Flight photography – Canon 800mm f/5.6


I had a few days off last week and had the chance to try out the new Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens with my Canon 1D Mk4.   I’ve used it already photographing around my local areas but thought I would have to put it through its paces by taking it to Slimbridge WWT in Gloucestershire for flying wildfowl and Gigrin Farm in Powys at the Red Kite feeding station.   At Gigrin, with over 300 Red Kites in the air at once, there were no end of subjects to photograph and Slimbridge was equally effective with  small  flocks of Pintail, Mallard and swans filling up the airspace.
I can honestly say it is a fantastic piece of kit that I would love to have the money so I can add it to my equipment list (any offers out there!!?).  With an aperture of f/5.6, I was surprised at how quick the autofocus was at finding subjects.  It is very responsive (probably because the subjects are so large in the frame!!) and locks the subject in focus consistently.  It is even quicker when the range distances are correctly set on the lens.  I often found when photographing subjects at different distances it took a while for the lens to track from minimum focusing distance and then to infinity, but once focused on the subject it didn’t want to let go.  With the lens itself being 4.5kg in weight, on several occasions I found myself handholding this lens without any problems.  A big plus for those situations where tripods can’t be set up quickly enough. 
With mixed weather at both Slimbridge and Gigrin, the presence of dark snow clouds mixed with sunny intervals allowed me to get some interesting photographs with atmospheric results.  I love photographing in these conditions as photographs have an extra depth and edge to them compared to the usual all blue or white overcast skies that are usually present.
Below are some of the results from my trips.  Hope you enjoy.

Mallards in snow!


After editing some images from last year I decided to give myself a break and head down to the local pond to see what I could photograph in the snow.  90% of the pool was frozen over and the other 10% was covered in roughly 150 Mallards, 1 Canada Goose, 1 captive Pintail and an assortment of feral geese type things.  After putting some grain down I concentrated on getting some pictures of the Mallards in the snow.  I quite like the Mallard flying so I will be going down there again soon when the sun comes out to play to better this picture.  There were Moorhen, Coot and a Green Woodpecker present aswell.  Here are the results: