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FORUMS Photo Sharing & Discussion Wildlife 
Thread started 04 Apr 2011 (Monday) 00:26
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Wildlife Lens vs. Travel

Senior Member
445 posts
Joined Feb 2010
Location: Victoria, BC
Apr 04, 2011 00:26 |  #1

*I have posted an idential thread in the Lens Section. I am looking for advice from both spectrums of the board, and I apologize if I have broken the rules.


I have some cash saved for a 100-400mm 4.5-5.6 L telephoto lens. I've got almost enough and I look at my savings and think, "Christ, what a lot of money." It has taken me a very long time to save this money and now that I am near my goal, I am reluctant to part with it all for just one lens.

I believe that it's the photographer, not the gear, that takes a great picture. Currently, I shoot with a 5 year old Rebel XT and a 70-300 USM IS 4.5-5.6. About 90% of my images are taken with my 70-300. There are many examples of images taken with this gear on my website, so check it out (external link), if you discern the 70-300 + Rebel XT to be an inferior setup. However, if a new lens is going to help me to evolve into a more experienced photographer, I look at the price tag as an investment into my skill level as an artist.

No, my gear is not the greatest. But - my 300 has almost as much reach as the 400, and the same maximum aperture range. Is that 400 really going to improve my work? And to what extent? Will it really assist in furthering my skill and experience in photography?

I am thinking that a better investment would be a quick trip based around wildlife photography. With all this money, I could get out and shoot some great wildlife pictures to add to my portfolio!! Alaska for grizzlies, salmon and eagles, or the Great Bear Rainforest for Kermodes, whale watching trips up the coast...the possibilites go on.

So basically it all boils down to: What is the richer experience? A photography trip with my Rebel and 70-300, or a 100-400 telephoto lens?

Jeez, I could really use a vacation...

Wildlife, West Coast & Vancouver Island Photography (external link)

4,007 posts
Gallery: 84 photos
Likes: 1315
Joined May 2004
Location: Powell, WY
Apr 04, 2011 05:43 |  #2

I think you should take the trip and rent a bigger lens.

My pics:​r (external link)

3,918 posts
Likes: 88
Joined Jun 2010
Location: Atlanta
Apr 04, 2011 06:42 as a reply to  @ RikWriter's post |  #3

We got 100-400 last year for a trip to South Africa. We also rented 500s in country. The VAST majority of my shoots were with 100-400. So much easier to move around...and not all your target will need all the distance you can reach. With a fixed lens...what do you do when a target flys/walks up to where you are located? With the zoom, you can back off without changing the lens. Our best combo was to put the 500 with 1.4x on our 40Ds and keep the 100-400 on the 7Ds. That way were prepared for any thing from 150mm to almost 900mm by the time you figure in crop factors.

So can you get great shots with a fixed 300? No doubt you can. But what will you do when the shoot needs much less....or a little more?

42 posts
Joined Apr 2010
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Apr 04, 2011 08:01 |  #4

Couple of things to consider:

1.) You can always try renting the 100-400 first and see if the results are worth it.

2.) Don't forget L glass holds its value incredibly well, so while it may be a big purchase initially, if you find yourself saying "my old lens was giving me about the same results" you can always sell it for little loss.

I have no experience with the 70-300 so I can't compare the two lenses for you.

Cream of the Crop
10,649 posts
Gallery: 1 photo
Likes: 85
Joined Jul 2007
Location: Sussex, UK
Apr 04, 2011 09:22 |  #5

MCAsan wrote in post #12153714 (external link)
So can you get great shots with a fixed 300? No doubt you can. But what will you do when the shoot needs much less....or a little more?

Adapt your composition, change lens to an alternative (70-200 is my fave) or stick a TC on if you need more reach.

A 300 f2.8 with 1.4x and 2x TCs, paired with a 70-200 f4, is still my favourite safari combination. I've used that combination for the last two safaris, a 100-400 for the three safari previous to those and a 70-300 for my first one. If I were faced with the OP's choice - go to Africa with a 70-300 or not go and buy a 100-400. I'd go.

But I'd try damn hard to save up the £900 for a second-hand 100-400.

Frank Hollis - Retired mass spectroscopist
Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll complain about the withdrawal of his free fish entitlement.
Gear Website (external link)

Senior Member
999 posts
Joined Feb 2011
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Apr 04, 2011 11:40 |  #6

I use the 70-300mm f/4-f/5.6 IS USM on my 60D for sports, a bit of wildlife, and shots of candidates at political forums. I'm very happy with the image quality, the balance on my 60D (not too heavy), and the very good IS. Occasionally 400mm would be nice, but I'm not willing to lug it around or pay the price. If it was really necessary, I would rent one.

Canon 60D, Original Digital Rebel (2003)
EFS 15-85mm IS USM, EF 70-300mm IS USM, Tokina 11-16mm
Speedlite 430EX, Speedlite 430EX II,
Qbox 16 pro, Lastolite EZbox 24x24, Lumiquest Softbox III

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Wildlife Lens vs. Travel
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