Cameras and Tape Recorders for the Field

          Color 35-mm slides are the most easily used form of photographic documentation, but any type of color or black-and-white print or videotape can provide substantive evidence. A 35-mm camera with a 400-mm lens is often considered the basic equipment necessary to photograph birds. Although a 400-mm (8x) lens (or a more powerful telephoto) is certainly preferred, many rarities have been well documented with less-powerful lenses. Binoculars and spotting scopes may also suffice in the absence of telephoto lenses (Augustine 1991).
          Many people do not like to carry heavy and expensive camera equipment into the field. There are several brands and models of cameras and lightweight telephoto lenses currently available that are relatively inexpensive. The prices of some mirror and standard 400-mm and 500-mm lenses manufactured by Canon, Tamron, Vivitar, Sigma, and Tokina range from $240 to $500 from New York photo houses and similar establishments. All these companies make quality equipment that is perfectly adequate for the documentation of rarities. For more detailed information on photographic techniques and methods, see Birding 1989, 21:1-128; that issue is devoted to bird photography.
          A wide range of tape-recording equipment is available. Open-reel and high-quality cassette recorders (stereo and mono) currently produce the finest-quality recordings. DAT (digital audio tape) recorders are now competitive in quality with the added benefit of being smaller but are still prohibitively expensive. The prices of other types of recorders vary considerably. A Nagra, considered the finest open-reel recorder, runs from $5,000 to $10,000 (new) or from $1,500 to $5,000 (in good used condition). These prices do not include the microphone. A Sennheiser MKH 816 microphone would cost an additional $1,700 (new) or $1,000 (used). The Sony TCD-5 Pro II and Marantz PMD 430 (priced without microphone at $750 and $470, respectively) are stereo cassette recorders that also produce high-quality recordings. Also recommended are the Marantz PMD 221 and PMD 222 and Sony TCM 5000 ($235, $315, and $435, respectively) and corresponding Sennheiser ME series (ME 80, ME 88) shotgun microphones ($200 to $400). For information on general equipment specifics and performance, see Wickstrom 1982, 1988). The Library of Natural Sounds (Cornell Laboratory of Omithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, New York 14850) also provides consultation on recording-systems in various price ranges.
D. L. D. and G. W. L.

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