300mm: The Under-appreciated Focal Length … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

300mm: The Under-appreciated Focal Length ...

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Home Safely

After taking a single 1mg melatonin, I got into bed just after 12:30pm and fell asleep quickly on the very early morning of WED 1 MAR and slept right on schedule until 7:30am with only one pit stop. Amazing. On my flights I did several rounds of Emotional Freedom Technique tapping (on various meridian points): Even though I am traveling west to east over many time zones, I’m willing to love and accept myself and reset my body clock. Scoff if you like, or learn about EFT here. My laptop was set to Eastern time zone for the whole trip home and I slept about 5 hours early on the flight from Narita to LAX. That was my “night.” After that, just a few short snoozes.

Jet lag may be coming soon, but I was feeling great on Wednesday morning 🙂


Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

The Streak: 475!

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 475 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a really great for a long time now–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 BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

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All of the images here were created with a Canon 300mm lens. Clockwise from the upper left: Acacia tree at sunset, Tanzania; Black Tern, Kamloops, British Columbia; Cosmos, vertical pan blur, White, GA; Great Blue Heron with ballyhoo (?), Fort Desoto Park, Pinellas, FL; Great Blue Heron landing; Fort Desoto Park, Pinellas, FL; and Blue-eyed Shag landing, New Island, The Falklands.

300mm: The Under-appreciated Focal Length …

The 300mm focal length has long been under-appreciated by most bird, wildlife, and nature photographers. As I have said here often, the 300mm f/2.8 lenses have long been favored by the world’s best hawks in flight photographers and by folks working with tame birds in spots like Florida, many parts of California, and those traveling to international hotspots like the Galapagos and The Falkland Islands.

All of the images above were made with the hand held 300mm f/2.8L IS II lens but for the Black Tern image that was created with the hand held 300mm f/4L IS lens with a 1.4X teleconverter. Not only do all of the 300 lenses perform beautifully with the 1.4X TCs, but the 300 f/2.8 lenses — at least the Canon ones — can produce superbly sharp images when coupled with a Canon doubler like the EF 2X III Teleconverter. While the Nikon 1.4X and 1.7X TCEs produce sharp images, you have to look far and wide to find a Nikon shooter who is enamored with the TCE 20 …

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All of the images here were also created with a Canon 300mm lens. Clockwise from the upper left: Great Egret striking, Fort Desoto Park, Pinellas, FL; Red-billed Tropicbird, Espanola, Galapagos, Ecuador; Reddish Egret in mega-breeding plumage, hunting, Fort Desoto Park, Pinellas, FL; Roseate Tern, wing raised display, Great Gull Island, NY; Snowy Egret landing, Little Estero Lagoon, Fort Myers Beach, FL; and Roseate Spoonbill landing, Fort Desoto Park, Pinellas, FL.

300mm f/2.8 Advantages

The 300mm f/2.8 lenses are small enough and light enough to be hand held for birds in flight and in action. A quick glance at the images featured in today’s blog post will confirm that in spades. Add a TC and the 300s can serve as a workhorse super-telephoto while maintaining fast, accurate autofocus.

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All of the images here were created with the Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS lens and the 2X III TC. Clockwise from the upper left: Adelie Penguin with wings raised, Hope Bay Antarctica; Atlantic Puffin on rock, Inner Farnes Island, UK; Black-bellied Plover, Fort Desoto Park, Pinellas, FL; Macaroni Penguin preening mate, Hercules Bay, South Georgia (tripod mounted); King Penguin neck pattern; St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia; Blue-eyed Shag with feather, Jougla Point, Antarctica (tripod mounted).

With the 2X TC …

With the addition of a 2X TC to a Canon 300mm f/2.8 lens you will have fast, accurate AF with all AF points active with any camera body to go with your 600mm full frame focal length.

Used 300mm Lenses for You

Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

Sue Sanborn is offering a Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens in near mint condition for $4399. The sale includes the lens trunk with keys, the front cover & an additional soft lens cap, the rear lens cap, a LensCoat, a Wimberley Arca-Swiss compatible plate, the original product box, and insured ground shipping via UPS to US addresses only.

Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Sue via e-mail by phone at 1-941-748-0327 (Eastern time.)

The 300 f/2.8 lenses have long been the first choice of the world’s best hawks in flight photographers and have become increasingly popular with bird photographers working either with crop factor cameras or those who live in areas with relatively tame birds. This lens, the latest version of Canon’s 300 f/2.8L IS, is incredibly sharp with either TC. It is easily hand holdable by most folks. You can add the 1.4X III or the 2X III teleconverter for even greater versatility. artie

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens

Multiple IPT veteran Jake Levin is offering a Canon 300mm f/2.8 IS lens in very good-plus condition for a very sporting $2199. The sale includes the rear lens cap, the front lens cover, the lens trunk, and insured UPS ground shipping to either United States or Canadian addresses. US buyers are responsible for any customs fees or duties. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Jake via e-mail or by phone at 514-601-9544 (Eastern time).

The older version of the Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS is a super sharp lens that is great for hand held flight and action photography and great with both teleconverters. It has long been the favorite focal length of the world’s best hawk photographers. For folks working around tame birds or those with a 7D Mark II this lens makes a great workhorse telephoto. At more than $700 below most used copies of the “old” 300 f/2.8s, Jake’s lens is priced to sell quickly to buyers in either country. artie

Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS Lens

Annthy Nguyen is offering a Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS lens (the original version) in excellent plus condition for $2,950.00. The sale includes the original lens trunk (with 2 keys), the front cover, the rear lens cap, the original product box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Ann via e-mail or by phone at 1-714-386-8083 (Pacific time zone)

The older version of the Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS is a super sharp lens that is great for hand held flight and action photography and great with both teleconverters. It has long been the favorite focal length of the world’s best hawk photographers. artie

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L USM Lens

Bud Friesen is offering an oldie but goodie, plus extras: a Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L USM lens (the non-IS version) plus a set of the older 1.4X and 2X TCs (with the pouches for each extender) for $1799. The lens is easily in excellent plus condition, probably closer to near mint. The sale includes the Canon drop-in polarizer, the leather lens cap, the rear cap, the lens trunk, the original box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses. The glass is perfect. This lens is not longer serviced by Canon USA but if you did run into a problem (unlikely as that is), you would likely be able to have it fixed in a non-Canon repair shop. These items were all purchased in July 1994 for a trip to Alaska. They have been used very little since. Photos are available. Your items will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Bud via e-mail or by phone at 1-269-468-5583 evenings (Central time).

This package represents an exceptional value for a photographer with a low budget as the original 300mm f/2.8L is an exceptionally sharp lens that does well with the older TCs. artie

Nikon 300mm f/4 AF-S ED IF Lens

Karl Zuzarte is also offering Nikon 300mm f/4 AF-S ED IF lens in excellent condition for $699. The sale includes the original box and lens bag, the front and rear caps, and insured shipping via UPS Ground. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Karl by e-mail or by phone at 508-873-6081 (Eastern time)


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DeSoto in spring is rife with tame and attractive birds. From upper left clockwise to center: breeding plumage Dunlin, dark morph breeding plumage Reddish Egret displaying, breeding plumage Laughing Gull/front end vertical portrait, breeding plumage Laughing Gull with prey item, Laughing Gull on head of Brown Pelican, screaming Royal Tern in breeding plumage, Royal Terns/pre-copulatory stand, Laughing Gulls copulating, breeding plumage Laughing Gull/tight horizontal portrait, Sandwich Tern with fish, and a really rare one, White-rumped Sandpiper in breeding plumage, photographed at DeSoto in early May.

Fort DeSoto Spring IPT/April 19-22, 2017. (meet & greet at 2pm on Wednesday April 19 followed by an afternoon session) through the full day on Saturday April 22. 3 1/2 DAYs: $1599. Limit 10/Openings: 4. To save your spot, please call and put down a non-refundable deposit of $499.00.

I will be offering small group (Limit 3) Photoshop sessions on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning if necessary. Details on that TBA.

Fort DeSoto is one of the rare locations that might offer great bird photography 365 days a year. It shines in spring. There will Lots of tame birds including breeding plumage Laughing Gull and Royal and Sandwich Terns. With luck, we will get to photograph all of these species courting and copulating. There will be American Oystercatcher and Marbled Godwit plus sandpipers and plovers, some in full breeding plumage. Black-bellied Plover and Red Knot in stunning breeding plumage are possible. There will be lots of wading birds including Great and Snowy Egrets, both color morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue, Tricolored and Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and killer breeding plumage White Ibis. Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork are possible and likely. We should have lots of good flight photography with the gulls and terns and with Brown Pelican. Nesting Least Tern and nesting Wilson’s Plover are possible.

We will, weather permitting, enjoy 7 shooting sessions. As above, our first afternoon session will follow the meet and greet at 2pm on Wednesday April 19. For the next three days we will have two daily photo sessions. We will be on the beach early and usually be at lunch (included) by 11am. We will have three indoor sessions. At one we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me choose my keepers and deletes–why keep this one and delete that one? The second will be a review of your images so that I can quickly learn where you need help. For those who bring their laptops to lunch I’d be glad to take a peek at an image or three. Day three will be a Photoshop session during which we will review my complete workflow and process an image or two in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. Afternoon sessions will generally run from 4:30pm till sunset. We photograph until sunset on the last day, Saturday, April 22. Please note that this is a get-your-feet and get-your-butt wet and sandy IPT. And that you can actually do the whole IPT with a 300 f/2.8L IS, a 400 f/4 ID DO lens with both TCs, or the equivalent Nikon gear. I will surely be using my 500 II as my big glass and have my 100-400 II on my shoulder.


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DeSoto in spring is rife with tame and attractive birds. From upper left clockwise to center: Laughing Gull in flight, adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, copulating Sandwich Terns, Roseate Spoonbill, Great Egret with reflection, Short-billed Dowitcher in breeding plumage, American Oystercatcher, breeding plumage Royal Tern, white morph Reddish Egret, and Snowy Egret marsh habitat shot.

What You Will Learn

You will learn to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to understand the effects of sky and wind conditions on bird photography, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you are scared of it).

The group will be staying at the Red Roof Inn, St. Petersburg: 4999 34th St. North, St Petersburg, FL 33714. The place is clean and quite inexpensive. Please e-mail for room block information. And please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register. All will need to purchase an Annual Pass early on Tuesday afternoon so that we can enter the park at 6am and be in position for sunrise opportunities. The cost is $75, Seniors $55. Tight carpools will be needed and will reduce the per person Annual Pass costs. The cost of three lunches is included. Breakfasts are grab what you can on the go, and dinners are also on your own due to the fact that we will usually be getting back to the hotel at about 9pm. Non-photographer spouses, friends, or companions are welcome for $100/day, $350 for the whole IPT.

BIRDS AS ART Fort DeSoto In-the-Field Meet-up Workshop (ITFW): $99

Fort DeSoto Spring In-the-Field Cheap Meet-up Workshop (ITFW) on the morning of Sunday, April 23, 2017: $99

Join me on the morning of Sunday April 23, 2017 for 3-hours of photographic instruction at Fort DeSoto Park. Beginners are welcome. Lenses of 300mm or longer are recommended but even those with 70-200s should get to make some nice images. Teleconverters are always a plus.

You will learn the basics of digital exposure and image design, autofocus basics, and how to get close to free and wild birds. We should get to photograph a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls. This inexpensive morning workshop is designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tours. I hope to meet you there.

To register please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours with a credit card in hand to pay the nominal registration fee. Your registration fee is non-refundable. You will receive a short e-mail with instructions, gear advice, and meeting place one week before the event.



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4 comments to 300mm: The Under-appreciated Focal Length …

  • I remember someone being smitten by the 300 f/2.8 when we were at Barnegat in 2013, she immediately bought her own once she used it if I remember correctly. Fantastic lens, although home here in Trinidad everything is the complete opposite of tame, so it’s a frustrating focal length for me.

  • avatar Guido Bee

    Count me as another supporter of the 300 mm focal length as under appreciated. My 300 F4.0 AF-S Nikkor (Pre-VR version) is a winner. Use with a 1.4x remains nearly the same, and using a crop sensor body delivers excellent sharpness and near-super-telephoto reach in an affordable price and savings in weight when traveling or anytime bulk / weight is an issue. Use with a 1.7x seems to be acceptably sharp, but requires excellent technique to not compromise the potential the combination “can” deliver.
    Obviously, the AF speed of a 2.8 and the additional stop of brightness is an advantage over the 4.0, but other than that, the 4.0 is equally sharp from 5.6 – 11.0 making it a great choice.

    Looking forward to seeing more shots from Japan.

  • I agree with you Artie the Canon 300 mm 2.8 is the best sharpest lens in the world bar none, I having been using one Professional for twenty years and matched to my canon extenders they
    invincible.

    Best wishes and welcome back.

    Kel
    UK

    Ps can,t wait to see more of your Japan Tour Images