Pestering The Wildlife For Fun
The call of the wild echoes through Camera Electronics all the time - and I don't just mean at stocktake time when we are hunting for errant lenses. I mean when the customers come in to get equipment for wild-animal shooting. They have booked wonderful safaris in Kenya, or Namibia, or South Africa. Or wonderful cruises up the Inside Passage to Alaska. Or wet, tiring, weeks toiling through Tasmania.
The common thread for this is the animals they hope to see and shoot. Holland and Holland .475 doubles and 45-70-500 Remingtons have fallen into general disfavour with tourists these days, particularly the women. It is becoming difficult to get through customs these days with a full set of elephant tusks and a mounted bear head ( Even if you did get them into the overhead locker on Qantas...). The answer is to take pictures instead - most times the digital images on a memory card will be well under the baggage weight limit.
So - you've got an entry-level DSLR and you don't know which lens to take. What to do?
First point is do not take 25 separate lenses and a ice cream freezer in a backpack with you everywhere you go. Pick one or two lenses to go with your body and stick to that. If you are going to see big animals and vast landscapes, use a wide-ranging lens that goes between about 18mm to about 200-300 mm. If you imagine that you are going to be taking pictures in the heart of darkness ( Vancouver comes to mind...) take a 50mm or 35mm lens that opens up to f:1.8. Take a spare battery and spare cards. Drink bottled water.
If you are going to see birds, you'll need more lens. You'll need something that goes out to 500mm - and you can get this with zoom from 50mm or 150. You'll be hauling more weight and you might like to have a monopod to help support it. Don't expect to use it at night. Consider a camouflage sleeve for it to make it look inconspicuous.
Who makes these lenses? Pentax, Nikon, Canon, Tamron, Sigma. Olympus and Panasonic too, for their micro 4/3 cameras.