It’s incredible how far this birding lifestyle has progressed. Especially with the gear. I started with an old pair of Bushnell binoculars and a small point and shoot camera.
I knew birding was hard and it didn’t take long before I realized how much harder it is to take photos of birds. You’d think it was easy enough. Have a camera, see a bird, take a photo. Not so much. I’d originally hoped photographing birds would help me to ID them. But it wasn’t until Tomas upgraded my point and shoot camera that it became a more realistic possibility.
I was well on my way. It was fascinating to see the difference in photos. Here’s an example, Northern Flicker with the old camera:
Is there even a bird in that photo? Northern Flicker with the SX50:
Woah. No question that is a bird. ID made easy. That camera combined with my new Vortex Diamondback binoculars (recommended by a few folks at Audubon) got me through the next two years. I got good at juggling tasks and mastered car-birding.
This past year I’ve upped my game. I’ve experimented with DSLR cameras and lens of all shapes and sizes. Luckily, there’s a great local photo shop with rental gear allowing me to try on this expensive equipment. I started with a Nikon D7200 in combination with various lens sizes including the 200-500.
I was in love with the image quality but hated the weight. At about 7lbs it was more than I was willing to carry without ditching the binoculars. And I refuse to give those up because it’s not just about the photos to me. I had to ask myself what I really hoped to get out of this investment and find that balance between satisfying photo quality and heavy gear that doesn’t suck the joy out of life.
It’s still quite the commitment and costs more than I’ve once paid for a used car, but so far it’s been worth it. Another fun progression:
Turns that Song Sparrow right into an a hummingbird. It’s that amazing.
I’ve also added a new pair of binoculars to the family. The Nikon Monarch 5.
I get to try out the new bins tomorrow on the Audubon Shorebird field trip. Maybe they will help me ID all those brown and white look-alikes.
Even with all this gear, I still have room in the family for one more. A scope. I’m eyeing the Vortex Viper 65mm. It’s still on the wishlist at this point, but I’ll have good news to share soon I’m sure.
In the meantime, I’m having fun pushing buttons on top of mountains (photo by Jen Sanford).
Living the good birding life and loving it.
Tweets and chirps,