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by Kim on Sat Jun 25, 2022 8:55 pm
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I am shooting birds with a Nikon D7200. It like me is a bit old. I have a Z6ii and a D750 but would like to upgrage my bird camera. I cant afford a Z9, they are over 11grand here in Oz so was wondering if the Z7ii was fast enough for birds or should I look at the old D850?
 

by david fletcher on Sun Jun 26, 2022 3:38 am
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You probably already have the answer Kim as you have a Z6II.  It'll be pretty similar.  Whilst I love the Z7II I have, its not the same at all regards the Z9, A1, R5 abilities.  Having said that, If you set it to Dynamic or Wide S/L and help it by pre-focusing, it aught to be better than the D7200.  (I had the older D7100 which had a poor buffer but could still get Birds in flight).

A D850 will do the job, but I'd be tempted to hold fire as sooner or later the Z9 AF technology will drift into the lower range bodies....(just not yet)....

If you are not after Swallows, small birds etc, whilst you won't have the keeper rate, I'm confident it'll do most of the time...(guessing you are looking for the higher rez body, otherwise I'd stick with the Z6II till the next bodies come out of Nikon).

There's a guy on another forum that has done many incoming Swans in flight shots on the Z6II and has recently acquired a Z9.  The Z6II being used were all winter shots in poor light and were fine.  Cannot naturally comment or make any recommendations on another's experience, but it is do-able.

If one's expectations are for a Z9, R5/R3, A1/A9 af performance that is still comparing apples to oranges.  Mostly, I feel its about recognising and balancing expectations against what any particular model is capable of.

Hope it helps and hope others can chip in.  Ultimately, its your shout.
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by Kim on Sun Jun 26, 2022 7:57 pm
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Thank you David for your full reply.
I shoot small bush birds 95% of the time but have managed that with the D7200 okay.
I did get out my Z6II yesterday and have a go at setting it up for birds. There was less noise in the files [it is winter here] and it didn't seem any slower than the D7200 really.

I am 78 and female so I don't really want to go to a heaver body as it will be too much for me. I have to use a monopod and gimble now and cant handhold any more.

I like what you said about the better features trickling down to the lesser bodies, only thing is can I last that long? I was thinking the Z7II will have more pixels to enable cropping to compensate for the crop factor of the D7200.
 

by david fletcher on Mon Jun 27, 2022 4:09 am
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Hi Kim.  From a point of view with pixels, both the D850 and Z7II will do fine.  I like the focus options on the Z7II and its quietness, so if you don't do a lot of birds in flight it'll do fine.  

I remember your problems with hands a few years back so can only say that if the monopod and gymbal keep you doing what you love, that is a good, good thing.

The D850 AF system is better for BIF, and I believe cheaper to buy in Oz than the Z7II, so may be the better choice for BIF.

The Z7II has quietness on its side.  (the D850 sounds like a tractor).  The AF options for the edges of the frame are superior.  F lenses are sharper on the Z.   I had the D850 and happily ditched it.  It doesn't mean that is right for you, but was for me.  
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by Kim on Tue Jun 28, 2022 8:00 pm
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Thanks David. It is impressive you remembered my troubles with my hands.

I did notice when I tried my F lens on the Z6II that the results were sharper so I think I may give the 7 a go. It will be good for my nightscape photography too I think.
Thanks for your help
Kim
 

by david fletcher on Sun Jul 10, 2022 1:19 pm
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Not a brilliant image, Kim...  but was the first of that tracking sequence.  Apologies for taking forever to post it.  (it's a pretty poor image... but does show the Z7II can lock on.  Pigeon moved from our right to our left and back, very quick to get at the feeder and was very much a grab shot...)

Image


There were 4 frames between this and the one I originally posted...
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by ricardo00 on Sun Jul 10, 2022 4:28 pm
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Kim wrote:
Thank you David for your full reply.
I shoot small bush birds 95% of the time but have managed that with the D7200 okay.
I did get out my Z6II yesterday and have a go at setting it up for birds. There was less noise in the files [it is winter here] and it didn't seem any slower than the D7200 really.

I am 78 and female so I don't really want to go to a heaver body as it will be too much for me. I have to use a monopod and gimble now and cant handhold any more.

I like what you said about the better features trickling down to the lesser bodies, only thing is can I last that long?  I was thinking the Z7II will have more pixels to enable cropping to compensate for the crop factor of the D7200.



  I too am "stuck" on Nikon, but have you considered a Canon R5 or R6 and the Canon 800mm f/11 lens?  You didn't say what lens you are using so don't know how the weight/cost would compare but the Canon's seem to have almost as good tracking as the Z9 (there are also fans of the OM1 for its lightness and tracking abilities). 
 

by Cynthia Crawford on Tue Jul 12, 2022 10:10 am
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I'm still using Nikon D500 with the 500 f.5.6 lens for 90% of my bird shots. I can't think of a better, lighter combination yet in the Nikon world, though I haven't tried any of their mirrorless cameras. I'm waiting for Nikon to catch up  with both better mirrorless and longer  lighter lenses. I too am about your age and don't walk around with my  set-up, but I can hand hold that combo with arthritic hands  for short periods of time, and from my car, with the lens resting on the open window. I don't use a monopod much because I end up lifting both camera and pod to get those little birds in the tops of the trees. I do have D850, but it's heavy, slower  and harder to focus for my purposes.

Hope that helps.
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by Swissblad on Thu Jul 14, 2022 3:20 am
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Cynthia Crawford wrote:
I'm still using Nikon D500 with the 500 f.5.6 lens for 90% of my bird shots. I can't think of a better, lighter combination yet in the Nikon world, though I haven't tried any of their mirrorless cameras. I'm waiting for Nikon to catch up  with both better mirrorless and longer  lighter lenses. I too am about your age and don't walk around with my  set-up, but I can hand hold that combo with arthritic hands  for short periods of time, and from my car, with the lens resting on the open window. I don't use a monopod much because I end up lifting both camera and pod to get those little birds in the tops of the trees. I do have D850, but it's heavy, slower  and harder to focus for my purposes.

Hope that helps.


Ditto - another +1 for the D500 & 500mm PF combo - excellent workhorse team - even in the mirrorless era ;)
 

by Karl Egressy on Mon Jul 25, 2022 3:23 am
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Both of us my wife and I have two systems; Nikon and Sony. 
I have Sony a9, had Sony a9 II and have Sony a7R4. When it comes to BIF none works as well as Nikon D500 or Nikon D850. Even small birds in the bush Sony simply won't focus on. You have to pre focus and many times the bird is gone in a micro second so you loose shots.. 
I watched a video done by a well recognized nature photographer comparing Sony a1 vs. Nikon Z9. Conclusion; if it is not urgent wait about two more years before switch to mirrorless. It is the future but they still have problems to be work them out.
 

by david fletcher on Tue Aug 02, 2022 12:41 pm
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One of my pigeons doing a pose.  At 100% with the Z7II and Z 100-400 S.

Image


Not knocking the D500.  Darn good camera Kim.  Works a treat, locks on fast but limited image size at 20mp.  Had one for a few years.
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by mlgray12 on Wed Aug 03, 2022 9:10 pm
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I have been doing birds with both Z7 and Z7II for quite a while now, but I have really missed focusing capabilities of my old D850's especially for BIF, my go to lens has been the 500mm f/5.6 PF- Age is catching up and I have eliminated all my really big glass like 400 f/2.8 and 600mm f/4 as soon as I got hands on the 500 PF. No more super heavy stuff for me hauling on to planes and up mountain slopes.
So as David suggested as long as you're not looking for high hit rate for BIF - Z7II with some practice will handle most bird photography.
I now have a Z9 and that is a real game changer for Nikon Mirrorless - my D850 cannot focus like the Z9, I also suspect the Z 400mm f/4.5 that I am now using will completely replace my 500mm f/5.6 PF
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by Cynthia Crawford on Wed Aug 03, 2022 9:39 pm
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mlgray12 wrote:
I have been doing birds with both Z7 and Z7II for quite a while now, but I have really missed focusing capabilities of my old D850's especially for BIF, my go to lens has been the 500mm f/5.6 PF- Age is catching up and I have eliminated all my really big glass like 400 f/2.8 and 600mm f/4 as soon as I got hands on the 500 PF. No more super heavy stuff for me hauling on to planes and up mountain slopes.
So as David suggested as long as you're not looking for high hit rate for BIF - Z7II with some practice will handle most bird photography.
I now have a Z9 and that is a real game changer for Nikon Mirrorless - my D850 cannot focus like the Z9, I also suspect the Z 400mm f/4.5 that I am now using will completely replace my 500mm f/5.6 PF

How does the weight of a Z9 and Z 400 f/4.5 compare with Nikon D850 and 500PF? 
  Expensive jump on price, especially if keeping the older DSLR rig, or selling it at a loss. Hmmm. Is it really THAT much better? 
Cynthia (Cindy) Crawford-Moderator, Photo & Digital Art
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by mlgray12 on Thu Aug 04, 2022 11:54 pm
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Cynthia Crawford wrote:
mlgray12 wrote:
I have been doing birds with both Z7 and Z7II for quite a while now, but I have really missed focusing capabilities of my old D850's especially for BIF, my go to lens has been the 500mm f/5.6 PF- Age is catching up and I have eliminated all my really big glass like 400 f/2.8 and 600mm f/4 as soon as I got hands on the 500 PF. No more super heavy stuff for me hauling on to planes and up mountain slopes.
So as David suggested as long as you're not looking for high hit rate for BIF - Z7II with some practice will handle most bird photography.
I now have a Z9 and that is a real game changer for Nikon Mirrorless - my D850 cannot focus like the Z9, I also suspect the Z 400mm f/4.5 that I am now using will completely replace my 500mm f/5.6 PF

How does the weight of a Z9 and Z 400 f/4.5 compare with Nikon D850 and 500PF? 
  Expensive jump on price, especially if keeping the older DSLR rig, or selling it at a loss. Hmmm. Is it really THAT much better? 


Weight slightly favors D850 w/ 500PF at 84.3 Oz vs 88.6 oz for Z9 and 400mm f/4.5 - that is assuming no Md-D18 which I used on my old D850 otherwise weight of Z9 and 400 would be lighter option.
Cost winner is of course the D850 option by far - 400mm lens slightly cheaper than 500mm but Z9 is close to double the current price of D850
This did not impact me because I have already made jump to Mirrorless and was not going back to DSLR. My choice was to continue using Z7II / Z7 until new cheaper version of Z9 comes out or bite the bullet and pay to get back all the focusing capabilities I lost in getting rid of D850's and jump to Z9 - and so far still on steep learning curve but to best of my recollection this beats the D850 focusing hands down. Ability to locate bird then birds head and focus on eye is stunning - does not always work but here is one in series of Black-chinned Hummer feeding in a series taken at least at 15 fps with 70-200mm f/2.8 S and 2x TC at 400mm 1/4000 sec f/5.6 ISO 1250. What I was using when 500 PF in shop before 400mm arrived.
Image



All in this series were in focus 
Nothing I would keep but holding focus on eye on this image pretty impressive at least to me
The difference between two lens - I suspect almost all Z s-line lens has slight edge in resolution over f-mount equivalent lens - That is my impression anyway - better light path and just overall improvements in lens design
Third ring I really like the ability to adjust exposure compensation with lens plus I can see the effects in view finder - takes getting used to but seeing what you get in viewfinder is a plus for me now and Z9 view finder way superior to Z7/Z6 cameras
If you have a 500PF you know how hard it is to wrestle with that hood - 400mm hood works like it is supposed to 
Other than slight weight advantage the lens are almost same size
Only advantage I give 500 is reach - but that kind of goes away using TC's with D850 because I hated using anything above 1.4 with D850
where I see little drop in sharpness even using Z TC-2x
Difference in two cameras is worlds apart as is price - No shutter, no sound, basically unlimited shutter speed, 20 fps, only drawback is size unless compared to D80 with battery pack - then Z9 is smaller by a little, but one of my favorite features on Z9 is that when you turn off camera and a sensor protection shield drops and keeps sensor clean while changing lens
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by Cynthia Crawford on Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:54 pm
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mlgray12 wrote:
Cynthia Crawford



Difference in two cameras is worlds apart as is price - No shutter, no sound, basically unlimited shutter speed, 20 fps, only drawback is size unless compared to D80 with battery pack - then Z9 is smaller by a little, but one of my favorite features on Z9 is that when you turn off camera and a sensor protection shield drops and keeps sensor clean while changing lens

Thanks for that very comprehensive overview. I am still looking for a cheaper option , despite the wonders of a mirrorless rig. I am somewhat daunted by the learning curve and cost involved with a switch, and quite honestly, do OK with my D500 and the 500PF as my go-to bird camera and lens. I use my D850 with the 300f/4 lens for closer shots in my yard. Have not tried a TC with either combination.  I don't think I've ever scared a bird or animal with shutter noise. That said, I can really appreciate the value of your particular set-up, for someone much more mobile, stronger, and active than I am! I do wish my cameras had eye detection....

I don't know if this is much help to you, Kim, given your initial inquiry, but there's a lot of good information in this thread in any case!
Cynthia (Cindy) Crawford-Moderator, Photo & Digital Art
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"If I Keep a Green Bough in My Heart, the Singing Bird Will Come"  Chinese Proverb
 

by ricardo00 on Fri Aug 05, 2022 8:00 pm
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Cynthia Crawford wrote:
mlgray12 wrote:
Cynthia Crawford



Difference in two cameras is worlds apart as is price - No shutter, no sound, basically unlimited shutter speed, 20 fps, only drawback is size unless compared to D80 with battery pack - then Z9 is smaller by a little, but one of my favorite features on Z9 is that when you turn off camera and a sensor protection shield drops and keeps sensor clean while changing lens

Thanks for that very comprehensive overview. I am still looking for a cheaper option , despite the wonders of a mirrorless rig. I am somewhat daunted by the learning curve and cost involved with a switch, and quite honestly, do OK with my D500 and the 500PF as my go-to bird camera and lens. I use my D850 with the 300f/4 lens for closer shots in my yard. Have not tried a TC with either combination.  I don't think I've ever scared a bird or animal with shutter noise. That said, I can really appreciate the value of your particular set-up, for someone much more mobile, stronger, and active than I am! I do wish my cameras had eye detection....

I don't know if this is much help to you, Kim, given your initial inquiry, but there's a lot of good information in this thread in any case!


  Part of the "fun" of switching to the mirrorless system is to challenge one's brain (in my case, a 72 yo brain that is rapidly failing though not as fast as my body).  But any gain is, IMO, incremental.  The D500 and 500mm PF are a fantastic combo.   And for many of my trips I used the D7200 (before the D500 was released) and thought it was great too.  Unfortunately I don't see myself getting back to those places that I went with the D7200.  So enjoy what one can afford and carry!  The Z9 is much heavier than the D500.  And tomorrow there is sure to be something new that will be released to tempt one's wallet.
 

by mlgray12 on Sat Aug 06, 2022 11:16 pm
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ricardo00 wrote:
Cynthia Crawford wrote:
mlgray12 wrote:
Cynthia Crawford



Difference in two cameras is worlds apart as is price - No shutter, no sound, basically unlimited shutter speed, 20 fps, only drawback is size unless compared to D80 with battery pack - then Z9 is smaller by a little, but one of my favorite features on Z9 is that when you turn off camera and a sensor protection shield drops and keeps sensor clean while changing lens

Thanks for that very comprehensive overview. I am still looking for a cheaper option , despite the wonders of a mirrorless rig. I am somewhat daunted by the learning curve and cost involved with a switch, and quite honestly, do OK with my D500 and the 500PF as my go-to bird camera and lens. I use my D850 with the 300f/4 lens for closer shots in my yard. Have not tried a TC with either combination.  I don't think I've ever scared a bird or animal with shutter noise. That said, I can really appreciate the value of your particular set-up, for someone much more mobile, stronger, and active than I am! I do wish my cameras had eye detection....

I don't know if this is much help to you, Kim, given your initial inquiry, but there's a lot of good information in this thread in any case!


  Part of the "fun" of switching to the mirrorless system is to challenge one's brain (in my case, a 72 yo brain that is rapidly failing though not as fast as my body).  But any gain is, IMO, incremental.  The D500 and 500mm PF are a fantastic combo.   And for many of my trips I used the D7200 (before the D500 was released) and thought it was great too.  Unfortunately I don't see myself getting back to those places that I went with the D7200.  So enjoy what one can afford and carry!  The Z9 is much heavier than the D500.  And tomorrow there is sure to be something new that will be released to tempt one's wallet.


I know what you are talking about - reason I no longer have a 600 f/4 or 400 f2.8
I turn 71 in December
Michael L. Gray
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