Im heading to the zoo this weekend for the first time with my D80.
I've done a bit of research about zoo photography but havent picked up a whole lot of tips.
I dont know if I'll be shooting primarily through glass or whether it will mostly be fencing. I imagine it will be a bit of both.
I don't have a rubber hood which I know can be an advantage when shooting through glass enclosures.
I also dont have any filters or a tripod (yes, still alot of shopping left to do!).
The lenses I am taking: 70-300 VR 18-135mm 50mm 1.8
I envision I'll be leaving the 70-300 on most of the time. I'm worried about blur since I dont have a tripod. I can get clear pictures with the VR obviously, but they are rarely perfectly sharp once I crop them in photoshop.
I imagine I'll be at 300mm for most shots since there will be alot of big cats and they usually sit as far away as they possible can. So I hope I can get some relatively sharp shots without a tripod.
I'll be shooting all day so midday sun will be an issue (assuming it will be sunny).
If anyone could offer any small bits of advice for shooting at the zoo, I'd be grateful
I think the 70-300 is going to be the most useful of those three lenses. I wouldn't worry about a tripod, really. While I haven't run into a zoo that prohibits their use I just haven't seen enough settings where a tripod was called for. You'll definitely have visual distractions to contend with which is why zoom is useful.
Your sharpness issue with the 70-300 may be related to technique, too. I had disappointment with my early uses of VR until I realized that it was my technique that got in the way.
Most of the time, for the zoos I've been in, the sun wasn't much of a problem. More often it was the close mesh fences, animal position, and other people crowding around me that interfered.
Don't worry about taking any other lens to the zoo, I think the good Lord designed the 70-300MM f/4.5-5.6 VR himself it is perfect for the zoo. I don't have trouble with the fences unless the sun is shinning on it, as to the glass put the lens right on the glass if you can find a clean spot. The only drawback is if it is not a fairly bright day. Shucks why did he not make it a f/2.8.
The 70-300 should be all you need. Bring a small sprayer of windex and some paper towels (don't laugh-small enough to fit in camera bag) to clean the glass before your shot (it is dirty from finger & hand prints, etc). Put the lens hood right on the glass straight on, not at an angle, and you should be fine. If you get real close to the fences, and focus on the eye of the animal, you will most likely not see any fence in your pic. Let the VR work (slowly press shutter-actually roll your finger after staying half presses to initiate autofocus and VR) but also play it safe with a fast enough shutter speed (watch your meter to assure proper exposure). Bracketing may not be a bad idea and I strongly suggest going during the week and not weekend - if possible, during the school year, as there wil be less peiople blocking your shot. Have a blast. I have shot at the Bronx Zoo and Belize Zoo and have a ton of keepers.