Best lens for birds and trips to add to NEX....or new body...OR new system? What is your vote?

Nh_ets

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Hello,
New to site. I have a NEX-5N with 18-55 kit, as well as 16mm/2.8 prime. I am interested in expanding my capabilities to bird photography and identification, but keeping weight and cost reasonable. I will also use this set up for travel including to Antarctica. I see a number of choices and interested in hearing what the group thinks about how to meet these goals given what I have.
1. Keep the NEX-5N and rent the Sony 100-400 or rent/buy the new Sony 70-350 lens. No viewfinder and older body, but let’s me keep what I already have...

2. Stick with Sony, and get a new body...plus a lens setup either using my old lenses or starting fresh? Recommendations there?

3. Move away from Sony to another system that could meet the need better, such as M4/3 Olympus or Panasonic...

4. Try a Superzoom point an shoot such as the Sony RX10 IV or Nikon P1000. Crazy zoom capacity (like 3000mm on the Nikon) but tiny sensor, and a lot of weight when I am not using it for the zoom. Also not splash proof?

Any thought or other recommendations you have would be welcome!
thanks!
 

WNG

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Hello,
New to site. I have a NEX-5N with 18-55 kit, as well as 16mm/2.8 prime. I am interested in expanding my capabilities to bird photography and identification, but keeping weight and cost reasonable. I will also use this set up for travel including to Antarctica. I see a number of choices and interested in hearing what the group thinks about how to meet these goals given what I have.
1. Keep the NEX-5N and rent the Sony 100-400 or rent/buy the new Sony 70-350 lens. No viewfinder and older body, but let’s me keep what I already have...

2. Stick with Sony, and get a new body...plus a lens setup either using my old lenses or starting fresh? Recommendations there?

3. Move away from Sony to another system that could meet the need better, such as M4/3 Olympus or Panasonic...

4. Try a Superzoom point an shoot such as the Sony RX10 IV or Nikon P1000. Crazy zoom capacity (like 3000mm on the Nikon) but tiny sensor, and a lot of weight when I am not using it for the zoom. Also not splash proof?

Any thought or other recommendations you have would be welcome!
thanks!

You will be behind the 8-ball if you attempt to shoot birds in flight. Unless you plan to only be shooting penguin in Antarctica.
1: This plan won't allow you to maximize or reach your goals given the dated body, the limited AF in the NEX line, no EVF to track and compose in bright daylight, or to review in said bright daylight. I assume you'll be in Antarctica during the perpetual daylight of Summer. The new lenses have the reach but the pairing to the 5N won't reach their AF potential.

2: Sticking with Sony does allow you to retain the existing lenses, but they are not known for their performance. They will be convenient in size and weight for indoor or confined shooting.
I recommend trading the 5N up for an a6400. You gain the latest AF tracking, animal Eye-AF, unlimited video recording in 4K, a decent EVF, updated color science. I think paired to the new 70-350mm G will offer OSS and plenty of reach. Some form of image stabilization is needed shooting hand-held at those long focal lengths.
But you will need a big supply of W50 batteries for your outings, especially in the Antarctic circle. Trust me!

3: This would be an option to go all new. Doesn't have to be m4/3, can be APS-C (Fuji). You will take a image quality hit going to a smaller sensor, and the m4/3 lenses aren't exactly cheap either for a fast 35-200mm zoom. If so, I'd opt for Olympus for their weather sealing, IBIS, and stills features. Panasonic AF and color science is subjectively negative. They are more video biased bodies. Don't expect going new to be a cost effective option though.

4: NO, you're not going on a cruise onboard Carnival Cruises! These types of cameras compromise on overall image quality, ISO performance for bragging rights of long reaching extended barrels. IMHO, these offerings are not serious cameras and are not targeted towards serious photographers. The Nikon P1000 is a horrible camera!
 

serhan

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Having used Sony a6500, m43 and RX10 IV, I highly recommend the RX10 IV. It is more sealed then the options that you are looking and has one of the best tracking af system and range. In addition, it will be the smallest combination in comparison to all those zoom combinations... You can check the FM RX10 posts:
https://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1518070/0

Other option is upgrading to A6400/A6600 with 75-300...
 

Nh_ets

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Do we know when the 70-350 is coming out? Had not totally considered the point and shoot super zoom as feels like a step back in IQ and build, but those images were quite nice. The Nikon goes out to 2000 or 3000mm now, while the Sony “only” 600mm
 

serhan

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B&H says expected delivery is Nov 1st for 70-350.

Sony RX10 IV has 1" sensor that is bigger then the Nikon. Nikon has same sensor as the cell phones and also lens is slower at the longer end... Sony lens is f4 at zoom end which has same light gathering as m43 with its longer lenses... RX10 IV lens is only 1/2 stop slower in equivalency than Sony 75-350mm f/4.5-6.3 lens and it has longer reach. Faster RX10 IV lens reduces its sensor size disadvantage as you can see in the FM link. For landscapes, the bigger sensor wins in dynamic range...

Do we know when the 70-350 is coming out? Had not totally considered the point and shoot super zoom as feels like a step back in IQ and build, but those images were quite nice. The Nikon goes out to 2000 or 3000mm now, while the Sony “only” 600mm
 

Richard Crowe

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Do we know when the 70-350 is coming out? Had not totally considered the point and shoot super zoom as feels like a step back in IQ and build, but those images were quite nice. The Nikon goes out to 2000 or 3000mm now, while the Sony “only” 600mm
I have the 70-350mm on pre-order from Adorama with expectations that it will be available on November First, 2019.

Some advantages of this lens are the long focal length, light weight, close focusing capability, and relatively (and that's a big "relatively"as compared with the Sony 100-400 or 200-600mm lenses)) low cost at one thousand bucks.

The disadvantages are the small aperture at full extension (f/6.3 at 350mm) but, the relatively generous ISO capability of the A6400 should make up for this short coming. and what may or may not be a disadvantage is the APSC only capability of that lens.

I have completely switched from a Canon DSLR setup to Sony. I had and loved the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS ii lens but, looking back, I did not utilize the lens to its fullest extent because of the large size and heavy weight of that lens. Since I did not get as much use as I could have out of the Canon lens, I decided not to purchase either the 100-400mm or 200-600mm Sony lenses.

My initial thought was to rent the 100-400 when I needed a longer lens. However, when Sony brought out the 70-350mm f/4.6-6.3 lens, I decided to add that to my arsenal with expectations of using it on my A6400. I am betting that I will get more use out of the 70-350mm lens than I got out of my 100-400 Canon because:

1. The size and weight. The Canon 100-400mm on my 7D2 weighed a total of 5.6 pounds. The 70-350mm on my A6400 will weigh 2.4 pounds. That is a saving of 3.2 pounds:dance:
2. I lose 50mm on the long side with the Sony lens but gain 30mm on the short side.
3. I always used the 100-400mm on my APSC Canon 7D2 so the APSC only capability of this lens is no problem for me
4. I lose 1/2 stop at maximum focal length however, I would most likely include a monopod if I were traveling to Antarctica...

The 3.2 pound savings more than compensates for #'s 2-4:dance4:

The A6400 body and 70-350mm lens cost a total of $1,900 or about $2,300 if you include the 18-135mm lens... The two lens kit for $2,300 should enable you to shoot virtually anything (macro photography excepted) with excellent image quality:)

The decision should be predicated on just how much photography on your upcoming Antarctica trip is important to you. I have seen folks on trips like this using their cell phones.:coco:

The drawback to renting equipment for a once in a lifetime trip like this is that you probably wouldn't have time to properly get used to the new gear.

If you have time, you might wait and see what Tamron will be offering in their upcoming 70-180mm f/2.8 lens. If it is light and small enough, that lens should match up exceptionally well with either a Sony APSC or Full Frame mirrorless ca,era...
 
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WNG

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Do we know when the 70-350 is coming out? Had not totally considered the point and shoot super zoom as feels like a step back in IQ and build, but those images were quite nice. The Nikon goes out to 2000 or 3000mm now, while the Sony “only” 600mm
The equivalent focal length of 3000mm max is somewhat meaningless, as the 3000mm is achieved by pairing a 300mm max zoom lens to a point and shoot sensor. It's smaller than a 1" sensor!
The ISO performance is terrible. And even attempting a shot at 3000mm requires a steady tripod, and a hands free remote triggered shutter. The image simply shakes excessively as you try to compose or tap the camera. For over $1,000 USD, the P1000 is not a good value.

As Richard stated, a once in a lifetime trip to set foot on the continent of Antarctica is an event to have the most camera system you can afford. Not an overpriced point and shoot on steroids.
 

Drd1135

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On my one-time trip to Tanzania in 2001, I had an old film Pentax MV and a Sigma 100-300 zoom. The camera broke halfway through the trip. A nice lady in our group let me borrow her back up Nikon F4 whose AF had broken. It had a 50 mm lens on it, which was useless for Safaris but did get me some surprisingly nice shots for the rest of the trip.
 
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Richard Crowe

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I always carry two cameras with me on any extensive trip. This is an insurance policy against missing out on pictures of a trip. :wink:

This saved me (photographically) when I fell climbing a hill on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula.:redface: Broke my Canon 40D but I had a 30D back up camera.:love: which saved the trip photographically:dance4:

On a trip to China, a fellow traveler fell on the street in a Chinese city (you don;t need to be climbing rough country to fall) and he broke his only camera, He missed out on photography in three Chinese cities until we arrived in Hong Kong where he was able to purchase another camera.:doh:

BTW: It is also nice to have two focal lengths available for instant use without swapping lenses. I have traveled over China and Europe carrying wo Canon APSC cameras with 17-55mm f/2.8 IS and 70-200mm f/4L IS lenses attached and never needed to swap glass:yahoo:
 

Nh_ets

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Sounds like perhaps the way to go is an a6400 (or 6500 or 6600 for IBIS?) with a 70-350, and keep the old NEX-5N for backup body and to operate the 18-55 kit lens? And stay with Sony long term....
 

Richard Crowe

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Sounds like perhaps the way to go is an a6400 (or 6500 or 6600 for IBIS?) with a 70-350, and keep the old NEX-5N for backup body and to operate the 18-55 kit lens? And stay with Sony long term....
I love Sony both for its full frame cameras like the amazing A7iii and the equally amazing (especially at its price point) A6400. I am totally committed from Canon to Sony and even have an NEX-7 that has been converted to full time infrared.
If you are going the stick with Sony; I would select the A6400 over the A6600 because of the price point of that camera (it's a totally great camera - I love mine). If the smaller battery size of the A6400 is a problem, a $60 Meike battery grip will give you the equal of the new battery. If the lack of IBIS is a problem to you, stick with Sony glass that includes OSS (which BTW is included in the 70-350mm lens)...
I'd stay away from the A6100 because I think the A6400 (at $150 more) is a better value)...
I have never been to that continent but, friends of mine who have visited there strongly recommend including a lens hood (usually included with a new lens but, sometimes lacking with a used lens) and a "good" CPL for each lens; due to the glare from snow and ice. Or for a cheaper but, less handy substitute - buy a CPL for your largest diameter lens and adapt it with step rings...
 

Ziggy99

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For birds the price of admission to bird shooting is about 600mm minimum. With a FF sensor and a quality prime enough cropping is possible to run with around 500mm. BIF need 700-800mm and the angle of view there is such that a good deal of practice will be needed before you go.
The body needs top notch AF for BIF.
For a run-down on mirrorless options see https://mirrorlesscomparison.com/best/mirrorless-cameras-for-wildlife-and-bird-photography/
Fuji I think hit the sweet spot with their 24 MP APS-C sensor but the IQ of their 100-400, esp with the 1.4 TC, is a question mark.
If starting anew and birds are a priority the cheapest and best option would be a 2nd hand Nikon D500 and 200-500 (and that will take you some time to learn).
 

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