Capturing Lizards With A Rented Lens

Geek warning!! Geek warning!! The following post contains technical details that only camera geeks care about. If you are not a camera geek you might want to skip down to the image. Ok, you’ve been warned.

With all the wildlife opportunities that abound in Florida I decided to rent a lens to increase my chance of making good images. The largest lens I own is a 70-300mm. I chose a Canon 400mm f/5.6L. I had the option of selecting the 400mm f/2.8L until I discovered that it weighs a whopping 13 pounds! With my back problems the total amount of equipment I can carry around at one time is about 20 pounds so that lens was out of the question. What a monster! It’s hard to believe that the f/5.6L is 10 pounds lighter. All for one f stop!

The lens cost me $70 to rent for 10 days whereas the f/2.8L would have cost $475 for the same time period. To buy the lenses, the f/5.6L goes for $1,200 and the f/2.8L goes for $11,500. That’s a rather hefty difference in both weight and dollars.

The lens is a beauty! I cannot believe how sharp the images are. Not only is it L glass but it is also a prime lens. I think I am finally convinced that a prime lens is the way to go for sharpness. I have never bought one in my life. When it comes time to lay my money on the table I always went for the zoom lens because it seemed so much more versatile.

Here is an image I made with my new favourite lens. It is a Brown Anole displaying his dewlap. They do this to assert their territorial dominance. Either that or he really really liked me a lot πŸ˜‰ He was probably about 6 inches from tip to tail.

Brown Anole, Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Please click the image to view a larger version.

I made the images of the Spoonbill and the Wood Stork from earlier this week with this lens as well.

Renting the lens was easy, fast and economical and I am sure I will be doing it more often now that I’ve tried it. I mean, why invest thousands of dollars and be stuck with a certain variety of lens when you can rent and always have the perfect lens for the job.

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  1. says

    Lovely critter and great photo!

    I had a prime (and only) lens way, way back in time with my very first SLR (this was in the late 70s). When I upgraded to my first “modern” SLR, it came with a zoom and every lens I’ve had since has been a zoom. Lately I’ve been looking at that old 50-mm prime with nostalgia and wishing there was some way I could use it on my current camera – adapters aside, it seems like a stretch!
    Laurie MacBride recently posted..A Forest of a Different Kind: Garry OakMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Laurie, thank you so much for your comments. You know I was looking at a 50mm recently and they are really cheap. You can get a good one for around $100. The old lenses I had for my canon ae1 actually worked with my digital slr’s but no auto-focus. It might be worth a shot to try it out if they have the same mount. But if not, it might be worth investing in a new one. I have heard a lot of people really like them, especially if you get a 1.4 or 1.8, you can do some shallow depth of field stuff.

    • says

      Hi Len, I think people do use a harness! You can get those chest harnesses or a special tripod head for them. But still you have to carry it to the location, that would be way too hard for me!! I think I need a donkey. A donkey would be rather handy. Thanks for your comments.

  2. says

    Good info on the 400mm lenses. I was recently looking at a used 400mm f2.8 online, but didn’t realize it was so heavy. I am starting be conscious of equipment weight as well!

    • says

      Hi Randy, yes weight is very important. It is one of things I always look at in the specs before I buy something. When you look at the photos of the lenses online they don’t look like they are so different in size. I borrowed a friend’s 500mm during my trip and it was HUGE! I had him take a photo of me using it. It’s a good thing to look at with tripods too. I spent the extra money and got a super light one and now I carry it almost always.

  3. says

    400mm primes are monsters these days! 40 years ago I bought a Hanimex 400mm – slim long barrel of a lens, light, and almost shaped like a telescope. Took some reasonable motor racing shots with it – no idea what happened to it. For my action work while skiing (coming soon) I use a Sigma 28-300 Zoom. On a DX sized sensor that takes me over 400mm in film equivalence. It’s reasonably sharp too and weighs no more than my chunky 24-85 Nikkor. Wouldn’t get on a plane with one of those 400mm prime beasts!
    Love the photo of this cheeky little fellow.
    LensScaper recently posted..Early Morning Light – Mont Blanc MassifMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks Andy. I usually use a canon 70-300mm usm lens and I have always liked it. But it is no where near as sharp as that 400mm was. But it’s half the price so you get what you pay for I suppose. Can you imagine getting on a plane with one of those? They would probably want you to take it apart or something! I guess people must do it. I think renting is the way to go.

  4. says

    Love, love, love this shot Anne! Good Lord, I had no idea that those lens’ cost that much. My personal favorite lens is my 50mm prime we got last year for the exact same reasons you mention here.. tack sharp images! I love our little lizard friend in this shot, Anne, what a great capture!
    Toad Hollow Photography recently posted..BC Forest Discovery CentreMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Toad! I knew you would like this because he’s like a salamander which are amphibians like toads πŸ˜‰ But actually he’s an Anole which is a reptile not an amphibian. And that’s today’s fascinating fact!

    • says

      Hello Vinko, I have been keeping my eye out for a wild iguana here in Florida but I haven’t seen one yet. In this photo the sun was in just the right place to highlight the orange colour of his dewlap – it appears to glow! Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving comments.

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