Shoe sole on the shore of a Lake.
A Beer Can in the Ice on an Old Canal.
Bottle in a river.
Some Forests are also covered with old garbages that are there since many years.
Roadkills are part of the problems we are responsible.
There is hope, Nature can take back what she lost.
I want to talk about a topic that is not often talked about in Photography forums. Peoples that or not photographers thinks that it’s easy to be a good Nature photographer, you just have to buy a good camera and then you go in the wild and you will take great Wildlife shots for sure since you have a very good camera !
I will not talk about learning the skills here like exposure, composition and knowing your gear, i will talk about how it can be tough on your body to be out in the field with a camera bag full of cameras and lenses in difficult environments and weather. If you want to be serious with your photography and come home with good shots and push yourself to get the best out of your subjects you will have to be out early and in sometimes in very bad conditions.
Eventually if your interested in photographing wildlife and especially birds you will need at least a 400mm lens, sooner or later your camera bag will get heavier and it’s your shoulders and back that will take that load. Add to this that you will be walking in rough terrain and often off beaten trails, your body will take some abuse over the years and as you get older all those years will get into you. Now we are lucky to have great camera bags and backpacks that help a lot carrying those heavy camera bags in the wild, when i started photography about 26 years ago i was using a camera bag like the journalist (a big square bag that you carry with the strap on your shoulder), not good for the shoulders and neck.
Blood sucking Mosquitoes are another thing that you have to deal with here in Canada and many other places in the world. They can drive you crazy while you’re trying to compose your shots, especially when i’m photographing frogs on the shore of a pond.
Canon 7D with EF 70-300mm IS + Extension tubes, tripod.
That Green Frog photo was taken on the shore of a little pond infested with black flies !
You will have to get wet and often shoot while getting flat on the ground on muddy terrain like when shooting along a pond. So you will get wet and cold even on not so cold days, as you get older your articulations will not like this too much.
Pentax K-01 with DFA 100mm Macro WR handheld while laying on the ground.
Cold temperatures are inevitable around here, so if you want to take great shots in winter you will have to go out in bad weather. I really like to get out early in the morning when it’s -15C or lower because you can take photographs of fog over the rivers. When shooting in winter you have to be well dressed, but your hands will get cold when handling metal tripods and lenses, i prefer to use thin gloves but there are times when manipulating the gear is easier with your bare hands. I once frozed my little fingers and they felt like i had a 100 needles planted in them for about 1 week.
When i saw that a Fox had walked on the Lake and the sun was just about to rise above the horizon, i stopped and didn’t had time to put my gloves on. It was -20C, my fingers got frozen quickly at handling the Graduated Split neutral density filter in front of the lens.
Canon T3i with EFs 15-85mm, tripod.
I may sound not too positive but it’s really like that, it’s hard sometimes, long hours waiting for wildlife on a cold day sitting in the snow but that’s what makes it so much fun. If it would be easy everyone would get great shots and there would not be so much interest in trying to get beautiful shots. Not everyone knows how much work it takes to get beautiful photos of Nature’s wonderful world, but YOU know what it takes to get them.
Often we take a shot and we walk away because we think we captured it the only way possible, but in fact we didn’t take full advantage of the situation and didn’t produced the best photo we could. This morning i finally had the occasion to photograph a scene that i was waiting to shoot, i wanted the Sumac Vinegar trees to change to their autumn colors.
I already knew i wanted to photograph them from to different point of view, i started with one of them and took some shots before the sun would hit the scene.
After that i walked to my other point of view and the sun broked through the clouds.
This last shot was taken from another point of view that i found while walking along the field. So even when you think you knew how you wanted to photograph a subject sometimes just a change of position or quality of the light and it can make a difference.
Just for comparison, here is a photo i took with a similar composition to the one just taken above but without the same light.
All the photos were taken with my Canon T3i and 15-85mm with a polarizing filter on a tripod, i took them before going to work within 15 to 20 minutes of each others. So keep your eyes and mind open when shooting in the field.
I bought that lens just before going to vacation (New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) because i wanted a Zoom lens, taking photos with a complete set of Prime lenses during family vacation is just too slow and you always change lenses and kids don’t wants to wait too long while dad is taking photos 😉
The comments below are based on that 2 weeks trip, so it’s not a long period but it was the lens i used for most of my photos and that 15-85mm was glued to my T3i. I’m not a fan of zoom lenses, so i’m critical about sharpness, habitually i found that zoom lenses are too much of a compromise in IQ but there is some very good ones out there. One of the negative point of zoom lenses is that their minimum focusing distance is not close enough when used at their shorter settings! This one focuses down to 35cm, not bad but when you’re at 15mm it’s too far, for comparison my Pentax DA14mm focuses down to 17cm !
Dickson Creek in Fundy National Park, NB.
The 15-85mm was very useful along that creek and around the waterfall.
At 15mm, ISO 100, 2 sec. at f/11,Tripod and a Polarizing filter.
The IQ of the lens never disappointed me at any settings, not always as sharp as a good prime lens of the same focal length but still very good in most situations. The versatility of that lens compensate for the little things that are not perfect like minimum focusing distance, some distorsion at 15mm and some vignetting at wider apertures especially at 15mm but easy to correct in LR.
The EF-s 15-85mm is a big and heavy lens compared to the 18-55 kit lenses but the built quality is higher and the 15 to 18mm range is very useful. I didn’t had problem with zoom creeping yet since the lens is brand new but i know from what i’ve read that it will come eventually. I really liked that lens for family vacation and will be using it for my regular photography from now on.
Some more shots taken with that lens:
Here is a shot to show the sunstar effect of that lens, i did use a Polarizing filter but the flare resistance is not bad, need more shots to have a final judgement and without any filter.
Handheld with IS activated at 15mm at f/8 at ISO 100.
The Confederation bridge, from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island in about 10 minutes.
This is a 12.9 kilometre (8 mile) long bridge, it’s the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water.
At 15mm, at f/13, ISO 100, tripod and Polarizing filter.
At 80mm, ISO 200 at f/6.3, handheld with IS.
Zoomed in at 100% to show the details, crop from above after PP and sharpening.
Baie des HA! HA!, Bic Park, Quebec
At 15mm, ISO 100 at f/11, tripod.
Corner crop of the shot above.
Acadien day on August 15, La grande Tintamare, they make as much noise as they can to commemorate that day every year, Bouctouche, NB.
15mm at f/8, ISO 200, Polarizing filter and fill-in light with the built-in flash of my T3i.
Old School in Avonlea, village of Anne of Green Gables, PEI.
19mm at f/8, ISO 400, handheld with IS.
Dickson Fall close-up, Fundy National Park, NB.
At 40mm, ISO 100 at f/14, Tripod and Polarizing filter.
Dickson Creek in Fundy National Park, NB.
At 85mm, ISO 100 at f/11, Tripod and Polarizing filter.
I’m the kind of photographer who tend to broke is photo equipment, call it bad luck or i’m goofy but it happened to me on some occasion over the last 25 years. But i outdone myself this time, i dropped my 3 months old Canon 7D and 400mm/5.6L in the water 😦
I was photographing frogs and just put my 7D with 400mm/5.6 L and with an Extension tube on my tripod, i put my camera bag on the ground and saw my kit falling in the pond , i quickly grabbed my lens by the hood but the ext. tube unlocked from the lens and my 7D did fall back in the water and was now fully vulnerable and making bubbles 😦
The first thing i did was to turn the camera OFF, remove the battery and CF card. I was about at a 10 minutes drive from my home, so i was able to put my camera and lens quickly in plastic bags with silical gel. I went to my local camera store and they said that Canon wouldn’t repair them because of the water. After that i got help from forum members (DPReview and Nature Photographer Network) that suggested rice, so i put rice also and transferred the lens and camera in separate plastic containers. I also removed the back cover on my 7D and unscrewed the lens mount on my 400mm lens to help air circulation.
I changed the rice everyday, and after over 48 hours i decided to try my 400mm lens which looked dry (no more water in the scale distance window), it didn’t get deeper than the scale distance window in the water. To my surprise the AF worked like a new lens, i tested it on a Canon XS, here is one of my first test shots:
This is a 100% crop from a shot taken in JPEG on a Canon XS.
After testing it i put it back in the container with rice to be sure that any remaining humidity would be eliminated. I didn’t touched my 7D for a full week, the top LCD was half filled with water, it took 3 days to completely dry out, even after 5 days there was still water droplets in the VF.
Well tonight i looked at my camera and the VF is now fogged, so i decided to try a battery in the camera (in fact 3) ….. well nothing happened. I declare my 7D officially dead 😦
I’m now waiting news from my insurance tomorrow, after that even if they don’t pay i will have to buy another 7D. At least i saved my lens, the camera took too much water to survive.
Hope that my post will help others save their equipment if it ever happens.
I found some tips here a couple of days later:
My favorite pond for photographing Green Frogs is in fact an old part of an ATV trail that is now filled with water. The pond is not wide so it’s easy to take photos of any Frog in the water or on the shore . When i can i stop at the pond before going to work, i don’t always take photos or came home with a good shot but the more i go the more i have chances to get a good shot. This is a big advantage to have a place like this that you can go often and try new technic are POF, if it doesn’t work the first time you can easily try again and again until you get what you want.
During the last years i got different perspective of Frogs at that pond by using different lenses. I will start by a short video i made this morning of the pond and the set-up i used to get the following photo.
This is the photo of the Male Green Frog that i’m showing in the following Video. unfortunately i couldn’t get the reflection of the Frog’s eye on the water because of the reflections of the plants surrounding the frog.
Canon 7D, 400mm/5.6L, 52mm of Ext. tubes, ISO 400 at f/9, tripod, LV was used to focus precisely on the eye.
Here is the video, you will see the whole pond and the Frog that is in the photo just above:
Some more shots from that pond and i always keep an eye for insects on plants along the shore.
Canon 7D with EF 70-300mm IS at 300mm with Ext. tube, at f/11, tripod.
Pentax K-01 with DFA100mm Macro WR, ISO 800 at f/7.1, tripod.
Pentax K-01 with DFA100mm Mcro WR, ISO 500, 1/500 sec.at f/5.0, handheld with SR.
Raincover for lenses
Back in March 2013 when i bought a Canon 7D and a 400mm/5.6L i knew that this combo was not as weather sealed as my Pentax K20D and DA*50-135mm and i didn’t want to use plastic bags like i did with my Pentax-67 M*400mm/4. So i looked on the Net to find a Raincover that would fit my new kit, i finally found a rain cover sold by Rainydays2008 for 20$ (Canadian) for the Canon 400mm/5.6L (they sell raincovers for different lenses). At that price it was not a big risk, it’s been a good investment for protecting my gear from the rain.
You can see in the photos above that the raincover is kept in place on the lens hood with a rubber band and it also have a small ruberized band inside to keep it from sliding on the lens hood. On the second shot above it shows that you have enough space to put your hands under it and use your gear without any problem.
Even if it’s for a Canon 400mm/5.6L it would certainly work for other lenses and camera combo, the 400mm/5.6L has a 72mm filter size and i can use Extension tubes with or without my TC-1.4X II. It would certainly fit on a Canon 300mm/4L with different cameras but also for Pentax lenses like the FA*400mm/5.6, F*/FA* 300mm/4.5 or even Sigma 400mm/5.6 and 300mm/4 APO Macro.
Waterproof card case
My camera bag was becoming full of SD and CF cards all piled in a pocket in Ziplock bags and it was not easy to find the one i wanted for a specific camera, so i bought a Gepe card safe Extreme case, which is waterproof and crush proof. Up to now i like it and will probably buy another one.
The advantage of that case is that you can put 4 SD cards and also 4 CF cards above them as seen above. Also when it’s closed you can see through so you can quickly know which cards are in the case.
In the field
I tested in several occasions the Raincover and the Card case and both performed very well. Last week i was able to photograph Frogs and a Great Blue Heron for over 3 hours in the rain with periods of heavier rain fall and i had no problem at all, my camera and lens stayed dry and i kept the Card case in one of my rain suit pocket.
Here are some shots i took during that morning.
Bullfrog with decorations !
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L with TC 1.4X II and an Ext. tube, tripod, remote release.
Great Blue Heron stretching, i stayed with him for over 2 hours sitting at the edge of the pond, patience even in bad weather is sometimes rewarded !
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.
Yesterday i tried my NEX-3 with my 18-55 kit lens with my underwater case for photographing frogs. Well this morning i switched to my Sigma 19mm because it can focus closer than the Sony kit lens. It was a good decision, i got better shots because i could get closer to the frogs, 5 cm closer makes a big difference at 19mm !
All photos were taken at ISO 400 and f/5.6.
I like that one because we can clearly see it’s legs and body that are under the surface!
This one was cropped on top and right side for composition purposes.
This morning it was sunny and i had difficulties seeing the LCD, too much reflections on the case.
During the winter i bought a MEIKON underwater casing for my NEX-3 and 18-55 kit lens. My goal was to made different photos than the usual view of frogs. I wasn’t sure if i would be able to view the LCD of my NEX-3 clear enough to be able to compose correctly$. Finally after that 1st try i’m really pleased with the set-up!
Here is my NEX-3 in the underwater casing.
The controls are relatively easy to operate, didn’t had any real problem using all the controls on my NEX-3. You can only use AF since you don’t have access to the focusing ring. Now i need to practice to get better at composition with part of the frog underwater, there is a lot of branches underwater that prevents from a clear view of the frog’s body parts that are underwater. The 18-55mm kit lens was set at 19mm and it can focus down to 0.25 Meter, not close enough. Tomorrow i will try my Sigma 19mm which can focus down to 0.20 Meter, i will loose OSS but i will gain sharpness and i can go to f/2.8 is necessary.
Well here is my first shot.
I cropped the right side and some of the bottom part of this shot, the 18-55 don’t focus close enough and i can only set it from about 18mm up to 19mm within the casing.
Stay tuned, i will try again tomorrow morning, practice will make me better at this!
This morning i visited a pond where i’ve never been for photographing frogs, i hoped to find at least 2 or 3 species. After that first outing i can say that there is at least the following species: Leopard frog, Green frog, Spring peeper frog and Bullfrog.
Here is a video of the pond (sorry for the bad quality, i’m a photographer not a videast !)
I took some shots but the light was becoming harsh, i will go again earlier in the morning or on a cloudy day. I think i will like that pond, with old tree trunks in the water with vegetation growing on them will make great shots if i can find frogs resting there.
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L and 65mm of Extension tubes, tripod and remote release.
I think this one is a Green frog.
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L and 65mm of Extension tubes, tripod and remote release.
Leopard frog, not the best shot but i wanted to show that there is also Leopard frog in that pond.
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L and 65mm of Extension tubes, tripod and remote release.
Canada Goose, there is also many bird species that live there.
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.
I can’t wait to go back at that beautiful pond !
My favorite pond for photographing Gray Tree Frogs and Spring Peeper Frogs is a Beaver’s pond, but sadly 2 years ago the beavers were killed by humans. Since there was no more beavers for the last 2 years the water level of the pond was very low and last year it was completely dried out by mid summer and a lot of tadpoles died before having time to complete their metamorphosis. So last year was not a good year for the frogs and for my frog photography sessions, it didn’t last long.
One of the 3 beavers that i’ve seen this spring, a blurred vision in low light. I panned with my camera as the beaver was swimming close to me.
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, ISO 800, 1/25 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.
I had a surprise last week-end when i went to see if i could find some frogs and saw 3 beavers and a big pond full of water, and to top this i heard some frogs singing even in the cold morning (it even snowed later in the day). I was more than happy for the little frogs, hope that the beavers will not get kill this year.
Here is a video i made last summer (2012) of that pond, where i walk to take that video this year with the water level i would be walking in waist level water . You can see the result of a very dry year and no beavers present to maintain the water level.
Beaver’s pond are important for frogs and insects, it’s a great place for reproduction and make that place home. If everything goes well it should be a great year for frog reproduction, especially for the Spring peeper and Gray tree frog because at the edge of the pond there is a lot of vegetation and small trees to hide in. At that pond in past years i also saw Leopard frogs, Green frogs and American Toads.
Leopard Frog on moss on the shore of the pond.
Pentax K-01, Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR, handheld.
Young Gray Tree frog in a tree along the shore of the pond.
Pentax K-01, Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR with TC 1.4X, tripod.
Damselfly are another resident of beaver’s pond.
Pentax K-01, Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR with TC 1.4X, tripod.
I’m looking forward to see how the season will go, hope to make some good frog shots and now of beavers also !
Canada Geese are coming back to Canada and they are flying everywhere this week, i even saw Snow Geese. So i went to the shore of the St-Lawrence river near my home where i knew i would find Geese, each autumn and spring there is a lot of them there. I positioned myself on a hill and the Geese were taking off and flying at different distances, some too close to fit in my viewfinder with my 400mm lens.
I was able to test and feel the 7D and 400mm/5.6L combo and see how the AF would perform handheld for BIF.
ISO 500, 1/1250 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.
For all the photos i did use the AF point expansion (manual selection) and AI servo, i uses the AV mode for exposure. For a first try it was good, will need more practice as i need to be smoother while panning to follow the birds. The AF worked well but at the beginning the light level was lower and my shutter speed was not fast enough, it was below 1/800 sec. When the sun came out my shutter speed was higher and my keepers were better. I really like the Joystick to select the AF points, it`s fast and easy to find with your thumb while keeping your eye glued to the viewfinder.
The biggest challenge was to expose the Geese correctly, they have black, white and brown feathers and the sky was partly cloudy so the backgroung was always different , ranging from darker blue to white. The bird were also flying at different distances and occupied more or less space in my viewfinder which affected the exposure, so i had to costantly correct the exposure compensation.
All photos were taken in RAW and cropped for composition purposes.
ISO 500, 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.
I waited until some Geese were flying in front of the moon, i would have liked the moon to be more evident.
ISO 500, 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.
Not their best profie !
ISO 640, 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.
Taking off over the ice.
ISO 640, 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.
I’m not a big fan of Zoom lenses, i prefer prime lenses, so imagine shooting with a kit zoom lens for serious photography !!! I did use the Canon 18-55mm IS kit lens on my Canon XS for family photos but never for serious photography. Not long ago i bought a 7D and 400mm/5.6 L for my wildlife photos and also a set of Extension tubes. I like to try my lenses with Extension tubes to see how they performs, sometimes they are good but sometimes not so good.
So lets start with regualr distance shots without Ext. tubes, i took some photos with my 7D to see if that little lens can stand the 18Mp sensor ?
All shots taken in RAW and processed in LR and PS.
Here is a shot of my 2 young girls:
Taken with 7D and 18-55mm IS, handheld with IS activated.
Set at 32mm, 1/30 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 500, handheld with IS.
Here is a crop from the shot above, i zoomed-in to 100% in PS. From the TIFF files with no PP and sharpening, just resized and saved as JPEG.
Some tests with Extension tubes.
7D with 18-55mm IS with 34mm of Ext. tubes on tripod.
Set at 37mm, 1/80 sec. at f/8.0, ISO 200, tripod.
Some photos taken inside my house, sorry for the boring subjects!
7D with 18-55mm set at 44mm with 13mm Ext. tube, ISO 400, 1/200 sec. at f/8, handheld.
Zoomed at 100% and cropped in PS with no sharpening.
Same cropping but with PP and sharpening set at 90 % and radius at 1.0.
Close-up of my SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f4.0.
At 45mm with 13mm Ext. tube, ISO 125, at f11, tripod.
Zoomed at 100 % with PP and same sharpening as above.
At 24mm with 13mm Ext. tube, ISO 125, at f11, tripod, same crop with same PP.
Well at normal distances that lens is sharper than i was expecting and certainly can be use for serious work if needed especially from about 20mm to 45mm where i found it to be at it`s best on my sample. Also it`s not too bad for close-up work, sure not as good as a real Macro lens but can be useful to shoot close-up at 24mm.
I’ve been a Pentax user for the last 25 years and really like their cameras and lenses, but currently there isn’t a 400mm lens that is available with fast AF and also there is no autofocus TC-1.4X available . After some long thinking i finally decided to sold my Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 EDIF, which is a great lens but it’s a fully manual lens and quite heavy at around 3700 gr. I wanted a lighter lens with fast AF and a TC-1.4X, so i choosed the Canon 7D and the 400mm/5.6 L, the Canon 400mm/5.6 L is only 1250 gr, so it is 3 times lighter than my Pentax 400mm lens was.
I went to the Ecomuseum of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue (on the western side of Montreal), it’s like a Zoo but the animals are either injured or born in captivity so they can’t be released in the wild, they use them for education. I like that place to test a new camera, lens or TC that i will use for wildlife. I tried different ISO settings and aso the TC-1.4X II, wanted to know if my kit had BF or FF problems.
Good news, looks like my combo don’t need any AF adjustment. The 2nd photo is a crop of the 1st one.
ISO 500, 1/800 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.
Testing the TC 1.4X II, taken W/O at f/5.6, sharpness is still very good !
ISO 800, 1/320 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.
It’s little cousin had something to say.
ISO 640, 1/500 sec. at f/10, tripod.
Miam ! Miam !
ISO 500, 1/1250 sec. at f/6.3, tripod.
Close-up of the Wolf.
ISO 320, 1/1000 sec. at f/6.3, tripod.
Ducks on Ice.
ISO 500, 1/500 sec. at f/6.3, tripod.
Sleeping time for the River Otter.
ISO 640, 1/320 sec. at f/11, tripod.
– The AF is fast and accurate, no needs to adjust it.
– IQ of the 400mm/5.6 L is at least as good as my Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 EDIF.
– ISO performance is about the same as my K20D, need more experience with the 7D to draw more definitive conclusions.
– The IQ with the TC-1.4X II is very good even W/O.
– I will need some times to get faster using the 7D, but it’s easier than i thought it would be considering the differnt disposition of the buttons and menu with a Pentax DSLR.
– I like the silent mode and 8 Fps.
– I prefer the pad on the Pentax DSLR, with the 7D you have to turn the pad (like my NEX-3), i guess i will get use to it.
– The weather sealing is not as good as with Pentax but i ordered a waterproof sleeve for my kit.
– The lens release button should be on the other side of the lens mount, it doesn’t feel right on the left side ?!?!
I think i will like that combo for wildlife photography, needs some times to really get fast and efficient with it but i’m already pleased with it.
Omega Park is like a zoo but the difference is that most animals are free and you drive your car on a dirt road to see Elk, Deers and other wildlife. Bears, Wolf and Coyote are in big enclosures which is normal with all those Deers and Elk !
You don’t always have a great angle to shoot since you can’t get out of your car, so you have to hanhold your camera and shoot from the inside of your car. I like to go in different seasons since there is something new to shoot everytime. The following photos were shot this winter in March. I used my DA*50-135 and Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6 for most of the shots but i also used my NEX-3 with the 18-55 kit lens for those close encounters.
Here is a snapshot of how it looks while you drive in the Park, they are all waiting for you to have Carrots.
Sony NEX-3 with 18-55 kit lens.
Arctic Wolf in it’s enclosure.
Pentax K20D with Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6
Pentax K20D with Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6
Red Deer close-up.
Pentax K20D with Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6
White-Tail Deer waiting for carrots !
Sony NEX-3 with 18-55 kit lens.
Wild Boar along the road, they are frequent and funny to observe.
Sony NEX-3 with 18-55 kit lens.
Pentax K20D with DA*50-135.
Pentax K20D with DA*50-135.
“The Brick” is the nickname of the Pentax K-01 in reviews and on Forums, yes it looks like that but it’s the best looking brick i’ve ever seen! I’ve been using my K-01 for 1 year now and i wanted to talk how it performed in the field and if it was a good move to buy it immediately when it was available ?
FUN …….. that would be enough to describe the Pentax K-01!
If you read posts about that camera on Forums you will see that it’s the word that is used the most often to describe the experience to shoot with the K-01. It reminds me when i bought my 1st 35mm SLR, a Pentax K1000, same colors with big wheels and the minimum numbers of buttons on the camera. Sure the K-01 is not for fast action shooting when used in RAW format, just like the K1000 was not one either.
Does that means that the K-01 is a perfect camera ?
No, it’s not a camera for action photography if you shoot RAW format. This is my main complaint about the K-01, Pentax can certainly boost the speed to 3 Fps with a firmware update, but i don’t know if they will do it ? Pentax released a firmware update (version 1.02) for the K-01 and it helped the AF, it’s now faster with most lenses, certainly worth it. Would have liked to have an update for the 1 Fps drive in RAW at least up to 3 Fps. I did took wildlife photos with it when the animals were slow or not moving but i still prefer to use a DSLR for wildlife photography.
The rubber flap that covers the SD card door was a concern at first, but it proved to be durable and easy to close with some practice, will see if the rubber flap will survive many years of hard use.
I really enjoyed shooting with it in the field, i tried angles that were hard or impossible with a DSLR because you need to look in the VF. Sure you can use LV with most DSLR now, but the K-01 is more fluid and AF is accurate and faster with the new Firmware update.
This is one situation where the K-01 is king ! I was balancing on icy rocks while holding my K-01 with the DA14 just above the water’s surface. Even at an angle of about 45 degree i was able to compose my shot and the AF and SR were of great help also.
Another shot taken with the K-01 and DA14 from ground level, this Green Frog was tolerant because i was holding the camera at arm’s length which is less threatening than getting myself close with a DSLR while looking in the VF !
Here is one advantage of the “Brick” , if you use it with a small lens and without a quick release plate you can support it on nearly any side .
As you can see it can be useful, you can support it on many flat surfaces like a table, ground or any other practical places. I don’t know if it was the goal of the disigner and/or Pentax but for photographers it’s a plus. The grip is not as good as a DSLR especially with bigger lenses but up to my DFA 100 Macro WR i have no problem handholding it for shooting in different positions. When i’m shooting at ground level or taking photos of frogs in water i use my thumb to press the shutter release button.
I always prefer to use a tripod but there is situations when a tripod is not practical and the K-01 is really a great camera , for me at least, with the SR, LV and very good AF performance !
Well this was one of the main reason that i bought the K-01, because i was already using a Sony NEX-3 and liked to use the focus peaking with my od manual focus lenses. At first i didn’t found the Pentax version as good as the Sony, but with practice now i found it easier to get exact focus especially when using the loupe at 6X. In low light the Pentax K-01 focus peaking is better than the one in the Sony NEX-3, the Sony is hard to focus in low light.
I wish Pentax will come with a firmware update providing a choice of colors for the Focus peaking like the NEX cameras. In most situations i had no problem with the actual color of the focus peaking but with some subjects having a different color would have helped.
Since i live in Canada taking photos in cod temperatures, from autumn to spring, having a camera that can support very cold and humid environment is important to me.
One winter morning it was -27 C (-37 C with windchill factor) and i went to the shore of a lake and took photos for 40 minutes before i had to go to work, i wish i had more times, but a good test anyway. The K-01 never failed, just slower to refresh the LCD after a photo was taken, at the end of the session. I turned it off a couple of times to cold it down to see if it would start again, no problem. So the camera temperature was ranging from 9C for the first shot (the sunrise photo below) to -6C at the end of the session. When you use it more the camera temperature goes up again, so i think that using a MLC in LV will generate more heat than a DSLR used with it’s OVF.
On another occasion it was -18C and took photos for more than 2 hours and it never failed either even with a mist coming from the Waterfall that frosted on it. I did use it on many other occasions in temperature from -15C to -20C and the K-01 comes out with great performances every time.
Here is the photo of the sunrise taken on the morning when it was -27 C.
With Telephoto lenses.
With long telephoto lenses from 300mm and up a MLC like the K-01 or other MLC with no EVF/OVF are not the best cameras to use, i still prefer a DSLR. Especially when you use a lens with a tripod collar on a tripod, the set-up is not as rigid because you don’t press your forehead on the camera because you don’t look in an EVF/OVF. You need a faster shutter speed to obtain a sharp shot. But when i use my Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6 which doesn’t have a tripod collar, it’s the K-01 that is attached to the tripod then it’s easier to get sharper shots.
The focus peaking really heps getting the focus where you want it with Telephoto enses for long distances shots.
Field on a frosty morning, this is one situation where focus peaking is helpful to get the focus where you want it with long manual focus lenses like here with my Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6.
I never regretted buying my K-01 even if i paid the full price (some peoples have to sacrifice themselves ). The K-01 is really a camera that grows on you and put the FUN back into your photography ! With it’s great IQ, SR, excellent construction which should last many years and it’s particular design, the K-01 will become a classic Pentax camera. The K-01 really shines for photographing Macro and landscape for nature photography. Other photographers might not consider you a real photogapher when they see that you’re using a K-01, if they know which camera you’re using in the first place, but when they will see the photos you have taken with the Brick they wil be surprise.
My K-01 was supposed to be a back-up camera for my K20D, but the more i used that camera the more i wanted to photograph with it. It really grows on you and finally my K20D is now my back-up camera !
My K-01 is the camera that i reach for when i want to enjoy photography, it says a lot !
We don’t know yet if Pentax will continue with a K-02, Pentax never said that they will do another K-Mount MLC like the K-01 …. so chances are thin to see a K-02.
I just wanted to share a photo i took on my way to work with my K-01 and SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm/4. It’s a good combination, focus peaking help getting critical focus. It’s always a pleasure to use those old Screwmount Takumar lenses !
So i found a leaf laying on the ice and liked the contrast and details on the leaf.
Pentax K-01, SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm/4, ISO 100 at f/16, tripod.
I was looking for a smaller lens to use when i don’t want to take my big and heavy Pentax-67 M*400mm/4. Sure, i could have bought one of the 300mm lenses available in K-mount but i was curious about that lens and how it would perform on my K20D and K-01. There is not much info or reviews on that lens, from what i’ve found it’s said to be a good lens, so i think it’s worth writing a small review on the image quality and my impressions of how it feels to use it in the field.
Lens specifications and first impressions
This lens is not marked as a “*” lens but the build quality is very good as usual with Pentax lenses. The focusing ring is large and smooth just how i like them on a lens. You can switch to AF by pushing it forward to the front of the lens and then pull it back toward the camera to switch to MF, like the FA* K-mount lenses.
– Weight: 775 gr
– 7 elements in 7 groups
– Filter size: 67mm (same as my FA20mm/2.8 and DA*50-135mm/2.8 certainly an advantage for me)
– Min. focusing distance: 2.20 Meter
– Number of aperture blades: 9 (nearly rounded)
– Range of F-stop: f/5.6 to f/45 (two position between f/5.6 and f/11, after that 1/2 f/stop between f/11 up to f/32 and full stop between f/32 and f/45).
Here is a size comparison with my Pentax DA*50-135mm/2.8:
The lens hood have a small part on the bottom that you can remove so that you can turn your polarizer filter that is attached to the lens, i like that feature (the DA*50-135 also have it). There is no tripod collar on that lens, i would have liked to have one on such a long lens but since it’s not that heavy in handles quite well.
The nights during the week were cold, between 0C to -6C, good conditions for ice formation around rivers and ponds. On that morning i tried different ISO and shutter speeds to see the effects and selected my favorite later.
K-01, 1/15 sec. at f/11, ISO 500, tripod.
What about the image quality of that lens ?
I didn’t shoot brick wall or other set-up for this lens, instead i decided to evaluate it’s IQ only from photos in the field since long lenses can be affected by the environnement like wind and haze. Keep in mind that the comments apply to the lens used on APS-C cameras and that the IQ can differ if you use that lens on a 645D.
As for sharpness i tried it at every apetures, my conclusion is that it’s good at f/5.6 and it’s at it’s best from f/6.3 to f/11. At f/16 the diffraction already shows it’s nose and from f/22 to f/45 i call it soft and unusable.
This photo was taken near the minimum focusing distance of the FA300mm/5.6. The lens was stopped down at f/8 and i found the sharpness to be very good. As usual the camera was attached to a solid tripod.
My goal when i bought that 300mm was to replace my big and heavy Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 (weighing 3700 gr.) so i could take a smaller camera bag for my photo outing when wildlife is not my primary interest. So i wanted to know how the sharpness of the FA300mm/5.6 would compare to the M*400mm/4. My guess before taking some shots was that the 400mm would be sharper at f/5.6 since it will already be stopped down 1 stop and the 300mm will be W/O. My guess was right, not a big guess since it is logical and predictable.
Most of the time i use my 400mm at f/5.6 but i also stop it 1/2 stop more when i can, so i tested both lenses stopped 1/2 stop more than f/5.6 and it’s probably at that setting that i will use the FA300mm most of the time.
OK, i said i wouldn’t take photos of brick wall …. well i cheated just a little here !
Here is a 100% crop of a photo i took in the field to see how those 2 compares, this shot was taken stopped down 1/2 stop from f/5.6. Both shots were taken with my K-01 in RAW with no PP and i did use the 2 second delay with the help of a solid tripod.
But a photo taken in RAW needs some PP so i did that in the photo below to show how the final photo would looks like.
Same shot of the FA300mm/5.6 with some PP, amount 100 and radius at 1.0. This is a 100% crop.
Now a more interesting subject, a Golden Eagle portrait taken in a Zoo and a 50% crop after PP in Photoshop.
K20D at ISO 640 lens set at f/6.3, on a tripod (no cropping).
Here is the 50% crop of the photo above.
Aberrations and flare control
Older lenses can suffer of aberrations and flare because they were not designed for digital sensors, the coating on the rear lens elements can cause reflections on the sensor. I came across some Pigeons on a roof with strong backlit around sunrise. I took some shots to see if i could produce some CA, in that shot below taken with my K-01 and the FA300 at around f/8 we can see some CA but it’s not that bad at all.
It’s a 100% crop from a shot taken at f/8.0 with no correction of the CA, not bad for an older MF lens. In most situations i couldn’t see any CA in my photos.
In most of the situation i didn’t encounter any problem with flare, but while i was taking photos of the Golden Eagle at the Zoo i did had problem with flare. I don’t know if it’s due to the lens (probably sensor flare due to the older coating) or reflections inside the K-mount adapter. My Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 also have flare problems in that kind of light, subject against a white sky are when the lens is pointing in the direction of that sky.
The flare i encountered with the P-645 FA300/5.6 on my K20D.
In the field
Even if it’s a Medium format lens it’s not heavy and handles well with my K20D and even my K-01. The biggest difference between the FA300mm/5.6 and my M*400mm/4 is that to focus from the minimum distance to infinity the FA300mm needs only 1/3 of a turn of the focusing ring where the M*400mm needs a full 360 turn! So the M*400mm is more precise and easier to obtain critical focus but with time i will get the hang of it like all my others AF lenses.
So how a lens handles in the field can have a negative effect on the sharpness also. Since this lens doesn’t come with a tripod collar it’s important to have a good technique. A tripod collar is probably not needed on a 645 camera since the lens is light enough to be supported and with the weight of the camera the handling may not be as good if a tripod collar was included.
After some practice in the field i now find it easy to use on a tripod with my K20D or K-01 and i’m getting sharp results without any problem.
Did i do the right thing when i bought that lens ?
The more i use it the more i like it and i’m getting to know how to use it to get the best out of it. I’m taking it with me everyday when i’m going to work, my kit is:
– DA35 mm Macro Ltd
– DFA100mm Macro WR
– Super Takumar 150mm
– Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6
A lot less weight than my regular camera bag and it feels so light, i think i will use that lens a lot and will take it with me for our yearly vacation instead of my Big M*400mm/4 and knowing that i will not loose any IQ! The DA*300mm/4 would certainly be sharper W/O and at f/5.6 but the price is higher also, if a 300mm would be my main long lens the DA*300 would be my choice but for more occasional use the Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6 is a great choice.
Some photos taken with that lens:
A cold morning with frost and fog makes for great photo opportunities.
K-01, FA300mm at f/11, tripod.
Snowy Owl taken in a Zoo through a fence.
K20D at f/6.3, tripod.
I’m very happy to have 3 of my photos published in Canadian Geographic’s “Best Wildlife pictures 2013” edition. Last year i had 2 of my photos in that special edition, good to have photos published in a magazine with such a good reputation!
So here is my 3 photos that they selected:
Taking photos during winter is more demanding on you and your equipment, so you have to dress for the weather to keep shooting and getting the shots in the field. Having cold fingers or cold feet is not a good idea when you’re trying to concentrate to find subjects and compose your shots. I live in Canada so the major part of the year is cool or cold, i really like to take photos in cold weather, there is so much to shoot in winter.
Over the years i did learn how to stay warm and keep my cameras working in cold climate, i will share my experiences and tips in this article.
KEEPING YOURSELF WARM
Like i said earlier, if you’re fighting to keep yourself warm in the field you will not have energy to concentrate on your photography and all you will want is getting inside to warm up your feet or fingers. Dressing in layers is the best way to go, so if the conditions or your level of activity change you can add or remove layers. I prefer to use the warmest boots i can, currently i’m using rubber boots with a liner inside (they are rated for -74C) so i can get in the water if i want and still have warm feet.
Hands are more problematic because you want to keep them warm but still be able to use your camera without too much trouble. Instead of trying to explain all the gloves and mitts that i use i decided to made a video, other photographers certainly use different combinations depending on their needs:
If you are staying in the same place for a long period , like in a hide, you can use chemical warmers (hot pads) in your gloves or boots, they work quite well.
KEEPING YOUR EQUIPMENT WORKING
This is an easier thing to do, the main problem with using modern cameras in cold weather is “Batteries”. Always keep spare batteries in a warm pocket inside your jacket and switch them when the one in your camera is low and repeat again when the other one is getting low.
The thing is to keep your camera cold all the time, snow will not melt on your equipment if it’s cold. For protecting my gear when freezing rain is falling i use plastic bags when i’m not using my weather sealed lenses and camera.
When you go inside a house remove all your SD cards (or CF cards) and put them in a warm pocket inside yur jacket so you will be able to work on your photos when you go inside, i put my exposed SD cards in a ziploc bag in my pocket.
Your camera(s) and lenses should be kept in your camera bag when going inside, you can even put them in plastic bags to let them warm up slowly so that condensation don’t form inside your lenses. In all those years i’ve always kept my gear in my camera bags and never had any problem with condensation.
Tripod legs can get very cold, especially aluminium ones. My previous tripod was a Manfrotto 055 and i was using foam isolation for hot water pipe, now there is a lot of choice on the market for isolation for tripod legs in different camouflage colors.
Taken in autumn, it was around – 3C that morning, not very cold but cold enough to have frost on the ground and having to use my gloves.
Pentax K-01, Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR, ISO 320, 1/50 sec. at f/7.1, tripod.
– Never blow on the front of your lens with your mouth because your breath can froze on it instantly.
– Watch those metal lenses, my old Takumar lenses are very cold in winter, especially when you screw or unscrew that metal lens hood.
– You can change your tripod’s feet with spikes for when you’re on ice.
One last thing …………… Don’t kiss your TAKUMAR lenses !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Every year i took a day off at my job so that i can go alone taking photos during a complete day, habitually during the year i only go for 2 to 3 hours sessions on the week-ends or i bring my camera with me when i’m going to work, that’s all the time i have. My favorite place is to drive the dirt road along the Rouge river in the town of Grenville-sur-la-rouge here in the Province of Quebec, Canada.
I visited that river in every seasons and the fall season is my favorite, plenty of possibilities and often there is fog in the morning. So this time it’s in autumn that i went there, i was hoping to get good shots. The Meteo was on my side, it rained the night before and there was some fog in the morning with practically no wind !
Since i was not walking much, i packed my camera bag with more equipment than if i would have needed to walk long distances in the forest. I didn’t packed my 400mm since wildlife was not my main interest even if i always see deers along the road. I wanted to concentrated on the colorful trees and the river. An important piece of equipment for fall photography, especially when everything is wet, is a polarizer filter since it helps remove reflections off the leaves and give punch to the colors.
It started quite well, at my first stop i managed to get a good shot of the river.
I liked the small tree and the trunk on the shore of the river they made for an interesting foreground.
Pentax K-01, DA*50-135 at 50mm, ISO 100, 0.4 sec. at f/11, with a polarizer, tripod.
Here is another one taken from the same place, i just walked to the right of the tree trunk that you can see on the photo above.
Pentax K-01, DA*50-135 at 50mm, ISO 100, 1 sec. at f/11, with a polarizer, tripod.
Along the road there is a smaller river that crosses the road under a bridge, i always stop and walk along it to find subjects to shoot. As usual i did get some interesting shots, even found a Green frog that was cooperative!
I did a short video to show you my set-up of how i took the next photo:
Here is the shot i got from the video, i cropped the upper part to remove distracting branches.
Pentax K-01, FA20, ISO 100, 2.5 sec. at f/11, with a polarizer, tripod.
Now, some more photos i took on this small river:
Pentax K-01, DA35 Macro Ltd, ISO 100, 4 sec. at f/13, with polarizer, tripod.
I tried different ISO to get the effect i wanted with enough DOF to keep everything sharp.
Pentax K-01, DA35 Macro Ltd, ISO 640, 0.8 sec. at f/14, with polarizer, tripod.
Pentax K-01 with DA14, ISO 160, 0.4 sec. at f/4, tripod.
Sony NEX-3 with Sigma 19mm, ISO 400, 0.5 sec. at f/11, tripod.
Found a Green frog on the shore of the river, she was kind enough to let me get close with my DA14.
Pentax K-01 with DA14, ISO 1600, 1/30 sec. at f/8, handheld with SR activated.
When it started to rain i switched to my K20D with my DA*50-135mm.
Pentax K20D with DA*50-135 at 50mm, ISO 200, 3 sec. at f/14, polarizer, tripod.
Every photo outing have an end, it was time to go back home. Here is one of the last photo i took of the river.
Pentax K-01 with DA*50-135 at 75mm, ISO 200,1/5 sec. at f/9, polarizer, tripod.
Fog can add drama and/or mystery in a shot, you have to be out early because when the sun is up the fog will evaporate quite fast and the show will end.
I’m lucky to live in the Province of Quebec in Canada where we often have cold nights that are ideal for fog formation. Here it can happen most of the year, habitually you need a warm day followed by a cold night, even in winter when there is a big drop in temperature during the night, fog will form and also frost will hang on the trees adding another beautiful touch to the landscape.
Autumn is the best season for fog photography because the days or still warm and during the nights the temperature can drop very low and you can have fog and frost in the same shot!
This shot was taken in August on a cold morning on the shore of Lake Philippe in Gatineau Park, Province of Quebec, Canada. I waited until the sun was out to see how the scene would change, sometimes you’re lucky and get a good shot.
Pentax K20D, Pentax DA*50-135mm, Tripod.
Exposition can be tricky because your meter will try to make the fog grey, so you will have to compensate for that by dialing +1 or more depending on how much fog take place in your composition.
Another situation that is hard to expose is when the fog is lit by the sun, burning highlights can be easy. The “blinkie” on your LCD can help to see how much of the scene will be overexposed, some part might be overexposed but you don’t want to have all the fog to be too overexposed.
Here is an example of the sun rising behind the fog, the sensor can’t record the dynamic range of the entire scene, so you have to let the sun overexposed which is OK since we can’t see all that scene well exposed with our own eyes anyway.
Sony NEX-3, SMC Takumar 35mm/3.5, tripod.
An interesting thing about fog is that it will take the color temperature of the available light, at sunrise it can become orange and before sunrise it’s more gray or blue.
Here is a shot i took at sunrise, you can see that the fog took the color of the light at that time of the day.
Sony NEX-3, Sony Alpha 70-300mm G series, tripod.
Composition is important, if you fill the frame with fog you will not necessarily get a good shot, you will get a white frame, you need structure and if possible a strong foreground interest. Practice is the key for photography and particularly with fog, autumn is coming so it’s time to set your alarm clock, dress warm and get out with your camera. Back home after your photo session you will be able to look at your shots on your PC with a hot chocolate or coffee.
Some more shots.
Fog and frost in a field last autumn, not thick fog but enough to give a final touch to that shot.
Pentax K20D, Pentax DA* 50-135mm, tripod.
St-Lawrence river at sunrise with fog on the horizon.
Pentax K20D, Pentax DA* 50-135mm, tripod.
Fog can give a different look to your wildlife photos, those Canada geese looks more like a painting.
Pentax K20D, Pentax-67 M* 400mm/4, tripod.
I bought a Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 (EDIF) in december 2008 because my FA*300mm/4.5 was often too short and was using it very often with a TC 1.4 X. I finally found one at a good price, but when i received it and i saw that it had fungus inside, i wanted to return it. I finally sent it for repair evaluation, the price to repair the lens was higher than what i paid for it, so i decided to use it like that and see how it would perform.
I’m happy i kept it like that, it’s a very sharp lens and the fungus doesn’t affect the IQ. It’s an heavy lens at around 8 pounds and you also need a solid tripod and tripod head, i use a Gitzo GT2330 tripod (aluminium) and a Manfrotto Proball 469RC (that head can support up to 28 pounds). I use it handheld or braced on my truck door on occasion but it’s hard to focus and stabilize the lens at the same time because of it’s weight.
It’s a very sharp lens, even at f/4 it’s useable but i prefer using it at f/5.6 unless i really need f/4 because of the light level. With the great performance of DSLR in high ISO f/4 is not needed very often. If needed i know i can use it stopped down all the way to f/11 and it’s still quite sharp, even f/16 is useable if needed.
That shot of a Coyote was taken at a local Zoo, the aperture was set to f/5.6 to blur the fence.
The Bokeh is quite good because the lens have 9 aperture blades, they are not round, but in most shots the OOF (out of focus) highlights are not distracting.
Here is a good example of the Bokeh, it was taken probably at around f/5.6-6.3.
It’s one of my favorite lens for photographing frogs since it can focus as close as 2.8 meters, so when i’m photographing frogs i can add extension tubes if i want to get closer to my subject. The focusing ring is precise, you have to turn it a full 360° to go from 2.8 meters to infinity.
There is some CA but you have to zoom in to really see it, in most shots you won’t notice it. The color of the CA is green, it is mostly visible in OOF areas especially the “beige” dead grass in autumn. In can show sensor flare (pale circle in the middle of the frame) when shooting in direction of the sun at longer distances, it doesn’t happen very often but it’s good to be aware of that.
The bad side of that lens is it’s weight (8.3 pounds), it’s the price to pay for a Pentax-67 lens with a full metal build. I wish it would be lighter since i’m not getting younger and it puts a lot of weight in my bag. Sometimes i wish that it was an AF lens, it would be helpful but i can live with it, if Pentax would came up with a DA*400mm/4 i would do the switch to have a lighter lens, AF and WR.
In conclusion it’s a great lens and i love it, sure there is better choices for wildlife photography, but until Pentax came out with a long lens in the 400mm to 600mm range and as a DA* i will continue to use that lens.
Here is a video i made about that lens and some shots as well:
Taken from my truck and braced on the door with SR activated.
Pentax K20D at f/5.6.
Just wanted to share some photos taken with the K-01 that i took lately.
Still learning that baby, the more i use it the more i like it, it really grows on you. Well, since i got it i barely used my K20D, even for wildlife shots !
Close-up of a Snapping Turtle, i was glad i still had all my fingers after that shot 😉
Taken with the Pentax DFA100mm Macro WR handheld with SR.
That morning the fog was very thick and lasted even after sunrise, the insects couldn’t fly away so i was able to take many shots.
Taken with the Pentax DFA100mm Macro WR and Pentax-A TC 1.4X-S, tripod.
Stemless Lady’s-Slipper taken in a pine forest near my home, they are so beautiful.
Taken with the Pentax DA14mm, tripod.
Taken with the DA35mm Macro Limited, handheld with SR. I wouldn’t have been able to take that shot with a DSLR because it would have been impossible to see in the VF, even with the K-01 it was hard to compose and focus. A tilting or swivel screen wouldn’t have been helpful either because the camera’s LCD was up against the steep shore of the pond.
Even if it’s have some limitation it’s certainly a camera that have it’s place in my bag, i never left home without my K-01.