Canon EF 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM Ext 1.4x Lens Sample Pictures

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM Ext 1.4x Lens Sample Pictures
7-pt White-tailed Buck 7-pt White-tailed Buck
This Shenandoah NP buck was feeding in a small clearing in the oak forest. One of my favorite wildlife photo subject orientations is directly side-on with the head facing forward, or even better, slightly toward the camera.
 
This particular deer has a slight u-shaped stance that I like. I also like that the legs are somewhat evenly spaced, adding a natural pattern to the shot. That three of the frame borders are clear of heavy contrasting lines is yet another bonus.
 
I often prefer to shoot level with the animal, but in this case, I had a better background when shooting at a slight downward angle.
 
311mm  f/4.5  1/400s  ISO 125
Black Rat Snake Black Rat Snake
A very unhappy black rat snake gets a taste of its surroundings in this picture.
 
Believe it or not, my 13-year-old daughter carried this snake home (she found it in the woods nearby). While the grass in the front yard does not make a good background for snake pictures, I was able to blur the grass into a very pleasing green color by getting down to a ground level shooting position, moving in close and aligning with a brightly lit area behind the snake.
 
This image represents the near maximum magnification of the Canon 200-400 L lens. I say near because the snake was constantly moving and I had to leave insurance distance to accomodate for its motion.
 
560mm  f/5.6  1/160s  ISO 200
Challenging AI Servo AF Challenging AI Servo AF
A galloping quarter horse provides a challenge for a camera's AI Servo predictive AF mode. And it provides at least as much challenge to the photographer behind that camera.
 
243mm  f/4.0  1/1600s  ISO 800
Shenandoah White-tailed Deer Shenandoah White-tailed Deer
I had been following this buck for two hours. I already had many in-the-woods pictures of it including some bedded images. But when it moved into the edge of a clearing with great lighting and a great background, I was especially thankful for the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM Lens I had mounted. This lens allowed me to quickly shooting a variety of subject framing with extremely good resulting image quality.
 
Also note the use of a monopod. Handholding this lens for most of that two hour period of time would not have been practical for me. And a tripod would have taken too long to adjust to get this shot. Using a monopod gives me much enough stability for the somewhat fast shutter speed necessary to capture the constantly moving deer. And the 1/400 shutter speed was not always fast enough for the latter.
 
338mm  f/4.5  1/400s  ISO 100
Blue Ridge Mountains Blue Ridge Mountains
A classic Shenandoah National Park photo is of the tops of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Contrast-reducing haze provides a three-dimensional effect with the ever-more-distant mountains becoming lighter in color to due light scatter from the haze. Of course, a red sky helps the look.
 
I was chasing white-tailed deer with the Canon 200-400 L IS lens throughout the afternoon and planned a sunset location that would allow me to shoot the deer with the sun at my back until the sky put up its show. I simply turned and shot in the other direction to capture this photo.
 
294mm  f/5.6  1/25s  ISO 100
Big Buck in Big Meadows Big Buck in Big Meadows
Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park is a great place to find and photograph white-tailed deer. This 11-pt buck appears to be on a scent trail, but ... it just has its tail up while feeding.
 
400mm  f/4.0  1/400s  ISO 1600
Number 3 Takes the Ball Number 3 Takes the Ball
Shooting sports with a zoom lens requires an additional level of skill and attention to utilize the full focal length range. Or, you can just set the lens to your preferred focal length and shoot when the framing is right. The former method is preferred.
 
400mm  f/4.0  1/1600s  ISO 160
Attentive White-tailed Doe Attentive White-tailed Doe
They don't like dogs. This doe was intently listening to a dog barking, providing me the opportunity to capture a tight profile headshot of the motionless doe. A 1/200 second shutter speed would not have been fast enough to stop motion at this distance if the deer was not still.
 
400mm  f/4.0  1/200s  ISO 200
Canon EF 200-400mm L IS Lens Meets Big Bad Black Bear Canon EF 200-400mm L IS Lens Meets Big Bad Black Bear
This was one of the longest, coldest winters that I can remember, and the leaves that have finally appeared, bringing color to the long-monochromatic landscape, have been calling me. While I have not avoided the typical spring landscape shots, I have been looking for creative ways to incorporate the beautiful light green color of the new leaf growth into my images. And then this guy showed up.
 
This is a big black bear. One way to tell that a bear is big is by the size of its ears (small) relative to the size of its head (large). It is also is one of the nicest-looking black bears I have seen, lacking scars and other deformities that these animals so commonly have (bears often do not play well with others). It is in especially good physical condition for recently coming out of hibernation. (Yes, the bear is indeed bad - it has been causing damage to multiple neighbors' properties, primarily targeting bird feeders.)
 
Photographing black bears is usually very challenging. Finding these animals in light bright enough for photography is frequently the biggest challenge. Photography is about capturing light and black, especially in the form of fur, is the absence of light. So, once you find a black bear, properly exposing their light-absorbing black coat is the next challenge. If using an auto-exposure mode, the camera will need to be instructed to under-expose the image by a significant amount. That amount varies depending on the percentage of the frame the bear is consuming and the percentage of the frame you are using for auto-exposure.
 
If the lighting is consistent (or not changing fast), a manual exposure setting is best. Either way, it is hard to completely avoid blocked shadows (pure black with no detail) – especially on the shadowed areas of the bear and especially if there are bright subjects in the frame (because they will become pure white). With a manual exposure locked in (the log is just under blown brightness before I reduce the final exposure of this image), I was free to concentrate on focus and framing.
 
Composition and focusing are two additional bear photography challenges. These animals do not stay still for very long – unless they are staring at what they think is a danger (or perhaps is food) to them (me in this case). The closer the selected focus point is to the bear's eye in the desired framing, the less time you will spend adjusting the framing after establishing focus. This means that the bear is less likely to move before the shot is captured and more images can be captured in the potentially short period of time that the bear is posing. A turn of the head means a new focus distance is needed and then I usually want a different subject framing (to keep the animal looking into the frame) and this usually means a different AF point becomes ideal. Sometimes I use only the center AF point and sometimes I use a more-ideally-located AF point.
 
While I would like to say that I had established this bear's patterns and was waiting for him for long periods of time, this encounter was more divinely-timed with me being able to very quickly capitalize on it. The 200-400 L performed incredibly well as always and the bear did also. The bear's position in the clearing with direct evening sunlight along with brightly-lit green spring leaves in the distant background could not have been better planned. This shot has become one of my favorite black bear pictures and I'm guessing that I will not find a better way to incorporate the spring leaves into a photo this season.
 
400mm  f/4.0  1/160s  ISO 640
Bedded White-tailed Buck Bedded White-tailed Buck
I had been following this 7 (or 8?) point white-tailed buck for over an hour when it bedded down. The deer became more and more tolerant of my presence and I was able to work in close enough to get a clear shot.
 
While my preference is for the look that longer focal length lenses give me for wildlife photos, I would not have been able to get a clear shot with these longer lenses. There was simply too much brush for use of the longer lenses here. That the 200-400 L offered me best-available image quality in a range of focal lengths was very important on this trip.
 
362mm  f/5.6  1/125s  ISO 250
Riding at Sunset Riding at Sunset
My favorite natural outdoor light is from a rising or setting sun shining under heavy cloud bank. The background will go dark and the subject will pop. This light generally does not last very long, so you need to be ready for it.
 
On this particular evening, I was testing the AI Server AF capabilities of this lens. Images like this are some of my reward for such work.
 
400mm  f/4.0  1/1600s  ISO 1250
Bugged Snake Bugged Snake
As I was lying in the grass photographing this black rat snake, I noticed an insect walking up the snake's body. So, I got ready to capture whatever happened. The bug reached the end of the road, turned around and left. A very anticlimactic ending I thought.
 
560mm  f/8.0  1/125s  ISO 400
Old Shenandoah Buck Old Shenandoah Buck
This old buck was feeding at the edge of a woods. To get a ground-level perspective, I was sitting in a small drainage ditch.
 
400mm  f/4.0  1/500s  ISO 320
Mosquito Bites Black Bear Cub Mosquito Bites Black Bear Cub
See the mosquito on this black bear cub's ear? The black bear is at the top of the food chain in Pennsylvania, but that does not mean they don't get bit. Getting bit is certainly going to be on the back of everyone's mind when photographing a bear cub this small as the highly protective mother is guaranteed to be nearby.
 
A mother bear nearby makes the zoom capabilities of the Canon EF 200-400 f/5.6 L IS Lens highly desirable. To capture this picture of a tiny cub required use of the built-in extender for 560mm of focal length (plus a small amount of cropping). To capture a full body portrait of the much larger mother (with or without cubs in the frame) required a wider focal length. Bears are very unpredictable and may not have tolerated (or stayed long enough for) a lens change. The 200-400 L lets me work fast, capturing the ideal framing potential from the situation.
 
560mm  f/5.6  1/320s  ISO 1250
Blue Ridge Mountains Buck Blue Ridge Mountains Buck
Using a zoom lens allowed me to quickly capture this deer's full body along with some of the also-attractive surroundings after also capturing several more-tightly framed pictures at longer focal lengths. All this before the deer moved its head away from between closest oak trees in the background.
 
200mm  f/4.5  1/400s  ISO 125
Pretty Girl on Her Pretty Horse Pretty Girl on Her Pretty Horse
A young girl rides her black quarter horse through a mountaintop field. By shooting from a low position, I kept the rider's head above the skyline and any distractions that would otherwise be present. I did not need a 1/1600 shutter speed for this shot (and could have dropped the ISO setting accordingly). But, this was a short rest between the galloping runs I was setup for. The 1D X delivers clean high ISO images, so the quality loss was minimal.
 
222mm  f/4.0  1/1600s  ISO 640
Dear Little Deer Dear Little Deer
This cute little Shenandoah whitetail fed into a small clearing I was photographing in. The colorful leaves in the background were the reward of planning my trip for just after the leaves fell.
 
400mm  f/4.5  1/400s  ISO 125
Girl and Ball on the Move Girl and Ball on the Move
The Canon EF 200-400 f/4 L IS Lens is a great choice for sports action photography including soccer. With the great focal length range, wide f/4 aperture, excellent image quality and action-capable AF system, this lens will be bringing home many great images including at the professional sports level.
 
376mm  f/4.0  1/1600s  ISO 160
Forkhorned Buck Eating a Branch Forkhorned Buck Eating a Branch
This small buck was standing in tall brush and eating the topmost branches while watching for danger. Getting a non-obscured shot of his behaviour was not easy.
 
560mm  f/5.6  1/500s  ISO 500
Angry Snake Angry Snake
We didn't harm the snake, but I don't think it appreciated my daughter carrying it 1/4 mile home with her. The snake appears to be in maximum curl-to-strike mode. This is approximately the maximum magnification this lens can deliver without external extenders or extension tubes being added.
 
560mm  f/8.0  1/250s  ISO 400
11-pt Big Meadows Buck 11-pt Big Meadows Buck
This 11-pt Big Meadows buck appears to be sticking its tongue out at me (I didn't take it personally).
 
Unfortunately, at this time (Oct 2013), most of the big buck in Shenandoah National Park are wearing large GPS radio collars that include a black case under their chin, a leather strap around their neck, a black antenna behind their ear and a large green plastic identification number on each side of their neck. I understand that it is necessary to study the deer movements in light of chronic wasting disease, but the collars are very obnoxious in appearance.
 
The position of this deer hides most of the collar, with Photoshop taking care of the rest.
 
320mm  f/4.0  1/400s  ISO 2000
Shenandoah National Park Buck Shenandoah National Park Buck
When photographing a GPS radio-collared buck such as this old Shenandoah NP example, careful attention must be paid to head angle (assuming that you want to remove the collar in post). Because the radio-covered white patch under the chin and the whiskers leading into that area are nearly impossible to rebuild, head-down positions work best.
 
Tripods will give you the most stable shooting platform, but the speed and flexibility of monopods often rule for wildlife photography. Here I was shooting from a drainage ditch. I quickly hopped in and setup the monopod for near-ground-level shooting. The buck might not have remained in place while I figured out how to set it up down in this somewhat-unusual shooting location. The 1/500 shutter speed along with image stabilization was easily enough for sharp photos – except when the deer moved faster than its normal feeding movements.
 
400mm  f/4.0  1/500s  ISO 250
Feeding White-tailed Buck Feeding White-tailed Buck
A buck feeds at the edge of a small clearing in SNP. As moments like this do not come often or last long, I was shooting fast. Slightly too fast in this case as I did not allow enough room to the right of the deer for proper compositional balance. No worries – just another fix for Photoshop to take care of.
 
400mm  f/4.5  1/400s  ISO 125
Black Bear Sow and Four Cubs Black Bear Sow and Four Cubs
Seeing a mother black bear with 4 cubs is a rare opportunity. To get a photo opportunity of the same is even rarer, and to get a decent photo of the same is ... priceless.
 
The cubs were very fun to watch. They were in non-stop motion, running around, climbing on things (including mom) and playing with each other (rolling over each other). This activity level meant that things happened fast. Getting all four cubs in a single frame was very challenging (an image with less-than-four cubs would be far less remarkable) and a decent composition of the same was nearly impossible. Having the 200-560mm (with built-in extender) zoom focal length range was extremely helpful in this situation.
 
In this specific scenario (my only 4-cub image worth posting from this encounter), I decided to center the primary subject – the apparently-not-happy momma bear. I generally like to compose animals (and people) with more space on one side frame – so that they are looking into the frame. But, the large bear was positioned straight forward and looking (more like glaring) in the same direction with cubs on either side adding balance. I moved the camera just slightly to the right of perfectly centering the large bear to give the cub on the right a little more room to look into the frame because it was a "stand"-out.
 
Selecting the ideal aperture was another challenge for this encounter. At f/4, I needed and an ISO setting of 800 to get a barely-adequate-for-the-activity 1/320 shutter speed. At 300mm, at this distance, the under-1' (.3m) depth of field provided by f/4 does not keep more than the primary bear's eyes in focus. Using a narrower aperture of course provides more depth of field, but it also requires raising the ISO setting.
 
Raising the ISO to 1600 would have been acceptable to me, but ... I didn't want to go to ISO 3200 and the resulting f/8 aperture would have provided a still-not-nearly-deep-enough DOF of about 1.5' (.5m). Yes, the cubs would be less out of focus with the narrower apertures, but the background would also be more-focused, creating less separation from the big bear. As is often the case, there were multiple setting combinations that would have worked for this example and a compromise was required. I'd probably make the same decision the next time.
 
300mm  f/4.0  1/320s  ISO 800
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