Camera lens

 What is the highest power digital lens that can be used from a canoe and get good sharp photos.  I currently have a Canon 18 to 200mm lens with image stabilization on my T5I and am wondering if a Canon 75 to 300mm could be used to give me more reach for bird photos? Any advice would be appreciated.

I have a 75-300 IS canon lens and the difference between that and a 200 is substantial. I have a 28-200 lens as well.

lens and teleconverter
I often use a 75-300(Nikor)on kayak tours for birds, dolphins etc. Depending on water conditions, you might add a 1.4 teleconverter. A large drybag is advised and camera insurance if you value your equipment!

300 F4
I use a Nikon 300mm f4 with a tripod in my canoe. I have it on a quick release mounting plate and keep a pelican box handy so I can protect it and keep it dry.

I have image stabilization on my Canon
cameras, but unless the light is very good, distant shots are likely to lack clarity. I prefer my Canon G15 with its fast lens, still f2.8 at 140 mm. Then I go through the shots and crop down the best ones to bring out the birds.

Or, I bring along my illegal 8 gauge punt gun and stabilize those birdies the way Audubon used to do.

cost and weight
How much do you want to spend and how much weight do you want. Canon sells a bunch of lenses as does Sigma. Canon has there latest 70-300 IS L, lens. That’s a real good one with a real high price. Then you could also go with a 100-400 IS L, BOTH have Image stabilization, or “IS”. They also have the less pricey 70-300-IS no L designation. I would get one with stabilization. Sigma has a 70-300 OS (optical stabilization) These are all variable aperture lenses that at full zoom have an aperture of 5.6. Now if money and weight aren’t a problem you could go with a sigma 120-300 OS 2.8 lens and ad a 1.4 tele converter. More money but a lot of reach and even with a 1.4 tele converter still an F4 lens. Sigma makes what I consider a great lens for the money and reach. The sigma 50-500 OS . I have one and have had several over the years when I shot canon. I use Nikon now. Another option would be a canon 70-200 F4 IS and ad a 1.4 tele converter. Would make it a F5.6 lens but still very good setup and would then be a 98-280 F5.6 . You CANT ad a tele converter to any 5.6 lens as camera wont auto focus plus quality would be crap. You can get more help over at dpreview forums on lenses.

I use a Nikon…
70-300mm VR quite often while paddling moderate condition rivers and lakes. Works nicely, keep the shutter speeds a little higher than you normally would for walkabout use.

I’ve also used a Sigma 50-500mm OS quite a bit from an open canoe on calmer waters to photograph turtles. I’ve been able to make quite a few saleable files with that lens.

Keep an eye on the canon refurbished deals. I got a EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Refurbished for $120 + $10 shipping.

It’s not the best lens but for my 8 year old dslr it works great.

They also had a 75-300mm for $80 but since it didn’t have IS I decided not to risk it.

Tamron 70-300 VC
Unless you are paddling in dead calm, or can shoot with a tripod, it seems you want a lens with image stabilization (although you will still need to shoot at high shutter speeds to freeze subject action). As others have suggested, you have lots of options depending on how much $$ you want to part with.

The Canon L zooms (100-400, 70-300) will be most expensive with best build and image quality. The 70-300L has a newer image stabilization system, however, and is a bit lighter and more compact (but less reach). The non-L Canon 70-300IS gets good recommendations; much less expensive than the L lenses, but almost as good optically. Avoid the 75-300 – the low price is indicative of its poorer optical quality.

Tamron has an image stabilized 70-300 zoom that optically is comparable to the Canon 70-300IS and also has ultrasonic focussing, but includes a hood, a longer warranty, and is somewhat cheaper. Its image stabilizer mechanism gets excellent reviews – one of the best out there. I bought one for an Africa safari (no canoeing with the hippos!); I am very pleased.

My husband gets great photos from his kayak with his Canon 100-400 IS zoom. He keeps his equipment in a Baja deck bag.

That’s a lot of zoom on a cropped body
On your cropped body the real FL is 120 to 480. That’s a lot of zoom, even with IS, if you’re hand held. Depends on how stable you are as well, in a small boat. Out past 200mm you need to get a shutter at least equal to the FL for a moving target to get a crisp image. You can get there in good lighting conditions. When you start getting out towards 300, you may want to consider a tripod. I have a 70-200 VR, and find 200 and moving targets to need shutter equal to FL for the best results.

There are wildlife folks over on DP Review and Fred Miranda that can you can get some good insight from.

No Way
Hand holding a 300 mm lens in a canoe even with vibration reduction will not result in quality pictures. I have a 70-300 mm Nikon lens and even at high shutter speeds in good light you need more stability than you can get in a canoe. Canon/Nikon makes no difference.

Of course you can use that lens
Whether you can get a good picture with that zoom depends upon the same things that photos always depend on: the skill of the photographer, timing, the lighting conditions, the speed of the lens, the shutter speed, the ISO, sufficient stabilization, etc.

What’s the difference if you’re in a canoe, on a train, in a car, on a camel or walking? The same factors come into play, with stabilization technique being a learned skill in each different venue.

I shoot at wide angles a lot more than at zoom when I paddle, but then I’m not usually shooting birds at long distances. I don’t know how much those big honker Canon DSLR lenses cost, but you can get a much smaller and stowable, almost pocketbable, high quality P&S camera with a 3OO mm zoom such as the new Olympus Stylus 1.

shutter speed
it will really help to have high shutter speeds and as I mentioned a tripod in the canoe. I also use a remote shutter trigger. Take lots of shots and hope you get a few good ones.