What fast camera.............

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For wife and I to share? Not going to buy two. She is more savvy than I.

Not TOO expensive ($500-$1000)

Fast because birds. We have eagles, osprey, too many hawks to name, owls, vultures, and so many cool birds on the move.

Phones are too slow and awkward frankly. No phone suggestions. Thanks. Fast because we spot something and need it NOW.

Fast because action movement. Back in the day ASA/ISO 400-1000 film, open the f stop as much as possible, 1/1000-1/2000 sec shutter speed........geezer talk.........lower light too. Odd light at times. Sun on or behind the mountain...........of course going against this is some telephoto ability. Details of birds...............

Yeah a bunch of other things to photograph besides birds! Wildlife, distant neighbors, etc hahahahahahaha Will carry when hiking.

Ideas?
 
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Nikon DSLR with 80-200 f/2.8 film lens.

There are longer lenses but you almost need a spotter scope as stuff whizzes into, and out of, the field of view.

Modern DSLRs have plenty of ISO gain if you request it, or if you put it in sports mode it'll do it automatically.

I am running a 2006-era D50 (nice) and 2014-era D3200 (very very nice) and these are mass market models-- things get better paying more.

You could get started with a kit like this, but the 55-200 ends at a slowish f/5.6.
 
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I'm a photo geek and my response is, 1k is beyond difficult to for BIF. BIF requires high quality glass which is always costly. I have been a Nikon shooter for decades but I've round this little Sony packs a punch with quality images and video to boot. Perfect for lightweight hikes, events, etc.. But it is no substitute for a serious camera system.

 
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While any of the major brand DSLR's is a solid choice, if I was buying into a new system now it would be a mirrorless system, smaller, and yes faster than the DSLR's, especially on repeat shots. And no Clunk with each shot. I'll probably buy one before the next big vacation (whenever that gets planned).
 
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Taken with D3200 and a "Series E" 80-200 f/4 manual focus zoom: (Actual picture's sharper but BITOG lossy compression got to it.)

DSC_0195.JPG
 

wwillson

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Consider a crop sensor mirrorless like the Panasonic Lumix G100. Mirrorless because it's less mechanically complex, faster, and quieter than a DSLR and crop sensor because your glass will cost less. For your price point, lenses for a full frame sensor will give you sticker shock.

The Sony above is also a great choice, but no interchangeable lenses.
 
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Your situation sounds really similar to mine. My wife and I basically wore out two Panasonic super zooms. She mostly used them to shoot birds at full zoom. I liked them because they didn't fill a backpack like my old 35mm kit. Compared to a DSLR, though, image quality falls short, and focus, zoom time & shutter response are really slow. Those things might be better on current models.

About seven years ago, I got a Canon T5i DSLR. For the bird lens, I settled on the EF 70-30mm f/4-5.6 IS USM. It was $519.00 from Canon, refurbished. It is by no means a fast lens, but shots in good light are excellent and full zoom shadow shots are passable. They could probably be improved by tinkering with some settings. Image quality is way better than the tiny-sensor superzooms we used, and it absolutely crushes the Canon 100-300 I used to use with film. Focus IS fast, and of course zoom time and being able to see the subject in the viewfinder are worlds better than a superzoom. It will never compare to a 2.8 L lens, but it seems to be the best option short of spending 1k-5k on just the lens.

There's probably a new world of options out there now with mirrorless cameras, but I haven't kept up with the new stuff.
 
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On a $500- $1000 budget?
Absolutely. The DX sensors add about 1.5x telephoto factor due to their crop size compared to 24x36mm so used film lenses are great. They were also better made back in the day (1990s.) The issue with Nikon is you may have to manually focus, which isn't that big of a deal, IMO. The D50 has a focus motor in the camera body while the 3200 requires it in the lens, and various lenses do one or both themselves.
 

AZjeff

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Absolutely. The DX sensors add about 1.5x telephoto factor due to their crop size compared to 24x36mm so used film lenses are great. They were also better made back in the day (1990s.) The issue with Nikon is you may have to manually focus, which isn't that big of a deal, IMO. The D50 has a focus motor in the camera body while the 3200 requires it in the lens, and various lenses do one or both themselves.
I was in the camera/photo biz for almost 20 years so am familiar with the older stuff, 1.5x factor etc. Got out in 2005 in the middle of the film/digital transition. Bought/sold with KEH many bodies and lenses. The OP wants to shoot birds on the wing it sounds like, a used manual focus lens while high quality and less expensive might not make sense for him. He has some basic decisions to make about how far down the camera equipment rabbit hole he wants to jump.

I haven't kept up with the latest and greatest but may ease back into photography if we do some travelling.
 
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Keep in mind the color palette does differ a bit between the brands.

I disagree with eljefino. In my opinion, todays APS-C size lenses have much better optical quality than 35mm SLR film lenses from yesteryear.
 
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The OP wants to shoot birds on the wing it sounds like, a used manual focus lens while high quality and less expensive might not make sense for him. He has some basic decisions to make about how far down the camera equipment rabbit hole he wants to jump.
Yeah I'm not a "birder" by any stretch but if you're using binoculars you get used to focusing them very quickly, a skill that may translate to still photography.

I haven't ever found an autofocus I really liked when it comes to fast moving stuff. And I really, really hate a camera that refuses to trip the shutter until it gets a focus lock.

What is photography? Photons hitting stuff, reflecting towards the photographer, for them to grab via lens and capture on a sensor or film. The more glass you have, the more photons you catch, and the better the results will be, all else being equal.
 
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