Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pennsylvania Elk Rut Now Underway-Canon 70D Update

Each year thousands of people descend on the village of Benezette and Winslow Hill to experience the sights and sounds of the elk rut and I joined the throng this week. 

The first stirrings of the pre-rut begin once the bulls shed the velvet in August.  The actual rut begins in late August to early September and by the middle of the month it becomes the full-blown rut.  Below are some photos taken at the Porcupine Run-Winslow Hill viewing area yesterday afternoon and evening.  I still usually refer to this as the Gilbert Viewing Area or the Gilbert Farm, but I can understand the other name as the Gilbert is only a portion of the total overall viewing area.  Just before the photos below were taken there was a dominance fight  between two bulls.  I have no still photos as I devoted my attention to filming the fight.  I stopped the camera briefly a few times to change settings and ended up with 7 minutes and 34 seconds of recording.  The fight lasted a minute or so longer than that and it would be longer still if one counts the bulls behavior immediately after the encounter. We were surprised that the action began as early as it did, as it was very warm with bright sunshine. I have not downloaded the video files yet and cannot tell exactly what time the fight occurred, but my best guess would be shortly after 3:00 p.m. We spent some time watching the herd from that vantage point after the fight was over before moving to a different location that gave a closer perspective on the herd. It was 4:31 and later when I took the photos below.

Herd at Gilbert Farm: Canon 70D-Canon 24-105mm@55mm-ISO 100-1/200 Sec. f 8

Bull Herding Cows: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 300mm f2.8 IS+ 2x Extender II-ISO 100-1/500 Sec. f 7.1

Bull Herding Cows: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 300mm f2.8 IS+ 2x Extender II-ISO 100-1/500 Sec. f 7.1

Calf Panting: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 300mm f2.8 IS+ 1.4x Extender II-ISO 100-1/800 Sec. f  5.0
I took a photo of the entire herd from the original vantage point just before leaving to check out another area.

Herd at Gilbert: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS II.4x Extender II-ISO 100-1/250 Sec. f  8.0
In closing I must say that the Canon 70D is working out even better than expected.  Although most of the above photos were taken with the 5D MK III, I find that I am using the 70D for most of my still photography. Since I mostly shoot video I prefer it to the 5D MK III for that purpose because of its' long range video ability and auto-focus in video model.  The clincher is that I am able to shift between long range video and stills without having to change the camera body.

There is no doubt the 5D MK III is better in very low light, but the 70D is very good and seems to be a big step above the 7D in this respect.  I still think the Panasonic GH3 takes sharper video as does the 5D MK III, but at present it seems that the ability of the 70D to handle my Canon L lenses, without loss of automatic lens functions, overrides the quality consideration. Perhaps I will regret it when I look at my footage on a HDTV, but I don't thinks so at this point.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.