Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens: Early Impressions and Whooper Swan Images « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens: Early Impressions and Whooper Swan Images

And The Streak Continues…

After a slow start with a 10-inch white-out blizzard we enjoyed a fabulous afternoon of Red-crowned Crane photography with the snow still falling. We photographed at the sanctuary just minutes from the lodge where we are staying. Despite the fact that I took a nap after most of us quit early, wet and cold, I am beat. It is time for bed: 8:01 pm here in Japan as I am about to hit “Publish”.

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Today’s blog post took 2 1/2 hours to prepare. It’s late, and I gotta get up soon. No rest for the weary.


This image was created on Day 3 of the Japan in Winter IPT with the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens (hand held at 70mm) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop at 7:46am: 1/640 sec. at f/11 in Av mode. Color temperature: AWB.

Central sensor/AI Servo/Surround Rear Focus AF on the nearest swan in the lower right and re-compose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Whooper Swans in Morning Mist

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens: Early Impressions

While I am anything but a sharpness fanatic and often claim the inability to see differences in fine detail I can say that the new 24-70 is noticeably sharper than the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens that it replaced. Edge to edge sharpness especially is improved, that without the benefit of IS. As the two lenses weigh about the same and are roughly the same size, keeping the new lens in one of the large pockets of my Xtrahand Vest (as I always did with the 24-105mm) is a snap.


This image was also created on Day 3 of the Japan in Winter IPT with the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens (hand held at 39mm) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop at 4:48pm: 1/80 sec. at f/6.3 in Av mode. Color temperature: 10,000K.

One sensor down and one sensor to the left of the Central sensor/AI Servo/Surround Rear Focus AF on the face of the nearest swan active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: A Half-dozen Whooper Swans

Whooper Swan Images

Visiting Lake Kusharo with its tame wintering Whooper Swans gave me a chance to put the new short zoom lens to the test. Thanks to our guide, Makota Ando and co-leader Paul Mckenzie for sharing two of their favorite off-the-beaten path swan spots with the group. For the image above Paul coached the group: “Look for pleasing arrangements of the swans and make to avoid all merges.” I listened.


This image was also created on Day 3 of the Japan in Winter IPT with the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens (hand held at 39mm) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop at 4:26pm: 1/100 sec. at f/9 in Av mode. Color temperature: 10,000K.

Five sensors down from the central sensor/AI Servo/Surround Rear Focus AF on the face of the nearest swan and re-compose slightly. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #3: A Hint of Color

You Favorite

Take a moment to leave a comment and let us know which of the three images above was your favorite, and be sure to let us know why you made your choice.


If you’d like to learn from the two folks who created the images in the composite above do consider one of the trips below. Denise Ippolito’s images: Japanese leaf painting, skimmer in flight, curved Keukenhof paths with tulips, copulating terns, & pink dahlia. Artie’s images: Snow Geese snowstorm blur, crane landing silhouettes, Leopard with prey in tree, King Penguin, & vertical tulip. Note: Denise alone will be leading the Torres del Paine workshop.

A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours (IPTs)/Two great leaders: Arthur Morris & Denise Ippolito.

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Nickerson Baby Beach-nesting Birds IPT, Long Island, NY: 3-Full Days/July 22-24, 2014: $1199.

Black Skimmers, Common Terns with chicks, American Oystercatcher & Piping Plover families; breeding behaviors including courtship feeding, display flight and combat, and copulations. Gulls and shorebirds.

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Details TBA. Please e-mail to be placed on the interested list.

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Bosque del Apache 2014 A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART “Creative Photography Instructional Photo-Tour.” (IPT). NOV 24-25, 2014. 2-FULL DAYS: $729.

Leaders: Denise Ippolito & Arthur Morris. Introductory Slide program: 7:00pm on Sunday 11/23. This IPT is perfect for folks who want to learn to think outside the box, to create new and different images. Learn to unleash your creative juices at the wondrous Bosque del Apache, NWR in San Antonio, NM.

Bosque del Apache 2014 BIRDS AS ART/A Creative Adventure Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT). NOV 29-DEC 3, 2014. Totaling 4 FULL-DAYS: $1449

Leaders: Arthur Morris and Denise Ippolito. Introductory Slide program: 7:00pm on Sunday 11/29. Tens of thousand of Snow Geese, 10,000 Sandhill Cranes, ducks, amazing sunrises, sunsets, and blast-offs. Live, eat, and breathe photography with two of the world’s premier photographic educators at one of their very favorite photography locations on the planet.

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25 comments to Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens: Early Impressions and Whooper Swan Images

  • Joshua Boldt

    Love the third image with the warm colors. Fantastic! Thank you for sharing.

  • image 1, Great depth of field and left to right composition. The tree leads to the swans, and the water vapor adds to the composition. Exposure is right on. Thanks

  • Gordon Lindsay

    Great images as always but I go with number 1 for all the above reasons.

  • Gretchen Cole

    My very favorite is the first image. The atmosphere with the ice fog and composition are stunning. Makes a girl wish she were there!

  • Bob

    I like number 1.

  • Hi Artie, My fav shot of the three is #2. A perfect mirror-like water surface with undisturbed reflections and the nearest 5 birds all looking the same direction. Then there’s the bird in the back–the only one not looking to the right but instead causing his own slight ripples in the water with its bill. It’s a smidgen of action, in just the right amount and place in the photo that assures the viewer that these are indeed ‘real’ birds. It brings just the right amount of “life” to the shot. The bird in the back is part of the group but shows his individuality by doing his own thing–without disturbing the mirror surface for the others. I also love the graduation of the rocks at the bottom of the pond in the foreground into a foggy mist as you look deeper into the shot. Great image!

    May I ask how many frames you took of this scene, how many frames captured the 5 birds looking in the same direction, and did you have just seconds for the shots or did you stand there and shoot for minutes to finally get the shot? Did you have many images to choose from and what made you finally choose this particular one to show us?

  • Don G.

    Art – These are truly beautiful!

  • Ted Willcox

    #3, A great composition with the circular rings in the water, the complimentary colour of sky and water and the subject, makes this image my fav!!

  • Ted Willcox

    My favourite: Image #3
    When I first saw it I thought Wow!! A fantastic original image!!

  • Jackie Klieger

    I love all the images, always hard to pick a favorite. That said, #1 is my favorite because of the mood it creates. Thanks and enjoy the adventure!

  • stephen sheoskie

    Hi Arthur: I love the #2 image , the composition with 6 swans in a serene repeating pattern is fine art. Well done.

  • David Arkin

    What a great adventure.
    I notice that you usually shoot WB in AWB except for the Swans at 10,000 K and the Pink Sky Pelicans in LJ at 7500 K. My sense is that you are choosing these “in Camera”. Could you describe what is going through your mind in choosing these WBs to get the desired effect? It definitely works. Why do you use “in Camera” if you do, rather than in post processing?

    I love the colors and contrast in the third image. I think the mountains in background take the eye away from the bird and water. ?? heavy crop to remove the distracting mountains and sky.

    Thanks and stay well.


    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      If the stuff starts to look too blue, I will sometimes go to a higher Kelvin in the field. Image quality is supposed to be slightly better doing color temperature changes in-camera. I do not at all consider the mountains and the sky distracting–for me they are a big plus. artie

  • Great images.

    However, the lens in question is a Wedding Photographer’s bread and butter lens. Hope you don’t become one of them! Of course everyone will be highly excited if u r gonna cover birds’ weddings (lol).

    Thnx and rgds.


  • Jerry Murray

    Picture 1 with all the steam is my favorite, but picture #2 with the still water and Picture #3 with the mountains in the background are great too!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Mark W.

    WOW, Image #1 is stunning indeed…..I agree with the others, lovely color, composition and effect….

  • Sarah Mayhew

    The first image is stunning! My favorite by far, though the other 2 are beautiful as well!

  • David Policansky

    Hi, Artie, and thanks as always. Wonderful images all; my favorite is number 2. And I never thought I’d say such a thing, but did you consider removing the bird with its bill in the water? In any case, it’s a wonderfully Japanese image and the five birds all in similar poses with the beautiful reflections are just stunning. I love the first image as well. By the way, I own a predecessor of your lens, the 28-70 f/2.8L, and it also is wonderfully sharp.

  • Craig Wesson

    As always, thanks for your hard work on the blog.
    Many of us live vicariously through you and your work.

  • David Steele

    I was bowled over by the first image. It’s a beautiful composition with great colors and the steam is the cherry on the top. Different, evocative and captured with sensitivity. . . .