe one of the 150-600mm to keep the budget reasonable?). However, bought new, a D500 with one of these lenses would be outside your biudget by a fair margin. I don't know the 2nd hand market well enough to know if you could pick these up within your budget.

I expect that you will get lots of other suggestions :)
D500 with 200-500mm will take you slightly over budget (second-hand), but you will never feel the need to upgrade after purchase, so worth stretching your budget, if you can.

APS-C, will give you more 'reach', which is exactly what you want for your targets.

Having said that, you will soon want to add a decent monopod/tripod, gimbal, pop-up hide, etc, etc...........so keep saving!
Wondering if a D7200 and 200-500mm would be a good combo.
I'm definitely interested in a gimbal and good ones appear to be £300+
 
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2,749
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Patrick
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#6
I'm looking into down-sizing my kit from a Canon 5d4 / Tamron 150 - 600 zoom to Olympus EM1 Mk2 / Panasonic 100 - 400 zoom.

By all accounts you can get fantastic results from the latter set-up. You might have to up your budget slightly but it's worth a thought?
I think the mark ii would be out of my budget . However the mark i is now very much cheaper and may be an option.
 
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Glynn
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#7
Wondering if a D7200 and 200-500mm would be a good combo.
I'm definitely interested in a gimbal and good ones appear to be £300+
D7200, is a good body if budget is tight. You could pick up a 'low shutter count' unit on ebay at sensible money. It will also make a very good second body, when you eventually upgrade to a D500!

Avoid the 'chinese' gimbals, but take a look at the 'Lensmaster' Gimbals, which are superb and around £175.00 - these are hand made in the UK and a high quality product! - I have been using one for years.

IMG_5370.JPG
 
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2,104
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Will
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#8
I recommend starting out with a body from the Nikon D7000 series, and going for the Sigma 150-600mm lens or the Nikon 200-500mm (great lens) if you can afford it.

This is a good starting point. Both have their limitations but if you're just starting out in wildlife photography you're unlikely to find them yet, and you'll become a better photographer if you have to work with limitations on light etc.
 
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1,193
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#9
D7200, is a good body if budget is tight. You could pick up a 'low shutter count' unit on ebay at sensible money. It will also make a very good second body, when you eventually upgrade to a D500!

Avoid the 'chinese' gimbals, but take a look at the 'Lensmaster' Gimbals, which are superb and around £175.00 - these are hand made in the UK and a high quality product! - I have been using one for years.

View attachment 256955
Seconded plus if you have any issues the after sales appears very good based on my pre purchase research
 
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6,616
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Ned
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#10
I’d suggest looking at micro 4/3, you get insane reach in very lightweight packages (comparatively speaking).

I have an EM1ii and Panasonic 100-400 which gives me 800mm FF equiv on a small and lightweight package that fits in even a small man bag.
 
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terry
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#11

nc_killie

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722
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John
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#12
As you quite rightly state ‘there is no correct answer’ my advice is get something reasonable and practice and decide what sort of wildlife you want to photograph........but beware, it is addictive and you will want better bodies and glass! A cheap option would be a canon 7dmkii and canon 400mm 5.6. That will get you in the game for about £1000 and you can decide if you really enjoy it and want to spend lots more. There may be better cameras but this combo will give you options (google Dan cadieux or Glenn Bartley for examples). Good luck
 
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8,496
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wayne clarke
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#13
D7200, is a good body if budget is tight. You could pick up a 'low shutter count' unit on ebay at sensible money. It will also make a very good second body, when you eventually upgrade to a D500!

Avoid the 'chinese' gimbals, but take a look at the 'Lensmaster' Gimbals, which are superb and around £175.00 - these are hand made in the UK and a high quality product! - I have been using one for years.

View attachment 256955
Can I ask why the gimbal rather than a normal tripod head? I'm courious as to the advantage or reasons (I don't do much wildlife).
 
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Mike
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#14
Long lenses for DSLRs tend to be both expensive & heavy :(
One possible alternative that some people like is bridge cameras - these often have very long equivalent focal lengths in a lightweight package. I don't think they'd suit me as I like tinkering with hardware too much. fairly good examples should be available within your budget.
 
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2,749
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Patrick
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#15
Long lenses for DSLRs tend to be both expensive & heavy :(
One possible alternative that some people like is bridge cameras - these often have very long equivalent focal lengths in a lightweight package. I don't think they'd suit me as I like tinkering with hardware too much. fairly good examples should be available within your budget.
I did consider some of the super zoom bridge cameras. E.g. the Nikon P900/1000. The images are not bad considering the tiny sensor , but not the quality I'm looking for. Also DOF is very deep. Control over DOF is an important factor for me in both human and animal portraits.
 
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5,863
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#16
the d500 can be bought for under 1k brand new from e finity
its like s*** off a shovel for focus
the nikon 200-500 f5.6 is a fantastic lens its 1 stop faster than the longer sigma lens's
i have this set up and i can't think of anything that would be better
i also have a £40 chinese gimbal and it works a treat
i had the d7200 before my d500 and its huge leap getting the d500
 
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2,749
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Patrick
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#17
the d500 can be bought for under 1k brand new from e finity
its like s*** off a shovel for focus
the nikon 200-500 f5.6 is a fantastic lens its 1 stop faster than the longer sigma lens's
i have this set up and i can't think of anything that would be better
i also have a £40 chinese gimbal and it works a treat
i had the d7200 before my d500 and its huge leap getting the d500
So that's another vote for the Nikon 200-500mm. I'm definitely moving towards that as the ideal balance between price, weight and quality.
 
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#20
af speed also and endless buffer of 200 shots also the picture colours straight out of camera
same easier to use controls on top of the d500 just like my d850
 
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Nick
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#21
What we're the main differences you noticed between the D7200 and D500?
As holty said plus some other stuff such as:
  • D720 has slightly greater Mega Pixels (24.7 vs 21.5)
  • No built-in flash on the D500
  • D500 has better view finder
  • D500 LCD screen is higher resolution and provides a tilt function
  • D500 has faster 'frames per second': 10fps vs 6 fps
  • D500 overs 4K video recording
  • D500 weighs more (850 gm vs 675 gm) and is slightly bigger
  • D500 can use XQD cards
  • D500 has better weather/dust sealing and offer Bluetooth connectivity
Both are excellent cameras
 
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Glynn
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#22
Can I ask why the gimbal rather than a normal tripod head? I'm courious as to the advantage or reasons (I don't do much wildlife).
If you don't do much wildlife, then a decent 'ball' will be fine, but a gimbal gives a better balance and is much faster for reacting to subjects (especially birds in flight). I've used both and nothing else comes close to a decent gimbal. - But I only shoot wildlife and use a gimbal on my tripod and monopod!
 
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8,496
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wayne clarke
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#23
If you don't do much wildlife, then a decent 'ball' will be fine, but a gimbal gives a better balance and is much faster for reacting to subjects (especially birds in flight). I've used both and nothing else comes close to a decent gimbal. - But I only shoot wildlife and use a gimbal on my tripod and monopod!
Ahhh. Thanks Glynn.
 
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297
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Martin
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#24
Can't go wrong with the Sigma 150-600mm C lens even at f/6.3 at the longer end at 600mm and its less of a degree to rotate when zooming the lens out than the Nikon 200-500mm is.
 
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2,431
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Stu
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#25
Wayne I also use a lensmaster it's fab bit heavy although I'm primarily a hand holder I almost only shoot wildlife. Have a look at the felxshooter pro. Sure expense and all that,but that might just be the ball head that replaces the gimbal in wildlife. The ball head design is basically lighter than the gimbal design,willdlife togs on occassion( ha almost always) need to maul heavy stuff,big lenses big tripods tis the nature of the game Weight is a massive thing. Most weight loss of late,to my simple eye, seems to come from the digital technology side,,it's sort of lovely seeing physical design rear it's head. Why is it togging stuff so damn expensive!!

Patrick wildlife image making is a vast sphere,it stretches from the guy who can't walk to guys of huge physical ability. From the guys that want to shoot only wild stuff to guys that play in studios, from critters so small we can't see 'em, to the largest being on the planet. It's for you................... so it's a niche thing..... get the tools that will serve you best, no more no less, What i'm trying to get over, as John has, above , is that in this massive field of nature image making, certain tools will be best for you and what you do.

I'd find out what you really love to make images of mate, then find those tool as best you can afford to serve your needs. I'd buy cheep as poss until you know what floats your individual image making boat . You need to hone the choices before spending money Patrick ,as I mentioned to Wayne tools in photography are not cheep,we need to buy the right ones first time,qualified by budget

find the ones for you:)

stu
 
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