It starts with a photograph. Maybe it’s of a common variety, a bird that’s in the backyard every morning, awakening your senses with a modest splash
of color and a cheerful song.
A meadowlark, in my mind.
Maybe it’s of a foreign beauty,
a distant dream, one that you’ve
heard tales about from others
and that you tell yourself, ever
so cautiously, that you may
one day experience firsthand.
Perhaps it’s a hoopoe, or a harpy
eagle. Either way, avian imagery
has awakened your curiosity.
You understand the power that
a photograph has on memory
and imagination. You’re ready
to go a step further—and you
need a lens to go on the journey
With a world of opportunities
awaiting in the numerous lenses
on the market, the matchmaking
process for the birder and the
lens can be complicated.
Yes, lenses, not cameras.
We’re exploring the aspects of
lenses for SLR camera bodies
that offer the right combination of zoom, aperture, stability, weight, and price to fit your
needs. SLR-ians, read on. If
you don’t know an SLR from a
RTHA, or if you’re new to bird
photography, skim the second
sidebar, then read on and try to
find the reference to two classic
country tunes in this article.*
Let’s start with focal length.
Tiny creatures that can fly and
are shy require patience, passion,
and some powerful magnification. A telephoto lens is a must.
But how much magnification
are you getting in, say, a 300mm
lens? The “mm,” or focal length,
captures the distance between
the lens’ rear nodal point to the
image plane inside the camera
body. But we’re birders, and we