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Archive for January, 2014

Second outing for photographing Ducks in winter.

This time it was around -22C with winds from 40 to 60 Km/h, so the temperature with the windchill factor was around -32C. First thing, if you want to keep shooting and be comfortable enough to concentrate on your photography and not on your cold feet and fingers you need to dress for the conditions. So i was well dressed so i was able to stay out and shooting without any problems.

My goal was to show how hard it is for the Ducks to survive during winter, most of the Ducks were trying to keep their body heat by sleeping on the ice on the shore of the river. I’m always impressed that those Ducks stay here all winter in those conditions when they can flew south, peoples giving them food probably persuaded them to brave the long Canadian winter.

So, this time i finally concentrated my efforts on capturing the cold and foggy mood of that morning. The Ducks were covered with a thin layer of frost and some even had ice on their back.

A Male Mallard Duck on the ice, i wanted to show him in it’s habitat and included the frozen waterfall in the background.

Canon T3i with 70-200mm/4 L, tripod.

Bath time, a Black Duck covered with ice on it’s back, the sun hitting the fog added to the atmosphere. I let the Duck go darker in PP to keep the silouhette effect.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.

Male and Female Mallard Duck in the river, in PP i kept some of the blue cast in the snow to convey the coldness of the morning.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.

Stop it, your feathers are beautiful now !

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.

Frosted Ducks.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, Tripod.

When i was walking down the trail to the river in the morning i found feathers on the ground and the remaining of 2 wings, i decided to wait and go for the Ducks first and get back to photograph the feathers later. So when i finished photographing the Ducks i walked back to my truck and was looking for interesting feathers to photograph when i felt that something was looking at me. Looked up and saw a Hawk on a branch, pretty sure that it was a Cooper’s Hawk, he found a very reliable source of food for the winter !

I probably interrupted it’s hunting session. I have to admit that it’s not a very good shot but  i managed to grab some quick photos between the branches before he flew away, missed the focus on the eye and cut the tip of it’s tail.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.

After 2 hours the sun was too high in the sky and the contrast was too much to make interesting photos, so i decided to end my photo session there. I wanted to take photos with my WA lens but it didn’t happened that time, maybe next week-end. I didn’t got “The Photo” of a frosted Duck i was looking for but i got some usable shots anyway and you always learn something about your craft and especially about the birds. By going often i will learn the habit of those Ducks and will eventually get better photos from that place.


Weekly photo, 26 January 2014

Another cold week, but it makes for good opportunities for photos. You just have to dress well and be ready to endure some cold and be ready to shoot. That morning when i took that photo it was -30C and the Old Canal was all frosted …. like i was hoping for.

Pentax K-01 with DA 20-40mm Limited, tripod.

Mallard Ducks in winter.

Went to a river that don’t froze during winter and  where Mallard Ducks stay all winter because peoples give them foods. They are easier to get close to photograph and the setting can be beautiful when there is fresh snow on the ground. There was around 30 of them last week-end when i went with my family, my 2 young girls love to observe the Ducks.

It was quite warm for a winter day, around -4C, it was cloudy with some periods of falling snow.  Since Ducks are easy to get close i was shooting with 2 cameras (Canon 7D and T3i), with my 400mm/5.6L and 70-200mm/4 L (with and without my TC 1.4X II attached). It was a good combination, i was able to switch rapidly between my 2 kit depending on the situation and distance of my subject.

Here is one of a female in the river.

T3i, 70-200mm/4L at 200mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

Male taking a break in the river.

T3i, 400mm/5.6L, ISO 800, 1/320 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

The Vacuum Duck.

T3i, 70-200mm/4L, at 163mm, ISO 800, 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

Another female Mallard Duck.

T3i, 70-200mm/4L, at 159mm, ISO 800, 1/800 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

7D, 400mm/5.6L, ISO 640, 1/400 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

I was there only 1 hour, my kids wanted to go back home, but this week-end i will go again on Sunday. The temperature will be around -20C in the morning so it will be good for photography, the Ducks will have frost on their feathers ! The 400mm was often too strong and the Ducks looked too tightly squeezed in the frame, will probably use more my 70-200mm this time, might even try to get a shot with my WA lens.

Weekly photo, 19 January 2014

This week i took mostly shots of leaves caught in ice on a Lake near my work, it’s not always easy to find the best subject, but you know when you find the right one !

Pentax K-01 with DFA 100mm Macro WR, Tripod, RAW.

PENTAX DA 20-40mm F2.8-4 ED Limited DC WR review.

Pentax DA Limited series are special lenses, especially the focal lengths and their maximum aperture opening, but they are also small and full metal lenses (even the front lens cap) like the old days !!! They are not for every one, if you need a fast lens you will have to look elsewhere, there is already many choices in standard lenses, the Limited are about small size, craftmanship and IQ, by that i mean not only sharpness, in fact they are not always the sharpest lenses you can buy for a certain focal length but they have character. Pentax really kept the phylosophy of the DA Limited line with that zoom and as a bonus it looks sexy with that Takumar type zooming ring !

I’ve been waiting for that Limited Zoom lens since Pentax put it on their roadmap some years ago, it’s finally here and as a bonus it now have the benefits of the new HD coating, WR and the newer DC motor. The lens also incorporates an ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass and a super-low-dispersion glass element.  So as soon as i could Pre-order one i did it and waited anxiously for it to be delivered at my door 🙂

For me, the “slow” maximum aperture is not important since i wanted it for it’s small size and because i will use it mostly stopped down for landscape. It fits in my goal of building a smaller kit for travelling or when i don’t want to carry a heavy camera bag. It will replace my FA20mm/2.8 (255 gr.)  and DA 35mm Macro Ltd (215 gr.), less space and weight but with the versatility of a zoom lens. It will do a great combo of Weather resistant lenses with my DFA 100mm Macro WR and DA*50-135mm, with those 3 lenses i can cover most of my needs for general nature photography.

Here it is, the new kid on the block in a family portrait of my zoom lenses.  You can see the size difference here compared to the Canon 15-85mm. Canon 15-85mm/3.5-5.6, Pentax HD DA 20-40mm/2.8-4.0 WR Limited, Pentax DA*50-135mm/2.8, Canon 70-200mm/4 L

Here is the Maximum f/stop for each focal length setting on the lens:

– 20mm: f/2.8

– 25mm: f/3.5

– 30mm: f/3.5

– 35mm: f/4.0

– 40mm: f/4.0

Some might argue that this new Limited lens is not wide enough, well, there is certainly better lens for WA shooting. I already own a Canon EF-S 15-85mm/3.5-5.6 IS when i need more range in a zoom lens, but there is some tradeoff ….. size and weight ! The Canon weights 575 gr. (no hood) and takes 72mm filters, compared to the Pentax DA 20-40mm Ltd at 291 gr. with the hood and takes 55mm filters. BTW the Canon is a crop sensor lens, not a FF. They don’t fill the same niche and purpose and that’s why i own both of them.

The lens feels very good in the hand, the cold and solid feeling of metal is such a joy. The lens hood is made of metal and screws into the filter thread and as a bonus the metal lens cap fits on the lens hood which is great since your hood is always mounted on the lens and ready to shoot. The zooming ring have more resistance than i like on a lens but this is a positive thing, you will never experience zoom creep in the field, but the focusing ring is smooth.

The DA 20-40mm Ltd balances very well on my K-01, it’s like they’ve been made to work together. Both with high quality materials and fun to use in the field. With the DA 20-40mm you will have to shoot more like if you had a prime 30mm lens but with some room on both side because of the limited range, so you will need to walk more around your subject (which is not a bad idea). With my Canon 15-85mm i tend to zoom in or out unless i crank it to 15mm when i want the maximum FOV.


This Pentax lens have 9 elements in 8 groups and incorporates the new HD coating. The lens hood is small, so Pentax is really confident in their new Coating! Didn’t had a chance to really try the flare resistance of the lens but here is the only photo that somehow show how the lens performs.

No sun in the shot but we can see the highlights coming between the wooden wall, good for looking for Aberrations.

Here is a crop of the previous shot, the only part that i can see some aberrations.

Pentax K-01, at 20mm at f/8, ISO 1000, handheld with SR.


Something for the Pixel Peepers now, sharpness is not everything but it certainly is a big part of the equation especially when you pay nearly a 1000$ for a lens.  The corners at 20mm at f/2.8 are not the best but unless you need that kind of settings at 20mm there is better lenses that would fit your shooting style.  It was certainly designed for landscape photography where you need to stop down for DOF. I use it at any focal length and any aperture from f/2.8 down to f/11-16 if necessary. So apart from the corners at 20mm i have no concern about the sharpness of that lens.

Here is a 100% crop of a photo taken at 38mm at f/4, not too bad !


Every lens is a compromise, here Pentax made it smaller and lighter so they had to do some compromise. The good thing is that they did some compromise in a place easy to correct in the camera or in PP. They left some vignetting especially at 40mm where even stopped down there is still some vignetting, see below for an example.

It was raining and a thick fog was covering the landscape, a good test for the WR and SP coating !

K-01, at 40mm, ISO 100, f/10, RAW, Tripod.

This is the photo just above without any PP directly from the RAW file, you can see some vignetting, taken at f/10 at 40mm but it was easy to correct in LR.

Here is another example of the vignetting present at 40mm, this time near the minimum focusing distance of the lens. I did no PP on this one posted here, but in LR the vignetting was easy to correct.

K-01, DA 20-40mm at 40mm, f/13, tripod, RAW.


The lens by itself already have a minimum focusing distance of 28cm and gives a repro ration of 1:5. I will probably be the only one to try this, but i put my Extension tube of 25mm on my DA 20-40mm Ltd to see how it would do as a close-up/Macro lens if needed in an emergency.  I photographed the same scene with my DFA100mm Macro WR just to have a reference for IQ, i tried to keep the same composition and the same plane of focus. Like usual i used a tripod and 2 second delay in RAW with my K-01. Below are some 100% crop with no PP or sharpening, not bad at all, will have to test it in the field.

The subject, with DA 20-40mm at 40mm at f/11.

DA 20-40mm at 40mm at f/8.

DFA 100mm Macro WR at f/8.

DA 20-40mm at 40mm at f/11.

DFA 100mm Macro WR at f/11.

Some Close-up photos taken in the field, i wasn’t expecting that Limited zoom lens to be able to do that good at the minimum focuing distance even with an Extension tube it still deliver very good IQ.

Close-up taken in my garden to test it outside, at the minimum focusing distance of the lens with some cropping for composition purposes.

K-01, at 40mm, ISO 100, f/14, tripod, RAW.

It’s been raining with warm temperatures for the last 3 days now and there is water on the ice of the ponds and lakes. The following photos were taken at 40mm, the DA 20-40mm works pretty well as a “Close-up” lens. 

This one near the minimum focusing distance of the lens.

K-01, at 40mm, f/13, tripod, RAW.

K-01, at 40mm, f/13, tripod, RAW.

100% Crop of the shot above before any PP, directly from the RAW file in LR.

Some photos taken in the field.


One of my first shots in the field while it was snowing.

Pentax K-01 with DA 20-40mm Ltd, at 38mm at f/11, ISO 125 tripod, RAW.

Old Canal on a cold morning.

K-01 at 24mm at f/16, ISO 100, Tripod, RAW.

Sunrise on a Lake taken on my way to work.

K-01, at 20mm, f/13, ISO 100, Tripod, RAW, Graduated ND Filter.


For me that’s a lens that fits my kit i wanted to have for my Pentax system, will probably add a smaller and lighter WR body (K50) to complete my lightweight and WR kit along with my K-01. It’s not a lens for everybody and will never be and continue to be a “controversial” lens in discussions on Forums. Pentax lens designer had to made some compromises to come up with a small and lightweight Limited Zoom lens, they did where it didn’t affect the IQ. Vignetting (which is easily corrected in the camera or in PP) and they made it an f/2.8-4.0 lens instead of a constant f/2.8 lens, for a lens that is primarily directed to the outdoor (Landscape) photographer, those compromises are worth it to have a lighter kit, as a bonus the lens add WR, HD coating and DC motor.

It might become a legendary Pentax lens, as  the 1st Zoom lens in the Limited series, with it’s small, lightweight, all metal build, WR and very good IQ, it certainly deserve it.

Old Canal on a cold morning.

K-01, DA 20-40mm at 40mm, at f/13, ISO 100, RAW, Tripod.

Weekly photo, 12 January 2014

Yesterday was a rainy and foggy day, i went to get some meat for the dinner and decided to brought my gear just in case. Well it paid off, took the following shot of a farm that i drove everyday in front of it but never took a second look. This time it was just screaming “TAKE MY PORTRAIT”.

Pentax K-01 with DA 20-40mm Limited at 40mm, Tripod.

Update, using Canon and Pentax as a dual system.

I’ve always been a Pentax shooter for over 25 years, i like Pentax because they makes such great prime lenses and have a good choice of Weather Resistant cameras and lenses at different price levels. Last year at the same date my kit was (all Pentax lenses) :

– Pentax K20D and K-01

– DA14mm/2.8

– FA20mm/2.8

– DA35mm/2.8 Macro Limited

– DFA100mm Macro WR

– DA*50-135mm/2.8

– K200mm/2.5

– Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 EDIF

– TC 1.4X (Tamron AF and Pentax 1.4X-S)

– Extension tubes set

In 2013 i wanted to cut the number of lenses and weight in my camera bag, at the same time i decided to be a dual systems user (Pentax and Canon), Pentax for their WR, small metal lenses (DA 20-40mm Ltd and DFA 100mm Macro WR)  , Canon for their long lenses and Zoom lenses choices for wildlife.

I sold some of my Pentax lenses, even my DA35mm Macro Limited !  In December 2013 i added a Canon 70-200mm/4 L (price was too good) and a Pentax DA 20-40mm/2.8-4 Limited WR. So now i have 2 zoom lenses for each system, the Canon zooms covers more range but are heavier and not weather resistant.The Pentax zooms are both weather resistant, smaller, lighter and of high built quality. Lets not forget that ALL my lenses are stabilized with Pentax SR. Here is my complete kit for each system:


– Canon 7D and T3i

– Canon 15-85mm/3.5-5.6 IS (575 gr.) (Filter: 72mm) (great for travelling and vacation)

– Canon 70-200mm/4 L (705 gr.) (Filter: 67mm) (will be used for landscape, wildlife and Frogs)

– Canon 400mm/5.6L (1250 gr.)

– TC 1.4X II (220 gr.)

– Extension tubes set


– Pentax K20D and K-01

– Pentax DA 14mm/2.8 (420 gr.) (nothing like this lens in the Canon line-up, that wide which can focus so close)

– Pentax HD DA 20-40mm/2.8-4.0 WR Limited (283 gr.) (Filter: 55mm)

– Pentax DA*50-135mm/2.8 (685 gr.) (Filter: 67mm)

– DFA 100mm Macro WR (340 gr.) (nearly half the weight of the smallest 100mm Macro of Canon, ALL FF)

– Tc 1.4 X (Tamron AF and Pentax 1.4X-S)

– Extension tubes set

From left to right:

Canon 15-85mm/3.5-5.6 IS, Pentax HD DA 20-40mm/2.8-4.0 WR Limited, Pentax DA*50-135mm/2.8, Canon 70-200mm/4 L

As you can see, those 4 zooms are a big part of my kit now. Those 4 zooms are very good to excellent, the 15-85mm is the “weakest” one of the group but it’s still in the very good territory, it’s not perfect but if you know how to use that lens it will produce very good photos. In fact, last August during our family vacation in New Brunswick and PEI i took 90% of my photos with the 15-85mm even the photos for my Stock Photo Agency. They replaces many of my good primes i had, they certainly delivers the IQ i need.

There is more to a lens than being THE sharpest lens … versatility, weight and FUN are certainly high on the list, but you also have to consider Bokeh, contrast and distorsion. Zoom lenses tend to have more distorsion than a Prime lens, especially the WA zooms. Now my camera bag is lighter and i change lenses less often in the field, especially useful in bad weather, even more when i’m using my Pentax Weather sealed lenses.

Do i take all those lenses with me every time ….. never, but i have choices now and take the lenses i need to do the job and i know they will all deliver great photos for me. I bought the Canon 70-200mm/4 L because i already owned the TC 1.4X II and i knew that it would work well together and it’s true after using this combo i can attest it still deliver very good IQ when used properly. Next summer i will use it with that TC1.4XII and also with my Extension tubes for photographing frogs, it will be a great addition for that kind of subjects. Another plus for that lens is that it takes the same filter size as my Pentax DA*50-135mm.

Taken with my T3i and 15-85mm IS, it was really useful for taking this photo, i was able to change focal length quickly to capture the action.

Snowy Owl taken at a local Zoo (Ecomuseum of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue), my first subject with my 70-200mm/4 L with the TC 1.4X II.

I really like my Pentax DA*50-135mm/2.8, sharp and weather sealed, my favorite lens for landscape photography especially when it’s raining. I took that shot in autumn during a light rain, i didn’t protected my K20D + DA*50-135 at all, i was able to continue shooting without worrying about my gear.

Old Canal on a cold morning, i like that place when the nights are cold, in the morning everything around is frosted. My Canon 70-200mm/4 L was perfect for that shot and also for taking close-ups of the old canal.

Another one on a cold foggy morning at -23C with the Pentax DA*50-135mm, i was able to fine tune my composition with a zoom since i couldn’t get closer since i was already standing at the edge of the river.

One of the reason i switched to Canon for my wildlife photography was the choices in long lenses.The 400mm/5.6 L is also very useful when i’m photographing frogs from a distance, or i can add a TC-1.4X or Extension tubes to get closer.

Taken during a light rain, Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L protected with a rain cover.


I think that i now have 2 systems that works well together and fits my needs and shooting style, i’m satisfied with what i have and can cover all i need to shoot. The only thing i will maybe change in 2014 is trying to update my K20D to a newer Pentax camera, i dropped it 4 times up to now and i had to put duct tape on it to keep it Weather Reasistant …. a very tough camera. The 7D is very tough also, i dropped it last summer in a pond while photographing frogs with my 400mm attached and they both survived after some drying time with rice !

The Canon gear is more a working set-up while the Pentax is more based on fun and high quality built metal and WR lenses. They both can be used to produce great photos and i will continue using both unless Pentax comes up with many choices in long prime and zoom lenses that are WR. An excellent DA* 400mm/5.6 or a DA* 100-400mm would probably be enough for me to come back a full time Pentax users, especially now that the K3 is a better choice for fast action photography.

The Canon 18 Mp sensor is good but still not on the same level as the Sony 16 Mp EXMOR sensor found in many Pentax cameras and the new 24 Mp sensor in the K3 looks very good also. Canon needs to come up with a better crop sensor, maybe in the 7D MK II ?

Weekly photo, 05 January 2014

It’s been a very cold week, nights temperatures were ranging from -20C to -28C ! Good for forming ice on rivers and Waterfalls. This is a shot of an old Canal close to my home, it’s been closed to navigation for many yeasr now.

Pentax K-01 with DA 20-40mm WR Limited, tripod.