Choose the perfect wildlife lens
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.