Thanks Outlaw, and yes it's Farmington Bay. I believe you and I may have photgraphed the same Kestrel out there that had a habit of sitting on the refuge sign -- saw some photos of him on your web site. Were those taken this past Spring? Got these using a Nikon D200 with 70-300mm AF-S VR f3.5-5.6. Most were taken @ 300 wide open at f5.6, I would have liked a little faster shutter speed but the light was pretty diffused and I don't have any f2.8 options.
Ya, that probably is the same critter on the sign - he's been there every time I have. I did shoot the kestrel this spring. When I was there the fog was thick, only letting up for an occasional shot. The only eagles I shot were 200 yards off and little more than a dark blob in a sea of white.
It did lift for a few minutes and this little owl cooperated well.
The D200 is a very respectable camera. I've shot with it a couple times and was very impressed. I shoot Canon though. I mainly use a 400 5.6L and occasionally a 1.4x teleconverter. By today's standards I'm oldschool with a 20D.
Canon makes great stuff, Nikon and Canon are always leapfrogging each other it seems. Canon had the edge for years with action photography. I love their 100-400 IS. Nikon made a quantum leap with the D200/D300 and those of us with stashes of Nikkor lenses can finally shoot at 5-8 frames per second without spending a fortune. Most of the time at Farmington I shoot a Nikkor 80-400 VR. At f4.5 - 5.6 it is quite good for stills or slow action. I think Canon's 100-400 is still a better lens because it has USM. I use my 70-300 AF-S VR when I need better motion tracking. For things other than wildlife, the Nikkor 18-200mm AF-S VR is what I use most, and I think it may be the best all-around lens made by anyone these days.
Those are some awesome shots, I had no idea that there were eagles down there in the farmington bay area.
I hope to have a D200 here in the near future. I shot with a buddies of mine when he was out here visiting and fell in love with the thing. Since then Ive had to endure my crappy point and shoot as Ive been saving every spare penny since early summer and I have a little over $400 to put toward one. Im hoping they drop to about grand or so when the D300 final hits the shelves. I already have the kit lens and the next lens would probally be the 70-300, but I might have to go with a tamron or sigma to get that covetted 2.8 option.
Spend your money on good glass before a pro body. It doesn't matter if you have a 1700 dollar D200 body if your shooting a 100 dollar Quantum lens.
Nikon makes several f2.8 telephoto lenses. (supers) AF-S VR NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G IF-ED, AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8D IF-ED II, and the new AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR (Sweet).
I like these two zoom/telephotos the best:
AF Zoom-NIKKOR 80-200mm f/2.8D ED and the one threshershark is talking about, theAF VR Zoom-NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED. Not 2.8, but I use it for tons of stuff, it's very versatile, but like he said, not the best, although good, for fast moving subjects, especially in low light. The 80-200 is next on my list.
If I had 2500 dollars to spend, I'd buy the D80 (I own the D200 and D50, but I had more to spend.) for around a thousand dollars and one of the above mentioned lenses 80-200 or 80-400(1st choice for wildlife). The D200 has a better and faster processor, better noise reduction and a heavier duty body, but that's about it. The D80 would make a nice match for those lenses and the glass will be around long after the body goes out of style.
There are two 70-300 Nikon lenses out there, the G lens and the ED. The G runs about half as much as the ED lens (ED glass is what Nikon is known for, but in much higher end lenses) Both are under utilizing the D80 or the D200. In this case, the camera is WAY better than the lens. It would be like having a Hyundai motor in an Aston Martin, The point? Buy good glass.
Nice breakdown Treehugger. I understand the need for good glass. I just cant undersell myself for now with the D80 as opposed to the D200 right now. Im going to have save forever to get the good glass which is where I feel Nikon holds the edge over Canon ultimately. I do think though that the tamron and sigmas(quick fixes really) at 2.8 and some of their lens are better than the low end glass Nikon makes(kit lens). As a advanced amture that is sevrely strapped for cash Im going to have to do what I can for now, Ill gladly take a donation if you'd like to help :wink:
I second what Tree said but would make some slightly different recommendations.
1) Camera doesn't matter very much. Ansel Adams and some of the greatest photographers of all time used gear that by today's standards is cheap. Composition and exposure are everything, and can be done with whatever gear you happen to have. Learn how to see in rectangles, and which camera settings give you the effects you seek. My 2 favorite books on these subjects are Photographic Composition by Grill and Scanlon and Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.
2) Don't get a Canon or Nikon and then slap a cheap lens on it. The whole reason to buy a name brand SLR is to use the lenses those companies make.
3) Don't fall prey to the megapixel myths. SLR sensors are very high quality, and 6MP SLR CCDs will print very high quality up to 16x20, which is bigger than almost everyone prints.
4) IMO, an SLR gives you only two advantages. #1 is that the common controls are located on the body where you can access them quickly during changing conditions. This is very helpful for wildlife, and keeps you from delving down into menus all the time. #2 is the interchangeable lenses, it is hard to shoot subjects like birds without good telephoto glass.
5) My recommendation for an entry level Nikon is the D40. The D80 is simply an upgraded D70s with a 10MP sensor (The D40x has the same sensor too). The D40 is much smaller and handier, and has controls that are easier for those learning photography. If you want something a little more capable, buy a used D70 or D70s for around $350. I shot a D70s for years, and it will do everything the D80 will for far less money. The price of the D200 won't drop very much, it is the same camera as the D300 minus a few frames per second and a bigger LCD. They will position it around $1499, and let the D300 assume the $1799 spot.
6) f2.8 lenses are very nice for low light, but if you have ever fondled them, they are HUGE and heavy. The 70-200 or the 300mm prime are both larger than anyone would want to carry around on hikes etc. VR or vibration reduction allows slower lenses to compensate for aperture fairly well.
My favorite all-around lens is the Nikon 18-200mm AF-S VR. It will do 90% of what people use a camera for, and about the only weakness it has is long telephoto. You can get the same range for less money buy getting the kit lens (it's awesome) at 18-55mm, and then picking up the 55-200mm VR ($250). The 70-300mm AF-S VR is a nice lens for some longer shots, and is also reasonably priced. I think you'd be really surprised at the quality of photos that a D40 or D70 coupled with a good lens will produce. Try one, the good thing about Nikon or Canon gear is that it holds value pretty well. If you get a used D70s for $350 you can probably turn around and sell it for $350 after using it for a few months. That's MHO.
The D40 and the D40x do have some draw backs, such as not being compatible with some of the older auto focus lenses, such as the old AF-i series. All of the newer AF-s lenses will be fine. Also, It only has one auto focus seneor. I have big paws so the bigger bodies of the D80 and the D200 work better for me, as well as the displays being at my eye, so I can keep track of my subject and change ISO, aperture, shutter speed etc. at the same time. I have found this to be VERY useful over the D50, Which is pretty much what a D40 is, minus and plus a few things, such as an RGB histogram and A bigger and better LCD.
I looked at the D40 to buy my father for his birthday this year. He is a semi serious photographer that has a few lenses and an old Nikon film camera, so this was his first SLR. The D80 just had more B's and W's and advantages over the D40, especially if he was to get a little more serious, which sometimes happens with retirement. It was twice the price, but he ended up with the D80.
The biggest difference between the D80 and the D200 IMO, is that the D200 makes you learn everything about Camera functions. It is almost 100% manual, and admittedly, may take more time to take decent pictures, You can get great pictures from the D40 out of the package and with no prior knowledge of SLR photography.
I will whole heartedly agree with thresher on the composition etc. It doesn't matter if you have 20k worth of photo equipment if you can't compose a picture or have no clue how light will affect your photos.
IMO, both decent equipment and A fair grasp of "the rules" (which are meant to be broken)are required. But hey, I only know about 3% of what I could about this stuff, that's why we discuss it right?
The best advice I ever got was to take as many photos as I can, only then can you figure out what YOU like, what mistakes YOU make and How YOU can remedy them and get some great accidents in the meantime!
Thanks. It has been one of my favorites for a while - I'm a sucker for owls.
I completely agree with what the others have said about gear, except for the Nikon parts. :wink: Shop around for a lens you like before you buy the body. Today most dslr bodies are more capable than most beginners. Get a lens that is fast to focus, consistent, sharp close to the max aperture, and has a focal length that matches what you want to shoot.
I read somewhere pro nature photographers throw away 199 of 200 images. I wonder if they are telling the truth.
If you want to shoot birds, get a lens that can keep up with them. If you want to shoot landscapes, get a nice sharp wide angle. The right tool (lens) for the job is more important than the number of pixels you have. 300 trillion pixels to capture the crappy light through a crappy lens just doesn't make sense.
+1 to Outlaw, I think I've mentioned that Canon gear is great and Nikon/Canon tend to leapfrog each other from time to time. Both companies make excellent stuff. I have an investment in Nikon lenses, and I also much prefer Nikon's menus and user interface. There is less delving into menus but it's all what you are used to.
Canon makes a downright fantastic 100-400 IS lens. I have coveted it for years, and it's better than Nikon's 80-400 VR. It's the only Canon product that I believe clearly leads Nikon right now at the time stamp of this message, but it might be the best piece of hardware hands down for all-around wildlife photography.
Canon and Nikon are deadlocked with the f2.8 70-200mm range.
No one in the world can match the 18-200mm VR from Nikon right now. Best walk-around lens in the digital era.
BTW I do think that frames per second makes a difference in bird photography. 3 FPS has been pretty standard for a while, the D200 gives you 5, the D300 up to 8.
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