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Old Apr 19, 2006, 6:50 PM   #1
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I am waiting for my Canon 30D and 17-85mm IS lens to arrive. I will also purchase a telephoto zoom lens, but I am planning to learn how to use the camera before buying the zoom. We will be going on an African Safari in September. I have used a 35mm Camera for many years and purchased a Pentax5 megapixel digicam a few years ago.

Last year we went to Peru and Ecuador including the Galapagosand took many pictures. In the Galapagos, you could get up close to the animals and I had no problems getting wonderful (by my estimation) photos. I printed about 15-208X10 pictures, framed them and have them hanging in our home. On a few pictures, I digitally zoomed in and cropped pictures using Photoshop Elements 2.0 before printing.

I understand that because you cannot (and do not want to) get close tothe wild animals in Africa, a 400mm lens or longer is highly recommended. My question is, since my 30D is a 1.6 crop camera, then wouldn't a 300mm lens yield the same picture as if the lens were 480mm on a FF camera? If so, wouldn't a 300mm lens yield decent results, even if I had to digitally zoom in on and crop some pictures using Photoshop before printing. The 30D is an8 megapixel camera and my Pentax is only 5MP. Doesn't the extra 3MP help somewhat if I digitally zoom before printing.

I do not want to spend the $ for a 400mm lens or a zoom that will go to 400mm. I also am weight restricted on this trip - a total of 33 lbs including suitcase, carry on bag and camera gear. I think a 70-300mm zoom would be much lighter and might give me acceptable results considering I will not be printing larger than 8X10 or possibly a few at 11X14. In the long run, I believe that I would get more use from a 70-300mm or possibly even a 100 -300mm than a 80-400mm or a 135-400.

I would like to hear some comments on my thoughts from those of you who are more experienced than I am with digital SLRs.
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Old Apr 19, 2006, 9:06 PM   #2
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Your logic is basically correct.
Using a 300mm on a 1.6x crop DSLR will give you the field of view of a 480mm lens. So if you believe that is enough magnification then you should be good with that.

It is also true that the extra resolution will let you crop a bit more than before and still make similar prints to what you've already done (assuming all other aspects are equal.)

If you're talking about this lens:
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS

Then it is a fairly good lens for sharpness when you stop down the aperture a big. It has some flare issues, so be careful, and the AF speed isn't great.

The canon 100-400 is a better lens in a variety of ways, but I bet it costs more and weights more. And it's a push-pull zoom, which many people dislike. I've gotten used to it and like it a lot.

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Old Apr 20, 2006, 6:26 AM   #3
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Thanks Eric:

Yes, the 70-300mm IS USM is the one I was thinking of, if the issue in portrait mode gets resolved in the next few months. I may consider renting a 100-400mm before the trip to see if I want to buy one as the size and weight of the 100-400mm might be of a concern for me. On the other hand, I might just rent one for the trip as I may not have a lot of usefor a 100-400mmafterwards.
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Old Apr 20, 2006, 7:39 AM   #4
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You might consider getting a cheap second hand long lens and be willing to count that price as tuition. You will find out if you want to lug a large lens about, and if you have enough use for a long lens to consider buying a good one insead of renting. By using a cheap lens (small aperture and a need to stop down from there, slow focus, distortion, no IS, flare,...), youmight findout which of the flaws you are willing to live with and thus cut the cost of a better lens.

Since you can sell the lens after using it (typically about half what you paid if you simply sell it back to whoever you got it from), the cost of trying out a long lens isn't the whole purchase price.
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Old Apr 20, 2006, 8:07 AM   #5
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you will also need a monopod

(yes, even with IS)
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Old Apr 20, 2006, 8:15 AM   #6
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It depends on the kind of wildlife shooting you're doing.

Renting a 100-400 is a nice idea.

You may be able to hand-hold, I have managed fine even at dusk, but that does include judicious use of balancing the lens against the Land Rover's roll bars at times.

If you are going to be spending a lot of time in a Landy a monopod might not be very practical.

There are more specialised clamps and things that are great for safaris, you might be able to rent them too.

In general however the 70-300 IS is a nice lens to round out your kit, giving you IS and USM and pretty good sharpness from an effecive 27-480mm in just two lenses, neither of which is too big or heavy. To push up the image quality substantially you have to spend a LOT more on lenses and carry a lot more weight IMO.

Don't be afraid to use ISO800, 1600 and even 3200 as the light starts to fade. The 20D/30D has very good low-light performance.
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Old Apr 22, 2006, 6:43 AM   #7
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Bill Drew: I have used long lenses on the 35mm I sold last year - an 80-210mm with a 2X. I have a close friend with a Canon 10D who got into birding a few years ago, but seems to have lost interest. He is presently out of the country for a few weeks. I think I will check to see what lenses he has that he may be willing to lendor sell me.

bernabeu: I still have my monopod and tripod from my 35mm days. However, I am not planning on taking either on the safari. I plan on using a beanbag.

peripatetic: I am going to wait to see what lenses my friend has.

Thanks for all the replies. Just received my 30D, but did not get the 17-85mm lens - a mixup and that part of my order was cancelled. Now I have a newSLR, butcannot use it until I get a lens. Will read the manual to get familiar with all the dials and buttons.
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