Clean, Tight, Graphic, and SONY. And a Saturday location change. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Clean, Tight, Graphic, and SONY. And a Saturday location change.

What’s Up?

There has been lots of interest and many varying opinions and comments on Thursday afternoon’s What am I, chopped liver? blog post here. In retrospect, it is likely that I screwed up a bit. Or maybe not. Check out the comments and my responses if you like.

Cheap Gatorland Saturdays

A Saturday Location (and Time) Change

You had been invited to join me at Gatorland on SAT 2 MAR as below. But when Robert Matyas signed up for this Saturday I asked him if he was interested in going to Lakeland to do the point blank White Pelicans instead and he replied in the affirmative. As the pelicans will be leaving for the prairie provinces and points north to breed soon, you might wish to join us. I have room for two more. We are meeting at 6:45am.

I will be offering these sessions at Gatorland from here on until further notice. If you are interested in this Saturday (in Lakeland) or any upcoming Saturday, please get in touch via e-mail or call my cell at 863-221-2372. Limit three photographers.

Morning Session — 7-10am: $200
Morning Session with working lunch including image review and Photoshop: $300.
(All of the above with a late afternoon session from 4pm till closing: $400.)

Canon 100-400mm L IS II USM Zoom Lens

Karl Schneck is offering a Canon EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS II USM zoom lens (the new 1-4) in excellent condition for $1,299.00. The sale includes the rear lens cap, the front lens cap, the lens hood, the lens foot, the lens case, the original product box, a LensCoat Lens Cover in Digital Camo, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower 48 US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Karl via e-mail.

Y’all know how much I have missed this amazingly versatile lens and its great close focusing ability. With a new one going for $2,049.00 Karl’s lens is a steal! artie

Canon 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

Multiple IPT veteran Morris Herstein is offering a Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for the incredible BAA record-low price of $7,999.00. The sale includes the rear cap and the front lens cover, the lens trunk, a Kirk low foot, the original lens foot, a LensCoat, and insured ground shipping via Fed Ex to US lower 48 addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Morris via e-mail.

The 600 II has been the state of the art super-telephoto for birds, nature, wildlife, and sports for many years. When I was using Canon and needed the reach and could get it to my location, it was always my go-to weapon. It is the same now with my Nikon 600 VR. All are fast and sharp and deadly alone or a TC. With a new one going for $11,499, you’d better grab this one quickly and save a cool $3500.00 by grabbing Morris’s lens now. artie

This image was created on February 14 at Lakeland, FL. I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter (at 740mm) and the beyond remarkable Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 400: 1/1000 sec. at f/11 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 9:04am on a sunny day.

Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

White Pelican bill detail

Clean, Tight, and Graphic

I said those words many times during the Lessons From the Field program at the Orlando Camera Club on Monday evening. I just love working close for tight head portraits and at times, creating really high images of bird’s bills, feet, and feathers. Things are even better when you can work against a background of still, blue water.

SONY Image Quality

SONY image quality remains the single biggest question for me. Whenever you create images with a new system the RAW and master TIFF files will have a different look to them. It often takes a while to get used to them. I would not expect the 24.2MP A9 files to provide as much fine feather detail as files from the 30.4MP Canon 5D Mark IV or the 45.7MP Nikon D850. But I would expect them to compare favorably with image files from the Nikon D5 and the Canon 1DX II. At present, I am actually happy with the image quality of the SONY images. But I have lots more comparisons to make; so far, I have only scratched the surface. At present, I am using two systems often going to the SONY system for its great close-focusing and the results with the 2X TC. With the A9 focusing across 93% of the viewfinder with or without either TC in place the A9/100-400 OSS combo is deadly at close range. BTW, that 93% AF coverage encompasses virtually the entire frame as the missing 7% is around the edges of the image … It is possible that over time I will wind up going with two systems.

How does the image quality in today’s featured image look to you? (Be sure to click on the image to see the larger version.)


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

14 comments to Clean, Tight, Graphic, and SONY. And a Saturday location change.

  • avatar Steve Dickson

    Hi Artie, I look at this photo of the pelicans beak and it looks really sharp to me. The feathers around it seem very sharp also. When I take in the whole photo, the subject of the photo is the beak. If it was my photograph, I’d want the beak to be this sharp also. if some of the feathers are not as sharp, this wouldn’t bother me because the main subject, the beak, is very sharp. I don’t understand why someone would have a problem with a part of the photograph that did not include the main subject being less sharp. The fact that the subject of the photograph is sharp is what matters.

  • avatar Byron PRINZMETAL

    It seems to me one cannot have everything. In the Sony A9 case as I understand it you (we) have a system:
    1. With their 400mm lens with 2x extender is lite and easy to handle. That is, one does not need to be a 20 year old to hand hold the camera and lens combination all day to capture sharp bif images. For mature people this might be a really big deal.
    2. Sony’s af for bif is great and you say in some situation like birds flying straight toward you at full speed is fantastic and perhaps as good as if not better than the competition.
    3. The file detail, color et al is ok for a 24k file. Both Nikon and Canon file detail might be better, but Sony’s is more than acceptable.

    The above is “my” reading of your comments so far. From my perspective for bif images, the priority would first: can I hold the camera all day (I am part of the over the hill gang with a bad back), does the af work well, and lastly, but importantly are the files workable.

    I might be wrong about my interpretation of what you have been saying so if so please excuse me.


  • avatar Glen

    It’s the monitor stupid! (to no one in particular)

  • avatar Phil Thach

    Hi Artie,

    Pelican looks nice and sharp to me.
    I’m still waiting on the answer to the “Toughest Camera Body Quiz Ever” from 02/25/19. Maybe I missed it?


  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    I think it is perfectly sharp. There is no way you can blame the Sony/lens combo for the softness of the tip of the beak or white feathers. That’s just a by-product of the subject not being perfectly parallel to the sensor and the wide open aperture (f11, lol!). I can tell exactly where the focus point was and it is sharper than sharp.

  • avatar Charles Thompson

    There is a lot to learn from a man who led countless programs, seminars, YouTube videos and guided expeditions — and is fearless in the face of change.

    Mac better than Widows? Switch.

    Nikon nudging Canon? Explore, compare … switch.

    Is Sony really that good? Try it and display the results. Add or Switch Pending.

    There’s a common element in all this change: major transitions in OS and gear require a total mastery of every element of photography so the question becomes ‘how do I do this with xxx.’

    Comparing the earlier Canon images to Nikon and Sony images I believe sharpness exceeds the definable limits of the human eye, although based on images so far I think Sony fills the frame more than Nikon.

    OK I like Sony; So What?

    I’m here to look and learn. And I’m grateful for Artie and to the Dr. who sold me a camera body and pointed me to Birds As Art.

    This is a wonderful hobby let’s focus on the opportunity to learn more about what we have in common.

  • I have to agree with David P. – the image is plenty sharp! If your’e pixel-peeking with your nose three inches from the monitor perhaps you can take issue but I’m fairly confident you could make a 24″ x 36″ print of that image and most people would be WOWED by the detail and clarity! Nice capture and execution in post processing!

  • I wonder if there is some browser rendering issue that Jack didn’t see the above Pelican close up as sharp, because is looks very sharp on my screen. Yes the depth of field is shallow, but what is within it is showing nicely with very good definition.

    I would say that some lenses are slightly sharper than some others, but I’ve not yet rejected any lens for not being sharp enough. I think any pro level lens is going to be sharp enough. It’s other aspects that make a lens a favourite for me; like ability to focus in low light, or being lightweight and easy to carry, or having image stabilisation, or having a pleasing perspective (very wide lenses if you like them). Zoom lenses can be so useful, especially when they are comparatively lighter and smaller than a super telephoto. Some of my favourite photos were taken on a canon 70-200 f4 IS and lately, I’m really enjoying the 100-400 mark one. It’s relatively inexpensive and gives many opportunities to make lovely photographs. Yes, I hear that the mark 2 is sharper and it certainly has closer focus and better IS, but it’s more than twice the cost and that £600 can take me to the Farne islands for a week and a couple of trips to Norfolk,,,, where I can use the older cheaper lens to take pictures. I think we can get too hung up on sharpness for sure.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie: There has to be some threshold beyond which additional sharpness makes no difference, unless you’re making a huge print. Your close-up of the pelican’s bill is way beyond any threshold of sharpness that I’d notice. In short, it’s more than sharp enough. And, by the way, it’s a wonderful image; terrific composition, color, and detail.

  • avatar Wayne Wendel

    If your Sony camera, lens and teleconverter are such a great combo, why are the feathers on the breast out of focus?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Wayne, Good question thanks for asking it. I was wide open at f/11. The bill is in sharp focus and the feathers are well inside the depth of field. Others gave the same explanation in their responses.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Jack Goodman

    Artie, thanks for the tight closeup of the pelican’s beak. In my opinion, it is not razor sharp and the depth of field is so narrow that the white feathers are soft.

    I use the Nikon 100-400 lens and it isn’t very sharp either, plus it does not have good contrast.

    The more I use my Nikon 850, the more I realize that sharpness is more about the lens and less about the number of pixels. Nothing beats the Nikon 70-200, with or without a TC.


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Jack. You are right about the very narrow depth of field. As I noted, f/11 is wide open with that combo. at 740mm full frame at point blank range d-of is sliver thin …

      You did not seem to think that the Limpkin image was sharp. It was. As for the Nikon 80-400 VR not being sharp, I strongly disagree with that. On the Emperor Penguin trip I used it often — it was Focus-tuned with one of my D850 bodies — and the images were as sharp as any I have ever made with any lens, camera, or system. Therefore I am not sure what you are seeing in terms of sharpness …

      with love, artie