“Oh, it feels good!”, she said with satisfaction.
Regaining my composure and trying to conceal my embarassment, I proceeded to extol the virtues of having this type of lens especially when taking pictures of birds (which she said she would be interested in trying.)
The choice of lens has long been the subject that interests most, if not all, of those who would like to go into bird photography. Allow me then to pitch in some of my points of view regarding this matter.
Bird photographers are almost always birders also and to some degree some birders also like taking pictures of the birds that they see. Birds, in general, are tiny, active and skittish creatures and to be able to capture good images of them, a long lens is a must. If out on the field and your primary purpose is to see and hopefully photograph as many birds as there are possible to see, then a 400mm lens would be your best bet. They are light enough to be carried along long walks and powerful enough to capture the images of the birds you encounter along the way.
On the other hand, if you intend to pretty much stay put in an area where birds come (or if you are strong enough to lug them around), then a 500mm (or longer) lens is the equipment for you. These bulky things, should be mounted on a tripod for stability purposes, which, of course, adds to the setup’s total weight. The results, however, fully compensate for the encumbrances of these photographic gear.
I was explaning all these things in even more detail to the lady when she flashed me a quick smile, uttered a quick “thanks!” and left. Jolted by her sudden departure, I looked at the direction she was headed and smilingly shook my head as I realized the reason why. There stood a man brandishing a humongous 500mm lens with an extender looking as virile as any bird photographer with this kind of equipment can get.
Size matters. Really.