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BIRDS AS ART ON-LINE BULLETIN #36, NOVEMBER 14, 2000

BIRDS AS ART/INSTRUCTIONAL PHOTO-TOUR VACANCIES, CANON LENS SPECIALS FROM HUNT'S MORE ON THE CANON EOS 1v AND THE NIKON 80-400 VR LENS

 
Due to cancellations, there is now one opening on the 3-DAY FEB 10-12 Southwest Florida IPT and one opening on the 4-DAY Southern California IPT (with an option to expand to a 6-DAY).   See the web site for details, and do call before purchasing your plane tickets to make sure that the slot that you want is still open.  Both of these IPTs sold out within days of being announced.
 

Hunt's  Photo in Boston (1-800-924-8682) is offering the prices below only to BIRDS AS ART/Bulletin subscribers.   They are in effect only until November 25, 2000.  Please ask for either Will or Lisa and do mention BIRDS AS ART. 

Canon Elan 7E $503.99
Elan 7 Body $451.99
Eos 3 Body $899.99
Eos 1V Body $1649.99
Eos 1V HS $1899.99
Eos D30 Digital body $2999.99
BG-ED3 battery grip (for D30) $149.99
IBM 340mb Microdrive $260.99
EF 300mm F4L IS USM $1299.99
EF 300mm F2.8L IS USM $4599.99
EF 500mm F4L IS USM $6699.99
EF 400mm F2.8L IS USM $7899.99
EF 600mm F4 L IS USM $8899.99
EF 17-35mm F2.8L USM $1249.99
EF 28-70mm F2.8L USM $1149.99
EF 70-200mm F2.8L USM $1249.99
EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS USM $1499.99
EF 2X Tele Extender $319.99
EF 1.4X Tele Extender $389.99


MORE ON THE NIKON 80-400mm VR LENS
 
From subscriber Pat Price who is a fine photographer and frequent IPT participant:
 
Hi Arthur,
 
Just thought I would contribute my perspective on the new Nikon 80-400 VR lens.
 
As you know, I have been shooting primarily Nikon equipment for a long time but found myself carrying the Canon EOS-3 and the Canon 100-400 IS lens as a "second camera" for flight shots and other moving targets that the Canon 100-400 is just perfect for. I did this simply because Nikon did not have an equivalent lens that offered the versatility that Canon does in a lightweight, image stabilized lens.
 
I was really looking forward to the new Nikon 80-400 VR lens with the expectation that I would be able to travel with one manufacturer's equipment and simplify my life. Since I am now shooting with the Nikon D1, I was looking forward to the benefit of the additional focal length benefit built into the digital format. The 80-400 VR lens becomes a 120-600 mm VR lens that you can hand hold. Now that is a powerful combination.
 
I received the Nikon 80-400 VR lens early last week. Moose Peterson and I were shooting together this past weekend at Bolsa Chica so I had a chance to give the new lens a workout in real field conditions photographing flying brown pelicans, flying egrets and flying great blue herons.
 
My verdict, based on in field use of both lenses, is that the Canon 100-400 IS lens is a superior lens to the Nikon 80-400 VR lens for the following reason.
 
The Canon lens is a push-pull zoom that works smoothly and can easily be zoomed while panning for flight shots to improve framing without losing the subject in the viewfinder. The Nikon lens is a "turn" zoom that is very stiff and can not be zoomed from 80-400 without shifting your grip on the lens at least once. This makes it very difficult (impossible for those of us less skilled) to zoom the lens on a flying bird and keep the subject in the viewfinder.
 
Considering you can purchase an Elan II and the Canon 100-400 IS for about the cost of the Nikon 80-400 VR lens, Canon is a better way to go in my humble opinion.
 
I will stick with Nikon because of the fantastic metering in the F5 and the D1. I also have had fewer in field problems with the Nikon bodies than I have the Canon Elan II and the EOS-3, particularly in harsh cold conditions (Alaska winters). My EOS-3 body looses its electrical connection to the battery regularly when the temperature gets close to zero and I have to take the battery out and warm it up to get it to make contact again. I have had similar problems with the Elan II battery shrinking away from the contacts when it gets cold. I haven't had this problem with Nikon equipment.
 
I will be carrying the Canon Elan II and the Canon 100-400 IS lens along with my assortment of Nikon gear simply because Nikon has not yet been able to offer an acceptable equivalent.
 
I am sharing this with you as one person's opinion.
 
Your friend from the west,
Pat Price
 

And Pat's response to my questions:
 
Hi Arthur,
 
You are most welcome to use my comments regarding Canon and Nikon equipment experiences that I have related to you. If you want to disclose my name, that is fine with me.
 
I remembered after I sent you the first E-mail that I did forget to mention "initial focus acquisition" and tracking with the Nikon 80-400 VR lens.  The Nikon lens is exceptionally slow at initial image acquisition. Unless the lens is prefocused to the approximate flight path of a bird (sic: camera to subject distance), it will not lock on. The lens is not even in the same league as the Canon 100-400, even with the Elan II body when it comes to the speed of initial focus acquisition.
 
Image tracking with the Nikon lens is not as fast as the Canon so if the subject is flying at camera, the Nikon lens is a distant second to the Canon. With horizontal flight of the pelicans and egrets I was shooting, I really did not notice any shortcomings in the Nikon lens after I locked on provided I did not try to zoom the lens for reasons I described previously.
 
You asked about the EOS 3 performance for flight shooting. Aside from the meter which I have trained myself to mostly ignore, the EOS 3 is on a par with the F5 for tracking birds in flight. I can not say that I have noticed a real difference in either the speed of initial focus acquisition or tracking accuracy between the two bodies.  Now with birds flying at camera I would have to give an edge to Nikon and the silent wave lenses versus Canon EOS 3 and the 100-400 IS lens. I seem to get more keepers in that situation with Nikon.
 
You asked if switching between Canon and Nikon was a problem for me. Like anything else, with enough practice, it is no big deal. I find there is about as much difference moving between the F5 and the D1 as there is between Canon and Nikon.  As Moose says, the equipment is just a tool and we should use the best tool for each job we are trying to do. For some jobs Nikon is superior and for others, only Canon has a solution. I intend to keep testing and learning about new tools as they become available not to own the latest and greatest, but to be able to capture the best and most creative images my skills will allow. If technology can replace skill or open new opportunities I want to use it.
 
I can hardly wait for your reactions to the new Canon digital. I had a chance to play with one about a month ago and I was really impressed.  Digital will open a whole new world of possibilities for you in the field.
 
Thanks for the friendship and the info.
 
All the best,
Pat Price

 
Here is my response to an e-mail by subscriber Michael Masters:
 
Hi Michael,

 Re;

Thanks once again for an outstanding contribution to the photographic community. 
 
You are most welcome.

 There is far too much blind follow-the-leader everything-is-perfect nonsense among photographic enthusiasts,  especially  among those who have no basis of personal experience from which to
form a  meaningful opinion.  And most pros are completely silent when it comes to expressing  anything of substance in print.

 Not me.   Again, it is my firm belief that the EOS 1v's  AF tracking accuracy in AFPS  does not perform any where nearly as well as it should (and I believe that the same is true of the EOS 3).

I agree completely with your focus tracking assessment for the EOS 3.   I've only rarely gotten really  sharp flight shots other than in conditions  where the bird was soaring against a strong headwind and was almost stationary.

 I must assume that others have had similar problems as I have used four different EOS 3s and two 1vs, all with the same results. 
 
Fast flight?  Forget it.
 And forget it fast!

 I'm willing to accept the fact that my technique isn't equal to that of shoot-everyday-pros, but I've been disappointed too consistently with my flight shots to believe it's just me.

It is not. In the old days, when beginners standing next to me were using the toy lens and the A2, they often made images equal to mine.  When  conditions are good, flight shooting should simply point and shoot!  There really is not much to it.

One of the (many) reasons I switched from Minolta to Canon last year was because I never
 got  a single really sharp flight shot with Minolta equipment in 10 years of trying.   Although I've gotten a goodly number with the EOS 3, the results are disappointingly inconsistent.

I agree.  The question now remains, "Is AF tracking accuracy using the EOS 1v's or the EOS 3's   central sensor satisfactory?"  At present, I am unsure but plan to resolve the issue in my mind at last on my upcoming visit to Bosque Del Apache NWR in New Mexico. . .My gut feeling is that both the  A2 and the EOS 1n will outperform  the EOS 1vs.

Your test will be yet another outstanding service to our community.

 I thank you much for your most kind comments.  Imagine how I feel when constantly being called a "sold-out Canon shill"?

Appreciative folks like you make it very worthwhile. 
 
I look forward to your results.  Frankly, it will be the determining factor in whether I add an EOS 1V body to my EOS 3s or look for something else, as you plan to do.

As I said, I do not expect the 1v with the central sensor to track accurately as I have used it a bit that way.

Best,

Artie
 

In retrospect, my last comment may have been a bit too negative, as last year in Bosque, I did make many sharp images of Snow and Ross' Geese landing into the afternoon's usual west wind with  the 600mm IS lens, the 1.4X TC, and the EOS 3 with central sensor AI Servo AF mounted on the Wimberley head.  I welcome comments both on Pat's remarks and on how either the EOS 3 or the EOS 1v has worked for you when photographing birds in flight, especially those that are flying towards your position.

Best and great picture making to all,

Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

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