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EF Lenses 101 :: Applications :: Wildlife



Like sports, wildlife photography is usually characterized by one thing above all else: you can't get physically close to your subject, so you need a lens that brings it close to you. A number of factors will dictate what's the optimum lens for you: the lighting you typically expect to be working in, the size of the wildlife you want to photograph, and how close you can reasonably expect to get to it.

For versatility and easy hand-held results, two lenses stand out: the 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS, and the now-legendary professional 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS. Both use Canon's Image Stabilization, which will permit safe hand-holding at up to two full f/stops slower shutter speeds than would otherwise be possible, and since they make hand-holding so practical, it's easy to shoot quickly and follow rapidly-moving subjects.

Speaking of speed, one of the finest lenses in the world for shooting fast-moving subjects such as birds in flight is Canon's fixed focal length 400mm f/5.6L lens. It's a superbly sharp lens, light enough to be hand-held, and is one of the fastest focusing telephoto lenses on the market today. It underlines the benefits of Canon's Ultrasonic Motor technology: putting the best possible performance in your hands.

If you shoot in areas where animals are used to the presence of people and will let you approach, the 300mm f/4.0L IS is a great choice. It's sharp, has Image Stabilization (great for sharp hand-held results in low light, like deep shade, or at dawn or dusk), and like the 400mm f/5.6L, it's portable enough for hand-holding. It performs beautifully with either Canon's EF 1.4x II or EF 2x II Tele Extenders the Image Stabilization is a real help here (with an EF 1.4x II Extender, AF is possible with any EOS camera). And for small subjects you can get close to -- from birds to prairie dogs -- you'll love its 4.9-foot (1.5m) minimum focusing distance.

Many times, though, nature photographers are shooting subjects both large and small that simply won't allow them to get too close. Especially for the professional whose reputation depends upon the pictures he or she returns with, nothing matches the performance of Canon's Image Stabilized super-telephoto lenses. They combine the long focal lengths wildlife shooters need with superb optical performance, outstanding autofocus speed and accuracy along with Canon's full-time manual focusing (allowing instant manual focus override, without switching out of the AF mode), weather-resistant construction, and Canon's second-generation Image Stabilization that functions even with the lens on a rigid tripod. Perhaps the best choice here for wildlife is the 500mm f/4.0L IS, which brings all these attributes into a powerful but portable package that weighs only 8.5 lbs. And for those who need an even longer lens, there's the 600mm f/4.0L IS, which can be combined with the accessory 1.4x or 2x Tele Extenders to provide an 840mm f/5.6 autofocus lens, or a 1200mm f/8 lens that will AF with the EOS-3 or EOS-1v at their center-most AF point.

EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM

EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM

EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

EF 500mm f/4L IS USM

EF 600mm f/4L IS USM

Extender EF 1.4x II

Extender EF 2x II

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