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Old Jan 2, 2006, 8:21 PM   #1
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I'd like to get a lens for taking pictures of birds, similar to the excellent photos I've seen posted here under the WILDLIFE section of the forum.

I have a Canon 70-200 F4 lens, but I'm not sure the lens would be long enough (or fast enough) to get decent pictures.

What lens might you recommend?

Obviously price is a factor. Is there a suitable alternative in the under $500, $500-700 or $700+ range?

Thanks and your comments are appreciated.

-- Terry
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Old Jan 2, 2006, 9:44 PM   #2
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The 400f5.6L, though it's about $1100. Have a look at this http://www.birdsasart.com/faq.html
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Old Jan 2, 2006, 10:43 PM   #3
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Having tried it myself, mainlywith the 100-400L and it being, for the most part too short at even 400mm for for most anything short of a bird sitting on your fence in the backyard (and I'm talking on the part of the fence closest to you, not across the yard), I have to say the minimum place you need to start is at 400mm, but in reality that is not enough. You need to be prepared to do one of two things:

1. Accept the fact you'll never be able to afford a 500 or 600mm prime (fast) lens and make the best with what you've got, meaning either use your current lens or get the 70-200 f2.8 andbuy the 1.4 converter or 2X converter and manually focus (with your current f4L)and get closer by using some judicious cropping, or:

2. Buy a 500 f4 or 600 f4 Canon lens and a good tripod and ballhead.

Having come to that crossroad myself, I decided to makebird photographysomething less than my prime aim.You never win the driving competition with a 1 iron. You need the big woods.

Any option less than $700 is going to involve compromises in image quality due to either inferior glass or too slow a speed (f5.6 or slower), meaning either too slow a shutter speed or having to use too high an ISO rating (again, refer to #1 above).

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Old Jan 3, 2006, 2:53 AM   #4
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For small birds you simply have to get close and there is no way around that.

Even 400,500,600mm lenses don't change that fact.

So most of the hard work is in learning how to get close without spooking them.

Most of Normcar's best stuff (IMO) in the Wildlife forum was done with his 200mm (f1.8 ) prime.

The Sigma 50-500 is a very versatile lens and well regarded in that forum too, as is the 100-400L.

I generally don't have the skill (and patience) to get close enough to small birds. But when you do the results can be fun...

This shot was taken with the 70-300 DO at ~200mm zoom. The bird was ~3m away and is ~12-15cm long.
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Old Jan 3, 2006, 9:57 AM   #5
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terry@softreq.com wrote:
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Obviously price is a factor. Is there a suitable alternative in the under $500, $500-700 or $700+ range?
Have you check out the Sigma 100-300 f/4 EX?
... this lens is practically a prime at 700+. It'll get you to 400 with a 1.4x (better than a 70-200 f/2.8 + 2x)!
http://www.naturephotographers.net/je1001-2.html
http://www.treknature.com/photos.php?cat=lens&id=18


FYI - The 1st shot was taken with my 100-400L and the 2nd shot was with the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 EX with a 2x converter maxed out @ 600mm all handheld... http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=11

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Old Jan 3, 2006, 7:31 PM   #6
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NHL,

I see the options are Sigma 100-300 F4 at about $750, Canon 100-400L at about $1300, or a Sigma 120-300 at about two grand.

I think the Sigma is obviously the least expensive alternative, and might stand me well for some long range sports photography.

I do have an Orion 80mm F/5 telescope (400mm focal length), that with an adapter could fit on my 20D.

But my understanding is the sharpness wouldn't be as good as a dedicated zoomis that correct?

-- Terry


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Old Jan 3, 2006, 8:37 PM   #7
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terry@softreq.com wrote:
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I see the options are Sigma 100-300 F4 at about $750, Canon 100-400L at about $1300...
You missed the 50-500 EX that peripatetic suggested as well - basically that's it



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or a Sigma 120-300 at about two grand.
Believe it or not this is about the only '600mm' that you can still handhold short of a CAT... :idea:

Most other longer primes will need a tripod and severely limit your mobility / shooting style! :O
(beside costing $5k or more, so in that regard two grands is cheap...)

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Old Jan 3, 2006, 8:50 PM   #8
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The Sigma 50-500 is about $900.

I'm assuming the sigma 50-500 or the 100-300 are probably more in my price range.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the 100-300 looks a little sharper.

Which of these two lenses might better suit sports photography as well?

Obviously the 50-500 covers more real estate, but maybe I'm giving up sharpness or lens speed as a result?

-- Terry


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Old Jan 3, 2006, 9:02 PM   #9
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terry@softreq.com wrote:
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Which of these two lenses might better suit sports photography as well?
The 100-300 f/4 EX of course - almost a perfect score:
http://www.photographyreview.com/cat...5_3128crx.aspx
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Old Jan 4, 2006, 12:31 AM   #10
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There's another choice not mentioned so far. The Canon 300mm F4L IS plus 1.4x TC to get to 420mm at F5.6. Yes, it is a prime and I don't know if you like that. You do get IS though. The combo of lens plus TC should be about $1400.

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