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Subject:Re: Camera
From:Fr. Paul Kammen
Reply-To:Fr. Paul Kammen
Date:Thu, 10 Nov 2011 11:35:47 -0600

Be warned this could get real expensive real quick :o). Also be warned you got 
me going on a favorite topic, so if you have better things to do come back and 
read later. 

I'm an avid birder and photographer, and get the most thrill out of chasing birds 
with my camera and trying to get the best shot. There are few things more exhilarating than getting the bird in the viewfinder, and getting him in focus. I 
also do all kinds of other photography as well, but birds are hands down my 
favorite subject.

I don't think you can go wrong with any major manufacturer, but here's a 
couple of things to consider:

1) A cropped sensor. I shoot Olympus, kind of a step-sister among the hard-
core photo geeks who swear by Canon and Nikon (photographers call them the 
Canikon folks). Olympus has what is called a "four-thirds" sensor; so what this 
means is a 300mm lens on it would be 600 equivalent on a 35mm film camera. 
Nikon and Canon also make good cropped sensor cameras though as well.

2) Lenses can get very expensive very fast, but there are some decent budget 
zooms. The one I used for a long time was a 70-300 mm zoom from Olympus; it 
was around $300. Consider a good zoom, and you'd probably want to go with a 
lens that gives you a range - "prime" zooms are very expensive (but worth it).

3) Consider going refurbished. If you look online at a place like BH Photo or 
Adorama, refurbished products abound. These are demo models or cameras and 
lenses used by sales reps at shows that can't be sold as new, but are tested 
and in great shape.

4) Go with a DSLR. There are good "point and shoot" cameras out there, but 
there's a lag time when you press the shutter release and when the camera is 
taken. It's fine as a second camera, but down the road a DSLR offers you more 

5) Go online to Adorama or BH Photo. National Camera has very  nice people, 
and nice equipment, but I am amazed they are still in business - they are 
simply overpriced. Adorama and BH are very reputable and I have purchased 
from both of them, and using them will save you hundreds over what National 
will offer you. 

6) Get a filter. These are not too expensive, but you need 2 good filters - a 
circular polarizer and a UV filter. The former is for clear days to give you a deep 
blue background on the sky; the latter is for protection. They aren't too pricey, 
but all it takes is a misstep, a trip, or walking into a branch as you are looking 
at Mr. Red Tail in the tree and you can cost yourself a lens. 

7) Depending on your lens, consider a teleconverter. I use one on all my bird 
shots, and have been happy - this costs you light though so you'll only want to 
use a 1.4x teleconverter on a budget-style lens. 

8) Consider Photoshop and plug-in software. I got a steep discount as a priest 
because I have a school attached. Post-processing is a must; you can get a 
nice shot, but it needs fixing - but most every camera comes with some type 
of starter software to get you going. 

9) Shoot RAW. RAW shots give you the most data - so you can adjust the 
exposure, clarity, sharpness, light balance, etc a little better. I didn't start 
doing this until last year and now I rarely shoot JPEG anymore. 

10) Budget right, but don't feel bad about what you spend unless someone 
really needs the money. We all have bills, but if you can reasonably afford 
something, you will get what you pay for. Bigger telephoto lenses are 
expensive, but they also are of very high quality.

11) Look for third-party lenses as well. Sigma is a good company that makes 
good quality zoom lenses - I used one that was a nice one, a 50-500 zoom "the 
bigma," that I got used at a good price. 

Do some research on brands and do go to a camera shop to get the feel for the 
camera. As you get more into it, depending on what you buy, you may want to 
look at a tripod too. It's a wonderful hobby, and I hope you find something 
good. Feel free to send me any messages if you'd like an opinion on a model.

OK, diatribe over - thanks for reading. Good luck in your hunt!
Fr. Paul

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