Lens on a Budget


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Dec 20, 2008
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I'm needing a new lens for some wildlife photography, so one with a decent zoom (200 or 300mm) but my budget right now is about $300.00
Is there anything even worth getting in this price range?

P.S. my camera is a Canon XSi

I think the canon 100-300mm f4-5.6 is in that price range and is probably the best at the long end, but all lenses in the 300mm area in the price range you are looking at are not the best performers. They are usable and if you stop down to say f8 you can get some decently sharp shots out of them
what about 200mm? or is that not even reasonably enough zoom for wildlife photography?
if your good you only need 50mm ;)

honestly though wildlife ranges generally start at 300mm. I have a 200mm (a 70-200mm) lens and I use a 1.4 teleconverter with it to get to 280mm range ( at the long end) and that just gets me enough range for zoo type work where the animals are much closer generaly speaking.

One half of wildlife photography is your lens and camera - the other is your fieldcraft - the abilty to get close. Hides, feeding stations, understanding your subject - they are all tools used by the Pros to get closer since no lens is ever long enough ;)

You have to make a choice - buy and shoot now - or save for more range. The next price range roughly (I am in the UK so my pricing in US is abit off) around the $1000 area. If that is beyond you for a long time get a cheaper lens an put effort into learning how to get closer
those are awesome! which would you say is better of the two?
The Canon 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM is about $550 and is very well rated. Probably the best 300mm zoom you can get for the Canon in this price range.
Wildlife photography starts at 300mm unless the animals really, really like you. I had my 55-200mm with me at the zoo once and it couldn't cut it. At the same time, don't forget a tripod or monopod so the pictures don't come out blurry - VR is nice but not a lifesaver.
Thanks for the input guys. just one question: with IS do you still need a tripod?
Thanks for the input guys. just one question: with IS do you still need a tripod?

edit: for below - I'm a Nikon shooter so I'm used to saying "VR" (Vibration Reduction) rather than IS - sorry.

Nothing can replace a solid tripod for pure stability.

Here's the thing - when taking a photo, so long as the shutter speed is small enough, it will look like it's on a tripod. So I can grab a 600mm lens with a 2x teleconverter and if I could somehow get a 1/64000th of a second exposure while still having enough light enter the lens while hand-holding, I wouldn't need VR. With longer focal lenses, VR allows you to increase that shutter speed for hand-holding by countering some of that camera shake. It does not, however, completely eliminate it - so you still need a tripod for long exposures, or if you want to take the same shot, for example, under different lighting conditions (morning and afternoon) or with different objects in the shot (i.e. take the photo with people in the shot and with people out of the shot). VR, when appropriate, is infinitely more convenient than using a tripod since tripods are bulky, heavy, and take time to set-up and move, which detracts from finding the best possible shot when you are not intimately familiar with your surroundings. Monopods are essentially off-camera/off-lens VR.
For "wild" wildlife, you can almost never have too long of a lens, especially if you do any birding. Then there is also things like birds in flight that often require a fast focusing lens and large aperture to keep shutter speeds high. I used a Sigma 50-500 (always at 500) for almost a year, then my Canon 600mm f/4 arrived yesterday. Its still boxed as I am away from the house. I am just saying, if you want to be happier in the long run, save now and purchase more lens when you have the cash. I was left wanting with my 50-500 Sigma mainly due to the f/ 6.3 max aperture at 500mm. I have a feeling that the 600mm will leave me wanting in certain ways too. Its a never ending lust for more. Somewhere you have to draw the line though, but if you draw the line at 300mm on a zoom, I am afraid you will be sorry later. Just my thoughts.

Well heres another question then. What is a lens you would recommend in the $300.00 range period? I already have a 50mm 1.8, but It just feels lacking in the fact that I have to physically move to take pictures of everything.
canon 100-300mm f4-5.6 or possibly the sigma 70-300mm APO macro
I don't know how they stack up against each other in sharpness, though I think the canon is better of the two at the long end (this is a guess I do not know this for certain).
I mention the sgima since it does do well at 1:2 macro (think flower photography sort of sizes - the whole flower head that is) when mounted on a tripod.
I've said this many times and will post it again. The best value out there for wildlife in a zoom is Canon's 70-300 f/4.0-5.6 IS USM. It's small in maximum aperture but the glass is of "L" quality utilizing a UD element.

At about $550.00 US it's about as low cost as you can go and still get exceptional shots. You will have to work harder and really develope your technique but great shots can be had with this lens.

Anything better will have you jumping into the $1000.00 + range and better.

You will not find anything that costs less in which you will be happy with and not regretting spending the money only to find it didn't fill your needs.

Beware ...it will definately have you wanting to upgade to more reach but this lens can show you and will justify in your mind the cost expenditure of your next move up.

Here are some examples of what the 70-300 can do. Also as a qualifier to my statements let it be known that my current lens kit includes the 70-300 along with Canon's 100-400L , 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM, 400 f/2.8L yet I keep the lowly 70-300 becuase it has it's use when I need a light travel lens.



At Max f/5.6 @ 300mm

At Max f/5.6 @ 300mm
isnt teh 70-300 really 105-450? or is that just the nikon

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