Another quick update
I’m back again, it was another four great days up north, this time I stayed at the Ossineke State Forest Campground where I had stayed last Memorial Day weekend. I was really torn about coming home a day or two early, but I’ve wanted this vacation to be all about relaxing. By coming home a little early, I avoid the traffic of the holiday weekend, and it gives me time to unpack, clean, and put my camping gear away. Besides, I’ve found that four 16 to 18 hour days of chasing birds wears me out even if I eat better. 😉
Overall the weather was fair, although very windy for the first two days, with a mixture of complete overcast to totally sunny times for much of my time up there.
I got a lifer, a northern parula, if you see all of the so-so photos of it that I took, it will look like a northern parula.
And, I was able to get photos of a species that I had seen before, but never photographed, Caspian Terns.
Not bad, an hour after I arrived, I had photos of one of the terns and you can even see its tongue, I’m getting good at that. 😉
Mostly, I was able to get better photos of birds that I’ve already done posts on in the My Photo Life List project that I’m working on.
Okay, I’m going to go into some detail concerning camera gear, so you may want to skip this part.
As you may know, I recently purchased a 300 mm prime L series lens. When the auto-focus is dead on, the lens is astounding as far as the results that I get. However, it is seldom dead on.
After talking to the Canon rep last weekend, I’ve been using the rear button auto-focus most of the time, even though that ties my thumb up so that I have a harder time making exposure adjustments. That does seem to speed the lens up, and it tracks flying birds better that way, as this series of images of a northern harrier (hen harrier, or marsh hawk) will show.
But, for small birds in the brush, the new lens is hit or miss, with far too many misses, like this shot of a black-throated blue warbler which should have been very good.
I was so ticked off at the new lens after reviewing my photos each night that on the third day, I went back to the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens). It may not have the absolute quality of the new lens, but 95%of the photos that I shoot with it are at minimum, good photos, unless I’m the reason the photos aren’t good.
You can even see the plover’s slightly web feet, which are what gave it its name.
(all of these photos and more will be added to the posts already done in the My Photo Life List project)
So, I’ve been in a quandary, what should I do?
I love the Beast for its reliability, see a bird, get good photo of bird, but it’s still a beast to carry, and it doesn’t close focus well.
The new lens can produce better photos, about one out of twenty when it comes to small birds, but it’s light, easy to carry, and does great on flowers, insects, and flying birds.
I have even gone so far as to carry both lenses with me on very short walks, but I’m not tough enough to do that for any more than a mile or so total. And then, I don’t bring either of my short lenses with me for these types of photos.
It was too nice of a day to stay home today, so I went to the Muskegon area with my first stop at Lane’s Landing to look for the prothonotary warbler that I saw earlier this week. I had no luck finding it, but I did get better images of great crested flycatchers.
On my way back to my vehicle, I was weighing the pros and cons of the two lenses I’ve been writing about, and what I should do. I won’t recount the entire debate That I had with myself, I’ll only say that I came to the conclusion that I have to make the new lens work and work well, I paid too much for it not to use it, and the Beast is still a beast to carry.
Long time readers may remember that I have two Canon 60 D bodies, one that I have set for wildlife, and the other is set for landscapes and macros. I also have another L series lens, a 70-200 mm.
I’ve also had trouble getting the 70-200 mm lens to auto-focus accurately 100% of the time on the wildlife body, it seemed to function better on the second body when I purchased the second body and tested my lenses on it.
So, I decided that I would bite the bullet and change all the settings on the landscape body over to use it on birds and go to the Muskegon Lake Nature preserve to give that combination the torture test.
The Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve is almost all very thick brush, made even worse for photography now because all the brush is beginning to leaf out. I went looking for small birds lurking in the shade or hiding behind branches, as all I wanted to do was to test was the auto-focus of the new lens on the second camera body.
The difference in performance between the two bodies with the new lens was amazing! There were a few clinkers, but no more than I would have expected if I had used the Beast on the body that I use for wildlife, and I’m not sure if the Beast could have pulled off the warbling vireo photos that I shot.
But, just a few photos aren’t a good enough test, however, I do think that some how, for some reason, the second body performs better as far as auto-focusing with the L series lenses. As soon as I put the focusing spot on a bird and used either the shutter release or the rear button, the lens snapped into focus on what I had put the spot on. It didn’t hunt like it normally does on the first body, nor did it focus on other things in the frame. That was especially noticeable in the low light photos that I shot.
So, I’ll do more testing of the new lens on the second body, and the Beast on that body as well, and see how things work. I should really bite the bullet and swap all the settings in both bodies right now, as the auto-focus isn’t that important for landscapes shot with a wide lens stopped down for depth of field, and I always manually focus for macros. In fact, I think that’s what I’ll do when I get the time.
Right now, I’m gong to get caught up with the posts that you’ve all done while I was up north.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!