Choose the per­fect wildlife lens

Practical Photography (UK) - - Welcome - He­len Bridg­wa­ter, Hal­i­fax Louise says:

I want to pho­to­graph some birds in my gar­den, how­ever I only have a kit lens. If I buy a tele­photo, what fo­cal length is best?

There are two ap­proaches to shoot­ing gar­den birds. The first is to set up your cam­era im­me­di­ately next to a feed­ing plat­form and shoot us­ing a wire­less trig­ger, and the sec­ond is to move fur­ther back and use a long tele­photo lens. For the for­mer, you can eas­ily use your kit lens, but for the lat­ter, this is nowhere near long enough, so you’ll def­i­nitely need some long tele­photo glass. You can pick up a 70-300mm zoom (equiv­a­lent to 105-450mm on a crop sen­sor DSLR) for as lit­tle as £100. This will do the job, though won’t of­fer a wide aper­ture, so it’s harder to blur the back­ground. A better, al­beit much

more ex­pen­sive, op­tion is a 300mm f/2.8 prime, which is sharper and has a wider aper­ture. Al­ter­na­tively, try a Sigma or Tam­ron 150-600mm for ex­tra reach, both of which of­fer im­pres­sive im­age qual­ity for a very rea­son­able price. Avoid lenses un­der 300mm as you’ll need to be very close to the bird for it to fill the frame, eg for a robin to oc­cupy most of the frame at 200mm, you’d need to be closer than 1m from the bird.

Above Sigma’s 150-600mm f/5-6.3 C (£789) has an ideal fo­cal length for gar­den birds.

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