Telephoto lenses for wildlife
Most long telephoto wildlife lenses are out with the price bracket for many people. The Canon 70-200 is the ideal entry level wildlife lenses, but following on from there we investigated the options available. I’m not including macro lenses for really close up wildlife, but rather will run through a few long lens set ups fo aspiring wildlife filmmakers. In Britain some of the best wildlife to be found on our shores are the amazing array of birds, and to get them you need to go long or go home. Something like the 25-300mm Cabrio T3.5-3.85 is what would be top of many filmmakers list, but assuming you don’t have £35,000k to blow, here’s some other options to get started….
Assuming require a lens of at least 300mm and as fast as possible here are some wildlife lens options…
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L mk2
£1,600 NEW or you could get a mk1 2nd hand for £650
The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L mk2 is a compact, high-performance zoom lens that’s ideal for action and wildlife. A 4-stop Image Stabilizer and high-quality optics deliver superb sharpness. We use this camera lens primarily for wildlife camera work for the Sony FS7. It’s super sharp, lightweight and used together with the Metabones Speedbooster Canon EF to Sony E Mount it’s an excellent solution for wildlife filmmakers and photographers.
With this FS7 wildlife setup this makes the lens equate to a 1.1x FOV crop so makes it like a 110mm to 440mm. You can also use it with our other Commlite adapter (EF- NEX) and this increases the magnification further, but can sometime have the drawback of not being able to change to iris after a lens swap – so you may be restarting the camera during that crucial moment. The Commlite adapter makes the angles of view equivalent to a 160-640mm on a full-frame camera.
On our Sony FS7 and shooing in 2K crop mode (because we like 150fps rather than 4K!) adds a further x2 magnification, so this lens extends to up to 1280mm – ideal for bird and wildlife photographer. Just remember and pick up a very heavy duty tripod. We shoot with a Sachtler 18P which is heavy duty but light enough to carry together with the camera.
For me this lens trumped our old one for travelling light and I was surprised to discover it was even sharper than our trusted Canon 70-200mm lens! Of course also the Image stabiliser is a MUST for shooting wildlife video.
Sigma EX Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon F – 300-800mm – F/5.6 – 6.3
£6,500 NEW or £2500 2nd hand
The Sigmonster was the last wildlife lens we used, but it was too long and too heavy for our requirements one the Scottish Hillside. We used this again with the 2K crop function and a 1.4EX Teleconverterto achieve a whooping 2240mm. This is a lens for hides, or if your on the move you will require assistance.
Adding a DG Teleconverter you can use this lens as a 420-1120 mm F8 MF ultra-telephoto zoom lens with a 1.4x EX Teleconverter, or as a 600-1600 mm F11 MF ultra-telephoto zoom lens with a 2x EX Teleconverter.
Canon EF 500mm F/4.0 L IS USM EF Lens
£6,600 NEW or £4000 2nd hand
Two stops faster than the Sigmonster and probably an extra £2K, this lenses is a prime and offers two-speed Power Focus mode allows focus to be adjusted at a smooth constant speed – perfect when shooting video. The Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS II USM is a super-telephoto lens with integrated Image Stabilizer technology and a fast f/4 maximum aperture. It features a lightweight magnesium alloy and titanium construction, and its optical design includes fluorite and UD lens elements to tackle aberrations and distortions.
Camera Support Systems
The heavier the setup, the more reliant on a strong camera support system you’ll become. If your a photographer go away and look at some gimble heads – but for video you need to move from 15mm rods to bridge plates with 19mm rods. Everything just adds to the weight of your gear in the field, but it’s required unless you want amateurish, shaky footage.