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Archive 2012 · Wildlife Lens Choose
  
 
oldrattler
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p.1 #1 · Wildlife Lens Choose


I wish to purchase a wildlife lens for large game (IE.. Deer, Elk, Moose, Etc)... I have always heard that. "More is better"... I will not be carrying lens more than a 100 yards, nor will I be climbing anything with it (Including stairs / steep hills)... It will be coupled with the 1DIV and sometimes the 7D... Which do you choose, and why ?? Thank you


Sep 05, 2012 at 03:17 PM
PhilDrinkwater
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p.1 #2 · Wildlife Lens Choose


Currently there's not enough info to make a real decision.. Where will the files be going? Commercial or just fun? How big will you be printing? How close will you be?


Sep 05, 2012 at 03:27 PM
uz2work
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p.1 #3 · Wildlife Lens Choose


You are going to get a wide range of opinions on this one, and, because the choice depends on so many personal factors, any one of a number of choices could be very valid.

Among the factors that could influence the choice are what subjects you want to shoot, where you will be shooting, how close you are able to approach your subjects, and, very important, what kind of pictures, framing, and composition have visual appeal to you.

About a year ago, I posted an article on my website that speaks to some of these issues, and I regularly get positive feedback from those who have read it. I expect that there are many who will disagree with some of the conclusions to which I've come, and that is okay, but I think that, regardless of whether someone comes to the same or different conclusions, the issues that I raise are worth thinking about.

http://www.wildlifeimagesbyles.net/Technique/focal_length/focal_length.html

Les



Sep 05, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #4 · Wildlife Lens Choose


How close to the animals are you most of the time when shooting? Are you using tripod and gimbal head? Or monopod, handheld?
How important is the cost of the lens?



Sep 05, 2012 at 03:32 PM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #5 · Wildlife Lens Choose


Jim,
The slogan "more is better" applies more for bird photography and smaller birds at that. I have taken plenty images of sandhill cranes and pelicans, which are not small, and most of the time a 500mm on an APS-H body is long enough. I would say, deep, elk and moose are larger than those cranes. Anything longer would be quite a bit heavier and tougher to handle at our age, let alone signficantly more expensive. A great and reasonably price wildlife lens would be the 500mm f/4.0 IS, IMHO.

Joshua



Sep 05, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Allan Bruce
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p.1 #6 · Wildlife Lens Choose


To have the 400/5.6 and 800/5.6 in the same poll seems a bit odd. What is your budget?


Sep 05, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Psychic1
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p.1 #7 · Wildlife Lens Choose


Deer, Elk and Moose are active at dawn and dusk and the 400L 2.8 is the only logical choise even if you are shooting the 1DX.


Sep 05, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #8 · Wildlife Lens Choose


uz2work wrote:
You are going to get a wide range of opinions on this one, and, because the choice depends on so many personal factors, any one of a number of choices could be very valid.

Among the factors that could influence the choice are what subjects you want to shoot, where you will be shooting, how close you are able to approach your subjects, and, very important, what kind of pictures, framing, and composition have visual appeal to you.

About a year ago, I posted an article on my website that speaks to some of these issues, and I regularly get
...Show more

Les, you have posted this many times. And most things you write here I agree with. But I have always found your thinking/argument very strange in this case. I can understand that you like a shorter tele instead of a longer tele to get a wider field of view. And getting more of the environment in the image together with the bird or animal. But at the same time you like to use crop bodies !! Which makes a smaller field of view with less environment in the image ?
Why is it good to use a shorter lens to get a wider field of view? And at the same time use or recommend a crop body to make it long again?



Sep 05, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Gary Irwin
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p.1 #9 · Wildlife Lens Choose


Without knowing more about your shooting environment it's hard to make a specific recommendation, but if I had to guess it sounds like ranges to wild beasts are long down your way (Texas), so I'd lean towards the 600...which isnt all that long on a 1.3 cropper, and the f4 will come in handy at dusk/dawn. If you can get closer the 500 or 400/2.8 might be good considerations...but nothing shorter.


Sep 05, 2012 at 03:59 PM
galenapass
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p.1 #10 · Wildlife Lens Choose


Lars Johnsson wrote:
Les, you have posted this many times. And most things you write here I agree with. But I have always found your thinking/argument very strange in this case. I can understand that you like a shorter tele instead of a longer tele to get a wider field of view. And getting more of the environment in the image together with the bird or animal. But at the same time you like to use crop bodies !! Which makes a smaller field of view with less environment in the image ?
Why is it good to use a shorter lens
...Show more

I've read a lot of Les's posts and I think that he likes the mobility of a smaller lens coupled with a crop camera. The combination is a balance between reach and portability. That's my impression but - of course - Les should speak for himself.

in answer to the OP's question, having tried a lot of different long lenses I have settled on the 500mm f/4 IS but I also shoot birds primarily. You could start with a 400mm f/5.6 and if that is too short move up. Regardless the 400mm is a good lens to have on hand to compliment other choices.



Sep 05, 2012 at 04:30 PM
 

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mco_970
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p.1 #11 · Wildlife Lens Choose


I picked 400/2.8 because you have chosen larger wildlife, and f/2.8 gives you a lot of options for shooting at wider aperture, adding a TC, etc. It is the lens I wish I had for that type of shooting.


Sep 05, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #12 · Wildlife Lens Choose


galenapass wrote:
I've read a lot of Les's posts and I think that he likes the mobility of a smaller lens coupled with a crop camera. The combination is a balance between reach and portability. That's my impression but - of course - Les should speak for himself.

in answer to the OP's question, having tried a lot of different long lenses I have settled on the 500mm f/4 IS but I also shoot birds primarily. You could start with a 400mm f/5.6 and if that is too short move up. Regardless the 400mm is a good lens to have on hand to
...Show more

There is nothing at at all about "mobility" or "portability". It's all about a wider field of view. And getting more of the environment in the shot.

If that was the reason I could understand it much better



Sep 05, 2012 at 04:54 PM
JEFFERY Z71
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p.1 #13 · Wildlife Lens Choose


500 f4 is a good all round wildlife lens. The 400 f5.6 is a small wonder if their is enough light.


Sep 05, 2012 at 05:00 PM
abqnmusa
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p.1 #14 · Wildlife Lens Choose


Given lens pricing; you have to be rich these days to be a wildlife shooter.

all of the Canon L super-teles are not affordable.
the 400 f5.6 & 100-400 zoom are the only affordable lenses on the list.

I use a 400mm F5.6 & 300mm F4 IS with success.
Most of my nature shooting is done hiking so smaller package and weight works out well.

I use non-reporting tele-converters with the 5D III
300mm f4 IS with 2X
400mm F5.6 with 1.4X
results have been good when light is sufficient.

related link:
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1138371/0?keyword=f8#10865045

Edited on Sep 05, 2012 at 05:11 PM · View previous versions



Sep 05, 2012 at 05:00 PM
mco_970
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p.1 #15 · Wildlife Lens Choose


500/4.5 is affordable. It's older, but I think that just makes it 'distinguished'. (Hey, it works for Clooney).


Sep 05, 2012 at 05:03 PM
jasonsim
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p.1 #16 · Wildlife Lens Choose


I think on a 7D the 300mm f/2.8L II will be enough. Especially coupled with 1.4x III and 2x III (if needed). Like others have said, it depends on how close you can get to your subjects. The only reason I have a 500mm and now an 800mm is for birds and I want to start using my 5D III for that too.

You might also think about the framing of your subjects. Do you want more environment showing, full bodies, or tight portraits (faces).

My choices, purely because you have crop bodies and shooting big game:

1. 300mm f/2.8L II IS
Just as light as the 400mm DO and takes the teleconverters better. I've not used this lens, but thinking about getting one to replace my 300mm f/2.8L I IS and 500mm f/4L I IS.

2. 500mm f/4L IS
If you will be further away from your subjects. Thinking this would be a plus for bears and other dangerous mammals.

3. 100-400mm L
Hands down the best for versatility, especially if you are going out not knowing what you will run into. Lighter in weight is a real plus too.



Sep 05, 2012 at 05:07 PM
uz2work
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p.1 #17 · Wildlife Lens Choose


Lars Johnsson wrote:
How close to the animals are you most of the time when shooting? Are you using tripod and gimbal head? Or monopod, handheld?
How important is the cost of the lens?


Lars,

It is really pretty simple, the two bodies and the two long lenses that I use give me the opportunity to create a number of body and lens combinations that give me the field of view that I want in the situations in which I shoot and that give me a couple of combinations that give me a light weight, portable, and mobile rig when I need it.

When I use my 400 DO with my 1D Mark IV, it does give me a wider field of view for most of the subjects that I shoot, and, for me, it is a true joy to be able to use a 400 mm lens that I can shoot at f4 and that weighs a bit over 4 pounds and to be able to shoot it hand held for hours without even minimal fatigue. If I need more focal length, I can either use the 500/4 with the 1D Mark IV or use the 400 DO with the 7D for a more portable rig with similar field of view and that puts a similar number of pixels on the subject. The fields of view that I get with those two combinations are, by far, the ones that give me what I want when I want to be able to include a bit more environment and to have cropping and compositional latitude. If, however, I need more focal length, I can add the 1.4x to the 500 on the 1D Mark IV or I can shoot with the bare 500 on the 7D and maintain higher shutter speeds by avoiding the loss of a stop with a 1.4x. Finally, in the rare instances where I need even more focal length, I can add the 1.4x to the 500 on the 7D.

The combination of choice for me is based on the shooting situation, and regardless of which body or which lens I use, any differences in image quality are a lot less than you would be led to believe from reading internet posts. When I look at prints that I've made, I couldn't tell you which body or which lens I used without looking at the file information.

Since portability, light weight, mobility, etc. is a high priority to me, if I were using a full frame body, even with shooting wider than many others do, I'd need longer, bigger, heavier lenses, and, most importantly, my 400 DO, which is my favorite lens to use by far, would not meet the needs I have even with shooting wider than many do.

Thus, even with shooting wider than most, a 400 mm lens and a 500 mm give me the length I need and the range of fields of view that I want with a 7D and a 1D Mark IV, and I have no interest whatever in using bigger and heavier lens to accommodate a FF body.

Les



Sep 05, 2012 at 05:36 PM
PetKal
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p.1 #18 · Wildlife Lens Choose


1DMkIV + 500 f/4 IS MkI (and 1.4xTC MkIII in your bag), that seems to be universally acclaimed set up, well priced compared to the MkII lenses, and tolerably heavy for many folks.

You could go with a lighter lens and/or camera, but you will lose quality and/or keeper rate.
If you go longer, the price goes up and the set portability becomes a concern.

Whatever you do, I'd suggest avoiding 400 DO unless (a) easy handholding is a paramount concern of yours and (b) your targets are close and large.



Sep 05, 2012 at 05:48 PM
oldrattler
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p.1 #19 · Wildlife Lens Choose


AGeoJO wrote:
Jim,
The slogan "more is better" applies more for bird photography and smaller birds at that. I have taken plenty images of sandhill cranes and pelicans, which are not small, and most of the time a 500mm on an APS-H body is long enough. I would say, deep, elk and moose are larger than those cranes. Anything longer would be quite a bit heavier and tougher to handle at our age, let alone signficantly more expensive. A great and reasonably price wildlife lens would be the 500mm f/4.0 IS, IMHO.

Joshua


Thanks Joshua... I have the 500 F4 rented at this time and it is great... But... I added the 1.4X and still wanted more... Used the 7D the next day... Much better on reach but not the 1DIV performance... I thought the older we got the wiser, but not in my case... Jim



Sep 05, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Tenn.Jer
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p.1 #20 · Wildlife Lens Choose


I currently own two of your choices, and have owned and sold two others.
I use the 500 f/4 I for birds, for most shooting from the vehicle, and for almost all my winter time work from camo blinds. You just can't beat it for sharpness, reach, convenience...on and on...
In the warmer months, I do more wandering in the woods, and a lot of paddling in a kayak. Then, I usually shoot with a 400 DO; it is smaller and weighs less than the 300 2.8, so is easily carried (on a Cotton Carrier, sometimes hooked into my belt by the tripod foot, or just cradled in one arm). There is a slight trade-off in sharpness/resolution, and sometimes a lack of contrast, but PP and framing usually solve that...

I sold a 300 2.8 a few years ago to fund the 500mm, but usually used teleconverters with it anyway, negating its legendary sharpness somewhat. I very recently let go of my 100-400 zoom; since I acquired a 70-300L, I never used it, preferring the newer lens' light weight and more advanced IS...

I sometimes wish I had the 400 2.8 instead of either the 400 DO or the 500; the larger aperture would sure be handy for dark forests and early mornings, but the weight would probably break me. And the way newer bodies handle higher ISO's certainly help in low-light situations... I'm sure I'll eventually rent one for a week, just to prove to myself I made the right choices (and help quell my gear-lust)...I would recommend renting to anyone contemplating buying a supertelephoto lens; at first, it seems like you're throwing several hundred dollars into the wind, but holding and shooting with the lens will show you way more than all our forum recommendations ever could. And when you are spending six or eight (or eleven) thousand dollars, a few hundred to be sure you made the right choice is money well-spent in my opinion...

Good luck,
Jerry

edit: It takes me so long to compose a reply that the last three posts showed up while I was writing; Les' ideas on the 400 & 500mm combo are spot-on IMHO, and you are currently renting the 500...

Edited on Sep 05, 2012 at 05:54 PM · View previous versions



Sep 05, 2012 at 05:51 PM
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