[Tweeters] [obol] RFI: Mirrorless cameras for bird photography

Nagi Aboulenein nagi.aboulenein at gmail.com
Mon Jul 15 09:31:22 PDT 2019

I’ve been experimenting with a Sony A9 + 100-400mm (+ optional extenders 1.4x & 2.0x).

Both the camera and the lens are pretty amazing, especially where flight photography is concerned. The AF algorithms on this camera are leaving DSLRs in the dust. While I’m not ready to let go of my Canon gear just yet, I also like the Sony gear enough to hold onto to it for now.

Image quality with the bare 100-400mm as well as with the 100-400mm+1.4x is outstanding - certainly as good as anything Canon or Nikon have put out. With the 2.0x extender there’s a noticeable drop in IQ for flight photos (it takes you to F11 after all), but it will still capture outstanding photos of slow moving or stationary birds, if you have good light. Lastly, the 100-400mm has a very short minimum focus distance of just over 3 feet (and that isn’t affected by the extenders) - so it will very nicely do dual service as a macro lens as well. I’ve managed to capture Dragonfly eye facets with it when the Dragonfly allowed me to get close enough (which involved a lot of sitting very still 😊) - 800mm at a distance of 3ft away from the subject makes for some pretty good close-ups of tiny subjects.

High ISO performance is OK - certainly better than any APS-C, maybe not quite as good as the Canon 5D Mark IV (my current Canon body).

AF is simply amazing - it has a tracking mode, where, once you’ve locked onto a bird, focus will automatically follow it wherever it goes - all you have to do is keep it in the frame. The only focus downside is that you don’t have the single-spot mode that you maybe familiar with from Canon, which allows you to get good photos even through tangles of branches and leaves - that is decidedly more difficult with the A9.

With the extenders (I would highly recommend at least the 1.4x), it is a surprisingly portable and highly usable solution that gets you up to 800mm (with the 2.0x) with very good results.


On Jul 15, 2019, 08:58 -0700, Stefan Schlick <greenfant at hotmail.com>, wrote:

> For many years the standard DSLR system for birders has been the Canon 7D/7D Mark II with the 100-400mm IS (I or II) lens. Is anybody using a mirrorless camera for bird photography and how is it working out for you? In particular, is anybody using the Olympus E-M1X?


> Thanks,


> Stefan Schlick

> Hillsboro, OR

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