Pro versus Amateur: Failed (look in the mirror) and Nailed. More on the Amazing 5DS R (and on the 1D X II…) « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Pro versus Amateur: Failed (look in the mirror) and Nailed. More on the Amazing 5DS R (and on the 1D X II...)

What’s Up?

I rested and got a lot accomplished on Monday. I worked on this post early on Monday morning. I am heading into the community pool at my Mom’s place as soon as I finish this one.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 264 days in a row with a new educational blog post. And I still have dozens of new topics to cover; there should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. AND Please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.

Selling Your Used Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advice, usually sells in no time flat. In the past few months, we have sold just about everything in sight. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the original 400mm IS DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can see all current listings by clicking here or by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the yellow-orange tab on the right side of the menu bar above.

Used Gear Sales Continue to be Brisk

  • Tom Mast sold his Canon 300mm f/4L IS USM lens in excellent condition for $625 in late July.
  • Henry Raymundo sold his Gitzo 1325 tripod and a Wimberley V-2 head both in very good plus condition for the very low price of $699 and two used Canon 100-400mm IS L Zoom lenses, one in excellent condition for $599, the other in very good plus condition for $549–all in late July.
  • Jonathan Ward sold his Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM lens in excellent condition for $2,000 CAD in early July.
  • Long ago multiple IPT veteran Charles McRae sold his Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS lens in good to very good condition in early July for a record low $4,199.
  • Jeffrey Fredberg sold his EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM L series lens in like-new condition for the record-low BAA price of $749 in late June.
  • Jim Burns sold his Canon 200-400mm F/4L IS zoom lens with Internal 1.4X Extender in brand new condition for the insane BAA record-low price of $8499 in late June.
  • Moody McCall sold his Canon 300mm F/2.8L IS II in excellent condition for $4199 in mid-June.
  • Long-ago IPT veteran Charles Sleicher sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens in very good plus condition for $3400 in mid-June.
  • Top BAA Used Gear seller Jim Keener sold his Canon EOS 5D Mark III in absolute mint condition for $1599 in mid-June.
  • KW McCulloch sold his Canon EOS-1D X in excellent condition for $2459 in mid-June.
  • Top BAA Used Gear seller Jim Keener sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens (the old five) in very good plus condition for a BAA record low price of $3699 in mid-June.

New Listing

Canon EOS-5D Mark III

Multiple IPT-veteran and all around nice guy Sheldon Goldstein is offering a Canon EOS-5D Mark III in excellent plus condition but for a few scuffs on the bottom of the camera for the great price of $1479. The body was just cleaned and checked by Canon; it has only about 16,500 actuations. The sale includes the camera strap, the battery, the battery charger, and the manual.

Please contact Shelly via e-mail or by phone at 1-646-423-0392 (eastern time).

I have owned and used this superb, full frame, 22mp digital body for several years. It was always my first choice for scenic, Urbex, and flower photography until I fell in love with the 5DS R (for a lot more money!). artie


This image was created by multiple IPT veteran Will Schilling on the recently concluded Nickerson Beach IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/8. Daylight WB.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure. The active AF point fell just below the side of the bird’s neck just a bit behind the eye. See the illuminated red square in the DPP 4 screen capture below. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Common Tern chick begging. Image courtesy of and copyright 2016: Will Schilling

Well Done Will

Amateur Nailed It!

I knew that Will had rocked this one the moment that I saw it on the back of his camera. He had been sitting about 10 feet to my right. This was the session where we chose to sit up sun angle from a patch of really clean sand and wait for the action to come to us. (See the A Different Approach to Bird Photography blog post here if you missed it.)

Will was using my back-up 5DS R. He rented it for the IPT before his previously saltwater damaged 1D X bit the bullet and failed completely. He did not use it much until after his 1D X went down the tubes.

Camera Thoughts from Will via e-mail

I’m so glad that I rented one of your 5DS R bodies for this trip. Not only because my primary camera crapped out on me, but because it was good getting some experience with the 5DS R first hand. The image quality is obviously incredible. I had gotten used to the large/high quality files on my Nikon D810 before my recent switch to Canon. I think that because of my familiarity with the D810’s high resolution, I was already used to having to keep the camera/lens really still to get sharp pictures, so this wasn’t an issue for me. The 5DS R AF system really impressed me though. Even with the 2X tele-converter on it was really quick and accurate.

When I left the IPT, I was pretty sure I was going to immediately replace my dead 1D X with a 5DS R, but now I’m leaning more towards the EOS-1DX Mark II. I am thinking that I will either pick up a 5DS R or the eventual (rumoured) 5D Mark IV as a second camera. Looking back, I didn’t really get to use the 5DS R much for flight photography, so that’s why I’m leaning towards the 1DX-II first. It seems that it may be the best camera body for me until I get a second body. I’ve been trying to go back through your old blog posts and Arash’s comments on BPN to help me decide. I think I know your thoughts on this, but welcome any additional comments you may have.

I was about to reply to Will that he might be making an expensive mistake, but before I had a chance to answer him he sent this via e-mail:

FYI, I used your B&H affiliate link to purchase a new 1DX Mark II, an extra LPE 19 battery, a second CFast memory card, and an extra LPE6N battery for my 5DS R. I was able to pick up factory reconditioned 5DS R from Canon; sorry, but it saved me $700. I couldn’t make up my mind to get one or the other and I knew that I need two bodies anyway…

I am officially broke now!


I wrote back forgiving Will and telling him that I was curious as to how often he would use each body for bird photography. On the recent IPT I used the 5DS R a lot and my 1D X II infrequently after the first afternoon… And yes, I thanked him profusely for using my B&H links for his $6442.94 purchase!


My best effort…

My Best Effort…

Pro: Failed!

Using the same gear as Will, I failed miserably several times to photograph the same chick that Will nailed when creating today’s featured image. I write often that with advancing age my fine motor skills, strength, and hand-eye coordination are not what they used to be. But the DPP 4 AF point screen capture above shows that maybe folks should start believing me… Note that I failed to get the selected AF point on an area of contrast as Will did. Even when the chick stopped to beg in one spot I fanned on it…

I still am not sure if the 1D X Mark II would offer better AF than the 5DS R with the 600 II/2X III combo. I did go to the 1D X II/600 II/2X III during my Saturday session with Jake Levin. I did pretty well but have not made a final decision. I will be running lots more on the 1DX II vs. 5DS R comparison in the next few weeks.


The DPP 4 screen capture for Will’s image

The DPP 4 Screen Capture for Will’s Image

Note that Will created a fine exposure with some data well into the fifth histogram box as seen in the RGB histogram. Note his white RBG values in the high 220s and the low 230s. And Will did a great job getting the AF point on an area with at least some contrast and doing that quickly enough so that the system had a chance to acquire focus and lock on. The latter was something that I failed to do so consistently, at least with this subject.

The Image Optimization

When I optimized Will’s image, note that I cleaned some poop off of the fine feathers near the rear of the bird. I addition, I used a flopped Quick Mask to move the o-o-f green vegetation from the right side of the frame to the left–with Will’s permission–for better compositional balance. Note that the sand was pretty much pristine…


Learn the details of advanced Quick Masking techniques in APTATS I. Learn Advanced Layer Masking Techniques in APTATS II. Save $15 by ordering both here.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right 🙂

18 comments to Pro versus Amateur: Failed (look in the mirror) and Nailed. More on the Amazing 5DS R (and on the 1D X II…)

  • avatar Jay

    You responded yesterday: I am curious as to why folks do not read what I write Please go back and read the section sub-headed
    Image Optimization.

    If you cannot answer your own question after that, please get back to me.

    My follow-up: I had read that. I’m not seeing how it balances out Will’s image. Love the bird, I just find the vegetation here distracting. Artistic differences.



    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      No worries. I wrote many years ago, “Add green whenever possible.” Doing so still works for me 🙂


      ps: as far as balance, with the green on the right the image is “right heavy.” With it on the left, it far better balances the images by adding needed weight to the left 🙂

  • Hi Art,
    I notice on this post that you focus on the body of the bird, not the eye. I always aim for the eye, which is a huge challenge with moving birds. Is there a reason for not focusing on the eye? I uses a NIKON D7200 (DX, not full format), 200-500mm f5.8 lens

    Thank you, Mercedes from Peru

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Focusing on the eye it too big a challenge. Try focusing on the face, the head, the neck, or somewhere on the body that is on the same plane as the eye.


  • I wouldn’t expect the 5DSR to have better autofocus than the 5DXm2, at best it should only be on par. However, stranger things have happened. I am also confused by the fact that your af point is on the bird, yet no part of the bird is even close to in focus, in fact it appears to me that the focus is behind the bird. Perhaps you let up on the focus button without realizing it and the bird moved away from the point of focus?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Keith, See my response to David below. If I had let off of the rear button AF, the AF point would not have been illuminated in red…


      ps: 1DX II AF is surely better on all counts than 5DS R AF but 5DS R AF is pretty darned good.

    • avatar David Policansky

      Keith Swindell: I don’t recognize a Canon camera “5DXm2,” and wonder if you mean the 5Dm2. The 5Dm2 is eight years old, the 5DR is one year old. I would be very surprised if the 5Dm2’s AF were anywhere near as good as the 5DR’s. Or do you mean the rumored but not yet announced 5DX?

  • avatar Mark Zimmerman

    Very informative post! Thanks so much!

  • avatar Jay

    I’m actually curious as to why, when you optimized the image (or Will, when he initially worked on the image) kept the o-o-f vegetation. Given the nice clean sand, it seems to be a distraction.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Jay,

      I am curious as to why folks do not read what I write 🙂 Please go back and read the section sub-headed

      Image Optimization.

      If you cannot answer your own question after that, please get back to me.

      thanks, artie

  • avatar Bob DeCroce

    Congrats on the great shot Will! Best of luck with the new gear too!

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie, and congratulations to Will for a great image and for two great new cameras! I can’t claim tiredness and lack of sleep as an excuse; but I can’t figure out why your image is so out of focus given where the active focus point is.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi David,

      There are two possible reasons:

      #1: operator error: failure to get the AF point on a spot with sufficient contrast (as noted here a lot recently–and possibly above as well).

      #2: operator error: the operator jerked the lens and fired the shutter without giving the AF system a chance to acquire focus and begin tracking properly.


      ps: Many folks assume when they see a screen capture like the one above that their camera sucks. Not me: I look in the mirror. Furthermore, I can show you hundreds of images where neither the active AF point nor any of the assist points are anywhere near the subject yet the subject is razor sharp…

      • avatar David Policansky

        Thanks, Artie. I probably don’t pay enough attention to the subject’s contrast; something else to think about. By the way, I too have had shots where the active AF point(s) aren’t on the subject and the subject is sharp, usually with fast-moving subjects. I figure the AF point WAS on the subject a microsecond previously and the subject hadn’t got out of focus yet.

  • Maybe I’m just tired and I’m missing something,but the image you opened up with from Will has a green plant on the left hand edge. The DPP capture has no green on the left. I’m pretty sure the DPP image is the full image cause I don’t see any scroll bars. There is some green on the right in the DPP, but that simply looks like its been cropped or cloned out in the final image.

    Thanks, Doug

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Yes, tired and missing something… You actually gotta read the whole thing, that’s why I write it:). From above:

      The Image Optimization

      When I optimized Will’s image, note that I cleaned some poop off of the fine feathers near the rear of the bird. I addition, I used a flopped Quick Mask to move the o-o-f green vegetation from the right side of the frame to the left–with Will’s permission–for better compositional balance. Note that the sand was pretty much pristine…

      Get some sleep, artie

      best, artie