Camera suggestions?

Recent frustrating attempts at digibinning have got me seriously considering a digital SLR for the first time. Having never shopped for one, I'm asking for advice from birders. Since I digiscope when possible (so easy to carry a tiny P&S), I'd be looking to use an SLR for fast-moving subjects and flight shots.

I'd be willing to spend good money if necessary...I know you get what you pay for. I'm wondering what would be better for me...a top-of-the-line setup regardless of size/weight, or a lightweight one. Is there a best of both worlds? New vs used?

What camera/lens combos would you recommend?

- NB


  1. One of the Canon Digitals, 40-50 or 60D

    a good light, relatively inexpensive lens is the 400 F5.6

    I would add the battery bottom to the camera body...lots more life and a nice balance

  2. I personally use a Nikon D200, the newer D300 is really nice. I think in all reality though, Canon and Nikon are so very close it's really a personal choice. As for a lens, I would highly recommend something with an f stop of at least a 2.8 for low light. This has been absolutely invaluable to me! Plus, it helps if you ever put a teleconverter on the lens to get a little closer.

  3. Hey Nick,

    I was actually considering moving up as well when I did some research and realized I wasn't there financially! I'm not sure about new or used.....I never got that far but I did know what camera I was aiming at-the Canon 7D. I cannot believe how many birders use this camera and have a lot of success getting great shots, including terrific record shots of rarities. Once you start using Canon or Nikon, you'll probably use one forever. I've been using Canon and love their cameras, lenses, etc.

    I don't think this will help very much, maybe someone like Jeremiah T. would know much better.


  4. You can get a Canon 40D lightly used off eBay for ~$600. With a 1.4x extender the 300mm IS f4 (becomes f5.6 with the extender) is the most affordable option, ~$1500 - ~$2000 depending on whether you go new or refurbished or used. You definitely want an IS (image stabilized lens). Some people have trouble hand-holding the (considerably more expensive) 400mm lens though the one person I know with it doesn't have a problem (though missed a jaeger photo-op when one flew past the pier and due to weight he had it resting at his feet on the pier rather than around his neck).

    You can see my results with the 40D and extended 300mm lens at


  5. Thanks to everyone who has either posted here or emailed me privately. This will be a great way to start my research on these things. Right now I'm leaning towards something like Mark and Matt have suggested.

    Mark - The 60D is intriguing since it will have HD video like the 7D. But I could pick up a lightly used or refurbed 40D/50D for much less cash. Hmm...

    Andrew - Thanks for the suggestions. I'm leaning towards Canon, probably because I've been using a Canon to digiscope with and have enjoyed the results...may as well keep it in the family.

    Alex - When I was 14(?) years old I was making $10/week on allowance, so I had no financial situation! Good for you if you have the opportunity to buy such an expensive camera! A couple points against the 7D for me are price and weight. The soon-to-be-released Canon 60D may be a nice happy medium: $400 cheaper, lighter, but still with HD video. But the 7D does look like a fantastic camera...just not sure it's right for me. But I will seriously consider it.

    Matt - That's great info. Of what I've looked into so far, I think that camera/lens combo is a fine first option for me. Not sure, though, if I could pass up a newer body than the 40D.

    I'll keep looking into this. I am in no rush to buy; I'm likely several months away. Keep the comments coming.

  6. Check that - the 60D will be $600 cheaper (not $400 cheaper) than the 7D. Looking forward to the reviews after it is released.

  7. Hey Nick,

    My secret is I've just been saving all my money my whole life, there's not really any financial situation. The 60D looks like a great camera by the way!



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