Lion cub reaching out to big male lion

When shooting wildlife pictures, a telephoto lens is essential as you can’t normally get close enough to the animals to use a standard lens. You wouldn’t want to try getting too close anyway, not only for your own safety, but also for the wellbeing of the animals.

In the picture above, a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM telephoto zoom lens was used at its maximum focal length of 300mm. As the lens was fitted to a Canon EOS 400D digital SLR camera, the equivalent focal length was in fact 480mm because of the 1.6x crop factor resulting from the smaller, APS-C size sensor in the camera.

It’s extremely difficult to get sharp pictures when hand-holding a lens of 480mm focal length and for the above shot, the camera was placed on a beanbag resting on the side of the game drive vehicle for additional support. However, what has made a huge difference for wildlife photographers using long lenses in situations where it’s not possible to use a tripod is image stabilization (IS).

IS lenses help combat camera shake, making it possible to hand-hold telephoto lenses at slower shutter speeds than is possible with non-IS lenses.

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