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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Building Your Lens Kit For Digital Action

With the autumn migrations and rutting season approaching fast, now is the time to put together a set of lenses to help you capture all the action

Labels: Lenses

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Now is an ideal time to upgrade your lenses. Fall wildlife season is here, and it’s also the time of year when you can make some of the best landscapes. Particularly when it comes to action shooting (wildlife and sports), having a kit that includes a supertelephoto, a telephoto zoom and a long-range zoom will give you the tools to get spectacular photos and let you make images you couldn’t get armed with just a supertele. The supertelephoto will bring in the distant animals, the tele-zoom will provide compositional flexibility and the long-range zoom will let you capture environmental portraits that show the animal and its surroundings while also giving you the flexibility to change perspective dramatically with the twist of a barrel.

Supertelephoto lenses (200mm and longer for an APS-C-sensor D-SLR, 300mm and longer for a full-frame D-SLR or 35mm camera) let you get “close-ups” of shy wildlife that won’t let you approach closely. Wildlife pros, especially bird specialists, like the pro supertelephotos—300mm ƒ/2.8, 400mm ƒ/2.8, 500mm ƒ/4 and 600mm ƒ/2.8. These offer three major advantages:

Canon EF 800mm ƒ/5.6L IS USM
• They have wide maximum apertures, so you get a bright viewfinder image for easy composing and manual focusing, you get faster shutter speeds for sharper shots of moving subjects, and you can isolate a subject from a busy background due to the extremely limited depth of field with the aperture wide open.

• They autofocus more quickly and accurately than lesser lenses.

• They’re dead-on sharp.

Canon EF 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6L IS USM
On the downside, pro supertelephotos are quite large and heavy, and they’re very costly—the 300mm ƒ/2.8s run $3,000 to over $6,000, and longer lenses go up from there. If you intend to compete full-time with wildlife pros, you need one or more of the pro lenses. They really are that good.

Canon EF 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Canon’s most popular lenses with wildlife pros include the EF 300mm ƒ/2.8L IS USM, EF 400mm ƒ/2.8L IS USM, EF 400mm ƒ/4 DO IS USM, EF 500mm ƒ/4L IS USM, EF 600mm ƒ/4L IS USM and EF 800mm ƒ/5.6L IS USM supertelephotos, all featuring Canon’s pioneering optical Image Stabilizer. Estimated street prices for these run from around $4,000 to over $10,000.

For those on tighter budgets, good Canon wildlife choices include the EF 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6L IS USM, EF 300mm ƒ/4L IS USM, EF 400mm ƒ/5.6L USM, EF 70-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM and (a bit short for wildlife with full-frame cameras, but good for non-full-frame D-SLRs) EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L IS USM and EF 70-200mm ƒ/4L IS USM. These all allow you to prefocus manually without leaving AF mode, very handy when photographing birds in flight.

Canon offers two long-range zooms, the pro EF 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6L IS USM and EF 28-200mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 USM.


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