In my earlier post, here, I discussed getting in close increases the impact of Zoo photography by eliminating unnatural elements of the exhibit and creating a detailed intimate image of the animals. Getting in close requires a telephoto zoom lens, below I discuss what focal length lens you should purchase.

The zoom lens you choose should have a maximum effective focal length between 300mm and 500mm. Note that I stated “effective” focal length. When you buy a zoom lens it’s focal length is stated relative to a full frame camera. For example if I were to purchase the popular 70mm – 300mm canon zoom lens and placed it on my full frame Canon 5d Mk III body it would be exactly a 70mm – 300mm lens as stated. However if I placed it on a “crop” sensor camera such as a Canon Rebel or Canon 7d then I have to multiply by the crop factor of 1.6 then the zoom lens has an effective focal length range of 112mm –  480mm! If you placed the same focal length range on a Nikon crop camera such as a d7100 or d3100 you would multiply by a 1.5 crop factor for an effective focal length range of 105mm – 450mm.

Now that you know how to calculate the focal length range of a lens on your type of camera body you can look for the many Canon and Nikon telephoto zooms that have at least a 300mm maximum focal length. You should also investigate the third party lens makers Tamron and Sigma which make lenses for Canon, Nikon, and other cameras.

With a telephoto lens allowing you to get close to the animals next we are going to start exploring how to use your camera and lens to take better Zoo photographs.

M. Pachis Cool

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