equipment review, photography, travel

Canon’s New EF 16-35 f/4L // Field Review

Affordable, super sharp (even called ‘the sharpest Canon has ever made’), and sturdy.  Did I mention it also has IS?  Oh yeah, and a 77mm filter ring. It wasn’t all that long ago (2 years or so) that I posted a review of the Canon EF 17-40 f/4L.  And I liked it.  But let me just say, it doesn’t even hold a candle to the new Canon EF 16-35 f/4L (US $1099).

_RS_1298

 The toil I went through was over whether I should purchase the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L (US $1699) or the 17-40mm f/4L (US $839).  Both are “L series”, Canon’s best glass, and as a professional I generally don’t buy anything less.  As the saying goes, “you’re only as good as the glass you use.”

So I really had a decision to make.

For me, this lens will fill a big gap in my repertoire of focal lengths.  And as more and more of my business is landscape/ cityscape/ architecture, I am in desperate need of a quality super-wide zoom.

Now, just by the nature of super-wides (and zooms for that matter), some sharpness is sacrificed on the edges for the sake of versatility.  If you need tack-sharp, you need a standard prime.  Wide focal lengths will also cause some distortion on the edges… nothing that can’t be easily corrected in post.  Already knowing these drawbacks, I began to research.

Aside from the obvious difference in focal length, the 16-35 is a full stop faster.  But do I need that full stop?  I decided no for the majority of its use.  I would primarily use it as a landscape lens… so shooting outdoors, it’s nearly inconceivable I would need (or want) f/2.8.  And the second most useful application for me is interior architecture.  But again, I typically light the spaces and rarely shoot wider than f/8.  Okay, so is there a sharpness difference between the two?  Well, without having both lenses in front of me to do my own tests, I had to rely on the careful data of others.  I found a fantastic technical analysis of this very comparison on Luminous Landscape.

As you can see in my earlier post, I couldn’t find too much of a difference between the two former Canon super wide zooms, other than price. But this new 16-35, though slower than its big brother at f/4, is sharper and feels even sturdier.

And the main thing other than price that bothered me about the f/2.8 was the fact that it had an 82mm filter threading. Which means having to buy all new filters. Huge headache… when almost every other one of my lenses use the 77mm.

Now I’ve taken the new EF 16-35/4 with me as my primary landscape lens on my last three trips; Wyoming/ Montana/ Colorado, Pacific Northwest, and Florida. So far, this lens has met all my expectations, and more. I’ve never seen a zoom lens with this kind of sharpness, even at the extreme edges.

ARS_WY_150715_9557

ARS_WY_150715_9641

ARS_WY_150718_0282

ARS_AMI_150915_1024

ARS_AMI_150916_1267

ARS_AMI_150916_1284

A man hiking the rim at sunset in Crater Lake National Park

Massive old-growth trees in Humboldt Redwoods State/ National Park

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

Sunset over Trillium Lake

People admiring the majesty of Wahclella Falls

Canon got it right on this lens on all accounts in my book. The autofocus works like a charm, color rings true, the hearty build makes me feel like I’m not going to just snap it in half on accident (like the 17-40), and as I’ve said before, the f/4 works just fine for me with what I shoot.

And if you’re looking for a more technical review, please check out Ken Rockwell’s site.  This guy is amazing and will give you all the tech specs you need!

I can tell you though, If you spend the $1100 USD on this lens, you will not be disappointed.

— andrew


 
Join me on an amazing adventure… check out my NEW workshop dates:
 
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
 
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
Image Brief // Andrew R. Slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew R. Slaton | photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015
 

 

Standard
art, landscape, photography, random thought, travel, workshop, writing

big bend // revisited… part 2

Once again, I woke up before the sun…

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0076

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0077

And witnessed a spectacular sunrise over the Chihuahuan Desert, with both Texas and Mexico in view.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0078

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0079

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0080

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0081

Everything in the desert seems to want to hurt you.  It’s an amazingly inhospitable place.

Maybe that’s why I love it.  It continually screams at me to leave, and I, unrepentantly scream back at it, “no!”

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0082

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0083

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0084

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0085

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0086

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0087

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0088

Mariscal mine settlement.  When you visit this small village (seriously) in the middle of nowhere… it really does make you think about how beautifully tough our forefathers must have been.

This place is so difficult to get to and remote, that few people even nowadays visit.  What with our air conditioned cars and four wheel drive.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0089

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0090

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0091

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0092

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0093

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0094

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0095

So I finnally exited the River Road and hit pavement.  It’s funny the feeling you get when you’ve only felt super bumpy, unimproved dirt tracks underneath you for two days – driving 20 miles an hour, because if you drove any faster you’d surely bottom out or receive a flat for your insolence and disrespect to the road – finally being lifted up on to the smooth ride of a highway, and potential speed of 65.  I love it.  Kinda feels like you just won the lottery.  Undeserved and glorious.  Thankful you made it off that God-forsaken death trap of a road.  The reverse can also be true.  I LOVE THE RIVER ROAD!!

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0096

So I spent the next several hours scouting a few different locations.  The first being my evening “epic” Big Bend landscape, that attempts to sum up the place.  Tough indeed, if you’ve ever been to BBNP.

The second shot was a night, road photograph I’ve had in my mind on this trip.  I got one in RMNP, but really wanted to try one here.  I had several nice spots from which to choose.

The third and fourth theoretically could be the same spot.  One shot would be in the very early morning hours… a star picture.  And the other was a morning “epic” Big Bend landscape.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0097

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0098

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0099

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0100

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0101

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0102

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0103

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0104

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0105

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0106

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0107

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0108

I finished my scouting with several hours to spare, so I decided to hike to one of my favorite little spots in the park, Cattail Falls.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0109

I always go when water is scarce, so I’ve never come away with the waterfall picture I want, but it’s a great little hike and the only place I’ve ever seen a bear in the park.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0110

By the time I got back, it was late afternoon… time to begin my work for the evening.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0111

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0112

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0113

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0114

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0115

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0116

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0117

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0118

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0134

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0119

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0120

I ended up with a few shots I like, so I called it a night… at least get a few hours of sleep.  Back up at 4 a.m. to shoot the stars and catch what would be a gorgeous sunrise.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0121

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0122

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0136

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0124

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0125

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0126

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0127

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0128

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0129

That morning was a sunrise-to-end-all-sunrises.  At this point, it was as good a time as any to quit while I felt ahead.

And besides, I was into my third week of being on the road…. living out of my Subaru, eating lots of peanut butter and honey, sleeping alone (an activity I used to love – that I am now quite weary of) on the hard ground.

It was time to go home.  Hard to leave, but definitely time.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0130

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0131

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0132

So I composed my last shots of the desert and mountains of Big Bend National Park, and bid it farewell… this time thankfully, it won’t be so long between visits…

If you are interested in learning more about photography, taking your art to a new level, and/ or Big Bend photography tours and workshops, please check out my new workshop dates:

Big Bend Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2013-2014

More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2013-2014

If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:

Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton

If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:

andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints

For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com

Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!

all images + content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

Standard
art, landscape, photography, random thought, travel, workshop, writing

big bend // revisited

It didn’t take long to get back into the rhythm of Big Bend.

After all, it had only been 18 or so months.

But this lesser-known National Park, in the middle-of-freaking-nowehere on the border of Texas and Mexico, has been a refuge for me for the last 10 years.

In many senses of the word, I found myself in Big Bend.

I’ve found myself lost in the middle of the desert in 110 degree heat.

I’ve found myself 18 miles from any person or paved road in a almost completely submerged truck… in 110 degree heat.

I’ve found myself purposefully leaving civilization and humanity.

I’ve found myself at the top of the world on the South Rim looking out on the expanse of the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas and Mexico, in awe.

I’ve found myself coming to terms with my insecurities and problems.

I’ve found myself watching a total lunar eclipse from the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains.

I’ve found myself spending New Years Eve alone atop the Dodson Trail, happy as a clam.

I’ve found myself sharing my alone time for the first time with my (then) future wife.

I’ve found myself kissing said future wife in Boot Canyon in the fall with the maple leaves ablaze around us.

I’ve found myself returning annually to celebrate her birthday.

I’ve found myself pushing the limits on how many miles I can hike in 1 day… turns out, it’s at least 18 miles… done on two different trips :)

I’ve found myself chasing a black bear in a desert oasis.

I’ve found myself standing in the middle of the Rio Grande alone at 4 o’clock in the morning to get a star picture of Santa Elena Canyon.

I’ve found myself (more times than I can remember) talking with the God of the universe in all the glory of His creation.

I’ve found myself entering the park ill, leaving well… entering heavy hearted, leaving renewed… entering empty, leaving full.

Big Bend is a very special place to me.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0001

I arrived in the middle of the day, so no sweeping, epic landscapes available to shoot.

I set up camp and focused on the details.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0002

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0003

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0004

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0005

I decided to start with Santa Elena that evening, so I hiked out to scout my location.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0006

Done.  That was quick.

I then went to Mule Ears overlook to hike the desert a bit.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0007

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0008

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0009

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0010

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0011

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0012

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0013

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0014

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0015

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0016

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0017

Made friends with a black-tailed jackrabbit, then headed off to catch the sun going down at Santa Elena Canyon.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0018

I went back to camp to shoot a few desert star pictures.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0019

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0020

Got up well before the sun (4am) to shoot a star picture of Santa Elena.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0021

Bats flew all around me as I stood in the middle of the Rio Grande until sunrise.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0022

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0023

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0024

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0025

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0026

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0027

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0028

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0029

The sun rose high quickly.  So I moved on and headed for the infamous River Road.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0030

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0031

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0032

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0033

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0034

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0035

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0036

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0037

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0038

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0039

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0040

Prickly Pear Cactus flowering late.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0041

I hiked Pine Canyon.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0042

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0043

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0044

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0045

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0046

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0047

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0048

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0049

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0050

After driving several hours on the River Road (where I drowned my truck a few years ago), I arrived at one of my old favorite campsites, Jewels Camp.

It overlooks the Rio Grande, Mexico, and the Chisos Mountains.

I would come to learn (the next day on my way out) by a border patrol agent who searched my car, that it also happens to be a favorite spot for the cartels to smuggle drugs into the U.S.

Good thing I slept that night with my .45.

On a serious note though, I have NEVER had any problems in Mexico, Big Bend, or on the River Road.  I think it’s important to draw from experience rather than fear.

Okay, so back to my trip….

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0133

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0053

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0055

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0057

Evening at Jewels was gorgeous, as it always seems to be.  The colors of the desert come alive at dusk.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0058

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0059

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0060

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0062

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0063

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0064

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0065

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0066

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0067

I read a little that evening, and then crashed.  All this getting up at 4 a.m., hiking all day, then going to bed at 10 p.m. was truly exhausting.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0068

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0069

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0070

But I was there to work… so before I could go to bed for the night, I had a few star pics I wanted to capture…

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0071

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0072

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0073

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0074

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0075

I slept SO well that night, once I actually went to sleep.  And I would need it… the rest of the trip would be jam-packed and one of the most productive adventures in Big Bend yet!

Stay tuned for the second (and possibly) third part of Big Bend // revisited!!

If you are interested in learning more about photography, taking your art to a new level, and/ or Big Bend photography tours and workshops, please check out my new workshop dates:

Big Bend Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2013-2014

More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2013-2014

If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:

Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton

If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:

andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints

For assignment work requests, please email me:  andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com

Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!

all images + content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

Standard
advanced, art, equipment review, landscape, nature, photography, travel

canon 24 f/1.4L II // field review

Another lens I’ve coveted from a distance for the last few months is the Canon 24mm f/1.4L II (US $1749).

This super fast wide angle prime lens is supposed to be one of the sharpest that Canon has ever produced.  Great for landscape photography, and certainly low-light situations.

And for this, I’ve been dying to test it in the field with my night landscapes.

So, along with the new 500/4, Canon sent me the new 24/1.4 for my Rocky Mountain National Park trip.

ef24_14iiusm_1_xl

Photo courtesy Canon

_MG_7705F

As you can see, it is quite low profile and inconspicuous.  I could see myself using it quite a bit while traveling and walking foreign cities.

While obviously not as versatile as the 24-70/ 2.8, the ease of use, amazing sharpness, and small design make it really appealing to me.

_MG_0516F

Forest and Creek, Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, Canon 5D MKII, 13 sec. @ f/22, ISO 200, 77mm Canon Circular Polarizer, 77mm Hoya Pro 1 Digital NDx16

_MG_0734F

Forest and Doe, Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, Canon 5D MKII, 1/10 sec. @ f/8, ISO 320, 77mm Canon Circular Polarizer

_MG_0753F

Forest Trail, Canon 17-40mm f/4L, Canon 5D MKII, 1/800 sec. @ f/1.4, ISO 160

_MG_6194F

Fishing The Alluvial Fan, Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, Canon 5D MKII, 1/5 sec. @ f/22, ISO 50, 77mm Canon Circular Polarizer

_MG_6923F

Dream Lake Night, Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, Canon 5D MKII, 15 sec. @ f/1.4, ISO 1000

One of my favorite applications for this lens while in RMNP was capturing the landscape at night.  It’s difficult to achieve a shot like this without a really fast lens, unless you’re wanting a star trail (from the longer exposure time) or a lot of grain and noise (from the super high ISO).  The 24/1.4 was perfect for keeping the grain and noise low while still shooting fast enough to leave the stars in place.  And this was on a night when the moon light was minimal.

_MG_6925F

Dream Lake Star Trail, Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, Canon 5D MKII, 240 sec. @ f/5, ISO 250

I was even impressed with its macro capabilities.  With a closest focusing distance at 3 in., gorgeous wildflower shot are possible.  Though not a true macro lens, I was impressed with its close-up abilities.

_MG_8420F

Alpine Forget-Me-Not, Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, Canon 5D MKII, 1/640 sec. @ f/2, ISO 100

_MG_8449F

Bear Lake, Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, Canon 5D MKII, 1/60sec. @ f/11, ISO 100, 77mm Canon Circular Polarizer

_MG_8540F

The Alluvial Fan, Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, Canon 5D MKII, 1/8000 sec. @ f/1.4, ISO 100, 77mm Canon Circular Polarizer

_MG_8570 1F

Half Moon Over Odessa, Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, Canon 5D MKII, 1/250 sec. @ f/2.8, ISO 250

_MG_8588 1F

Odessa Lake Reflection, Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, Canon 5D MKII, 1/50 sec. @ f/4, ISO 400, 77mm Canon Circular Polarizer

_MG_8729F

Stars Over Odessa, Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, Canon 5D MKII, 0.4 sec. @ f/1.4, ISO 4000

RMNP_PAN_3b

Odessa Lake Night Panoramic, Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, Canon 5D MKII, 0.4 sec. @ f/1.4, ISO 3200

RMNP_PAN_4

Odessa Lake Sunrise Panoramic, Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, Canon 5D MKII, 1/80 sec. @ f/4, ISO 400, 77mm Canon Circular Polarizer, Singh-Ray 4×6″ Galen Rowell 3 stop Soft-Step Neutral Density filter handheld

I have a suspicion that this lens comes in handy most with weddings because of how insanely fast it is.  But because of its sharpness and relative versatility, it’s a great landscape/ nature lens.  My main issue with this tool was focal length.  At 24mm, I found myself backing up and still wanting to see more.  I may have found it more helpful with landscapes if it were a 20/1.4.  However, it’s not.  So, with that said, I found it to be gorgeous, with just a few limitations.

Overall, the Canon 24mm f/1.4L II is sharp, fast, versatile, and well built.  This lens is a great tool in the Canon arsenal!

For more detailed specs, I again relied on the great people at the-digital-picture.com.  They have fantastic reviews and accurate information.

all content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

Standard
advanced, art, equipment review, nature, photography, travel, wildlife

canon 500 f/4L IS II // field review

I have been itching to get my hands on the new Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM(US $10,499).

I’ve shot several times with the version one 500 f/4 and 600 f/4, and loved them, but I must admit, I was excited to feel the improvements in weight, sharpness, and features firsthand.

And what better time to put a super-tele to the test than on a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park!?

So, thankfully, a few days before my road trip, I received a huge 22 lb. box from Canon… woo hoo!!

Below are a few examples of photographs I made on the trip with the new lens.  All technical info is also listed below each photo.

Overall, what I noticed most was the amazing reduction in weight.  I hiked dozens of miles with this lens (along with all my other equipment), and let me tell you… it was leaps and bounds better than hiking with its predecessor.

They were able to shave off over 1.5 lbs thanks to magnesium and titanium construction elements.

canon-ef-500mm-f-4l-is-ii-usm-245-p

Photo courtesy Canon

The difference in weight was so noticeable, in fact, that it wasn’t even too difficult to hand hold.  Though I did prefer using this lens with a monopod :)

_MG_6179F

The sharpness and clarity are better than any other super tele I’ve evaluated so far.  And in my opinion, I would have found it hard to improve on the original version.  But somehow, Canon did.

_MG_8376F

Rocky Mountain Bull Elk, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/160 @ f/8, ISO 100, with Canon Extender EF 2x III

_MG_8488F

Fly Fishing Dream Lake, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/200 @ f/4, ISO 400

_MG_8568F

unidentified bird (please help if you know!), Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/200 @ f/16, ISO 250

_MG_9734F_1

Rocky Mountain Bull Elk Silhouette, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/2000 @ f/6.3, ISO 500

I wasn’t able to play around much with the 3 different IS (Image Stabilization) settings, but I have found an excellent review that will certainly fill in some of the blanks that I’ve missed, from the good folks at the-digital-picture.com.

They also have a very helpful side-by-side review function that I have included, if you like looking at specs… Canon 500 f/4L vs. Canon 500 f/4L II

_MG_8202F

Cow Moose, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/200 @ f/8, ISO 800, with Canon Extender EF 2x III

_MG_8216F

Moose Calf, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/200 @ f/8, ISO 800, with Canon Extender EF 2x III

_MG_8248F

Cow Moose with Calf, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/125 @ f/8, ISO 800, with Canon Extender EF 2x III

_MG_8304F

Sparring Marmots, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/640 @ f/4, ISO 640

_MG_8268F

Rocky Mountain Bull Elk, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/40 @ f/4, ISO 3200

_MG_8578F

White-Tailed Doe Deer, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/200 @ f/4, ISO 400

_MG_8676F

Mountain Bluebird Pouncing, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/500 @ f/8, ISO 200, with Canon Extender EF 2x III

_MG_8686F

Mountain Bluebird Flight, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/500 @ f/8, ISO 200, with Canon Extender EF 2x III

This new version also significantly reduces the minimum focusing distance, thereby making it way less difficult to shoot wildflowers while on the trail.

_MG_9485F_1

Dual Columbines, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/200 @ f/4, ISO 400

_MG_9477F

White Tailed Ptarmigan, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/200 @ f/4, ISO 400

_MG_9518F_1

Bighorn Ram, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/1600 @ f/8, ISO 400, with Canon Extender EF 2x III

_MG_9520F_1

Three Bighorn Rams In A Row, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/400 @ f/8, ISO 400, with Canon Extender EF 2x III

_MG_9576F_1

Cow Moose In A Creek, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/100 @ f/8, ISO 800, with Canon Extender EF 2x III

_MG_9776F

American Robin, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/800 @ f/4, ISO 500

_MG_9792F

Alpine Wildflowers, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon 5D MKII, 1/640 @ f/4, ISO 500

I was really happy with the overall construction and performance of this lens.  It held up against foul weather… when hiking, I was rained on several times, and I truly didn’t worry about the moisture affecting this lens.  The image quality is outstanding, even with the Extender EF 2x III.  The weight and size are more manageable than other huge lenses.

And though my biggest complaint (always) with super telephoto lenses is that the AF is slow and difficult, the 500 f/4L II performed far better than any other lens of this magnitude.

There are only 2 real downsides to this lens, and for someone like me, who hikes a lot, the first is its sheer size and (though much lighter) weight.  But considering any alternative of which I’m aware, the 500 f/4L II is the best option.  The second con is the expense.  At just over $10k, it is not an easy purchase to make.  Unless your primary source of income is shooting wildlife or sports, it is not necessary… it’s a luxury.  I will admit, I’m not a lavish living or spending kind of man… but I sincerely want this lens :)

andrew

all content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

Standard
advanced, art, beginner, city, equipment review, film, film making, intermediate, landscape, photography, travel, workshop

canon 17-40 f/4L // review

Okay, so I’m going to embark on a journey through territory that is quite new to this blog… reviewing gear.

I’ve been asked by a few folks to give my thoughts on new and old equipment I’m currently working with, so what better opportunity than the recent purchase of a new lens?

I was giddy as a schoolgirl when UPS knocked on my door last week.  It has been a while since I’ve needed to order a new lens.  And I really toiled over this purchse.  Nowadays more than ever before, I wanted to make sure I was really getting the most “bang for my buck”.  I did my research, and I pulled the trigger.  And so the moment of truth; a knock on the door and a shiny new black, white, and red Canon box.

ef17-40

 

Photo courtesy Canon

The toil I went through was over whether I should purchase the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L (US $1699) or the 17-40mm f/4L (US $839).  Both are “L series”, Canon’s best glass, and as a professional I generally don’t buy anything less.  As the saying goes, “you’re only as good as the glass you use.”

So I really had a decision to make.

For me, this lens will fill a big gap in my repertoire of focal lengths.  And as more and more of my business is landscape/ cityscape/ architecture, I am in desperate need of a quality super-wide zoom.

Now, just by the nature of super-wides (and zooms for that matter), some sharpness is sacrificed on the edges for the sake of versatility.  If you need tack-sharp, you need a standard prime.  Wide focal lengths will also cause some distortion on the edges… nothing that can’t be easily corrected in post.  Already knowing these drawbacks, I began to research.

Aside from the obvious difference in focal length, the 16-35 is a full stop faster.  But do I need that full stop?  I decided no for the majority of its use.  I would primarily use it as a landscape lens… so shooting outdoors, it’s nearly inconceivable I would need (or want) f/2.8.  And the second most useful application for me is interior architecture.  But again, I typically light the spaces and rarely shoot wider than f/8.  Okay, so is there a sharpness difference between the two?  Well, without having both lenses in front of me to do my own tests, I had to rely on the careful data of others.  I found a fantastic technical analysis of this very comparison on Luminous Landscape.

The information provided by the good people over there really helped me solidify my choice to go with the 17-40.  With no major differences in sharpness, the fact that the filter ring is the popular 77mm (and I have three other 77mm L series lenses, so I was relieved to know that I wouldn’t have to buy all new filters for the newer 82mm on the 16-35), and not to mention the fact that the 17 is half the cost of the 16, I felt good about the choice I made.

Now the moment of truth… would I find a new, helpful tool in the 17, or would I be disappointed with its results?

Well, here’s the very first project I shot with it here in Dallas at White Rock Lake.  And I was VERY happy with the versatility and clarity from my new Canon 17-40mm…

_MG_9445F

White Rock Lake Wildflowers, Canon 17-40mm f/4L, Canon 5D MKII, 1/60 sec. @ f/22, ISO 400, Singh-Ray 4×6″ Galen Rowell 2 stop Soft-Step Neutral Density filter with Cokin Z-Pro filter holder

_MG_9475F

White Rock Lake Landscape, Canon 17-40mm f/4L, Canon 5D MKII, 1/400 sec. @ f/10, ISO 400, Singh-Ray 4×6″ Galen Rowell 2 stop Soft-Step Neutral Density filter with Cokin Z-Pro filter holder

_MG_9478F

White Rock Lake Lone Tree, Canon 17-40mm f/4L, Canon 5D MKII, 1/640 sec. @ f/10, ISO 400

_MG_1383F

White Rock Lake, Canon 17-40mm f/4L, Canon 5D MKII, 1.6 sec. @ f/22, ISO 50, Circular Polarizer with Singh-Ray 4×6″ Galen Rowell 3 stop Soft-Step Neutral Density filter handheld

_MG_1413F

White Rock Lake Dusk, Canon 17-40mm f/4L, Canon 5D MKII, 1.6 sec. @ f/22, ISO 50, Singh-Ray 4×6″ Galen Rowell 2 & 3 stop Soft-Step Neutral Density filters with Cokin Z-Pro filter holder

_MG_1452F

White Rock Lake Sunset, Canon 17-40mm f/4L, Canon 5D MKII, 0.3 sec. @ f/22, ISO 50, Singh-Ray 4×6″ Galen Rowell 2 stop Soft-Step Neutral Density filter with Cokin Z-Pro filter holder

_MG_1755F

White Rock Lake at Dusk, Canon 17-40mm f/4L, Canon 5D MKII, 3.2 sec. @ f/22, ISO 50, Circular Polarizer with Singh-Ray 4×6″ Galen Rowell 2 stop Soft-Step Neutral Density filter handheld

White Rock Lake Sunset Time Lapse, Canon 17-40mm f/4L, Canon 5D MKII, 0.3 sec. @ f/22, ISO 50, Singh-Ray 4×6″ Galen Rowell 2 stop Soft-Step Neutral Density filter with Cokin Z-Pro filter holder

White Rock Lake Time Lapse, Canon 17-40mm f/4L, Canon 5D MKII, 1/25 sec. @ f/22, ISO 50, Singh-Ray 4×6″ Galen Rowell 2 stop Soft-Step Neutral Density filter with Cokin Z-Pro filter holder

Note:  If using the Cokin Z-Pro filter holder, you can expect the edges of the filter to creep into your shot at focal lengths below 20mm.  It’s kind of frustrating.  But it’s not the lens’s fault…

Overall, the Canon 17-40mm f/4L is fantastic.  Like I said, it’s versatile, sharp, fast (enough), light weight, and durable.  I can already see it being an incredibly useful lens in my arsenal.

Please stay tuned… I’ll be reviewing more equipment soon!  And please feel free to share your comments/ questions below!

all content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

Standard