14 June 2022

Versatility of a 100-400mm Zoom Lens

Cape rob-chat at Kistenbosch Copyright Vernon Chalmers Photography
Creative Bird / Flower Garden Photography 

Yesterday I made brief reference on BirdLife South Africa of the lenses used for most of my (perched) bird photography at Kirstenbosch, Cape Town (and similar garden environments).

The post made me think of what I would consider to be the most versatile lens for garden photography (when using any DSLR / Mirrorless Full Frame or Crop camera body).

As much as I love my Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM prime (non-zoom) lens for most birds / garden photography (in my opinion) any 100-400mm / 100-500mm / 150-600mm zoom lens will make more sense for capturing a variety of garden subjects.

* Image Top Right: Cape robin-chat

All attached images captured with my Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM (zoom) lens at Kirstenbosch. The Cape bulbul was at 400mm and the African Monarch butterfly / small flower at 350mm.

Canon Camera / Lens used at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
  • Canon EOS 70D
  • Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens (Mark I)
  • Manual Mode: f/5.6 / Auto-ISO (Various)
  • Lens IS Switched off and at times on. Handheld
  • Zoom Range: 350mm - 400mm

Recommended lenses for photographing small birds at Kirstenbosch (or similar garden environments)

Any (zoom) lens covering the following focal lengths:
  • 70-200mm / 70-300mm
  • 100-400mm / 100-500mm
  • 150-600mm

I have found my 70-200mm / 70-300mm lenses a bit 'short' for real close-up images of the smaller Kirstenbosch birds.


Cape Bulbul at Kirstenbosch with Canon 100-400mm Zoom Lens  Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Cape Bulbul at Kirstenbosch with Canon 100-400mm Zoom Lens

Cape Monarch Butterfly at Kirstenbosch with Canon 100-400mm Zoom Lens Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Cape Monarch Butterfly at Kirstenbosch with Canon 100-400mm Zoom Lens

Small Flower at Kirstenbosch with Canon 100-400mm Zoom Lens Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Small Flower at Kirstenbosch with Canon 100-400mm Zoom Lens

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden Bird Species >>

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