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November 1, 2012
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Ideal Wildlife Photography Lenses- Please recommend/help!

:icona-c-t-u-a-l:
A-c-t-u-a-l Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Student Photographer
So, Christmas is coming up and I have been asked to search for the perfect present. I have been scouring the inter-webs for many long hours and have come to a conclusion.

Seeing as I would love to pursue a career in wildlife photography a lens suited for that would be in my best interests, but I have come across a dilemma!

I have no idea which lens to choose, and I am on quite a tight budget which can probably stretch to 300 ($480 I think).

I currently have the following lenses for my Canon 550D:

18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Kit
EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS

Some people have told me to get macro primes such as a 35mm or 55mm for photographing insects and plants but I really have no experience in such lenses.

(At some point I would love to get something like a 400mm telephoto, but maybe when I win the lottery).


So what I ask of you kind folk is to recommend to me lenses that you use for nature photography and whether you think a macro prime is the way to go, and which one to pick.

Thank you for you time, I hope you have a nice evening!
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Devious Comments

:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012
Depends a lot on what you mean by wildlife, or what kind of wildlife. It will take different lenses to shoot a deer at 100 yards, a goldfinch at 10 feet, or a golden fly at 9 inches.

Then there is the problem of what you mean by macro. A real macro lens takes photos with an exact 1:1 aspect ratio or a 1:2 aspect ratio. The aspect ratio has to be exact, so a scientist can measure the photo and tell exactly how big the bug (or whatever else you shot) is. However, people have been misusing the word for so long that, in common parlance, it has come to mean any extreme closeup photo. Because of this, manufacturers have begun putting the word "macro" on zoom lenses and other lenses that absolutely can not take a real macro photo. True macro lenses do not zoom and the older ones I remember using do not focus; you move the camera until the subject is in focus and that is when the aspect ratio is exact. Any zoom lens that has the word macro on it is not a true macro lens. Zoom lenses do, however, work fine for closeup photography.
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:icona-c-t-u-a-l:
A-c-t-u-a-l Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Student Photographer
Thank you for clarification and advice, by macro I do not mean zoom lenses. But one that is a prime and has no zoom, at the moment they seem like my best option as a lens such as 400mm would be out of my price range. But as you say I can adapt with what I have. Thanks for your help.
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012
Well, true macro lenses don't have much working distance. A 50mm macro lens, for instance, has a working distance of about an inch. A 180mm macro lens lets you get all the way out to 9 inches from your subject though. In most real macro photos of insects, the insects are either lured to the working distance of the lens or they are dead and mounted.
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:icongeorgewjohnson:
georgewjohnson Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
You might be able to squeeze a 300mm out of that amount but don't expect miracles from it. You can get a dirt cheap Tamron for about 150 sovs but I'd hate to think what the quality would be like. Sigma might also have something in that price range, check Amazon for a rough idea. None will give stunning results but it will probably give you good feel for what it take to make the shots you really want to make and what kit you will need when you're ready to step up to the next level.

Not wishing to scare you but you will need a minimum of a 400mm to get good shots, a Canon L 100-400mm will set you back about 1100. When it comes to wildlife you're probably looking further towards 600mm or even 800mm and at those sizes the top bods will happily spend in excess of 8000 on a lens alone. Shooting quality kit is expensive at the best of times, expenses on really good wildlife shooting is crazy money. My wife is probably very happy I have no interest in wildlife shooting, LOL!
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:iconmichaelrowlandson:
MichaelRowlandson Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Professional Photographer
thehehe im looking into leasing the 500mm f4 is ii XD.
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:icongeorgewjohnson:
georgewjohnson Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
I remember looking to lease the 16-35 from lensesforhire.co.uk about 3 months ago and I took a look at the prices for the huge teles and I didn't think they were that bad actually. I think a Canon L 500mm f4 was only something like about 250 a week, plus 25 for each additional day, darn sight cheaper than the 8k-10k RRP!
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:iconmichaelrowlandson:
MichaelRowlandson Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2012  Professional Photographer
yeah it adds up to be about 10% interest in the end.
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:icona-c-t-u-a-l:
A-c-t-u-a-l Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Student Photographer
Wow, I think I may have to put wildlife photography on the back foot for a while. Shame, because now I have no clue what to get! Thank you for your help.
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:icongeorgewjohnson:
georgewjohnson Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
It's one of the hardest to work in and also one of the most expensive, bit like sports. Supreme amounts of patience, having an intuition to know what's coming next and capture it, and shed loads of money. Nothing says you have to go out and spend stupid money and there's nothing stopping you shooting wildlife with a 300 lens, just don't set your sights too high. Shooting birds in your garden on a feeder or local urban foxes out the back your yard, it's still wildlife and perfectly possible on a budget. Just don't think you're going be heading for Scotland to shoot eagles swooping majestically down still, calm lochs at dawn, LOL!
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:iconkkart:
kkart Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Professional Photographer
Ok straight yup, what is your spending limit? that is going to be a huge factor. 400mm is a entry start for focal length.
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:icona-c-t-u-a-l:
A-c-t-u-a-l Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Student Photographer
Highest I could go is 300 :/
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:iconkkart:
kkart Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Professional Photographer
that will severely hamper you. Wildlife lenses are where the BIG money starts. The only lens I can recommend really is the lens which I use right now because it is about the only thing you will find. that being said it does quite well. Tamron 200-400mm. You will need to buy it used as it hasn't been made in some time now so check ebay.
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:icona-c-t-u-a-l:
A-c-t-u-a-l Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Student Photographer
Okay, thank you very much for your advice!
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:iconstevecaissie-stock:
SteveCaissie-stock Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Professional Photographer
Well, if you’re looking to shoot wildlife, you’re going to need something like that 400mm lens to do it properly. If you can’t afford that, what about a teleconverter? It won’t be as sharp and you’ll will lose as much as two full stops of light, making it much harder to see while focusing, but a 2x teleconverter will effectively make your 55-250 into a 110-500mm lens. That’ll at least get you into the game, so to speak.

Another option would be to sell the 55-250 and put that cash towards a 400mm prime. Not sure how much you could get for that on the used market, but if wildlife is your dream job, then you certainly shouldn’t let a little thing like being broke stand in your way. ;)
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:iconskankinmike:
SkankinMike Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012
The 55-250 win't take a teleconvertor unfortunately...
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:iconstevecaissie-stock:
SteveCaissie-stock Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Professional Photographer
I had a feeling that might be the case. Well, there’s always the option of having a yard sale, I suppose.
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:iconskankinmike:
SkankinMike Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012
That isn't the craziest of ideas! I have a mountain of junk to put on ebay!
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:iconstevecaissie-stock:
SteveCaissie-stock Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Professional Photographer
Yeah, me too. I’ve got a 210mm manual lens and a 2x teleconverter that are gathering dust on a shelf (and I had the lens serviced just a couple of years ago), and two film backs and a polaroid back that are similarly wasting away.
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:icona-c-t-u-a-l:
A-c-t-u-a-l Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Student Photographer
Thank you very much for the advice, I will shop around for cheap primes as well as looking at teleconverters. Would you not consider a macro prime at all?
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:iconwildsidesky:
WildsideSky Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Student Photographer
hey, from most of the photographers I've talked to, teleconverters crunch colours and sharpness in images, and are not worth the extra money. I'd advise to save the money you would spend and save up for a bigma, which is a relatively inexpensive (compared to its kin) 500mm lens. It's not the best, but on a smaller budget, it delivers alright quality.
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:icona-c-t-u-a-l:
A-c-t-u-a-l Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2012  Student Photographer
Okay thank you for all your help. Saving up does look like one of the best options I have so far. I will get back to washing cars again...
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:iconwildsidesky:
WildsideSky Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2012  Student Photographer
sounds like a plan xD
I've been saving up for a 400mm for about two months and am still hundreds of dollars away.
it'll be worth it though xD
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:icona-c-t-u-a-l:
A-c-t-u-a-l Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2012  Student Photographer
I wish you good luck! Notify me when you upload your first pictures while using it!
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:iconstevecaissie-stock:
SteveCaissie-stock Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Professional Photographer
I should clarify, btw, that reversing your lens does not really turn it into a macro lens, but it does make a pretty decent close-up lens.
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:iconstevecaissie-stock:
SteveCaissie-stock Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Professional Photographer
Depends on what you want to shoot. Most macro lenses are in the 50-100mm range (or thereabouts), so while they’re fantastic for taking shots of bugs and leaves, they leave something to be desired when trying nail that doe 300 yards away. You’re better off just reversing your 18-55 kit lens if you want a macro, or investing in a spacer.
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