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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> best lens for wildlife?
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03/23/2009 08:29:26 PM · #1
What what lens might be best for wildlife? What would be an appropriate focal length to most situations. I don't have the cash for a canon 500L. thoughts on the canon 70-300IS, or a 70-200 f/4 L (IS?) and possibly a 1.4 converter? I shot with a 1.6 crop factor as well

Much appreciated.
03/23/2009 08:41:03 PM · #2
70-200 is a great lens but wont have enough reach for wild life photography trust me I've tried. with a 2.0 converter its all right but a 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS in my opinion is a great wildlife lens but pricier then the 70-200 f/4.
03/23/2009 08:50:19 PM · #3
The obvious question here is: What kind of wildlife? I ask since wildlife runs the gamut from microscopic to blue whale. And, the distance from the lens runs from very close to miles away. My best WL shots have been less than 100 m from the camera. your call.
03/23/2009 08:57:51 PM · #4
great point.... Im not sure actually. Planning to do some visits out west to some national parks soon and want to have the right glass for the wildlife out there.... I've never been there so im not sure how close i can get.
03/23/2009 09:01:43 PM · #5
Originally posted by brimac:

great point.... Im not sure actually. Planning to do some visits out west to some national parks soon and want to have the right glass for the wildlife out there.... I've never been there so im not sure how close i can get.


You probably won't be able to get all that close. They're starting to really frown upon too many encounters and such. I would suggest, if you can, going with a 100-400mm and take an extender along for tests/etc.

Sigma's 50-500mm Bigma might be something to look at short-term.
03/23/2009 11:30:48 PM · #6
I have the 70-200 and the 100-400. For wildlife I use almost exclusively, the 100-400, and I often times wish I had more reach. Yet it still seems that I still don't have enough lens or am too far away. I always carry the 1.4x and 2.0x tele-converters just in case.
03/23/2009 11:38:48 PM · #7
Originally posted by scooter97:

I have the 70-200 and the 100-400. For wildlife I use almost exclusively, the 100-400, and I often times wish I had more reach. Yet it still seems that I still don't have enough lens or am too far away. I always carry the 1.4x and 2.0x tele-converters just in case.


I second the the notion that even with the 100-400 I long for..er...longer reach:-) I would go as long as you can afford for wildlife b/c you will wish that you had longer. I love my 100-400 and it gets a high recommendation from me.
03/24/2009 12:11:43 AM · #8
I shoot a fair number of critters and if you're going into the longer lengths, consider a manual focus prime and a tripod. You can get a good bang for your buck going MF and your images will be sharper as there is generally more time granted to get the shot. For a walkabout, a good 70/80-200 is a reasonable choice.
03/24/2009 12:23:54 AM · #9
I use a 300 4.5 prime most of the time here in Florida. Most of the wild animals and birds that I photograph are from 20 to 100 yards range. The 300 has never been too long to get the shot. Over 300mm, hand holding gets to be a problem unless you get the IS version of the lens. I use a monopod to good advantage with the older manual 300. It's a lot of stability, and a lot easier to get around with than a tripod if you are on the move. The 300 is good for birds out to about 100 ft in good light.
You might want to avoid the mirror "reflex" lenses. They are just not as sharp and most of the 500's are f8, which is only good in strong light. You can get nice shots with them, but they just don't seem to have that sharpness edge that a good prime can give you.
03/24/2009 01:09:29 AM · #10
Another vote for the 100-400 IS. Is use the Nikon version, 80-400 VR, and have never felt I needed less lens only more. I actually sold my beloved Nion 70-200 2.8 VR to finance the purchase of the 80-400. And although I miss that great lens I have never regretted the decision to go longer.
03/24/2009 03:35:12 AM · #11
If you can afford it a 100-400L is a great wildlife choice. Browse through these pages and you will see shot's of wildlife (large and smal) taken with this lens. 100-400
03/24/2009 03:50:42 AM · #12
Have you thought about the BIGMA (Sigma) 50-500 or the newer 150-500. I have the 50-500 and am amazed by its sharpness, colour and contrast. It's just so heavy. Very solid though. I took it to Kenya and it was wonderful. You will need to use a monopod with it though...
03/24/2009 05:20:02 AM · #13
I have a 100-400 IS - it is a fantastic lens - you need to do something about the colour if the critters are spooky, they tend to run away when you start waving a big white trombone at them
03/24/2009 06:05:48 AM · #14
I guess it also depends a bit on what you intend to do with your pictures (ie large prints or not). I get the better pictures with my deadly sharp 180mm 2.8 prime lense and cropping, than with my former 70-300mm 5.6 zoom which was less sharp.
03/24/2009 07:46:49 PM · #15
I have my Canon 100-400L for sale (sadly).
2006 lens (date code UU0716), used for zoo visits.
Listing on the Buy/Sell Boards
03/25/2009 03:33:28 PM · #16
Originally posted by brimac:

What what lens might be best for wildlife? What would be an appropriate focal length to most situations. I don't have the cash for a canon 500L. thoughts on the canon 70-300IS, or a 70-200 f/4 L (IS?) and possibly a 1.4 converter? I shot with a 1.6 crop factor as well

Much appreciated.


Frame filling shots require at least a 300mm focal length and 400-500mm would be my minimum requirement. Having shot wildlife in Alaska - 600, 700, and 800mm focal lengths are much better at getting frame filling keepers. The Sigma 50-500mm EX is used by many "birders" as it allows for a 10x optical zoom with responsible clarity and detail. On a camera with a 1.6 factor, it would yield an 80-800mm zoom range. Quite nice in my opinion. They run around $1000 US.

My portfolio has many wildlife shots with this particular lens.

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Message edited by author 2009-03-25 15:47:31.
03/25/2009 04:08:14 PM · #17
Yet another vote for the 100-400L. It is my goto lens for anything wildlife as my 70-200L generally doesn't quite reach far enough.
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