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BudgetLight

Equipment

 

Photographing friendly wildlife has been my "pet" project since the Pandemic. Modern cameras and fast lenses are great for trying to capture images of them, but they can be big, heavy and very expensive. If you have animals you can get close to and are looking for nicer photos (than your phone) without weighing or costing the earth, this page is for you.

Click options below for more info & samples | Prices include camera and lens (usually second hand) See end for more detailed notes

Cameras C2.png

▼▼  €400  ▼▼

400

Sony A5100 + Samyang AF 75mm f/1.8

  • Closest Focus: 69cm

  • DR / Res: 9.9 stops / 24mp

Pros

  • Size

  • Weight

  • Focusing

  • Value

  • Lens Options

  • Upgrade path

Cons

  • Crop sensor

  • No Viewfinder

  • No IBIS

  • Limited Controls

This kind of image quality in a camera and lens that weighs under half a kilogram (1.1lbs) is mind boggling! The Sony A5100 has a tilt screen and surprisingly good AF. The controls are rather fiddly and there's no viewfinder, but its otherwise decent operation and image quality allow this lens to shine. Its decent sharpness, low aberrations and speedy focusing combine with the camera's subject tracking to make for a killer little combo that produces images way better than you would expect for the price, weight and size. This full frame lens also makes the combo quite versatile if you'd like to upgrade the body later on. Images were shot between ISO 800 & 6400.

▼▼  €750  ▼▼

750

Sony ZV-E10 + Sirui AF 75mm f/1.2

  • Closest Focus: 69cm

  • DR / Res: 10.5 stops / 24mp

Pros

  • Size & Weight

  • Animal eye-AF

  • Burst speeds

  • 4k or 120fps video

  • Subject isolation

  • Value

  • Flip out screen

Cons

  • Crop sensor

  • No Viewfinder

  • No IBIS

  • ergonomics

The ZV-E10 & Sirui 75 combo might weigh 50% more and cost nearly twice as much as the previous option, but it's still far less than a full frame system while getting really close on image quality. The lens is very interesting, especially since this is for a new price! It's a whole stop faster, while having the same minimum focus distance. You could just buy this lens for the lighter and much cheaper Sony A5100 (for just €500 total), but then you would miss out on some great stuff from this camera. More buttons / dials / customization, great auto focus, a flip out screen, 4k or 120fps video and very decent mic (with built in windshield). The star here being the animal eye-AF, which is very close to what you get on the Sony A9, just not quite as fast! The two images you see here were shot at ISO 320 & 1000.

800

▼▼  800  ▼▼

Sony A7 + Yongnuo 85mm f/1.8

  • Closest Focus: 80cm

  • DR / Res: 10.7 stops / 24mp

Pros

  • Full frame

  • Sensor

  • Sharpness

  • EVF

Cons

  • Battery life

  • Auto focus

  • No IBIS

  • Shutter noise

  • ergonomics

​I had to "Disqualify" this camera and lens after using it for a while. It's amazing that you can get a full frame camera and fast prime lens for this price, but it was frustrating to use compared to the other smaller and/or cheaper options. The camera's focusing is so poor that you won't get many successful images. The shutter is super noisy and will disturb timid animals (although that's a smaller concern).​ The lens is sharp, but it's also hazy close up and with atrocious Longitudinal Chromatic Aberration. The close focus distance is also not great for friendly wildlife. It was a much less impressive experience than it seemed on paper. Images were shot between ISO 400 & 800.