Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A wicked week for warblers!

I've been busy photographing warblers this past week... and feeding the mosquitoes! Here are a few results from Awenda Provincial Park and Georgian Bay Islands National Park.

All the birds were taken with a Canon 1D mk IV, 500/4 IS II lens + 1.4x and fill flash using a Better Beamer. The wildflower at the bottom was taken with a Canon 5d mk III and Sigma 120-300/2.8 with a 25mm extension tube.

Black-throated Green Warbler

Canada Warbler

Canada Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Prairie Warbler
And for the wildflower enthusiasts, here's a Showy Lady Slipper:

Showy Lady Slipper

Thursday, June 19, 2014

So many species, so little time!

It's peak season in Ontario for breeding birds, wildflowers, lush green vegetation, reptiles and amphibians. There's never enough time to sleep at this time of year for a nature photographer!

Here are a few photos from the past week. 

Blanding's Turtle, a threatened species in Ontario. Muskoka area.
Gear: Canon 5d3 & Sigma 120-300/2.8 with 25mm extension tube. 

Brewster's Warbler (Blue-winged x Golden-winged hybrid),  Muskoka area.
Gear: Canon 1d4 with 500/4 IS II & 1.4x. 

Prairie Warbler, Georgian Bay Islands National Park
Gear: Canon 1d4 with 500/4 IS II & 1.4x. 

Upland Sandpiper, Carden Alvar
Gear: Canon 1d4 with 500/4 IS II 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Mini review of the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM "Sport" lens for nature photography

I'm a big fan of the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM telephoto lens that is part of their new "Sport" lineup. I borrowed one from Sigma Canada this past winter and spent quite a bit of time shooting birds in Florida with it (see the attached promo that features some of the resulting photos). Many people have asked me for my thoughts on this lens, so here are the highlights according to my experience (several months) of using the lens extensively:  
  • A highly versatile focal length for nature photography - notably wildlife, large birds, wildflowers and telephoto landscapes. It's fills a key gap for me between my medium telephoto and super-telephoto lenses.   
  • Fast aperture is great for shooting in low light, or for achieving smooth backgrounds because of the shallow depth of field when wide open.   
  • Very sharp (I used it routinely with 1.4x and 2x Canon extenders and the results were still razor sharp).
  • Moderate AF and OS performance (in comparison to the Canon 200-400mm lens, which costs about 3x the price).
  • The lens is fairly heavy, as expected for an f/ 2.8 telephoto. Carrying it around helped beef up my biceps!  
  • Great value for a lens of this speed/focal length. At 1/3 the price of the Canon 200-400mm f/4, I consider the Sigma to be the affordable alternative in this focal range.   
Disclaimer: Although I'm a Sigma Canada pro, I don't get paid to endorse their gear. These opinions are my independent conclusions based on personal shooting experience. I share honest opinions only, good or bad. 

To summarize, I've found the Sigma 120-300 to be an excellent value lens and have used it to produce many pro-quality images. I love the versatile focal range, especially when paired with a 1.4x extender. It's not inexpensive (at just under $4000 CDN) but that's a bargain for a lens with this focal range and speed. Thumbs up from me - I routinely recommend this lens to nature photographers looking for a fast lens in this focal range.