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Old Feb 9, 2009, 12:50 PM   #11
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Shadowplay wrote:
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Can you or someone else here help me understand the differences between the two zoom lenses?

Specifically:
* Canon EF 70-300 IS ($550)
* Canon EF-S 55-250 IS. ($250)

I'm convinced I'd be fine with the less expensive lens there, but of course I can't help but look at the better one, too.
The Canon EF 70-300 IS will work with Canon's 'Full Frame' dSLR bodies. That's important if you envision ever spending $3000+ for the very best camera body. Otherwise, not so much. The 70-300 is very slightly sharper where their ranges overlap, but not so much that anyone would notice.

While the 70-300 is a very nice lens, the 55-250 is also quite good and is a great value.
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Old Feb 9, 2009, 1:06 PM   #12
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TCav wrote:Ok that pretty much clears up any fears I may have had about the 55-250 lens and that would be the one I'd go with to start. Plenty of oomph for a beginner like myself at a price that isn't bleeding me dry. Thanks for the info and the links.
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Old Feb 9, 2009, 2:02 PM   #13
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One of the best things you can do for wildlife, particularly small birds is get yourself close. This means a hide, and often means enticing them in with feeders.

At 200mm you are good for about 3-5 yards. At 250 maybe 5-7yards. That is VERY close.

A good game to play is try sneaking up on some birds. See if you can get within 5 yards for 1 second at least, ideally for 5 minutes. If you can't then you are going to struggle to take great photos.

Sports is a similar problem. To get great shots you need to get a great position. One reason the pro photographers get great shots is that they can get in the best spots. It makes all the difference. Even with $10,000 in equipment, if you can't get access you won't get the shots. A hide is more difficult to prepare because although the sports people themselves are often pre-occupied (and sometimes not very bright) the people who own the venues are very observant and are more likely to spot you.

Green camoflage works well on birds, but is not so good at hockey.

Feeders on the other hand work well for both hockey players and for birds, but of course you need to use different food.

This is the reason I don't do bird photography. The equipment is incredibly expensive, and then you need huge amounts of skill and patience. Without those things you will only get the occasional lucky shot. I decided to save myself the money and disappointment. Sometimes you can find yourself in the right position at the right time though, which can be fun.

I don't have equipment any better than you will be getting. But I only have a handful of decent wildlife shots. :-) Despite all the warnings, you can still get lucky.






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Old Feb 9, 2009, 2:47 PM   #14
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Wow those are some great shots. I particularly like the feather detail in that first photo. See all of those have *way* more detail and depth (I don't mean depth of field hehe) than anything I can get with my cheapo point & shoot and that's what I'm talking about here.

Interestingly enough, I feel I have quite a few good wildlife shots. I think a lot of that is some of the places I go, patience and of course luck always plays a role. Many of those shots would be great instead of only good if I had better equipment (and the skill to use it!) when I took the shots. It does sound like I would need a much more extreme telephoto lens to get the really great shots without having to get closer than 15 or so feet, but I can live with that no problem. Maybe if I were to get good enough to justify the expense I could then look into such lenses.

One thing that really helps me with wildlife and landscapes is that I live in Colorado so I have fairly easy access to some amazing locations in the Rocky Mountains. Luckily I enjoy hiking and camping so I'm in those great locations whether or not I have a good camera so it only makes sense for me to *get* a good camera. See how I justify it all to myself here? :G
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Old Feb 9, 2009, 2:51 PM   #15
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Shadowplay wrote:
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Wildlife:birds (still and in flight), deer, coyotes, etc. - this is high on the list for me. I know there are times when I'd want some crazy 600mm lens action, but that's far beyond what I have any need for at this time.
OK, sounds like this is your most difficult thing then. Sports you're happy with whatever you get, landscape has been covered. What you are going to find if wildlife is a big part of your shooting is all that 50-250mm lens is going to do is frustrate you. If you want to do wildlife here's my suggestion for the least expensive option in Canon's lineup: Sigma 135-400mm f5.6 ($516). That's a consumer grade lens but it's got the reach you'll need. Next step up the food chain:

Canon 400mm 5.6 prime ($1100)

Sigma 50-500 (aka Bigma - $1100)

Canon 100-400 ($1400).

There are a lot of new wildlife shooters down in the Pentax forum. I would strongly encourage you to ask the question in that forum if it makes sense to buy a 50-250mm lens or just bight the bullet and buy the longer lens. I don't think anyone there uses the sigma 135-400 but there are a few that use the bigma.

Good luck!


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Old Feb 9, 2009, 3:25 PM   #16
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JohnG wrote:
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OK, sounds like this is your most difficult thing then. Sports you're happy with whatever you get, landscape has been covered. What you are going to find if wildlife is a big part of your shooting is all that 50-250mm lens is going to do is frustrate you. If you want to do wildlife here's my suggestion for the least expensive option in Canon's lineup: Sigma 135-400mm f5.6 ($516). That's a consumer grade lens but it's got the reach you'll need. Next step up the food chain:

Canon 400mm 5.6 prime ($1100)

Sigma 50-500 (aka Bigma - $1100)

Canon 100-400 ($1400).

There are a lot of new wildlife shooters down in the Pentax forum. I would strongly encourage you to ask the question in that forum if it makes sense to buy a 50-250mm lens or just bight the bullet and buy the longer lens. I don't think anyone there uses the sigma 135-400 but there are a few that use the bigma.

Good luck!
Ouch! Going from my $150 point & shoot to specific lenses that are over $1k is overwhelming even though I know that stuff is out there. It'll take some time for my mindset to shift though!
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Old Feb 9, 2009, 3:45 PM   #17
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Shadowplay wrote:
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Ouch! Going from my $150 point & shoot to specific lenses that are over $1k is overwhelming even though I know that stuff is out there. It'll take some time for my mindset to shift though!
Sadly that is directly related to the wildlife shooting. And hey there was a $500 option in there too you know :G. I see it predominantly in people shooting sports since that's my area but I've done the occasional wildlife thing and I see it a lot there too. People who don't photograph the subject don't understand how important a role the lens plays. In sports it's usually aperture that is the big factor. For wildlife it's reach. Which is why I think it's important you check with some people that shoot wildlife. For me, I could never imagine trying to do it with a 250mm lens. My 100-400mm was frustratingly short - of course I don't have the skills others do to get closer.

In my mind it's fine if I can't do a certain thing but I think it's important you get some facts from wildlife shooters about how limited you'll really be with a 250mm lens. Even a 300mm one. Which is why spending $560 on something like the 70-300mm is such a tough thing - it's a pricey lens, can't take a tc so you can't extend the reach and it may still be too short for your needs.

The bottem line is none of us participating in this post do much wildlife photography. I would look at the forums below - starting in the wildlife forum but feel free to look in the others. Look at shots taken in the wild - not on a deck by bird feeder and not in a zoo - that's not the type of work you'll be doing. If you see a photographer getting results you'd be happy with then ask for their recommendation. Sports and wildlife are two areas where it's very dangerous to take advice from people that don't do it. There are too many variables.



Good luck!
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Old Feb 9, 2009, 8:34 PM   #18
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I use two cameras for distant shots: a Panasonic FZ-28 and a Pentax K200D. I have a Sigma 28-300mm zoom lensbut usually use a Pentax 55-300mm lens for higher quality pictures. In low light, it's not an ideal combination. The K200D goes up to only ISO 1600 and the lens is not particularly bright at full zoom. In daylight, it works fine. Last week, I got a Kenko 1.5X teleconverter which converts my 300mm setting to a 675mm setting (because of the 1.5x crop factor). You have to be careful though. You can't use autofocus with thesmaller apertures and yet you cannot use the widest apertures if you want sharp pictures. It's ok in bright light but if you can spring for thelonger lenses themselves, you will get better pictures.

If you just want to take pictures of wildlife in daylight and something like afternoon soccer games, a bridge camera like the FZ-28 might serve you well. It's definitely much easier to carry around than a DSLR with a big zoom lens.


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