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Best lens for wildlife/bird photography ?

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JanieB43  647 forum posts England6 Constructive Critique Points
18 Jan 2009 - 9:06 PM

Which would YOU use ?

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18 Jan 2009 - 9:06 PM

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geoffash26  102506 forum posts United Kingdom
18 Jan 2009 - 9:12 PM

this should do

hope you use canon Wink

Overread  63770 forum posts England18 Constructive Critique Points
18 Jan 2009 - 9:24 PM

best lens is debatable but some thoughts for a canon shooter (which you seem to be Smile)

Canon 300mm f2.8 - a fantastically sharp lens and one of the lighter high quality long options. It will work very well with a 1.4 teleconverter (taking it to 420mm) and will give acceptable restults with a 2*teleconverter - giving a handholdable 600mm lens. Its not a cheap option but I know several wildlife photographers that use this lens as their basic walkaround as opposed to options like the canon 100-400mm zoom

Birds - generally birds needs long as you can get - 400mm is often quoted, by birders, as being the shortest length you can comfortably used - with many prefering options in the 500mm line.

500-600mm - these are generally too heavy for handheld birding - at least for any length of time and are better suited to a tripod setup - or a monopod support at the least.

as for me - a 300mm f2.8 + teleconverters for a walkaround
probably a 500mm and 800mm options as well for hide work

800mm - amazingly light, affordable (at least its not much more expensive than the 600mm Wink) with the latest IS. A fantastic choice if you can afford it
*edit - wait has that price jumped? I recall it being less 0 or am I going mad?

Last Modified By Overread at 18 Jan 2009 - 9:26 PM
NeilS e2 Member 7884 forum postsNeilS vcard United Kingdom
18 Jan 2009 - 9:39 PM

I use 300 2.8 option as suggested above with teleconverters, works for me and gives you 4 primes in one

Cheaper alternatives to look at would be the ef 400 f5.6, or the new Sigmas

discreetphoton Site Moderator 93454 forum postsdiscreetphoton vcard United Kingdom20 Constructive Critique Points
18 Jan 2009 - 10:09 PM

28mm, perfect for ostriches. Wink

_  9535 forum posts Virgin Islands, British4 Constructive Critique Points
18 Jan 2009 - 10:20 PM

WHich would I use?
I currently use a 400/2.8 but it's a compromise for birds, heavy with not quite enough reach.
Ideal for the role I bought it for (sports)
If I was as serious about birds (and if they paid the same) I'd buy the 600/4 simply because it does the job so well.
The 500/4 is also a consideration but it is better suited to wildlife in general not just small birds.

Anything shorter than the above three is limiting to say the least and almost certainly a compromise in some way.

Look at what the pros use and ask yourself why you should be any different.


arhb e2 Member 72306 forum postsarhb vcard United Kingdom68 Constructive Critique Points
19 Jan 2009 - 8:07 AM

If money was no object,

but as things are, my 400F5.6 is giving me some great results, and I'm learning how to be super stealthy in the field, in order to get some shots that are close enough to be worth while.
I will get the 500F4 if funds become available.

Wilmot  6338 forum posts United Kingdom1 Constructive Critique Points
19 Jan 2009 - 9:14 AM

I use a 50-500mm sigma

Coleslaw e2 Member 913403 forum postsColeslaw vcard Wales28 Constructive Critique Points
19 Jan 2009 - 9:15 AM

Best lens is the one you can't afford.... well, for me anyway.. Smile

justin c
justin c  104528 forum posts England36 Constructive Critique Points
19 Jan 2009 - 12:15 PM

As already mentioned.

A 500mm f4 for wildlife.

A 600mm or 800mm (with matching extenders/tele-converters and extension tubes) specifically for birds

If you're feeling rich a 300mm f2.8 in addition to the above.

Last Modified By justin c at 19 Jan 2009 - 12:17 PM
Zoundz  5 Ireland1 Constructive Critique Points
19 Jan 2009 - 8:25 PM

i like my 50-500mm Smile


JanieB43  647 forum posts England6 Constructive Critique Points
19 Jan 2009 - 10:57 PM

Wow !!!!! Thanks guys for all your help and advice. Looks like I have a lot of research AND saving to do. As I'm quite a novice as far as bird photography's concerned I think I'll have to be patient or else start doing the lottery so I can afford to splash out on these fantastic lenses !!

Many thanks again. Jane

_  9535 forum posts Virgin Islands, British4 Constructive Critique Points
19 Jan 2009 - 11:13 PM

You asked the question "what would WE use.......? "

I doubt that there's many of us with long tele lenses that just went straight out and bought them to try out a new direction in photography. I'm sure most of us have bought a decent 70-300 to start with and have worked up from there, buying something faster or longer as the limitations of the current lens are becoming apparent.

You want a decent lens for wildlife on a medium to small budget? Try a Canon 75-300 IS lens, not the fastest lens in the catalogue but a very capable lens for a lot of wildlife stuff. Maybe buy a cheap hide (or make one) and set up a bird table in front of it with various perches and try getting some shots. The more you do it the more you will realise that it's not all about the equipment, sure if you have a spare few thousand blow it on some great gear, but learn the trade first and then think about what you need as opposed to what you want.


Last Modified By _ at 19 Jan 2009 - 11:13 PM
20 Jan 2009 - 12:34 AM

Quote: If money was no object,

Which is exactly what I do use.
The lenses were actually bought for news / sports / papping but happily hey fit the bill for wildlife just nicely too!

25 Jan 2009 - 11:19 AM

Quote: I use a 50-500mm sigma

Hi Thinking about getting the 50-500mm Sigma lens to get closer to the small birds in the garden (the blue tits, long tailed tits, chaffinches, greenfinches etc), do you think its a good lens for photographing birds in the garden? Any advice, much appreciated, thanks.

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