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a Photographer's Dilemma -- suggestions requested

I've signed up for a photography workshop in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada for June. It has already turned out to be much more expensive than I expected, due to flight costs. The instructor has encouraged me to buy or rent a 500mm or 600mm lens so that I can get good photos of the wildlife we'll encounter. Those lenses weigh 10-11 pounds and cost several thousand dollars. To rent one costs about $700 for a couple of weeks. I found descriptions of a 400mm f/2.8 lens that is a bit cheaper and can be used with a teleconverter to get the reach of the bigger lenses. But it's still super heavy. I'm not a very big person, and the idea of lugging around all this equipment seems intimidating. However, I don't want to go on the trip with an inferior lens and be unable to get decent photos. That would seem like wasting the investment I've already made.

What do you recommend?

+photography +cameras
Brian Bjork's profile photoLouis Gray's profile photoRobert SKREINER's profile photoTerrie Gray's profile photo
I would guess that purchasing a used lens of that focal length just prior to the trip and then re-selling after would bring you closer to a break-even on the lens. I highly doubt that a used lens of that caliber would drop $700 in such a short time. I wouldn't know how difficult they are to sell though...
I recommend carrying around something of similar weight for a while (maybe one or two weeks) before your trip so that your body can get used to carrying the heavier weight.
+Terrie Gray it sounds like +Jason Reed has a point. And you would get the miles on your credit card too. Don't have to give those back!
PS -- hashtags on Google+ are still with a #. So #photography and #cameras would hit the stream for those searching.
+Terrie Gray An expensive and heavy lens does not make a good photographer! It does not make sense, if someone makes such criteria. You need not necessarily have the perfect equipment to learn.
+Robert SKREINER Thank you for the advice (which I am just now seeing, for some reason). I did try out a 400mm lens a weekend ago, and after 1 day of a bit of struggle, got the hang of it. I will rent a 500mm lens and carbon fiber tripod for the actual trip + a few days in advance to practice.
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