I’d love one of those super telephoto lenses in the 800mm range that Canon launched last year. Unfortunately, I don’t quite have the spare $17,000 to be able to afford one. What’s more, that lens would be little more than a toy for me, considering that most of the time, I don’t actually need to use such a long lens. It would be pure folly to indulge my fantasies of being a wildlife photographer.
Fortunately, then, I stumbled across this excellent video from wildlife photographer Espen Hellend, who demonstrates how to take great wildlife images with budget gear. Considering the only wildlife I’ve shot in the past year are some migrating flamingos, it’s probably a bit more relevant for me than the Canon super lenses!
Espen is using his old OM System Olympus EM1ii and the M.Zuiko 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II. He successfully finds some birds to photograph, raising his camera slowly so as not to scare them away. He recommends shooting at slower shutter speeds since cheaper lenses tend to be slower, so you can’t rely on such large apertures.
Of course, like everything in photography, it is never about the gear (or almost never). The images Espen captures are great because he knows his subject, composition rules, and he has a good command of his camera. To be a great wildlife photographer, you need patience as well. The decisive moment is everything, and usually, you’ll have to wait a long time for that.
To capture good wildlife photos, you do need a longish lens (300mm on a crop sensor is a good place to start). However, you don’t need to spend a small fortune on the longest, newest lenses to still get great shots, as this video shows. Start where you’re at with what you have and what you can afford. Learn your subject and learn your equipment, and go from there.
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