The night before I was to begin packing for my trip to Alaska for the sold out Bear Boat IPT and then continuing on to Portland for the Dahlia Farm IPT, I lay awake trying to decide whether or not to bring the 600 f/4L IS II in addition to the 200-400 f/4L IS with Internal Extender. I knew that I would be bringing the 2-4 as it would be ideal for photographing the bears chasing and catching salmon. As I lay there I thought that on occasion I would surely miss the reach advantage of the 600 with the 2X III TC. As regular readers know 1200 squared gives you a lot more bang for your buck than 784 squared….
By the time I awoke, I had made my decision. I would bring the 200-400, the 70-200, the 24-105, two sets of TCs, two 1D X bodies and one 5D Mark III, and the 600 II. My 180 macro would go in one of my checked bags. And I borrowed the 100mm IS L macro lens from CPS—it is being delivered to the IPT hotel on September 10th.
The decision was made.
Then I came to my senses. I thought how difficult it is to be in the field with both the 200-400 and the 600II. I thought the difficulties of traveling with a 55+ pound rollaboard. I thought of the problems that I had on my flights to and from Africa simply getting the rollaboard into the overhead compartments…. Once I made it to Africa, the photography was easy as I had both big lenses within reach all the time in the safari vans. And on the Galapagos trip, I knew each landing so well that I was able to go with the 200-400 on most of them, with the 600 II when I needed it, and rarely, with both when I knew that having each lens would pay huge dividends.
I know that I will on occasion miss its reach. Denise Ippolito, who will be on her first bear boat trip, is bringing hers. But thinking of all that weight and all that bulk and thinking of the sometimes long walks at low tide. I came to my senses.
The decision was unmade. I am going on the bear boat with only the 200-400 f/4L IS with Internal Extender as my big glass.
My body will thank me for it. Time will tell.
An additional factor that influenced the final decision is that when you are working tight with the 600II and either the 14 or 2X III TC, you are often dead in the water when it comes to unexpected action. Going with the 2-4 will leave me pretty much always ready for the action and will enable me to frame my images with ease. As I said, time will tell.
If you owned both lenses which would you bring, the 600II, the 200-400, or both? Do let us know why.