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Feelings about the 90-280


jimleicam3
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55 minutes ago, jimleicam3 said:

How is the 90-280 without an extender for bird photos?  When I went to Africa I used my Canon 400 mm and it was fine.  Since that trip in 2005, I have been all Leica.  Comments please.

For bird photography in Africa 280 on full frame is certainly on the short side. Before I shrunk my sensor size, I tended to have the 1.4x extender "glued" to the 105-280R.(and the 2xAPO in my bag). However, the SL2 has ample pixels to  zoom by cropping and the CL is a natural extender. I have been spoiled now by using MFT with the Vario-Elmar 100-400 AKA 800 mm stabilized and now the Sigma 100-400 on APS-C AKA 600 mm stabilized, with an extender if desired.

 

Have a look here why I "need" 800 mm::

 

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6 hours ago, jaapv said:

For bird photography in Africa 280 on full frame is certainly on the short side. Before I shrunk my sensor size, I tended to have the 1.4x extender "glued" to the 105-280R.(and the 2xAPO in my bag). However, the SL2 has ample pixels to  zoom by cropping and the CL is a natural extender. I have been spoiled now by using MFT with the Vario-Elmar 100-400 AKA 800 mm stabilized and now the Sigma 100-400 on APS-C AKA 600 mm stabilized, with an extender if desired.

 

Have a look here why I "need" 800 mm::

 

Agree with Jaap.

I'll throw my 10cents in here. I do a great deal of bird photography in the wild in Africa. The 90-280mm on safari without an extender, is generally on the short side, often frustratingly so. In a more controlled environment the 90-280mm is excellent, as Joe's wonderful pictures illustrate.

For birding on safari, I purchased the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM & the Canon III 1.4x & 2x extenders which I use on the SL2 with the Sigma MC-21 adapter & very pleased with the outcome.

Here's an image of a Striped Kingfisher from my last safari 10 days ago with the Canon 400mm &1.4x.  This image is heavily cropped & wouldn't be possible to capture with the 90-280mm, the bird was quite a distance away. Generally, on safari the VE 90-280mm L is glued onto my CL & the Canon 400mm is glued onto the SL2.

 

 

 

Edited by michali
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I do a fair amount of BIF photography.  For me, my preferred setup is the a9ii with the either the 100-400 or the 200-600, but I will also use the 1.4x and 2.0x TCs for a maximum of a 400-1200mm zoom equivalent and, even then, I tend to crop a little if I'm quite a distance from my subject.  I have thought about the 90-280 with the SL2, but for the type of nature photography I do I'm not sure it would provide enough reach (although I would also probably miss the AF and tracking ability of the a9ii).  For me it's the SL2 with the APO Summicron-SL 35, 50, 90 for everything except wildlife and sports, where the Sony system becomes my tool of choice.

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Think through the sorts of bird photograhy you want to do and where you want to do it.  I live in coastal Texas so I see lots of migratory birds that winter over along the coast often bird refuges in wet grassy areas near bays and bayous (tidal streams).   We have lots of subject matter, but it is rarely close enough for my 90-280mm lens.   My preferred tool for birds is a Nikon D850 with the lightweight 500mm 5.6 pf lens handheld.  That system works fine for birds in flight.   For static birds I add a 1.4 extender for 700mm f8, but that is at the limits of the D850 autofocus system.   

I see lots of bird photographers at the blinds and stands at the local refuges each winter.  Many are lugging 600mm lenses on Canon 1Dx or Nikon Dx 20 megapixel bodies on huge tripods.   Those are 10 kilogram rigs, not for me.   

 

 

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On 9/24/2020 at 1:21 AM, jimleicam3 said:

How is the 90-280 without an extender for bird photos?  When I went to Africa I used my Canon 400 mm and it was fine.  Since that trip in 2005, I have been all Leica.  Comments please.

The SL 90-280 is my best lens, so I would never sell it. The Canon 4/400 DO IS II with MC-21 adapter is also very nice but with slower af. And you can use a 1.4x extender. Or maybe also a Canon 2.8/400 if you still have it.  Another option is to use the 90-280 with the SL2 but in APS-C mode. It is then a 135-420mm and af is maybe even faster, but only with 20.8 MP . (But about equivalent to the 24MP of other cameras.) (Nikon D6 and Canon 1DX III have similar resolution)

Edited by caissa
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Going back 2 generations (6-7 years) in professional equipment, the “professional” cameras are no match to the Leica SL2. The SL2 is clearly much more capable.

Obviously you think 6-7 years ago it was not possible for a “professional” to use this old slow non-optimal equipment for “professional” sports photography (or birding). I don’t think so. I know that pros have successfully used much worse equipment.

I just wonder what the pros did 30 years ago or even longer ago.

You forget that a camera does not need to be “the best” but only “good enough”, which the SL2 definitely is. But I cannot make this statement as a pro, being only amateur. But maybe you are ? But even then I don’t share this opinion.  👨🏻‍💻

If I could get a free camera, would I replace the SL2 with a 1DX III or D6 ? No way! 

Edited by caissa
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6 hours ago, northernlights said:

For professional sports and birding today, I don’t think Leica has an answer to the likes of Nikons and Canons. Leicas were not made for those, equipment tech and price. Let’s be honest. 

That's not a recent thing. Those two companies have dominated the professional sports photography market for 40+ years, more for prestige than for profit.

Many companies have tried to compete. Pentax and Minolta both offered "pro" SLRs in the 1970s and 1980s, and brochures full of expensive long lenses. Those lenses were hardly ever seen outside of the brochures. Sony made a push, in anticipation of the now-postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Olympus even tried with their E1 4/3 digital SLR: they produced an ultra-rugged "pro" body, and a bunch of very expensive long lenses, which failed to find a market.

I doubt that Leica cares to break into this tiny niche of the market. They have their own niches already, and they wouldn't be able to leverage losses in the "pro" market with additional entry-level sales.

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3 hours ago, caissa said:

If I could get a free camera, would I replace the SL2 with a 1DX III or D6 ? No way! 

For wildlife photography, especially birds, I would in a heartbeat.

I’m currently in outback Australia. SL2 for landscapes and the wonderful 90-280 for budgerigars in flight, but on this trip so far I’ve taken around 130 shots with the SL2 and am approaching 3,500 with the 1DX mkii and 600 f/4... mostly with a 1.4x teleconverter. 280mm on the SL2 is almost uselessly short for small birds in the wild. Even with modern high density sensors, I still prefer to get the shot in the frame rather than rely on heavy cropping. And the SL2 AF is still miles behind even now outdated Canikon SLRs, at least for birding. 

Of course you can get wonderful bird photographs with a Leica, but there are much better alternatives. 

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I would like to use a professional drone with camera flying next to the birds. Then I could also take detailed photos of fast birds like geese. And from different angles. No match to taking pics from the ground. This would really be a step up. Even for a pro. And video would be even better.

In your “friendly” words: Ground based photography is really miles behind. 😋😚

Edited by caissa
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8 hours ago, caissa said:

I would like to use a professional drone with camera flying next to the birds. Then I could also take detailed photos of fast birds like geese. And from different angles. No match to taking pics from the ground. This would really be a step up. Even for a pro. And video would be even better.

In your “friendly” words: Ground based photography is really miles behind. 😋😚

Not sure if you are serious or just joking.

I have to say that I am no expert on this, though I am enjoying reading this trail, but I imagine that drones would cause great stress to birds, and potentially kill them if one does not know what they are doing.

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Leica dominates the rangefinder segment. No questions. Sony A7C, Fuji Xpro’s are a testament to trying to penetrate this segment using compact-looking designs. Leica M’s are not necessary lighter but form factor is smaller than the SL. 
Leica has to have the SL, and the APS-C (CL, TL) autofocus mirrorless segments as this is more mainstream. Matter of survival. The challenge both the good and bad: the good being high end, quality and branded expensive; the bad being niche, limited affordability and range of use - it is nowhere the best (price point per quality) for wedding, sports, photo journalism, macro, landscape. 
 

Perhaps we are a group here blessed to be able to afford 1 or 2 red dots. Otherwise, price per quality wise, I would never buy a red dot. It is a privilege but definitely not a need. 

Edited by northernlights
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4 hours ago, northernlights said:

 it is nowhere the best (price point per quality) for wedding, sports, photo journalism, macro, landscape. 

I think you are painting with too broad a brush. I know several high-end wedding photographers who would strongly disagree, and, of course, there is a school of photojournalism that has been closely associated with Leica for 90 years.

4 hours ago, northernlights said:

price per quality wise, I would never buy a red dot. It is a privilege but definitely not a need. 

Leica is not the only expensive camera. Is it less sensible to buy one than it is to buy the latest high-end Sony that will be superseded in 6 months? You'll find lots of people in these forums who love their (11-year-old) M9, and use it every day.

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I was referring to media news reporters. Work horse type are usually on Canons and Nikons. Majority of wedding photographers use the most practical, get-the-job done systems while perhaps delivering some wow shots with a Canon 85f1.2L’s or even a Leica with a 50 Noct. But majority of the paid assignments is like business costs. Get the most out of the cheapest capex. Makes business sense. 
 

when i meant price per quality, i meant a similar Nikon and Canon setup can get similar outcomes. It much depends on the person behind the camera. It is incorrect to say a Sony is superceded in 6 months whereas an M9 is not. Product cycles are different. Expectations are different. Leica is a smaller company and can only churn this much. 

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Hmmm - I bought the SL2 to have a platform for zooms AND an alternative platform for "difficult" M lenses (something my Canon DSLRs couldn't offer).  As part of this strategy I thought I'd go for Sigma zooms as they would be "good enough" and would be happy to use the SL2 as an occasional camera.  In the past, I only ever used the Canon's for event / concert / theatre photography and the occasional wedding where I could turn up with a back pack full of kit (including always an M and 28 summicron / 50 lux) and pick and choose.

The SL2 then went and seduced me with IQ and the pleasure of using the damn thing (IBIS on longer M lenses was a revelation, and the EVF blew me away).  I wanted something better than the Sigma offering and the Panasonic 24-70 / 70-200 looked like good value for money.  However, I then came across a very good price on a mint SL 25-90 and got it.  It was then a slippery slope.  It beat every standard zoom I've ever owned (all Canon L glass) and I loved the extra 20mm of FL.  Having got that I was still thinking Panasonic or Sigma (as and when the 70-200 was launched), but I then got good prices for the Canon stuff I was selling through Ffordes, and a used mint 90-280 came up.  I measured, I weight, I fretted and came to the conclusion it wasn't much heavier than the Canon 70-200 f2.8 lenses I was used to (and a lot lighter than the 300mm f2.8 I would use from time to time) and I bought it.

How do I feel?  Good.  It's not a lens I'll use every day - but it is a lens I'll be very pleased to use hand held, on a monopod or on a tripod as the need arises.  I don't do birds a lot (but could see how APSC mode on the SL2 would do the job if I needed a lot of reach) and for reportage style purposes it promises to be a long term companion.  

There you go!

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