Friday, May 30, 2014

Attention Shifts To Whiterails As Turkey Activity Dies

Mid to late May and turkeys may still be seen, but gobbling activity is really dying down.  It is still possible to hear a gobbler or see one strutting, but one is more likely to spend a morning without hearing one and when they do see a mature bird it is most likely to be feeding. 

Leaving The Meadow: Canon 7D-Canon 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM @ 118mm-ISO 400-1/200 sec. f 6.3
Mature Gobbler: Canon 7D-Canon 55-250mm f 4.5-5.6 IS STM @ 250mm -ISO 400-1/400 sec. f8.0
I normally use Canon L lenses for most of my photography, but I have used two non-L lenses quite a bit this spring.  The Canon 70D does an excellent job at shooting video, as it has superb auto-focus in video mode instead of the slow, hunting auto focus that was the norm in previous versions.  This was unusable for wildlife filming so I always filmed in manual focus mode.  The focusing problem was solved with the 70D and in fact may have been solved with the Rebel T4i or 5i, but I never tried those as they did not have the 3x crop mode.

At any rate focusing is now very acceptable with the exception that the built in microphone or a shotgun mike mounted on camera picks up the noise of the focus motor.  There are some work arounds for this including putting the mike off-camera, but the solution with the least hassle is using Canon  STM lenses which were built to give silent operation in video mode.  The downside is there are only a few models of these  lenses and they do not use premium quality glass or construction. They are available only in the EF-S mount and must  be used only on crop-sensor Canons.  I acquired used copies of the  18-135mm f 3.5-5.6 IS STM and  55-250mm 4.5-5.6  IS STM  lenses this spring from KEH in Atlanta, Georgia.

Both lenses perform very well for video and they do a decent job at still photography.  It seems that my copy of the 18-135mm is a bit better built than the 55-250mm, but I really have no complaints about either considering that the 55-250 cost less than $300.00, while the 18-135 was under $350.00.  They do not have the stinging sharpness of the L lenses for still photos and I miss the wider maximum f stop of lens like the 70-200mm f 2.8, but of course when needed one can still use the L lenses when needed in video mode and use work-arounds for the sound.  The STM lenses were instrumental in causing me to use the old 7D quite a bit more this spring for still photograhy than I usually would have,  as it was common to have whichever lens which was not on the 70D mounted on the 7D and lying close at hand.

I take few landscapes, but I used the 18-135mm for many of those that I did take. It compares  well with lenses such as the 28-135mm IS in EF mount on a full frame camera,  as with the 1.6 sensor crop factor of the 7D--70D, etc. this lens has a focal length equivalent of  about 29mm--216m.

Late Evening : Canon 7D-Canon 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM @ 18mm-ISO 400-1/125 sec-. f 8.0
My attention is shifting to the whitetail deer as turkey activity winds down,  the time for the birth of the whitetail fawns is at hand and  bucks with significant antler growth are appearing.

New Growth : Canon 7D-Canon 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM @ 135mm-ISO 400-1/200 sec-. f6.3
The one below is the largest I have seen so far this spring.  In my experience bucks in our area that are this size now usually make bucks of eight points or more by early July.  Both bucks are at least two years old. This photo below is also  the only one shown today that was taken with an L (600mm) lens and the 5D MK III.  At first glance it may not look  as good as those taken with the 7D and STM lenses, but this is a photo that could not have been taken with those lenses.  It was very early and the buck was much farther away than the one above.  In retrospect I should have started at ISO 1600 and tried a lower shutter speed, but I fired a few frames at ISO 3200 first and it had the most pleasing pose so I posted it today, but the frames taken at ISO 1600 showed less grain and better sharpness.

Mature Buck : Canon 5D MK III-Canon 600mm F4 IS L-ISO 3200-1/160 sec-. f5.0
Hopefully I will have some young fawn photos to post soon. Some fawns in this area are born as early as Mid-May, but the bulk are born during the first two weeks of June so I should be seeing them any day now.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.