First Impressions and Thoughts on the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS Lens. And a SONY RAW (ARW) File Offer … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

First Impressions and Thoughts on the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS Lens. And a SONY RAW (ARW) File Offer ...

What’s Up?

I am still feeling great. With the intermittent fasting program, I am down to 177 pounds and have much more energy in the afternoons. I am nearly finished work on the Nikon D850 User’s Guide.

IPT Updates

You can see all IPT details here.

  • The Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 6. Extra Day Options: Join me for one to three extra In-the-Field Days at the end of the IPT as follows: FRI 29 NOV, SAT 30 NOV, and SUN 1 DEC for only $300.00/day.
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Galapagos 2020?

If you are interested in learning about a possible Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime, September 29-October 13 on the boat (travel dates: 27 SEPT to Guayaquil and fly home on 14 OCT) please get in touch via e-mail. I will need at least eight deposits by December 1, 2019. Details will be announced here soon.


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Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase over $1000.00, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H. Those include the SONY a7r IV, the SONY 200-600, the SONY 600mm f/4 GM, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is eager to please.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

This image was created on September 29, 2019, the second morning of the recent Fort DeSoto IPT. I used the Induro GIT 304L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter, and the the 61-MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 400. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/1000 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode was about +1/3 on the analog scale. AWB at 8:16am on a clear, sunny morning.

I am not sure if I used Upper Center Zone or Flexible Spot (S) Continuous/tracking AF. Either way, it was active at the moment of exposure and the active AF point was on or near the bird’s eye. At this subject size, Animal Eye AF works quite well.

At present, there is no program that I know of that you can use to access the AF info after the fact … And as far as I know, there is no menu option for seeing the selected AF point, the active AF point, or even the AF mode during Playback. If I am wrong, I would love to hear about it. This is a serious problem for those using high-end SONY camera bodies. How are they supposed to learn? It would seem that it could be rectified with a firmware update or with the development of the appropriate software.

Brown Pelican immature tight front-end portrait

First Impressions and Thoughts on the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS Lens

When I first picked up the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens I thought, “Wow, this lens is perfectly balanced with most of the weight to the rear and it is so, so light. At 6.7 lbs.(3.04 kg) it is only fractionally lighter than the Canon 600 II that weighs in at 6.71 lb (3.05 kg). But it slays my Nikon 600 VR that tips the scales at 8.4 lbs (3.81 kg). How light is the SONY 600? I brought my Beach Rolly to Fort DeSoto; it takes up a lot of room in the rear cargo area of my Sequoia. On the first morning, I decided to try carrying the lens around and left the Beach Rolly in my vehicle. I was so comfortable getting about in the field with the lens either on my shoulder via the lens strap, held by the (too-large) lens foot, or mounted on the Induro GIT 304L that was topped by the FlexShooter Pro.

The Minimum Focusing distance of the SONY 600 is the worst of the three 600s: 14.67 feet (4.5 meters). The Canon 600mm f/4L IS III is the best of the lot at 13.78 feet (4.2 meters). The Nikon 600mm f/4 VR is only marginally better than the SONY at 14.4 feet (4.39 meters).

I would rate AF performance with the 1.4X TC with static subjects as superb with the SONY rig, excellent plus with the Canon gear, and fair to good with Nikon. With the 2X I would rate the SONY AF performance as excellent-plus, the Canon as very good, and the Nikon as barely useable to poor.

Why the consistent edge to SONY when it comes to AF performance with teleconverters? All three current top-of-the-line SONY bodies, the a9, the a7r III, and the a7R IV, offer practically full-frame AF coverage; you can select an AF point almost right up to the edge of the frame. While initial-focusing-acquisition is always slowed when a TC is added (more so with the 2X TCs than with the 1.4X TC), SONY consistently out-performs Canon and absolutely blows away Nikon where AF suffers badly when the selected AF point is moved farther from the center … I was very pleased with the excellent results at DeSoto when photographing Sandwich Terns diving for fish with the SONY 600/1.4X TC/a7r IV combo off the tripod … Photos here soon.

I love that by setting the Fulltime DMF switch on the lens to the On position that you can focus manually at any time before engaging the AF system by half-pressng the shutter button. The absence of the ability to focus manually with both the SONY 100-400 GM ans the SONY 200-600 GM is a shortcoming.

The lens foot is large and somewhat clunky. It is a bit tall for the

Balance on the FlexShooter Pro with the Wimberley P-40 balance is fine but the set-up is a bit tall for optimal performance atop the FlexShooter Pro … I am, however, managing just fine. I am working with Walter Zeiss at 4th Generation Design in hopes that he can create a CR-X-style low foot base (or two) for the big SONY lenses and develop a new, longer plate as well; the SONY 600 needs a good 2 inches behind the mount. None of the off-brand low feet currently available have any room at all behind the mount.

It would have been fantastic if the tripod collar/lens foot on the 600 GM were removable as was the case with the original Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens. Folks who handhold the 600 GM all the time might wish to remove the lens foot by removing the four screws and storing them carefully in a safe place …

Despite minor concerns with the lens foot, I am overall enthralled with the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS/a7r IV combination (with both TCs, especially with the 2X).

An Unsharpened 100% Crop

SONY RAW (ARW) File Offer

Those with doubts about the image quality and fine feather detail of sharp SONY a7r IV RAW (ARW) file are invited to shoot me an e-mail by clicking here. I will send them the ARW file for today’s featured image. I do that if you do switch to SONY, you use either my B&H affiliate links or get in touch with Steve Elkins at Bedford (as above).

Need System or Upgrade Advice?

These are certainly exciting and volatile times in bird and nature photography: Canon, Nikon, SONY? Upgrade or switch systems? Yikes! If you are thinking about switching or upgrading and have questions, feel free to call me on my cell at 863-221-2372 for a free ten-minute consultation. The only thing that I ask in return is that you make a firm commitment to use my B&H affiliate links or to buy from Bedford using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout if you decide to go forward. Remember that Steve Elkins at Bedford can save you a few additional bucks on lens/camera/accessories packages. See the blog for his contact details. Either way, it will not cost you one penny more.

Be sure to leave a message if I do not pick up and I will get back to you. And please follow that up with an e-mail or a text stating your name and a good time for me to call you back. I spend lots of time each day walking, swimming, and watching football and baseball 🙂 And napping.

with love, artie

Bosque del Apache 2019 IPT

Notice the incredible variety of images that you can learn to make by developing your skills and your creative vision on a BAA IPT.

2019 Bosque del Apache IPT

Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT #1. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 6. Introductory Meet and greet at 7pm on MON 25 NOV.

Extra Day Options: Join me for one to three In-the-Field Days as follows: FRI 29 NOV, SAT 30 NOV, and SUN 1 DEC for only $300.00/day.

I quit going to Bosque several years ago as conditions had worsened each year for several seasons running. My understanding is that things have improved dramatically in recent years. Photography-wise, I know Bosque better than anyone. Join me to learn how wind and sky conditions influence bird photography, how to create dramatic sunrise and sunset silhouettes, how to be in the right place at the right time, and how to create contest-winning blurs. As usual, you will learn to get the right exposure every time, to use your camera’s AF system to create pleasing, balanced image designs, and to improve your flight photography skills.

We should get to photograph many thousands of Snow Geese, more than a few blast-offs, some Ross’s Geese, and lots of Sandhill Cranes in the water, taking flight and flying. Depending on local conditions we may get to shoot some ducks: point-blank American Wigeon and Wood Duck. With any luck, we might enjoy sunrises and sunsets that leave you in tears. Live, eat, and breathe photography with one of (if not the) world’s premier photographic educators at one of his very favorite locations on the planet. Top-notch Photoshop instruction. Join me to learn to think like a pro and to recognize situations and to anticipate them based on the weather. Every time we make a move, I will let you know why. When you get home, applying what you learned will prove to be invaluable.

Lunch is included.

To Register

To register, send your non-refundable $500 deposit — check made out to BIRDS AS ART — via US Mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Or call Jim weekdays at 863-692-0906 to put your non-refundable deposit on a credit card. Balances must be paid in full by check no later than two months before the IPT. If you cancel, all but your deposit will be refunded only if the IPT sells out.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

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Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog or Bedfords, for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would, of course, appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links or Bedfords for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


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3 comments to First Impressions and Thoughts on the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS Lens. And a SONY RAW (ARW) File Offer …

  • avatar Ryan Sanderson


    Your comment regarding the weight distribution on the Sony lens was very similar to my experience going from the Canon 600II to the 600III. The 600III is ~2 lbs lighter than its predecessor, however the redistribution of the weight makes it feel like an even bigger change. It almost feels like it’s 4 lbs lighter. It makes the lens ?easily? handholdable.

    I’ve commented about the concerns regarding the image stabilization on the Canon 600 III and the fact that it is essentially unusable at 1/160 due to vertical blurring/shutter shock. There are other owners I’ve been in contact who have directly told me Canon Europe told them Canon is releasing a firmware upgrade in early November. Hopefully this fixed everything.


  • avatar frank sheets

    I’m going to try a Wimberly AP-616 replacement foot, lower profile.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      As I stated above, that will not give you proper balance with the FlexShooter Pro as there is no room behind the mount. LMK if I am wrong.

      with love, a

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