Not a Wordless Wednesday- Birds

Copyright ©2020 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I have been struggling with the weight of the Nikkor 200-500mm plus my tripod for sometime-well since moving here actually. Birding here requires more walking or it seems that way to me, so I decided to go to a lighter system for birding and wildlife.

I switched from my long-loved system too. I bought a Fuji X-T3 and their 100-400mm lens. I’m gaining some on the wide end, but losing some distance which I hope I don’t feel too much since the Fuji is an APS-C cropped sensor camera.

A simplified definition of Full-Frame and cropped sensor cameras-  A Full-frame sensor has the same size dimensions of a 35mm film format. That’s long been the standard in film size. A cropped sensor is a cropped or smaller sensor size than 35mm film format.

Where you see the difference in an image is on a Full-Frame camera the area of view is wider than a cropped sensor, and the cropped sensor camera’s area of view is cropped in for a tighter view.  So, and 50mm lens on a full-frame camera’s area of view is 50mm, but on a cropped sensor camera with a 1.5x crop the area of view is about 75mm.  Wildlife and birders love APS-C or crop sensor cameras because of that added reach from the multiplier gain.  It’s from that gain I’m hoping I don’t miss the 500mm end of my heavy 200-500mm lens.  Clear as mud?  It makes my head spin sometimes!

On the weight side. I’ve shed half the weight of what I was carrying.  Nikon kit w/tripod = 11.01 pounds. Fuji kit= 4.22 pounds! Now, instead of needing the tripod to make the shot and improve my keeper rate and that added 4 pounds of weight I can leave it behind and shoot hand-held with the new kit, and be a lot quicker. That’s the plan anyway. 😀

It’s a whole new system that is going to take a while to get comfortable with after 12 years of shooting Nikon, but I am not ditching Nikon completely. I’m keeping my Full-frame cameras and several lenses as they have a place in my bag and photography needs.

I’ll stop talking, and show you an image I made with the new camera and one with my Panasonic Lumix FZ200 from a few weeks ago. FYI- When #1 Grandson heard I bought a new camera he asked for my Lumix FZ200. How cool is that! 😍

Fuji X-T3 w/Fujinon XF 100-400mm

House Finch

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Mom and Dad American Bald Eagles.

American Bald Eagle Pair

Plus one more! iPhone 7 Plus- We’ve been painting birds for several weeks in my Watercolor class. Here’s the last one I finished.  M. Graham watercolor on Canson 140 lb. watercolor paper.



I hope you all have a wonderful week, and the load you carry this week isn’t a heavy one!

more to come…


65 thoughts on “Not a Wordless Wednesday- Birds

  1. I don’t speak camera, but I sure do enjoy your photos 🙂
    Moo is my photography child. She was recruited to take swim photos after her injury, and now they’ve got her shooting for the yearbook. She speaks camera. My father spoke camera. I kinda like that.
    Anyway, I love the birdie — so pretty. Such a beautiful capture!

  2. The weight – importatn matter – that’s why I have the rebel. Can’t even think also carrying a triposd:) My goodness, Deborah, your watercolor is amazing. Excited about your progress – you have so much improved!

  3. I know the relief you must feel from “slimming down.” I’ve read that more and more people are switching to mirrorless (and therefore less weighty) cameras. The X-T3 got one of the highest ratings I’ve ever seen at dpreview:

    Seems like you’re really enjoying it.

    When we went to the Philippines in December I left behind my 100–400mm lens and my regular flash, thereby temporarily lightening my load by probably four pounds.

    When I switched to a full-frame camera about six years ago I was like you in missing the added reach I’d enjoyed for a decade with various APS-C cameras. Getting a Canon EOS 5D SR body a few years later partially compensated because with pictures 50 megapixels in size there’s plenty of room to crop and still end up with a good-sized image.

    1. When the Auto-focus motor on my D300s wore out and seeing how little the camera was worth then, and how much the repair would cost I just put it on the shelf as a bookend and began using my Full-Frame camera for wildlife. I upgraded from the D700 to the D810 which gave me more pixels to crop, but man, that with the 200-500mm and tripod is heavy! Especially since here I’m walking around with the rig much, much more further from the car.

      I’m keeping my Full-Frame D810 and Df for landscapes, night sky, and things it’s better suited for along with a few favorite lenses.
      One of which is at Nikon getting some love. The 17-35mm f/2.8. The infamous aperture blades sticking between 28-35mm happened to mine too. I think they should have recalled it and fixed it, but they didn’t. 😭 It’s not a cheap repair, but way less than a new one even today Prices have gone up since I bought mine! It probably won’t resolve that well on the D810 since it’s an older Af-S lens, but it has personalty. 😀

    2. P.S. I like DPreview too and looked at their reviews to help narrow down my choices when looking to go to a mirrorless APS-C system.

      The XT-3 is outdated and replaced yesterday with the new XT-4! That will be released later this year. I got the X-T3 on sale at least. 😀 I am enjoying it and how light-weight it is. Thank you so much for the conversation!

  4. Well done, you! I love your rooster. He’s beautiful.
    I can certainly relate to your camera weight woes. I’ve taken a renewed interest in painting in the field, and oh my the equipment is heavy. I cannot understand why the manufacturers insist on using wood to make the easels, etc. Of course once you’re set up wood is less likely to take wing at the first gust of wind… It is challenging to get used to new systems. I don’t understand most of what you said about the cameras, but your results are stellar 🙂

    1. I can’t image going far from the road with the easel, and all the stuff one needs to paint in acrylics, or oils!
      Years ago…almost 10 years ago I was hiking with a friend in Spring looking for wildflowers in a regional park and came across this scene-
      L'atelier de fabrication

      The artist was no where in sight, but I marveled at how she or he got all that stuff way out there on the trail! It was nearly a half mile from the parking lot! I assumed a wagon was used, but didn’t see it, nor did I pass anyone with one. Look at that trunk and all that stuff! The painting is coming along nicely too.

      I’m grateful watercolor doesn’t require that much stuff. I fit it all into a tote bag albeit a large one, but if I needed a tripod-easel and stool it would be heavier. My teacher is having a little impromptu plein-air time tomorrow, but I can’t make it unfortunately. I have a hair appointment and I’m in dire need of trim or I risk getting further into Mullet territory! 😊

      Thank you so much, for the compliment on my Rooster! We got to choose what ever bird we wanted to paint as long as it was a bird. My kitchen has a rooster theme ( I was born in the year of the Rooster 😀) so I went that way thinking if it came out alright I’d frame it and hang it in the kitchen.

  5. Your birding shots are beautiful, Deborah!! I love hearing about your experience with the crop-sensor. I went mirrorless to reduce my weight but it’s still a bulky/heavy setup and I find that I don’t always want to carry the extra weight when I’m hiking. I know that full-frame is best for the landscape shots that I take, but I sometimes wonder if I’d be happier by adding the sony alpha that is crop-sensor. I’m pretty sure my lenses are interchangeable. This has definitely given me food for thought! I love watercolors and your rooster is just marvelous!!

    1. Thank you so much, Amy!

      I had narrowed my choices of mirrorless to the Fuji X-t3 with the XF100-400mm lens or the Sony a6600 with the 70-350mm lens which is a pound lighter than the Fuji kit.

      In the end I chose the longer reach, and ease of controls the Fuji offer me, plus I’m used to the dial configuration from film, and my Nikon Df. I’m keeping my Nikon Full-Frame cameras for landscape, night sky, macro, and the odd portrait. I hope to sell some lenses that I’m not using to help fund my new camera. 😀

        1. It was on a very short list and on top before I got both camera and lenses in my hands.

          There’s something about dials and simple configurations that call me. Also because it was going to be my birding/wildlife/telephoto kit longer reach, and the slightly faster Fuji lens won me over. Even though it’s a pound heavier kit than the Sony combo is.

  6. Brilliant photography and she paints too? The watercolor is wonderful, Deborah. I’m so glad you added it to the post. The one of the little bird is beautiful. I like the effect in the background, and you captured the little guy’s personality so well. Hugs on the wing.

  7. Deborah, Yes, my head is spinning, although, I appreciate the information. A part of it may sink in. I love each of your three photos. My husband uses the Panasonic Lumix FZ300. Great results. I usually need to have one hand free to maneuver toddlers/children around. For me iphone plus Panasonic ZS70. I always enjoy seeing your photos. You have an eye for beauty!

  8. Yes … I have always understood a cropped sensor to be better for wildlife and a full-frame sensor for landscapes. Weight is an issue for a lot of people and why so many are switching to mirrorless systems. This will be nice for you … and us … when you share your lovely pictures. Love the selection here and your painting!!!

    1. Thank you so much, Denise! The lighter kit is wonderful. I had not one problem holding it and carrying it yesterday. Getting used to the button lay-out is what’s going to take time getting to be second nature.

    1. Thank you so much, Donna! So, far it’s been a pleasure carrying this kit. Now, if only I can train my fingers to hit the right buttons quickly it’ll be wonderful. 😀 I back button focus and the AF-L button isn’t nearly in the same place my Nikon button is so, I’ve missed some shots hitting the wrong button and accidentally changing settings.
      After shooting with the rig all day yesterday I came home and switched some button functions around. 😀 I am looking forward to getting out and seeing if that’s closer to how my thumb lands naturally.

      The learning curve is real! 🥰

  9. I agree with Joanne, you’re doing so well in all areas. I have no idea about all the lens and things, all just stuff I need to learn about to take better photos. But of course nothing happens until after we move. My load right now is literally heavy, as I pack, label, and store boxes for moving. Dishes and books are both weighty, so I’m getting some weightlifting of a different sort. 🙂 Made good progress today, so that’s good. Happy Wednesday and I love your rooster.


    1. I was wondering if your move was coming up real soon. I didn’t get very big boxes so I was able lift them so I had lots of them, but even so the dishes and books were heavy. I am glad you’re making progress! I am looking forward to you being closer to me. 😄

  10. I was interested to read about the difference in the cameras and what a bonus in the weight reduction. That first photo is so sharp. I LOVE the rooster, such a colourful and “look at me” pose. You have done so well with the depth and brightness of colour, I struggle to get that, did you do many layers of glazing?

  11. I admire your work no matter what you use. If lighter is better then I’m happy for you. The Fuji shot is wonderful. Your rooster is terrific as well. I used to have a rooster and you captured the essence of the rooster’s personality.

  12. I’m photographing with Fuji since 2015. The camera’s are fine and so are the lenses. As far as I understand the cropfactor, you not only gained at the wide end of your new 100-400mm but also at the long end. The FF equivalent is: 150mm – 600mm. The pictures you took are great, as ususal. It’s been said before: not the camera makes pictures, it’s the photographer who does. 🙂

    1. You understand the crop multiplier gain well, Peter! How cool, I didn’t realize you were a Fuji guy! I agree it’s the photographer not the gear, but having the right tools for the job really does make a difference.

      I hope the learning curve to get the controls to be second nature isn’t a long one.

      1. Controlling the aparture on the lens I find a bliss and as far as ‘making’ the light goes, I have put the exposure compensation dial to ‘C’, while the shutterspeed and ISO dials are at A = automatic. This allows me to change the exposure very easily by turning the little wheel at the front of the camera. Being able to see the settings on top of the camera helped me a lot in understanding the ‘exposure triangle’.

  13. Congratulations on making the switch. I’m sure it’s going to work out well for you. Your “early” image is wonderful. The weight is a big deal, birding and photography isn’t much fun if your shoulders and/or neck are sore. That’s why I gave up my DSLR years ago.

    Thanks for the explanation (I love knowing the details). I think it’s really cool that your grandson wants to get in the game. I look forward to seeing some of his images.

    1. Thank you so much, Dan! I hope the learning curve is shorter than it was when I made the switch to Digital from Film and switched camera systems.

      I too am looking forward to seeing what images he makes.

  14. Deborah – I don’t think it really matters what camera you use. You have a great eye and a knowledge of how to take a good photo. That translates to any camera system you may use. Having said that, the best photos are the ones you actually take because you like the camera you’ve taken with you 😉
    Your photos are all beauties and you continue to wow me with your watercolour skills. Mine still fall in the category of ‘sloppy mess’ 😆

    1. Thank you so much, Joanne! I hope it’s a short learning curve with this camera. It took me nearly 8 months getting the Nikon system to be second nature when I made the switch from film to Digital 12 years ago.

      Regarding my painting. You’re too kind your work is wonderful! I took this class to help me “see”, and get better at drawing. That’s the foundation and my drawing skills are like a 2 year old’s. This teacher took away my ruler, and my graphite paper the tools I use away from home to help me draw! I told her she’s the scariest person in the world to me right now! She’s making me grow though and for that I’m thankful.

        1. She is and a lot of fun. Scary for making me draw by sight, but fun. The other people in the class are great too.

          Yesterday she said I can use a grid! WOOT! I pulled the one I made years ago out so fast I made her speechless! Of course she said that AFTER I drew a Cedar Waxwing by sight last week!
          I’m all about any tool that can help me draw. 😀

          1. I too use a grid, especially when the drawing is on a large-ish scale. My sister’s art teacher doesn’t allow them to sketch at all. They paint directly. I would find that a little too intimidating.

            1. Oh boy, I have tried not sketching to keep it loose, but I just end up with a mess. Perhaps, if I ever learn to sketch well enough to get things less wonky and proportion and perspective are right I’ll only need the ruler, grid, graphite paper, or light table for more knit-picky projects?

  15. It sounds like you now have the best of both worlds, a far lighter camera for bird walks, and your standby for distance. Obviously your new camera gives excellent results, as these bird photos are gorgeous!! Thank you, Deborah.

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