Lens upgrade recommendations please?

Hi all

I haven't really done much (read: any) wildlife photography but, as you might have guessed, have a big interest in birds. Well I picked up my old(ish) camera from my parents house at the weekend that I haven't used in a long time and went to Thurrock Thamside Nature reserve to see what kind of birds I could see and if I could get some decent pictures. The camera I have is a Canon EOS 1200D DSLR, the lens I am using is a standard EF-S 18-55mm f/3 4-5.6 III. 

Being a relative novice when it comes to using a camera the pictures I took, whilst framed ok, offered little in terms of sharpness of the main object. I am guessing that this is because of the a. the distance I was from the subjects (mainly tits, finches) and the lack of focal length with this lens. Does that sound right? 

I would really like to learn more about the camera I have and how to get the best from it, so I will be looking to do that. But I think I will probably need a new lens to assist with the quality of my photographs. Can anyone recommend some lenses that would work with this camera. I'm probably looking at around the £300 mark, second hand. Anything cheaper, great - how would the EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6 is STM Lens stack up at around £100 second hand?

Lorri

  • As you've discovered, you'll struggle with bird photography with the standard 18-55 lens. Even watching birds on feeders you really need something longer. The 55-250 STM lens you mention is a little cracker (I have one), but even that, if I'm honest, is a bit short for anything other than controlled situations (eg your garden). Ideally you want to be looking at something 400mm or longer, though that's pushing the budget up a fair bit (likely £500-600+ second hand for a Canon 400mm f/5.6, or Canon 100-400mm zoom, Tamron or Sigma 150-600, all of which are popular with birders). That's from a reputable 2nd hand dealer (eg MPB.com) - doubtless cheaper from eBay etc. Part of the problem is that manufacturers only tend to make these longer lenses in their premium ranges - which means a great quality lens, but with a healthy price tag.

    If you take a look at the Getting off Auto index thread (link in my sig), there's quite a bit of info in there about choosing kit, learning about the settings and the like which may be handy. Or just ask anything you like on here of course :-)

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    Find me on Flickr / All about your camera - The Getting off Auto Index

  • Thanks Joe. I've actually just spent the last hour (don't tell my boss) reading the GoA thread. Great stuff and really informative. Helped put things a little clearer in my mind and convinced me that I definitely need to have a little play around with my camera and that I am probably going to have to stretch my budget to get the lens I need. I assume the suggested Canon 400mm f/5.6, or Canon 100-400mm zoom will be compatible with the 1200d? I assume all Canon lenses are compatible with the Canon bodies, but we all know about assuming...
  • Your camera is compatible with Canon EF and EF-S mount lenses Lorri.

    Jim

    My Pictures

  • Thanks Jim, much appreciated
  • Yes, any EF or EF-S lens will work on your 1200D. With the Tamron or Sigma lenses, you need to be careful as they make the same lens with different mounts (ie Canon, Nikon, Sony etc). There are pros & cons to all lenses, so it's worth some careful thought before purchase. The 400mm f/5.6 is super-fast focussing (it's THE Bird in Flight lens), but a long minimum focus and lack of IS (Stabiliser) can be limiting. The Tamrons & Sigmas can be a bit slow to focus compared to the Canons and are heavy, but you may decide you like the longer focal length - and so on :-)

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    Find me on Flickr / All about your camera - The Getting off Auto Index

  • I was looking at some lenses for you and found these two but now your after a longer one,, I might have one for you its a Canon 400mm f/5.6 but has no image stabilisation so you will need a steady hand but I have done well with it and can still get very nice picture even at my age :)

    Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 C DC Macro OS HSM - Canon Fit £369.00
    Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6 SP Di VC USD Lens - Canon Fit £329.00

    Jim

    My Pictures

  • Thank you both for your input. How about the following lenses:

    CANON EF 70-200 mm f/4 USM Telephoto Zoom Lens which is £589 new

    CANON EF 70-300 mm F/4-5.6 IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens which goes for £449 new

    Obviously I'd be inclined to go with the cheaper option, and it is also longer, so win win, right?

    I had a quick glance on ebay at the 400mm but I couldn't justify parting with £700+ (for the ones I could see) what with paying the mortgage and buying an engagement ring in the coming months.
  • In reply to Whistling Joe:

    Whistling Joe said:
    Yes, any EF or EF-S lens will work on your 1200D. With the Tamron or Sigma lenses, you need to be careful as they make the same lens with different mounts (ie Canon, Nikon, Sony etc). There are pros & cons to all lenses, so it's worth some careful thought before purchase. The 400mm f/5.6 is super-fast focussing (it's THE Bird in Flight lens), but a long minimum focus and lack of IS (Stabiliser) can be limiting. The Tamrons & Sigmas can be a bit slow to focus compared to the Canons and are heavy, but you may decide you like the longer focal length - and so on :-)

    I think the super fast focussing , sharpness wide open and weight of the 400mm f5.6 ouweigh its disadvantages - for the long minimum focusing distance, take a step or two backwards and I never really missed the IS, especially when using the lens i its element - BIF, where IS isn't so much of a benefit. It was my regular birding lens before I got a 500mm f4 - I bought the 500 f4 for its light rather than the extra 100mm, bearing in mind that the jump from an f5.6 lens to a f4 lens allows twice as much light in, not just a bit more.

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    Cheers,

    Bob

    My Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bobs_retired_now/

  • In reply to Goldfincher:

    Goldfincher said:
    Thank you both for your input. How about the following lenses:

    CANON EF 70-200 mm f/4 USM Telephoto Zoom Lens which is £589 new

    CANON EF 70-300 mm F/4-5.6 IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens which goes for £449 new

    Obviously I'd be inclined to go with the cheaper option, and it is also longer, so win win, right?

    I had a quick glance on ebay at the 400mm but I couldn't justify parting with £700+ (for the ones I could see) what with paying the mortgage and buying an engagement ring in the coming months.

    I posted my original answer before your current response appeared. I note that WEX have a used 400 f5.6 prime for £674. If your budget won't get you into the 400mm range, you might also want to consider the Canon L series 300mm f4 prime lens. Wex have 3 of these between £634 and £529. These will be excellent lenses with excellent light gathering for the range and have the advantage that at a later date you could purchase a 1.4 TC and have the equivalent of a 420mm f5.6 prime. Using the TC will have a possible impact on focussing speed especially in gloomier conditions but I'm pretty sure that as a 300mm lens it will outperform the other 2 that you have listed.

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    Cheers,

    Bob

    My Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bobs_retired_now/