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Bird Photography FAQ 7

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General Bird Photography
Frequently Asked Questions

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Which is a better lens, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS zoom lens, or the 400mm f/5.6L lens?

I'm asked this question almost every day (sometimes more than once) -- either in person, on-line, or by phone. I always answer it with a question, "Do you want to use the lens primarily for bird photography?"

If yes, then the straight 400 is clearly the lens for you. It is the worldís best flight lens. It is lighter than the 100-400 zoom. It costs less. It will give sharper results with the 1.4X teleconverter than the 1-4 zoom. The speed of initial focus acquisition is unmatched. When used with an EOS 3 body and mounted on a fairly sturdy tripod, you'll have a great starter outfit for bird photography -- a sharp 560mm f/8 lens with functioning autofocus.

If, however, you like to shoot a variety of subjects (sometimes shoot nature from a canoe or a kayak, live out West and do lots of big, furry mammals, do some sports, enjoy travel photography, hate carrying a tripod, plan on -- or dream of -- going on safari, or do lots of bird-scapes -- wide shots depicting flocks of birds in their natural habitat) and you want a lens that will allow you to make some nice flight shots of individual birds, then the 100-400 zoom may be the perfect lens for you.

But please, please, please, donít ask me which of these lenses is best for you.

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