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Thread: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

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    Seriche's Avatar
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    Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    I'd be very grateful for some advice from wildlife photographers here.

    I've never tried wildlife photography, or even used a long lens before. I want to shoot some waders at the edge of the sea soon after sunrise tomorrow morning. Today a friend has loaned me a lens and extender, but forgot to bring the tripod mount ring. He'll get that to me in a couple of days, but I want to go out and start learning how to take photos of sea birds as soon as I can, so I have a choice which I hope you can help me with.

    When I go out tomorrow, should I take the Canon EF 70 200mm 1:2.8 L IS USM plus Canon /extender EF 2x II mounted on a 5D II and do it hand held, or should I go for the Tamron AF 70 300mm 1.4 5.6 mounted on the 5D II with a good Manfrotto tripod and remote instead?

    I know that the answer will probably be simple, but as a beginner it's hard to work out if using a cheaper lens on a tripod would be better than a good lens hand held, and I've never used either lens before.

    Hope you can help me

    Seri

  2. #2
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    Re: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    I'd vote for the Canon 70-200. The combination of the f/2.8 and the IS that the Tamron 70-300 lack will be worthwhile I think. Those wading birds are going to be moving anyway, so you're not going to be going for long shutter speeds even if you did have the tripod available. You might want to forgo the 2x extender for a bit until you have the tripod ring though.

    Just my $0.02. Of course, I'd trade my Tamron 70-300 for a Canon 70-200 any day.

    - Bill

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    Re: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    Hi Seri, as you are just starting on this adventure, why not take the time to shoot some with each lens and see what works best for you? Unless you need to carry a heavy load on a long hike, and even then it might be worthwhile, having the option to compare the results may be more meaningful than getting the perfect shot on the first day. You may also discover that you have a chance to catch some of the birds in flight, in which case, the tripod would be a hinderance and not a help! Have some fun and let us know how you made out!

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    Re: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Hi Seri, as you are just starting on this adventure, why not take the time to shoot some with each lens and see what works best for you? Unless you need to carry a heavy load on a long hike, and even then it might be worthwhile, having the option to compare the results may be more meaningful than getting the perfect shot on the first day. You may also discover that you have a chance to catch some of the birds in flight, in which case, the tripod would be a hinderance and not a help! Have some fun and let us know how you made out!
    Yeah take it all and get fit as you shoot!

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    Seriche's Avatar
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    Re: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    Thank you so much for such quick replies

    I'll take both and experiment, as you suggest.

    I have no idea what I'm doing yet, but will do it all on manual and learn by my mistakes. I'm aiming to get to the beach before the birds get up, so I should have plenty of time. I've also got the lens and extender on a long loan

    Whatever happens, I'll be back here with the results tomorrow afternoon, but I doubt that I'll catch anything in flight. The birds around here at that time are a land-bound bunch with their beaks stuck in the sand or playing tag with the waves. I'll have to wait for the dog walkers to arrive to get them moving. They usually let me get pretty close, but I've never had a camera pointed at them before

    As for getting fit, my bicycle saddle bags will be taking most of the strain, and it comes on the beaches with me. But after another four-hour walk in the country lanes this morning my fitness levels are pretty high. And besides; I do weight training at home - and not using those peculiarly-named 'lady weights' either "Get fit as you shoot" indeed!

    Thanks again, Bill and Frank.....and even Tommy too

    Wish me luck!

    Seri

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    Re: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    Seri

    I too would definitely say go with the 70-200 (you have very, very nice friends who give you a f2.8 IS on a long loan).

    You need to remember that with the 2x extender mounter, you lose 2 stops. So, your biggest aperture is going to be f5.6. I think you should look at the possibilities without the extender. Okay, it might not give you close up wildlife, but what about wildlife within its setting/context/landscape?

    If you do go with the extender and you're talking quite low light - Even with the IS capability, you're probably going to have to crank up the ISO setting in order to get a decent shutter speed.

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    Re: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    Hi Seri,
    Last week-end I rented Canon 70-200 mm f2.8 IS - 1.5 kg hand handling. For me it didn't work - but a good experience overall
    I understood why you have to "marry" your tripod. No perfect lens in the word could compensate for shaky hands- again this was my experience.

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    Re: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    I love taking wildlife shots. I have canons 70-200mm f/4 L USM and its great. It was much cheaper than the 2.8 or IS versions. It doesnt quite give me the distance I want, but I have been able to capture some nice images with it anyway. I also utilize a tripod 90% of the time.

    These were taken about 20 feet or so from the subject:
    Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question


    Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    I would like more distance but I make do with what I have. I wasnt interested in cheaper zoom lenses. I wanted quality over zoom ability. Not sure if this helps but theres my two cents.

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    Re: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    I may have missed something here, but why not simply attach the 70-200 plus extender to your camera and mount the camera to the tripod in the usual way.

    The 70-200 tripod mount is an optional extra which I have never purchased. In fact I have yet to find a UK company which offers this option. It wasn't available where I bought the lens.

    I use my 70-200 F4 plus 1.4x on a 40D which is mounted to the tripod without any problems. A lens mount may have a better balance but it isn't essential.

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    Seriche's Avatar
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    Re: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Seri
    I too would definitely say go with the 70-200 (you have very, very nice friends who give you a f2.8 IS on a long loan).
    .
    I will. My old friend is very encouraging and patient when I want to keep stopping to take photos on our walks, but I admit I was amazed when he made that offer

    You need to remember that with the 2x extender mounter, you lose 2 stops. So, your biggest aperture is going to be f5.6. I think you should look at the possibilities without the extender. Okay, it might not give you close up wildlife, but what about wildlife within its setting/context/landscape?
    He warned me about the loss of stops, and I will take your advice and leave the extender at home this time. I much prefer photographing invertebrates in context rather than using extreme magnification, and the idea of photographing bird behaviour, more than close ups, also appeals.

    If you do go with the extender and you're talking quite low light - Even with the IS capability, you're probably going to have to crank up the ISO setting in order to get a decent shutter speed
    Understood. I'll be starting the shoot in very low light, but the birds hang around for quite a while after sunrise. I'll experiment with different ISO settings. It's magically quiet at that time in the morning. Can't wait

    Thanks muchly, Donald,

    Seri

  11. #11
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    Re: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    Quote Originally Posted by dulceza View Post
    Hi Seri,
    Last week-end I rented Canon 70-200 mm f2.8 IS - 1.5 kg hand handling. For me it didn't work - but a good experience overall
    I understood why you have to "marry" your tripod. No perfect lens in the word could compensate for shaky hands- again this was my experience.
    Hi Dora

    It's a heavy beast, that's for sure, and the more gear I get, the more I long for the carefree days of wandering around with a Fuji F10 in my pocket

    Why didn't the 70 -200 work for you?

    I'm learning what a necessary evil a solid tripod is too. I resent having to set one up, but would end up spending even more time trying to get a sharp shot hand-held.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with the lens, Dora.

    Cheers,

    Seri

  12. #12
    Seriche's Avatar
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    Re: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Chromatoast View Post
    I love taking wildlife shots. I have canons 70-200mm f/4 L USM and its great. It was much cheaper than the 2.8 or IS versions. It doesnt quite give me the distance I want, but I have been able to capture some nice images with it anyway. I also utilize a tripod 90% of the time.

    These were taken about 20 feet or so from the subject:
    Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question


    Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    I would like more distance but I make do with what I have. I wasnt interested in cheaper zoom lenses. I wanted quality over zoom ability. Not sure if this helps but theres my two cents.
    Hi Troy,

    It's very inspiring to see what that lens can do in the right hands. Thanks for sharing those fabulous shots I hope you're going to post them in the Nature section too, because a lot of people will miss them here.

    You've been very helpful in showing me what the lens can achieve. I won't know what I can do with it until tomorrow, and, as with all things, it takes years of patient practice to become really skilled, but I'm in no hurry. I expect tomorrow's shots will be truly awful, but I will post them anyway. The worse the shots, the more that can be learned from them

    Your wonderful photographs prove that you were perfectly right to choose quality over zoom ability, and as you're now producing shots like those, may I wish you the best of luck in being able to treat yourself to a high-quality longer lens very soon.

    Cheers,

    Seri

  13. #13
    Seriche's Avatar
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    Re: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    I may have missed something here, but why not simply attach the 70-200 plus extender to your camera and mount the camera to the tripod in the usual way.

    The 70-200 tripod mount is an optional extra which I have never purchased. In fact I have yet to find a UK company which offers this option. It wasn't available where I bought the lens.

    I use my 70-200 F4 plus 1.4x on a 40D which is mounted to the tripod without any problems. A lens mount may have a better balance but it isn't essential.
    Hello Geoff

    This is a possibility I hadn't considered. This morning I had a quick go with the lens, hand held, and pointing at some rocks (no birds around at midday ). It seemed so long and heavy that I simply assumed that it would be a bit unstable just attached to the tripod the way my other, shorter lenses are.

    I'll try it out at home before I leave the house tomorrow. Thanks for that

    (Definitely need some sleep now for the 4 am start tomorrow...)

    Cheers,

    Seri

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    Re: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    Hi Seri,
    It didn't work because is heavy- and without tripod after few hours I was exhausted- (I still have problems using the fork)-
    So just a matter of weight, wrists pain - and no pictures to share with you.
    Good luck Seri, I'm sure that it will be an extraordinary experience for you.

    Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question my first picture with a professional lens

  15. #15
    Seriche's Avatar
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    Re: Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question

    Quote Originally Posted by dulceza View Post
    Hi Seri,
    It didn't work because is heavy- and without tripod after few hours I was exhausted- (I still have problems using the fork)-
    So just a matter of weight, wrists pain - and no pictures to share with you.
    Good luck Seri, I'm sure that it will be an extraordinary experience for you.

    Beginner's Wildlife Lens Question my first picture with a professional lens
    Hi Dora

    That's a fabulous image, and your first try with that lens too!

    Having hauled the 70 - 200 around with me for hours this morning in the muggy heat, I can agree with you about the weight problem

    I was less than successful at taking pictures of waders this morning. In my mind's eye I was recalling the Curlew, Green and Redshank, Sanderling, Avocet, Little Egrets, Grey Herons etc. that I'd seen on the beach before. But this morning all I saw was a couple of gulls and a temperamental bunch of Oystercatchers that flew to the other end of the beach at the first sight of the tripod!

    It was a good day in the end, and I found out that it's a great lens for taking landscapes too, so all was not lost.

    Dora, thanks so much for your reply, and please forgive me for adding a quick note here. I'm going to have to take a hiatus from the forum for a month in order to deal with a real life problem that's occured. I'm going to miss this place terribly, but will be in a much more relaxed state by the end of August. Just wanted to let people know so that it doesn't look like 'goodbye' when I stop posting (after this one). It's very far from that

    Right. I'm going now before I get all emotional

    Cheers,

    Seri

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