I have written several articles about using the updated Sigma 50-500mm lens with the Canon 7D. (Just take a look at the list at the bottom of this article.) But, most questions about the Bigma revolve around using the lens to photography birds. Everyone loves bird photography, but the birds don’t always cooperate. If you want to practice bird photography with a big lens, try practicing with some larger animals at a zoo.
The Bronx Zoo is always a great photo op. Just pick a day with good weather, wear comfortable sneakers and plan on spending the whole day. Since this lens is so large, using a monopod really will make a difference when you are planning to use it all day. And, a strong but lightweight compact monopod like the Induro CM25 will not become its own burden to carry. (Take a look at my article, How to Use a Monopod – Think Hand-Held-Plus for some additional tips.)
So why a zoo? Well, the animals are pretty much waiting for you to take a picture. It allows you to concentrate on the learning the lens and how it works with your camera instead of watching your photo op fly away. Not only will you get some great photos, but you will build confidence with the lens. Once you are comfortable, you are ready to make the jump to a more challenging and less cooperative subject like wild birds.
Be careful of glass partitions! The only downside to the Bronx Zoo is the prevalence of glass partitions. Shooting through these partitions is like adding a soft focus filter to the lens. You will loose sharpness and detail. Just walk around for another viewpoint. All of the photos in this article are sharp because I found “my clear shot” away from the partition. Most animal habitats have multiple viewpoints and the Sigma 50-500mm makes it easy to zoom in for that close-up.