I Can’t Believe That I Forgot This One! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

I Can't Believe That I Forgot This One!

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This image of a fledgling Green Heron was created with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM Lens (hand held at 176mm) and the EOS-40D at Green Cay Wetlands in Boynton Beach, FL. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/1600 sec. at f/6.3.

I Can’t Believe That I Forgot This One!

In the recent post, Which is the Best Under-$1500 Canon Intermediate Telephoto Lens for Me?, I helped folks choose among the old 400mm f/5.6 (my beloved “toy” lens), the popular and versatile 100-400 mm IS L zoom lens, and the close-focusing 300mm f/4L IS lens. I cannot believe that I forgot to mention the relatively tiny, lightweight, and versatile Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS zoom lens. After owning the original 70-200mm f/2.8L IS zoom lens for many years (and not using it much but for my annual trip to the wondrous Galapagos archipelago), I purchased a copy of its smaller lighter cousin, the 70-200 f/4 IS and quickly fell in love with it. I used it over the years with the 40D, the 50D, the 7D, and at times with one of the pro bodies, the Mark III and as recently as the summer of 2010, with the Mark IV. Though a stop slower than its heftier cousin, the f/2.8L IS, this lens was sharp and its lighter weight made it convenient to have one hanging on your shoulder all day long. I recommend using this lens hand held either alone or with the 1.4X teleconverter. It will autofocus with a 1.4X TC with any of the cameras mentioned above. It will not autofocus with the 2X and any of the pro-sumer bodies but will with any of the pro bodies. If you use this lens with the 2X TC and a pro-sumer body it is mandatory that you be on a sturdy tripod best topped off by a Mongoose M3.6. It is the least expensive of the four and would be a great choice as a starter lens for folks living in the vicinity of fairly tame birds; can you say Florida or San Diego?

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This adult Herring Gull was photographed in flight at Captree State Park on Long Island, NY with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM Lens (hand held at 200mm) and the EOS-1D Mark III. ISO 100. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/500 sec. at f/4. (It was obviously a cloudy dark day.) Fill flash at -1 stop with the flash mounted on the camera.

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM Lens was a great flight lens with every camera body that I used it with.

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This Wood Stork was photographed at the fabulous St. Augustine Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, FL with the the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM Lens with the 1.4X II C and the EOS-40D. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/6.3. Fill flash at -1 stop with the flash mounted on the camera.

All 70-200 lenses are great for flight in tight quarters. Here the lightweight 70-200 f/4 performed admirably with the 1.4X teleconverter in place. With a pro-sumer body this combo will autofocus at f/5.6 and you will enjoy an equivalent focal length of 448 mm. This works out to 8.9X magnification.

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This white morph Reddish Egret was photographed at Fort DeSoto Park south of St. Petersburg, FL with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM Lens with the EOS-40D. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/4. Though DeSoto is not as good as it was several years ago–a large area that was roped off several years ago remains closed–it is still a great location for bird photography. Having a copy of our DeSoto Site Guide will ensure you of being at the best spot on any given set of weather/wind/tidal conditions.

When working with shorter focal length lenses and relatively tame birds it is imperative to get low in most every situation so that your angle of declination is not too steep. I did not want to get any lower here and risk losing the beautiful reflection.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear discussed above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS zoom lens. I used and loved this lightweight versatile lens for several years and made lots of fine images with it.
Canon 400mm f/5.6L. My beloved toy lens is still a great flight lens. Just not for me as I now rely on Image Stabilized lenses.
Canon 100-400mm IS L zoom lens. I used this lens for years with great success.
Canon 300mm f/4L IS lens. A great lens for flight, hand held bird photography, and large macro subjects.
Canon EF 1.4X III TC. This new TC is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon EOS-7D. I loved my 7D but sold it so that all of my bodies would be the same. Less strain on the brain that way.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod. This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with all intermediate telephoto lenses.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am on a tripod and not using flash.
Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. These high capacity cards are fast and dependable.

13 comments to I Can’t Believe That I Forgot This One!

  • Guess I didn’t I didn’t proof read my very last sentence, should read “hope it is more readable” – Ken

  • This Egret , the way it is presented on your site here – can you help me to understand how the file was prepared for the the internet. Many photos can be cropped ,colour etc, but what is the final preparation you do with photoshop to give it the “high gloss” type of finish. Besides the photo being outstanding, what can one do to try and get it finished off with that type of high gloss. I have the program digital basic, I have a good background of photoshop (CS5), but trying to get to the point so that my photos can pop better. Do you have a “popping solution”. By the way, take my comment of your 800 lightly, I thought I would throw in some humor but sometimes my humor isn’t appreciated – I just can’t afford the 600 and the 800, but the 600 is more practical for myself. Let me know if you find a place that sells hats your wore with the long shanks.
    thanks, Ken – ps I proof read my comment before sending, home it is more readable. thanks for all your comments they are very much appreciated.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Ken, Everything that I do to prepare my master files and then my JPEGs for the web is detailed in Digital Basics. I would love to re-write the whole thing for you here but it is 101 pages long so you will need to spend the 20 bucks. It would be the best $20 that you ever spent on photography 🙂

      Good photographers make good images with whatever great they have in their hands. I did not notice your comment on the 800 and I never take stuff personally so not to worry. Thanks for making an effort to make your posts readable.

  • DJ Zemenick

    I want to thank you especially for this post, “Which is the Best Under-$1500 Canon Intermediate Telephoto Lens for Me?” This is indeed an important question for amateur photographers like myself with limited income who need to make the right choice. Also, your advice regarding which lens would be best when factoring in the issue of using a tripod (or lack thereof) was especially helpful. As a volunteer sea turtle patroler in the Ft. Pickens Area/Gulf Islands National Seashore, I do not have the luxury of lugging around my heavy tripod during patrols, which is when I have the best opportunity to get osprey and GBH shots.

    I also look forward to delving into my recently purchased (15 minutes ago) Digital Basics. Now how’d you guess Layer Masks cinched the purchase?

  • PS – according to the latest Outdoor Photographer – this is also Art’s favorite lens. That’s Art Wolfe of course. There’s an excellent article on bird photography by some other guy named Art in the same issue, but I doubt you’ve heard of him 😉

  • Ken

    You have some beautiful birds in flight photos – those are the type of photos that I am interested in as well as the reflection photos – but not too sure why you keep talking about the 800 lens – which is not affordable for most people – and over 5.6 is not auto focus – sounds to me its ok if you shoot the bird and stuff it, then it will be really stationary, the 800 willwork great that way, but for birds in motion, the 600 is far more useful, auto focus works great, and is a sharp lens – To me I would shoot the 800, stuff it, use the 600 to shoot the 800 while I throw it up in the air and get the 800 in flight with the 600 lens. The 70-200 f2.8 is a lens I used lots and it is one of my favourite – by the way, my 600 hopefully arrives today.

    For those who like birds, which I think everyone at your site does, birds in motion like the ones you have above are the way to go, and those photos are just outstanding.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks Ian. It has always amazed me that they sell the 70-200 f/4 without a tripod collar….

  • Artie, I love this setup and next to my 400 f/5.6, it’s my most used lens (with or without the 1.4x). I had the consumer 70-300 f/4-5.6 before this and found the 300mm quality very lacking, and quickly realized that the 70-200 f/4 IS + 1.4x at 280mm blows away the 70-300! Add in the L quality build, better IS, and everything else and you’ve got a killer tame wildlife lens.

    Another big bonus for me was discovering that the tripod ring included with the 400 f/5.6 also happens to fit the 70-200 f/4 IS! I typically hand hold it as the IS is amazing, but it’s nice to have the ring.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Hey, I simply forgot 🙂 Now you know.

  • Jim Kranick

    I wondered why you didn’t mention the 70-200 f/4. After all, you were the person who mentioned how light and sharp it is and convinced me to get one following my heavier 100-400. Much easier to hand hold, even with the 1.4x. I use it a lot over here at the Cruickshank Sanctuary and until this year at Gatorland.

  • Vikram

    Hi Artie,
    Amazing shots. How far were you from the Green Heron when you took that shot?
    I am learning a lot of useful info from the Digital Basics file, thanks for your hard work.

    Kind Regards

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Vikram, I was quite close, maybe three feet, maybe closer. The young bird, just out of the nest, was sitting on a railing. It was totally tame. I am glad that you are enjoying Digital Basics. We have sold a ton of them. I guess folks want to learn to use Layer Masks!