Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens Sample Pictures

Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens Sample Pictures
Strutting Turkey Close-Up Picture Strutting Turkey Close-Up Picture
Turkeys are challenging subjects - they don't stop moving. This movement combined with a background that is not great in all of the directions the movement goes makes getting nice pictures challenging. For this shot, I moved in to completely remove the background from the frame.
 
600mm  f/5.6  1/320s  ISO 400
Small White-tailed Buck Feeding Small White-tailed Buck Feeding
Looks like a simple photo to capture right? Guess again. I'll explain.
 
Often, the best height to shoot wildlife from is level with the subject. Typically, the head is the most important part of that subject. And when that head is on the ground feeding, level means shooting from right down on the ground. shooting from the low position has the benefit of a more distant background that becomes nicely blurred.
 
Usually, the best wildlife lighting is a low sun at your back with your shadow pointing directly toward the subject. Since wildlife does not care about your lighting needs, patience is often required to get good lighting on a particular subject. And sometimes a LOT of patience is required.
 
The young white-tailed buck shown here was constantly moving. Its path was unpredictable and the head was constantly moving back and forth. I spent a lot of time trying to predict where it would feed to, aligning my position with a clean background for the predicted subject location and focusing immediately when taking the shot just as the head moved into a frame of the deer's front legs.
 
The narrow angle of view a 600mm lens provides makes this challenge even harder. I happened to cut off the tip of the buck's antlers in the fast-framed shot, but was able to piece the rest of the image together using another image.
 
600mm  f/4.0  1/500s  ISO 100
Bald Eagle Flying with a Fish Bald Eagle Flying with a Fish
"How well does the Canon EOS 7D Mark II perform when shooting birds in flight?" has quickly become a frequently asked question. The Canon EOS 7D Mark II, especially because of its high performance AF system, high density imaging sensor, fast frame rate and modest-for-what-you-get price, is quickly finding favor with bird photographers. And, one of the biggest challenges faced by bird photographers is maintaining focus on birds in flight. Thus, the question is getting asked.
 
I had the privilege of spending the larger part of a day shooting bald eagles below the Conowingo Dam in northern Maryland with the 7D II this week. My goal was to discern how well this AF system could track the often-erratic movement of these beautiful birds in flight (and to hopefully come away with some nice images).
 
The day's moderate-to-heavy cloud cover eliminated any harsh shadow issues, but made the sky a white canvas (white sky is OK, but is not my favorite) and provided low light to further challenge the AF system. The bottom line is that I'm really impressed with my success rate from this day.
 
I was using the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens with and without a Canon EF 1.4x III Extender behind it. Tracking these fast and erratic-moving birds with such a narrow angle of view was quite challenging, but when I kept the selected center AF point or one of the 4 neighboring AF points (based on the AF area I was using) on or even close to the bird I was tracking, most of the images were properly focused. Especially impressive was the ability of this camera to maintain focus on the birds even with backgrounds that the birds visually blended into and even more impressive was this camera's ability to maintain focus on the birds even with high contrasting backgrounds including electrical line towers and bare tree branches against a bright sky. I was using the AF Case 2 to instruct the camera to be slow to leave a tracked subject due to obstacles.
 
This camera is a great choice for bird photography. The consensus that I'm hearing from the other photographers frequenting Conowingo Dam is that their 7D Mark II experiences mirror my own.
 
After catching its dinner, this eagle in the above picture flew directly toward the camera. I began tracking and shooting at 10 fps. I have numerous good images of this eagle, but this was the most-frame-filling that did not cut off any significant amount of the bird. This image is essentially right out of the camera. I extended the canvas slightly to the bottom, added the extreme tip of the two bottom-most feathers and removed imperfections from a couple of other feathers. I changed the Picture Style to Standard (in DPP), changed saturation to "1", white balance to "Cloudy" and added a touch of noise reduction.
 
I have added a 10 fps burst example of flying eagles (a juvenile chasing an adult with a fish) to the Canon EOS 7D Mark II Review. The wing positioning shown in this series of images will assure you that 10 fps is definitely not too fast and at times, I needed a frame between the neighboring frames – such as at the moment the eagles grabbed a fish in the water.
 
600mm  f/5.6  1/1250s  ISO 1000
Old Fence Post and Rusty Barbed Wire Old Fence Post and Rusty Barbed Wire
The Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS II USM Lens has the great capability of making the background into a smooth blur of color. The smooth blur of color in this example is a pasture being lit by a nearly-set sun.
 
The rusty barbed wire and old post are placed into the frame using the rule of thirds. I can't say that I was thinking about the rule of thirds when I took this picture, but that is apparently what worked for my eye in the viewfinder.
 
600mm  f/4.0  1/125s  ISO 100
7 Cute Ducklings on a Log 7 Cute Ducklings on a Log
Seven Black Duck ducklings sit on a log in a variety of poses including drinking, yawning, stretching legs and simply resting. Too cute.
 
600mm  f/10.0  1/160s  ISO 125
Sending the Ball Sending the Ball
A young soccer player delivers the ball to her forward teammate.
 
I find it easier to properly frame larger field sports images when using longer focal length prime lenses than when using shorter focal length primes due to the longer focus distance sweet spot the longer lenses have.
 
Still, when shooting sports from a distance with a prime lens, cropping is frequently necessary. I try to stay with the native aspect ratio (3:2 or 2:3) when cropping, but sometimes free cropping gives the best result (as shown here) - as long as the intended output method supports the size ratio.
 
600mm  f/4.0  1/1600s  ISO 160
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
This Eastern Cottontail Rabbit is seen where they typically are seen - in the grass.
 
Animal photos are often best when taken at the animal's level - far down when the animals are small and on the ground like this one. I was sitting on the ground shooting handheld.
 
This rabbit is angled slightly away - better would have been a slight angle toward me or simply aligned perpendicularly to my line of sight. I was slowly moving toward the better shooting position and taking the insurance shots I could get while on my way there. The rabbit bolted before I made it to the perfect shooting location.
 
The eyes of course (usually) must be sharp for an animal portrait keeper.
 
600mm  f/4.0  1/200s  ISO 800
Patient Button Buck Patient Button Buck
This little button buck gave me plenty of opportunity to try various shooting angles. But, because of his position, this is the only angle that worked (there is a tree *just* outside of the frame on the right). With the near motionless subject and ISO 800 selected, I was able to use a narrower aperture than I usually use, giving me more depth of field at this close focus distance. The added depth of field specifically allowed a more in-focus nose and ears.
 
600mm  f/8.0  1/125s  ISO 800
A Late Day Gallop A Late Day Gallop
I frequently use galloping horses for lens autofocus testing as they are challenging for the camera, lens - and me. The Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS II USM Lens is very impressive in its AF capabilities - and is able to track the speeding horse until only half of the rider fits in the frame.
 
600mm  f/4.0  1/1600s  ISO 250
Cold Weather Soccer Cold Weather Soccer
A young, warmly-dressed soccer player appears to have the ball on the wrong side of her in this picture.
 
My Canon EOS 1D X's Custom Mode 1 is set to f/2.8 (automatically goes to f/4 with this lens), 1/1600, Auto ISO and AI Servo with high speed frame rate. When I'm shooting action with a long lens, I simply select Custom Mode 1 and I'm ready to shoot. If the lighting is constant (typically a clear sky), I will sometimes select a specific ISO value to use.
 
600mm  f/4.0  1/1600s  ISO 160
Baby Turkey Picture Baby Turkey Picture
A turkey poult calls to its siblings. I was sitting low in the grass to capture this eye-level image. Being at the bird's level often provides the best overall look, including a strongly out of focus corn field background in this case.
 
600mm  f/5.6  1/320s  ISO 320
Airplane Over Harvest Moon at 1680mm Airplane Over Harvest Moon at 1680mm
I decided that, with a clear sky, I was going to stack a pair of extenders to the back of my Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS II USM Lens and capture the "Harvest Moon" (the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox).
 
Stacking a Canon EF 1.4x Extender with a Canon EF 2x Extender requires a 12mm extension tube to be mounted between the two – to make the fit possible. The result is 600mm x 2 x 1.4 = 1680mm = Wow!
 
While you should not expect amazing image quality from this setup, the tight angle of view delivered by 1680mm is quite amazing. So tight that tracking the moon through the frame is a constant task. And, avoiding vibrations is a challenge. I opted to use mirror lockup with the 10 second self-timer to make sure that the camera fully settled down before the shutter release.
 
I was trying different exposure settings and verifying the results on the LCD. During one such check, I saw a black spot on the moon. My first thought was that I had a piece of dust on my sensor. Zooming in revealed otherwise.
 
I live well over an hour from the nearest large airport. The sky was black and I had no idea that there were any airplanes in the area. Using the 10 second timer, with the narrow angle of view, meant that I was predicting where the moon would be in the frame at shutter release. Not only did the airplane happen to cross the moon at the exact time of the shutter release,, it happened to be in a perfect location over the moon. The timing was divine.
 
This image is an un-touched and uncropped (but reduced in size of course) conversion of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III RAW file. Photography is so fun.
 
1680mm  f/11.0  1/80s  ISO 800
Vintage Military Plane Vintage Military Plane
The new-at-this-time, lighter Canon EF 600mm f/4 IS II USM Lens is going to be a good choice for air show photography. I have not yet had the opportunity to shoot an air show with this lens, but ... I was sitting on my Walkstool shooting a soccer match when this large vintage military plane flew overhead. I quickly reduced the shutter speed enough to allow some prop blur (showing that the plane in indeed flying), lifted the camera and lens (and monopod), tracked the plane and grabbed a few shots.
 
600mm  f/4.0  1/500s  ISO 100
Strutting Gobbler Strutting Gobbler
A large gobbler struts to impress the ladies. A picture does not do justice to the show these birds put on - complete with thumping sounds.
 
600mm  f/5.6  1/320s  ISO 400
Is that a Canon EF 600mm f/4 IS II USM Lens you are using? Is that a Canon EF 600mm f/4 IS II USM Lens you are using?
Your backyard or nearby park likely has more potential photography subjects than you think. The Eastern Gray Squirrel is a very common animal subject that will, in some locales, tolerate humans. Get low to the ground to help throw the distracting background out of focus.
 
600mm  f/5.6  1/800s  ISO 200
Facial Expressions of Soccer Facial Expressions of Soccer
Shoot enough soccer action pictures and you will notice a trend - this sport causes funny facial expressions.
 
A big benefit of using long focal length wide aperture lenses is that the distracting background can be blurred away.
 
600mm  f/4.0  1/1600s  ISO 1000
Canon 7D II Captures Bald Eagle in Flight at Conowingo Dam Canon 7D II Captures Bald Eagle in Flight at Conowingo Dam
I generally prefer to avoid the hand-of-man in my wildlife images and when setting up at the Conowingo Dam, I positioned myself to best avoid the dam, wires and other non-natural objects in my backgrounds. But ... those man-made objects were not always avoidable and ... the Conowingo Dam is a big reason why the eagles are there in the first place. And, it is a landmark among bird photographers. It is not unusual to find half a million dollars worth of gear on the shoreline below this dam. So, I find it fitting to include the dam in the background of a bald eagle image. In this example, I like the evenly-repeating pattern of the heavily blurred dam in the background.
 
The 7D II performed very well this day. I used the 600 L II IS lens for maximum reach and used the 1.4x III extender some of the time. The 1344mm effective angle of view proved challenging for tracking the erratically-flying eagles and I eventually removed the extender. However, some of my favorite shots of the day would not have been nearly as good without the extender in place. So, the with or without extender decision must be weighed in light of circumstances.
 
840mm  f/5.6  1/1600s  ISO 1600
Making Waves Making Waves
A Black Duck duckling dabbles in the water, causing small waves to radiate from it. While I would have preferred a closer to water level shooting position, such was not available at this time. But, the higher shooting position better-captured the circular ripples and their reflections.
 
600mm  f/5.6  1/640s  ISO 200
Fast Soccer Action Fast Soccer Action
The Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS II USM Lens is a great choice for large field sports when using a full frame DSLR. This lens allows action ocurring deep in the playing field to be framed tightly. Of course, you might want to have another camera body with a 70-200mm lens mounted if the action you are following gets close.
 
600mm  f/4.0  1/1600s  ISO 1250
Bedded Button Buck Bedded Button Buck
I have a lot of pictures of this little Shenandoah National Park white-tailed button buck, but most have the deer appearing less alert. To momentarily get the deer to direct his ears toward me, I threw a small handfull of leaves into the air and shot quickly. Try this trick with other animals - including horses.
 
600mm  f/5.6  1/200s  ISO 400
Partially Cloudy Partial Lunar Eclipse at 1200m Partially Cloudy Partial Lunar Eclipse at 1200m
It seems that, every time there is an astronomical event scheduled, the sky turns cloudy where I am. I'm sure that this is one of Murphy's laws, but ... sometimes everything works out anyway.
 
This particular lunar eclipse was happening early in the morning and I setup my gear the evening before. After checking the weather report immediately prior to going to bed, I turned off the alarm. The odds of the cloud cover clearing were very low and I decided that a clear mind from a solid night of sleep was the wiser decision.
 
Fortunately, my Mother-In-Law was wiser than I was (or more excited about the event) and, upon seeing some clearing in the sky, she called me at 4:30 AM. I crawled out of bed, dressed warmly, hauled the ready-to-go gear out to the front yard and found a chair to sit on. I established the focus distance and changed the lens to MF. I then established the exposure needed to keep the moon very slightly darker than blown (mostly avoiding pure white/blinkies on the LCD). The clouds indeed cleared (mostly) by the time of the event and I was able to capture many good shots.
 
As is generally the case with landscape photography, I had to embrace what the weather provided me and in this case, some remaining clouds moved across the moon at times during the eclipse. The brightness of the moon was much for the clouds to remain visible in the frame most of the time (except when the moon was very obscured), but I wanted to show the clouds in some images with the moon only slightly obscured. Thus, I used an HDR technique involving two exposures stacked and merged in Photoshop.
 
The result of this particular image is that the eclipsed portion of the moon is not as dark (due to the presence of the clouds) as those captured without clouds, but the clouds appearing to radiate from the moon yields a different look to this infrequent occurrence.
 
Obviously, for this lunar eclipse, I opted to fill the frame with just the moon vs. including a landscape in the frame. The 600mm f/4L IS II is a much-appreciated part of my kit, and this was an instance where the 2x extender proved useful.
 
1200mm  f/8.0  1/200s  ISO 500
Double-Crested Cormorant Drying Wings with White Pelican Background Double-Crested Cormorant Drying Wings with White Pelican Background
It is not unusual to find double-crested cormorants drying their wings. Images of these birds doing so are often entertaining, but I am always looking for positive additional elements in my images.
 
The first positive additional element in this image is the still, shallow, reflective water the bird is standing in. The reflection doubles the primary subject of interest and brings in the blue sky color.
 
The reflection also pulls in the white and orange color of a flock of white pelicans standing in the water behind the cormorant. White pelicans are not so common in the places I frequent, so having a large flock of them behind my wing-drying bird provides me a positive additional element. That the light-colored reflection provides higher contrast on the cormorant's dark head, where the viewer's eye is to be drawn, is also positive.
 
The location for this photo was Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida. The choice of the 600 f/4 L IS II Lens with a 1.4x III behind it was made for maximum reach for the 1D X (along with the superb image quality the combo provides).
 
I love tightly framed bird portraits, but in this case, my 1D X was focal length constrained, limited to the angle of view provided by the 840mm lens combo (unless I cropped and that option still remains). Composing good environmental bird photos is often more challenging tightly-framed portraits, but when done well, they can look great. In this example, I chose to have a clean bottom border of water and a mostly-white top border. If you follow my work, you know that I like how borders free of contrasting lines keep the viewer's eye within the frame. Beyond that strategy, I was trying to balance the elements remaining in the frame.
 
While that last sentence may sound easy, the cormorant was constantly changing its head angle. If the bird was looking to my right, I needed to frame farther to my right. And, vice versa. That meant that I had to either change the selected AF point very quickly or that I had to recompose after focusing. My choice here was to quickly select the AF point to one that landed on the bird's head. I made this choice over the recomposing options because I was counting on capturing more than one image before the head moved to another position.
 
I ended up with many keepers from this short session, but ... I think that this image is my favorite.
 
840mm  f/8.0  1/500s  ISO 320
Knowing Your Subject: Mid-Air Bald Eagle Attack Knowing Your Subject: Mid-Air Bald Eagle Attack
Knowing your subject allows you to predict their behavior and to be prepared for the optimal moment. Knowing that bald eagles will frequently attack another eagle with food is one key to getting great photos of these birds. Of course, capturing the initial attack on the prey is great, but the secondary eagle against eagle attack is often at least as appealing.
 
In this example, the eagle on the left had just caught a perch out of the Susquehanna River. The rightmost eagle had been watching and almost immediately attempted to steal the fish from the rightful owner.
 
Knowing that an air-to-air attack was a high probability, I continued to hold the shutter down after the initial catch. The EOS 7D Mark II's fast frame rate (and deep buffer) was able to catch this ideally-timed action – the moment the opposing eagles met. In this case and in many others, neither bird ended up with the fish and the fish is seen flying through the air in subsequent frames.
 
840mm  f/5.6  1/1600s  ISO 1600
Watching the Game through the Player's Eyes Watching the Game through the Player's Eyes
When I'm shooting field sports, my favorite images are very frequently tightly cropped shots that include the subject's face and the game ball. Because these fields are generally very large and invariably, my subject is deep in them, the Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS II USM Lens is what I'm usually using.
 
Tracking action with a narrow angle of view is somewhat challenging, especially when implementing the tight framing I'm referring to. When the framing is ideally-tightly cropped (in camera), it is extremely challenging to release the shutter the moment the ball enters the frame. That is where another strategy combined with the Canon EOS 1D X's 12 fps frame rate comes into play. I follow the subject in the viewfinder and watch the game through the player's eyes.
 
In this photo example, I knew that the opposing keeper was going to kick the ball and that my player was in position to potentially receive of that kick. I half-pressed the shutter release to begin focus-tracking in AI-Servo mode. As I watched her eyes and facial expression (sports bring out the best of these), I could tell that she was about to intercept the ball. I fully-pressed the shutter release and, along with a few before and after shots, captured 3 with-ball frames of the player's approximately .3 second interaction with the ball. One frame had the ball entering (shared here), one included the ball just after impacting her foot and the third included the ball leaving the frame in the same position it entered from. Using a wait-until-I-see-the-ball strategy to begin shooting and estimating a .2 second reaction time as being best-possible, I would have been very fortunate to get even one frame with the ball included.
 
This image is actually a composite of two of those frames. The image with the ideal-for-compositional-balance ball position was framed so that the ref's face was cropped at the eyes. This was no problem since I had a handful of other images captured at the same time and some had more of the ref's head included. I simply aligned one of those other images under the main image to add to add the missing details to the top of my preferred image.
 
Another comment I should make about this image is that it was captured under full sunlight at a terrible time of the day for lighting (1:18 PM). This lighting typically creates harsh shadows under eyebrows, creating the raccoon-eye look (see the ref's eyes for an example). Unfortunately, photographers do not usually get to schedule sporting events around their ideal photographical lighting times. You must deal with what is available. Because my player was looking upward in this photo, her face is fully lit.
 
600mm  f/4.0  1/1600s  ISO 200
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