If landscape is the supreme challenge, wildlife photography has to be the source of supreme frustration. There may be days on end when you make absolutely zero photos to show for your hard work and patience. Any wildlife photographer worth his salt will tell you, it is always a struggle without the right gear and the right amount of planning. You can still make good landscape images with reasonable (not outstanding) gear, but you absolutely need great lenses if you want to shoot great wildlife photos, period. Apart from gear there are a few more aspects to shooting great wildlife photos. This article is geared towards sharing with you some of those aspects so as to introduce you to wildlife photography.
If some of you have a fairy godmother or if a long lost relative left you a fortune, money shouldn’t be a problem, right? In that case the best lens you can pick up is the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS USM. For Nikon systems the comparable lens would be the AF-S Nikkor 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR. For the rest of us, unfortunately, both these lenses are way out of reach. So the next best option would be to sneak in with a 200mm lens as close to the animal as possible and hope the animal chooses to ignore us. Just kidding. The other (serious) option would be to buy a reasonably long lens, something around 400mm and pair it with a tele-converter.
The AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8G ED VR is a great piece of lens and you could use it with a 2x tele-converter (the AF-S TC-20E III), further extending its reach to 800mm albeit at a loss of around two stops of light. Although, I personally don’t quite like too many optics between the front element of an expensive glass and the sensor at the back of the camera, sometimes a compromise is inevitable. Tamron makes an excellent 150-600mm telephoto lens. It is affordable and does the job. But it’s not fast. Another cheap solution would be to bring a crop sensor camera with you that would also technically increase the focal length of your lens. For example a camera with 1.6x crop would make the focal length of a 400mm lens into a 640mm!
Having glorified the tele-lens I must put in a word or two about the good old wide lens. Else I will be doing a great injustice. Don’t forget to pack a wide-zoom lens as well. You don’t want to be in a situation where you have a breathtaking expansive scene and all you have is a 400mm prime.