Sunday, October 27, 2019

My Birding Cameras

Magnificent Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus magnificus)
Magnificent Bird of Paradise taken using
Nikon Coolpix P500
Camera is a very important device for a birding guide like me. I have used several diferent types of cameras since 2010 both the D-SLR and bridge ones.
When I guided tourists for the first time on a birding trip to Numfor island, I only used a pocket camera Sony Cybershot DSC-W30.
In 2010, I started to use A Sony  Dslr camera with Sigma lens 70 - 300 mm. After that I used Nikon P500 which was only a bridge camera but quite powerful for distant subjects.
Unfortunately it was struggling to focus on moving subjects in low light condition. In 2014 I began to use Nikon Coolpix P600 which was made for avid birdwatchers but not for professional bird and wildlife photographers. I also used Fujifilm Finepix HS50EXR. This was my favorite tool. I used it to take photographs of birds of paradise including the Lesser Birds of Paradise, Brown Cuckoo Dove and Kingfishers. To improve the sharpness of my picture, I often set 2 seconds self timer before shooting birds.
Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor) Malagufuk forest
A male Lesser Birds of Paradise shot using
Fujifilm HS50EXR 
Because I am a birding guide, I only use my photos for identifying the species of birds and for promoting my birding service through blogs, website, and facebook. I don't sell the photos. Today I use a crop DSLR camera - Canon 200D with Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens. It is a good device but sometimes too heavy to carry especially when I am on a trip guiding some tourists in the forest. This camera is not the best photographic device but it has given me a lot of good pictures of birds both in still and flying poses. D-SLR camera, due to its large sensor could take pictures of birds in lowlight condition. When I went birding in Raja Ampat, I could make some pictures of birds such as Beautiful Fruit Dove, Palm Cockatoo, Blyth's Hornbill and Sulphur Crested Cockatoo in high trees.
I still hope that Fujifilm could update their product by improving the reach of Fujifilm Finepix HS50EXR. Please, note that the resolutions and sizes of photographs in this blog post have been reduced to increase the loading speed of this article on the internet.
Besides camera, my other birding devices are spotting scope, binoculars, laser pointer and sound player. I need these gear especially when I guide avid birders who want to see as many birds as they can.

This Western Parotia video was made using Fujifilm HS50EXR 
under very low light condition
Today, I use Canon 200D with Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens for my activities in wildlife photography. It is an entry level camera that is good enough for taking pictures of birds in distant trees. However, I prefer Fujifilm HS50EXR to Canon 200D because it was lighter and had longer reach.
Taking Pictures Underwater
Not all of my clients are birders. Sometimes I get requests from tourists who are interested in culture and sightseeing or visitors who prefer walking on white sandy beach, swimming over coral reef and snorkeling to hiking and birding. I have organized numerous trips for this marine tour. Because I am a freediver, I can guide tourists on snorkeling tours too. The camera that I use is Nikon AW130 and Fujifilm XQ2 with its waterproof housing. To take pictures underwater, I do the freedive for around 40 seconds to 1 minute and then hold my breath in the water. To stabilize my body while taking pictures underwater, my left hand will hold a big rock. Some times I position my right hand that is holding the camera on top of my left hand or on top of a rock so that it will not shake violently. Aiming the camera at the fish, sea star, christmas tree worm or burrowing clam, I press the shutter button of my camera. 
This marine life video was taken using Fujifilm XQ2 and Nikon AW 130

If you are interested in visiting West Papua province of Indonesia to take rainforest bird and wildlife tour, please, contact me by email to: or by whatsapp to +6281332245180.

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