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snick

Best body + lens for under $3000?

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Hi everyone, I'm new to the photography forum.  I've been using a superzoom (Canon SX 40HS) for birding for the last 4 yrs, and for various reasons I'm now ready to enter the DSLR market.  However, I need to keep the overall price under $3000 if possible.  But I'm also willing to buy used if that's the best way to go.  I've worked with both Canon and Nikon in the past, and don't really have an allegiance to either, although I'm probably more comfortable with Canon only because I've used them more recently.

 

A couple questions:

 

I'm obviously interested in the best (affordable) telephoto lens for bird photography.  Is it possible to get great results with a 300mm tele (or 70-300mm zoom), or do I need a minimum 400mm?

 

Do all (recent) DSLRs have a big enough chip for sharp images in low light?  Specifically, I know that many DSLRs these days allow one to shoot at the equivalent of ISO 4000 without much graininess.  Is this standard nowadays?

 

I know there are many websites that show photo examples for good DSLRs.  Is there something birding-specific, i.e., a page that shows bird photos taken with various lens/body combos?

 

I appreciate any and all suggestions, thanks.

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I don't have anything to suggest, but you've got a great budget to work with here.  Should be able to get you some nice glass!

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I would go with D7200, 300mm f4 (old version) and a 1.4x Teleconverter.  I get incredible results with this kit (I have the D7100 but it is basically equivalent to the D7200).

 

Or, if light weight is a priority, get the D7100 and the newer version of the 300mm f4 and a 1.4x Teleconverter.

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Thanks, Walker!  I've heard that you're the DSLR guru around these parts, so I really appreciate your opinion on this.  :) Do you have some photo examples of this combo you could point me to?

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Canon 7D Mark ii + 400mm f/5.6 is another combo that a lot of birders use.

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Also, would you be able to address the questions I posed in my first post?  Thanks again.

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Canon 7D Mark ii + 400mm f/5.6 is another combo that a lot of birders use.

Thanks, JimBob.  I have noticed this camera/combo seems to be very popular.  Do you happen to know the differences between the  EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens and the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens? (ie., the IS vs. the IS II).  The price difference is about $700 online...what's better about the IS II?

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Thanks, JimBob.  I have noticed this camera/combo seems to be very popular.  Do you happen to know the differences between the  EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens and the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens? (ie., the IS vs. the IS II).  The price difference is about $700 online...what's better about the IS II?

IS stands for Image Stabilization.  IS is better on the IS II.  Will address your other questions.

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Hi everyone, I'm new to the photography forum.  I've been using a superzoom (Canon SX 40HS) for birding for the last 4 yrs, and for various reasons I'm now ready to enter the DSLR market.  However, I need to keep the overall price under $3000 if possible.  But I'm also willing to buy used if that's the best way to go.  I've worked with both Canon and Nikon in the past, and don't really have an allegiance to either, although I'm probably more comfortable with Canon only because I've used them more recently.

 

A couple questions:

 

I'm obviously interested in the best (affordable) telephoto lens for bird photography.  Is it possible to get great results with a 300mm tele (or 70-300mm zoom), or do I need a minimum 400mm?

 

THE MORE THE BETTER.  I HAVE 420 AND IT WORKS FOR ME.

 

Do all (recent) DSLRs have a big enough chip for sharp images in low light?  Specifically, I know that many DSLRs these days allow one to shoot at the equivalent of ISO 4000 without much graininess.  Is this standard nowadays?

 

MOST OF THEM DO.  MODERN CAMERAS ARE REALLY GOOD.  HOWEVER, I TRY NOT TO GO ABOVE ISO 2000.

 

I know there are many websites that show photo examples for good DSLRs.  Is there something birding-specific, i.e., a page that shows bird photos taken with various lens/body combos?

 

NO.

 

I appreciate any and all suggestions, thanks.

 my responses.  I will post some image examples.

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I would avoid teleconverting if possible. It degrades quality which really goes against the point of upgrading to a DSLR. I definitely agree with the D7200, it's a fantastic body. I think I got mine for around $1,099, but that may go down now that they released the D500.  But what I would do (or rather have done) is go for the Nikon 200-500mm f5.6 lens. MSRP is $1,399 which still puts you under budget. It is a PHENOMENAL lens for that price point, and you don't risk the degradation of quality with a teleconverter. Though if you want the extra reach, you can put a 1.4x teleconverter on that lens as the D7200 can support f8 autofocus. 

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Image examples:

 

The hummingbirds were taken at ISO 2000.  These are tack sharp.  THe only IQ loss comes from the website's compression.

Thanks, Walker.  These are lovely shots.  You mention in your first post that a 300mm w/1.4 teleconverter would be fine, but later say you 'have a 420 and it works' for you.  What did you use for the image examples you posted?  Also, can you comment on what asque2000 said about quality degradation with the teleconverter?  Thanks again.

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I would avoid teleconverting if possible. It degrades quality which really goes against the point of upgrading to a DSLR. I definitely agree with the D7200, it's a fantastic body. I think I got mine for around $1,099, but that may go down now that they released the D500.  But what I would do (or rather have done) is go for the Nikon 200-500mm f5.6 lens. MSRP is $1,399 which still puts you under budget. It is a PHENOMENAL lens for that price point, and you don't risk the degradation of quality with a teleconverter. Though if you want the extra reach, you can put a 1.4x teleconverter on that lens as the D7200 can support f8 autofocus. 

Thanks for this.  Can you be more specific about 'quality degradation'?

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Thanks, Walker.  These are lovely shots.  You mention in your first post that a 300mm w/1.4 teleconverter would be fine, but later say you 'have a 420 and it works' for you.  What did you use for the image examples you posted?  Also, can you comment on what asque2000 said about quality degradation with the teleconverter?  Thanks again.

 

The 420mm that WalkerNW refers to is the 300mm paired with the 1.4 teleconverter. The teleconverter multiplies the magnification of the 300mm by 1.4 giving him the 420mm. 300x1.4=420

 

I use the Canon 400mm f/5.6 lens paired with the Canon 7D camera if you want to check my flickr page for bird photos with that combo. Be aware that I also use Nikon's P900 P&S for bird photography and those photos will be mixed in amongst the DSLR photos. Luckily, once a photo is clicked on in the photo stream, flickr shows which camera was used below each photo if there's any confusion.

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/27232701@N04/

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I would avoid teleconverting if possible. It degrades quality which really goes against the point of upgrading to a DSLR. I definitely agree with the D7200, it's a fantastic body. I think I got mine for around $1,099, but that may go down now that they released the D500.  But what I would do (or rather have done) is go for the Nikon 200-500mm f5.6 lens. MSRP is $1,399 which still puts you under budget. It is a PHENOMENAL lens for that price point, and you don't risk the degradation of quality with a teleconverter. Though if you want the extra reach, you can put a 1.4x teleconverter on that lens as the D7200 can support f8 autofocus. 

that 200-500 lens is super heavy, and I haven't experienced any noticeable quality degradation with the TC on a 300mm f4 lens.

 

snick, I used a 300 with the 1.4 teleconverter, which gave me a focal length of 420mm.

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asque2000, on 06 Jun 2016 - 02:39 AM, said:snapback.png

I would avoid teleconverting if possible. It degrades quality which really goes against the point of upgrading to a DSLR. I definitely agree with the D7200, it's a fantastic body. I think I got mine for around $1,099, but that may go down now that they released the D500.  But what I would do (or rather have done) is go for the Nikon 200-500mm f5.6 lens. MSRP is $1,399 which still puts you under budget. It is a PHENOMENAL lens for that price point, and you don't risk the degradation of quality with a teleconverter. Though if you want the extra reach, you can put a 1.4x teleconverter on that lens as the D7200 can support f8 autofocus. 

 

that 200-500 lens is super heavy, and I haven't experienced any noticeable quality degradation with the TC on a 300mm f4 lens.

 

snick, I used a 300 with the 1.4 teleconverter, which gave me a focal length of 420mm.

 

So, this seems like a good debate.  I'm definitely interested in quality.  Is there really no degradation with the teleconverter?  Does it matter what type of teleconverter I get?

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Sorry I mean to respond to this a while ago but I got busy. So teleconverting gives you a little extra reach but at the cost of one stop of light for a 1.4x. It will definitely slow your autofocus, and some cameras will not even autofocus at f8 (D7200 will so you're good if you get that body). So in other words, you need to have at least an f4 lens to get autofocus with a teleconverter in many cases. Additionally it is more glass for light to pass through. So images will be softer and details will not be as clear. Not that teleconverting is bad by any means, but I often think it's unnecessary. I think you can crop an image to the same field of view and and either have the same or perhaps even better image quality than teleconverting. 

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If you get the D7200 or even better the D500 which support f8 autofocus, and the 200-500mm plus 1.4x tele, you have a focal length equivalent of 700 mm max and with the DX crop factor it becomes a 1050mm equivalent! But again I find my pictures come out much better and autofocus is much faster without the use of a tele. 

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The tele on a prime is a lot better then a tele on a zoom,but either way,you will get some quality loss with a tele,it's a fundamental fact,you are going through more glass with a tele,it will slow the light down and create distortion,however with a fixed lens prime it's much less then a zoom lens.i have the 200-500 Nikon coupled with a d500, which I just purchased,I had a 7100 and it was dialed in with the 200-500. I have only had the d500 for two weeks or so and only have a handful of pics under my belt.but I can tell that it will be a great camera,but at two thousand it's a bit over your price range.coupled with the 200-500.the 7200 is a quality camera and has a lot of features for the money. For birding you can't go wrong with the 200-500 and the 7200. It's a sharp lens coupled with a camera that can handle it. I have a lot of images on my Flickr page with the 7100 and the 200-500 and the first 20-30 are from the d500 I just got, if you go back a few pages it's all 7100 and 200-500. I will say I had the tamron 150-600 and while it's a decent lens,the 200-500 kicks the crap out of it in every way,even losing the 100 mm to it... The piping plover at the top of my Flickr page was taken with my 1.4 tele just for your info,it's the first image I have taken with the tele on the d500.its a little soft but I needed the reach,so I could stay far enough away to not disturb it...

https://www.flickr.com/photos/91751046@N08/

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Thank you asque2000 and pictaker.  This is all very helpful info.  Looks like I'm definitely getting the D7200.

 

Are any of you familiar with Abe's of Maine? (retailer).  They're offering the D7200 body for $815, free shipping, no tax.  Anything I should be wary of?

http://www.abesofmaine.com/Nikon_D7200_DSLR_Camera_Body_Only_-_Black_1002444.html?l=Google&gclid=CjwKEAjwp-S6BRDj4Z7z2IWUhG8SJAAbqbF35u4kyGPSvkfIqcqJaSJFX6hOzpD1vuXpuuRXTLL_GRoC8cTw_wcB

 

Also, what's the general opinion about purchasing an extended warranty?

 

Thanks again, everyone, for your help!

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I wouldn't buy from Abe's.  Too cheap.  Buy from B&H, the professional's source.

 

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=1127271&gclid=CLL8nbfWm80CFQktaQodhXAGgA&is=REG&ap=y&m=Y&c3api=1876%2C92051678642%2C&A=details&Q=

 

With a teleconverter on the 300mm f4 lens there is almost NO noticeable image quality degradation.

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Too cheap

Thanks.  What does this mean, exactly?  Are they just less expensive, or do they occasionally ship defective products, or something else?

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Thanks.  What does this mean, exactly?  Are they just less expensive, or do they occasionally ship defective products, or something else?

If it's too good to be true, it probably is.  They likely use bait-and-switch, sending defective equipment, etc.

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I will tell you my story about extended warranties,or drop insurance,when I bought my tamron 150-600 and the 7100 I also bought the insurance,the salesman talked me into it,against my better judgement,I am pretty careful with my stuff but I figured for the extra 20 percent(which is what the warranty costs) I would have peace of mind.Well,anyway,my helper was pulling stuff out of my truck one day and left my 7100 and tamron lens on the front bumper( i used to take the camera everywhere),I leave the job,get to the first stop sign and watch my camera and lens tumble down the street when I hit the brakes.Well,i said to myself,that sucks but I got drop insurance so no problem..call the place up,send them pics,explain what happened,they said send it in,we will fix it,..excellent I said to myself,so 50 dollars later I ship it to the place. Couple days go by,place calls me up,says "sorry but your not covered" I said wtf,you guys were told what happen,sent you pics,everything was approved and now ,i am out the 50 bucks for shipping and have no camera,dont worry the guy says,we can fix them for 900 bucks, thats when I said,ahhh,the old bait and switch,I have been conned big time.Need less to say,this was over a year ago,after some pleading they sent me the camera back,supposedly fixed...ahh no,no its not,shutter wouldnt work couldnt use it at all.I finally called the place I got the camera from and they actually did some repairs on it for free.nice guys and they have tried to help me out numerous times...Heres the real kicker though,they still have my tamron lens,wont send it back,holding it hostage,the place i bought the camera and lens from has tried to get it back also,nope,aint sending it.wtf? I dont have time to call them everyday and bitch but i wish I did,anyway theres my story,whether you buy extended warranty or not,at least I tried to warn you....oh,the name of the company was CPS,consumer priority service,based in new york I think...

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Thanks for all of this info, both of you.  I just educated myself on the bait and switch and "gray market" retailers.  What about eBay, though?  They seem to have some great deals from their "Top Rated" retailers, and promise everything you could want with regard to customer satisfaction, returns, etc.  What's the catch?

 

Also, I found a local photographer selling a D7200 with 24,000 actuations on Craigslist.  Does that seem reasonable?  What should I be wary of with regard to Craigslist?

 

Finally, I have a Nikon 18-70 f/3.5-4.5 from a D100 that's about 10-12 years old.  Would that be a suitable (non-tele) lens for the 7200, or would I likely experience auto focus issues (or other issues)?  Still deciding between the 300 + teleconverter and the 200-500...

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