Wildlife Lenses

It isn't just about reach when you shoot wildlife, it's also about isolation. Those two things are not quite the same. One of the problems of shooting wildlife-- whether it be in a zoo, in a private preserve, or in the wild--is that foregrounds and backgrounds can be distracting. In fact, I'd say that if you're shooting animals with long telephoto lenses, more often than not the foregrounds and backgrounds are distracting.

Basically, there are two types of wildlife shots: environmental (shows animal in its environment) and isolation (shows key aspect of animal or behavior). The 70-200mm is my go to lens for the former (on an FX body--I'd want wider on a DX body). It's the other end that leads us all to the exotics, because 500mm f/8 often doesn't give you want you want in terms of isolation.

Of course, the 400mm f/2.8 and 500mm f/4 are very expensive lenses, which leads wannabe wildlifers to ask "when's Nikon going to make a 400mm f/4?"

Be careful what you ask for. At 50' we'd have about a foot of depth of field on FX, about 8" on DX. Is there a way we can get that level of isolation today at a reasonable cost? Yes: we get about the same one foot DOF with a Nikon V1+FT1 coupled with the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens shot at f/2.8 and 200mm (effectively 540mm).
So if you already have a 70-200mm, you don't need to wait for a 400mm f/4. Just buy a V1 and FT1 and use your existing lens. Bonus: that's cheaper than a 400mm f/4 will be!

A lot of today's discussion centers around new camera bodies, like the D4 or D800, but often the answer to a problem you face is more nuanced than just waiting for the latest and greatest. As a pro, I pick the right tool for the right job. As it turns out, the V1 is the right tool some of the time, and a 400mm f/4 wouldn't actually give me all that new an option, as I've already got that option in my bag!
Shared publiclyView activity