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Canon Camera Body Selection Help-Bird Photography

by Tom
(Hainesport NJ)



I am a casual photographer at best. I have Canon Digital Rebel EOS XTI with a Sigma 18-200mm 1:3.5 - 6.3. A pair of owls moved in our area and I want to capture some nice photos. They stay about 200-250 feet away, and typically under low light conditions (around dinner time). I looked at a better lens and found they cost several thousand, out of my budget. So I used Corel photoshop to enhance the images I was able to get, but after magnification, the image quality drops off. So I thought a solution might be to upgrade the camera body from a 10mp body that I have to a 20+mp body. So, the first question, sound like a good way to go? Second, if that's a good idea, which camera body should I get?

Hi Tom!

Thanks for asking about the best Canon camera body/lens for photographing owls. Bird photography of any kind is challenging for two reasons, the size of the target and the typical distance they are away from you. Shooting at a time when the lighting is low makes it even harder.

Best Lens For Photographing Owls

An 18-200mm lens is too short for photographing birds unless you're visiting an aviary or photographing the birds at your backyard feeder. You need something more powerful. If you are committed to using a Canon lens, you can get a great deal on a Canon 400mm f/5.6. There are plenty of these used 400mm prime lenses available, in perfect working order. I loved the sharpness of mine, even wide open at f/5.6.

Photo of Owls
My best owl photo
Dim conditions and cropped

Also take a look at either the Sigma or Tamron 150-600mm lenses. They have a ton of reach for a reasonable price. None of these lenses are "fast" bird lenses, but you likely don't have the budge to shell out thousands on just specialty bird lens.

Best Bird Photography Camera

Although I'd say the lens you use is more important than the camera, I'd agree that your Rebel XTi is in need of an upgrade. Released in 2006, the XTi is lacking in pixels, particularly if you'll need to crop your images to get an enlarged view of your distant subjects. Additionally newer Canon cameras will perform so much better at high ISO settings (for dim conditions) than your XTi.

Feel free to fill out the form on the one-on-one camera adviser page. See the link below.


One On One Canon Advice
Where I Buy My Gear
My Review of the Tamron 150-600mm

Good Luck,

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Upgrading From Canon XTi Camera

Hi Tom, Glad the advice will help you. To raise your game with bird (and owl) photography, the equipment becomes very important, more so than many other types of photography. That definitely means upgrading from your old Canon Rebel XTi and 18-200mm zoom lens. I'll give you specifics through the one-on-one camera advice request. Cheers, Bruce

Wow; thank you for the help!
by: Tom

Wow, I really appreciate your help! Thanks a million! I think we are almost neighbors, is there a camera store nearby that may be a good choice to shop?

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Author Bruce Lovelace
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Bruce Lovelace is the publisher of Canon Camera Geek. Read more about him on the About Page. He also publishes how to articles and camera gear reviews at the Photography Tips website.

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