First Hand Held Flight Image With My Brand New Toy: the Canon 600mm f4L IS II Lens « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

First Hand Held Flight Image With My Brand New Toy: the Canon 600mm f4L IS II Lens

This Black Vulture in flight was photographed with the hand held Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR Camera (Body Only). ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop off the blue sky 35 degrees up from the horizon: 1/5000 sec. at f/5.6

Central sensor Surround/AI Servo/Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger, sharper version.

This is my first keeper hand held flight image with the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens. Be sure to see the animated GIF below to see how NIK Color Efex Pro’s Detail Extractor brought this image to life.

Loving My New 600 II

My brand new 600 II arrived at the motel late on Friday afternoon. In short, I am totally in love. The light weight with the balance much farther to the rear makes it easy for even this old man to hand hold it for flight. Do understand that it is much easier to hand hold a big lens for flight and action than for static images. With the latter it takes much more strength to hold the lens steady for more than a few seconds (unless you are seated or otherwise able to support the lens).

Though I own the 500II, the 600 II is already my go-to super-telephoto lens. You will be seeing lots more 600II images with both teleconverters here over the next few weeks. The 600 II is incredibly amazingly sharp with both the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (teleconverter) and the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter). At some point I will be doing the promised blog post comparing the Canon 500mm f/4L EF IS II USM lens with the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens.

If you missed the comparison of the 800 f/5.6L IS and the 600 f/4L IS click here to see the results that surprised many.

Give the animated GIF above a few moments to play. Note the before and after differences. Be sure to click on the optimized image below to see the large version of the optimized file.

NIK Color Efex Pro Detail Extractor Rocks

Here I chose to go with (only) +1 stop off the sky. But my exposure call was right on as adding only 1/3 stop to the exposure in DPP resulted in blinkies in the vulture’s white primary webs. I relied on NIK Color Efex Pro’s Detail Extractor to reveal the detail in the BLACKs. Do understand that with the white primary webs properly exposed that the BLACKs were 1 2/3 to 2 full stops underexposed. Yet with the remarkable latitude of quality digital files the detail was there. I selected the bird with the Quick Selection Tool, brought the image into NIK Color Efex Pro, and ran a layer with 50% Detail Extractor and 15% Tonal Contrast. Then, after merging that layer I selected the bird’s face with the same tool, put the face on its own layer, applied a 15/65/0 Contrast Mask, and then lightened that layer with a Curves adjustment (Control M). Voila. Be sure to click on the opening image to see the larger version.

All of the above as described in detail in Digital Basics which includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips, Layer Masking for Dummies, all of my Keyboard Shortcuts, and tons more. Digital Basics, a PDF that is sent via e-mail, will be the best $25 you’ll ever spent on your photography. Your purchase includes free updates.

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NIK 15% Discount

A 30% layer of Detail Extractor and Tonal Contrast fine-tuned via a Regular Layer Mask really brought this image to life. As regular readers know, Color Efex Pro has drastically changed my digital workflow and little by little I have begun using Viveza to solve sticky image optimization problems and Silver Efex Pro fo fast, dramatic B&W conversions. You can save 15% on all NIK products (including Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, and Viveza) by clicking here and entering BAA in the Promo Code box at check-out. Then hit Apply to see your savings. You can download a trial copy that will work for 15 days and allow you to create full sized images.

MP4 Photoshop Tutorial Videos

See and hear me at work in Photoshop in these great MP4 instructional videos. Cheap! You can see them all and learn more here and learn about our latest offering here.

Southwest Florida IPT $600 Late Registration Discount!

If you would like to join us on the Southwest Florida IPT (see below) please call Jim on Monday at 863-692-0906 to register or shoot me an e-mail to save one of the two availble spots for you. Or contact me via e-mail for a pro-rated quote if you can make only part of this great IPT.

SW FLA IPT. FEB 16-21, 2013. Introductory slide program: 7pm on 2/15. 6-FULL DAYS: $2999. Co-leaders: Denise Ippolito and Robert Amoruso. Limit: 10/Openings 2 due to two late cancellations

Payment in full is due now

This is my bread and butter IPT; learn the basics and the advanced fine points from the best; escape winter’s icy grip and enjoy tons of tame birds! Subjects will include nesting Great Blue Heron and Great Egret, Mottled Duck, Brown and White Pelican at point-blank range, Snowy & Reddish Egret, Tricolored Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Osprey, wintering shorebirds and plovers, gulls and terns, & Burrowing Owl. All ridiculously tame. Roseate Spoonbill, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, American Oystercatcher, and who knows what are possible.

Click here to learn more about this IPT.

Pines West Camera Club EOL Program

I will be presenting “A Bird Photographer’s Story” for the Pines West Camera Club in Pembroke Pines, FL at 7pm on February 12, 2013. The program, sponsored by Canon Explorers of Light, is free and open to the public. Click here for additional details and scroll down for directions.


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23 comments to First Hand Held Flight Image With My Brand New Toy: the Canon 600mm f4L IS II Lens

  • Great job, hand holding the vulture! Enjoy your new lens-you deserve it!

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie, and congratulations. Great photo, as always. Two questions. The first is why you abandoned your old favorite toy, the 400 f/5.6L, for flying birds. It’s still as sharp as ever, fast-focusing, and so light. The second is whether you’ll offer a comparison of the pros and cons of the 500 II and the 600 II. (I suspect you’ll explain again how an apparently small increase in focal length has a surprisingly big effect on image size.)

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      No IS with the 400 f/5.6 and now, with full frame, the extra reach with the 500 II and the 600 II is great. As for your second question, please go back and read the post. πŸ™‚

      • avatar David Policansky

        “Go back and read the post.” For some reason I need to do that three times instead of twice. Thanks.

  • avatar Charles Scheffold

    Enjoy your new toy – I love mine, but haven’t had a decent opportunity to give it some exercise. Have fun!

  • avatar Doug Schurman

    Great shot as always Artie.

    A little off topic but I was wondering when next contest was going to be announced?

    I’d like to enter some shots with my 600 f4 IS II.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Right now, we are–depending on lining up sufficient sponsors, planning on working on organizing the contest next spring.

  • avatar Mark

    I’ve been waiting with baited breath for this post, wondering why it was taking you so long to take delivery. I understand they are hard to come by, even at the astronomical prices they command.

    Look forward to many more from you.


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I get mine through the Canon Explorers of Light program. I would have had one long ago but I was unsure for a while as to which way I would go. So I wound up going both ways: 500II and 600II.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Again Mark, Your wrong word almost got by me: do you have a worm on your tongue? Correct is “waiting with bated breath.” πŸ™‚

  • avatar Patrick Sparkman

    Welcome to the new age Artie!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Patrick. You were the prime moving force in my decision. I will not be a full time hand holder like you but I will be hand holding for flight and for action. Love to Robin and see you both in Tanzania!

  • avatar Jack Gooodman

    Nice photo Artie; I was amazed the way you wielded that Canon cannon across the sky. Sometime show us the one that gets cut in half; it will make us all feel a little more mortal. Jack

  • avatar Roger Williams

    Thanks for sharing your first image with the new 600. I’ll look forward to seeing more.

    I purchased NIK Color Efex Pro 4 a few weeks ago (thanks for the discount) and enjoy seeing the effects on my images. In a recent post, you said you had created a recipe of 50/50% Detail Extractor and Tonal Contrast. Are you saying that the sliders having those names are set at 50%? What about the other two sliders? Similarly, the image above was processed with a 50/15% combination. Again, how did you set the other sliders? While each image is different, I’ve generally found that a 50% setting would provide far too much effect, making the image appear over-processed. Thanks for all of your good advice over the years.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Roger. First a question: do you own Digital Basics?

      ps: thanks for using our link!

      • avatar Roger Williams

        I’ve owned it for years but did not relate it to your use of NIK software.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Ah and super. The last update of Digital Basics answers all of your questions. If you have the latest version, check it out and get back to me with any questions. If not, e-mail Jim at the address with some sort of proof of purchase and he will shoot it over to you.

  • I’m going to start lifting weights. Is the firmware to get center point AF at f/8 for the 5D3 still in the works?

  • Congrats Big Boy, on acquiring your Big Toy. And repeat for hand-holding the massive pack of around 5 and 1/2 Kgs.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Quazi. I am blesses with relatively good health and fitness but I have worked hard on that too!