Safe in Honolulu & Gear Questions Answered « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Safe in Honolulu & Gear Questions Answered

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This intentional and pleasing (to me at least) image of a Glaucous-winged Gull was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS II and the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 280mm) with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 50. Evaluative metering -1 stop as framed: 1/15 sec. at f/13. To see what the folks at BPN’s Out of the Box Forum thought of this one and to see how they helped me improve it, click here. The image itself was in part inspired by a student friend, Jan van der Greef. Learn more about Jan here.

Safe in Honolulu

I flew from Orlando to Chicago on Sunday and continued on to Honolulu arriving late afternoon thanks to the six hour time change. Am in a somewhat shabby (by Hawaii standards) hotel. The group flies to Midway by chartered jet today at 6:30pm. I did my best and stayed awake until 8pm (2am the next day in Florida), slept off and on and finally “awoke” at 3:23 am. I was unable to get on line from about 5am until 1pm. You gotta love it!

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This image was created near Homer, AK with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, the 2X III TC, and the EOS-1D MIV. Hand held at 300mm. ISO 400: 1/1600 at f/6.3. Exposure pushed to blinkies and then 1/3 darker. To see the original version that I posted on BPN and to learn of my confession, click here. What could I have done?

Gear Questions

Telephoto Lens-Related Questions/By e-mail from Kenneth Lui:

KL: How do you clean the front element of your 800 mm f/5.6L IS lens. I understand that it does not accept a filter, unlike the intermediate telephoto lenses where you can screw on a filter to protect the lens from dust and damage.

AM: First off, you should never have a “protective” filter on the front of any lens. Camera store salespersons are trained to bilk you out of every possible penny. UV filters and the like degrade image quality and slow autofocus. If you keep your lens hood on, you reduce almost any chance of damaging the front element. You should unscrew your UV filters and toss them in the nearest lake asap. I use Lens Clens and an old undershirt with Lens Clens to get the front elements of all of my lenses sparkling clean. And I use it to clean my computer screens as well as the outer surfaces of my camera bodies. All with the old undershirt. In a pinch in the field I use the t-shirt I am wearing and my breath. Just like most other pros. (To learn about Lens Clens, click here and see item 2).

KL: The 800 mm has a built in glass filter with the filter holder 52mm. Do you put any gelatin filter in it, like haze, or skyline filter?

AM: The filter holder needs something in it at all times so do not be tempted to remove it. For the most part I just leave the plain glass filter in place. When I need to reduce shutter speed drastically to do blurs on a sunny day, I use either the specially made polarizer or a 3-stop neutral density filter. If the latter,. it is best to simply purchase an extra filter holder, leave the 3-stop in place in the holder, and then simply swap out the whole assembly when you need to reduce your shutter speeds.

70-200 f/2.8L IS Question/By e-mail from Craig Mcarthur:

CM: I know you probably receive too many emails to answer directly but thought I would ask your advice in case you have time to reply..

AM: I try to answer every single one asap. In return we ask that folks purchase their accessories from BAA in part as a thank you for all the great free info that we provide almost daily on the blog and in our BAA Bulletins. And we try to price everything a penny less than B&H.

CM: I see you are a big fan of the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II/2X III TC combo..

AM: Yes sir.

CM: Question…I currently own the older version 70-200 f/2.8 L IS ….

AM: Though I love the new version II that was and is a great lens.

CM: I’m Looking to break into bird photography as inexpensively as possible until I decide if this is going to be a serious endeavor or a passing fad….

AM: 28 years ago I thought that bird photography would likely be a passing fad for me….

CM: Do you think I could achieve satisfactory results with the older 70-200 and a TC before upgrading to either the version 11.

AM: 100% yes. With a 7D I would advise against using the 2X unless you plan to be on tripod more than 90% of the time. (For that we recommend the Gitzo 3530 LS CF for 99% of the folks along with a Mongoose m3.6.). Barring operator error, which is the cause of 99.9% of unsharp iamges, you should be able to create sharp photos with the older 70-200 IS and any 1.4X TC.

CM: Or maybe I should get a 100-400….

AM: No way Jose. I just sold my 100-400….

CM: Getting just the 2X III TC at a cost of $499 would be my least expensive route if this is a feasible opinion….

AM: Again, unless you plan to work on a tripod most of the time I would not recommend that you start with the 2X. With a 7D you start with a 1.6 crop factor so with a 1.4X TC that would give you an effective focal length of 448mm or just a shade under 9X. With the 2X III on a tripod that would work out to 640mm (or 12.8X magnification). With my pro body (Mark IV) and the 2X II I am at effective 520mm or 10.4X magnification.

Now here is the best news: with a 7D and the older 70-200 f/4L IS I would advise getting the older 2X II TC. You should be able to get a used one very cheaply right now. You should make great images with that combo. And is looks very much as the 1.4XII and the 1.4X III are optically the same, that is, about as sharp. Note: the new 2X III is noticeably sharper than the older 2XII. Do check out the post here.

CM: Thanks for your time…and such and excellent photography resource…..

AM: YAW. If you get do hooked feel free to get in touch for more advice. If you want to make your learning curve far less steep, do check out ABP, ABP II, and Digital Basics.

Lens Align MII Question/From Colin Smale via e-mail:

CS: I would like to ask wildlife photographers who really use their gear a lot, “How often do you need to calibrate your lenses?”

AM: I calibrate mine every two to three months, whenever I get a camera or lens back from Canon Repair, and certainly whenever I give my lens or camera body a good whack (usually too, too often).

To learn about the Lens Align Mark II and read my killer tutorial click here.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear (or the current replacement) that I used to create the images 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/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X III teleconverter. I also use it a lot–depending on the situation–with the 1.4X III TC.
Canon EF 1.4X III TC. This new TC is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. The very best professional digital camera body that I have ever used.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. These high capacity cards are fast and dependable.

I pack my 800 and tons of other gear in my ThinkTank Airport SecurityTM V2.0 rolling bag for all of my air travel and recommend the slightly smaller Airport InternationalTM V2.0 for most folks. These high capacity bags are well constructed and protect my gear when I have to gate check it on short-hops and puddle jumpers. Each will protect your gear just as well. By clicking on either link or the logo below, you will receive a free gear bag with each order over $50.

12 comments to Safe in Honolulu & Gear Questions Answered

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Becky, With most of the losses/damage being on Eastern Island (we made our only visit there yesterday), and given the fact that there are still more than half a million albatrosses plus 400,000 chicks, the loss of roughly 1/4 of the chicks does not seem very noticeable here on Sand Island.

  • avatar Spike

    Thank you Art, I really appreciate your efforts replying to our questions, even though you are so busy taking pictures all the time. I will go and try the 7D, someone I know is shooting one. I’ve been reading more and more of your blog and it seems as though you made some pretty nice images with a 7D, so that builds up confidence. Thanks again.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Spike, I have never used either 5D and I am not too good with pixel math, but the experts suggest that there are real advantages of going with smaller sensor/larger crop factor cameras so I would go with the 7d/1.4X TC combo. And you could save plenty without losing anything with a used 1.4X II. Good luck.

  • Artie, Pardon me for veering off topic, but I just read that 110,000 Laysan Albatross chicks and 1,000 adults were swept away in the tsunami. What is your observation regarding current numbers?

  • avatar Louise Burky

    To Kenneth LUI …… I might be interested in your 70-200 L lens etc if you want to go for a new one etc. Artie and Jim at have my email. We could connect that way if you want. I do not want to publish my email for obvious reasons.

  • avatar Spike

    Dear Art
    Thank you so much for your great blog and helping us learn about bird photography! Now that we’re talking about equipment I have a question too. I currently own a 5D(mkI, not mkII) and a 70-200/4IS. The problem is limited range. I have $2000 to spend. Which of the following would be the best investment:
    1. Buy 5DmkII and a 1.4xTC: I’d have a 98-280 f/5.6 and 21mp. Did some math and I can crop to 400mm and still have 10.5mp
    2. Buy 70-200/2.8mkII (and sell f/4 version) and a 2xTCIII: I’d have a 140-400/5.6 and 12.8mp
    3. Buy 7D and 1.4x: I’d have a 157-448 f/5.6 and 18 mp
    4. Another option I overlooked?
    I prefer to stay on FF for weddings and theatre and because I like the simplicity of working with (more or less) identical cameras. What if you’d have to choose between 1 and 2?
    Thank you so much.

  • Thanks for clarifying, Artie. It would be a real honor to be your proofreader! I hope that my comments don’t appear in any way to be argumentative or nit-picking. I have been (and am currently) learning much from your blog and the BAA Newsletter and try to only ask questions that will help me to grow as a photographer and artist.


  • avatar Andrea Boyle

    Oh, forgot to add… an awesome shot!! One of the better blur photos I’ve seen that are not totally abstract. My vision is still on the gull’s face but the rest is just like watching a dance around the bird. I love it!

  • avatar Andrea Boyle

    Would have liked one of those “before/after” pictures of the gull. I followed the link to your regular site to see the original shot, but the original wouldn’t pull up because I wasn’t a member… (I thought I was?)

  • Artie, I am confused by this statement: “And is looks very much as the 2X II and the 2X III are optically the same, that is, about as sharp. Note: the new 2X III is noticeably sharper than the older 2XII. Do check out this thread xxxxx.” The way I am interpreting it, it appears to be a contradiction. Would you mind clarifying? Thanks!


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Johan, I need you as my proofreader 🙂 Thanks a stack. See the corrected text 🙂