Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Watch the birdie

I am envious of those birders that manage to capture inspiring images of the birds they see before them. From the, quite frankly, highly professional quality of Jono Lethbridge's work (if he left the banking world he could easily forge a career in photography) to the stealth-like lens-assassin that is Roger Browne at Beddington, we are offered on-line photography to die for. I, too, would like to be able to join in with them... but, I realise that it takes more than the shelling out a few thousand quid to obtain the right camera body and lens. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes an eye for composition. It takes an uncanny knack of knowing where to look and when to trigger the shutter. Time I'd rather spend doing other natural history related things.

I do own an old (and I mean old) Canon SLR body - a 400D. I also have a collection of lenses, some quite decent (a Canon 60mm macro, Canon 10-22mm wide angle; Canon 17-85mm - all of these more than passable), plus a Raynox macro conversion lens. I'm more than covered for taking pictures of plants, insects and scenery. But not birds...

I do have a crappy old Canon 75-300mm non-stablised lens that I bought early on under the illusion that I might just about be able to get some useful images. To a point, I was right - but on many other points I was wrong. So, what is the solution?

What has helped is realising that I am just after record shots of birds, be it for reference or proving of a record. I don't need all of the extra expense (or time) to reach such low-lying goals, and have come to the conclusion that a bridge camera will do the job. Just a bit of lazy point-and-shoot with a high zoom camera should do it. And there does appear to be a camera on the market that might just do the job for me. A camera for lazy people which will also allow more in-depth usage if so desired.

My pan-listing colleague Mark Skevington alerted me to the Nikon Coolpix P600, a bridge camera that has an unbelievable 60X optical zoom. You can see his results here. It is not expensive and may be just what I need to take a picture of that overflying Rough-legged Buzzard at Canons Farm this winter - or a Great Grey Shrike, Lapland Bunting or Gyr Falcon - I'm not fussy. No need to lug around a collection of lenses, or one BIIIIG lens like the big boys do. I'm tempted...

4 comments:

  1. Steve,
    If you are considering a bridge camera I would also recommend the Canon Powershot SX50HS. Takes very good pictures as you can see from a Flickr pal Mike Gould site, take a look https://www.flickr.com/photos/whitstablewildlife/15238088942/in/photostream/

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    1. Thanks Mike, I'll investigate further...

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  2. Steve, I`m a happy snappy bridge camera type-of-a guy too, and I concur with Mike H that the Canon 5X50HS (with 50x optical zoom) is astonishing. We had a guest who stayed here back in the summer and he had one, the results compared to mine were like comparing a Land Rover Series 1 with a Toyota Land Cruiser, and I`m thinking of treating myself to one in the New Year. Trouble is by then there`ll probably be something even better on the market, confused? You bet...

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    1. More food for thought there Paul - I need to look into this.

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