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$20,000 vs $2,000: Can You Shoot Professional Bird Photos on a Budget?


Bird photography—or any wildlife photography, really—is one of the most expensive genres you can get into. A professional birding setup can easily cost you $20,000+. But can you can similar results for 10x less? Bird photographer Jan Wegener decided to find out.

In the video above, Wegener put his ~$20,000 setup—Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM, Gitzo Tripod, Wimberley Gimbal Head, and some flash accessories—up against a ~$2,000 kit consisting of a used Canon 5D Mark III and an older Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3.

The prices are approximations, but it comes pretty close.

The video is full of sample images shot with both setups, as well as plenty of impressions from Wegener on how the two setups differ. Obviously, Wegener loses a full stop and 1/3 at the 600mm end between his 600mm f/4L and the Tamron zoom lens, and that winds up being the biggest differentiator, forcing Wegener to adjust his composition to get his “signature” look.

Beyond that, we’re sure pixel peepers would notice a drop off in sharpness, especially at the corners, and an increase in aberration. But that brings us to the obvious question that this video is asking: is a $20,000 setup worth 10-times more than a $2,000 setup?

The answer is almost certainly “no” for anybody who is a beginner to the world of bird and wildlife photography. But where does the difference begin to matter? Check out the full video up top, and let us know what you think in the comments.

(via Fstoppers)