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Wildlife and landscape kit for amateur photographer?

willow-weaver

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Hi everyone.

I finally decided to splurge and get myself a good camera! I used to borrow a Nikon D3500 from a family member while hiking, which is sadly no longer an option, so I've been limited to my smartphone for the last little while. I do a lot of hikes in the Rocky Mountains (usually near Banff, Canada) and shoot landscape/wildlife photos. Purchasing advice would be most welcomed!

Skill-wise for photography, I'm probably solidly in the 'intermediate' grouping — I know my way around a camera, and grok the physics aspects of lenses pretty well, but I'm certainly no expert. My priorities are, roughly in order:
  1. Lightweight. The lighter the better, obviously, but I'm willing to carry some extra weight in order to gain some flexibility. For context, the rest of my hiking gear weighs between 2-4kg depending on how much water I'm bringing for the day, so 0.5-1.0kg extra for a camera feels within the weight budget, with less = better.
  2. Image stabilization. My hands are quite shaky (chronic immune system condition, sadly, not much I can do about this) and so good image stabilization is a must.
  3. Weather sealing. I'm not one to hike in terrible conditions or go underwater, but I do like going out and about in cold weather, up into clouds, and during light rainfall. The dustproofing is also a wonderful peace-of-mind feature.
  4. Good viewfinder. I can't get used to previewing a shot on a LCD, and I frequently have trouble seeing even glare-protected LCDs in bright light.
I don't have a precise budget in mind, but I'm willing to go up to, say, $2k CAD for a quality setup that will last a while. So far, this has tentatively lead me to the following gear:

  1. OM System OM-5 camera body
  2. M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II lens

The total weight is roughly 700g (415g body + 285g lens), and runs about $2000 CAD new right now. I would also probably pick up a dedicated prime lens for lower-light shooting eventually as the maximum f4 aperture on the 14-150mm lens is a little small — currently eyeing the Sigma 56mm f1.4 DC DN as a possibility for that.

Any suggestions for improving this plan?

Many thanks!
 
This is a pretty good setup. It is really on the small end for wildlife, however you could offset that with a small teleconverter to extend the reach of the 14-150 lens with minimal weight gains. Olympus makes some great teleconverters.
 
Ooh, you make a good point about the teleconverters. The maximum aperture reduction had me initially wary, but it's a cheapish/lightweight way to get a much narrower FoV. Thank you for pointing that out!
 
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Good luck. I'm not familiar with Olympus equipment anymore though I started in 2005 with their DSLRs and shot them until 2014. Sony shooter here now. You might take a look at the Sony A6400 with the E70-300 lens. With the body's crop ratio that lens is = to 535mm in 35mm terms. Tamron and Sigma also make some good lenses for these cameras.
 
I don't think that the 14-150/3.5=5.6 lens is compatible with a TC, so check into that before you buy. With the M-4/3 sensor you're looking at 300mm FOV, so not awful, but I agree it's on the short side for wildlife. Unfortunately getting a good long wildlife lens that is also lightweight is a tall order.

One option may be the 75-300 which gets you up to 600mm, but I'm not sure if it has IS that will work with the body. A lightweight monopod would go a long way to assist in stability.

A question: Do you know what lens you used on the borrowed Nikon? That might give us a better idea of the FOV you're used to seeing and help make lens suggestions.
 

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