I have been a Canon shooter for as many years as I care to remember. Bodies like the T90 in the days of FD manual focus lenses to EOS 1vHS in my last days of film photography.
I moved over to digital photography in 2004 when I changed one of my EOS 1vHS bodies for an EOS 1D Mark II – still one of the best digital bodies I have used. During 2004 both film and digital cameras were used and then towards the end of 2004 I replaced my other 1vHS with an EOS 1Ds Mark II, which is a full frame digital body that is still used today together with two EOS 1D Mark IV bodies which are lightning fast in frame capture speed. About 80 per cent of my images are captured with the 1D Mark IV’s but the 1Ds Mark II, a full frame camera, is great for landscapes. Two EOS 1DX Mark II’s, full frame bodies, have now replaced the 1Ds Mark II and the 1D mark IV’s. In fact they such good action cameras that I find myself using them most of the time now.
I have added an EOS 5DsR, a remarkable 50MP body, to the line-up. This is principally for landscapes but I have achieved some really good bird images with it. It is my first non 1D series bodies ever. Must say I still prefer the solid feel and controls of the 1D Series bodies especially the duplication of controls in the vertical mode.
As bird photography is my first love, I have a range of long lenses. These were an 800mm f/5.6L IS, 500mm f/4L IS and a 300mm f2.8L IS . Together with a 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS and a 24-70mm f/2.8L most other types of nature photography are covered. I am in the process of rationalising the three super-telephoto lenses to two. I have sold my beloved 500mm and 800mm lenses and have acquired a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II lens and have just acquired the new Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS with built in 1.4x extender lens. The new version of the 600mm lens is lighter than the old 500mm and the 800mm. The 600mm with a 2x extender will give me an effective 1200mm of focal length with very good quality. I will now sell the 300mm f/2.8L IS lens – I have always maintained that this was Canon’s sharpest lens. I have also replaced the 24-70mm with the Mark II version – a huge improvement in image quality – and added a 16-35mm f/2.8L III lens . All my lenses are now the version II or III range with their improved image stabilisation (the 24-70 and the 16-35 are still not image stabilised). With five lenses, focal lengths from 16mm to 1200mm (based on full frame sensor size) are now covered. There is also the 180mm f/3.5L Macro lens for close up work to complete the line up.
Tripods, flash and support.
With the weight of the 600 a Gitzo 1548 is essential. Whilst an old model, and heavy, it is rock solid! This is topped with a Wimberley gimbal type head which I still find the best. Occasionally a large Arca Swiss Monoball Z head is mounted on the tripod – ideal for panoramic landscapes.The rig is complemented with a Canon 600EX-RT flash mounted on Wimberley brackets attached to the gimbal head and a Better Beamer flash extender gives the extra flash reach. The flash is powered by a Turbo 2 x 2 power pack . Have added a Gitzo GT1542T ultra light weight small tripod for travelling.
Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with an EF 800mm f/5.6L IS lens attached supported on a Gitzo 1548 tripod
When not on a tripod I use Art Morris’ BLUBb® bean bag which is outstanding. In fact on photo safari I use the bean bag exclusively – it works well and is manouverable around the roof opening of our safari vehicles.
Extension tubes, a 12mm and 25mm or both together, are handy for those close up bird shots. Circular- polarising filters and some ND filters complete the equpment list. The drop-in type are used for the super-telephoto lenses.
Various software is utilised in my digital workflow. Images from the CF/CFast cards are ingested into either a laptop, external hard-drive or desktop using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (Creative Cloud subscription). Images are initially sorted and edited using Lightroom or Photo Mechanic. Now that Mac OS X is my preferred operating system, Breeze Systems’ Downloader Pro and Breezebrowser are sorely missed.
All images are captured in RAW mode. The conversion and initial optimizing is done using Lightroom. Photoshop CC is then used to further optimize images. Both On1 Perfect Photo Suite and the Nik Collection plug ins are utilised. Have also starting using Luminar’s plug-ins. Photoshop is utilised to print on either an Epson Pro 7880 or an Epson R2000. If there is a need for a digital image presentation ProShow Producer from Photodex Corp. is ideal. This is great software , but unfortunately there is no Mac version. This is one of the very few applications that keeps me maintaining a separate Windows system. Am trying to migrate fully to Mac based FotoMagico.
Check out the “Equipment” blog for the latest.