The most important thing is to choose the gear that is best for the job but sometimes you need to use what you got. Even if that means some “birding” with a portrait lens. We planned to go to Vienna for a little walk in the town center but changed our mind on the way. We visited the zoo instead. Too late to change my gear I ended up shooting my new Fuji XF 1.2/56mm lens. Of course there is not a lot of reach but at least it is a very fast lens.
First we went to the bird house. A very warm and humid place. If you visit the zoo in winter it is best to go there first. If you visit the bird house after you shot outside for a while your lens and camera will mist like crazy. I used to shoot here with my Nikon AF-S 2.8/300. That was a perfect lens for such a location. Long enough (450mm in full frame terms) and super fast. The Fuji lens was even two stops faster but it was just 85mm (talking full frame). That’s a little short and as a consequence the birds were dots. With the Nikon my subject size was almost 30 times bigger! But two birds came very close. Very, very close.
Especially this curious little fellow. He landed on a branch close to me. Far too close for any serious tele lens but perfect for Fuji’s portrait lens. I took a couple of shots with the lens wide open. Then the bird decided to inspect my wife a little closer and when she held out her hand he bit her. I was lucky enough to catch the moment but the shutter speed was too low. I wasn’t prepared to shoot any action. The shutter speed was set for save handheld shooting but not to freeze bird wings.
I still like the photo even though I missed the chance for a perfect shot.
Summary: The Fuji XF 1.2/56 is the perfect portrait lens but it is a little short in a zoo. I still managed to get better pictures than I did with the XC 50-230. In a zoo speed is more important than reach. You need the speed to be able to trow distracting elements out of focus.