After dithering for years (really, for years) about what lens I need next and deciding that $12K or more for an 800mm super-tele is pushing the boundaries too far even for me I have finally settled on getting the “other” birder’s lens. I have done very well for many years with the Canon 100-400mm zoom and have some great shots taken with it … but it is quite heavy and acknowledged to be a bit soft unless conditions are just right. I think it is going to be a very useful insects-in-flight lens from now on, that zoom capability at close quarters is excellent for odes and bumble bees. My walk-around birding lens is now a new Canon 300mm EF series just delivered by the postman. Not the f2.8 as that is stupidly expensive and really heavy, but the f4 that you see being carried by lots of people whose pictures I truly admire.
The lens arrived this morning so I had to rush into the garden to try it out – and here are some nice sharp pictures of pretty common birds. It was immediately noticeable that this new lens is significantly sharper than the zoom.
I am also waiting for delivery of a 1.4x extender but I already have the 2x extender so tried that out in combination with the new lens. The 1.4x will enable all auto-functions but the 2x blocks auto-focus and I have to manually focus with it on … nevertheless, I was pretty pleased with the results. As my “big” camera (Canon 7D) has a 1.6 crop factor these combinations mean that the lens alone is actually giving me 480mm equivalence, with the 1.4x extender I will have 672mm equivalence and with the 2x extender some 960mm. Needless to say, with the extenders I need the day to be bright or I need to use a tripod or monopod at least. Pictures below were hand held or used the monopod.
For those really distant birds or when I don’t want to carry a big camera, I have the digiscoping equipment to use with my Swarovsky spotting scope.
Busy for the next couple of days, but I will try to get out at the weekend and see what’s around.