Tag Archives: Bird Photography

Kranji Marshes – A Freshwater Marshland

The Kranji Marshes, Singapore’s largest freshwater marshland was recently declared opened to the public on 1st February 2016. With a size of 56.8 hectares, the Kranji Marshes is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, with more than 170 species of birds, 54 species of butterflies and 33 species of dragonflies making Kranji Marshes their home. For a small country like Singapore, we have green and nature areas, such as the newly opened Kranji Marshes, that the locals and international visitors can get away from the hectic city life to visit and enjoy the lush greenery, peace, quietness and tranquility!

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There are two areas inside the Kranji Marshes, the public area and a restricted area that is accessible through guided tours. The restricted area is the core conservation area and this would allow this ecologically sensitive site to grow back the vegetation and the wildlife to come back there.

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Map of Kranji Marshes (Source: NParks website)

I remembered walking along Neo Tiew Lane 2 a few years ago, visiting Kranji Marshes when it wasn’t developed at all, I was there to look for the Blue-Eared Kingfisher that resides in the Kranji Marshes (I did not manage to find it though). While there were some physical changes, with the addition of the raptor tower and bird hides at the public access area, most of the Kranji Marshes remained untouched and not spoilt by the structural developments to convert Kranji Marshes into a beautiful nature park, Singapore’s largest freshwater marshland.

When you are walking in from the park entrance towards the Marsh Station, the Neo Tiew Woods is on your right, keep a lookout at the tall trees and greenery and you spot some wildlife high up in the trees!

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The Kranji Marshes is a beautiful destination, lush greenery, quiet and peaceful, accompanied by the sounds of many different species of birds residing/visiting Kranji Marshes. During my recent two trips to Kranji Marshes after her official opening, I was able to spot and photograph a small number of different species of birds residing/visiting Kranji Marshes, do take a look at my Kranji Marshes (Avian) collection here on Flickr! With over 170 species of birds recorded at Kranji Marshes, I hope that I am able to photograph each different species of over 170 birds recorded at Kranji Marshes into my Flickr collection.

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The Raptor Tower is ideal to catch the sunrise across Kranji Reservoir, it also gives a bird’s eye panoramic view of the Kranji Reservoir and the Kranji Marshes. At the top of the Raptor Tower, you might be on the same eye level with the birds on the trees nearby the tower! There are two bird hides there, the Moorhen Blind and Swamphen Hide. They are great to sit down, wait, observe and look out for the different species of birds that visit the marshland.

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If you love the outdoors, nature and wildlife, Kranji Marshes is a very nice destination to visit. Bird photographers would love the Kranji Marshes, they would be able to photograph the bird species that visit/reside in Kranji Marshes. I might go back again to document/photograph more bird/wildlife species at Kranji Marshes before the end of the migratory season in March 2016.

Key Information for visitors to Kranji Marshes

Location

Kranji Gate

11 Neo Tiew Lane 2

Singapore 718814

Opening Hours

7am to 7pm daily

 Tel: 67941401
Fax: 67937271
Email: nparks_sbwr@nparks.gov.sg

More information can be found here on the NParks website.


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A Bird and Landscape Photography Exploration at Bidadari

The migratory bird season is here again in Singapore, with a number of migratory bird species spotted in various parts of Singapore in the month of October 2015. Bidadari Woodlands is a haven for migratory birds and there were a few of them making Bidadari Woodlands their home for their stay in Singapore to rest, recharge and refuel before continuing their flight down towards the Southern Hemisphere.

I haven’t visited Bidadari Woodlands for a period of time, visited once in the years 2013 and 2014, therefore, I decided to return back to Bidadari Woodlands to look for the migratory birds that were making headline news among the birding photography groups here in Singapore. Another key thing for me was to document and photograph more landscape scenes of Bidadari Woodlands with the Canon review camera, the Canon EOS 5DS DSLR.

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With the migratory bird location tips from fellow photographer David Tay, I knew where the Ruddy Kingfisher was “staying” in Bidadari Woodlands. When I reached there in the morning, there was a pretty big group of bird photographers photographing the beautiful Ruddy Kingfisher. While it was a bit crowded around the tree and shrubs, I managed to get some photographs of the Ruddy Kingfisher into my bird photography collection on Flickr, it’s another kingfisher ticked off my bird photography list! While it is not my best shot of this beautiful Ruddy Kingfisher, I hope to go back and photograph it again if I have the chance (and if they haven’t decide to fly off yet from Singapore!).

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After photographing the Ruddy Kingfisher, I decided to walk around Bidadari Woodlands, with the Canon EOS 5DS, photographing more landscape scenes of Bidadari Woodlands into my collection. While I was photographing the landscape shots, I was also on the lookout for the other birds residing/resting at Bidadari Woodlands. Sometimes, you can tell by a group of photographers together in a location waiting or photographing a bird. I was lucky that I was nearby to some smaller groups of photographers and when they spot some birds, the rest quickly move into position to photograph the birds in action. With that kind of assistance, I managed to photograph the Tiger Shrike and Brown Jungle Flycatcher!

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Personally, I was happy with my photography shoot on that morning at Bidadari Woodlands, I got a few bird photographs and the landscapes too. I hope to visit again if I have the chance. The beautiful and tranquil Bidadari Woodlands will be lost to re-development by the Government for public housing projects.

Soon, in the near future, the migratory birds have to find another location to stay in Singapore when they fly down away from the cold winter season. For us, Bidadari Woodlands will soon become another SG Memory, in our hearts, minds, eyes, archives, internet, social media and HDD.

For now, let’s continue to enjoy the greenery, tranquility and the birds residing at Bidadari Woodlands.


Created with flickr slideshow.

 


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Photography Outing to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

I had not visited Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve for many years, I wasn’t even able to recall when was the last time I visited Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Therefore, I wanted to visit Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve again for bird photography action since the bird migration season started and it would be great to visit Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

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I asked Weng Seng and Jensen, two great photography friends from our Hokkaido Photography trip in November 2014, to arrange a photography outing to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. They agreed and we fixed a Saturday morning to visit, Weng Seng invited his colleague Darren and his wife Teronne along too. Therefore, we had a pretty nice and small group for a bird photography outing at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve!

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We started there early in the morning, the weather was good and we can see the blue sky for once! It was free and easy, slow walk around the loop of the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, stopping to photograph the various species of birds that were present, feeding or resting at Sungei Buloh. It wasn’t just bird photography, we were like on a science and nature outing! In between our bird photography, we spotted other wildlife such as crabs, mudskippers, crocodile, monitor lizard and monkey!

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With my experiences in nature/wildlife photography, I was able to spot the various birds faster and I would inform my fellow photographer friends on the type of bird species and location. We would then concentrate to photograph the particular bird in action. It was definitely great to share and help fellow photographer friends while shooing together at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

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I would love to visit Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve again, probably in December and on a Saturday when there is low tide in the morning whereby I can spot the shore birds in action. A photography outing in the outdoors, away from the hustle and bustle of the city rat race. This form of photography is fun and therapeutic for my mind and soul, to rejuvenate and recharge.

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I felt great to kickstart my bird photography exploration along with the migration season. That’s something for me to look forward to, the avenue to get away from work, stress and pressure, to be in the outdoors, enjoy the greenery and fresh air!


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Bidadari Woodlands

Bidadari Woodlands, a gorgeous, tranquil and peaceful green belt in Singapore. It is a former cemetery, one of the oldest in Singapore. The last burial at Bidadari Cemetery was in 1972, in the year 1996, the government announced future redevelopment plans for Bidadari, earmarked for future housing developments. In 2002, exhumation of the graves began and Bidadari transformed into a temporary park space in 2006. The future plans for Bidadari was recently announced around August 2013 inside the Draft Master Plan 2013 and the new housing estate development plans are in place in the years to come.

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Here are some useful links and information on Bidadari

Bidadari Cemetery on Wikipedia

Draft Master Plan 2013 ~ Bidadari Estate

National Heritage Board ~ Bidadari Memorial Garden

Housing Development Board ~ Weaving Through Bidadari – A Community in a Garden

Nature Society Singapore ~ NSS’s Position on Bidadari 

Facebook Group ~ Saving Bidadari for Birds and People

I visited Bidadari Woodlands a few times, exploring, photographing the beautiful green landscapes, observing and photographing the avian community, the local and migratory birds that make Bidadari Woodlands home or transit/rest point. Bidadari Woodlands has an extensive list of birds that were spotted there. It’s a haven for bird watchers and bird photographers especially during migration season when the birds fly into Singapore’s Bidadari Woodlands and rest there for a while before continuing on their migration journey. I went to Bidadari Woodlands for bird photography exploration a few times and I hope to photograph more of the birds before the Bidadari Woodlands is changed into a new housing estate.

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Recently, I joined a group morning hike with friends to explore Bidadari Woodlands together, starting from Bartley MRT station, towards Mt Vernon and hiking across the Bidadari Woodlands towards Woodleigh MRT station. During this trek, my emphasis was on the landscape and greenery, capturing and documenting as many different landscape scenes inside Bidadari Woodlands. I am planning to go back again a few more times, for both bird photography and more landscape photography. I just want to share the beautiful and lush green nature belt known as Bidadari Woodlands. Do check out my Flickr on the photographs that I took at Bidadari Woodlands!

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There are many different areas that Bidadari encompasses, history, heritage, culture, conservation, preservation nature and wildlife for you to explore and know more about Bidadari Woodlands. Do go and explore them!


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Flight of Fancy Photography Exhibition

At Gardens By The Bay, the City in a Garden, located in the heart of the Marina Bay region, it has been gaining prominence and publicity, with many visitors, both local and international, coming down to visit Gardens By The Bay. The visitors were able o enjoy the greenery and sceneries, a park/garden to rest and relax away from the city life. Over a short period of 1 year since her official opening on 28th June 2012, Gardens By The Bay is developing into park/garden that attracts wildlife to the area. In my recent adventure to explore and photograph the birds that can be spotted at Gardens By The Bay, I was amazed of the diversity and number of bird species spotted at Gardens By The Bay! My bird photography adventure will still continue with the migration season coming soon and we can expect to spot more migration birds en-route to different continents and stopping over in Singapore at various locations.

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Have you ever wondered what kind of wildlife can be spotted at Gardens By The Bay? There is a bio-diversity of many different birds, butterflies and dragonflies that can be spotted at Gardens By The Bay! The Flight of Fancy Photography Exhibition that is currently ongoing at The Colonnade at Gardens By The Bay (where the SuperTrees Grove is located) and visitors can have a greater understanding and knowledge of the diversity of the various birds, butterflies and dragonflies that can be discovered at Gardens By The Bay that were captured by a group of nature photographers. You will be amazed by the bio-diversity present at Gardens By The Bay and if you loved bird photography or macro photography, bring your camera gear out and head towards Gardens By The Bay!

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I submitted a few bird photographs taken at Gardens By The Bay and two of my photographs were selected for the Flight of Fancy Photography Exhibition! This was indeed a great honour and achievement for my photography portfolio! My fourth time (at this point in time) that my photographs were selected for photography exhibitions and my second time (at this point in time) that I contributed to a photography exhibition at Gardens By The Bay (my first time was for Gardens By The Bay Official Opening titled “Where Wonder Blooms”). Here’s my photography collection on Gardens By The Bay and the birds at Gardens By The Bay!

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When you are visiting Gardens By The Bay, do drop by the Flight of Fancy Photography Exhibition and spot my two photographs that were showcased!

Flight of Fancy Photography Exhibition Information

Location: The Colonnade (Map Link)

Admission: Free

Dates: 1st August 2013 to 31st October 2013

Do check out Gardens By The Bay website for their Calendar of Events for more upcoming exciting activities and events!

Canon announced EF 200-400mm f4 L IS USM with 1.4X Extender

This big lens, the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM with 1.4x Extender built-in, blown me away when I first read about it on DPReview.com a few years ago. This was something that got me very excited and eagerly waiting for Canon to officially announce their arrival into the Canon EF Lenses lineup. While its arrival took a bit longer to arrive in the market, it is now officially available! This is a very versatile lens that would suit Sports and Wildlife photographers and the flexibility of the built-in 1.4x Extender makes it an even sweeter proposition. If there is another big telephoto lens that I would love to add on to my EF 300mm f/2.8 L USM lens, the EF 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM with built-in 1.4x Extender is definitely on my list.

I did have a short hands on experience with this lens when Canon Singapore had an event outside Cineleisure Singapore and they allowed the public to test and have a feel of the various Canon L telephoto primes. The EF 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM with 1.4X Extender prototype was available and I had a few minutes of zooming in and out, switching on and off the built-in 1.4x Extender and shooting away on the high fps of the Canon 1DX. During that few minutes of playing with the toys, I was very impressed and excited with this particular combination of Canon 1DX and Canon EF 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM with 1.4x Extender.

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Photo Courtesy of Canon Singapore

I would also like to share useful and interesting information that I obtained from the media releases for the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM with 1.4x Extender.

The EF200-400MM F4L IS USM Extender 1.4X incorporates a new optical design that makes use of a fluorite lens and four UD (ultra-low dispersion) lens elements which effectively corrects colour aberrations across the entire zoom range. This results in high-resolution, high-contrast images comparable to those taken by large-diameter super-telephoto prime lenses.

Better moving images

The EF200-400MM F4L IS USM Extender 1.4X features a newly-developed compact Image Stabilizer (IS) unit that was created through optimal part placement. For optimal IS performance in different situations, the EF200-400MM F4L IS USM Extender 1.4X offers three IS modes:

  • IS Mode 1 is designed to shoot still subjects, and achieves image stabilisation performance equivalent to a shutter speed approximately four stops faster[1].
  • IS Mode 2 is designed for panning shots, such as when shooting sporting action or moving vehicles. 
  • IS Mode 3 is for shooting irregularly moving subjects with unpredictable movements, which corrects against vibrations only during the exposure stage.

With movie shooting being an important part of photography, the EF200-400MM F4L IS USM Extender 1.4X has a Power Focus (PF) mode which is particularly useful for creating an attractive gradual focus shift effect during movie shooting. When PF mode is engaged, rotating the playback ring enables smooth focus shift at a consistent speed. Focus shift speed can also be switched between two speeds depending on the angle the ring is rotated to.

Information above courtesy of Canon Singapore.

Price and availability

The EF200-400MM F4L IS USM Extender 1.4X lens will be available end May at authorised Canon dealers. The recommended retail price is S$16,599.

I would really love to own this beautiful and awesome combination of the Canon EOS 1DX and Canon EF 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM with 1.4x Extender, hopefully in the future and I need to start saving lots of money!!

Beautiful Blue-Eared Kingfisher

The Blue-Eared Kingfisher, a small kingfisher just 17cm in size. It has a very beautiful deep-blue and orange plumage on the body and I always wanted to photograph this beautiful Blue-Eared Kingfisher. When I got news from Facebook Groups that the Blue-Eared Kingfisher reappeared at Hindhede Nature Park (Hindhede Quarry) part of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, I decided to go down and wait for this beautiful kingfisher to appear and photograph this special bird. My first trip was on a morning and after waiting patiently with a few other photographers, the Blue-Eared Kingfisher decided not to make an appearance. I went down again in the later afternoon/evening on another Saturday, at around 515pm. The beautiful Blue-Eared Kingfisher flew and perched gracefully for me and 2 other photographers at Hindhede Nature Park lookout point. I quickly took a few photographs of this beautiful Blue-Eared Kingfisher and I was very happy to get a nice photograph of this kingfisher.

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I would continue to explore different areas in Singapore, to photograph and document the bird species living in the different areas. This would take a certain period of time and this is where I can contribute towards bird/wildlife photography, bird census, documentation and nature conservation in my own personal capacity. While Singapore has a “concrete jungle” reputation, she is still a Garden in the City and has rich nature reserves that are home to beautiful birds like the Blue-Eared Kingfisher. There are many green outdoors areas for you to explore and I encourage you all to go and explore our nature reserves in Singapore! Do check out my Wildlife/Animal Photography collection on Flickr and Avian set on 500px!

Birding Photography Adventure @ Lorong Halus Wetland

With the introduction and testing of the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L lens, loaned to me by my boss/colleague. I slowly got myself more interested in birding/wildlife photography with my current setup suitable for both sports and wildlife photography. Birding and wildlife photography also brought me to more green spaces in Singapore that I wanted to explore again or revisiting those green nature belts/park connectors that I haven’t been to for quite a long time such as Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a destination that I have to revisit since my last trip there!

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Till date, I covered the following areas near my home for birding and wildlife photography, West Coast Park, Sungei Ulu Pandan Park Connector and Botanic Gardens. There were quite a number of different species of bird residing/visiting both areas mentioned above. My birding photography adventure was fun, quite a bit of waiting, being very observant and quiet, with some decent and nice photographs!

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One area that I was very keen to explore was the Lorong Halus Wetland, part of the National Parks Singapore North Eastern Riverine Loop, this extensive network of park connectors that I haven’t finish exploring. I heard so much about this wetland over time and keen to visit it. On a public holiday Monday morning, my boss/colleague brought me there and showed me where to drive in, where to explore and what to watch out for at Lorong Halus Wetland. The wetland was beside the Serangoon Tidal Gates (dam/barrage) that enclosed Sungei Serangoon. Leading into the sea. This is a very beautiful and tranquil location, greenery on the sides, the river and the sea.

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Since it was my maiden trip to Lorong Halus Wetlands and my emphasis was on birding photography, I didn’t take landscape/travel photos of this beautiful area. I would be planning to visit it again and share more photographs of my birding adventure and the surrounding areas. During this maiden trip to Lorong Halus Wetlands, I managed to spot and photograph the following birds

–       Blue-Tailed Bee-Eater

–       Common Kingfisher

–       Paddyfield Pipit

–       Long-Tailed Shrike

–       Raptor  (ID to be confirmed, it should be from the Buzzard family)

–       Spotted Dove

–       Baya Weaver

–       Grey Heron

There are a lot more species of birds residing and visiting at the Lorong Halus Wetlands, my hope for photographing the raptors around there didn’t materalise since they didn’t fly out to hunt for food (or they might have flew off to their home destination).

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During my short time at Lorong Halus Wetland, I learned a few tips on birding photography from my boss/colleague, an avid bird photographer and photography seniors that I usually chat with at my regular photography shop.

–       Birds are creatures of habits; they would usually be back at their favourite/usual locations.

–       Patience is a must for bird photography.

–       Explore and recce the location on where to camp/position yourself next time when you return for bird photography.

–       Always mount your lens before going in there. You might just spot some birds along the way in (if you are driving).

–       The time frame to photograph the birds is not long, probably a few hours in the early morning from 7am to 10am or late afternoon around 4-6pm (when the weather is not too hot).

–       Don’t make too much noise and talk too loudly, our voices and sound can frighten the birds to fly away and hide.

–       Be very observant and always keep a lookout of the surroundings and skyline.

–       Always be ready to “fire and photograph”

–       Shoot at a high shutter speed (or higher if you prefer) e.g. 1/1000 to freeze the birds in action since their reaction and speed can be very fast.

–       Read up and understand more about the various birds.

–       Consider a tripod or a monopod; both have their pros and cons. It also depends on whether you would be camping at one location or walking around to explore and look for the birds.

–       Have the handy NSS Bird Guide App with you in your smartphone (especially useful and helpful for me to identify the various birds that I photographed)

–       Wear clothes that blend in well with your surroundings e.g. green/brown/khaki clothes.

–       A hat/cap is very useful to provide shade for you from the strong sunlight.

–       A pair of binoculars would be very handy and useful.

–       Be prepared to get wet, muddy and dirty when exploring in the forest, wetlands, swamps etc

–       Do not rush into photographing all the birds in the area, be patient, revisit the location over and over again.

–       Do not destroy habitats or nests of the birds and wildlife.

–     Take only photographs and memories; leave no litter behind, don’t take anything from the natural surroundings. Leave nothing behind but your footsteps only.

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It’s also good to stay up to date with the following groups for more information and updates on the wildlife, nature reserves and birding photography in Singapore, especially on migratory birds arrival

–       National Parks Singapore

–       Nature Society Singapore

–       Birding Singapore

–       Saving Bidadari for Birds and People

–       Nature Photographic Society Singapore

I would be combining bird photography with nature/conservation photography in some areas for the upcoming months in 2013 and I hope that I would be able to share more of my stories and photos here with everybody here. Do take a lookout of my birding photography collection on Flickr and 500px!


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An Adventure with EF 400mm f5.6 L lens

Wildlife Photography, a field of photography that can be exciting and fun, photographing many different types of wildlife in your local areas and surroundings or traveling overseas to experience different climates, terrains and types of unique wildlife that can be  photographed. This photography field usually requires more dedicated and niche equipment especially the longer prime lenses because the objects (wildlife) are usually quite far away and only 400mm lenses and above would be able to capture them nicely and they are not too small in size on your photo!

Recently I was kindly loaned Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L by my photographer friend David, you can check out his photos here on 500px and he’s into bird photography. It was a very nice gesture from a fellow photographer and it’s also a very nice “poisoning” (inducing/encouraging to buy more lenses!) to make me accelerate my plans to buy a telephoto lens (I am aiming at a 2nd hand Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L lens)

I took the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 on a walkabout over 2 weekends for a wildlife photography walkabout around the greenery nearby my home. Although my main aim was Bird Photography, the 400mm f/5.6 suits other animal/wildlife photography too! The lens isn’t too heavy for a walkabout wildlife lens, however, you need to get used to the extra weight on your neck and shoulders! The Auto Focus is pretty fast and accurate, being able to track, follow, focus and photograph the animal (birds flying in the context of my post here) pretty quickly. It would not really be fair, comparing it with her cousin EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS USM (that I got the chance to try it out during Formula Drift 2012) though. The EF 400mm f/5.6 is a very decent and fast prime lens, highly suitable for walkabout wildlife photography whereby you don’t really need a significantly faster Auto Focus and the need for a bigger aperture.

Using the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 lens was a great fun and experience for me to venture into Bird Photography, something that I haven’t started to explore without the super telephoto prime lenses. Hopefully, when I finally get to own the EF 300mm f/2.8 L lens, I can go for my wildlife photography more often, probably equip myself with the extenders 1.4x and 2.ox to complement my EF 300mm f/2.8 L lens (hopefully in the near future!)

Take a look at my wildlife photography photographs here on Flickr !


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