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Natural Beauty: Choosing the Right Lenses for Recording Wildlife

Nature documentaries have to rely on the quality of the image they capture because there is such strong competition from other productions. Additionally, audiences have become accustomed to increasingly ambitious sequences, delivered in greater clarity than ever before.

Using a 4K lens—even when the program is being broadcast in HD—is rewarding visually as it produces such high-quality images. From a commercial viewpoint, it also means that the production can future-proof material for the inevitable switch to UHD broadcasts.

Image quality isn’t limited to the resolution of a lens. The higher number of blades in the iris of a high-end lens gives wildlife filmmakers the ability to capture more natural looking images. Having more—like the 11 in the Canon CN20x50 and the CN30-300mm lenses—lets users produce an image with a far more pleasing bokeh that’s smoother and less distracting to audiences.

Tracking an animal hundreds of feet away means the lens must be able to perform right at the top of its focal length, as there may not be a second chance to capture the action. Ultra-telephoto lenses are the only option for this kind of application. The Canon CN20x50, for example, boasts a 20x zoom—a focal length of 50-1000mm. When using the 1.5x built-in extender, this increases to 75-1500mm.

Knowing your lens will produce the image quality you expect means you can concentrate on the task at hand: capturing an engaging subject surrounded by the beauty of nature.

Austin Freshwater is sales director — professional imaging at Canon UK.