3. Seek out Image Stabilization for sharper handheld shots
As telephoto lenses continue to become smaller and lighter, shooting with them hand-held has become a more viable option. However, these lenses are still large enough for camera shake to remain a potential problem. This effect is magnified at longer focal lengths, making good quality Image Stabilization (IS) critical for maximum sharpness.
"Stabilization is really important when hand-holding super telephoto lenses, such as the Canon EF 600mm f/4L III USM lens, or in low-light conditions, when you need to match the shutter speed with the focal length reciprocal, such as 1/600 sec for a 600mm lens," says Marina. With powerful IS built into professional grade telephoto lens ranges, such as the Canon L-series lenses, wildlife photographers can select different modes depending on whether they are shooting static animals or tracking moving ones.
The Canon EF 600mm f/4L III USM lens has 5-stops of IS to keep things sharp, while the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x has 4-stops of IS built-in, and the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens has 3.5-stops of IS.* This is particularly beneficial when shooting animals that are active at dawn and dusk – in low light, shutter speeds need to be slower for a good exposure, meaning potentially more risk of blurring due to camera shake.
The IS in these lenses, coupled with fast autofocus from ring-type Ultrasonic motors, allows you to easily keep up with any fast-paced action. "The Canon EF 600mm f/4L III USM and Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM are my most used lenses for a reason," says Marina. "The autofocus is precise and very fast. I also love their performance in the out-of-focus areas in the background."