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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wildlife D-SLRs

Choose your ideal camera for photographing birds and other wildlife

Labels: CamerasD-SLRs

This Article Features Photo Zoo

Featuring the best image quality of any Canon D-SLR (with the possible exception of the 21.1-megapixel full-frame EOS-1Ds Mark III), the EOS-1D Mark III can shoot its 10.1-megapixel images at 10 per second. The camera is enormously popular among bird photographers in particular. The superb image quality is due, in part, to dual DIGIC III image processors, 14-bit A/D conversion and the Canon CMOS sensor’s large photo diodes (26% larger than those of the EOS-1Ds Mark III). The APS-H format (28.1x18.7mm) image sensor lies about midway between full-frame and APS-C, with a 1.3x focal-length factor: A 300mm lens on this camera frames like a 390mm lens on a full-frame camera.

The EOS-1D Mark III is quick (0.2-second startup, 55mm shutter lag, 80ms viewfinder blackout), and our test camera’s AF performance made it the best “bird” camera I’ve ever used. It’s also rugged, with excellent weather and dust sealing and a 300,000-cycle shutter. The 3.0-inch LCD monitor provides Live-View capability, which is handy for working at odd angles.

One advantage of both Mark III models (the EOS-1D Mark III and full-frame EOS-1Ds Mark III) for wildlife shooters is that they can autofocus with a 2x teleconverter and an ƒ/4 lens (ƒ/8 effective aperture), something Canon’s nonpro D-SLRs can’t do. Autofocus performance is slowed somewhat by the 2x converter, but both Mark IIIs autofocus consistently and accurately with a 300mm ƒ/4L IS lens and 2x converter.

Among Canon’s more than 60 EF lenses are quite a few that are ideal for wildlife, including the EF 300mm ƒ/2.8 and ƒ/4; 400mm ƒ/2.8, ƒ/4 and ƒ/5.6; 500mm ƒ/4, 600mm ƒ/4 and 800mm ƒ/5.6 primes; as well as the 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 and ƒ/4 and the 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 tele-zooms—all featuring an effective built-in Image Stabilizer. There are 1.4x and 2x teleconverters.
Predecessors: EOS-1D Mark II N, EOS-1D Mark II, EOS-1D
Cool Factor: 10.1 megapixels at 10 fps, with superb image quality

Sensor: 10.1-megapixel CMOS, 1.3x
Stabilization: IS lenses
Max. Shooting Rate: 10 fps
Anti-Dust: High-frequency vibrations
ISO Range: 50-3200
Longest Current Lens: 800mm
Estimated Street Price: $4,150

The back of the Canon EOS-1D Mark III, with its three-inch Live-View LCD. With slots for a CF card and an SD memory card, you can shoot hundreds of RAW images without having to stop and change cards.
Wildlife photographers will appreciate the panel of buttons for vertical shooting. The panel includes AF-On, AF-Lock and Exposure-Lock and Shutter buttons, and it lets you go back and forth from horizontal to vertical quickly.

Alternative Wildlife D-SLRs
Camera: EOS-1Ds Mark III
Sensor: 21.1 MP/FF
Stabilization: IS in lens
Max. Shooting Rate: 5 fps
Anti-Dust: Vibration
ISO Range: 50-3200
Longest Lens: 800mm
Estimated Street Price: $7,800
Camera: EOS 40D
Sensor: 10.1 MP/1.6x
Stabilization: IS in lens
Max. Shooting Rate: 6.5 fps
Anti-Dust: Vibration
ISO Range: 100-3200
Longest Lens: 800mm
Estimated Street Price: $1,050


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