There are two things a wildlife-photographer never complains about; first the focal length of the lens is never too long and it is never fast enough. If we have a 400mm/4.0 we look already for the 400mm 2.8 …. Well never is not really true sometimes our bank-account tells us the lens we have is okay and sometimes its back-pain which gives us the red flag that the equipment we have definitely is fast and heavy enough.
A focal range which is affordable and a joy to carry is usually the range from 70 too 300mm. With the exception of SIGMA all companies over more or less similar lenses in terms of range and f-stop. Usually they start with around 70mm around f=4 and end with 300mm around f=5.6. Not really fast but enough for every day pictures. Don’t think about adding a 1.4 or even a 2x extender they usually don’t work well with this zooms and autofocus is lost or fairly unreliable. Usually a better way is to crop a little tighter in particular with the new 15 – 18MP sensors.
Without extender these little zooms are actually pretty good. After CANON updated the old 75-300mm with a better stabilizer and some UD glass the new 70-300mm has found a permanent place in my pockets. Yes in my pockets because it is small and with just 630g light enough to join me when I don’t want to carry more.
Well it is not really the fastest lens neither the autofocus nor the f-stop of 5.6 are spectacular but both are okay and the AF is very precise. I wish manual override would be possible … maybe with the next update. I am happy with the results the pictures are sharp, contrast is fine much better then with the old 75-300mm and the lens is surprisingly good in backlight situations. The stabilizer works very well to gain 3 stops is no problem at all and when one keeps the finger on the shutter release button to shoot several and choose the best of them even four stops are doable.
And the best I don’t feel the back pain after a day out in the field a perfect lens for beginners very good for a day in the zoo and for places like the famous hotspots in Florida where wildlife is less skittish. I use it quite a bit when I work with reptiles the minimum focusing distance of 4.9ft/1,5m helps a lot in these cases.
We shot the image of the Little Woodpecker while visiting the Botanic garden in Bauru/ Brazil. The birds where used to humans but kept their distance after two days of very careful approach they accepted my presence and I even could zoom back and still got a frame filling picture. I just love the combination of this lens with either the 50D or 7D perfect for lazy days.
For a 100% crop move your mouse over the picture.