The big super-telephoto lenses deliver the ultimate wildlife image quality. The Canon RF 600mm F4 L IS USM Lens and Sony FE 600mm F4 GM OSS Lens are my favorite wildlife lenses, and they are my easy first choices for photographing elk.
However, there are times when wider would be helpful — a wider focal length and a wider aperture. In those cases, the Canon RF 400mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens and Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS Lens become my first choices. Unfortunately, flying with and managing two big lenses in the field is challenging.
This year, I opted to take on that challenge, taking a lens from each class to Rocky Mountain National Park.
The Pelican 1615 Air Wheeled Hard Case was the primary solution to the mentioned challenge. When flying, the camera bodies were unmounted, the big lens hoods were reversed, pads were added, and additional lenses were included in the case — up to the airline-checked bag weight limit. The case was locked and checked.
In the field, the configuration shown below worked great. With the Robus monopods removed, the Pelican case closed, enabling easy and safe transport to and from my room.
As pictured, both lenses in their LensCoat covers were immediately available for roadside opportunities or for the long stalk.
This bull elk, fresh out of the wallow, was proud of his muddy (and smelly) coat and looking for cows. When photographing wildlife, predicting behavior correctly delivers the ultimate shots, and I guessed this one right.
Seeing the relatively short working distance available for the potential water crossing, the Canon RF 400mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens got the call. This lens's angle of view was just wide enough to fit the elk in the frame, and the f/2.8 aperture strongly blurred the background, which is not easy to do while fitting a large elk in the frame.