Started Apr 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
AlbertTheLazy Veteran Member • Posts: 7,139

lycraloon wrote:

Lets put this thing into perspective. The Kruger National Park (which is a large nature reserve in South Africa) is probably bigger than Holland and Israel combined. (In the past 18 months, we have been to Kruger 5 times)

So being large, there are times when some shots will be of smaller mammals and birds sometimes taken at fair distance. The camera I currently use (Pentax Optio) has a 3 times Optical Zoom which is more often than not, too "short" to take the shots. And then at full zoom, the images are blurred more than 90% of the time due to camera movement. A tripod is a bit difficult to handle in a motor car so a longer lens will not have to zoom quite so much and the image should be a bit less blurred. (That's my understanding of it anyway.)

It will be some time before I can get a 500mm lens anyway but that's the long term plan. To be honest, I dont even know if a 300mm will lens will be long enough but it has to be better than the 125 I used last year. It is all but impossible to identify the bird I shot with the 125mm

To stabilise the camera, I use bean bags on the windows which is not ideal because sometimes the passengers move and the vehicle moves which blurs the shot.

Seriously, a 500mm lens in Kruger is considered small.


It doesn't really matter how big the park is, the horizon is the limit. The important thing is how close you can get and how big your subject is.

You also need to understand more about 'zoom'.

You say you have a 'Pentax Optio' (but there are a number of models in that range) with 3x optical zoom. That's equivalent to about 20-60mm on an APS-C sensor (most DSLRs). A 300mm will give you images about 4-5 times bigger in the frame than your present camera,  with vastly better image quality. The better quality comes from the image actually being bigger due to the larger sensor.

When you talk about 'full zoom' does that include digital zoom? If so, that would account for your misunderstanding when you say:

  • a longer lens will not have to zoom quite so much and the image should be a bit less blurred. (That's my understanding of it anyway.)

A prime (e.g. 300mm) and an equivalent zoom (e.g. 100-300mm) will give pretty much the same quality of image on the same camera and the same focal length setting.

The shake you are worried about will exist equally whether you use a long lens (e.g. 500mm) or a shorter one (e.g. 100mm) and enlarge the centre of image, which is what digital zoom does. And digital zoom always degrades quality.

A DSLR with a big lens will be easier to hold still than a P&S like an Optio, especially with a bean bag.

Why not try borrowing the Pentax for a couple of days to try it out? That will teach you a lot about using a DSLR and help you to decide what you really need in terms of lenses.

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Every photograph is an abstraction from reality.

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