Shooting at fully extended telephoto lengths without a tripod is a recipe for a blurry shot—unless you have image-stabilization technology. With image stabilization, you can get sharp handheld exposures at longer focal lengths and slower shutter speeds.
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When it comes to selecting lenses for wildlife photography, the first thing most photographers look for is focal length—a long lens that can reach out and cover great distances, bringing animals in for close-ups—but other features are also incredibly useful.