February 2013

Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)

The big news this month is that I have sold my trusty old 600mm/f4 and upgraded to the new version! The new lens is considerably lighter and although it still weighs in at just a shade below 4kg it feels practically weightless in comparison to the previous version that I have been lugging around for the last 13 years. The reduction in the weight of the lens also means I can now get away with a lighter tripod too and I'm now using the Gitzo 3542XLS tripod instead of the much heavier Gitzo 1548. All of this equates to a total weight saving of over 2.5kg!

female Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Apart from being massively lighter, the new version of the 600mm/f4 also has an upgraded image stabilization system with up to 4 stops of vibration reduction. For anyone who is not familiar with the concept, a halving of the shutter speed is equivalent to a reduction of one stop. For example, if under normal circumstances the slowest shutter speed at which you could obtain a razor sharp image without image stabilization was 1/250th of a second, then it should be possible to get similarly sharp photos under the same conditions at 1/15th of a second with 4-stops of IS. The old 600mm only had 2-stops of IS and I could consistently get sharp photos at 1/30th so in theory I should now be able to get sharp photos at 1/8th on a regular basis. Of course, theory very rarely translates into practice in the real world and the problem with using such low shutter speeds is not so much the vibration in the lens but is more that living subjects don't tend to stay still enough. Even the slightest of movements of the bird at a shutter speed of 1/8th of a second when using a 600mm lens is going to register as a blurred image.

female Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

From the limited testing I have done so far, I'm pleased to say that the new lens appears to be every bit as sharp as the old one and all of the photos on this page were taken with the new lens at my local nature reserve.

Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)

Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus)

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

female Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)

January 2013 2013 Diary Index March 2013